Our voyage to South Wales – day one

by | Aug 6, 2023 | Latest Post | 0 comments

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It was a real challenge to see what decorative or cultural function this could have embodied.

Some may be shocked by this but I found it so bizarre as to be a work of art. See next Wednesday’s entry

Let it never be said that my trips are boring. The two photos below will give you some idea of what happened between my departure on the morning of Sunday the 6th of August and my return on Wednesday the 9th of August.

We decided to repeat our successful formula going to the Cardiff area and visiting Saint Fagans National Museum of History on the way and staying for three nights at the Travelodge Hotel in Cardiff Bay.

Long story short £-wise In spite of our very modest plans our expenditure was little short of £500. It does appear to be a lot of money to us but since we have been out of circulation prices have increased. We spent just over £200 on 3 nights r/o at the hotel, and the best part of £200 on food.

A note on travel

I know that the M4 when displayed on a map looks very convenient.  However it is extremely crowded with a huge amount of traffic because it is the main east west road between England and Wales.  I suggest you look at one of the excellent apps including the AA and if you see a red line on the road map then it is probably a good idea to change your time of departure or at least allow extra time

Noise or Noise?

I will do my usual TripAdvisor review in due course. This economy Travelodge  Hotel is ideally placed for Cardiff Bay which has had a huge amount of investment put into it because of its location in the 250 million euro Harbor that was built and finished in 1999.

There is only one problem with the hotel and that is noise. On one side you have a road which can be noisy at times but not in the evening, and on the car park facing side of the road there is a huge fan that goes night and day which caused us to ask for another room away from this noise. The fan is not loud but it is incessant and of a low frequency.

We stayed there last September and the staff were helpful and positive as usual however there was one strange feature in our bedroom on this occasion. Normally the bed is made but in this case they just put a sheet down on the bed which we discovered to be a duvet cover. The duvet itself was wrapped up in a large bag. The bag stood in the corner. As it happened we did not need the duvet because the room was so warm.

St Fagan’s Castle and Grounds

The kitchen of St Fagan’s Castle complete with immaculate copper sauce pans

The music room with the latest equipment (some imported during its opening period)

An abandoned greenhouse in the Castle gardens. We noted that there were at least two large diameter heating pipes along the inner areas.

Very well designed round ‘moat’ containing lavender with many attendant bees.

imaginative grasses laid out as part of a design.

An outstanding river/ water course with many Italian-like features; The mansion used to have pondsto keep fish to eat and also as a garden feature.

This was a cloudy but rainless Sunday; the museum is obviously extremely popular with families. I had an estimate from one of the staff members that there were between 4,000 and 5,000 people in attendance. It is open from 10:00 a.m. To 5:00 p.m. Every day.

I would say this is an ideal day out.  You pay six pounds to park your car and entrance  is free. The main building serves refreshments throughout the day with good hot and cold choices for lunch. Yes there is queuing at certain times of the day. Main dishes cost about 10 pounds. Expect to sit down with lively and noisy families but all enjoying themselves in the Spirit of being on holiday.

When we came last time, in September last year, we couldn’t even get round most of the gardens because there was so much to draw our attention. There are some people in costume dress showing crafts no longer practiced and I noticed that they do know quite a lot about their subject.

I don’t suppose you can see the details of the map below but at least it gives you some idea of what is going on. You can get such maps at 50 pence  in the entrance hall. It covers around 100 acres.  I acre being 4046 square meters.

Second attempt to see Oppenheimer

In the evening we went to see the film Oppenheimer. It was showing at the huge 15 screen ODEON Cinema Complex in Cardiff Bay. It is a three hour two minute film that will scheduled to start at 10 minutes past eight. I turned up and there were about two dozen people in the auditorium. We had two endure about 20 minutes worth of ear splitting advertisements plus adverts for films that were about to be shown. Nearly all the films consisted of violence and all this played at top volume. During the showings of the adverts people came in normally two by two carrying the most ridiculous size of popcorn tubs which we noted later could be obtained for the price of £6.35. One came and sat to our left, another to our right and one behind us. Was this a conspiracy to drive us mad or to teach us a lesson?

Eventually about 8.35 pm the movie itself started. I had hoped for some diminution in the volume but no it was at the same ear splitting level. I asked myself, does no one ever check? Are all the people who are watching stone deaf? I also noticed that the voices of the actors were very difficult to hear and were at the same volume as for example the smashing of glasses or the banging of a door. After about 10 minutes I could not take any more and we both left. I complained to the management and for the very first time in my life, I asked for a refund. I have seen hundreds of films so this was quite something for me to do. I was angry though so it was easier.

The manager told me that I could have come and asked for the volume to be turned down but I felt that it was a bit late for that. I asked for a refund of 13 pounds and she readily agreed and said that it would take between one and four days for the refund to arrive in my account. In fact the refund arrived within 30 minutes. We decided to watch the movie, which basically has a good reputation, in local Wells which is about a 20-minute drive from our home.

A possible White Elephant?

I want to talk about the vast building that was designed to hold not only the ODEON Cinema but also many service outlets  for example Five Guys, Costa Coffee etc.  It is called the ‘Red Dragon Centre’.   There was a Japanese restaurant serving all you can eat buffet in the evenings offering up to 100 dishes. We were there on a Monday night when virtually no one was in the restaurant. Next to it was a restaurant that was half a play area, good idea in theory but no one could see quite what was going on. Next door were two empty units, a lot of square meters rather sad and sorry looking.

By the main door there was another restaurant that had closed  after three to four years service. Attached to the door was this very sweet note thanking everyone for making the venture a success but sadly we had no option but to close that sort of thing. It may be that they have not recovered from covid or more likely the footfall was smaller than they had imagined. There were about six very large units that were unoccupied and if this gets much worse than there will be a cumulative fall off in interest I fear though the cinema will always bring some customers.

On an amusing note the film Barbie was playing and you could tell who had attended because everyone was wearing pink and some had fancy hats and makeup.

Time will tell but I think certainly units might need a tax break so to speak in order for them to continue because there is a limit to how long you could go on without digging into extra reserves. We were there in the summer and I dread to think what it’s like on a cold and wet winter’s evening.   I hope I am being too pessimistic and I would love to be proved wrong

Our first and last night of purgatory

We went to bed about 11 o’clock and immediately noticed the worrying  vibration of the fan from the center opposite. The diameter of the fan I estimate to be about nine feet. As I said above it wasn’t the volume. It was the timbre and quality that got us. Francoise went down to reception to ask if we could change rooms – yes it was that bad – but they did not have any spare rooms and the night duty person suggested that we mention it the next morning.

We somehow got through the night. There has to be a funny side to everything so we thought of it as a situation that could be changed.

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