I know that the internet has sat rapt in anticipation for the conclusion of my travels in the lands of Cardiff. Suffice to say, despite my best efforts and intentions, I allowed delays and procrastination to get the better of me. It’s now been over a year since my trip to the Welsh capital and I feel somewhat disinclined to conclude the story. In detail at least.
There are many reasons for this, which I’ve been toying with sharing here. My hesitation stems from the personal nature behind it all. Do I want to open my life up to that degree? There’s a fine line between being open and over-sharing. While maintaining a blog does lay one’s life open to a certain degree, where exactly do I draw that line?
In the meantime, I’ll take the opportunity to give the abridged version of events to round out my visit to Cardiff. It was a beautiful place, one which I’d love to visit again. When next I step foot in Wales, I’d love to use Cardiff as a springboard towards the north, into the lands of Snowdonia where can be found castles, sheep, perhaps dragons, and a sense of the true Wales. Or at least the Wales that the has made the country so appealing to the Welsh for generations.
Cardiff (abridged) | or | drinking our way through the Welsh capital, waking to find a castle, followed by drinking our way back out through the Welsh capital.
I woke to find the resident housecat looking to make up for lost social opportunities.
The 4 of us kicked off the day with a quick snack of Welsh cakes, before foraging for brunch on a local dish known as Welsh Rarebit.
Discovered a Castle in the heart of the city. The castle boasts an impressive history which sees it from modest origins as a Roman fort, through multiple razings, fires, battles, and eventually a fall into disrepair, before being rejuvenated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The castle would be retrofitted as a training ground and shelter during both World Wars, before finding itself a historic monument and tourist destination.
It’s worth a visit simply for the grandeur of the keep, nestled atop a hill within the castle walls. The rest of the structure conceals rooms used for everything required to run a small garrison and community and makes for a fascinating walk through time.
Adding on to the grandeur is a more recent addition: A mansion and exquisite clock tower, which are borderline artistic installations. The mansion boasts an assortment of rooms decorated in a bevy of styles. The most impressive of which is the Arab room – a room gilt in gold and adorned with arabesque stylings, all making for an awe-inspiring piece of interior design.
Castles visited, Cardiff traversed, foot weary and travel sore, the 4 of us sought out the refuge of the local pub scene. With 5 hours to kill, and after a day of exploration, there’s really no more welcome sight than a warm pub and frosty glass. Being the beer snobs that we are, it really worked in our favour that Cardiff plays host to several fantastic craft breweries, including a conveniently-situated Brewdog, where we opted to end our night.
Much more could certainly be said of Cardiff and the Wales that we saw.
Had I finished this post a year ago, as intended, I’m sure I’d have waxed poetic about the entire lot. You’d still be combing through some long-winded prose and detailed accounts of the beauty of the city, its amazing people, and the character that oozes from every weather-worn stone. It really is a beautiful and welcoming place which I’m fully intent on returning to.
In the intervening year, however, a life-change set me on an unexpected course and has drastically affected my outlook and inspiration. As I began to explain above, I toyed with the idea of simply glossing over the change. A few simple edits here, some altered pronouns there, and presto, nobody’s the wiser. History rewritten as though nothing happened.
Then I re-read my earlier posts. They’re not perfect. They’re a little self-serving at times. But they’re a chronicle. I set out to keep a blog as a means of sharing my journey. Moving from Canada to England with my then wife was a massive life change. We had a comfortable life on the doorsteps of family and friends. We could have had decent jobs, gone on annual road trips, paid down debt and eventually bought a house … and probably never felt entirely fulfilled from life. I haven’t talked to her in detail, but I’m sure she feels the same. We were on a straight road towards a life of meeting expectations.
We saw this. Both paths would have hardships. One promised adventure, travel, new experiences. The other, the comfort of family, friends, safety nets, and a city we could both navigate backwards and blindfolded.
The hardships were many, to be sure. Many more than we’d expected. Made even worse by trying to do everything on a shoestring budget.
Somehow, in the process, we grew apart.
Early in 2015, Em and I decided to separate. I won’t go into the nitty gritty of it all, but it had reached the point of inevitability. It’s a massive saving grace that neither of us can, nor want, to point fingers at the other. We tried. Many times in the first few months we both came up with reasons and excuses and faults … but none of those stuck. Did we each neglect the other? For sure. Did we neglect our relationship? Guilty. We allowed outside influences to have too much influence. Many of those influences were entirely outside of our control, while others were not. At the end of it all, we just didn’t work anymore.
However, despite everything I’ve ever known of couples who split, neither of us did anything to harm the other. We just had to split. It didn’t entirely feel like it at the time, but it was the right choice.
We also realised early on that, no matter the outcome, we were both determined to stay friends. Which is exactly what we’ve done.
That’s much more detail than I’d intended to extoll, but… someday I want to be able to look back at these posts and have an accurate recollection of, not only my headspace, but the resolution we walked away with. As much as I’m hoping that other people enjoy reading my posts – that other people are able to glean some value from what I write – I’m writing as much for myself as for them.
I’m also quite happy that I didn’t jump immediately back into blogging. While this post is immensely personal, I’m actually terrified of how personal my posts would have been in the first few months. There’s a lot of emotional turmoil and confusion crammed into the early days of a life change.
A year later, I’m in a good place. The roller coaster has long since ended. The anxiety, doubt, dread, and sling-shotting emotions fell by the roadside months ago. Life has actually stabilised and I’ve been feeling like a stable, well-adjusted, person for quite a span now. It’s a great mental place to start writing again from.
Actually, for the first time in years, I feel like I’ve come back into myself. It’s quite a feeling to find yourself again. I’m not sure where I went for so long, or why, but I’m determined not to let it happen again. I quite like this guy. He’s alright, ya know?!
It’s been a solid year since I’ve made a post and there’s a lot of ground to cover! I’ve toyed with the idea of picking up on the dozen or so posts sitting in draft form … but perhaps this is a golden opportunity to start fresh.
Cardiff was fun, but it was only the start of a year that’s been full of more adventure than one can shake a stick at. And many sticks were shaken, indeed!
Aside from this personal … aside … I’d like to get back to the blog I’d intended to write. Over the next while, I want to catch up on some great experiences I’ve had while getting settled in the UK. Here’s a taster:
- Adam falls into a hippy-inspired-while-being-very-technical-and-un-hippy-like workplace.
- What do you think about travelling to the south of France with your ex and your ex-in-laws? Hilarity ensues.
- Summers in London are a thing to behold.
- Pub crawls happen often, and you’re powerless to refuse.
- Travelling thousands of miles from home only to fall in with a group of wayward and expat North Americans.
- Adam gets headhunted by a Nigerian entertainment distribution company.
- Jumping into the London flat hunt, yet again, as though you’d learned no lessons the first time around.
- Breaking the news to your family that you won’t be coming home for Xmas…
- … instead you’ll be travelling to Vienna …
- … making a brief stopover in Bratislava, based entirely on a scene from a teen road trip movie …
- … and crashing Hogmanay in Edinburgh for New Years with a crew of Canadians … where you’ll be mistaken for Simon Pegg. More than once.
- Just when things seem sorted, Adam makes some dumb decisions, becomes homeless, and finds himself on an air mattress.
- When all seems futile, a choice flat presents itself at the end of a months-long search, which you and friend managed to snag …
- … only to be delayed moving into due to a surprise business trip to Nigeria.
- Finding oneself bearded and ginger in Lagos.
- Discovering home in a borough called Mile End.