Saturday, April 21, 2018

England (and Wales) 2018, Day 10

We had breakfast at our guest house and arranged to leave our bags before heading out to Mass at St. Peter's Church, the oldest surviving Catholic Church in Cardiff, and fortunately only half a mile away. Afterwards, I flagged down a bus and thanks to its helpful driver was able to buy an all-day group bus pass for £10 for all three of us. One of my ideas for Sunday had been to visit St. Fagan's, a living history museum on the other side of Cardiff, but there didn't seem to be any Sunday bus service there. The other plan was to visit Penarth, a seaside community on the other side of Cardiff Bay.
We were a little dubious in case the rain began again but set off regardless, jumping on a bus that arrived barely two minutes after we reached the stop. I told my companions we were heading to the Vale of Glamorgan, which sounded very glamorous.  From Penarth's town center (an appealing-looking bookstore was closed), we walked about 20 minutes down to a pier and impressive sea view.
It was a little damp and windy but the view was great, even if it wasn't the kind of weather for ice cream one is normally expected to enjoy in such venues.
from the pier
I could tell my niece was happy because she started taking pictures! After walking up and down the pier, then exploring the local shops, we returned to the pier where my niece and I had liked the looks of the Waterloo Café. It turned out to be the perfect place to spend an hour or so on a blustery day: it was designed so we could just watch the sea and the food was great.
My niece had carrot cake of which she has recently become a fan,  my mother had soup, and I (despite having admired those gamboling lambs) ordered Paprika Lamb Stew which came with warm brown bread and was delicious. The amiable young man at the counter, who had visited Boston, reminded me that Wales was known for its lamb and said it would have been a waste not to try it!
When we finally and somewhat reluctantly got up to leave, he suggested we walk to the Penarth Marina and check out the barrage. None of us knew what a barrage was but why not? We walked back up the hill toward the town, then turned right, and walked down some very, very steep streets to the marina. It turned out that the barrage is an artificial barrier over the bay that was meant to help control local navigation and provides a walkway between Cardiff and Penarth. It wasn't very exciting and we were reluctant either to take the walkway to Cardiff, lest we wound up in an area with no buses or climb the extremely steep hill back to the center of town. We waited at a bus stop outside the former Custom House, now a busy restaurant, for a bus that never came, and as it began to rain I could see my companions' spirits were flagging. I consulted my phone and amazingly summoned an Uber (I felt like Prospero in the Tempest)! In six minutes or so, just as it was starting to rain, a man duly appeared and brought us back to downtown Penarth, where we caught another bus and returned to Cardiff.  Sometimes technology really is our friend.

We checked out the local Waterstone's yet ended up at yet another Caffe Nero where I ordered hot chocolate. I checked out a shelf of discarded books that I am guessing once belonged to some congenial older lady who had passed away - there were hardcover Georgette Heyers, two Frances Parkinson Keyes, and other historical fiction. I caught sight of an author whose name I had come across several times recently: O Douglas, who was the literary sister of writer John Buchan, best known as the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps. Intrigued, I chose two and approached the staff to ask if I could buy them, assuming they would say to help myself. To my surprise, the woman behind the counter said they weren't for sale and had to stay there (in retrospect, I knew I should have asked the guy but he had moved elsewhere as I approached).
Disgruntled (because now I really wanted them!), I finished my hot chocolate and went to put the books them back. A friendly lady and her husband were now sitting next to the bookcase and we started talking. She told me about several great places I could have gone to find second hand books! I thanked her but explained that we were leaving shortly and returned to my table. A few minutes later she came over and handed the two books to me! She said she had asked the guy if I could have them and promised she would bring him two replacement discards the next time she was in town! As my brother would say, "Very nice gesture!" I thanked her and we split with the books before they could be reclaimed.

We retrieved our luggage from the Tanes Guest House - I was worried no one would be home and we'd be standing on the doorstep for hours but a sullen and unfriendly man who I suppose was the owner let us in although did not invite us to sit down. We hoisted our luggage back onto the bus (this was our 5th trip so we really got good value out of our all-day pass!) and found our way back to Central Station where a very friendly Arriva staffer escorted us to a waiting room we would not otherwise have known about.
Although odiferous, that was where my mother wanted to wait for our train. My niece and I reluctantly left her and went to Carluccio, a nice Italian restaurant we had found during our meanderings Saturday (its friendly manager Mario had promised to find us a table if we returned but it was sufficiently early that the place was not full), and then we three took the train to Gloucester. It was only two stops but it felt like the middle of the night when we arrived, and I had to remind my companions this was an adventure and that a brisk walk would take us right to the Edward of Gloucester Hotel where we had a cozy top floor triple waiting for us. One of the owners welcomed us and carried my heavy bag upstairs, and we liked our room which had three twin beds and was spacious so we weren't on top of each other.

Church count: one
Book count: two
Miles walked: 6.8

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