07.10.2016 - 09.10.2016 14 °C
So it was farewell to Cornwall and hello to Wales – after enduring peak hour traffic and paying six pounds and sixty pence for the sheer pleasure of driving across a big fancy bridge and entering another country. We turned up at our Airbnb in Barry, home of Gavin and Stacey. Our host, Marion, won us over instantly when she offered us a cup of tea and then gave us a dinner recommendation that turned out to be absolutely wonderful, darling. We went to Izmir, a Turkish/Greek restaurant and enjoyed dinner with Ali, who had previously worked on the QEII and had all the flamboyance you would expect of a cruise ship worker.
The next day we set about seeing as many of the Gavin and Stacey landmarks as we could walk to in Barry and its surrounds. We headed down Trinity Street (so steep that Warwick hadn’t made it up the night before) and stopped at number 47 – Stacey’s house. We were just taking a polite and respectful photo (as instructed by the signs on the window), when the door opened and a woman in a bright pink dressing gown emerged. We were half expecting to be told to shoo and sod off, but instead the greeting was “well are ye camin’ in or no?” We decided that we were, in fact, camin’ in, and so ended up in the lounge room, surrounded by Gavin and Stacey paraphernalia. Simon even got to hold the frying pan used by Gwen for making omelettes! We were given some inside goss on the cast (Ruth Jones – Nessa – is from Cardiff and is a bit posh, Mathew Horne – Gavin – is not particularly friendly, but James Corden – Smithy – has time for everyone) and we were even offered the use of the toilet facilities and to visit Stacey’s bedroom but we politely declined.
After that excitement, we headed across to Barry Island, where there were new houses being built all over the place. Once we were through the new housing estate, all the fun of the fair was there. I must admit, I still haven’t quite come to terms with the British tendency to put a carnival by the seaside. The whole point of the beach is surely to be at the beach – to have sand end up in crevices you didn’t know you had, to frolic in the waves, and to be either completely windswept or burnt to a crisp. And the Barry beach seemed to offer excellent facilities in this respect (more opportunities for windburn than sunburn at this time of year), but apparently it also needed slot machines, a ferris wheel, some sort of water spraying game, and lots of flashing lights and cheerful tunes. We enjoyed a sandwich from Marco’s (Stacey wasn’t working there that day unfortunately), and then walked from Friar’s Point to Nell’s Point, around Jackson Bay and then back in to town. We detoured via the Town Hall and then got ourselves home again, feeling rather worn out. Dinner was at Cwm Talwg (pronunciation!?) which met the criteria of being walking distance away and serving food. Victory.
Sunday was a cracker of a day, with glorious sunshine and just a light breeze. Perfect for exploring Cardiff. We wandered through Sophia Gardens towards Cardiff Bay, and sampled some Welsh cakes along the way. We were lured in by the smell and sight of them being freshly cooked – just imagine if a scone and some shortbread loved each other very much and had a baby, and now you’re imagining a Welsh cake. Lush. We checked out the Pierhouse, Roald Dahl Plass, and the Norwegian church where Roald Dahl was baptised (because obviously we hadn’t seen enough Norwegian churches in Norway…). We stopped in for lunch at the Japanese place by the bay, and ended up chatting to the Kiwi waiter there – he had been living in London for the past eight years, but nobody says “sweet as” and gets away with it when we’re on the job.
We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling about the gardens and buildings of St Fagan’s National History Museum. A large version of Sovereign Hill, with more impressive gardens. And a castle. The autumn leaves were starting to change colour and it all made for very pleasant strolling indeed.
When we returned home, Marion’s daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter were all there too, so there were cups of tea all round and young Lucy promptly set about telling us all what to do, even renaming me “Megan” for her convenience.
Simon made his ol’ faithful sweet potato soup for dinner, and we heard stories of Marion’s life in Zimbabwe and somehow it came up that she had grown up with Mem Fox and was still friends with her. What a legend. Airbnb has triumphed again.