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Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Last weekend (November 11-12th) I visited my younger son Carwyn and his wife Kathryn in Cardiff. Kathryn is a lecturer in languages in Swansea University and Carwyn is a political correspondant for the Welsh magazine Golwg. His office is in the National Assembly for Wales and a visit to this building was high on my list. Cardiff Bay has altered beyond recognition since I was a student in the University during the 60s - from its past as the world's largest coal exporting port, to a modern sport and leisure complex; it is also Europe's largest waterfront development and it has a wealth of leisure activities available both on and off the water. In fact the only building that I recognised from my student days (when the infamous Bute Street led to the even more infamous dockland area of Tiger Bay) was the brick-red Customs House.

The old customs house, Cardiff Bay
On this fine Sunday morning Cardiff Bay was thronging with visitors. Among the new developments there are the Millennium Theatre and of course the National Assembly of Wales, looking rather austere in its Welsh slate contruction and Carwyn was keen to show me around.
The National Assembly of Wales
As we mounted the steps to the entrance, I had a funny feeling of déja vu. Then it occurred to me and I said: "This reminds me of the Reichstag". I was immediately jumped on by Kathryn and Carwyn who pointed out that they were both designed by the same architect, Richard Rogers!
Inside, it is indeed an imposing building and we were able to peep down into the Assembly Chamber through the glass partitions, though of course it was deserted on a Sunday with the circles of seats and lifeless computers.
Carwyn and Kathryn pose at the seat of democracy in Wales

However, the café bar was open for an excellent cream tea and we were able to sit guzzling on plush leather seats where Carwyn had recently interviewed such people as Arthur Scargill, David Cameron and Sir Menzies Campbell.

Also during the weekend we visited the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust National Centre of Wales near Llanelli. Although it was rather bleak and windy we were able to see examples of many of the world's waterfowl species in breeding pens, and a number of wild British species form the hides overlooking the marshes.

Carwyn and Kathryn examine a Pochard duck for symptoms of bird flue at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre, Llanelli


Blogger simon said...

the duck looks very impressed!

10:06 pm  
Anonymous Ellee said...

We are not allowed that close to the ducks at the WWT in Welney, we stand in an observatory and watch them being fed by moonlight, a lovely experience. It's close to my home and I go quite frequently, I love taking visitors there and am always amazed at how far some people have travelled to visit a local nature spot.

And well done for spotting the Richard Rogers connection. Carwyn and his wife sound very interesting, they both have great jobs too and look very happy together.

12:28 pm  
Blogger Maalie said...

Ellee, you're not supposed to get that close either, but one waddled up and I couldn't resist scooping it up (I am a licenced bird-ringer). I bundled it into Carwyn's hands before he knew what was happening!

1:41 pm  
Blogger simon said...

did you eat it Jim?

10:41 pm  
Anonymous Ellee said...

It always fascinates me how tracking devices are used on migratory swans and from that you know exactly where they are, I hear about it every year at Welney.

The duck looks like it is in good hands!

1:46 pm  
Anonymous Plumpy said...

Hi again Mr Al's Dad. Please let your son know I would be more than happy to help him inspect ducks for symptoms of deliciousness... Ah I mean bird flu.
Mum won't let me too near the ducks either. I sympathise with you all. You didn't answer Simon's question though!?

9:41 am  
Blogger Maalie said...

No the duck was released. But it had been pinioned so it wasn't going to get far.

4:44 pm  
Anonymous Plumpy said...

I think I'll forget the Maalie Kingdom and go live with Carwyn, the wildlife seems a little safer.

10:28 pm  
Blogger tortoiseshell said...

More incriminating evidence of Maalie here...

9:28 am  
Blogger simon said...

ha ah ha! AND he chased wild snakes, wombats, emu, kangaroo.. not to mention 206 species of birds...certainly the maalie king!

11:09 am  
Blogger Tim Rice said...

I really like the picture of the old customs house on Cardiff Bay.

2:05 am  
Anonymous chris said...

Don't he need gloves?

2:09 am  

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