We left Aberystwyth at 8.15am, in a car spacious enough to accommodate five people and a mini fridge. Having partied until 3am the night before, Nastja, Kim and I spent the first hour of the journey saying very little, probably feeling more than a little nauseous, especially given the interminably winding route through mid-Wales. Luckily Carol and Lloyd were in a rather more spirited mood, and before long it was time to experience the delights of a roadside Little Chef.
Facing each other for the first time, we indulged in a hearty breakfast, and impressed each other with tales of how many languages we could speak.
Around 11.30am we hit the outskirts of Cardiff, and it was at this point that our sat nav system suffered something of a mental breakdown. Its formerly confident and exquisitely timed instructions to “turn left in 40 yards” had begun to be replaced by more and more desperate and misplaced orders to “do a U-turn!” We ignored it for as long as we could, since we were clearly heading in the right direction. The sat nav’s frustration seemed to increase, and, perhaps sensing that we weren’t paying any attention any more, began to sulk, now only managing to summon up an occasional forlorn plea to “if possible, do a U-turn”. Just at the point when the sat nav seemed to be coming round to the idea that perhaps it might be better to trust our human instinct, or at least be more reasonable with its requests, we arrived at our destination.
We clambered out of the car, and entered the large warehouse space of g39 gallery. Co-director Chris Brown was sitting at reception and welcomed us all with friendly and informative conversation. The show was impressive, featuring amongst others, Turner Prize-winning Laure Prouvost. After being invited to a talk and film screening later in the evening, we slightly regretted the fact we hadn’t made arrangements to stay in Cardiff overnight.
After this we made our way to the waterfront, stopping for a brief walk past the Welsh Assembly buildings, a lighthouse boat and into the Millennium Centre. The sun was shining and our thoughts were turning to lunch, so we didn’t stay long.
Next we headed for the National Museum of Wales, which contains a rather nice cafe. Unfortunately when we got there, we discovered the cafe had just stopped serving food. Despite the trauma of this unforeseen setback, we soldiered on and spent an hour looking around the museum. It was huge. We were slightly overwhelmed with how much there was to see, and spent a rather chaotic time running from room to room and trying to soak in as much as possible in a short space of time.
Finally, however, we had to leave: time was getting on, and we still hadn’t eaten lunch yet.
We drove out of the city and on to a retail park near the delightful town of Merthyr Tydfil. The options here were somewhat limited, so we opted to dine at Pizza Hut. Lloyd and I had never visited the establishment before, so were excited to find out what was to come. Unlimited salad, followed by Pizza and garlic bread or potato wedges, followed by unlimited ice-cream and sweets – that’s what was to come. All this was gleefully consumed against the backdrop of the delightfully thick valleys accent of the waitress.
A mildly surreal atmosphere seemed to have descended on the group by this point, and the rest of the journey home was filled with outlandish tales of unfortunate incidents on past travels, and a beautifully articulated exposition of the unique advantages of the Kindle.
Overall our trip to Cardiff was a great success. We’d seen some high-class contemporary art, and shared several enjoyable hours of each other’s company. But more than anything else we’d got a taste of the capital city, and all agreed that another visit would somehow be necessary.