We are now safely nestled in Wolverhampton, playing the Grand Theatre. The business of show is doing well and it’s nice to be in an orchestra pit once again.
It was always going to be tough to beat Brighton and I was wasn’t expecting Cardiff to bring much to the table. I was quite wrong. The Millennium Centre is a truly wonderful place. Easy access for both equipment and people, good transport links and a very good restaurant quarter in the bay itself.
Cardiff bay is a regeneration of the old coal and iron docks that were spawned from the 1790 industrial revolution. It is estimated that people from over fifty nationalities settled in the area to service the growing shipping requirements leading to the area being known as Tiger Bay. After the second world war coal demand slumped and with the closure of the East Moors steel works in 1978 the area fell into decline. In 1987 the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation was formed to redevelop 1,100 hectares of the bay and Penarth. The resulting development encompassed housing, commerce, the Welsh Assembly and the Millennium centre.
My digs (cheap accommodation offered from the venue rather than anything archialogical!) were north of the city and the adequate bus service took about forty five minutes to get to the theatre. My usual route was via Gamlins music shop in the city to purchase yet more reeds to cope with the drier than usual atmosphere in the pit. This never ending battle for woodwind players (flautists blissfully excluded) is dependent upon several factors any or all of which can decide the performances of the reed, the vibration of which, creates the sound. Made from cane these small pieces of wood can drive a player to madness if you begin to apply too much thinking time to analyze rational reasons to why a 5cm piece of cane doesn’t vibrate the same way today as it did yesterday. Was it my breakfast, lunch, rainstorm, tea, coffee, solar flares, Mongolian hoard invasion…?
You begin to see the problem. Like all natural things they do just wear out, a few people have tried to extend the life of a reed with pretty much the same luck as early alchemists creating gold from duck fat. Needless to say the more moist atmosphere of Wolverhampton’s Grand theatre is different again. This time armed with a financially wilting £60 worth of new reeds for my saxes and clarinet from the lovely people at Dawkes music in Maidenhead I’m having a slightly better time of it!
It is now time to briefly mention the venue in-between Cardiff and Wolverhampton, Milton Keynes. There I’ve mentioned it.
It’s only salvation was the RedHot world buffet and bar. Not cheap at £14.95, it set the bar quite high in expectation. It delivered. I eat in a lot of buffets, they are generally good value and you can eat as much (or as little!) as you like. The standard varies hugely and a good one is always popular. Slough’s Shazad Indian buffet is excellent both in value and quality of cuisine. The red hot buffet was the only one that I’ve been to in quite a few years that would get a 10/10 score. The food was varied, fresh and the addition of various ‘cook as you wait’ bars were great. I’m not a desert eater but for those of you who like to end a meal with something sweet then who could resist both a fully loaded chocolate fountain and an ice cream sundae bar with an iced flat top creating chocolate shards!
Back to Cardiff.
The restaurant area in the bay is excellent. Most of the usual chains exist with the addition of one of my new personal favorites Côte. This lovely French styled bistro is excellent value for money (two courses for £9.95) and offers excellent service and a very high quality of food. The other chain member worthy of note was Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) where I enjoyed one of the best burgers I’ve had in a long while. As with all of these franchises you are at the mercy of the local staff employed to run it. This ones a winner.
There was an excellent American styled diner called Eddie’s Diner. For what ever reason this was never busy but served great diner style meals. Chili cheesy chips being a real treat for me!
The absolute star how ever was Top Gun fish and chips. Serving both take-away and eat in options, this restaurant made the best chips I’ve had in ages (claiming to be cooked in only 1% saturated fat oil!) and a local specialty, faggots! The faggots came with chips, minted mushy peas and lashings of hot gravy. My self and most of my colleagues ate this dish at lest once! The fish was also excellent as was the quality of the saveloy. They’ve won awards for serving the best fish and chips in the area and I whole heartedly concur!
It’s only day two but excellent jamaican restaurant, Taste of Ochi, is already a fave. Home cooked food done well.
Newcastle next week…
Ha’way the lads!
The power of keeping Karma!
0785 097 3469