Another Day, Another Castle – Exploring Cardiff City Center

It’s Saturday, our second full day in Cardiff, and we decided to visit Cardiff Castle and the city center today. Twenty-Two-Year-Old really wanted to take the water bus, so we headed to the bay after breakfast. First we stopped in to Craft In The Bay run by The Makers Guild in Wales.  The gallery features the work of Welsh artists of all varieties – it’s highly competitive and the works are lovely.  I bought a cut paper piece, but I was so impressed by works in glass, ceramics, fabrics, wood, and all sorts of media.

From there we continued to the bay and noticed that today, water was flowing from the big water tower (we were still unable to get into Torchwood, however). The water bus left every hour on the half-hour, and it was just 11, so we decided to get some tea first.  This time, we stopped at Coffee Mania just across the way from Starbucks and we had some Welsh cakes with our tea.  Welsh cakes are little pancakes with currents in them. They’re tasty. So that was nice.  Then it was time to get on the water bus.  It took about twenty minutes to get from the bay up the river to the city center, and it was a lovey trip. It’s also about a twenty-minute walk (in the other direction) from our hotel, but the water bus is fun.

We disembarked at Bute Park, just on the west side of the castle. The park is quite lovely, and tied into the history of Cardiff, as most things to do with the Bute family are tied in with Cardiff history.  There were some lovely chainsaw carvings and what appeared to be a small-scale replica of Stonehenge.  The park leads right up to the east gate of the castle, which is not open, but has been restored. There’s a mill stream that looks like a moat (but isn’t) that runs right by the castle wall near the east gate. There is a real moat inside the castle around the keep, though.

We left the park and walked around toward the castle entrance. There’s a wall around the park that has wonderful animals at intervals along the top. They’re all climbing over the wall, and they have glass eyes.

We entered the castle and picked up some audio guides. Parts of the castle date back to the Roman period, and then there are bits that are relatively modern — the house dates to the 19th century, for example.   The castle walls were used as an air raid shelter for Cardiff during World War II.  They’ve got the tunnels in the walls set up like an air raid shelter complete with soundtrack. One little boy was overwhelmed and completely scared by it – understandable – it was very loud. But it was also very interesting.

The castle keep is upon a mound surrounded by a moat. This is a Mott and Bailey design.  Originally it was wooden, but it was eventually rebuilt in stone.  We climbed up to the top of the keep (there was never a roof) and then looked out at Cardiff.

We were hungry after this, so we skipped the house and went to find luch. We decided to look for fish and chips, which meant a small shop. After so much grease for lunch we decided we ought to walk around for a bit. So we decided to check out the city center and various shops. Cardiff city center is filled with pedestrian-only streets and lots of arcades, which re delightful. The world’s oldest record shop resides in one of the arcades- I did notice that they’re selling CDs now.

We got some more tea and then decided to find the church where I will be preaching tomorrow. We discovered several other churches, also. We popped into The Goat Major – the oldest pub in Cardiff, but decided not to eat there, as they only have pies and we’ve eaten quite a lot of pies lately.  So we headed to The Cottage, and other historic Cardiff pub, and had supper there.  By then we were exhausted from all the walked so we took a taxi back to the hotel.

I won’t be preaching until the afternoon, so we’ll be  able to do some things in the morning. I think I’m ready. I guess we’ll see.

That’s all I’ve got. That’s my mite.

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