Posts Tagged ‘Cardiff’

Concluding the positives of 2010 then, from yesterday.

Dead Eye Dick

I have been chatting to Ray online for a good ten years now. Excellent lad and we get on well unless you discuss two issues which we have agreed to disagree on. George W Bush and Gun control in America. So it amused me greatly that I thought I should put my money where my mouth is and see what all this gun fuss is about. So off we went to a shooting range and it amused me even more that I was a good shot. Really good. Especially good when you consider I’ve never shot anything more than a pop gun before. I smelt of gun powder for days. We still disagree about gun control though.

A Completely Magic Weekend in Cardiff.

Ok so going out on the gay scene was like playing spot the person not dressed like it’s still the 80’s however,  other than that, the weekend in Cardiff was epic. Firstly Cardiff is beautiful and one of the places in the world I could see myself living. Secondly it houses (sadly now defunct) an amazing Doctor Who Exhibition which was completely and utterly brilliant, he said, his geek flag flying.

And finally it was the site of the most surreal day of exploration, all to see the shrine for a dead character in an average television series. Most people visiting whom were Ianto’s Shrine were like me, bemused and intrigued. You could tell the true fan though as they were already crying as they approached. People were crying as they put up poems etc on the shrine. Kissing the poems.  Weeping more. It was most delightful and amusing to my blacker than soot  sense of humour. Evidently the shrine still continues, so if you want the most delightful day out, to witness what people with too much time on their hands get up to, this is the place for you.

The Best Morning Ever


Burned into my memory, those mornings.


There is this weird sensation when you go somewhere and you know you’re meant to be there. Never knew that until this year. And it’s like everything falls into place.  Nothing is easy though.  Welcome to my life.

Best Till Last

I was hesitant to put a person as the best thing of last year, largely as its rather personal and hopefully not too embarrassing. However there was no denying the reality. All in all, if you asked me to define one event that was continuously delightful in 2010; whether it was from daily tie pictures or 6 am videochat soul-searching or email tag or constantly nattering throughout each day or blubbing over the tele  or being taught so, so many things, it was the growing and amazing friendship with Wesley. When I did a list of the best things that happened to me last year, he was at the centre of most of them. In the spirit of the best of companions, I have learnt so much from him already and have so much more to learn. Hopefully this is a two-way street.

So GM, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your friendship and love this year. I look forward to years of our new, really old bond, wherever that may be. As ever, I got your back.

And it’s pronounced Mah Crah May.


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You know how you hear a song or a piece of music and you’re transformed back to the time when you first heard the song.  When I was 19, and the first time I returned to England, I heard Feargal Sharkey’s A Good Heart is Hard To Find. Good Lord it’s awful.  However, whenever I hear it now I remember the first time I was discovering London, the 19 year old falling in love with England.  

There was a number of songs that gained personal meaning for one reason or the other during the holiday. As pure self-indulgence I am listing them here and giving some insight into what or why they gained notoriety.

As I can imagine that would be boring for anyone reading this, instead of listing the song title, I’ve listed a song lyric. Guess the song before you click on the link.  See.  A game out of my indulgences.  Doesn’t get better than that.

“I want your love I don’t wanna be friends.”

I started off easy.  You should know this.

This song was EVERYWHERE! All the countries I visited I heard it played.  If there was an anthem to the trip, this is it. I could not stop hearing this song and it is so annoyingly infectious. This is the song that i will hear when I am 60 and be transported back to a lake house in North Carolina, a bus station in France, a pub in Exeter, an airport in Toronto…. too many excellent memories for this one song.

“And now whatever way our stories end I know you have rewritten mine By being my friend”

This song! Drove me insane. I could not stop singing it in the weeks prior to visiting America.  First song played in the car in Charlotte was this soundtrack.  Someone telling me something. 

And some notes about this particular YouTube clip. There are better clips of For Good but this is the last performance ever of the artist (Kristen Chenoweth) in the role of Glinda, the white witch in Wicked.  And for those who don’t know, this song is all about the character saying goodbye to each other.  Watch the whole clip. It’s doubly heartbreaking.

 “We’re surfing in the air We’re swimming in the frozen sky”

I’ve taken you here before and you know the reason why. I’m nothing if not a completist.

