Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wales Diary, the Covered Streets of Cardiff

Morgan Arcade
My third day in Cardiff was again glowering and rainy, but I had the absolute best of indoor plans.  I was going to spend the day at the National Museum Cardiff.  Just for starters, thanks to the Davies sisters, the National Museum has one of the largest collections of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art outside of Paris.  Some say the largest, but I’m from Chicago, so you won’t hear that from me (read:  Art Institute).

And that’s not all.  The museum “houses Wales’s national archaeology, art, geology and natural history collections,” not to mention temporary exhibitions of all stripes.  I also know from long experience that you can pretty much count on UK museums to have decent lunch spots, so no need to go hunting around the streets for one in the rain.  Best of all?  Admission to all national museums in the UK is free.

Having learned my lesson from the castle hours snafu, I looked up the Museum’s hours in a guidebook.  Open.  But I didn’t rest on that; I checked the internet, too.  Good thing:  a one-day work stoppage was in progress that very day.

St David's Dewi Sant
So now what?  I’d already “done” Cardiff Castle.  And I certainly was not about to go anywhere near that huge mall they’d plopped in the center of Cardiff.  I can do the mall thing back home all up and down Route 9.

Back to the guide book.  Not a good day for a stroll through Bute Park and along the River Taff, but the guide book did also mention four Edwardian and Victorian arcades, including “the glorious Morgan Arcade with original 1896 detailing and Venetian windows.”  Alas, again for shoppers, a species to which I don’t belong.

Well, I had stumbled on an arcade on the way back from the castle.  It at least looked appealing.  More to the point, the walkways were covered, so protected from the rain.  Maybe, if I added in a look at the Cardiff Market (also covered) . . . and there had to be a bookstore somewhere, if I ran out of things to do.

OK, so the thing is, I may not be a shopper-shopper, but a window shopper?  Now that’s another matter.

The Plan
I was even able to stop for an excellent lunchtime curry right in the middle of the Morgan Arcade.

Pastries, Cardiff Market
In the end, I hardly got a glimpse of the Cardiff Market.

Yeates Fruit & Veg, Cardiff Market

Black Pudding, Cardiff Market

Bear Island Book Exchange, Cardiff Market
I only passed by the Market's book exchange.

I never got to a bookstore at all.

Morgan Arcade

Listening List

For a Spotify Playlist of the music of John Metcalf, click on Wales Diary. Metcalf is the Artistic Director of the Vale of Glamorgan Festival of Music, which occasioned my visit to Cardiff.

The Two Sisters from John Metcalf's Harp Scrapbook

© John Metcalf.


This is the third in a five-part series entitled Wales Diary.  The first two parts can be found at these links:  Cardiff Bay Barrage here, and Cardiff Castle here; the fourth and fifth parts can be found at these links: Art and the Aquabus here and From Celtic Village to Castle Gardens here.

A three-part series of posts on the Vale of Glamorgan Festival of Music concerts I attended while in Wales, including listening lists, can be found at these links: Crossing a Bridge of Dreams hereAncient Instruments, Timeless Sounds here, and Worlds Entwined here.


Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

How glorious your shopping trip, made even more so by that wonderful music. I always feel so enlightened when I come here!!!

By the way, when it comes to all things Wales, you must check out my favourite blogger from that very place: His name is John and he is quite wonderful - almost as wonderful as you!! Oh, and he's got chickens....

Rubye Jack said...

I'm no shopper either, but do enjoy used bookstores. They certainly have some nice shop windows there don't they. I hope you did make it to the museum the next day. All that impressionism would sure make anyone's day!

Suze said...

I am envious. That is the honest truth -- envious! The Arcade looks like pure delight. That first image should be framed. Wally's Delicatessen would have hooked my interest, as well, of course, as the Bear Island Book Exchange.

Sigh. Shall have to settle for vicarious journeying.

Scott said...

