Beyond the barrage

Gazing across Cardiff Bay can easily trigger contemplation, even in the least philosophical of cats. Across the water lies the barrage that gives rise to this expanse of life aquatic. Then there is the majestic Penarth headland, inviting mystery as to what lies beyond…

Cardiff Bay view

Barrage [2]

Tantalisingly out of reach are the mythic islands of Flatholm and Steepholm, worthy of exploration if you can still find an intrepid sea dog to convey over the channel. But what is that strange protrusion at the foot of the headland?

Flatholme and Steepholme [3]

One of Penarth’s many attractions dates back to the late Victorian era; an age when the coastline of Britain (back when it was Great!) needed wood and metal embellishments, so that people could experience walking above water. The pier was a ubiquitous adornment to any self-respecting seaside town; a place to take-in the bracing sea air, or indulge in frivolous amusement in pavilions or arcades. Penarth Pier was no exception, including its later art deco addition in 1930…

Penarth_Pier Ben Salter Flickr

[The image above is included with acknowledgement to Ben Salter on Flickr.]

Penarth [1]

Penarth [2]

But, be wary of the history of this structure before you venture forth in anticipation. 1931 (fire), 1947 (collision), and 1966 (collision) were dramatic years in its perilous existence. When you create a long and narrow appendage don’t be surprised if it occasionally suffers  the occasional catastrophe. As with certain volcanoes, looking at those dates, the next one seems long overdue!

Penarth [3]

For readers under the age of 25, the ‘No Fishing’ sign refers to aquatic creatures, not nefarious internet activity! Though judging from the level of occupation below, readers under 25 are far more likely to engage with Penarth Pier on a screen than in reality.

Penarth [4]Reading paper and books

 

 

Until we speak again, I am going to assume a Bella-like state of contemplation, as I reflect on life beyond the barrage.

They do things very strange…

Juno was always very clear… “The beach is a place for dogs, don’t bother me with all of that sand and sea stuff.” And I have to agree, I’ve seen plenty of dogs being walked on or near beaches (don’t forget those pooper scoopers dog owners!), but a cat on a lead flouncing across the dunes is something that belongs only in the strange recesses of the imagination.

On a recent visit to the infamous Barry Island in South Wales (for anyone who has seen the UK TV programme Gavin & Stacey) I was reminded of a lyric by one of my favourite bands of all time… Steely Dan“Over there in Barrytown they do things very strange”. So, maybe a cat on a lead, blah-blah-blah…

Following on from the unseasonal wintery start to this June a couple of days ago, it was good to experience Barry Island’s ability to create a mysterious draw of that sea and sand. It has the ability to entice all living creatures (except feline’s it would appear):

Barry [8]

But the sea here is not for the faint-hearted; my memory of childhood visits was of a hike to get to it, and that still seems to be the case. Juno would certainly not have been the slightest bit inquisitive about something so wet that was also a distance away. It seems that people only travel to it in packs these days!

Barry [4]

However, for students of classical architecture, you might think that Barry Island has the doric column vibe going, in order to stimulate those with an interest in culture:

Barry [1]

But close up… you begin to see the cultural vibe is more of the ‘they do things very strange’ (or even ‘Gavin & Stacey’, who are serially referenced in this arcade):

Barry [6]

It is safe to say that many things at Barry Island have not changed since those long forgotten days of my childhood. A fading but familiar sign might have been the subject to prick up Juno’s ears, something to do with food. John’s is still going:

John's cafe [1]

Though a few spare penny’s wereJohn's cafe [2] lavished on the entrance…

… not too many are required for daily specials:

John's cafe [4]

 

 

 

 

 

 

But for a true stroll down the seaside memory lane, and to prove to the Juno’s of the world that in Barry ‘they [just might] do things very strange’, just gaze at the internal decor:

John's cafe [3]

So until we speak again, enjoy your memory lanes, and feel free to go ahead and do something very strange! Why not let me know about it with a comment on this blog post?