Monday, 15 August 2011


Yesterday, with just one reasonably compliant son in tow, we went to Cardiff. Usually we have the two younger boys, and trips to the city involve a picnic at Bute Park, a museum visit to look at the wolly mammoth and albatross (these are the only animals the boys ever mention when we say 'museum', despite there being some enormous dinosaur displays).

 My eldest is frying in Turkey with his dad, and middle son being spoilt staying with his nan in Newport, so we decided to venture into the part of the city where money talks. 

I've clearly been living in the past. The very recently developed St Davids II shopping centre houses shops the like of which  I thought Cardiff would never see. Firstly, Jo Malone  -  I was so tempted to spend the £40 I'd put aside for shoes and school trousers on a Lime Basil and Madarin candle, but I found the strength to put it back. LK Bennett - bereft of customers, even window shoppers. Cath Kidston - newly opened and a frenzy of activity. Even MEN were in there, holding up floral accessories and grinning. Not that I went in, I'm not a fan of her designs. 

We walked through the arcade and it was like a mid-nineties teen film set. 'American Candy' was selling small bags of coconut M&M's for £3. Krispy Kreme was bustling; huge queues, kids leaving - happily sporting  little paper hats emblazoned with the logo - great advertising ploy. Adults waltzed out of there with boxes of doughnuts - happy to pay £10, but probably think a whole chicken should cost no more than £2.50. A stall selling milk shakes made with bars of your favourite chocolate had a fair sized queue. The Disney shop was rammed full of spoilt kids (I actually like the shop, but have some very painful memories which I'll share one day). Nobody looked particularly happy or serene, it was almost like they were shopping and 'having coffee' so that they could go home and update their social networking forums to say 'just had a Krispy Kreme, NOM NOM, LOL, greedy!'

What was I doing there, then - just the same I suppose, doing something for the sake of it. I did have plenty of 'aren't humans weird?' moments - one being watching children thrash around in a large pool inside giant inflatable orbs . Another;  a tourist dressed in brown polo shirt, navy silk trousers, black patent leather shoes and white towelling sports socks, posing unashamedly as his partner took photographs of him with incredibly dull backgrounds. Maybe he had initially packed a suitcase with casual/sporty/smart clothes and now was left with just a small selection of items from each category to wear.

I'd started the day in an almost foul mood. Readers, male and female alike -  I'm sure you recognise that snappy/terse tone, face like 'a slapped arse/ripped dap' (Welsh one, that) deep sighs, wistful glances - accompanied with an "I'm FINE,  just tired" upon being asked sweetly "everything OK, love?". 
You don't? Either you're an angel, or you live with one - lucky you.

Being out on what became a reasonably sunny Sunday did lift the pale shadow of unnecessary doom and gloom. 
I let my son out of the pushchair, (it can't be comfortable)  he made a beeline for a giant metal ornamental structure outside John Lewis. He was in his element; playing peek-a-boo, trying to scale it or use it as a slide, it was hard to feel anything but happy.

The rest of the day went on to be thoroughly pleasant, as did the evening.  I beat my running  personal best  by 2 minutes. We had a lovely curry for dinner, a longer evening of peace than usual as a worn out toddler settled down before 7 pm, very satisfying.

This morning I planned to do some grocery shopping, I checked my bank balance first - NO MONEY. Put the washing on the line, settled down with a cuppa - RAIN.  My right knee is smarting, that'll teach me for trying to canter instead of trot. OH bought UNSALTED butter - he's in for it when he gets home from work. The foul mood threatened to make a comeback. Threatened.

I thought to myself  "I'm going to get a full-time job, we can't go on like this".

Then I surveyed the photographic evidence of yesterday's happier moments. Children are worth going without food and candles for, aren't they?

p.s  If you do ever visit Cardiff, this brilliant website lets you know the only shops worth going in. I'm sure the other shops have nothing you can't see in your local shopping centre.


  1. Yes - they are worth it! But just sometimes .....! Nevermind, sounds like you had a lovely day.
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  2. Aah yes, mostly they are. That one looks worth it anyway. Sweet faced boy and Mummy whose visage doesn't look at all like a slapped bum.

    Incidentally - is 'Nom nom' not THE most irritating phrase? It's all over Twitter and blogs and I can't STAND IT! What happened to 'yum'?

    There are some nice shops in Cardiff, not been for a while though, we did Cowbridge last time I was home.

  3. Those pictures of you and your youngest are gorgeous, you definitely don't look like a ripped dap!
    One of my friends works for a menswear chain and spends a day a fortnight dressing windows in Cardiff, she absolutely loves it above all other places in the UK.
    The last time I was there was in the early 1990's after I met a couple on an ill-fated 18-30 holiday to Faliraki (I know, I know, don't ask) and spent a weekend there visiting the most hellish nightclubs imaginable (The Ritzy was one that still makes me shudder). I really ought to give it another try, although like you I don't get Cath KIdson or those evil looking doughnuts and don't even get me started on NOM NOM, LOL or any other of that weird new way of speech. x

  4. £40 for a candle? Good Lord! The shoes and school trousers will last a lot longer. I have to agree that you have your priorities right and you and your youngest look in great shape (who gave you both such long eyelashes?). Once again, you have written a beautifully-observed piece and it felt as though I was there with you.

