Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cardiff: day out

It's been another great weekend so far. Mom's last one of this trip. We took Friday off, and with poor weather predicted for the weekend, decided to make the most of the sun with a day out in Cardiff. It's become a ritual to stop at Coffee #1 near the train station: they're really friendly, and always have a tempting selection of treats on display. After I'd ordered Triple Belgian Chocolate Brownies and tea for my ladies, the woman behind the counter said, "I have to ask. Where are you from?" My response brought gushes, not only from her, but also from the woman behind Mom in the queue: family, friends who'd been, loved it, wanted to go back, saving to go. The consistent enthusiasm for Canada that I've encountered in the UK and abroad over these past two years fills me with such pride. I really do count myself lucky -- the accident of my birth, as they say -- more fundamentally than I did back home, even as a proud Canadian and a proud Newfoundlander.

The Cardiff Market was our next stop: for welsh cakes and a browse of secondhand books; another ritual. Tea had a bit of shopping to do as well, so we agreed to meet at the castle later on. A new favourite of mine is the microbrewery Zero Degrees, and while I was a day too early for their Oktoberfestbier, I enjoyed a pint of their seasonal amber ale before meeting Tea and Mom at the gates of Cardiff Castle.

They'd added a new World War II shelter exhibit since our last visit. The kitchen display caught Mom's eye: she pointed out the old oil heater, imposing at three feet or so, and cast-iron with a large handle: they had one when she was growing up, to heat the front room or parlour when guests were over; the only source of heat outside the kitchen stove.

Mom w. Brains Dark at the Goat Major
We toured the walls, grounds and keep 'til closing, and then popped across the street for a pint at the Goat Major. A Brains pub with an impressive history of guest ales (if the pump clips behind the bar are any indication), we enjoyed pints of Brains' Legends, Dark and gravity-dispensed SA in its warm atmosphere. It was only as we made our way to Zero Degrees for supper that we realized we'd missed a heavy rain shower.

Once there, we had a great meal on an interior balcony that overlooked the kitchen. Tea and Mom were mesmerized by the delicate dance around the wood oven -- their menu focusses on pizza, which Tea again raved about. Plus, Mom really enjoyed their Mango Ale. I can't say enough about their Pale Ale -- a really nice hoppy character I keep going to back to -- and I finished with a half pint of their Black Lager: nice body with heavy coffee notes.

Supper at Zero Degrees

Check out our Picasa album for more pictures from the day.

* * *

Yesterday, we were invited to a big barbecue the Americans had organized at Witcombe Cricket Club. We even got to be guest judges at their chili competition, a highly-anticipated annual event. (I had a tough time, going back for seconds to break ties, but persevered -- yes, the consummate professional, folks.) It was a fantastic atmosphere: great spread, games for the kids, and nice location and weather (early on, anyway) -- they even had an ice cream truck show up!

Later, we took Mom to see Jane Eyre, which we all really enjoyed; particularly the setting. And speaking of film, I should sign off and grab a shower; the main event (from my Mom's point of view) is on deck as a matinee: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. She's over the moon that it opened here ahead of the North American release.

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