Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Great British Cheese Festival

Despite the grim forecast, we stuck to our plan of yet another day out in Cardiff; this time, for the Great British Cheese Festival, held on the castle grounds. We met Button at the train station, backpacks stuffed for all occasions with both a blanket and rain gear. We hadn't bought tickets in advance, and were brought up short by the massive line that stretched on in front of the castle. Luckily, however, it moved quickly, and we soon found ourselves on the grounds with an hour 'til our guided tour.

While Tea and Button made their way to the star of the show, I peeled off for the beer tent. Folks were seven and eight deep in front of the bar at that point, so it took me right up 'til tour time to get the two half pints I'd settled on: Sambrook's Wandle Ale -- I'd be wanting to try Sambrook's for a while now -- and Thornbridge's Sequoia. Well worth it, let me say; particularly the latter. (And I'd just brought a mini cask of their Jaipur to a leaving do the night before; you can't have too much Thornbridge in your life, I've decided.) The ladies helped me polish those off sharpish, and we made it to the start of the tour with a minute or two to spare.

After a fantastic guided tour, we met up with more friends, in Cardiff for the start of their holiday in Wales. Tea bought more cheese and breads, I bought a few remaining bottles of the popular Untapped Brewery's stock, and we filled up on Pieminister goodness. Unfortunately, as we ate and drank, watching the surprisingly competitive cheese tossing, they closed the keep. Button was undaunted, however, and amiable to our second choice for exercise: walking to Cardiff Bay; something Tea and I had talked about for as long as we'd been visiting Cardiff, but never done.

The Roald Dahl Plass (or plaza) was really something to see, but it was the smell of the sea -- and the freshwater lake before it, created by the barrage -- that hit us first. The Wales Millennium Centre, the Water Tower, and the Senedd -- home of the Welsh Government -- were all a feast for the eyes, particularly in the light of the setting sun. While we didn't make it all the way to the barrage, we made a good effort, treating ourselves to a taxi back to the castle afterwards. From there, we had time for a quick stop at Zero Degrees to buy a mini cask of the Oktoberfestbier I missed last weekend before catching the train home.

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

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