Millie is an angel.
She is our third grandchild, our second granddaughter. She is loved. Millie has a fantastic cousin called Alfie and a beautiful big sister called Princess Mia… living with Mia is great fun…. living with a princess is even greater fun. I never knew until Millie was sent to live in our family that angels had blue eyes, but I know now.
Millie is beautiful inside and out. Today I get to take Millie out on my own.
Millie stayed in her own house overnight but woke up early to get ready to spend her day with me. Mia is off school this week, which means so are all the other dear little ones who will be crowding out the places I usually visit on a Friday. This called for some serious thought. Looking out of the window I saw the sky was clear blue, it reminded me of Millie’s eyes. Today would be good.
The angel and I decided to make use of the fine spring like weather and go to Cosmeston Country Park, near to where we live.
For over 80 years, most of what is now the country park was a limestone quarry, with four massive separate holes being dug to remove the stone.
The quarry had its own railway to take the stone to the nearby cement works. As a young boy I used to enjoy watching the trains running across the road to the cement works. When I was in the sixth form I had a holiday job working in the quarry, I used to work on the bottom of what is now the lake… believe me it is very, very deep.
Today the cement works have gone, replaced by houses at Lavernock Park, and the railway is now just a path. The factory office of the cement works is the only building that still remains, and it is the Harvester Restaurant on Lavernock Road. Even before quarrying finished, two of the holes were filled with rubbish from the houses and factories that the cement helped to build.
In 1966, a government white paper recommended the establishment of publicly accessible country parks close to large towns and cities, and preferably on sites in need of improvement. Cosmeston was ideally suited – despoiled land close to Penarth and Barry and not far from Cardiff, created countryside on the city dweller’s doorstep.
The then South Glamorgan County Council and the Vale of Glamorgan Borough Council together restored the land to provide an area of safe and accessible countryside.
It was first opened in 1978 and the country park is still being developed and improved. Unlike the town park in Penarth, with its formal gardens and cultivated flowers, the country park is sensitively managed countryside, which provides a balance between conservation and recreation.
After Millie arrived, we set of as quickly as we could, because we both wanted to make the most of this precious time, alone together – a little angel and her grampy, who loves her to bits!
It was a beautiful day.
When we arrived who should we meet but old friends John and Thelma Foote with little Evie, their grand daughter. It was so good to see them.
We all made our way to the lake. I smiled, both Evie and Millie had bread to feed the ducks and swans. Millie thought Evie was a bit posh because she had pitta bread in her bag and it was still frozen, good job swans don’t have teeth that can be broken by eating frozen pitta bread. Millie had taken some wholemeal bread belonging to the lady of the house.
We had fun feeding the birds but I noticed Millie was a bit reluctant to throw the bread to the ducks and swans. It was then I noticed that she was happily tucking into the bread.
It made me smile and made the swans mad and they strained forward to reach the food, which they wanted so much.
It was so much fun, out in the warm sunshine, being in such a beautiful place, with Millie and our friends.
We decided to walk around the park slowly enjoying the fresh air and the birds singing. Recent heavy rain made the roadways and paths very muddy, but we battled through looking out for signs of spring.
We said goodbye to The Foote Family as they wanted to take Evie onto the adventure playground and we strolled around this little haven of peace together. Spring being not too far away made everybody happy and we exchanged many ‘Good mornings…’ to everyone we passed and they all gave the little angel I was pushing around an extra big smile.
After we got back to the car, I wondered what to do. What would Millie want to do? The other ladies in my life, the lady of the house and the great Aunt Bes (‘great’ as in wonderful not age!!) would have said immediately… ’Hit the shops!” so that’s what we did, made our way into Cardiff. By the time I got to the park entrance Millie was sleeping, something else I learnt…angels sleep with a little smile on their faces, maybe she was dreaming of the ducks and swans and her grandmothers tasty wholemeal bread!
I parked the car, lifted Millie out, strapped her in her stroller and reached town and she still slept. I had decided to do with Millie what I had already done with Alfie, teach her about the great place she lives – Cardiff the great capital city of Wales.
On the way into town we passed a Big Issue seller who had a great dog. He was dressed in a coat and scarf and looked really miserable, like a dog version of Victor Meldrew!
I decided to have lunch first while the little angel was sleeping.
Lesson one for Millie was eating places in Cardiff and the number one place is The Louis on St Mary Street. St Mary Street was looking good, all done up for the Six Nations.
The Louis is the most wonderful place to eat, inexpensive and like something from a bygone age. Older ladies dressed in black wait on the tables and chat to you like long lost friends. I ordered my all day breakfast and scrambled egg on toast for Millie. I asked her to hold on for the eggs until the little angel woke up. The old girl brought my tea, two pots, one with hot water and a little china jug for the milk. Her little greeting ‘There you are love, a nice cup of tea.’ was sweet music to my ears.
I was halfway through my all day breakfast when Millie woke up and smiled. I dipped my last little piece of fried bread into my egg, and then lifted her into a high chair. I summoned the old girl back and the scrambled eggs were soon on their way. Just like her cousin, Millie charmed all who sat near with her smiles and garbled language.
After a leisurely lunch, we put our coats back on and restarted our lessons for the day. Next stop Cardiff Market another wonderful place full of character and interest.
When I was growing up Cardiff Market meant three things, the pets, upstairs on the balcony, the Christian Bookshop and the butchers’ shops. Sadly the bookshop is no more and the pets are almost non-existent. You can buy fish and birds but very little else…I am sure that the Health and Safety brigade are to blame!!
However, there is still plenty to see in the butchers’ shops. As a young lad I would stand for ages looking at the unusual cuts of meat. I showed Millie and wondered what I could buy for the lady of the house for tea, beef cheeks sounded different and so did the diaphragm skirt, but I guessed she would not fancy ox-tongue or pigs heart. My mum used to feed us with heart, liver and other bits of offal. I remember one time my dad eating brains, but only once!!
Millie had the giggles when we came across a little group of pigs’ heads. They reminded me of The Mona Lisa. Whichever way I looked at them they were looking straight at me…creepy! On the way out we noticed that Elvis had not left the building!!
On the way back to the car we stopped off in Howells to check on the nappy situation. Revisiting the mother and baby room I checked and found all was well…no feeding mothers or offspring being changed… That is so last season calling it a mother and baby room, I want to fight for a Grampy and baby room. Equal rights for us male oldies!!
I looked at her playing quietly and I thought a gentler and more placid soul I have never seen. My little angel, thanks for a lovely day… You are loved!