“And darkness still inside you Make you feel so small”

On the plane play list returning to England from the US.  Some of the lines of the song were especially pertinent. Listen to the lyrics more than the singing.   I included the Glee version, even though I appreciate it is wuss rock and there are better versions, as this was the one on the plane and I seriously love Glee. Glee is just so much fluff and  an excellently fun tele show. If you haven’t watched it I would recommend it. Highly. 

“There are no lyrics”

 Only one person will get the significance of this, which I include to make that person  giggle. Everyone else, move on. Nothing to see here.

“I don’t mind spending everyday Out on your corner in the pouring rain”

Ray and I had driven through Washington and seen so many famous sights my mind had been blown. We had just finished a mountain of fries at Z-burgers and were heading back in the car to Baltimore Airport to send me on my way to Charlotte. This song came on while we were driving. It was just one of those gooey moments of being really happy that I will remember.  And I like this song.

“As he came into the window It was the sound of a Crescendo”

I missed this. I’m not sure how. But when I saw it, for the first time at my friend’s place at 3 in the am after a really long night, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. It’s a great song. But good God, were MJ’s video clips self-indulgent or what??!!! I included this 9 minutes epic not expecting you to watch all of it, unless you are super bored.  He patented the shoes that made him be able to bend over like that tho. And the reason the song gets included here. The second time I heard it was with the same friends. Odd. Clearly the song hangs around them.

“These streets will make you feel brand new, the lights will inspire you”

Just in case you don’t know, hover the cursor over a link or a photo and text will appear. And the text for this is particularly true.  This song drove me nuts as I kept hearing it in Brighton at the start of the holiday and never heard who sang it/ rapped it.  I’m not a fan of rap but the chorus by Alicia Keys is enjoyable and why it gets here. It sticks out (like those things that stick out) amongst all the other songs though.

“There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met”

You wont get this one. Even I didn’t know what the song was except that I spent days humming it to myself at the end of the holiday. You know that annoying tune you can’t get out of your head. I explored the song on the internet when I got back wondering why it was playing on my brain.  I was pleasantly surprised by the lyrics and its pertinence to my current situation. And yeah, muppets. Ah well. I’ve clearly proven I have zero taste in music.

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Ianto’s Shrine, Cardiff Bay

Oh I loved this day. It was one of the highlights of my holiday.

For those who missed it, the picture below is the shrine dedication of a group of fans to a character who died in a television show; said television show being filmed at Cardiff Bay. It was simultaneously touching and sad. Touching because people clearly were affected by the fictional death of this character; sad because people clearly were affected by the fictional death of this character.

Wars are raging, people are starving and people are writing love letters to Captain Fiction.  So many outpourings of love for a television character. It really is a skewed world.

Having said that, the day was just hysterical! I haven’t laughed so much in forever. I mean, really. It’s a tele show, people.

Doctor Who Experience – Cardiff Bay

I fell in love with Doctor Who when I was 11. Loved it ever since, even when it was rubbish. Visiting an exhibition of props and costumes was a no brainer. I’ve written enough about it recently not to need to rehash. Suffice to say, if you have a vague interest you will love it and if you’re a fan you’re not going to need my recommendation.

Dawlish beachfront, Devon

Dawlish: home of the most magnificent ice creams and the neo-nazi ducks. Amusingly that ice cream has proven to be the most commented upon item of this blog which, given the breadth and scope of my travels, is no mean feat.  People found it completely fascinating for some reason and, to their great sense,all wanted to try one. I should really include the pic of me looking lovingly at the ice cream which is hysterical in its sadness. Instead Dawlish beach, and a pic of the sea front I really quite like.

Jasper, Exeter Quay

You know how some children, who are too young to know any better, think that you are the most amazing thing because you know about a television show or some cartoon character they love.  And you know that you’re not at all special however you cant help but enjoy the fact that, for a brief moment, the child thinks you are. That was Jasper, my cousin Deb’s little boy, who at the age of 6 thought I was the bees knees because I knew about Doctor Who and liked buying sweets. heh! Who was I to argue. He’ll work it out soon enough.

