This summer was so full that I am looking forward to going back to work this week. As the school year came to a close Carolene had some extensive tests and found that her cancer situation had not changed since her good report of two years ago. It’s my turn. It isn’t melanoma so we are not loosing sleep. I am putting some cream on my face that is rather nasty. I told my barber that it was the cream that made my face look ugly and he pointed out that I didn’t need cream for that.
Shortly after school ended we went to a party in Abergavenny. The hostess, Carolene’s personal trainer, has a farm on Sugarloaf mountain outside of Abergavenny where she and her husband raise sheep and racehorses. I made money betting on Double-D. 2.40 on a 4 pound bet. Although Double-D is the horses real name she races under the name Multiview because the tracks would not allow a horse that sounded like a bra size. Double-D is retired but the next generation is ready.
The party was phenomenal. The view was spectacular, the neighbours were interesting. They all seem to raise race horses. We had a good time and also toured Abergavenny. On Sunday our good friend from Bewdley came down and joined us for a combination his birthday and mine lunch at the Chick and Egg. Trains and buses on Sunday in the UK are not a good thing. While waiting for a bus we saw the Brecon “Sunday bike bus” so we waited the hour for it to leave and were blessed by a very scenic three hour ride up to Brecon and down through the valleys to Cardiff. We both want to go back to Brecon.
Wedding Cardiff Style
The next day! We attended a young friend’s wedding at the 650 year old church in city centre: St. John’s. The Anglican vicar recently confided to me that it was the Anglican service stretched to its limits. Both families of bride and groom are charismatic to the extreme and the service reflected it. The reception dinner was in Cardiff Castle. What a setting and what a meal!
Carolene had an infusion for her immune system that week, then we left for St David’s. Friends who live in Richmond, BC recently bought a house in St Davids and offered it to us for a stay. We love them. We were there over a week. We hiked the coastal trail, visited Fishguard, hiked the coast trail, visited Haverfordwest, hiked the coast … We attended a concert by the Welsh Guard (think changing of the guards) in the Bishops Palace. Excellent band. We had tea twice with neighbours of our friends. Lovely people (retired school masters you know). We attended a musical night, also at the Bishops Palace, and heard a lot of great Welsh talent. Mornings I ran along the coast path near where St David was born. When it rained I stayed inside and read the Mabingobion. [that is kind of like reading Shakespeare in Stratford].
When we were taking the bus into St David’s a man got on the bus with a shirt that had this on it a set theoretic statement about the existence of the empty set in purely symbolic form. Needless to say he and I had a great conversation that was definitely not empty. When he got up to get off the bus he reminded me that the sum of the reciprocals of the integers squared is pi over six and that he changed it around and posted it outside his house because his house was number six. Only in Pembrokeshire!
We have all heard expressions like “I bet you remember where you were when you heard Kennedy was assassinated” or “when the market crashed.” Well I remember exactly where I was sitting when I first saw the proof that the sum of the reciprocals of the integers squared is pi over six.
Rambling Around Cardiff
Coast Path: Llantwit Major to St Donat’s
We took the bus to Llantwit Major and found our way to the beach where we had coffee and hiked west along the Welsh Coastal Path. We found St Donat’s and the Atlantic College, kept going until we found the light house. The giant fog horn’s bell was elliptical rather than circular. I wonder why? A number of WWII gun bunkers were there along the way. Going inland we ended up at a lovely village with a most engaging pub. We decided to take the bus to Llantwit Major from there but really must return to the pub for lunch someday. At Llantwit major we visited the church (again), had lunch at the 400 year old Swan and returned home.
Exploring Cardiff – Splott
There are a lot of hidden jewels in Cardiff. A religious farm, “God’s Plot” is now a suburb of Splott. One afternoon we took the bus to uncharted Splott to investigate the indoor flea market which, as it turned out, is huge. Carolene will return there some day. We thought it would be a good idea to head from there to the coast and walk the coastal path to Cardiff Bay and then take the bus home. Not a good idea. As we crossed the park we thought we might be in an air field. We were. This was the Cardiff Municipal Airport from 1905? until 1954. Once through the park we found ourselves in a mixture of abandoned cherry tree lined boulevards and empty factories. Here, we found out later, was Cardiff’s last vain attempt of post coal industrialisation. There was a Rover parts factory somewhere around here (we never did figure out exactly where but the road “Rover Way” might be a clue). There was a steel smelter here for a short time. Now there are junk yards garbage incinerators and busy roads with narrow sidewalks. Not fun. We made our way home past the University of South Wales can now claim we have visited the cream of Splott.
Exploring Cardiff – Adamsdown
Another farm, owned by Adam, is just west of City Centre and closely related to Splott. It, too, has rough edges. We found the site of a local cemetery that became full almost as soon as it was set apart. It is now a nice little park with swings and gravestones. The beautiful royal infirmary, once the barracks for the military fighting the Rebecca riots, is on Newport road. Found it. The gothic church with flying buttresses was hard to find and when we did it was closed. The vicar is on sick leave and they are down to mass on Wednesday and Sunday. While we were leaving the caretaker stopped us and offered to open the church for us – “just come and find me when you are done and I will lock up, take your time.” Organ recital August first.
A friend had to go to Chester to babysit for her son so she invited us for the ride. We stayed in a hotel near the walled city. Chester is a place rich in history. We were sitting in front of Starbucks having coffee and a police car marked Heddlu drove up. The man at the next table looked at me and I said “I think he is lost.” He agreed. I commented that I had heard it is still legal to shoot a Welshman in Chester thinking, perhaps, he didn’t know this gem. He corrected me: “but only with a cross-bow!”
Malvern and the Waters
Back to Cardiff for what I thought would be a restful August. Friends from Malvern came down to visit Castle Coch so we joined them for the day and visited Castle Coch, had lunch near an ancient Welsh castle-fort, and visited Caerphilly Castle. These people offered their house in Malvern during the week they were away on holidays. Off we went. The basic premise was to do a lot of hiking and visit a few old friends. We did hike a lot but we also saw a lot of wonderful friends left over from my exchange teacher days and we had a walk through the old school.
I always keep an eye on what is happening in Cardiff and try to catch whatever is happening like a rugby game or a festival in the park. Last weekend cider seemed to be the important thing. A number of companies were giving thimble size samples. On Saturday one company had a taster in Bute park and gave out free burghers and free cider. Lots of points for them.