Archive for the Cardiff Category

A Tale of Two Fields 

Posted in Bute Park, Cardiff with tags , , on July 2, 2017 by telescoper

My neighbourhood has been a tad busy this weekend, as Llandaff Fields (which lie just 100 yards or so from my house) are the venue for Tafwyl, a free festival of Welsh language music. It’s normally quite a quiet area at the weekends, but this event has attracted large crowds.

I took a stroll in the park yesterday. There seemed to be a few thousand or so enjoying the music and the sunshine behind the temporary barrier.

Although admission to Tafwyl is free, I didn’t go in as I was en route elsewhere and didn’t have time.

This event is usually held in the grounds of Cardiff Castle but that wasn’t possible this year because of the UEFA Champions League Final last month. The temporary buildings erected for that event have damaged the part of Bute Park near the Castle so badly that it will be out of bounds until September at the earliest. 

On my way back home I passed the area adjacent to Llandaff Fields, Pontcanna Fields, where I saw a much more familiar sight:

The River Taff flows roughly where the trees are in this picture. There are several cricket pitches and they are quite heavily used in the summer. 

Tafwyl will move back to its usual venue next year but hopefully the cricket will continue just as it is!

Biographical Note

Posted in Biographical, Cardiff, Crosswords with tags , , on July 1, 2017 by telescoper

It’s 1st July 2017, which means that it is ten years to the day since I officially started work at Cardiff University (for the first time). Can it really be so long ago? 

Quite a lot has happened in the intervening decade, including spending three and a half years at the University of Sussex before returning to Cardiff last summer.

The first of July was actually a Sunday in 2007, so my last day at work in my previous position at the University of Nottingham was Friday 29th June. I remember they threw a nice leaving party that afternoon and also persuaded me to sign up to Facebook to keep in touch. Facebook reminded me of this on Thursday.

I was a bit slow in putting my house in Beeston on the market in 2007, and rented a flat in Cardiff while I sorted that out. Unfortunately the Credit Crunch and I didn’t actually manage to move permanently to a little house in Pontcanna for almost a year. In the meantime I had to travel regularly to and fro between Cardiff and Nottingham by train.

The main thing I remember about the summer of 2007 was the extensive flooding, much of which was located in South Wales and up the Severn towards Gloucester and beyond. That is precisely the route that the train takes from Cardiff to Nottingham so I had quite a few travel problems!

I didn’t actually start blogging until 2008 when I was firmly established in the house I bought here in Cardiff, and which I’m sitting now as I write this rambling post. 

They say that ‘all good things come to an end’, which implies that this blog should carry on forever. Maybe I’ll keep it going until its tenth anniversary, after which…well, we’ll see. Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam.

Anyway, although pipped at the post for this year’s Beard of Summer award I did receive a bit of good news in today’s paper by way of compensation!

In fact the two books arrived in the post yesterday. I’ll be disposing of them at work in due course..

 

Heat Wave in Cardiff 

Posted in Cardiff on June 18, 2017 by telescoper

And it’s going to be even hotter tomorrow!

The Great Election Gamble

Posted in Cardiff, Politics with tags , , on June 9, 2017 by telescoper

Well, yesterday’s general election didn’t exactly go to plan for the Tories, did it?

It turns out that, yet again, most of the opinion polls were way off the mark and the Labour Party’s share of the vote exceeded most expectations, including mine. Theresa May’s  decision on calling the election was a silly gamble to try to increase her majority in the House of Commons which, having failed spectacularly, has resulted in her losing that majority altogether. Theresa May nevertheless continues as Prime Minister courtesy of leading the largest party and doing a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party, a reactionary group of homophobes and young-earth creationists. We’ll have to wait and see how long that unholy alliance lasts. My bet would be for another election in October…

he PM was quoted last night that she had `no intention of resigning’ in the aftermath of the election she previously said she had no intention of calling. I infer that means she will soon resign. I don’t have any sympathy for her: if there’s one kind of politician I really dislike it’s the kind that takes the electorate for granted.

Although I’m personally delighted to see the Tories given a smackdown, it’s best not to get too carried away. For one thing, we’re still up Brexit Creek without a paddle and the UK’s already weak negotiating hand just got considerably weaker. The other thing worth saying is that although Jeremy Corbyn has gone up enormously in my estimation by the way he led his party, Labour still didn’t win even against a Conservative campaign that was unspeakably dire.

Anyway, regular readers of this blog (Sid and Doris Bonkers) will know that I like to place wagers on elections. My normal strategy of the compensation bet – putting money on the outcome I don’t want to happen – would have been useless in this situation as the Conservatives were odds-on to win so the return would have been poor. I therefore decided to use the occasion for my first foray into spread betting.

