First Week of July

July 1, Tuesday
Today we walked a lot. We ended up on the #6 bus and went to Cardiff Bay. We were thinking we would go to the Dr. Who Experience. However, as we and the family from California learned, the Dr. Who Experience is closed on Tuesdays.


We got a map of Cardiff at the bay.

We took a boat trip around the bay. (You can see all of the bay from one place, so it’s not very big.)

We ate lunch at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which Angela says is the most American of the burger places she has found.

We went shopping in St. David’s Centre, which is a HUGE shopping mall, about 4 blocks large.

We ate dinner at the diner in St. David’s Centre.

This evening Ron wanted to know how far I thought we had walked today. Originally I said 12 to 15 miles, but then I decided that was too far. But really, we walked 6 that I know of, and that doesn’t include all the walking we did in the shopping areas and getting lost.

July 2, Wednesday
We went shopping in Queens Centre, for a bit. Just went to Primark, Debenhams, and a shoe shop. Bought two pairs of shoes—one pair of short boots and a cream and black pair of 20s-ish Mary Jane-type shoes.

We also went looking for costume pieces and various other things.

We ate crepes for lunch at a place called Sophie’s, right next to a tea room with Iced Tea! Ron wanted to get some iced tea, but didn’t. We had the Victorian Lemonade and the Rose Lemonade with lunch. Ron thought the Victorian was way too tart and I thought the Rose smelled too much like roses. But the crepes were wonderful.

I found the silver tights in a small shop called Blue Banana for £5. I also found a fairly legitimate looking piper’s doublet for £40 there. Ron didn’t want to buy it though. Don’t know what he’s going to wear. He’s thinking he might not want to go as Lazarus Long to the Retro Hugo. I think it would be perfect though.

We ate supper at Wetherspoon’s pub near the house, which had a chicken day. But it turned out to be peri-peri chicken, so I ordered the chicken strips, which were not supposed to but did have barbeque sauce on them.

Then we headed out to Cardiff’s Toastmasters, which is only 2.5 years old. This was their 58th meeting. We were 2 of the 4 visitors, though the other 2 plan to become members. One, Garret or Garreth, hopes to eventually get a job in Houston. He works for CGI, which was just purchased by or just purchased Logitech. He’d never even been to London until two years before (when the buyout happened) and now he’s there every fortnight. He quite likes it. The other visitor Kristina was coming in from Denmark. She has just moved to Cardiff.

The Toastmasters Meeting was quite interesting. They had an extended warm up instead of table topics. That’s where one person got up, introduced a topic, and then each person stood up and answered the question in a minute or less. Tony Bennett did the warm up and he said he was moving to his ideal place. Then he asked where everyone else would want to live. … He travels a lot for fun and he goes to Toastmasters on his trips. He’s only been a Toastmaster for 2.5 years and he’s already given 44 speeches. (He was in a speaking club that split from Toastmasters 50 years ago—and some of the men in that club were founding members.)

Onkar was the time keeper and he gave me his phone number in case we ran into any trouble in the city and needed help.

Dewi Rhys XXX (can’t remember his last name) was one of the two more enthusiastic members. He is a native Cymraeg speaker, not having learned English until he was 12. He spoke some Welsh for me, translating the scenario of Samuel talking to Mercy Thompson, for me. Then he called a friend up (because his mum doesn’t answer the phone after 9 pm) and told her an American wanted to hear Welsh. So they talked for a few minutes.

There are, however, short words in Welsh, even though Mercy and Samuel supposedly joke that there are none. Y is of. Heol is street. Rhodfa is avenue. Heddlu is police. … There are lots of others.

During the interval I had tea and a cookie. The cookie was amazingly good. I asked where it came from and someone told me the president had provided the snacks. So I asked Andy Power? what they were. He said they were “posh jaffer cakes” from Marks & Spensers, which was just up the road from the Quaker House where we had the meeting. I asked if that was the name of them. Oknar said that no, but if you asked where the posh jaffer cakes were, the people would point out the area to me and I could figure it out from there. They were cookies, a bit smaller than a digestive cookie. Had a chocolate top, maybe a caramel center, and a cookie/biscuit bottom. They were round. Quite good.

July 3, Thursday
Ron didn’t want to leave the house. He is going to do some laundry as all his pants are dirty. I hope it doesn’t rain.

I took the bus to Central Station. It was only a block from where I needed to be, which is good. I went in Burger King to get some lunch. I got a single whopper with cheese, took one of the breads off. Then I went to a News place and bought a bottled water and a giant Nestle Crunch with hazelnuts bar.

Then I went and got the St. Fagan’s Bus.

I asked if it were okay if I ate on the bus. The driver said yes, but that I was making him hungry. Turned out I had to pay for the bus to St. Fagan’s, which was a bit of a pain.

