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It's a four and a half hour drive down to Cardiff from Preston, by way of towns such as Ham, Stone, Hill, Wednesbury, Engine Common, and Chipping Sodbury. Radio 1 was playing a strange melange of user-requested songs on the way back, from the Fraggle Rock theme tune to what sounded like exercise video soundtracks. The bridge over the Severn was lovely, a wide sweep over the estuary, the beauty of the view barred in with the sides of the bridge; I'm sure it's safer for the motorists that way.

The last time we went to Cardiff, it was by train. We haven't travelled much in the UK by car, and so I haven't navigated it in the sort of detail which is condusive to knowing where places are, what place names and touristic sites await along the way. Near Gloucester, I eyed the map wistfully for the nearby collection of tithe barns. Someday. Some other trip.

Cardiff is a wonderful city: compact, a wide variety of touristic attractions, several of which we saw on the last trip, a good variety of shops, and so much more affordable than London. In the future, we might go back for those reasons, but this time, cwjat, a friend from Toronto, was the attraction which merited a visit, and so we spent our time there drinking, eating, and shopping, gregarious activities all. After meeting up with her, we took a taxi to town and headed for a modern pub on St. Mary's St., steel, exposed pipes, wood, and clean lines. They earned my stamp of approval by stocking both pineapple juice and a decent selection of alcopop. Colin and our friend stuck to Brains brews the whole time.

Afterwards, we ate a very tasty dinner at a Moroccan/Lebanese/Mediterranean restaurant (more about that in another post), and retired to a more traditional, comfy pub with a warm fireplace nearby. I don't know why I was fading so much, but we were all tired enough that we were heading out the door before last orders on a Sunday night.

We spent this morning wandering the shopping arcades of Cardiff together. The unanimous highlight was a deli/dry goods shop, Wally's, which stocked a stupendous collection of spices, imported European meats, curries, pickles, German and Italian Christmas treats, Japanese cooking ingredients, halvah, and all sorts of other treats. (And as I just learned from their website, they do mail-order!)

The trip seemed all too brief, as has so much of the past few weeks. But I suspect we'll be back to Cardiff eventually, with or without cwjat there.