Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Wales - The first claw of victory

July 4-6

Hello everyone!

Having a blog with a title of 'My Global Adventures' gives me the opportunity to enlighten and entertain people like yourself about far-flung and unknown places around the world. It has come to my attention, however, that many of the people who read this are American. Canadian. Korean. Indian. Fijian (here's hoping so they can offer me a place to stay in the future). The point is this - not British.

It thus struck me as puzzling that I would not consider writing a blog about travelling around the country that I was born and raised in. After all, even a trip to my local beach will be a 'global' adventure for someone reading this in French Polynesia (again, here's hoping) who may have minimal knowledge about the area that made me the person who I am today. In addition to this, people from school or university may actually recognise names or aspects of the places that I am visiting, making a change from them having to say, 'Where the devil is Mamallapuram?!' With that in mind, I have decided to blog on about my latest adventure.

The titles of this and the following blogs will be...tedious. Desperate, you could say. My flimsy defence for this particular gem, itself sounding like it has been copied mercilessly from a teenage RPG for the Xbox, is that I cannot think of many things that I haven't seen/done/experienced within 15 miles of my house in north Cardiff. There is plenty that Kristina - the blonde girl who will pop up in many of the pictures displayed henceforth - has not seen/done/experienced in Wales, as the only time she has been before was for a flying visit last February. When most of the time was spent drinking. Well, that got much of my culture out of the way.

This was the first part of our holiday around the south of the United Kingdom. Each place will get its time in the sun. With the exception of Bath, as it was murky and overcast during our time there. For now, let us concentrate on the land surrounding the Welsh capital. The Land of my Fathers. And Gavin & Stacey.

There was a TV comedy drama released here a few years ago about a young couple and the trials and tribulations that they experienced. The main issue was that the girl, Stacey, was from south Wales, and the boy, Gavin, was from London. Hilarious, disgusting best friends and incredulous parents made this quite a funny show, and a big hit on television sets across the UK. It's easy to find on YouTube if you're curious. Being more specific, Stacey is from a town called Barry, roughly 12 miles from my house. The memorabilia on display in the town - as well as the giant poster proclaiming that the show was filmed here - shows the immense pride of locals. Or the desperation of the town to associate itself with success.

Barry was famous before these eccentric characters graced the small screen, however. It is the home of one of Wales' more infamous pleasure parks - Barry Island. The place, for whatever reason, doesn't have a great reputation. I struggle to understand why. It consists of shops, amusement arcades, theme park rides and a beach which meets the shivering sea. We arrived in the morning, shielding our eyes from the soaring sun, to find the park containing the rides to be rather quiet. Closed, in fact, in spite of the scores of young children in the area on a school trip. They were more than content to play on the beach.

Well, until it started raining. I felt like I had been transported back to Korea just in time for the first monsoon. A torrential shower drove us under the cover of an amusement arcade. To pass the time I tried my hand at the claw - think Toy Story. It's the sort of game where you always think you can win, and collect your stuffed toy, but it invariably falls from your - well, your claw's - grasp at the last second.

Not this time. Papa Smurf stayed firmly in our fingers, and then became our mascot for the next ten days. His smile ensured that Barry Island was a great success for us, in spite of the weather and the lack of rides. Interesting side note, the doors to the pleasure park were open as we ran back to the train station. No wonder not many people come down here nowadays.

One more place of interest during our time here was a trip to St. Fagans. This is a folk village-cum-farm just north of Cardiff. Again, it is a place filled with energetic schoolchildren at this time of year. Aside from the screaming and pounding of little feet, it is a sedate, intriguing place, reminding us of how our ancestors used to live. And how pigs still live - munching on every millimetre of land hoping to collect some nourishment.

Our time in South Wales was wet and not-so-wild, but still wonderful. A good time to save money as well, considering our next destination. Nothing more expensive than holidaying across the border in jolly old England!

Love you all


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