Thursday, 31 August 2017

Llandaff Cathedral


Thanks for calling in.

Walking along the River Taff in Cardiff is such a treat.  Passing through the City along the Taff Trail, it's not long before you reach another City, Llandaff.  This is where both Roald Dahl and Charlotte Church were born and went to school.

The 12th Century Anglican Cathedral stands on an older religious site which was near the old river crossing.  It has suffered a great deal over the years in the hands of Owain Glyndwr, Oliver Cromwell and WW2, being the second worst damaged Cathedral in the UK after Coventry.  Even its organ was destroyed by a lightning strike and had to be replaced in 2010.

As you enter, it's the huge modern Christ in Majesty by Jacob Epstein over the nave that immediately catches your eye.

In the distance the Lady Chapel can be seen with the beautiful decoration and stained glass windows.  There are a number of other chapels - The Dyfrig Chapel has a ceramic portrayal of the six days of creation by Edward Burne-Jones -  The Welsh Regiment Chapel is very bright and modern and is dedicated to the fallen in all wars since the 18th Century - St Illud Chapel is dedicated to the 53rd Welsh Infantry Division and has a triptych by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - St Teilo Chapel has a window by William Morris and Ford Maddox Brown.  Here's a link to the Cathedral's History page for more details.

Following the Dean's Steps up to the rest of the City, the Cathedral looks imposing, especially in the sun.

At the top, there's a charming green with seats around and a memorial.

The ruins of the Bishop's Palace have been turned into a public garden.

Just round the corner, there's the short High Street with small shops and cafes.  One building had a blue plaque to show that this was Mrs Pratchett's sweet shop where Roald Dahl had once tricked her by putting a dead mouse in a jar.

Time to stop for lunch at the quaint Jaspers Tea Rooms, a cafe consisting of lots of small rooms joined together and named after Jasper Tudor, Uncle of King Henry VII. He took possession of Cardiff Castle after the Battle of Bosworth and married Catherine Woodville, sister of Elizabeth. The Cathedral has a Jasoer Tower and the café menu said that he introduced the fiery red dragon as a symbol for Wales on the flag.

Can you see the red Welsh Dragons?


Wednesday, 30 August 2017



Thanks for visiting.

This morning we're off to the Park by the Shops as it has been turned into Narnia while this year's outdoor production -The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - takes place.  It sounds rather good, with the first part being in the theatre followed by a picnic and second half in the grounds.

Full of anticipation, I thought I'd have a look at the set outside, however there wasn't much to see!!

Around 'Narnia',  fungi were abundant.

Berries had blackened.

Clouds were threatening.

Roses were still being buzzed on.

Chestnuts were ripening.

Ducks were enjoying a lunchtime snack.

All is well, with the world.

Time to go back into the cupboard.


Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Norwegian church


Thanks for dropping in.

Last time we walked round Cardiff Bay and spotted the Norwegian Church across the water.  It's a bit of a shame that a white temporary building had been erected next to it as it rather spoilt the effect.

Still, it's a bit unusual to see a Norwegian Church in Wales. What's it all about?

With Cardiff being a major port in the 1800s, the Norwegian merchant fleet did a lot of its business there so in 1868 the Norwegian Seaman's Mission built a church as a meeting place and a home from home for the sailors and those Norwegians that were living there and later for those who couldn't return to Norway during WW2 due to Nazi occupation.  

The iron clad building was added to over the years and used for many events.

The author Roald Dahl was born in Llandaff near Cardiff to Norwegian parents and was christened in the church in 1916 as were his three sisters.

Over the years it fell into decline  and by 1974, it was closed and deconsecrated.  Roald Dahl campaigned to save it and became the first President of the Preservation Trust.  The church was dismantled in 1987 and re-erected on its present site in 1992.

Nowadays, it is an arts centre and café.

Ronald Dahl is celebrated there every September.

It's such an attractive building, isn't it.


Monday, 28 August 2017

Cardiff Barrage


Nice to see you again.

As we're down in Cardiff Bay, we're going to have a walk all the way round the 494 acre fresh water lake, controlled by the Cardiff Barrage.  

The Bay used to be subject to the tides from the Severn Estuary/Bristol Channel but by erecting the Cardiff Barrage from the Docks to Penarth, opened in 1999, the rivers Taff and Ely flow into and are contained in the lake that is Cardiff Bay, ideal for boating and which looks much more attractive than the mudflats of the previous low tides.  This encouraged regeneration of the area too.

