Archive for the Cardiff Category


Posted in Biographical, Cardiff, Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 10, 2017 by telescoper

A performance of Handel‘s Messiah  at St David’s Hall  is always a pretty sure sign that the Christmas season is upon us, although the work itself was actually first performed at Easter and it’s by no means clear why it ended up almost universally regarded as a Christmas work . Messiah actually spans the entire biblical story of the Messiah, from Old Testament prophecy to the Nativity (Part 1) , the Passion of Christ (Part II, culminating in the Hallelujah Chorus, and the Resurrection of the Dead (Part III). The Nativity only features (briefly) in Part I, which is why it’s a little curious that Messiah is so strongly associated with Christmas.

Whatever the reason I don’t mind admitting that Messiah is a piece that’s redolent with nostalgia for me – some of the texts remind me a lot of Sunday School and singing in a church choir when I was little and then, a bit later, listening to the whole thing at Christmas time at the City Hall in Newcastle. I loved it then, and still do now, over 40 years later. I know it’s possible to take nostalgia too far – nobody can afford to spend too much time living in the past – but I think it’s good to stay in contact with your memories and the things that shaped you when you were young. I went to a performance of Messiah (in the same venue) about this time last year but I relished the chance to hear it again last night.

As it turned out, the pairing of Cardiff Polyphonic Choir with baroque orchestra Réjouissance produced a very different performance from last year. The choir, numbering about sixty members, was in fine voice and the much smaller orchestra meant that the chorus really dominated the show.

Generally speaking I’m not a fan of period instrument performances. I can see the virtue of having a lighter instrumental touch in this case, and don’t have a problem with using forces of similar scale to those Handel would have used (e.g. two oboes, two cellos, one double bass, etc). I do not however understand why musicians insist on using outdated instruments. This is particularly true for the trumpets. Nobody will ever convince me that a baroque trumpet isn’t an inferior version of the modern instrument. All credit to the players for doing the best they could, but I really don’t see the point.

Anyway, that rant aside, I very much enjoyed the performance, especially the lovely singing by all four soloists and the choir, who were outstanding.
Now, I wonder where I’ll hear Messiah  next year?


The Pembrokeshire Dangler

Posted in Cardiff with tags , , on November 29, 2017 by telescoper

They say there’s a first time for everything, and it turned out yesterday was the first occasion on which I encountered a Pembrokeshire Dangler:

It’s still there today. The Northerly airflow that is responsible for this phenomenon is causing a very cold snap here in Cardiff, but hopefully the Pembrokeshire Dangler will not hang around much longer.

Dead Lock

Posted in Biographical, Cardiff with tags , , on November 7, 2017 by telescoper

Well, as if I didn’t have enough to do these days, yesterday I managed to lock myself out of my house. Monday not being one of my regular work days (I work part-time at the moment), I had a leisurely morning in, eventually toddling around to the corner shop (Pontcanna Stores) to buy a newspaper and use the Post Office (which is inside the store) to send some correspondence overseas. 

I locked the front door as I left the house, which I always do. The door is fitted with a dead lock so it can be neither locked nor unlocked without using the key. That means I can’t lock myself out by leaving the key inside the house.

However, returning back to my house, I attempted to open the lock with my key only to find, to my dismay, that, although the cylinder within the lock seemed to rotate correctly, the door didn’t unlock. I tried dozens of times to no avail. I was stuck outside with no obvious way to get into the house. I didn’t have access to any tools, and didn’t have my phone either so I was at a loss to know what to do. Eventually I decided to return to the shop to ask if I could use a phone to call a locksmith. 

The shopkeeper (Mr Patel) would have none of it, arguing that a locksmith would cost me a fortune, and instead mobilised his handyman, Mike, who was working upstairs in the flat above the shop. Mike came with me to my house and, after quite a struggle, he managed to get the door open without having to damage the door or frame. I was mightily relieved. I might add that he also refused my offer of payment…

Looking at the lock it after removing it from its door it became obvious what had happened. Something had gone wrong with the mechanism inside the lock which meant that, although the key rotated the action, it didn’t engage the bolt fully which resulted in the bolt not being properly withdrawn from the rebate on the hinge. It’s an old lock so it was probably just internal wear and tear, and, the likelihood being that it would recur every time I used it, I had no choice but to remove the lock so I could try to find a replacement. There is another lock on the door, so it would be fairly secure until I fitted another dead lock, the old dead lock being dead.

Mike suggested I take it to the local hardware shop to find another lock that matched. I did so but he didn’t have an exact fit. Also I had – stupidly – omitted to take the plate from the front of the lock which had the name of the manufacturer written on it. He offered to sell me a new lock (c. £15) and fit it for £20. That seemed a pretty good deal, but he did suggest trying a specialist shop (not far from where I work). Putting a replacement lock into the space vacated by removal of the old one would be much easier than cutting a bigger hole in the door to hold a lock of different size. The man in Cardiff Lock and Safe Co Ltd managed to identify an identical lock but didn’t have one in stock. He ordered one that I can collect tomorrow, and I should be able to mend it then.

I’m posting this not so much because of the little crisis about the dead lock, but to say thanks to all those who helped me out yesterday. It makes a big difference living in a friendly community where people help each other out. Sadly, though, Mr Patel is selling up the business he has owned for over 30 years and it is being taken over by the Coop as yet another mini supermarket.

Storm Damage

Posted in Bute Park, Cardiff with tags on September 13, 2017 by telescoper

It was rather windy last night, thanks to Storm Aileen. This morning my garden contained quite a few  broken branches and other wind-blown items of  detritus that weren’t there yesterday. 

But all that was nothing compared to what I saw on the way to work past the back of the SSE SWALEC stadium at Sophia  Gardens.

It’s quite a busy path but I think the tree probably came down in the early hours of the morning so I don’t think any lives were at risk.

Storms are not unusual at this time of year, but this one seems to be a bit earlier than normal.

Update: the same scene this evening

Good work by the Council!

Antiques Roadshow

Posted in Cardiff, Television on September 5, 2017 by telescoper

I passed by this in front of Cardiff Castle on my way home yesterday. I’m thinking of taking a few of my colleagues along to see if they’re worth anything…


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..