Alfie was up very early today and when I crawled wearily downstairs just after 7.15 a.m., he was dressed and smiling ready for a great day. I had arranged for a Tesco food delivery between eight and ten o’clock so any idea we had of going out adventuring nice and early were reliant upon how close to 8.00 a.m. they would come. Alfie and I were hoping that it would be earlier rather than later…if they came at 8.01 a.m. that would help…and as they are Tesco…Every Little Helps…
The lady of the house had been asked to walk to work so that the arrival of the Tesco delivery would not be missed. She obliged and walked as she usually did; she is continuing in her efforts to reduce her rather large and bulky frame in readiness for going on the beach in her bikini in the summer. Now, of course, she has the added incentive of a wedding in the family in 2014. Shares in Slimming World will no doubt rocket over the next eighteen months!
While waiting, Alfie and I had a great time playing together. Alfie did a spot of hoovering, knowing I am sure, how much I love having a clean home.
We played lots of games together and had great fun, but the best game of all was a new game Alfie invented after I changed the batteries in his mini dyson. We called it 101 Things to do with 4 dead batteries. That was real fun. I think we got to 64!!
Annoyingly, Tesco did not come until just before ten, which meant we were cutting it fine to make breakfast down the Bay. We were both ready, so when the stuff was away in the cupboards, we were in the car and off. Cardiff Bay was our first stop; it was a bright sunny morning, although a north- west wind did make it feel rather chilly.
Cardiff Bay used to be called Tiger Bay for many years. Tiger Bay was the local name the area of Cardiff, which covered Butetown and Cardiff Docks. It was re-branded as Cardiff Bay following the building of the Cardiff Barrage, which dams the tidal rivers Ely and Taff to create a huge freshwater lake.
As Cardiff’s coal exports grew in the nineteenth century, so did its population. Dockworkers and sailors from across the world settled in neighbourhoods close to the docks, known as Tiger Bay. The name Tiger Bay was the nickname sailors gave it due to the fierce currents around the local tidal stretches of the River Severn, as they sailed into Cardiff Docks.
Migrant communities from up to 45 different nationalities helped create the unique multicultural character of the area, long before Tony Blair had the idea.
Tiger Bay had a reputation for being a tough and dangerous area. Merchant seamen arrived in Cardiff from all over the world, only staying for as long as it took to discharge and reload their ships. Consequently the area became the red-light district of Cardiff, and many murders and lesser crimes went unsolved and unpunished, the perpetrators having sailed for other ports. However, locals who lived and stayed in the area describe a far friendlier place, with a strong community spirit and sense of belonging. My mum grew up in Tiger Bay, in a fish and chip shop in Sophia Street, right at the very heart of things. The fish and chips she served were known all over the world, as sailors returned home and spoke of their time in Cardiff.
I managed to find a parking space right outside the world famous Coal Exchange Building, where the world’s first one million pound cheque was used. It has lost some of its former glory now but still has an air of grandeur.
I noticed Alfie had fallen asleep just after we left home, that early morning was catching up with him and he didn’t even wake when I parked and transferred him to the pushchair, it would be a quiet start to todays’ adventures.
I made Subway just in time to get the £2 breakfast deal. Oats and honey roll with egg and bacon with a cup of coffee… gotta be right!
I ate it alone but appreciated being out in the Bay. It was not busy and the wind was colder than I imagined, but it was still a great place to be. I checked my mail and my Facebook page and my little friend who was sleeping soundly by my side.
After breakfast I strolled around the Bay for a while, loving every second. We passed a boat owner shouting out a message trying to draw customers to a twenty-minute boat ride around the harbour. He must have seen me coming because he started shouting that OAPs were welcome and buggies could be brought safely on board and kids were free. I quite fancied it but Alfie was asleep… or at least I thought he was but when I looked he was smiling and pointing to the man, I took it as a sign and we made our way down to the boat, both smiling now. The owner had a ships captain’s hat and the gift of the gab for sure. We got on and Alfie sat next to me in the rear of the boat.
We made use of the blankets to keep us warm and we set off. We were ordered to call him Captain, even though his boat was small and reminded me of the African Queen in the old Humphrey Bogart film. It had a funnel up through the middle and vibrated rather a lot. Alfie loved it.
We sailed out into the Bay passing quite close to The St David’s Spa and Hotel in case “the rich people throw some money out of the windows” … but not a single penny came our way.