It’s out of town, about half an hour. Past a small village called The Freshwater? I did see a pub called that, so I guess it could have just been the pub, but it looked like a town sign.

St. Fagan’s was a bit of a disappointment. The costume displays weren’t open. The “old” buildings were mostly from the last 100 years. (They had a chapel from 1774 and a “castle” from 1580.)

While I was in one house, I heard an older woman—whom I had seen earlier and wondered if she were a reenactor—talking to the worker in the building telling him she had been five weeks without food because she’d had her back go bad and no way to get help. The doctors thought she was all right because she has two daughters, but one is in the US and one is in Germany. She’s having to wait 4 to 6 months for rehab therapy.

I prayed for her. Then I thought I could talk to her, too.

So as we wandered around, I slowed down and turned around a bit and told her I had heard her say her daughter was in America. I told her I was from the States and asked where her daughter was. She told me her daughter (Claire) was in LA. I told her I had met someone at St. Fagan’s from LA (introduced ourselves as we were trying to get in/out a door). She said it’s a small world.

Then she told me that she was at St. Fagan’s with her walking group. She is part of two that meet and walk on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This was her first walk since her fall… I thought she was particularly brave as the museum is several acres.

She told me that she has a good friend in the walking club. “We’re alike as two peas in a pod,” she said. Then she told me that her friend, when they first met, asked her if she were from Devon or Somerset. She’d said no, she was from up north. When her friend asked her where she was from, she said, “A little town up near XX. You wouldn’t know it.” When her friend pressed her on what little town, she said she was from BrittenHall (or Bricken Hall or something like that). Her friend said, “I was evacuated to there in the war.” It is, indeed, a small world.

Marcia and I walked and talked for about an hour and a half and then I left her at the Castle Buttery getting lunch and I headed out to catch my bus.

I texted Ron about maybe meeting me in town and he reminded me that we had tickets to the comedy club. So I went on home. He’d been out too; he ate at McDonald’s for lunch and bought foam core.

When I got home it was about 5 pm. He called a cab for 6, then started checking into restaurants. We tried to get reservations at the Bayside Brasserie—where Dr. Who filmed twice—but it was full up. So we just took the cab to Mermaid Quay and looked for somewhere to eat. We ended up at an Italian restaurant. They had a risotto verdure, which was the only thing on the menu without tomatoes or peppers in it. It was quite good.

We sat outside but not near one of the chimneys. It was very windy, so I was glad I had brought my scarf/wrap. Ron was even cold enough to role his sleeves down.

We ate and then we went to the Glee. We got our seats and then went and ordered ciders. We ordered the pints and they were quite good.

Ron started a conversation with the Scots at the next table, who turned out to be Glaswegians who moved down to Cheltenham 5 years ago and were just in Cardiff for an evening out.

We talked to Lauren and Murray Duncan for all the intervals. Murray bought us another round of ciders. They were drinking Zinfandel Rosé, two bottles. Lauren said I say Scotland like a Scots, but Edinburgh like an American. I’m still working on changing that.

I recommended John Branyan’s “Shakespeare and the Three Little Pigs” and they gave us the name of a great comedian—Michael M???. I want to say Michael Moorcock, but that’s an author. I don’t know who it was. Hope Ron got it into his phone.

They’ve been married 2 years. They went to New York City and Las Vegas for their honeymoon and changed planes in Houston. They recommended a restaurant—The Daffodil near lots of posh boutique shops—and a pub—The Wine Bar. At the end we traded phone numbers. They seemed nice and we asked if we could treat them to dinner in Cheltenham. They said they’d meet us at the Wine Bar and we’d see about going from there. At the end we traded phone numbers.

Talking to Marcia at St. Fagan’s and the Duncans at Glee is more than I’ve talked to anyone but Ron in the whole trip so far… And that was in one day.

Friday, July 4
Happy Birthday, America!

The model, Miss Pixie (actual surname), came about 9:35. She wore a dressy green outfit and Ron took pictures in the garden. He did the bowl of milk thing, but not the clothes on the clothesline thing.

Then he did boudoir shoot in our bedroom. Then a swimsuit/nude shoot in the downstairs shower.

After that we went to the Dr. Who Experience. Turns out if you want to do the Walking Tour you need to buy your tickets early. They book several weeks in advance. (They only do them on Fri, Sat, and Sun and then only 2x a day.)

It was kind of cheesy, but still quite good. The exhibitions were wonderful. I liked the Lego Dalek and the yellow car, Bessie, from one of the early doctors.

Ron bought a collector’s watch. I bought a hoodie and some pins. I’ve now spent £145 or maybe it’s £155. Ron’s watch was £100. … So he’s still got me beat by quite a ways.

