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Bernard and Eira Wyns' visit to Cardiff Part 3 :

City of Cardiff 

After leaving Cardiff Castle we crossed the road into High Street / St Mary Street and entered one of the delightful Victorian Arcades. They have a wide variety of quality shops in the Arcades and we soon found a Cardiff Victorian shopping arcadespleasant cafe for our lunch, Madam Fromage. It seems that Madame Fromage is well known for its produce including a huge range of cheeses and organic foods but we stumbled upon it by accident in the Castle Arcade. Well worth a visit !

Half an hour later after a light meal we made our way to the waterfront. It seems most people catch a bus or indeed the train but it was a sunny day and we decided to walk ... it only took us 20 - 30 minutes. We probably went the round about way as we passed through an industrial estate before reaching what I believe to be Bute Town.

Bute Town Cardiff looks to be still under development with many buildings having been demolished to make way for some horrible modern "improvements". Others are in the process of development with the old Victorian facades being saved and purpose built modern apartments stuck on their backsides.

Our arrival at the waterfront was heralded by the sound of a load squawking sound. I sensed we were near the new Welsh debating chamber ..the Senedd. The fantastic new Millennium Centre and the Pierhead Building were prime targets for the digital camera and I was busy clicking away. I must admit that in the back of my mind I was wondering where the heck was the new Assembly building. Little did I realise that I had already included it in my pictures as a backdrop to the Cardiff Millennium Centre and  the Pier Head Pierhead building on Cardiff WaterfrontBuilding. The Pierhead building is an attractive building made of glazed terracotta bricks, like lego blocks but more attractive ! Look closely and you will find hexagonal chimneys, some grand looking gargoyles, and an ornamental clock tower.

We then turned the corner on to the Cardiff waterfront and there they were .....the football terraces! I immediately recognised them as the entrance to the new Welsh Assembly building, the Senedd. A naked Emperor flashed through my mind.
This building, which is more or less invisible, was in the running for a top European architectural award, the Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize. Has the world gone mad? It was my wife Eira Wyn who described it to me as looking like either a football terrace or Llanrwst cattle market. (I believe the locals call it Papa Smurf, referring to the floppy hat style roof ventilation).

The Richard Rogers Partnership, excellent architects who have designed many great buildings, were "having a larf" when they came up with this design. Probably as revenge on Rhodri Morgan for his rejection of their original designs and estimates. How could this "invisible" building be in any way compared to the likes of the Gherkin in London, or the Gateshead's Millennium Bridge?

Cardiff football terraces..oops sorry ..the Senedd or Welsh Assembly  BuildingBut what surprises me is that the lack of ability to recognise whether the Emperor is wearing clothes or not has spread throughout the body politic of Wales. Fair enough if the Labour party sycophants praise the building to the limits. But for so called opposition members such as the assembly presiding officer Dafydd Elis Thomas to say of the Senedd: "This is the space under the tree where people come together to discuss the future of the nation." ....From which tree has he fallen to come out with that clap trap?

I presume that Dafydd Elis Thomas thinks that the design suggests openness and freedom of access, but when we tried to enter the Senedd we had to pass through metal detectors and undergo a full body search. Needless to say we did not hang around and left the Senedd and its security guards to find a bit of freedom in the open air of the Cardiff waterfront.

TIP ! Visit the waterfront but don't bother with the Senedd.

Best view of the Waterfront Buildings. Please note no SeneddThe Cardiff barrage has created a beautiful setting and we visited the Norwegian Centre and the bright red Light Ship that stands sentinel on the eastern edge of the waterfront. Feeling peckish we made our way back toward the Bute Town area of the waterfront for a cup of tea and a scone in one of the harbour side cafes. Eira Wyn remarked that it reminded her of the harbour in Barcelona, but I think she had been out in the sun a bit too long.

As we sat drinking our cups of tea the squawking sound continued and I realised that every five minutes or so there was a particular squawk that was repeated. At first I thought it may have been emanating from the Senedd but I checked with a local and he explained that it was a tape recording  of a distressed seagull, part of an unsuccessful attempt to clear the harbour of seagulls.

However being a Gog from the seaside in North Wales I soon realised that the sound was actually of a seagull having sex, and this was the reason why the tape recording was unsuccessful in frightening away the other seagulls. I don't know if you could say the bird was distressed but living where I do with seagulls mating on the roof tops each spring I can recognise the sound of a mating seagull.

So where do I go from here?

Back into the City. We returned to the City on a reasonably priced "bendy bus" that took just a few minutes to drop us off near to the Castle and our centrally placed hotel.

TIP ! Maybe we could broadcast tape recordings of politicians in distress close to all our Assemblies.

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Please -- click on the pictures below -- for enlarged pictures of places we visited on part 3 of our visit to the City of Cardiff, Wales, UK.
© All pictures copyright Bernard Wellings
Light Ship at Cardiff Barrage Norwegian Centre Cardiff Bay
Light Ship at Cardiff Barrage  
Norwegian Centre Cardiff Bay
Millenium Centre compared to the Pierhead building Millennium Centre Cardiff Bay
Millenium Centre compared to the Pierhead building, bottom right  
Millennium Centre Cardiff Bay
Gargoyle detail on the Pierhead building Techniquest exhibition Cardiff Bay
Gargoyle detail on the Pierhead building  
Techniquest, according to my granddaughter, Ophelia, this is a fantastic exhibition with plenty of exciting things to keep children happy
Papa Smurf hat, the best part of the Senedd building. Its actually a ventilation system for all the hot air. Oops getting political again! Nice
Papa Smurf hat, the best part of the Senedd building. Its actually a ventilation system for all the hot air. Oops getting political again!  
Sculpture of boy with his girl friend and his dog, at Cardiff bay
Overall view of the Cardiff bay waterfront buildings, including Pierhead, Millenium Centre and Senedd Cardiff Bay waterfront
Overall view of the Cardiff Bay waterfront buildings, including Pierhead, Millennium Centre and Senedd  
Cardiff Bay waterfront

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