The captain gave a running commentary as we sailed. He reminded me of an old wag who took us on a tour of the coast near Cannes in the south of France. That guy claimed he knew Joan Collins and when he tooted his horn; a window of a house on the shore opened and a hand waved a handkerchief, supposedly the hand of the aforesaid lady. We still smile when we think how good it must be to know someone famous!
We were shown the new Dr Who Exhibition and the lock gate through which Captain Scott left to go to the South Pole.
Looking back at Cardiff, the sun shone onto the Millennium Centre making it all look stunning. Cardiff is a great place to live; especially now we have a Premier League team here!
We also passed The Sennedd and the Norwegian Church and the captain was rattling on about Roald Dahl and how he was christened there.
We got off the boat and strolled lazily back to the car and headed for Penarth.
Friends of ours have been nagging me to visit The Little Monkeys Café in Penarth. On the Web it describes itself like this…
Little Monkeys Cafe aims to provide parents with a safe family friendly environment in which they can relax whilst their children have fun.
We offer a range of child friendly activities throughout the week specifically aimed at children from 6 months to 6 years old. Each day is themed and our staff are guaranteed to keep your little ones entertained whilst you relax and enjoy some of the delights available at our cafe.
Want to join in too…Parents are more than welcome to join in all of our activities!
Little Monkeys Cafe is not a kid friendly Cafe, it’s a Cafe for kids. Everything we do places safety, development and fun as the first priority, we encourage noise and will do everything we can to ensure your little one gets to monkey around!
Alfie and I felt it was worth a try – and we were not disappointed!
When we first entered the café neither of us were too sure, it was quite full of young mums and their little darlings all milling about. Alfie and I crept in and sat in the corner of the play area and watched! Alfie was soon off playing with all the other kids and the abundance of toys. Bit by bit some left and we had more space and it was great, all staff who work there are trained in childcare and were fantastic with Alfie. The main kids helper a young lady called Lowra, she had a slight Eastern European accent and was superb.
She had Alfie and a few other kids dancing and singing and drawing.
I soon felt brave enough to go out into main café part and order some food and drinks for us. Alfie was perfectly safe, as the playroom is off the café.
I ordered a Little Monkey’s fun box of food for the little man and some Brie and bacon sandwiches for me with pot of tea. All the food is healthy and Alfie had a cheese roll with a box of raisins and some organic puffy things and a sugar free drink. We ate together… friends, enjoying a special time together.
After lunch Alfie played and an old friend of mine came in with her little son. I haven’t seen Kathryn for some time and I have never seen her son Andrew. He was a lovely little lad, really handsome and so well behaved. Kathryn was with a friend so it was not easy to talk much but she was pleased to see Alfie and he and Andrew played together for quite a while.
Soon it was time to leave. I went out to thank the owner for the care and attention shown to Alfie. She invited me back and it’s an invitation I intend to keep.
We strolled though Penarth, down the Windsor Arcade and Alfie loved strolling on his own without being harnessed into the puschair. He reminded me of my dad, he looked into and examined every shop he passed, taking an interest in all he saw. How I wish my dad and mum could have seen this dear little fellow, but sadly they left us before that could happen. It was my mum’s birthday today and all day I was telling Alfie what a great lady she was and how she knew – without any doubt – that God would send him along one day to join our family. We had to wait quite a while for him, but God knew best.
When we got back to the car we went to visit Alfie’s Nana Muz, another great old lady. Her mind has been taken cruelly from her but she still smiled when she saw him and waved goodbye when we left. We love her a lot and the time we spent with her was precious. We also chatted and played with Keith – a great old fellow who sits near Beat. He loves trains, Cardiff City and books about Tiger Bay…my kind of guy!
When we got home there was still time to look at the terrapins who have just woken up from their winter sleep.
It had been a full and rewarding day.
When Alfie’s mum was collecting him she stayed to watch an old video of her wedding to Jason and a part of it has been dubbed with a Martyn Joseph song about Cardiff Bay… it seemed a suitably appropriate way to end a very ordinary but very special day. The day an old man and a little boy had spent together… just having fun… exploring Cardiff, boat trips, kids cafes, meeting old friends and visiting great nans!
Cardiff Bay by Martyn Joseph
On a Friday over Cardiff Bay
This is one day of our lives
And on a Friday over Cardiff Bay
Know that I love you
All of my life
And the old man in the side street he made you smile
Waved at us both so we both waved back…
…Saw Captain Scott on the Terra Nova
Setting sail for open sea
And maybe one day when you’re older
You’ll come down this way and think of me
It’ll be a Friday over Cardiff Bay
Just one day of your life
And on that Friday over Cardiff Bay
Know that I loved you…