  5. I worked in Cardiff for seven years and loved it. Went back recently and boy has it changed - hard to say 'for the better' because I liked it before, but certainly it has more than kept pace. I reckon it's one of the most underrated cities in Europe.

    The only sadness is that Cardiff takes all the money and showcase projects - leaving places like Swansea and Newport (most of wales for that matter)to play second fiddle.

    Oh, and kids vs food - I agree; I'd take time with the kids anyday, at least in so far as it's kids versus posher food (not starvation). I'm incredibly lucky to work a part time contract in what is a great job, but there's no way I'd now give up that time in exchange for cash or better holidays or meals out...

  6. So many points I agree on - I do wonder why people feel the need to go through the motions of whatever it is they feel they 'must' do - these nonessential things that have to be broadcasted on Facebook to prove you have a life.

    Surely the extra-curricular bits and non-essentials are where people should do what they enjoy! :-)

    Jem xXx

  7. Humans are utterly bizarre. People watching is a favourite past-time of mine when I am on my lunch. I've seen some truly unbelievable sights in our town. People rifling through bins, people fighting, people just wondering around around aimlessly, crying. People whose stories I would (in some but not all cases!) be interested to know. It is not a town known for it's pleasant, cultured atmosphere.

    Mrs GL and I nearly settled in Cardiff when we first got together (all our friends seemed to gravitate there) but we were forced out by the cost. I used to love Spillers Records on The Hayes. Seem to remember lots and lots of pigeons that seemed to want to nest in my hair.

    Excellent photos Lucy. Times like you had yesterday are priceless. Clichéd but true. And then there is that other priceless moment that hits you when the children are all asleep!

  8. 'Nom nom' is a phrase that riles me every single time I see it. The sort of 'want to slap someone hard' ire.

    And LOL isn't far behind.

    Yes, I am a grumpy old cow, I know, who thinks living life through social media is one of the saddest and most pathetic things to happen to mankind. I had words with my oldest son yesterday, about the amount of time he spends on Facebook and about actually getting out and enjoying his days, without seeing everything through the camera lens with the sole purpose of showing off what he has been doing. Just live and experience the moments for what they are at the time. I think it went in one ear and out of the other. (Shouldn't I put in 'LOL' at this point?)

    Anyway - yes. Moments with your children outweigh having extra money for pleasant fripperies. Hard as it is to have to turn your back on buying things. These last 3 weeks that my boys have been here with me I have been trying to do things with them, and creating good memories for all of us, instead of splashing the cash and spoiling them.

  9. What I would like to do is sit down for a chat and a cuppa with you...but that ain't happening soon, thought I would let you know I am here...hovering...writing massive observations to you, then deleting them. I don't like giving too much away, particularly of my children...and of me. Totally paranoid!

    Is a ripped dap the same as "A face like a busted arsehole?"

  10. Looks like a unanimous dislike of 'nom nom'...good!
    Liz - I think it's more a case of sometimes they are good, not sometimes they drive you nuts (LOL!! [ironic lol])

    Vix, I am thoroughly impressed that you survived to tell the tale of not only a Faliraki holiday, but a night out at the Ritzy! It's long gone, but the tales will live on for decades to come.

    Little Nell - both my parents have long eyelashes, but it's the males who got the best deal. My dad and brother have pale green and blue eyes respectively and long, curled eyelashes which belong on a drag queen.

    Mark - you may well be right about Cardiff, I did read a couple of years back that it was Europe's fastest developing city. I love the rabbit-warren of arcades with the most weird and wonderful shops. One minute you're walking past the airport terminal hell which is Primark (pronounced 'preemark' in many parts of S.Wales) the next, you're looking at some size 11 8" heel stiletto heels in a dark arcade.

    Gem - it's getting silly isn't it, even a trip to the park is seen as a major event for some. Documenting life's mundane may be my hobby, but I do it from the outside looking in, rather than vice versa (if that makes any sense?).

    GL - Spillers has now moved, but is still the place to go if you want that obscure experimental IDM album, or whatever else takes your fancy.

    Wendz - I would have been a sucker for social networking as a teen, I just know it - but I did have a strong desire to 'connect' properly too. Are our kids losing this?

    Nick - I have added my brand new email address to the page - you must send me some of these comments, not delete them! I had to create a new email account because my other 2 are my full name. Those who follow me on twitter will know my real 'full' name. I wish I had kept more of an air of mystery, but I am slowly building up a desire to reveal more. I won't be going nude, any time soon though.

  11. p.s Nick, you win the 'face like a...' contest - hands down!

    Other favourite is 'face like a dog eating hot chips'

  12. Awww gorgeous pictures of you and your son. They are totally worth it (of which i keep telling myself on the mad dash to the nursery/work run). I have never been to Cardiff but its on my list of places to visit, it was actually my first choice of uni but i didnt get the third grade I needed so they shunned me ;o). Hope you are having a fab week, rain here today on my work free day has been a pain in the bum :o(. Scarlett x

  13. p.s i've not even heard the NOM NOM thing until now - im so totally out of the social network loop ;o) xx


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