Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Day 27 - to Cardiff

I woke feeling brighter and happy to hear from others that they were unhappy. We were all in agreement about the hotel, at least. Mind you, some of them had a practised ring to their complaints, as if they had done that sort of thing before. We were further buoyed by the tour director who said we wouldn't stay in any hotels as bad as this again.

The first visit today, as we turned toward the north and Cardiff, was Glastonbury.

Famed for its folk festival which wasn’t held this year the first time in more than forty years - it is also mentioned in dispatches for the King Arthur myth and the suggestion that Camelot was located on a hill just out of town. It’s a good yarn based on the epic poem by Thomas Percy. The street markets were in full swing and the not so still beautiful people we out and about selling herbs, expensive hand sewn hippy shirts from China and as much fake jewellery as you could shake your Chakra at. Sue thought it reminded her of Byron Bay but I was given to the notion of Nimbin (now, not then). The other matters of note are the old Glastonbury Abbey and the excellent tours conducted through and around it and the large house which sits up above the abbey. It belonged to Thomas Austin, who, after emigrating to Australia and becoming bored with the quality of the hunting there, sent back to Glastonbury for some rabbits in order than he be better entertained … and didn’t those few bunnies create more havoc than Justin Beiber at a pre-pubescent girls slumber party.

The Roman Baths
In Bath, Sue and decided to tour the Roman baths, another brilliantly researched and displayed archaeological site which didn’t look like much from outside but took you through what has been found, showed you the sites themselves and used computer animation to turn what was before your eyes into what the site looked like.

Bath was a Roman town originally but was turned into a different place by Georgian architectural changes. From the Royal Circle and its exclusive club of famous ex residents; the gardens; the centre of town with the River Avon; yet another cathedral; the Putteney Bridge with its shops on either side; and the Bath football ground; Bath is a beautiful city.

After lunch, it was west again and we crossed the Severn Bridge into Wales as the afternoon grew long and we drove on into Cardiff. The imposing Cardiff Castle and even more imposing Millennium Stadium were there to meet us. The castle was flying Australian flags on every second of its small masts along the wall and an enquiry rewarded us with the news that the Australian Paralympic team had trained for a month in Cardiff and had their official launch there.

The wonderful singing at Cardiff Castle
After a short break for showers, we were back to Cardiff Castle for a tradition Welsh meal, some dinner show entertainment from Phil and his collection of singers, who also served the meal and retrieved our plates afterwards. These weren’t just singers. One has just returned from a world tour of The Magic Flute with the Welsh Opera, one has been in two West End productions, one has been touring in a Welsh musical and the fourth “is just a really good singer”. The range of styles was superb but it was the quality of their voices, male and female, that astounded and despite absolutely no microphones, not a word was missed in a thoroughly entertaining evening. Not only that but the tucker was very tasty.

Met a lovely couple over dinner, Amanda and Kevin from Canberra. We are already sensing quite a few whingers, particularly among the Australians on the tour, so a couple to have as allies might be useful as the two weeks unfold.

Bushed. Have had to try and catch up tonight in a schedule which has become unrelenting. You may have to have some mornings without me readers.

We cross into Ireland tomorrow.

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