Last days in Belfast & Cardiff

I am currently on the plane to Cardiff and after seeing the size of this plane I now know why they charged me so much for excess luggage as it’s so tiny it probably would barely take off if there was too much weight. I have been seated in a window seat right next to the really small propeller and even though I’m no engineer I can’t help scanning it for anything suspect. I feel sick and I’m not sure whether its nerves or the coffee I consumed in the lounge prior to boarding but I am now well and truly on my way. Flying over Belfast I tried to spot White rock and Sliabh dubh, I managed to spot Victoria square shopping centre, The University and the cemetery near Anne’s so was in the general direction of where we were staying. The past four weeks have been grand, I have seriously overindulged in alcohol and fatty  foods and have probably consumed every carb known to man and am simply waiting for it all to catch up to me. I assume that one day I’ll be walking down the street and all of a sudden my arse and boobs will just pop out in front of me Nutty Professor style as there’s no way my body will let me get away with what I have put it through. That combined with the lack of exercise due to the ankle injury and it’s inevitable. But I am sure that my new frugality now that I am on my own will sort that out. I probably won’t have the money to be dining out much until I get on my feet and will probably be living on cheese sandwiches or pot noodles ala Heather potter.

So the wedding was great fun – as expected it was a long day starting at the ceremony in this lovely cathedral in town. The ceremony itself was not as long as expected and we had little guides that we followed which was good to but I’m pretty sure are standard these days for weddings. The bride looked lovely and as I had briefly met her father on a few occasions I could definitely see a resemblance. It was a beautiful sunny day but the wind was very cold and the majority of us girls wanting to look glam didn’t have thick overcoats over our outfits so we kind of stood in an alcove outside the church huddled together. Then we all bundled onto a pre – booked bus to the reception. It was lovely to see how much effort everyone went to, to get dressed up. Most of the women had their hair and nails done with lovely dresses and perfectly matching jewelry. In fact quite a few just so happened to be wearing the same shade of purple that day so it became a bit of a running joke between Kath and I that the purple girls were the bridesmaids. The reception was held at a country club about half an hour out of town, as we arrived we were served canapé’s beer and champagne in the foyer as we waited to be seated inside. The reception hall was stunning with white drapery and crystal candelabras and large glasses with candle centerpieces on the other tables. We sat down to a three course meal before once again being directed back into the foyer where they had set up a just for fun casino with fake pounds that were given to everybody with a picture of the couple on the notes. Even the children were catered for with balloon animals and activity centre. They had also set up a little candy bar with old school sweets that you could help yourself to which was lovely.

Next was the dancing portion of the evening as we went back into the reception area they had a DJ and dance floor set up which later became really sticky due to the alcohol spilled all over it during the evening I imagine. I couldn’t wait to get up there and boogie but I was also dubious as to getting my footing wrong and aggravating my ankle so kind of didn’t do anything tricky and ended up doing the ‘mum dance’ as I have called it. Basically my mum (I can’t speak for all mothers) does this dance that was probably a very popular way to dance in her heyday where she kind of does this simple one – two step over and over again and then if she’s feeling a little flash she might throw in a clap or two. Special mention must go to Kathleen’s aunt Mary who at 63 can out dance people half her age, Mary’s signature move seems to be the drunken pointing much like what a drunken member of The Wiggles might do and it was such a laugh to see her chase Daniel around the room for a dance with the pointy fingers. She is truly amazing, I hope I have her energy on the dance floor when I am her age. A bloke tried to pick me up earlier in the evening and I kept running into him during different stages of the night. I think he may have been friends with the groom though he tried to buy me a drink but I think he was so drunk that they wouldn’t serve him. He kept saying I’ll buy you a drink but not a Cosmo because that costs the same amount as his underwear. It was funny the first time he said it, but he was so wasted he kept making the joke again and again and being polite I laughed each and every time like it was the first time I’d heard it. Then he offered me a pill which I politely declined and then a fag that I also declined and I didn’t see him after that.

