Our week’s stay at our cottage in Itton sadly came to an end, so soon it was time to move on to our second destination, another holiday cottage on a working farm. Redland Farm is near the village of Bonvilston in the Vale of Glamorgan, situated to the west of Cardiff and just a short drive from the city. The friendly owner warmly greeted us and made us feel very welcome.
On our first full day in Glamorgan I decided to show Melinda around Cardiff, one of my favourite cities. It was a chilly day with a biting cold wind. We drove into town and parked up at Sophia Gardens, one of Cardiff’s large public parks which is located close to Cardiff Castle. This park takes its name from Lady Sophia, who was the second wife of the 2nd Marquess of Bute. The Millenium footbridge traverses the River Taff into Bute Park.
A little history …
The Stewarts / Stuarts were an aristocratic family of Anglo / Norman origin who settled in Scotland in the 11th century. Over the course of many years they took over large estates in the South Wales area. In 1794 John Stuart was awarded the title of the 1st Marquess of Bute. He owned Cardiff Castle and considerable areas of surrounding landscaped parkland. When he died in 1814 the title passed to his son John Crichton-Stuart, who became the 2nd Marquess of Bute. He became known as “the founder of modern Cardiff” as he brought prosperity to the area by setting up coal and iron mining industries in the South Wales valleys, and by building Cardiff’s extensive docks for the shipping of coal. In its heyday Cardiff was the largest exporter of coal in the world. In 1913 alone approximately 10.7 million tons of coal were exported from this port.
The 2nd Marquess of Bute also set about restoring and refashioning Cardiff Castle into a grand mansion. The 3rd Marquess of Bute and his architect William Burges continued this work with extravagant plans to transform the building into a lavishly decorated “fairytale castle” of eclectic neo gothic styles.
Melinda and I walked past the “Animal Wall” which was erected in front of the castle in 1890.
The castle’s elaborate clock tower.
We peeked though the gateway to see the Norman stone keep which was built on the site of a Roman fort.
Across the road Melinda had a browse in one of the Welsh souvenir shops.
There was a wonderful display of intricately hand carved Lovespoons and an array of other Welsh woolly delights !!!
We then took a wander through of one of Cardiff’s several old shopping arcades which include the High Street Arcade, the Royal Arcade, the Wyndham Arcade, the Morgan Arcade and Duke Street Arcade. The Castle Arcade was opened in 1887 and contains many small cafés, bistros, shops and boutiques.
An array of tasty cheeses at Madame Fromage.
St John the Baptist Church offers an oasis of calm in the heart of the bustling city centre.
The church runs a little tea shop where Melinda and I treated ourselves to a reviving cuppa and a tasty bite to eat.
Closeby in the Hayes is the Old Library which is now the home to the Cardiff Story Museum which is dedicated to the history of the city and contains many interesting interactive exhibits.
Across from St John’s is the entrance to Cardiff’s undercover market.
The Central Market opened in 1891 and even today there are numerous stalls selling all varieties of fresh produce, cooked food, local and foreign delicacies, fruit, vegetables, flowers and other goods.
Melinda is something of a beer aficionado and was keen to try some of the local brews. Brains Brewery was founded in Cardiff in 1882 and its beer is one of the best known in Wales. Melinda delighted in sampling several varieties.
We finished off our little tour of Cardiff city centre with some therapeutic shopping of course !!! No trip to Cardiff is complete without visiting some of the large shopping malls and central shopping areas.
You can read more about Cardiff and see more of my photos of this vibrant city here at one of my former blog entries: 140 – Cardiff – “The Land of My Fathers”.
* photos by Melinda Abbott
# public domain photos
All other photos by me © Louise Shapcott
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