Susan- You seem to be a very discerning shopper. I like what you see. Window display is an art in itself. The Who jacket and the guitar. Pete Townshend and "Behind Blue Eyes". The dresses,a harp store. Sausage pudding,are you kidding? Hometown pride is cool. And you have reason. The contemporary offerings, especially the installation artists seemed so good.
To the uneducated ear, Metcalf's music seems uncomplicated and clear. I'm sure he must have his moments,but everything I've heard so far is light and upbeat. It's nice just listening and not worrying. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

One of your pictures shows a record jacket saying Spiller's Phono Exchange, but I initially read the small print as Photo Exchange. That triggered memories of the "old" days (for most people not even a decade ago) when we would drop film off at a shop and come back at some future time, perhaps days later, to pick up our negatives and prints. As a traveler, you had it so much easier now: no waiting to look at your trip pictures, and even the ability to e-mail them to anyone right away or include them in a blog post. Oh brave new world of instant connectivity!

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Susan:
it is amazing what serendipitous finds come one's way when one's plans are thwarted. The Morgan Arcade looks to be truly glorious, an architectural gem and somewhere that we too should have been most pleased to spend time in inclement weather.

We often used the inspiration of shop window displays for our garden designs. Selfridges never failed to disappoint and the selection you show here look to have been extremely inventive and jolly.

ShySongbird said...

Hi Susan, I have just caught up with your interesting posts and especially enjoyed following your adventures in Wales. It sounds like you had a wonderful time at the festival!

I have had several holidays in Wales but not for some years, it really is a beautiful country. What a shame that it sounded like the weather wasn't too kind to you.

I too hate shopping...with a passion, with the exception of bookshops :-) I confess I am not keen on built up areas in general, much preferring isolated, open spaces with just the company of wildlife :-)

I do hope you don't mind me asking a question which I have asked before but, while you kindly replied to my comment, I think you must have missed the question at the end. It was just that I know you love music so I wondered if you have television coverage there of the wonderful Cardiff Singer of the World competition which is held biannually and due to be held again in 2013. If you enjoy the classical voice, I'm sure you would enjoy this wonderful competition.

ShySongbird said...

Hi again Susan :-) I just popped back to thank you for visiting my blog and answering my question (I have yet to reply) and also to say I made the mistake of telling you the competition is a biannual event when in fact I meant biennial! As you are not familiar with it I should stress this is not just another audience grabbing talent show. It is a most prestigious affair which has been running for thirty years. I hasten to add I have no connection to it or vested interest whatsoever. I just love it and thought that as a fellow music lover you might find it interesting. If you should wish to read more about it you can do so
via this link.

bazza said...

I live in London and have never even thought of visiting Cardiff but you have done a good job of selling it to me! I want to go there now.....
Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Friko said...

All in all, you packed a great deal into your few Wales day.

Amazing place, Cardiff. I really MUST take a train trip; I could even go for the day from here. I love the old arcades, whereas modern shopping malls leave me cold. I quite like to shop, but choose my shops carefully.

klahanie said...

Hi Susan,
Another incredible visual tour of Cardiff. One of the aspects of living here is the delight I get in visiting arcades such as the one you mentioned. Not to be confused with those tacky arcades you see at the seaside locations here.
Being protected from the rain seems to be an ongoing must here.
And "window shopper"? All well and good if you are indeed, shopping for windows!
Take care and I look forward to your next instalment.

Dixie said...

Susan, Once I read your post and viewed those happy photos, there awaited a bigger surprise with the music you chose.

A relaxing window shopping kind of day, accompanied by the tinkle of piano keys and the golden harp! I visualized the carefree wandering from window to window, sight to sight; musical notes neither too high or too low... soothingly blended. Then those tiny notes leading me to your day ending and it'd been a happy one.

I had a great time visiting through your eyes!

Susan Scheid said...

Cathy: We have to love anyone who has chickens, now don’t we?

Rubye Jack: I will admit I was sorry not to get into the book exchange, though it’s probably best I didn’t, as my suitcase was already overstuffed.

Suze: I could have spent a good part of the day in Wally’s Delicatessen. You would not believe what all was on offer in there, and it all looked good (OK, I’d pass on the Marshmallow Fluff . . .).