We stayed on until 1:30 before getting the hired bus with everybody back into town. It felt like we were coming back from the football as everybody was pretty drunk by this stage and the boys were singing the Glasgow Celtics song on the bus. So we decided to start singing the Australian anthem and yell out whatever random Australian things that we could think of. Which included me yelling out ‘Throw another shrimp on the f****g Barbie!’ thinking back I’m really embarrassed about that because the swear was really unnecessary and Kathleen’s dad hates swearing and I must’ve sounded like a truck driver when I said it.

Right at this second I am sitting at the bus stop at Cardiff airport on possibly the most uncomfortable bench my arse has ever bared witness to, which is so cruel because I am told that the next bus into town doesn’t come for another hour and a half! I am sitting here with two polish women I think I can’t seem to tell accents anymore *They were actually Spanish I think everyone is Polish for some reason* My Welsh accent was totally off, I unfortunately left my passport on the plane I have no idea what is wrong with me it’s the second time I’ve done it on this trip now. But my anxiousness over not being able to locate my passport soon turned to sexiness lol the security guy (my first contact with a Welshman was hot and really friendly escorting me around the airport while they got my passport off the plane.  Welcome to Wales!

Didn’t get to sleep that night until about 4am with our ears ringing and my ankle cursing me, but we were happy, we had a great time and it was a good little send off for me.

Wanting to check out some trad music in town the following evening Kath and I set off into town in search of Maddens bar. We did a massive loop looking for it only to find the bar was right near where we were dropped off by the taxi! It was a tiny little bar with high security and when we walked in all the locals looked at us but the music didn’t stop or anything like in the movies. I ordered a beer and we sat down and surveyed the bar. The barman asked if we were there for the music, he must’ve been able to smell the stench of Australians! Although most people mistake me for an English person when I meet them. Apparently there’s a shot that you can get called a Guinness shot which is a shot with Tia Maria with Baileys on top that Kathleen’s aunt ordered but I mistook for a pint of Guinness with a shot of Baileys which I ordered which was sacrilegious apparently and I was almost laughed out of the bar. But determined I drank my pint which looked like shite but tasted surprisingly nice. The musicians walked in and sat in the corner and played quite quietly which apparently is the case with trad music, so anyway we were sitting there minding our own business (it’s always the way) when this bloke comes up and sits down in front of us and asks if we read books, when we say not really he asks again. I thought for a second he was a salesman or he was trying to sell a book. We don’t want to appear rude to a local so when he offers to buy us a drink we oblige. He is middle aged and has a weird sense of humour which neither of us understands. Why are they never young hot guys that approach us, I mean come on! He said have you ever heard of the Oooh aah bird? Then said it’s the bird that lays square eggs – we didn’t laugh right away as we didn’t even realize he was telling a joke. We were starting to wonder where the young guys hang out in Belfast, we were told in town but obviously not this bar. He said he was with people at the bar and we should join them so we went over and they didn’t seem to want to talk to him – wonder why?! But anyway we started talking to another bloke standing near the bar which we thought was with him but turned out not to be but was much friendlier and easy to talk to. They were both drunk Irishman but this one actually made sense and didn’t have us shrugging all the time Jim (the first old guy seemed to have taken a shine to Kathleen and stopped talking each time she left to go to the toilet) When he started trying to quote poetry but was too drunk to get the words out I turned to Kathleen and said ‘I don’t know about you but I’m ready to leave right about now’ and so we left and thanked Jim for the drink and he said the best way to thank him was to read books – what a weirdo he was looking back – but at least we can laugh about it. The other guy was friendly enough though.

My last day in Belfast was a quiet one, we said goodbye to Paul and Kathleen’s aunt and decided to consume a bottle of cheapish sweet sparkling to mark my last night while watching Who wants to be a millionaire. I am currently sitting in a café in Cardiff typing this and it seems like a lifetime ago – I can’t really explain why though. When I was in Belfast I kept seeing ‘doubles' of people we know everywhere I think it’s my minds of way of desperately searching for some sort of familiarity in this unfamiliar setting.