I took this decision when I saw that the spread being offered on the number of seats won by Labour was (205-212). In a spread bet you place a deposit (`margin’) and then wager on whether the actual total is above or below the spread by £X per seat; if it’s inside the spread you lose your deposit. In the lingo, placing a bet to win above the spread is called a `buy’; below is `sell’. The danger of spread betting is that if you bet high and the actual result is low then you lose £X per seat. Losses can therefore exceed your deposit if you’re badly wrong. This is why I’ve never bet this way before. Believe it or not, I’m actually very cautious when it comes to gambling.

The quoted spread seemed to me to be centred very low (in line with the majority of opinion poll predictions), but I felt it highly unlikely that even a bad night for Labour would have them ending up on fewer than 200 seats, because there are so many safe Labour seats. I therefore wasn’t too concerned about the possibility of a truly disastrous loss. So I paid my deposit and bought at £100 per seat.

Suffice to say that it’s my round in the pub tonight….

P.S. I forgot to mention another memorable event last night: the first seat to declare was Newcastle Central, who beat arch-rivals Sunderland to the prize for the fastest count.

P.P.S. A couple of other things worth mentioning are that Kevin Brennan won my seat (Cardiff West) with a hugely increased majority. In fact all seats in Cardiff went to Labour, including Cardiff North which had previously been held by the Conservatives. Brighton Kemptown, in which constituency I lived before coming back to Cardiff and which was also previously held by the Tories, also went to Labour.

Cose da sapere su Cardiff

Posted in Bute Park, Cardiff, Football with tags , , , , , , on June 1, 2017 by telescoper

Cardiff is gearing up for the UEFA Champion’s League final between Real Madrid and Juventus which takes place in the Principality Stadium on Saturday night. Cardiff University has produced this nice video featuring some students from Italy telling visitors about `things to know about Cardiff’, which I thought I’d share here:

There’s also a Spanish version here.

As you can imagine there’s quite a lot of disruption going on in the City ahead of this event, which is expected to attracted over 200,000 visitors. Last night one of the main roads was closed to allow the construction of a temporary footbridge to help manage the flow of people from Bute Park into the Stadium in the period just before the kickoff. There is only one small exit from the Park opposite the ground, which would probably cause considerable congestion, so the bridge will provide another route out, over the famous Animal Wall.

Cowbridge road was closed to vehicles and pedestrians for this operation, which I assumed would mean a bit detour for me on my walk home from the pub last night. Nevertheless, out of curiosity, I followed my normal route until I reached the construction site. A small group of people and a couple of very friendly policemen were there. I asked nicely if there was any possibility of getting past the road block rather than walking all the way around by side streets, and one of the officers said that if I waited for about 5 minutes they were going to open it up temporarily and let people through, which they did.

Cardiff Castle and Bute Park are being used to host a few thousand `Corporate VIP Guests’ during the weekend of the Final. For that a huge part of Bute Park – the entire area of Coopers Field – is closed to the public. Not only that, but the temporary buildings that have been erected there will cause so much damage to the grass that it will have to be completely re-seeded. This area will not be re-opened to the public until September at the earliest. This seems a very heavy price for the ordinary folk of Cardiff to pay for an event very few will be able to attend.

As well as congestion and crowd control, there is also the threat of terrorist activity (especially in the wake of the Manchester bomb). This morning as I walked into work I saw several groups of armed police officers. I’m not sure if they are intended to make people feel more secure, but they just made me feel nervous.

Road_Closure_Map_A3-Preparing-Cardiff-

It’s quite easy to infer what the biggest concern is for the security services. The presence of vehicle barriers all round the city and the suspension of all vehicle traffic within a wide perimeter of the various fan zones suggests that they are worried about potential attacks involving cars or lorries running amok among the huge numbers of pedestrians. It’s sad that we have to think of such things, but these precautions seem entirely necessary.

I was toying with the idea of taking photographs of some of the security measures but on reflection thought that might not be a wise thing to do in case I was mistaken for someone plotting an atrocity!

My own plan for the Final is to shut myself in my house, batten down the hatches, cook myself a nice dinner and drink a nice bottle of wine. I’m completely neutral as far as the match is concerned. Whether it’s Real Madrid of Italy or Juventus of Spain, may the best team win!

Champions Road

Posted in Cardiff, Football on May 21, 2017 by telescoper

Signs like this have appeared on Cathedral Road near my home in Cardiff.

From the black and white stripes you can see that it celebrates Newcastle United’s victory in the Championship this season.


You learn something new every day, though. I hadn’t previously realised that the way to say ‘Newcastle United’ in Welsh is ‘Juventus’…

Half and Half in Cardiff

Posted in Cardiff on May 20, 2017 by telescoper

In view of the imminent arrival of two hundred thousand visitors to Cardiff for the UEFA Champions League final, I thought I’d post some helpful information about the city for the benefit of our guests.

One of the special delicacies on offer in Cardiff curry houses is the “half and half”, an example of which is shown above.

This is what you ask for if you can’t decide whether to have rice or chips to provide the carbohydrate element to go with your selected curry. In my experience you don’t really get a half- portion of chips and a half-portion of rice, but a full portion of each. ‘Half and half’ is therefore the best choice if you’re really hungry.