For part 4 of Britain through music we head to my home country, Wales, and enjoy a bit of sunshine in the capital of a nation that loves to sing.
The Super Furry Animals are a Welsh band. They sing in both English and Welsh, and are, in my opinion, the best band performing today. They wrote ‘Cardiff In The Sun’, releasing it in 2009.
Cardiff was the place where the world’s first £1 million cheque was written. At the height of the industrial revolution, the South Wales coalfields powered the globe and the owner of Cardiff docks, the Third Marquis of Bute, became the richest man in the world. Sailors and dockworkers from across the world settled here, creating a richly multicultural population. However, since the decline of coal, the shipping cranes of once frenetic Cardiff Bay became still. But, after seeing an investment of an estimated £2.4 billion, Cardiff Bay has come to be regarded as one of the most successful redevelopment projects in the world. A tidal barrage has created an enormous lagoon and the waterfront is once again thriving with homes, pleasure boats, shops, pubs, restaurants and culture as the investment continues to pour in. The Bay is now home to The Senedd (the National Assembly For Wales), The Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff International Pool, Cardiff International White Water Centre and soon the Cardiff International Sports Village, complete with an indoor snow centre. It's also the home of time-travelling alien, Doctor Who. After Wales swapped St David’s for Cardiff in 1955, the city became Europe’s youngest capital. Today, crossing a bridge over the Taff in the astonishingly floral Bute Park and Arboretum in the city centre, one side might reveal fly fishermen knee-deep in the river, while on the other, office blocks and the mighty Millennium Stadium tower upward.
Cardiff is a very vital city that loves to party. No more so than on match days. Visiting Cardiff on the day that Wales are playing rugby at home is a truly special experience. Good natured and in full voice, the entire city turns out to cheer the men in the famous red jerseys playing Wales’ national game.
The city is in close proximity to the stunning Gower Peninsula and the jaw-dropping Brecon Beacons National Park. The incredible amphitheatre, baths and barracks of the former Roman fortress of Isca are in nearby Newport City, just a stone’s throw from the 5 star Ryder Cup hosting Celtic Manor Resort, which counts President Barack Obama as a recent guest.
The ancient and beautiful Welsh language is regularly overheard in the bustling streets and quaint Victorian arcades in the city centre. Cardiff’s history sits side by side with the brand new as an upturn in fortunes keeps Cardiff in the sun. Go and soak up some rays. Check out Part 3.