Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Alas, I never did find out the story of the regimental goat! After a peaceful, room-mate free sleep, I set out for a walk in Bute Park ( The gardens are lovely, winding along the banks of the River Taff in the shadow of Cardiff Castle.

After about an hour of wandering around the gardens, I cross the Animal Bridge (which has birds and animals carved all along the parapet, either climbing over it or landing on it) and head out to the National Gallery and Museum of Wales ( It takes me about three hours to get around everything - the place is quite well laid out, with a natural history section, an archaeology section and the gallery all flowing into each other very nicely.

After my wanderings, I'm happy to head back to the hostel and back to catch my train, with just a brief fossick in a couple of the arcades on the way back. Three places that deserve an honourable mention:

* Celtic Cauldron in the Castle Arcade - a lunchtime cafe that serves an interesting mix of vegetarian, Indian and traditional Welsh food. Vote of thanks for introducing me to Laverbread (oatmeal and seaweed cooked into a sort of patty) - quite tasty.

* Claire's Button Shop, also in the Castle Arcade - I hadn't realised that the humble button had so much going for it. This is the source of those souvenirs I have which are not of the teatowel persuasion...

* An unnamed shoe shop (which was either in the Castle Arcade or an arcade nearby). I didn't see the shop name, but the display rather caught my eye - it seems that a good percentage of their trade involves supplying footwear for those with rather specialised tastes. As well as the spikes/straps/buckles style of thing, they also had some sort-of-Docs that looked like they'd come straight off the set of Dr Who and - wait for it - a pair of green gumboots with kitten heels. I must admit, I nearly bought them.

Curiosity about the regimental goat unsatisfied, I made a couple of phone calls and found a room in Swansea (or Abertawe). Hint: if travelling in Wales, make sure you know both the Welsh and English names for your destination. Street signs, station timetables and announcements - everything here is bilingual. Certainly saved me a lot of grief when I looked at the station board and saw that the train to Abertawe left from platform three - if I'd waited until the sign changed to English, I probably would have missed the train! However, websites are usually in English ( - don't Google for Abertawe unless you can read Welsh!

Abertawe is currently undergoing a bit of a spruce-up, with the end result that I spend a lot of time detouring around great big holes in the pavement. I do get time to walk along the beach and grab a very nice Indian meal (hint no. 2 - Indian is the idiot-proof takeaway cuisine of the UK, sort of like Chinese in Australia. Must be those enormous Pakistani members...).

I've got tomorrow morning to take in a museum or gallery or two, then onto the Heart of Wales line in the afternoon and up to Shrewsbury!!


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