There is something truly magical about the city of Cardiff when Wales are playing a rugby union test match. You can almost taste the buzz of excitement and anticipation. The streets are full of colour, with supporters wearing bright red jerseys and red scarves around their necks. The dragon on the Welsh flag flutters on every street corner as street traders try to sell their stock of scarves, hats and flags. People suddenly find themselves compelled to purchase ridiculous hats in the shape of a daffodil or dragon. There is a tremendous feeling of national pride and even people who don’t speak a word of Welsh find themselves singing Sosban Fach or Calon Lan with tears in their eyes. Beer flows like rain sodden rivers and we are thankful that Cardiff’s most famous brewery, SA Brain, is busy brewing just minutes away from the city centre.
One reason why there is such an amazing atmosphere in Cardiff is because the stadium, the magnificent Millennium Stadium, is in the heart of the city. Most international stadiums are located outside of any major city, but the Millennium Stadium proudly sits on the banks of the River Taff. Many players have openly stated that this is their favourite stadium as the atmosphere and noise if like anywhere else.
One of the most treasured test matches is when Wales play New Zealand, otherwise known as the All Blacks. On match day, God must be inundated with prayers from Welsh fans asking for that miracle. As of 2014, it has been 61 years since Wales beat the All Blacks, an embarrassingly long time. And in recent years, every time the All Blacks arrive, there is always a just a glimmer of hope. But each time this glimmer has quickly been distinguished by the formidable All Blacks.
Early this month (November 2014), I was in Cardiff covering a pre-match hospitality event, but took some time to photograph the atmosphere at the bottom of St Mary’s Street. With my Canon 1000D and a 70-300mm lens I discreetly leaned against lampposts and shop doorways and watched the world go by. This selection (and there are more on my website) was taken in the free 30 minutes I had before going onto the hospitality event and over 4 hours before kick off. By then Cardiff was bouncing! And by 7pm the inevitable had happened. The All Blacks had won again!
Funfairs have a mystical feeling that takes me back to my childhood. The funfair would come to town and park itself on an open area of ground somewhere and metamorphosis from a stream of trucks into a plethora of bright coloured, noisy, stands, booths and rides that made me feel warm and excited inside. Often, the open ground would be transformed into a mud within a couple of days, but that still did not deter the visitors. There were chances to win a cuddly toy or terrorise yourself in the Ghost Train. And throughout I would walk around with my eyes wide open, often carrying a pink candy floss or chocolate ice-cream.
The funfair in Cardiff Bay didn’t have the rough edges of a travelling group, but even though I am now nearing 50, I still felt that tingle of magic inside. Out came the camera and I tried to capture some of that magic, using the amazing bright colours and exciting movement of the rides. I walked away happy to have experienced the magic of the funfair, just in a very different way to when I was a child.
I was in Coffee Barker, a fantastic café in one of the arcades in the centre of Cardiff in South Wales, and had just finished the 2nd of two meetings. It was time to wander back to the car and so I clicked my fisheyes lens onto my Canon 5D, ready to take some unconventional images of the beautiful city. Firstly, there was the arcade and the tables lined up outside Coffee Barker. The arcades in Cardiff are amazing and I reminded myself to return and spend an afternoon photographing the arcades. I then ventured out into St Mary’s Street and took a photo looking down away from the castle. After crossing the road, I headed up towards The City Parish of St John the Baptist, where the blue skies and gorgeous clouds framed the church perfectly.
The walk around Cardiff Bay starts and ends at the Wales Millennium Centre and takes around 1 1/2 hours. So, what are the five sights to see?
1. Walk away from the Millennium Centre, past Techniquest and onto the bridge (A4232). From here the views both towards Cardiff (where you can see the Millennium Stadium) and Penarth are breathtaking. Get the camera out;
2. After dropping down and under the bridge, you follow the path along past Cardiff International White Water Centre until you reach a footbridge. From here you can see the small and large boats moored on the river;
3. Head towards Penarth and the barrage, taking the path back towards Cardiff Bay and gaze across the water. In the summer, the water is full of boats and activity;
4. Around half way along the path is a small exhibition about Captain Scott and two huge sails. Prefect photo opportunity;
5. Walk on past the Doctor Who Experience and back to Cardiff Bay. Now it is time to gaze at the wonderful Wales Millennium Centre. And don’t forget to get a few photos!
Photographs of all the above sights and more can be seen by following the links below.
It was lunchtime and time for a walk. I wandered down to the busy main road that runs through Church Village, near Pontypridd in South Wales, on my way to the bank. Just before my destination, I see the most amazing display of bluebells tucked away along the edge of a driveway. In stark contrast, the window of what appeared to be a garage was in desperate need of a lick of paint and the jars in the window appeared to have been there for some time. Who lived there and had they ever seen this gorgeous array of colour? I doubted whether they had. I cursed myself for not taking my Canon camera, got out my HTC One mobile and took a photo.
It was another bleak day and I was up near Hirwaun in the Heads of the Valleys in South Wales. I had a meeting and took the opportunity to drive around the Hirwaun Industrial Estate, where I came across this house that appeared derelict. The gates were chained and the large garden was littered with all sorts of debris. I know from visiting a few weeks later that it is habited.
It was late afternoon in Cardiff in South Wales and the rain had just abated leaving the pavements soaking wet. People were scurrying back to their cars, either after spending the day shopping or having worked in one of the many offices littered around the city. With my camera in my hand, I stood and watched the world go by, occasionally taking a photo and getting stared at suspiciously by the passers-by.