The Elfin Oak, Kensington Gardens, London

I discovered this purely by chance. I had gone to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground first thing in the morning. the morning was sunny but the park was covered in fog which had not burnt off yet.  The park was closed however the Elfin Oak was directly opposite the entrance.

for those who may not know, the Elfin Oak is a 900 year old hollow log that, in 1928, artist Ivor Innes was commissioned to carve little fairy figures and woodland creatures into its bark.  the level of detail is incredible and especially so when you realise it’s age.  Go here for some more, had-better-access-to-it pictures of the Oak. 

The Elfin  Oak itself is in a cage. presumably this is to stop vandals however the cage’s grid is so small it makes taking pictures of it incredibly impossible. This was the best shot I got and that was putting the lens through the tiny grid in the cage.

It is delightful however, particularly given its history and its age. Can you imagine children in the 1920’s seeing this? It’s impressive now in this day of video games and 3D television. Kids back then, best you get is a book or a play if you’re lucky, it must have been amazing.

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Continued from here. I refuse to let the fact that nobody commented on it get me down… sob…

 Mayan Exhibit, Cadbury World – Birmingham

This is just so wrong. Firstly it is the very first thing people see when they enter Cadbury World. Secondly whats up with his head? He looks like he has been decapitated. And can you imagine the artist  creating this and thinking, “Have I got enough expression in his face?”  Children were freaking out as they went through this part of Cadbury World. Willy Wonka had a wonderful forest full of candy cane trees, peppermint grass and chocolate rivers when you entered his chocolate factory. Cadbury World has stuffed boa constrictors, Halloween lighting, rain forest nightmare sound effects and mannikins so scary even the adults were rushing past them. Someone should send Mr Cadbury a copy of the book.

St Michael’s Church, Heavitree

This was part of the great find your dead relatives day. There were a few days like that to be honest.

St Michael’s church in Heavitree, a suburb of Exeter is the resting place of my Uncle Harry and the Christening place of my brother.  The church has seen a few marriages there in the family clan as well. I like that about this church; that it is steeped in history, not only of the Vanstone/ Hoyle/ Bakers family tree but of Exeter itself. That this is the place where you celebrate entering the world and this is the place where you celebrate your passing. It’s the thing that makes Europe so much fun, that history that invades every aspect of it. This church has been around since the 12th Century. Thats an incredible amount of life that its seen.

And this pic, chosen because it’s cool.

Unknown Lady – Exmouth, Devon

I adore this woman. Out reading her book on a sunny day in the  town of Exmouth. It is super warm and, God love her, she is dressed up for the rain that probably inevitably comes every day when I am not there, because I am cursed to be a sun magnet.  There is something so English about her look as well, which reminds me of my Gran, I’ve only just realised. It’s the look of the aged Brit and had been since the war.

Alliance Sculpture, Cardiff

Placed outside of Cardiff Library there was evidently a big kerfuffle when this was made as it was designed by a French, not Welsh, sculptor.

I think it is superb. It glows in the dark at night with Welsh phrases which is a bit naff to be honest. Here  though, in the light of day and against the colours of the windows of the library….. absolutely magic.

Private Shop, Cardiff

This is a shop to sell adult materials in Britain. I included it purely as an example of, I presume, the English reserve and not blatant censorship.  There is not a clue there as to its contents. Not even the name.

Cardiff Bay, Cardiff.

I am not sure why it is so dark in the picture. Truly the weather was lovely throughout the entire trip.  It rained maybe three days.  Cardiff Bay is spectacular and home of the genius Doctor Who exhibition and the Shrine to fiction.  Here we are walking miles and miles to get to the tourist bureau to find the shrine. I was a bit exhausted by this point and was thinking that Ianto’s shrine had better be worth it. It was fortunately and I’ll show you some more of that tomorrow.


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Exhibit Yourself

This one was hidden away well and truly in the files. A continuation of the spectacular and hysterical day at Cardiff Bay.

My apologies, because I am about to get geeky again.

Aside from being the home of location shooting for multiple Doctor Who and Torchwood episodes, Cardiff Bay is home to the current (and at the time of writing) only Doctor Who Exhibition.  It’s a small exhibition packed with lots of props and costumes from the current series.

For a fan, it’s gold.

After paying ( the most extremely bored looking shop assistant I have ever met in my life) for entry, the first thing you see is the Tardis. Ahhhhhh, sadly I had to have multiple pictures of this just in case they didn’t turn out, as you do. Ignoring digital technology that can erase a crap picture in a second. I needed multiple. 

