"Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.
Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.
Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays"
by John Masefield (1878 - 1967)
This poem, probably inspired by Poet Laureate Masefield's maiden voyage as a seaman from Cardiff Bay is so evocative of the era when Tiger Bay as Cardiff Bay was known in the 19th Century was one of the World's most important industrial ports fuelling a burgeoning trade in coal and iron.
Such was Cardiff Bay's pre-eminent position at the height of the Industrial Revolution that the World's 1st £1M cheque was signed at the Coal Exchange, now a popular club venue...
Towards the latter end of last century the docks area had fallen on hard times, but now is rising Phoenix-like from the ashes now that it has been chosen as the future site of the Welsh National Assembly and the Welsh National Opera.
It is an exciting time for the Bay! Nowadays the regeneration of Cardiff Bay is happening at a terrific pace with many new developments springing up all the time after the construction of the Cardiff Bay Barrage.
Cardiff Bay, which has a whole host of attractions including Techniquest - an excellent hands-on science museum and the lovely waterfront developments including Mermaid Quay with its many shops, bars and restaurants.
The whole waterfront is redolent with maritime history and makes for an excellent walk with many points of interest to stop at along the way such as the Norwegian Church, the Pierhead Building and the Lighthouse Ship, as well as a very interesting Information Centre which regularly houses exhibitions.
There are several bus routes from town including BayXpress and routes 8 and 35. You can also reach Cardiff Bay by train from Queen St station in town, though trains don't run here on Sundays. A Waterbus service travels across the bay to Penarth and the Barrage for another interesting diversion.
From the WEB:The story of...
From the WEB:The story of Carreg Cennen Castle is a long one, going back at least to the 13th century. There is archaeological evidence, however, that the Romans and prehistoric peoples occupied the craggy hilltop centuries earlier (a cache of Roman coins and four prehistoric skeletons have been unearthed at the site). Although the Welsh Princes of Deheubarth built the first castle at Carreg Cennen, what remains today dates to King Edward I's momentous period of castle-building in Wales.
Located a couple of miles north of central Cardiff is the pretty, villagey suburb of Llandaff. The main draw card to the area is its beautiful cathedral.
The Llandaff Cathedral stands on one of the oldest Christian sites in Britain. It was built in a dip which was supposed to hide it from invaders, though this did not save it from Viking destruction back in 915.
The cathedral we see today dates back to the 12th century, and has had several additions and restorations over the years. The plain glass windows allow lots of light into the interior, showing off the bizarre giant arch across the middle of the nave. The arch holds atop a large aluminium statue of 'Christ in Majesty', and is certainly a show piece!
When we visited the church it was Sunday morning and a service was in progress, so we couldn't have a proper look inside, but I did manage to snap off a sneaky photo. We enjoyed a walk around the cathedral's exterior and little graveyard.
The Big Pit
Blaenavon is the cradle of iron-making and coal-making at the beginning of the industrial revolution in Wales. The impact of this unique industrial heritage has been recognised by the fact that Blaenavon has been accorded WORLD HERITAGE STATUS - Move over Taj Mahal! ;-)
The Big Pit is a real coal mine and one of the UK’s leading mining museums operated by the National Mining Museum of Wales.
It is aimed at all ages and provides for a thrilling day out with the centrepiece of the attraction being a world-famous underground tour which takes you 300ft below with a real miner as a guide who takes you through about a half to one kilometre of passageways by my reckoning, to give you a complete history of what it was for the men, women, children and horses to work underground.
There are brand new multi-media displays, a new museum exhibition in the original pithead baths and colliery buildings open to the public for the first time after a £7 million make over completed at the beginning of the year.
This has to rank as one of the best tours I have ever had and is miles better than the mining tour I had in Broken Hill (Australia), and best of all - quite unbelievably in my opinion, this entire tour that of the site that should take at least two hours is COMPLETELY FREE!!!
Please take time to browse the shop or buy something at the cafe in order to show your appreciation of what has been acheived here...
Getting here is easy by car, being about half an hour from Cardiff. However by public transport I am not sure there is a direct link. It is possible to get to Pontypool or Newport easily by bus or train and then get a bus from there...
For more information, why not check out my Blaenavon page.
Churchyard by St John's Church
St John's Church
There's a small cemetery next to the church, you may think 'Well, that doesn't seem very attractive' but it was to me indeed, because it seems bishops were buried there, and I found it culturally interesting.