Cardiff, Wales 12/13 October, 2011

Wednesday the 12th was a day off, staying in Penarth, a Victorian seaside town on the Bristol Channel.  Penarth was a bustling port for the coal industry and located on the southern coast of Wales, west of Cardiff.  In the Victorian era Penarth was a popular holiday destination and remains so today, though in far lower numbers since affordable holiday packages to Europe were introduced in the 1960s.  When coal was still king, people of wealth built stately homes that looked out on the Channel with rolling gardens. 

It's in these estates our little boutique hotel is located, formerly a large home that has been converted.  Another case of my room being so small, if I stood in the middle I could nearly touch both walls at once.  Still, it was quiet, clean and certainly cozy.  By the time I surfaced, I'd missed breakfast so fuelled by a cup of coffee brewed in the room, I set out to find something to eat and get my legs moving.  I walked along the coast to the small village not far from the hotel, the weather dismally damp, grey, cool and breezy.  The village itself is small consisting of a couple hotels, a few restaurants and Penarth Pier with it's wrought iron railings painted cream, pink and green and built in 1894.  I did stumble across an RNLI shoppe, the letters stand for Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The RNLI is a charity that saves lives at sea all around the coasts of England, Ireland, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man and established in 1824.  One of the ways it raises funds is by the sale of goods.... greeting and Christmas cards, food items, kitchen ware, clothing items, etc., all designed specially for RNLI.  They have on-line shopping and that is where my wife and I have purchased items over the years, however I didn't realise they had actual brick and mortar stores as well.  I thought I'd made an incredible discovery coming across it here in Penarth and stocked up on Christmas cards.  I later found out there are many of these shoppes located all around the U.K. coastline.  It's so seldom we stay on the coast, I'd failed to see on before yesterday.  Check them out on-line, all proceeds go directly to RNLI and their good work.

I stopped on the pier at a small coffee bar for a latte and fried egg bap.  A bap is similar to an American hamburger roll, though slightly thinner, more body and chewy.  That sandwich, fresh off the grill tasted fantastic and I devoured it sitting on the pier watching the Channel at low tide.  Far from tourist season, it was awfully quiet, scarcely anybody anywhere save for a few older folks bundled up against the weather and eating ice cream cones.  It all combined to have a turn-down feeling, bittersweet.  Came back to the hotel where later I met up with some of the guys for a wonderful dinner and drinks downstairs.  A great, warm, dark and inviting bar where we began, adjourning to an equally comfortable dining room for a steak dinner, English cheeses and another drink or two.  The four of us had the entire place to ourselves.  After dinner, Jim and I wandered back down the coastline to a pub for a pint Boddington's, but when we arrived, they'd already closed.  So it was back to the hotel for a final night cap.  The end of a relaxed, quiet and restful day.

Late afternoon Thursday the 13th we checked out and arrived at Motorpoint Arean for the show. It was the first stand up crowd of the tour and really was a great one for us.  There's an amazing energy having folks standing right up to the front of the stage when your doing a gig.  Loads of great playing tonight and a real joy.  We left quickly after our part of the show, driving to our hotel in Dorset by the sea where I peck this out and feel the pull of the pillow.  Tomorrow we play Bournemouth.

So long,