Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Greetings from Cardiff

Tuesday we drove across the Severn into Wales, the first of several trips over that border. We went to Cardiff to have lunch with people works with in his company's offices there. First we visited Cardiff Castle, originally a Roman site with a Norman keep that became the property of the phenomenally wealthy Marquess of Bute, who had architect William Burges transform it into a Gothic revival pleasure palace even though he lived there only a few weeks a year, overseeing the vast Welsh coal mining and shipping operation. The women's quarters have a ceiling carved from imported wood painted in gold and the nursery is ringed with paintings from folk and fairy tales, with lamps decorated with figures from nursery rhymes. It's probably the most opulent home I've ever seen, and the grounds are gorgeous, with the Norman keep surrounded by daffodils and peacocks.

After meeting the work friends and going to lunch at Ha Ha's, we drove to nearby Caerphilly Castle, which made a remarkable contrast with Cardiff Castle...a massive Medieval stronghold that appears to be twice the size, but has been slowly decaying for more than 500 years, with restoration work beginning only in the 1920s. A moat filled with waterfowl surrounds the huge dark walls, which sit right in the middle of a busy shopping area. The massive great hall remains in very good condition, while the "leaning tower" that was probably knocked aside in some kind of seismic event looks as if someone blasted it with a fiery weapon and left it to crumble. Caerphilly is just over a low mountain from Cardiff and the drive is very pretty too.

We could not leave Cardiff without seeing both "Torchwood" (Roald Dahl Plass and the Wales Millennium Centre) and the exhibition on Doctor Who at the Red Dragon Centre. The latter is pretty heavily focused on the ninth and tenth Doctors -- artifacts include a Dalek, a Cyberman, the Anne Droid, a Clockwork Robot, an Ood and K-9 -- but there was enough history for me to get a better sense of the first through third Doctors, plus a lovely large portrait of Paul McGann and loads of pictures of David Tennant. We also went to Forbidden Planet (this one before it closed for the evening!) so I am now the proud owner of a Doctor, a Rose and a Captain Jack while younger son is the even prouder owner of a remote-control Dalek. That's right: we are all geeks!

The keep at Cardiff Castle.

The house and Millennium Stadium beyond.

Adam with one of the peacocks.

Caerphilly Castle with the ruined southeast tower.

The kids in front of the gate.

Inside the Great Hall.

Outside the East Gate.

Above ground at Torchwood...that is, Roald Dahl Plass.

Trinny and the Anne Droid.

Daniel, Adam and a Dalek -- EXTERMINATE!

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