Archive for Pontcanna Fields

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!

Pictures in the Park

Posted in Bute Park, Cricket with tags , , , on June 28, 2012 by telescoper

We’re  approaching  the end of June, and the weather is for the most part typical for a British summer. Rain.

Yesterday evening, however, as I walked home through Bute Park, the weather was sufficiently clement to allow cricket on Pontcanna Fields, which lie on the west side of Bute Park, across the Taff from the city centre.

I stopped and watched for a while, taking in about ten overs. I don’t think there have been many occasions in the last month or so when play has been possible either here or in the nearby SWALEC stadium where Glamorgan play. Or try to;  they’re having a lousy season even when it’s not raining.

The pitches here are notoriously lively – the ball bouncing and darting all over the place makes them very difficult to bat on – and in the game I watched I saw three consecutive deliveries resulting in dropped catches. Let’s just say the fielders must have been out of practice…

Anyway it’s a lovely sight to see people out in the open air enjoying recreational activities in this part of the Park. It’s what a Park is for.

It’s a pity about the park on the other side of the river. Coopers Fields seem to be regarded by the Council as a lorry park and storage area for heavy equipment rather than a place of recreation.

…with the damage caused by all this traffic never repaired. Grass does eventually re-grow if it is given time, but sadly this doesn’t happen in Bute Park. No sooner has one set of temporary buildings been dismantled when another is set up. Indeed, preparations are already under way  for another “event” on this park, with trucks already churning it up again and fencing being deployed to deprive the public of access to it.

Sometimes I wonder  why they don’t just tarmac it all over and be done with it.

Pontcanna Fields with Snow, Mist and Sunset

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 18, 2010 by telescoper

Just back from a shopping expedition during which I walked through the snowbound Pontcanna Fields. Fog was rising above the snow just as the sun was setting, creating some stunning lighting effects. Unfortunately I only had my Blackberry with me so I couldn’t take any really high quality pics, but these should give you an idea.

This first is looking North towards Llandaff Cathedral whose spire you can just see in the distance:

The second gives you a better view of the mist..

…and these two are of the sun setting behind the trees to the west:


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Cricket in the Park

Posted in Biographical, Bute Park, Cricket with tags , , , on May 24, 2010 by telescoper

I was walking home a couple of weeks ago and noticed that there were several cricket matches going on in the Park, just over the road from my house in Cardiff. I stopped to watch a few overs, taking one or two experimental pictures with my phone, and was quite impressed at the standard of play. Two distinctly lively quick bowlers were causing the batsmen quite a few problems, though they were not just blocking  but also taking every available opportunity to score. It was attritional, but absorbing stuff.

The use of these fields for cricket was interrupted in 2008 when the National Eisteddfod was held here in Cardiff, on this very spot. It tipped down with rain for the entire week and the fields turned to mud. It has taken the best part of two years for Cardiff City Council to repair the damage and get everything back to working order so that the many local clubs that use the fields here could resume their sporting activities. Of course they had nowhere to play for all that time, thanks to the fools at the Council who totally underestimated the time it would take, not to mention the amount it would cost. You can see in the foreground that some of the grass is still in need of attention.

Just a few hundred yards to the South (right in the picture) lies Sophia Gardens, and the SWALEC stadium home to Glamorgan Cricket Club, currently at the top of the Second Division of the County Championship. I hope the good weather stays with us long enough that I can actually get to see a decent amount of cricket once term finally finishes.

Incidentally, the view is roughly eastwards.  The River Taff flows from left to right, concealed by the trees which are part of the landscaping performed by Capability Brown. They don’t show up too well in the photo, but they were clearly carefully chosen to provide a variety of colour and texture, especially in the changing light of the spring sunshine.  Also hidden  is a weir (Blackweir), where the Dock Feeder Canal is taken off the river to supply water to the docks at Cardiff Bay, and a small bridge. On the far side of the river is Bute Park and, further South, Cardiff Castle.

I may not have a very big garden, but it’s lovely having this beautiful park just a short walk from the house. I hope the Council learn their lesson and stop buggering about with it.

Flaming June

Posted in Biographical, Bute Park with tags , , , , on June 1, 2009 by telescoper

Since we’re in the middle of a heatwave I thought “Flaming June” would be a good title. I only just discovered, however, that it’s not as I thought some sort of folk expression or quotation from a poem, but the title of this Pre-Raphaelite painting by Frederic Leighton of a lady wearing what looks like a dress made out of old curtains. Apparently the oleander branch seen in the upper right symbolizes the fragile link between sleep and death. Or, in this weather, the fragile link between sleep and sunstroke.

Anyway, the year rolls on. The examination period is almost over, marking season is upon us and it will soon be time for  examiners’ meetings, class lists and all the arcane business of academic life.