Like the other day in Castle court we saw Trent in the card shop, then we saw Robby somewhere and I see Sam walking down the street a lot – but it’s almost like a dream as for a split second you don’t question seeing these people and you even think to yourself for a moment ‘What’s Robby doing here?” You just get all excited for a second and then realize. Now that I am on my own I imagine it will get worse, I have been seeing ‘celebrities’ everywhere too. But random ones, not particularly popular or interesting celebrities either. Like today I thought I saw Victor from was it Young and the restless? but it wasn’t it was just a man that looks a little like him, same jaw line or something. But he’s not exactly an actor I’ve thought about recently so it’s just so silly.

So back to Cardiff, I waited for two hours in the freezing cold for a bus into town and had to end up sitting almost on top of my luggage as it kept sliding away from me. When we arrived in town I was able to book a coach for London departing the next day along with a map of Cardiff and hop in a taxi to my hostel which worked out great.

I am counting this hostel (The Nomad hostel) in Cardiff as my first hostel experience as I did stay in a hostel in London back in 2008 but I can’t remember all that much about it. This one was lovely and brightly painted all different colors like a sort of fun house. I dropped my luggage off and took to the streets of Cardiff in search of this club.

My first impressions of Cardiff were that it is a very multicultural city, more so than Belfast. I never saw Muslims in Belfast.  But here they have a lot of blacks, Muslims, Indian – in fact every colour of the rainbow can be found here. The people seem very friendly, there are signs everywhere in both English and Welsh and I am told by my taxi driver that out of the Gaelic/Celtic languages in the UK, Welsh is the most widely spoken with about 25 per cent of Welsh people speaking it fluently. In fact there are parts of Wales I think maybe he said Swansea? Where Welsh is the first language and English isn’t learnt until a child goes to school. I imagine that Welsh would be a difficult language to learn as there is no way I would be able to pronounce the words based on the way they are spelt.

The castle is beautiful here, and although I couldn’t really afford to go in at this stage I would love to explore more of Wales at a later stage which I can do now that I am living here (feels weird typing that)

The reason I even made the trip to Cardiff in the first place was because I had a meeting with the Executive Producer of a company called Tidy Productions. I have since heard from his PA and she is hoping he will be in London on the date that we rescheduled for, fingers crossed he is because I can’t afford to make the trip again until I start working at least.

So after wandering the streets more or less aimlessly for a few hours I found the bar which hosts the comedy night every third Tuesday of the month. Gwdifgi café bar. I have absolutely no idea how that is pronounced. I got there about an hour and a half early as it was cold outside and I was tired of wandering the streets.

I ordered a pint of Stella and sat down in an awkward chair near a whole stockpile of beer kegs, in the uber funky hipster bar. I must say that I am not unhappy to sit quietly alone in a bar with a pint in a strange city. However I was afraid that if I was to sit there grinning to myself with a beer in hand that people might think there’s something wrong with me. The funny part is that one of the comedians made a joke about this very situation. Why are we afraid to just sit on our own in a room? Even people who are with someone when left momentarily will immediately pull out their phone and look at it with a mixture of fear and curiosity. Why can’t I just be a person sitting in a room without looking suspicious? So if I find myself in this situation again I am challenging myself to not get my phone out at all as it is ridiculous when you think about it. Plenty of people were out in public on their own without a phone strapped to their hand before mobiles were invented and were perfectly fine. And why the hell should I care whether some stranger thinks I’m odd or not.

The place got pretty crowded and I had shot gunned a really comfy lounge chair and it took a long time for someone to sit next to me (The scary girl sitting on her own with a pint) I decided to try the local brew which is made from smoked wheat which gives it a smoky bacon flavor which is really unusual but completely vegan so I gave it a go. When I drank it I had a giggle to myself imagining a factory where pigs are belly flopping into big vats full of beer and performing synchronized swimming.

There were about 6 comedians and between them they had a range of styles and experience levels. And for the first couple of comedians I was one of the only people in the crowd laughing – they weren’t the most responsive crowd and took a little while to warm up. I can’t help but feel a bit bad for comedians when that happens so I ended up laughing at welsh references that I didn’t even get just to be a good sport.

