Triassic Ammonites Rock…and Roll…

A day off in Cardiff, what more could a man ask for? Oh, yes, by the way, it WAS raining when we arrived AND when I woke this morning. However, there are rays of sunlight appearing across the beautiful Southern end of Cardiff bay.

Penarth is a small town, no, a seaside resort, promoted nationally as ‘the garden by the sea’ in Victorian times. Breakfast in the restaurant of the cosy Holm House Hotel was lovely, fuel indeed for a hike which Glenn and I decided to take which ultimately  turned into something of a geological expedition. The cliff-top walk towards Lavernock seemed innocuous enough and every now and then we peered over the cliff edge and decreed “yep, still a cliff”. As we neared the point at Lavernock the pathway dropped down nearer the beach and indeed there seemed to be an access point. We ventured forth and a VERY muddy slipway opened up. We decided to go for it and after both tentatively edging downwards we made it unscathed. An obstacle which if we had been 12 years old would have been negotiated in about three seconds. We continued towards the point on the beach which was covered with what appeared to be square pebbles of varying sized, almost as if some kind of fort were here and was washed away leaving the stones to be rounded by the sea with ebb and flow of each tide. I now know it to be simple erosion of the cliff faces.

We continued on towards the headland but it soon became apparent that this was actually quite tricky, you couldn’t take your eyes off your next step for fear of an ankle-twist.. we stopped and gazed seaward and both decided to head back to the hotel but along the beach towards the Penarth pier about 3 kilometers in the distance. The tide was well out which meant that even at our slowest ‘old man’ pace we would make it back before getting our feet wet. After a few hundred yards, the going became easier but not before we’d stopped to marvel at some of beautiful rock formations and large pieces of chalk and red boulders (from the Triassic period – 250 to 200 million years ago) littering the beach. I stumbled across a stone which appeared to contain six Ammonite fossils. A little research back at the hotel on the snail’s-pace internet and it became clear that this was a popular spot for fossil collecting since the cliffs are being eroded at a constant rate.

Glenn and I then had a spot of lunch at the hotel and after that there is really very little to report. Certainly no rock’n’roll partying or even games of tennis, just a quiet afternoon drifting off to sleep every now and then, a cup of tea, mid-afternoon. about the most rock’n’roll thing I did today was pack my new Briggs and Riley rock’n’roll suitcase which arrived at our rock’n’roll hotel.

As bags go, these things are the champions. Over the many years of touring and traveling, we’ve finally figured out that there really is only one make of bag to have. Partly because they are seriously road-worthy but also because they are very well thought out, with ‘proper’ handles and wheels with bearings that feel like they came off a 911. Not to mention the Briggs and Riley rock’n’roll ‘simple as that’ lifetime guarantee. You’d have to be mad to buy anything else.

The next thing I know it’s dinner time. There was talk of an expedition into Cardiff but since we have the hotel quite literally to ourselves, we thought we’d give the delightful staff something to do so Richard, Glenn, Jim and myself dined in the hotel restaurant. Very nice it was too. Early night?….so rock’n’roll.

Show Day – With the weather definitely on the turn, I draw the curtains and think about the breakfast club. Crocks, Glenn, Tim and Mark are as reliable as clockwork in that they’ll be down in the hotel restaurant every morning. I join them for the third day in a row, much to the astonishment of Paul Crockford who asks if I’m feeling alright.. I figure it’s easier that trying to squeeze me, my suitcase AND a breakfast tray into this cosy little room. I nearly always have breakfast in the comfort of the room, usually while I write the diaries. After breakfast and the customary rib-splitting laughs, I head back to the room and go back to bed. Well why not? That virus has taken its toll and I need as much sleep as I can get. I get some.

Bye Holm House Penarth

Dirk readies the bus

4pm and we’re back aboard the bus heading into central Cardiff and what is now known as the Motorpoint Arena. Traditionally the Cardiff International Arena.

As usual, Bob’s band are up on stage running a few things so we head for our dressing room. Catering is imminent and when we arrive there, there’s a lovely lamb chop with my name on it. A quick soundcheck, a few decisions re. stage shirts and 7:30 is upon us and we’re on again.

What a great show this was, the Cardiff crowd (standing) were  fabulous from the word go, the on-stage sound was brilliant, an extra little boost a day off can offer and we had a great time up there with Mark introducing Ian ‘Ianto’ Thomas as Cardiff’s own..AND mentioning his High school, the crowd were on our side. At the end we all applauded Ian and he walked to the front of the stage and shouted “c’mon Wales!” (Rugby) There was a roar and we left the stage.

Much back slapping later we were back aboard the bus for the 3 hour trip to Christchurch near Bournemouth and the Captain’s Club hotel on the waterfront. Another unknown destination. when we arrived and I got to my room, my jaw dropped. A three bedroom suite! I set up the NHT’s and Ian and Mike dropped in for a Nightcap in the form of copious quantities of tea. 2:30 am and I was in bed, in one of my three bedrooms.