Friday, 21 February 2014

Cardiff on Match Day

I had a gift voucher for Marks and Spencers for Christmas - but when I looked in the Hereford branch, there was nothing that I wanted to buy.
Then one of my colleagues came into work wearing new boots that she'd bought in Clarks in Cardiff ("not the main one - the one by one of the entrances to St David's arcade") and she said they were the most comfortable boots she had come across, as well as looking just a bit Steampunk, with laces up the front.
So I thought I'd have a day out.

The 39 gets into Brecon Interchange about 5 minutes before the T4, which goes on to Cardiff, and I was able to use the same Explorer ticket for the whole day out - so £7.30 for the return trip. I usually get off at the Castle, because that's nice and close to Forbidden Planet. I've been getting more educated about comics/graphic novels lately, so that's where I wanted to start. Also, there are toilets at Queen's Arcade, which is an important consideration when you've been on a bus for a couple of hours.
To my great joy, I found the Green Arrow story Hunter's Moon, by Mike Grell, which is the follow up story to The Longbow Hunters. These are the stories I remember when they first came out - I used to go to a comic shop round the corner from New Scotland Yard, and read Green Arrow stories over my (frankly rather horrible, but cheap) vegetarian curry in the police canteen. It's great to see them again - and they are just as good as I remember. I also found a Captain Marvel comic to keep me going until the next collection of stories comes out.

I wasn't sure where Marks and Spencers was, but I was pretty sure that if I walked up and down the shopping area methodically, I'd find it. I blew my gift voucher on a couple of pretty blouses - and further along the road (is it still a road when it's pedestrianised?) I found a shop selling "fashions direct from France and Italy" which was having a closing down sale - everything was £5.
By now my bags were getting full, but I found another pretty top in the Edinburgh Woollen Mill sale, and I treated myself to Rivers of London and the next book in the series Moon Over Soho, by Ben Aaronovitch. I recently read something similar by Paul Cornell, a police procedural involving London and magic, called London Falling, - Ben Aaronovitch's take on the idea seems slightly less inclined towards horror, with a bit more humour. (It's always London - I suppose there's less of a market for Canals of Birmingham, or Irwell and Irk in Manchester).

Another fun place to visit when in Cardiff is the indoor market. There's a huge record shop on the balcony, with everything meticulously labelled, and downstairs I found more comics at the book stall. They had a run of Elfquest comics (another favourite from my 1980s comic reading past) from the first issue, with a few gaps in the sequence, but he only wanted £5 for 15 of them.
Another nice thing about Cardiff is that it's a city of covered arcades, which is very handy in the weather we've been having. I had a mocha with so much cream on the top I had to eat it with a spoon before I got to the coffee, at Le Rendezvous at the entrance to the Queen's Arcade.

The final port of call was the Goat Major pub, just across from the main entrance to the Castle - because it's close to the bus stop home, and the Brains is always excellent.
It was full of French rugby fans. There were women with red, white and blue curly wigs, and men in berets (some of them bearing badges with a cockerel on them) - and one chap looking absolutely resplendent in a black and gold tail coat, with epaulettes, white trousers and high boots, and a magnificent hat - a black bicorne trimmed with some sort of white fur, and further decorated with red, white and blue ribbons. He also had a France rugby scarf tied around his waist.

Back in Brecon, I'd missed the connection to Hay by about five minutes, but that was okay. I looked into the Brecon branch of Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which was having the same sale as the one in Cardiff, but with slightly different stock, and came away with two long cardigans. The Clarence advertises real ale, and they had three Wye Valley beers on handpump, so I sat in there for a while until it was time for the bus to come.

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