Yesterday I sat in the garden marking a third-year paper or, actually, only half a paper as I give the course jointly with another member of staff. After I’d finished I decided to go for a ride on my bicycle up the Taff Trail and around Bute Park. It was nice, but should have been nicer. Unfortunately, Cardiff City Council’s insane policy of organizing “events” all over the park, involving heavy vehicle movements and temporary buildings, has led to the wholesale destruction of the grass in many places. If the hot summer continues then this will get worse. The site of last year’s National Eisteddfod on Pontcanna Fields still hasn’t recovered; fifteen local sports fields have been completely ruined as you can see from this little video taken a couple of months ago.

Despite ongoing protests, the Council seems determined to press ahead with its plans to make Bute Park unfit as a place of quiet recreation by building a road so that more lorries can enter it.

Anyway, hordes of people were still about in the park yesterday, sunbathing, playing cricket, having barbecues, swimming in the Taff (illegally) and a few brave souls were jogging  around, leaving trails of sweat on the footpaths.

This took me back to the occasion – the best part of twenty years ago – when I entered the Great North Run for the first time. Nowadays this race – the biggest mass participation half-marathon race in the world, with 50,000 competitors – is run in September, but in those days it was held in June. As it happened, there was also a heatwave the first time I did it. I remember lining up at 9.30 on a Sunday morning on the start grid (I was number eleven thousand and something) while the stewards went round pleading with all the participants to take plenty of water as they went around as it was going to be very hot indeed and they didn’t want people suffering from dehydration.

In those days I was quite a keen long-distance runner and was fairly fit. I wasn’t that concerned about the heat but took the advice to heart and determined to stop at all the water stations on the way from Newcastle to South Shields. When we started I also took care not to go off too fast over the first mile or so, which is basically all downhill from the Town Moor to the Tyne Bridge. Not that you could go fast anyway, as the track was so crowded with runners.

I remember the wonderful feeling as we emerged onto the Tyne Bridge and took in the splendid view of the bridges along the river. When we got to Gateshead the crowds were out in large numbers cheering everyone on and I felt completely elated. The first water station was near Gateshead athletics stadium, and I took a drink there as I did at the next, and the next. After Gateshead the route heads towards the Felling bypass at about 4-5 miles and then the runners can see a long climb in front of them. A large thermometer showed the temperature on the road to be about 45 Celsius. Fortunately the people living in houses either side of the road were out in their front gardens offering encouragement and sometimes had their hoses out to shower people as they went past. At one point there was a fire engine that had made an impromptu fountain by the side of the road too.

Unfortunately, as I near the ten mile mark I started to feel a bit strange. I had never actually taken on water while I was running before this race; I never felt the need for it when on training runs. My stomach wasn’t used to the water sloshing around while I was running. I felt quite sick by the time we got to the top of the climb but when I saw the sea and felt its breath on my face I cheered up and descended the steep downward slope towards the seafront near Marsden Rock.

There’s a good mile and a half along the seafront to the finish, however, and I was definitely struggling really badly by then. I could see the finish line but it felt like it wasn’t getting any closer. I slowed to a crawl but kept going, finally reaching the grandstand where a large crowd shouted encouragement. I must have looked dreadful because I heard several people shouting out my number along with “keep going, son”  and “you’re nearly there”.

Eventually I got to the finish line but the feeder lanes were quite busy then – I was finishing at about the peak  time of about 1hr 50 – so I was forced to slow right down because of the people in front of me.

As I crossed the line, I stopped running and was immediately overcome with nausea. I bent over, hands on my knees and emptied the contents of my stomach – mainly water – all over the grass. I felt absolutely dreadful but, after a quick check from the St John Ambulance crew who were on hand, I recovered and found my folks who were nearby. After we got home and I had a shower I felt fine.

About a week later, when I had returned to my flat in London a letter arrived for me. I opened it up and found a small passport-sized photograph, with the caption “YOUR MOMENT OF TRIUMPH”. It turns out there was an automatic camera near the finishing line that snapped everyone crossing it along with a shot of the digital clock showing their finishing time. The idea is that you could order a blow-up of the picture for £25 to put on your wall.

In my case, though, the picture showed not a moment of splendid athletic achievement, but a bedraggled creature puking uncontrollably while those around him looked on in disgust. I didn’t order the blow-up of my throw-up.

Over the years I did the Great North Run a number of times – six or seven, I don’t remember exactly – and a few marathons too, but the strain of running on the roads around London gradually told on my knees and I had to stop because of recurrent pain and swelling. Eventually, a few years ago I surrendered to the inevitable and had arthroscopic surgery to sort out the damage to my knee joints. That seems to have fixed the problem, but my running days are over.