We spent Christmas 2012 in Caerphilly, visiting Gareth’s family who we only get to see once every two years or so. Gareth’s brother wanted some male bonding time and, having just recovered from a nearly debilitating flu picked up in a Finnish sauna, I decided to spend the day on my own wandering the streets of Cardiff.
I love Cardiff. I used to live and work there, right after university, so every time I go for a visit it feels like returning to my second home. There’s just something about walking down Queen Street, modern yet filled with history, my own and otherwise, that makes my heart soar. Cardiff is especially delightful over Christmas, when the trees are decorated and every other corner has a group of carollers singing their hearts out.
On this occasion I decided to take a trip down memory lane and visit all my old haunts. I walked down to Cardiff Castle, still thrilled by the sight of its old walls on the corner of a busy thoroughfare. I decided not go in this time, but turned right and made my way to the University and Houses of Parliament where, to my great amusement, I found a Winter Wonderland complete with ice skating rink and a really tall merry-go-round. I didn’t have quite enough courage for the merry-go-round and the ice rink was fairly busy, so after doing some people-watching I made my way to my real destination – Gorsedd Gardens and the Cardiff Museum.
I used to have my lunch sitting on a bench in front of the museum, completely enthralled by the circle of standing stones, dreaming up stories and alternate histories while eating my sandwiches. Since entry into the museum is free, I also spent quite a fair amount of my time in there, and this day was no different.
They say one should do things that energise you, that make you cheerful for no discernable reason. There are a few things in life that make me deliriously happy and this museum is one of them. I wandered through all the halls, taking pictures of old dinosaur bones and fossils, appreciating the works of art by such masters as Rodin and Monet, and even stumbled across a sculpture of the goddess Aurora, the only aurora we were to see on this holiday. Having done an assignment in my literature degree on the original text of Beowulf (in Anglo-Saxon no less!) I was thrilled to find a set of headphones in the medieval section that allowed me to listen to readings of old texts in their original languages. To finally hear what Old English and Anglo-Norman sounded like when spoken aloud was tremendously satisfying!
I left the museum in such a good mood, that I stopped at the merry-go-round, bought a ticket and not long after found myself higher than the dragon on the topmost tower of Parliament, laughing in sheer exhilaration while wishing I’d had the good sense to put a hat on when I left the house that morning. But, freezing ears and windblown hair or not, the view over the city was simply amazing.
As I walked towards the Starbucks where I would meet up with the boys again I noticed passersby looking at me and smiling and I realised that I was beaming from ear to ear. Any day in Cardiff is a good day, and this was a particularly good day indeed.
For more posts in the Winter Escape 2012 series, click here.