One of my favourite things about Cardiff is how it can seem like three different cities all at once.
I suppose this is somewhat true of all cities- my home city of Plymouth certainly seems like two completely different cities, with the dreadful, dismal city centre, and the historical, charming Royal William Yard, Barbican, and Hoe.
To me, Cardiff is three cities though- the bustle-y centre which I associate with shopping, nights out, and slow walks home from work. My home-area, which I associate with home, leisurely drinks in my favourite pub, giant teacakes in my favourite coffee shop, and runs around the lake. And then there is Cardiff Bay, which I associate with sunshine, happy days, and fancy meals.
After I had accepted my place to study in Cardiff, Mama CupandSaucer and I came to spend a weekend here. We stayed near the Bay, and explored the seafront while I got used to the idea of moving to a new city again. Since then, I've had fond memories of the Bay, and it's one of my favourite places to take visitors to the city. So of course when J came up a few weeks ago, we had to take a trip there.
We didn't get off to a brilliant start when we parked the car, headed for the pay and display meter, and I realised that in a tipsy state the previous night I had left my purse on the kitchen table. Oops. Fortunately, J had his wallet and therefore spent the rest of the day treating me, like the lovely person he is.
Whenever I head to the Bay, my first stop is Fabulous Welshcakes which might just be the best smelling shop in the world. They make fresh welsh cakes there in the shop, and always have samples on offer. It was this which inspired us to make our own welsh cakes that afternoon, actually...!
We couldn't spend too long inside though- it was freezing, but sunny, and there was people watching to be done, and sculptures to be clambered upon.
I nearly pulled at least three different muscles in my leg clambering up here- you can't tell from that picture, but the top of the ring-shaped sculpture probably comes up to my shoulder. I only attempted it because J told me I was being disloyal to my gender when I said I was "being a massive girl" and refusing to jump up in my tunic and leggings. So I had to prove him wrong.
Once we'd had enough of the people watching, we wandered from the seafront to the Millenium Centre so I could grab a copy of the upcoming shows (which I have since lost. Useless I tell you!). And when you do that, you get to walk through Roald Dahl Plass- named for the man himself, who grew up in Cardiff.
I've always loved the Pierhead- a building originally built for the Bute Docks Company from gorgeous terracotta found near Wrexham. On a cloudy day, the red of the building brightens up the darkness. But on a sunny day, the building comes into its own, and looks incredibly against a cerulean sky.
We decided to continue meandering around the seafront, in the direction of the Norwegian church and the tidal barrage- partly because for all my love of the Bay, I had never been out there. As we made our way in that direction, we passed the most beautiful memorial. Turns out, this is a memorial for the Merchant Seafarers who have died in times of war. It's truly, truly beautiful.
Ever the gentleman, when I squealed with excitement at the site of a Mr Whippy ice cream van minutes later, J treated me to my first ice cream of the year- flake, nuts, and chocolate sauce, and I was happy as a clam, and sticky as a small child when I got half the ice cream and chocolate sauce all over my face.
Turns out, as you walk towards the barrage, you get some rather lovely views of the Bay, even if I did nearly give J a heart attack by wobbling on top of the fence trying to take pictures of it. I think part of what I love about the area is the complete contrast of new and old, present and history, and the fact the sun always shines when I'm there. OK- this could be because I only ever choose to go there when the sun is shining- but still. Happy memories are often those we make.