(And at this point, I should again thank my cousin Rachel who was an extraordinarily good sport on the day, indeed weekend. And who took millions of pics of me.)

There was a video set up that placed your image on a scene from the series.  Rachel’s turned out extremely well (in fact, it looked fantastic) however mine was ruined by my-only-shirt-that-I-wore-on-holiday.  Blue screen projection. Doesn’t work so much when your shirt is blue.

After making Rachel take a picture of me in front to the Tardis interior (in fact, just a sheet of plastic with the roundels in it.)   She was appalled at how insistent I was that she did get the picture in frame so as not to see its plastic sheetedness. It still looks like a plastic sheet but I was too giddy to care.

You then enter a series of areas that feature the props and outfits from the show. Don’t worry, I am seriously resisting the temptation to list them all.  However I will mention the outstanding ones.

Most of the monsters were dummies, take a picture, move on. Some were interactive. The cybermen, Daleks and the weeping angels moved but, for the most part, they were static.  the best part of the exhibition was the cybermen. Not only did they move and were visually interesting I took a really good picture with them.

The Dalek display was impressive and featured 4 Daleks moving around and exterminating people. Unfortunately to make the extermination effect work the room was filled with smoke. It looked good but it made taking a picture reallllllly difficult.

I’ve mentioned the weeping angels before.  They were the ones in the scariest episode of Doctor Who ever, the idea being that the statues will kill you if you don’t look at them.  Perhaps its because they are so scary that the display was placed miles above your head.  In fact, I walked past it the first time.  Hence the angle of the shot.  The display moved around however it could have been so much more effective had it been face to face.

So if you’re a fan, this  is a must see. Rachel was not a fan however still enjoyed it (which was good as we were there a while.)  I was having the best time.  I’d have been happy had I gone after having my picture taken with the Tardis though.  Easily pleased and  a teensy bit über-geeky.

Gotta love me for something, right?!

And if you come round to my place, I can bore you for hours with pictures from the exhibition.  Hours.  You’ve been warned.

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dot points part two

Lots of Devonshire men look like elves. This is especially so as they age. There are lots of old aged pensioners who look like elves over here. It’s very curious.

I am insanely impressed with the bus service here. There are no special needs buses, instead all buses are equipped to allow people in wheelchairs access to the bus ride. It has been delightful to see.

I also love the fact that people all thank the bus driver as they exit the bus. It’s really sweet.

If you wear a rugby jersey in Wales you are required to drink beers at 10 in the am. This is the law.

If you wear a Welsh rugby jumper you are required to have not stopped drinking from the night before and sing to the pub patrons at 10 o’clock sunday morning.

Not all Welsh people have good singing voices. And certainly not at ten on a sunday morning.

I could live in Cardiff. It’s THAT good and that was even before Cardiff Bay.

I officially hate flick’r. I cannot upload anything to it, though this may be the issue of the internet rather than the web site to be fair.

There are an incredible number of soldiers who die in service over here. We (Australia) have nothing on them. I dread to think how it will be in the States. It’s unbelievably heartbreaking and we are incredibly protected from it.

I have never been hotter than I have been here. Pepole have their central heating to levels we would put the air conditioning on in Australia. I have a blog on it soon but need to mention I am hot as hell.

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Cardiff was spectacular

There are at least four blogs in me about Cardiff. I will get to them anon but, in the meantime, the blog that cannot wait.

For you to understand this blog though, you need to be aware that there is a television show called Doctor Who and that this show had a spin-off, Torchwood.  You have to understand that Torchwood is filmed in Cardiff , most notably Cardiff Bay, a very pretty tourist location. In the show, a main character, Ianto Jones, was killed off last season.  You also need to read yesterday‘s post and revisit the you tube of Ianto’s death.

Lot of homework for this blog. Apologies.

So my cousin Rachel and I visited Cardiff Bay today largely as it is the home of the Doctor Who Exhibition. I was aware that Torchwood was filmed in Cardiff Bay however, to be fair, I think torchwood is a bit crap. I wasnt really bothered about Torchwood. However, as you would remember, the receptionist who booked us into the hotel told us of a shrine to Ianto jones, dead fictional character in mediocre television series.

There was no way I was missing that.

