Friday, 31 July 2015

Dinner, Driving and Discovery

After our visit to Dinas Powys, we braved the roads and returned to Cardiff  - mind you, not by the route that we had intended to take. We never seemed to take the same road twice - driving on the opposite side of the road completely turned around my sense of direction and orientation. After a few missed turns and exits, we made a hasty retreat to our hotel to change and to meet another set of my cousins and their mother for dinner in Cardiff Bay.

Luckily, we chose to walk - so my map skills were back on track.  It was a lovely, warm and sunny evening, perfect for a walk and another adventure. When we reached the forecourt of the Millenium Centre, we stood for a moment scanning the crowd milling about.
Wales Millenium Centre - Cardiff Bay
Much to my delight, I saw my cousin waving to us. We had been found! After hugs and introductions, we walked over to a  wonderful Italian restaurant  and ate dinner on a balcony overlooking Cardiff Bay. We talked like old friends and it really felt like being 'at home' again. The meal, like the company and conversation, was perfect. To this day, my husband still talks about the spaghetti carbonara that he had that night. After a drink at a nearby pub, we said our good-byes and headed back to the hotel.

Originally, we had planned on driving to South Molton and Filleigh to visit the home of my Ball ancestors in Devon as a day trip. I soon realized that there was so much to see in Wales and decided to go to the Gower for the day to explore the area where my great-grandfather had been born.  The day started out rainy and wet, but after a stop in Mumbles, the sky started to clear. I loved the windy narrow roads, but always jumped when we rounded a corner and passed vehicles going in the opposite direction. We landed at Rhossili just after lunch as the sun was coming out.

The area was, in a word, breathtaking. The view of the bay and Worm's Head was spectacular. It truly is an "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty".
Worm's Head, Rhossili
We walked along the promontory taking it all in - we even got to some sheep grazing on the cliffs and hills in the park.

On the way home, we stopped in Scurlage, the birthplace of Thomas, my great-grandfather (1875-1941) and I had a quick walk around, trying to imagine what life would have been like in the late 19th century Gower.
We also passed the road to Reynoldston, the home of William James Ball (1858-1922), the eldest son of William Huxtable (1837-1927), whose life had a tragic end in the Brigend Asylum.  Every bend in the road told a story and the place names seemed all very familiar.

As we neared Swansea, we managed to get lost in rush-hour traffic, but eventually made it back to Penarth. We dropped by the home of my cousin (with whom we had dinner the night before) and he gave us a fascinating tour of the town where our family lived. The clouds had rolled in again, lending a perfect sombre backdrop to St. Augustine's Church where my 2x great-grandparents, William and Charlotte Ball are buried.

St. Augustine's Church, Penarth

We walked along the beautiful Penarth pier (which was still under renovation) and saw many more sight where family lived, worked and played. Knowing my fascination with the BBC series, Gavin & Stacey, my cousin happily pointed out several exteriors and landmarks which appeared in the show, including a church hall in which his mother's aunt had been married. Our evening ended with a quick visit with my cousin and his family and yet another unknown route back to Cardiff.
Penarth Pier

All in all, another perfect day.

Cheers, K.

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