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This morning I hopped on a train to Wales.  Seven hours and three trains later, I arrived.  Here is some Wales.

Actually, here is the hostel I’m staying at.  It’s a decent little place by the river, out of the city centre but close to everything.  So far, so good.  Of course, the rule is that since I am lugging a heavy suitcase around, I must end up with a room on the very top floor.  But exercise is healthy, right?

I only had half a day left by the time I got here, so my list of activities for the remainder of the day was very small and easy:  Castle and concert.  Let’s start with Cardiff Castle.

Here it is!

Some silly people had the audacity to be getting married in the main part of the castle, so while the grounds and such were still available, parts of it were off limits.  As a result, they offered a free tour of the tower.  I accepted.

Let’s just say that the color scheme is a little… striking.

Every single panel of the walls and ceilings in each room we were taken to was laden with meaning.  I don’t recall what he said about this one, but I’m sure those are meaningful flowers.

The thing I did like were the little surprises painted and carved into the walls here and there.  Take, for instance, the little rabbit that sneaked into this mural.

Now contrast that with the sheer lack of subtlety in Knight vs Crab.

One fireplace had carvings narrating the relationship of a man and woman from first meeting to marriage.  But they added a sneaky little symbol behind the happy couple of a dog barking at a cat up a tree: this is what these two have to look forward to, apparently.  Not a very optimistic outlook.

My favorite was the little mouse on the branch that seemed to grow out of the doorframe.

After escaping the color collisions in the tower, I enjoyed the grounds, which were not very extensive, but still nice.  I had to take my usual lamp post shot.  This is the building that was being used for the wedding.  A pretty venue, I admit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, so I have known about the Welsh flag for some time.  I even known the story behind the red dragon on the Welsh flag.  I do study medieval Welsh literature, you might know.  Still, somehow I just wasn’t quite prepared for the joy that would fill my heart when I began seeing red dragons appearing left and right.

And, unlike silly, silly London, the triumphant dragons of Wales are not constantly getting speared by Saint George in their portrayals.

I can read the second half… understand it? No.  But I can make the right sounds. Mostly.  Medieval Welsh translation classes have given me powerful, but limited abilities.

At the top of the keep, I claimed the castle.  Of course.  It’s what I do.  I think that’s ten, now?

Napoleon was with me.  He likes the view you get from the top of a good keep.

Emperors don’t need caution!  The steps should be afraid of Napoleon.

There were some random Romans lounging about that day… I saw a bit of marching earlier.  It did not look particularly menacing or effective.

A surprisingly good bit of the castle were the tunnels built into the castle walls for the air raids during the bombings.  The moment I stepped into the dark, empty tunnel, I was overwhelmed by the sounds of explosions that seemed to be just on the other side of the walls.  Crackling radio announcements interspersed with planes flying overhead actually created an immersive experience.  I normally don’t like that sort of thing because they seem to be trying to hard, but this one worked.

Oh dragons, sweet dragons!  Wales has the best flag ever.

They loved it so much that someone made it out of pasta.  Yes, that is pasta.  I may have bought just a few dragon-related items at the gift shop.  But I said no to a whole lot more than I purchased, so I think I was still restrained, all things considered.

And, well, dragons!

I walked along the famous Animal Wall with its stone sculpted animals seeming to dangle along the top.  This bear stood out simply because it looks deranged.  Please, Aslan, don’t defrost this one.

Behind the wall is Bute Park, a large, pretty woods and fields kind of park along the River Taff.  I had a few hours to spare before the concert, so I wandered and photographed at a leisurely pace.

Fortunately, I did not see any of these terrifying, large-eyed birds…

Another nearby garden caught my attention because of its name: Gorsedd Gardens.  Of course, I had to check it out.

Because… gorsedd!

Why are you not getting excited to?

I give up.

Okay, just so you understand, a gorsedd is a mound that tends to have magical qualities in medieval Welsh literature.  For instance, Pwyll sits on one and sees a fairy woman ride by on a magical horse.  That sort of thing.

Did I see a magical being on a gorgeous white horse?  No, I did not.  Instead, I found this incredibly tragic, lonely little statue.

Now this one, Aslan, needs to be brought to life immediately.

There were some pretty spiffy standing stones in the garden.

But no magical occurrences.

Unless you count a giant, gift-wrapped house.  That’s pretty magical in its own way.

Now this I understand.  Apparently, Britain’s kind of excited about it or something.

I finally headed toward St David’s Hall for my concert.  What concert?  Well, there just happened to be a Christian music concert on that evening and I had a ticket.  It turned out to be incredible with a large orchestra, an incredible tenor and choral group, an organ, and an amazing selection of music from across the centuries.  One of the most profound moments for me was being able to join in with the rest of the audience and sing two verses of ‘Jesu, Lover of my Soul’ in Welsh.  Once again, my Middle Welsh course came in handy.

Oh, and tomorrow, it’s off to Bath for a day!

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