An Ordinary Day in Cardiff

The morning after my arrival in Wales, my friend drove us to Cardiff, where we went to a mall. This may sound like a generic activity (plus I’m from New Jersey, the capital of malls), but since we were in the U.K., I found a number of novelties.

Outside, I exclaimed at this billboard. Are there any John Malkovich fans out there? He is my favorite actor. 100_2737

Why he has his own hotel suite in the capital of Wales, I do not know.

At the mall, for the first time I had a pretzel from the chain Auntie Anne’s and entered the clothing store Hollister. Both are American brands. I suppose it’s not any stranger than the fact that I tried Kraft macaroni and cheese for the first time in Paris, in spite of the fact that many American kids grew up on it.

At a discount store, I went a little nuts buying cute greeting cards that were as low as 29 pence. Can you blame me? I had just come from Paris, where 5 centimes is considered a discount.

At Marks & Spencer, my friend showed me food items I was unfamiliar with, such as Madeira cake and Victoria sponge. I was also charmed by cakes in the shape of characters named Harry Hedgehog and Percy Pig.

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“Percy Pig flavoured icing”… whatever can that mean?

We paused at Marks & Spencer’s upstairs café to share a slice of Victoria sponge, which is a vanilla sponge cake with cream and strawberry jam filling. My friend also had tea, of course.100_2745

We strolled on High Street, a cute pedestrian street that reminded me of Dublin, before going to Primark, a huge inexpensive department store that I first encountered on Oxford Street in London some years ago. In my memory, cute tank tops for four pounds, bathing suits, pajamas, and all types of clothing abounded, and I didn’t even in make it upstairs to look at shoes and bags. Unfortunately, the line to the fitting rooms was so long that I ended up just getting pajamas for my sister and booking it. Since then, I had been dreaming of Primark. This is before they opened in a suburb of Paris.

Perhaps I had built it up too much in my mind, or my style had changed or Primark’s selection had, because my friend and I spent a long time in the Cardiff location, and we only walked away with socks and a couple of other ordinary sundry items.

Outside, we saw Cardiff Castle as the sun was setting. 100_2749

After dinner, we went grocery shopping at Tesco for my friend’s granddad. I was excited to go, as I had good memories of browsing there when I visited a good friend in Edinburgh, Scotland a few years earlier. 100_2752

I was shocked to notice a sack of 480 bags of Yorkshire tea. Why would anyone ever need that much of the same kind of tea?? A couple of months later, I mentioned this to a British acquaintance, who didn’t think it was a big deal and said that it can go fast if you drink it regularly. Still, I can only imagine buying this if I had a family of ten or hosted a tea party for the block. 100_2756

Perhaps these tea drinkers have the same appetite for their national drink that I have for sweets. I went for the bourbon creams and custard creams. Funnily enough, I hardly ever bought packaged cookies in Paris, choosing the fresh pastries instead, but in the U.K. the biscuits appeal to me. I think the cookie itself is softer—not like the chewy American cookie, but not as crunchy as the chocolate-topped French biscuit.

My friend and I said “Hwyl Fawr” to Tesco for the night. I found it interesting that their sign was in Welsh, then English underneath in slightly smaller letters. English and Welsh are the country’s official languages.100_2755

We headed to her granddad’s house and unloaded the groceries and sat with him for a little while. He was very sweet. He wore a dark pompom topped bonnet and tartan scarf. He was hard of hearing, so we yelled to have a conversation. I later learned that he tells the same stories over and over again, but since it was my first time hearing them, I found it novel when he told me that he had built houses in the neighborhood. By the fireplace was a black and white picture of him and his late wife as young people.

That night, my friend and I had planned to watch “Gavin and Stacey,” a Welsh British comedy, but we ended up Skyping with my her long-distance boyfriend and friends instead. We left the DVD on the main menu. Her poor mom, or should I say mum, told us the next morning that the continuous loop of the show’s theme music drove her crazy.

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2 thoughts on “An Ordinary Day in Cardiff

    • I later found out he was an investor but didn’t realize it had been that long– 15 years. Thanks for the info. I’m kind of glad I didn’t know when I first saw the sign because I enjoyed the surprise.

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