Scott: Well, of course, I could NOT pass by the Who display—thinking of the exchanges you and I and wanderer have had on the subject! As to the sausage pudding—I do wonder why it’s called pudding, actually. It’s a sausage, and the ingredients are not at all pudding like, in my estimation, anyway. As for Metcalf’s music, yes, just listening and not worrying is a wonderful way to put it. His music always puts me straight in beautiful rolling countryside.

Portraits: Spiller’s, actually, claims to be the oldest record store in the world—remember records?

Jane and Lance: Absolutely agreed about the serendipity of discoveries when the original plan is thwarted. I love the idea of using shop window displays for garden designs. I hope you’ll write about that at some point (or perhaps you have!).

Shy Songbird: The weather was more than kind, in the end, but, as I’ve written earlier, good weather is something I’ve learned not to count on. As for open spaces, the countryside I’ve visited in Wales is gorgeous. I was actually an accidental tourist in Cardiff, there because of the music festival, but I quickly learned how much there was to offer. (As I wrote over your way, thanks much for the info on the singer competition information.)

bazza: Thank you for stopping by. As I noted in an earlier comment, I was an accidental tourist in Cardiff, there as the result of the Vale of Glamorgan Music Festival. Had it not been for the Festival, I would have headed for the Brecon Beacons or similar, so, believe you me, I was amazed to discover what Cardiff had to offer, too.

Friko: I’m with you entirely on the modern shopping malls. I detest the way they suck the life out of towns (or at least that’s what has happened where we live). In contrast, I’d never seen an old arcade like the Morgan, and was entirely smitten, even though I lack the shopping gene (though I did buy two things, I’ll confess). As an accidental tourist in Cardiff, so without high expectations (including about the weather!), I found it full of delights.

Gary: The Morgan Arcade was the first I’d seen, and I’m now alerted to seek them out (though thanks for the alert about the seaside tackiness!). And while I was a bit slow on the uptake, I did finally figure out the practical purpose of those arcades. . . I’ll confess that, while I was window shopping, I didn’t buy a window . . .

Dixie: Can’t tell you how pleased I am you enjoyed the music—as those who’ve followed me for a while know, John Metcalf is a favorite composer of mine and it’s his music festival that brought me to Cardiff. So glad you enjoyed coming along with me for a yes, quite relaxing window shopping day.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan .. I can see what you mean by the jigsaws now - there's a lady here who loves jigsaws and I think would like ones of these .. I must see if the Nursing Centre will buy her one.

I love the view of the Morgan Arcade and the look of the market - love covered markets (Oxford particularly) ...

Love the photos you took - good selection .. without ads .. and you found a music shop - every time I see a horn, or a piano .. I think of you! Even when I hear some 'obscure' music .. you pop into my head .. ?!

Then you had curry for lunch .. sounds good for a cold day .. I still need to go back for your other posts - I will do!!

Cheers - thanks for pointing me here - and I must remember to go to the bottom for your play list .. Hilary

Susan Scheid said...

Hilary: Do hope the jigsaw puzzle can be found. Even though I don't do jigsaw puzzles, it was so colorful and appealing, it looked like fun. I have made a mental note to remember the Oxford covered market. Enjoyable way to spend any day!

Grannymar said...

Hi Susan. Thank you for visiting my blog. The summer has really been a washout this year all over the UK and Ireland. I love the look of Morgan Arcade and have stored it in my head in case I ever reach Cardiff.

Enjoy the remainder of your journey.

shoreacres said...

Oh, dear! I wish I had even thought to send you a link to the Cardiff Arcade project before you left.

Is there any chance you found the violins? Well, if not, you can browse all of the arcades online, and enjoy some fine photography, such as this entry done with a fisheye lens .

I'm not shopper, but I could enjoy all of those arcades for a couple of days - what fun that you got to enjoy them yourself!

Heidrun Khokhar said...

I think the best part of window shopping is the way it let's the imagination stroll. All the photos are so inviting but the one that got me was one with a 'blood pudding' sign. Right then and there it's clear that you are miles away. It is very common in those parts.

Leigh said...

Sounds to me like you made great use of a day that could otherwise have been a washout. I dislike shopping except for some things like bookstores - could spend all day there - and any sort of outdoor gear store is good for a few hours too. And I also enjoyed your photos.

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