‘WHAT?’, ‘yeah?’, ‘yeah?’ ‘Well I’m not listening to this s*&t, I’m on the train, I’m leaving and I’m hanging up!’
Heads turned toward the new arrival on the train, announcing his situation at the top of his voice and we all silently thought, yep, probably a good idea to hang up. Seconds later – ‘F*&% off, I’m hanging up’. Followed by another call and another. And on it kept for at least half our trip to Cardiff – ah domestic bliss it seems – something I’m yet to achieve (luckily?). By the end of the trip, we knew the calls were being recorded on the other end of the line and he had had enough and was leaving ’cause she had issues’. Is he from the Valley’s? I wonder.
About an hour later, and we reach Cardiff (without our vocal friend) to see the sights. Cardiff was pronounced the capital of Wales in 1955, but it began life as a Roman fort around about 55 AD. Cardiff town was founded when the Normans conquered Glamorgan and Robert Fitz Hamon (himself a Norman) built a wooden castle within the walls of the old Roman fort. A town soon grew up around the Castle.
This little wooden castle, rebuilt in stone in the meantime, was passed through the hands of noble families until 1766 when it was passed to the Bute family by marriage. It was the 2nd Marquess of Bute, who was responsible for turning Cardiff into the world’s greatest coal exporting port in the world.
The Cardiff Castle grounds are fairly expansive, starting off with a short video that brings you through the ages of it’s 2,000 year history. Afterwards, you head into the corridors of the castle wars, following a display of posters from the time of World War II requesting citizens not to waste food and to be home early. Extensive air-raid shelters were tunnelled out of the castle’s walls during this period, which could hold up to 1,800 people. The castle also tethered barrage balloons (or blimps) above the city to defend against aircraft attack – the blimps would be tethered with metal cables and would damage aircraft upon collision and make attacking more difficult.
The architecture inside the medieval castle is quite something, and features a spectacular middle eastern ceiling and fireplace in the Arab Room, which was intended as a drawing room for the women of the castle.
A short train ride away from the castle is Cardiff Bay – apparently Europe’s largest waterfront development and home to the Techniquest Science Discovery Centre, the Welsh Assembly, Butetown History and Art Museum and a leisure village.
The welsh name for Cardiff is Caerdydd, meaning ‘day fort’.