I went for a long weekend with Little Sister a while ago, I travelled by train and she picked me up from the carpark at the back of Cardiff Central Station.

          From the carpark, the skyline is pretty much dominated by the BRAINS brewery building. 


          Most things look so different when viewed in a nicer light, even old industrial buildings like the brewery, and this disused colliery I found in “Pleasley“. 

          More from before : various visits to “Cardiff” .


          There I was, wandering up and down platform one on Cardiff station snapping pictures here and there looking for a smile to add to this post.   I liked the old station buildings and tried a few different angles, cutting out the drizzle in the sky and trying to use the platform roof and the tracks to frame the large letters of “CARDIFF” fixed to the wall. 

          I took a couple of snaps, nothing quite curled the mouth into a smile, but there were one or two possibilities then turning up back towards the busier central part of the platform I spotted the bench…

           …an empty bench, quite plain in itself, made up of two large, sturdy planks of wood secured into heavy metal brackets. Very much a functional bench rather than a decorative one, that is, until you look towards the base.

          GWR…  Great Western Railway…

          The letters weren’t cut out in a dainty fashion, but we’re raised, chunky, hard-wearing letters, in keeping with the rest of the bench’s design.  Although the GWR didn’t quite raise the smile I was hoping for, it did catch my interest and I parked my little suitcase to try and catch the bench in my picture.

          I very often think to myself as I stretch with my camera into a peculiar position, “thank goodness for viewing screens.”

          Time for just one more click before an announcement came over the speaker system “train arriving at platform one… “,  I gathered up my case and climbed onto my train.

          Sitting in my seat I examined my photos, vaguely remembering a young lad and his mother passing me. They’d stepped into my shot as I’d taken it…

          … There was my smile.


           More from before : various visits to “Cardiff” .


          The Mothership : Mash, pie, mushy peas and gravy.

2014-11. Mother ship.

          The picture above was Little Sister’s lunch on our last visit to Bristol.  Mine didn’t have the mushy peas… I don’t go in for all that green stuff, far too healthy for my liking.

          Little Sister hadn’t eaten at a Pieminster before so it was a new experience for her.  I was reminded of my first Pieminster,  which was actually at the very same place in St. Nicholas Market, many moons ago.

          I was visiting my old school friend in her hometown (actually, I shouldn’t call her old, I’m two months ahead of her on the countdown to retirement so from now on I’ll just call her Schoolfriend). Anyway, I was visiting Schoolfriend in Bristol and knowing my liking of markets and little streets,  and my very limited taste in food we ended up at Pieminster for lunch.

          We ordered at the counter and took our food with us to the table, a strangely sociable experience as we squashed onto long benches alongside the table and the people at the far end against the wall couldn’t get out unless we moved. The strange seating arrangement would obviously be no good for a business meeting or to discuss a private matter, but once I was comfortable at the table I stopped thinking of the little, everyday, conversations which were going on around me and enjoyed my pie.  Actually I very much enjoyed my pie, and the mash … and the gravy… Oh, and the huge mug of tea I had to wash it down too.

2014-11. Pieminster front.

          My second Pieminster experience was in Oxford, and just as memorable.  I had met up with Judith and her sister.  Judith writes “ I Choose how I will spend the rest of my life” and was bravely navigating around the globe on her own, visiting sisters and many other beautiful places on route.  It was wonderful to be able to fit in with a slot in her itinerary and really enjoyed the day spent with new “real life” friends.  I wanted to give my blogging buddies some very original memories to take away with them.  Lunch at the Randolph would have been amazing, but would have blown the budget out of the water, so instead I took the advice of Middle Daughter and we ended up at the Pieminster in the Oxford covered market.

          Again as seems to be the way, we picked up our pies at the counter and then squeezed onto the end of someone elses table to sit and eat.  Also again, the little conversations around us seemed to melt into our pies as we ate and enjoyed out own conversations as if we were the only three people lunching that day.

2014-11. Pieminster seats.

          All three pictures here are of the Pieminster in Bristol’s St. Nicholas market on my visit with Little Sister.  Again we sat, chatted and laughed our way through our pies as if we were the only people eating that day.

