My left shin is currently sporting an impressive bruise, just at the height a medium sized dog’s head might reach if – say – they were overexcited by the the scent of a fox, it was dark, and raining, and the aforementioned shin was wearing dark jeans and boots. It’s an excellent bruise which is still changing colour and I do hope the poor hound in question – Kalie, who belongs to Jane, one of my Cardiff cousins – didn’t suffer concussion from the collision.
But why were you hanging about in the rainy dark in Cardiff, I hear you cry? Well, last Sunday London sister was running the Cardiff half marathon, so I went along for the ride and to give her a bit of support in the last couple of miles. My hound-owning cousin was also supporting, in several more places thanks to her speedy cycling, but it’s the thought that counts and I did see her at two places thanks to a bit of speedy lurching across Roath Park. The week before she had run the Ealing half marathon and today she is running the postponed (thanks to the Queen) Richmond half marathon. Mad but impressive. Anyway.
Apart from the extremely lengthy M4-avoiding detour through Newbury, Reading and other probably scenic bits of Berkshire on the way back, it was a lovely weekend. The detour on the way down, skirting Cirencester and Gloucester and through the Forest of Dean, was rather nice as we ended up in Monmouth without sitting in M4 traffic – which was where we were planning on stopping for lunch anyway. We had a bacon roll in Estero Lounge, which we felt we had to try as we’d seen it soooo many times on a local Facebook page. Usually asking when it was open, which luckily it was. It’s definitely a step up from Maureen’s caff and Buster’s the bus station caff, which were the options when we were younger at that end of town! We had a wander up Monnow Street, entertained the ladies in Salt & Pepper with our sisterly double act (but came away with a hat which didn’t make London Sister look like a) a mushroom or b)the Witchfinder General), and marvelled at Boots the chemist closing for lunch.
Dinner was in Cardiff at La Dolce Vita on Wellfield Road, where we had done a lot of shopping on weekends as children as we’d started life in Lakeside. Six of us met there for various pizzas, pastas, puddings and Prosecco-based cocktails* – representing most of the female cousins, apart from Irish sister who said Cardiff was too far for dinner and the other one. It was good to be reassured that the ability to carry on six different conversations at once is clearly a family thing (and going by the photos we are quite definitely family) – I was complimented the other week when I was running a registration desk at a forum on my ability to hold several conversations, remember a spelling and write at the same time, and this is clearly where it comes from. The restaurant runs ‘sittings’ in the evening, much like school lunches but with less custard, and they were very keen to get rid of us as we neared the end of our allotted time. They brought us the bill without being asked, and whipped all plates and glasses away as soon as they were empty. Cousin Sal took great delight in taking the longest time ever to eat a tiramisu… we then repaired to the pub to finish off conversations before walking back through Roath Park.
Roath Park was a very big part of my childhood: I remember walking through it on Sundays to ‘the Kiosk’ (now a coffee shop) to get the papers with Dad, and getting a Drumstick lolly to keep us going on the way back. It’s got a very nice lake, with plenty of bird life, pleasure gardens, rose gardens, a wild garden (that’s the dark one where Kalie ran into my leg) where the foxes live, a play area which was notable for having a massive metal slide when I was young, a cafe and various other things that any decent park wouldn’t be without.
After I’d raced across the park to see Tan at mile 12 (before ‘the Widowmaker’ as the final hill is as known) I rewarded myself with a rather nice ‘caramelised biscuit’ ice cream (Biscoff, by any other name) and wandered through the rose garden to the Conservatory which is a HUGE greenhouse type affair that we used to occasionally visit as children. I got bitten by a fish there once. Last time I went there were baby terrapins which I think had been retrieved from the main lake where they’d been released after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fever had worn off. The terrapins are still there but a LOT bigger now, and one of them was doing yoga on the edge of the pool while the rest were just lounging about on a rock. The plants are also a lot bigger, and there is a pair of whistling ducks. I wouldn’t like to get bitten by one of the fish now, they’re enormous.
I did a bit of crochet as I sat on a bench (because I can) and then wandered back to Jane’s for a most delicious lunch cooked by her husband Jason – Moroccan Lamb with Apricots, Almonds and Mint which I cooked for my beloved on Thursday as he’s partial to a bit of lamb too. I’m looking forward to heading a bit further into Wales for half term in a couple of weeks.
*Other cocktails were available and indeed drunk, but they ruined my alliterative streak.
Yesterday one of my crafty friends and I made our annual pilgrimage to Ally Pally to the Knitting and Stitching Show where we squished yarn, stroked fabric, marvelled at gadgets and furniture and spotted Sewing Bee contestants wandering about the place. We got there about half an hour after opening and left just before they threw us out, and we had a great time – Heather and I are butterfly crafters who like to try all sorts of things and often have many things on the go at once, so we take our craft shows very seriously. Before we went in we hit the Toft Metamorphosis space where we crocheted a circle to add to the HUGE butterfly.
This year we started at the far end of the show and worked our way back which meant we avoided all the mad old ladies with shopping trolleys and pointy elbows and had the chance to actually get into stalls. Heather is a DT teacher so we started with the quilting guild show and the gallery spaces, before heading into the stalls for some inspiration.
We had a fish finger sandwich for lunch and cake at 3pm (so disciplined!) – there was much more choice of food this year. At the cake stop we sat with two elderly ladies and we all showed off our hauls, so at least Heather and I know what our future in craft shows looks like! I also ran into one of my favourite freelancers from my Museum of London Docklands days which was lovely!
I came home feeling crafty and made a couple of Christmas decorations using this pattern and Paintbox cotton yarn.
Today I think we are off to Copped Hall Autumn Family Day, with as many children as we can drag out of bed, and this evening it’s the Full Moon Swim at the lake. And I really must do the ironing…. See you next week!
What I’ve been reading:
I Believe in Yesterday – Tim Moore
Believe Me! – Eddie Izzard
Twelfth Doctor Tales/Tales from Trenzalore (Audible)