The very kind, very enthusiastic receptionist told us that the shrine was near the Tourist information Centre in Cardiff. So we dutifully traipsed off to the tourist information centre in search of sadness.

And we walked. And we walked.

The tourist information centre is as far away as possible from Cardiff Bay. Work that out. Presumably they only want the fittest people to be able to bother them with questions. We finally got there, after passing this group of lads having their photos taken. We suspect they may be a new boy band. They certainly looked like a boy band, ie they pouted a lot but their hair was kind of greasy.

I said “Plonkers.” under my breath as we passed. Rachel pointed out that this was from the man who was searching through Wales for a shrine to a fictional character. I took her point.

We finally got to the tourist information centre. See I was fit. Who knew.

And no sign of Ianto’s shrine.

Not a skerrick. There was lots of polluted water which they don’t show you in Doctor Who. So other than ringing the nice and enthusiastic receptionist at the hotel for leading us astray I thought, perhaps, there may be a tourist map for Doctor Who in the information centre.

No. No  such luck (curiously there was such a map at the Doctor Who Exhibition. )

So we enter my finest hour.

I approach the very pretty, very sweet tourist information assistant.

“Hello” says I, “do you know Torchwood?” ( I am dying as I say this… literally wanting the world to swallow me up)

“Oh yes.” She says helpfully and with a look of pity flashing across her face.

“Do you know where they film it?’ I ask. (I am beside myself now)

“The hub? Do you mean where they film the hub?” she replies.

“Yes”, says I. “Where do they film the hub?” (slightly relieved.)

“Oh” she says, “there’s a shrine there for someone who died. All these people have left flowers.” She screws her nose up at this.

Secretly I am jumping for joy however I remain calm.

“Oh yes.” Says I. “Mad isn’t it?”

Behind her is a huge panoramic map of Cardiff bay . She walks to it and points out the route to me, very loudly, so everyone in the room knows what I am there for.

She was gorgeous and only slightly pitying which I appreciated.

So Rachel and I walk and I walk and walk back where we came. Past Cardiff Bay. Had we turned left and not right it would have taken us a minute to see it.

However it was magnificent.

Pages and pages of poems.Photos. Flowers. Love hearts. Garlands. Beads. This huge outpouring of love.

To a fictional character.

It was sweet and sad and pathetic all at once.

I have to say I found the whole thing highly amusing. It appealed to my black sense of humour. And as I was reading all the letters and tributes I kept thinking, “Why don’t you do this for real events?” Obviously it easier to feel for fiction than real life.

I did love it though.

And so we left, suitably somber, after I paid my respects for the dead fictional character as the  crying people laid more flowers.

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Mewn Achos o Dan*

Greetings from Cardiff.

It is going to be a quick one. We have arrived in Cardiff ( my cousin and myself) and are going out to see what Cardiff night life is like. As we are throwing caution to the wind we are not taking our coats. I am nothing if not a wild man.

I was last here 25 years ago as an impressionable teenager. I remember being in love with the city, which was quite provincial, and the accents, which are delightfully sing-song.

Some initial thoughts of Cardiff this time around:

If you are to believe the souvenir shops, Wales is very proud of its dragon, it’s miners and it’s sheep.

They are insanely proud that Doctor Who  and Torchwood are filmed here. The very kind lady who checked us in gave us a detailed explanation of where we could find the filming sites. Also the site where one of the Torchwood characters died has not become a shrine and people are leaving flowers in his fictional memory. This made me laugh and laugh. I will definitely be getting pictures of that. Heres hoping this is in focus.

I did not mention my love of Doctor Who to the hotel receptionist. She volunteered this information re Doctor Who.  Then she got tetchy with me when I suggested that Torchwood actor John Barrowman was incredibly wooden. (see the above link for evidence of this).  In a desperate attempt to conclude the checking in process we had to agree that he could sing well however, to be honest, I’ve heard better.

It takes not time at all to get to Cardiff. I cannot believe how easy it is to get around here. Albeit you need a car.

All signs in Wales have the Welsh translation written underneath the english. Being part Welsh I have been able to pronounce these with ease.

The city is gorgeous and the castle, the centrepiece, remains impressive 25 years later. All towns should have a castle. It adds gravitas.

Right. Off to explore the night life here. More tomorrow.

* Welsh for In Case of fire.  I am totally native now.

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