Starting at the Millennium Centre, we'll head for the water turn right onto Mermaid Quay, walking past the restaurants and shops with the water on our left.  You pass the large Techniquest building. There are all sorts of different areas and buildings to enjoy.

Round the corner, the Wetlands Reserve supports a wide diversity of wildlife.  Across the Bay, Penarth is visible with it's pretty white cottages.

After the Wetlands Reserve, there's spacious grassland of Hamadryad Park and then we have to head through the residential streets for a while to cross the River Taff via the Clarence Bridge. At this point we realise we could have taken a short cut from the Millennium Centre and missed all that out but where's the fun in that!  Ha!

On the other side of the river, the trail passes through the International Sports Village which includes an ice rink, international swimming pool and Cardiff International White Water.  There's lots of building work going on in this area and the path can be difficult to find but what you are looking for is another bridge over the River Ely.

Now we are back to the interesting bit  by the river full of fishing boats, marinas and pretty houses.  This is Penarth.

From here you can see the Barrage.  One of the locks was opening as a boat was entering the Bay from the Estuary. Can you see the piece of road that has lifted up?

You can also look back to the Millennium Centre.

We're stopping off for lunch at the Customs House.  Such a shame that the building next door is all boarded up.

Suitably refreshed, all the exciting sights and  sounds of the Barrage itself are right in front of us.  At 1.1 km long, it has 3 locks, 5 sluice gates to control the water in the Bay, a fish pass to allow sea trout and salmon to return to the rivers and a pink hut for yacht clubs to use to start races and for other events. Let's have a look.

Gate Closed

Gate Open

Locks from the Estuary side

Looking through the harbour walls

Looking back to the Bay from the harbour walls

Mudflats in the estuary

Pink hut

When the gates open and the roadway lifts up, as you'd expect alarms are sounded and lights flash, to warn everyone.  It's really fascinating watching it all in action.

Over the other side, whilst enjoying the sailing boats, the white sails on land remind us of Cardiff's link with the sea.

There's so much to do, especially for children - parks, watersport activities, skate plaza, history of coal, Dr Who Experience and an enormous crocodile bench from Roald Dahl's books.

There's even a Norwegian church, more on that another time.

Now we're back to the Millennium Centre, definitely ready for a cup of tea.

Of course, you could get a water bus instead of having to do all that walking.


Friday, 25 August 2017



Thanks so much for popping in.

We've had a little break in Cardiff, just for a bit of a change and even though there was a storm heading over from the States, fortunately the initial drizzly bits disappeared and out came the sun.

Right then, let's start the tour, how about down by the Bay.   As well as many restaurants and cafés, boats and things to do, there are some notable public buildings including the Senedd, the Welsh National Assembly set up in 1999. From a distance, I found it quite difficult to see as the transparent glass building is so light and airy, however this is the public part of the building and the debates take place down below within the slate plinth.  While we were there, some of the ceramic poppies from the Tower of London's 2014 Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, were cascading from the window.

Passing through security, inside the building, there is a hush like entering a cathedral, despite people enjoying a cup of tea or browsing in the giftshop.  Centrally placed, wooden slats rise up to form a huge mushroom-shaped funnel and the ceiling is full of curves which are continued in the canopy on the outside of the building. From the floors below, the huge circular opening of the funnel can be seen above the circular debating chamber which, in turn, the public can just glimpse through the glass from the public area above.

Opposite the Senedd, the Merchant Seaman's memorial, designed by Brian Fell, was also adorned with poppies, wreaths this time.  From one angle it appears to be the hull of a ship but from another it's a face.

The red terracotta Pierhead building, now used for events and conferences connected with The Senedd, used to be the offices of the Bute Docks Company, later the Cardiff Railway Company, when it opened in 1897.  At that time, Cardiff was the world's largest port, handling more coal than anywhere else. It was built by the 3rd Marquess of Bute who was one of the richest men of his generation.

A fun fair and the seaside was on Roald Dahl Plass for the Summer, great for the children.

William Pye's Water Tower stretches up high, no water but nobody can resist a photo in the shiny surface.

Overlooking the Bay is the sculpture People Like Us.

The wonderful Millennium Centre's copper oxide surface shines out in the sun.

Closer, a poem reads 'In these stones, horizons, sing' in English and Welsh.  The letters are actually windows, lit from inside at night. A great performance venue for all types of shows. 8 national arts companies are based here with cafés and shops too.

The remainder of the concert hall has multi-coloured slate cladding.

Well that's just a flavour of what you'll find in Cardiff Bay.  Over the next few posts, I'll show you a few other places.