We’re home from the Dr. Who Experience and he’s been asleep for the last 80 minutes. I’ll probably let him sleep another 15 or 20 and then see if he wants to go somewhere for supper. …He probably won’t though, because he is tired and wasn’t particularly hungry. I guess I could eat chocolate and pecans for dinner.

We don’t have any plans for tomorrow or for Sunday. Going to check on St. Donat’s Story Festival, which Martin from Toastmasters recommended.

… Not doing St. Donat’s. The festival is £100 each.

Saturday, July 5
We went to lunch at Mission Burrito. I didn’t think I was particularly hungry, but I ate my entire regular burrito with carnitas (pork). I had a Jarrisco’s Lime, which was good. It’s a soda from Mexico and we can get it in Abilene. Ron, however, barely ate his chips. He just wasn’t hungry.

We went to the other side of Cardiff Bay to go to Toys R Us. We’d never been over there. It’s all new building, which Ron likes.

We took the bus back right next to the Cardiff White Water International, which is a faux white water rafting experience, where you can learn to do white water rafting, or just keep up with your rafting. They also have individual kayaks.

We stopped at Mermaid Quay on the way back to see what all the costumes were about. (Heading to Toys R Us we saw one group in Hawaiian, Austrian, and super hero costumes.) Turned out to be Technovus’ Sing Along—raising funds for the Welsh cancer charity.

Ron went to Gourmet Burger Kitchen for his lunch. I had a strawberry shake. He did eat all of this lunch. Then we went to Jouanna’s Joys and he bought a cone of chocolate-covered strawberries.

We caught the six bus back to the city center, then we went to Sainsbury’s and got some dinner—which turned out to be chocolate muffins and popcorn. We also got the Sainsbury’s version of sparkling apple juice and a Kopelberg non-alcoholic cider, which they still had to approve us for. Apparently cider, alcoholic or no, requires an age check.

We went home and ate half a bag of popcorn. Half a bag because the microwave is so small. We did drink most of the bottle of sparkling juice. Then we went upstairs. I thought we were going to watch television, but Ron started working on photography, so I washed up and went to sleep. That was about 8:30 pm.

Sunday, 6 July
This morning I got up at 9:30. 9:30! We were just barely ahead of Daniella getting up.

I made toast and tea. I ate three pieces of toast, one with jam, and had three cups of tea, the cup of orange juice, and two cups of sparkling apple juice. These are small cups, maybe 8 oz. So I’ve had 4 of my 5-a-day. I can eat crap all day now. ☺

We packed up our computers and headed to Costa. I had to go to the bathroom on the way, so we wandered a bit. Then we discovered Costa’s wifi is only for 30 minutes, so we went to Starbucks instead.

We each got a water, Ron got a soy chai latte, and we are splitting a chocolate muffin.

My plan is to finish putting in the notes from SCMLA last year. Did that!

Also got in my FenCon10 notes by the end of the day. So, I’ve caught up on my notes in TCE. That’s good.

We went and bought our tickets to Cheltenham for tomorrow. The online booking wouldn’t let us use our discount pass AND it turned out to be £10 cheaper in person.

Then we went to lunch. We looked at Pieminister, but went to Wok the Walk. It was actually quite good and very filling. Neither of us could eat the whole thing.

Then we walked home.

On the way home we stopped in Cookies & Kreme for some strawberry ice cream. I ate about half of mine. Ron ate his and my leftovers.

Ron wrote on Facebook that he was bored…

He’s researching what we can do in Cheltenham. Not finding much.

But he does have a model shoot and a night at the pub with the guy in charge of the ModelMayhem equivalent in the UK.

Also, we have the number of the Duncans for a night out.

Plus, we can do laundry and watch television. Yes, that’s the height of joy for me these days… watching television and doing laundry.

Monday, 7 July
Today we got up, packed our bags, put them downstairs in the living room of David and Yan’s house, and went to get tickets for the Doctor Who Premiere. Yes, we had planned to be in London that day, but it’s worth coming back to Cardiff.

I got in line at 8:30ish. Ron went to Starbucks to get online and try to get tickets.

When I got there, the line was about 14 people. Seven or eight people cut ahead with friends (though not everyone did), so that I ended up being about 22nd in line.

The hour plus that I stayed in line, I talked to the woman behind me. Katie. She works at Millenium Centre and has for the last decade, even though she will only turn 32 this month. I enjoyed chatting with her and am glad we had the opportunity. She was born in Cardiff when her dad was there for a medical residency, but traveled the world as a family member of the British military.

The opened the line a little before 10.

I was able to get tickets E25 and E26. Katie, who was right behind me, got H25. The center stalls were all taken by the time I arrived at Starbucks to get Ron.

It was well worth the hour and a half to get tickets. I am looking forward to seeing the Doctor Who premiere. (I am also hoping that I enjoy the new doctor. The trailers and things seem very dark. I hope they aren’t dark.)