Cardiff trip – 1st and 2nd March 2013

With tickets booked for an event at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama on friday night Jackie and I caught a train at 9 on friday morning.  But whats it all about?  All we knew was that it was an event performed by students involving songs and music written by the first wife of Jackie’s paternal grandfather.  We only knew of it because Jackie happens to be the copyright holder of this woman’s unpublished music, which is held in Cardiff University library, and the librarian there let her know of the event.

Its all rather odd – Morfydd Owen (the composer in question) has no blood link to Jackie because she died ‘without issue’ when the marriage was only about 18 months old.

Morfydd Owen

Morfydd Owen

We got to Cardiff about 2pm and found a beer at the Cottage, a Brains house.  One of their irregular ales, called Citra, and hopped with that hop.  But I suspect it was the usual malty base, so had a strange thick quality, not fully lifted by the fruity hop.  Pleasant though, nice that the brewer recognises the popularity of paler fruity hopped ales, and made a stab at creating one.

Then to the first bit of culture – the National Museum.  Lots of Impressionist stuff collected by the sisters Davies, with sculptures by Rodin and some pleasing Picasso pots.  Some stuff we were allowed to photograph is below:

Penarth Cliffs by Alfred Sisley 1897

Penarth Cliffs by Alffred Sisley 1897

The artist and his models Picasso 1954

The artist and his models Picasso 1954

Two Doves Margaret Hine 1955

Two Doves Margaret Hine 1955

The Tarasque Picasso 1954

The Tarasque Picasso 1954

Explored the history galleries a bit, enough to see this beautiful shaft of a cross from about 800AD

Pre-Norman Christian Cross shaft, one of several grand celtic carved stones.

Pre-Norman Christian Cross shaft, one of several grand celtic carved stones.

There is a very pleasing bar come cafe at the College of Music and Drama where we went next – to collect out tickets.  Very modern timber clad exterior.  From the right angle its hard to see the trees in the adjacent Bute Park through the exterior timbers – or as I like to say, ‘you can’t see the trees for the wood’.

Its St David's Day in Cardiff - thus the daffs.

Its St David’s Day in Cardiff – thus the daffs. in the Music and Drama college cafe

Ten minutes across the park we found our B&B – The Town House – and were soon heading back to a pub spotted beside the park.  The Black Pig, or as they call it here Y Mochyn Du.  In this year’s Good Beer Guide.  Excellent pint of Gower Brewery’s Gower Gold – all cascade hops and pale, like it should be.

We had to cross the park one more time for supper at the venue, and we had to do it soon as they lock the park up at 7pm.  Tapas and red wine plus a bowl of thrice fried chips was excellent.  During the meal Uncle Gordon arrived from Bristol.  He said the venue, with its several threatre spaces and early evening jazz in the foyer, reminded him of the South Bank, and that was the very feel of the place and the people in it.

Into the event, and the big surprise.  One of the two key characters was Mervyn Jones – Jackie’s dad.  The whole story was carried on a dialogue between him and a student who wanted to ask him about his dad and the first wife – Morfydd.  I wondered how Jackie was responding to it, after all it must be odd to see your father represented on stage and given words by someone else.  The dialogue was broken by Morfydd’s songs accompanied by a lone tall dancer.  There is a strange and true story central to the drama – Morfydd died following surgery either carried out by Ernest or supervised by him, at their holiday home on the Gower, in 1918.  Ernest chose the German language inscription on her gravestone in Oystermouth graveyard, from Goethe- ‘Here the indescribable was done’.

Afterwards we met the cast and author/director, who seemed surprised that we had attended from so far.  The lead actor (Dewi Savage) stayed to talk and split another bottle of wine, then we saw Gordon off in a taxi for the Bristol train and walked into town with Dewi, where he pointed the way to one other pub I was keen to try – Zerodegrees – a brew pub of industrial appearance where we shared two halves of Wheat beer and a Pale ale.

After an enormous breakfast on Saturday morning we went for a walk in Bute Park, seeing several sculpted upright tree trunks and a jay.

This carved fish emblem was beside the wier which holds the Taff up to divert water down a stream or leat which used to power mills beside the castle

This carved fish emblem was beside the wier which holds the Taff up to divert water down a stream or leat which used to power mills beside the castle

The aforementioned wier on the Taff

The aforementioned wier on the Taff

An owl, one of several creatures carved out of this tree.

An owl, one of several creatures carved out of this tree.

Jay in Bute Park

Jay in Bute Park

Passing the National museum we spotted a sculpture by another Jones, this one from Tyneside originally, but trained with Eric Gill and went on to run a school in Ireland.  Lots of lettering of his inside the museum, but this is one of two big and high sculptures of his outside the museum.

Jones the Mason on the NW corner of the museum.

Jones the Mason on the NW corner of the museum.

Finally I’d like to share a view of the Gormangast-like towers of the castle, an animal sculpture from the south wall of the park and just a mention of the Goat Major, a Brains house we popped into before meeting up with more Jones’s for lunch.

Cardiff Castle Towers of several styles

Cardiff Castle Towers of several styles

Sadly not an aardvark, but an anteater - complete with a new nose.  Not apparently the first replacement one either

Sadly not an aardvark, but an anteater – complete with a new nose. Not apparently the first replacement one either

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