There was this really quirky girl who had a really random sense of humour that I really liked but possibly went over other people’s heads a bit. She gave out a prize to the guy in the front row which was a picture she had drawn of a religious goose that was wearing a crucifix around it’s neck and she had drawn all of these thought bubbles around it, and it was thinking about Jesus and Tom cruise among other things and I am chuckling to myself even typing it. I couldn’t stop laughing at the randomness of it and the guy at the front that she gave it to barely even laughed which as most people who know me know that, that only made me laugh more. I must tell you that it was quite a weird moment sitting alone in darkness in a bar drinking beer that tastes like bacon laughing about a religious goose! The host was an Irishman who asked if there was anyone not from Wales and I put my hand up. After finding out I was from Sydney he asked why I would stop over in Wales on my way to London. I said I came from Belfast and he did a whole shtick about tourists being afraid of Belfast and made a few jokes about the Titanic I felt good that I gave him a little segue way into more that he could talk about as he seemed a little nervous up there. I really enjoyed myself and after it was over I left with a big grin on my face which quickly faded to a frown when I realized that everything looked different at night. I kind of walked around in circles for ages but Cardiff city is kind of in a big circle  – well it looked that way on the city map and I kept circling around it. I still felt relatively safe though but that could’ve been the two pints in me talking. I did however have to end up sucking it up and walking into a hotel to ask for directions funnily enough at the at point I was really close by. Cardiff is pretty small well I know the city centre is but not so sure about the outskirts, the city centre is comparable to Wollongong in size.

I got back pretty late at about 12:30 and whoever was in my dorm was already asleep (weird because I had not met or spoken to the people in my room at this stage) I crawled into bed trying very hard not to rustle around like a cockroach too much. But I felt so self conscious sleeping in a room full of people I hadn’t even spoken one word to that it took me ages to fall asleep and I kept waking up because my sleep wasn’t very deep. Even after a couple of pints I wasn’t tired enough to fall asleep.

When I awoke in the morning the room was still dark and I felt so awkward (I just realized how often I feel awkward, in fact I I always seem to be getting myself into these weird situations) I felt as though the next morning I had, had a one night stand the night before and had to just lie there and hope that the other people would leave first so I wouldn’t have to have the morning after conversation. I swear I woke myself up snoring which was embarrassing I lay there awake quietly when the last girl left the room I imagined that she was going downstairs to complain about the snoring girl in her room and that the hostel manager would come up like a school principal and talk to me in front of everyone about my snoring and keeping people awake. I am booked into a hostel in Earl’s court for 4 nights but I will either have to find another hostel or move into a bigger dorm as it looks as though I will have to wait a week before a room in a shared house becomes available. The only room available at the moment in my price range was for a shared room in Acton town but I am still waiting to hear back about when I can see it. I would really like to get something set in stone as I don’t think I am a hostel girl, I can’t sleep properly and I am tired all day. Some people love hostels and move from one to another quite happily. I don’t really feel that I need all that much though. Just a roof over my head, a decent kitchen/bathroom a little privacy and a good night’s sleep. I am living in London so I doubt I would be sitting at home all the time twiddling my thumbs looking for something to do. Luckily there’s a training day for the catering job in London this week so hopefully I can get my claws stuck into that and hopefully get some paid work soon. My ankle has its good and bad days; luckily I have a stockpile of those good drugs for when I start work. The drugs are so good I can walk around on my ankle as if nothing ever happened to it. Which most of the time I can do anyway but it gets a bit sore after a while.

I’m currently on the coach from Cardiff back to London and there has been a huge accident on the M4 which is the main highway and has been closed off completely as a result so our driver has informed us that we will be going via Bristol which will make us late but I don’t mind. I have to check in to my hostel and also ring a lady about some production work. So busy day tomorrow, I have a Skype sesh first thing with Michelle. I also have to confirm another appointment at Signal TV which hasn’t been confirmed and am supposed to be catching up with the Cardiff producer next week, of which I have some new ideas that I would like to put into a basic script to show him but I have to find the time to sit down and start writing it. I also need to do boring things like pick up my bank cards and check my emails and hopefully have a look at this room in Acton town.

Exciting times ahead!

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