          A few days later after my sister had returned home, she sent me an excited message to say she had found a Pieminster in Cardiff.  On my next visit there I’ll simply have to drop in and compare … all in the name of research you understand.”

          More from before: “Cardiff“, “Bristol“, and of course, “Oxford“.

From miles around

2014-11. Top church.

          I mentioned yesterday, as we took “A walk in the park” that the church on top of the hill could be seen for miles around.  On a previous visit I took the camera for a stroll around the Cardiff Bay area and one of the “Cardiff Bay Bits” I showed you was a pair of canons pointing in a Penarth direction.  Look closely at the skyline and you can quite easily make out Top Church in the distance.

53. Canons.

          We walked back across the barrage on our way home, here’s a closer shot of Top Church I still have sitting in my files.

2013-06. Top church.

          There are a few more memories lingering below the skyline so maybe one day I’ll take you on another trip down memory lane and into the picture.

           More from before :Various visits to “Penarth” and “Cardiff“.

Training day

2014-05. Cardiff clock face.

          Sitting on the bus on the way into Oxford I was struck by an overwhelming smell of dirty water, so much so that I was finding it difficult to breathe.   The smell reminded me of a pair of shoes I’d once worn while getting caught out by a flooded pathway.  Those shoes smelled so bad afterwards, even when they were dry, that I risked putting them through the washing machine with plenty of powder.  I don’t know if they survived in spite of being leather or because of it, but survive they did and went on for a good few years after. Struggling to drag the dirty water smell in and out of  my lungs, I pulled my bag up onto my lap to support my elbow and rested my chin on my hand, filtering my breathing through the sleeve of my jumper.   A couple of stops later we passed through town and the passenger’s swapped, in with the new passengers came a waft of citrus and flowers to fill the air.   I wondered how many others noticed the change as the young lady breezed in the fresh scent with her, thankful I sat back in my seat, breathed deeply and relaxed for the rest of the bus ride into Oxford.

          I stressed a little going through Oxford from my bus to the train station trundling my little suitcase behind me.  My breathing was more like puffing and done through my mouth rather than my nose so I felt rather than smelt the warm whoosh of a bus or two as they passed me. On entering the station my senses were bombarded with delicious scents from the bakery and coffee counters, my ticket took me through the barrier to the first platform and before I had chance to glance around me my train was announced and I found myself sitting in a quiet carriage bounding through green and yellow countryside to make my connection.

          A quick simple change from one platform to another, from one train to the next, turned out to be not quite so simple…

     My pre-booked seat was being sat upon by someone else!

          What a dilemma, do I ask them to move or just pretend I hadn’t really booked ahead anyway and sit somewhere else.  Too late the decision was made for me, the lady with the seat in question was looking at me quizzically.  My chance of just melting away into another seat evaporated as both of us staked a claim on the seat. Tickets were displayed and it appears we were both booked onto the same seat for a couple of stops overlap.

          Possession is nine tenths of the law, quite apart from my probably having the less aggressive personality so I quite happily settled down a few seats away from my booking..

          A comfortable ride with my hands and mind occupied with my crochet hook, and after making the final twelve black squares needed to complete the border of my throw, and a few communicative texts to Little Sister I emerged at the front of Cardiff station, the gusting winds of the day took my breath away but my mind filled in the gaps with the same old familiar smell of hops from the brewery.

Millennium snowdrops

2014-02. Millenium snowdrops.

          Snowdrops alongside the river Taff in Cardiff with a view of the Millennium Stadium in the background.

          Despite the grey skies and the rain, the cold temperatures and the wind-chill, despite whatever else life in general has just thrown at you, snowdrops always manage to lift the spirits.

Pat the dog

          Another picture from “Mermaid Quay“, this time a statue of a young couple enjoying the feel of the waterside.  (That’s the Norwegian Church from other “Cardiff Bay bits” you can see in the background).

2013-06. Statues.

          Don’t you just love the way that the dog’s nose and ears have been made shiny by being patted by so many hands ?

2013-06. Dog.

          … and take a closer look at the shoe on the gentleman’s left foot, it looks like it’s been trodden on at more than a few occasions for a pose by the railings.

           More from before : various visits to “Cardiff” .