Cardiff has recently been voted the best place for young people to live in Britain, and I know where those you people will be heading. But I went first to Barry Island just to get a flavour of Gavin & Stacey. Apparently Stacey's home is on the market, but I didn't see it. The bay is wonderful and I walked the path round the headland watching a class of surfers charging into the sea. There is an amusement arcade on the front “Nyssa’s Slots.. come and see what's occurring!” and things went downhill from there.
|Surfers off Barry Island!|
I stayed in Penarth, a comfortable suburb of Cardiff. The large and expensive-looking Victorian houses of Marine Parade show that Penarth has long been a good address around here. But I am sure that it is to the massive new marina and housing development that those young professionals choose to live; it looked pretty classy. Beyond the development, at Penarth Head it is possible to park and walk the 1.1k across the barrage to the Queen Alexandra Dock on the north side.
The barrage is like a massive lock gate which keeps the level of Cardiff Bay constant.
Costing in excess of £200m, it was completed in 1999, and is the
single most important factor in the regeneration of Cardiff. Before
the barrage the bay was smelly, and tidal, so that at low tide the
large mud flats were hideous, littered with rubbish and rusty
|The Barrage at Cardiff Bay|
Today it is a freshwater harbour, the water's edge lined with shops, restaurants, smart offices and wine bars. I aimed for the warm copper shell of the Millennium Building, Cardiff's arts centre, and parked behind The St David's Hotel. I joined a harbour tour with a nice family who farm near Liskeard and Chris, our skipper, explained how the barrage works and how it keeps the salt water from the Bristol Channel out of the harbour. He said the St David's Hotel was where the NATO delegates stayed, and that the roof had been crawling with snipers – none when I looked. He said that security had been so tight over the conference that all the manhole covers in Cardiff had been lifted and sealed. The Bay certainly looks wonderful now and is the focus of the city – I can understand why all those young things want to live there.