Posts Tagged ‘Cardiff’

In 1999 Wales hosted the rugby World Cup, and the magnificent Millennium Stadium was built to host the final. This stadium, which stands right in the centre of Cardiff, is thought by many international players to have the most intense atmosphere of any rugby stadium, particularly when the roof is closed which traps the noise within.

The stadium was built on the site of the old National Stadium, which was usually known as Cardiff Arms Park; but that actually refers to the whole land which was given to the City of Cardiff by the 3rd Marquis of Bute (the man also responsible for renovating Cardiff castle). In giving the land to Cardiff, he stipulated that the land had to be used for “recreation purposes”. Originally the site had a rugby field to the north, and a cricket ground to the south, but when the National Stadium was built in 1969 it replaced the cricket ground.


Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, built to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup.


Between the Millennium Stadium and the Taf river is a walkway, known as the Millennium walkway, and on this walkway are a series of mosaics for the countries which took part in the 1999 World Cup. These countries were

  • Pool A – South Africa, Scotland, Spain, Uruguay
  • Pool B – New Zealand, England, Italy, Tonga
  • Pool C – France, Fiji, Canada, Namibia
  • Pool D – Wales, Argentina, Samoa, Japan
  • Pool E – Australia, Ireland, United States, Romania



The part of the Millennium walkway where the mosaics and accompanying flags are to be found.

The mosaics appear in the following order (going from north to south, which is walking towards from where the photograph of the stadium was taken

  1. England
  2. New Zealand
  3. U.S.A.
  4. Scotland
  5. France
  6. Spain
  7. Japan
  8. Fiji
  9. Tonga
  10. Romania
  11. Other Nations
  12. Wales
  13. Namibia
  14. Uruguay
  15. Argentina
  16. Samoa
  17. Italy
  18. Canada
  19. South Africa
  20. Ireland
  21. Australia

I have no idea why they are in this order, as it does not seem to correspond to the groups they are in. Does anyone know where the order comes from? The Wales mosaic is in the middle, which as hosts makes sense, but other than that I see no logic to the order.

Each mosaic is quite charming, with the flag of the country and then some images around the edges meant to represent things about that country. How many of you have walked on this walkway and not even noticed them? Below each mosaic are tiles with the names of each player in that country’s squad, but these have become worn and are quite difficult to read now.




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On Friday the 20th of March there was a Solar eclipse. In Cardiff it was partial, reaching a maximum of 87% at 09:28 GMT.

The details of the 20th March 2015 eclipse from the NASA eclipse website

The details of the 20th March 2015 eclipse from the NASA eclipse website

This image is taken from the NASA eclipse website, which can be found here. On this amazing website, you can look up eclipses going back thousands of years and going thousands of years into the future.

An alternative graphic of the eclipse is this.

An alternative graphic of the 20th of March 2015 eclipse

An alternative graphic of the 20th of March 2015 eclipse

These are some of the pictures I took. I started taking photographs as 08:33 using a 300mm lens on my Nikon DSLR, with Baader paper taped over a spare lens shield which I have. The pictures below are about every 10 minutes (I was taking them more frequently so these are just a sub-set). The last picture shown below was taken at 10:33.

The eclipse at its maximum from Cardiff, 87% at 09:28.

The eclipse at its maximum from Cardiff, 87% at 09:28.

It didn’t actually get dark (anyone who has witnessed a total eclipse will know that even when the eclipse is 99.95% it is not dark, it requires totality for it to go dark). But, the light did take on a strange ethereal quality, a little like dusk but not quite the same either.




If you managed to get any photographs of this eclipse, feel free to share them below in the comments box.

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Christmas is nearly here, and I have to say that Cardiff makes a pretty good job of decorating its streets and buildings with lights. Here is the castle, which is right in the centre of the city.

Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle

In the Disunited Kingdom, there is a superstition to remove Christmas decorations by “Twelfth night”, which is January the 5th. In the USA, where I lived for 9 years, no such tradition seems to exist which means that people often leave their house decorations up until late January, which I liked as it helps brighten the dark days of December and January.

Here is a gallery of some of Cardiff’s decorations. Enjoy!

What is your favourite tradition at Christmas time?

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A few weeks ago (the 18th of March), on a beautiful early spring afternoon, I went into Bute Park in the centre of Cardiff to take some photographs of spring flowers. Here are the results.

A backlit daffodil in Bute Park, Cardiff taken on the 18th of March 2014.

A backlit daffodil in Bute Park, Cardiff taken on the 18th of March 2014.



For those of you interested, I took all the photographs using a Tamron 70-300mm macro lens on my Nikon D70 DSLR, which is now nearly ten years old but works fine and produces high quality images. I took all the photographs in RAW mode, using the aperture priority mode, allowing the camera to use its autofocus. Most photographs were taken with the aperture wide open (which is about f/4 to f/5.6 depending on the zoom of the lens), as it was late afternoon and the light was getting weak. But, for some of the photographs, I stopped down the aperture to increase the depth of field.

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I love taking photographs of flowers, and Bute Park in the centre of Cardiff is one of the best places to take them. From early Spring until the Autumn, the flowers change from month to month. There is a section of the park which has well tended flower borders, and this is where most of these photographs were taken. But some were also taken in wilder parts of the park, where they flowers are essentially growing unattended.

The part of Bute Park where the flowers are most tended and where most of these photographs were taken.

The part of Bute Park where the flowers are most tended and where most of these photographs were taken.

In one or two of the photographs I managed to catch an insect on the flower. I find this especially satisfying, as it is so hard to not disturb the insect when I move in close to take the photograph. The focusing also becomes increasingly difficult if one is trying to focus on a moving insect.

For the technically minded, all of these photographs were taken with my Nikon D70 DSLR in RAW mode, typically with an ISO setting of 200. Most of them were taken with a Tamron 70-300 macro lens, but not all are in the macro setting. I typically take these photographs in aperture priority mode, and play with different apertures to get the depth of field I find most suits the particular photograph. This is, of course, sometimes limited by how much light is available.

There is a rule of thumb I learned a long time ago when I was a teenager, that one should not try and use a shutter speed where the number is less than the focal length one is using. So, for example, if one is using the lens at e.g. 200mm then one should not allow the shutter speed to drop below 1/200 of a second. With a 50mm focal length one can get away with using as slow a shutter speed as 1/50s. This is because camera shake gets magnified as one uses a longer focal length. This is, however, only a rule of thumb, and there are steps one can take to reduce camera shake, such as bracing oneself against something, or crouching and using one’s knee to steady the camera etc. Also, with digital photography, one can try different apertures, and just keep the better ones.

Sometimes, if I am trying to catch an insect, I will switch to “sports mode”, which lets the focus continuously adjust. But when I do this I often find it focuses on the wrong thing, such as part of the flower. Most of my attempts to photograph insects in this way end up with blurry shots!

If anyone would like to tell me the names of these flowers I would appreciate it. Although my mother knows a lot about botany, I haven’t a clue. I just about know the difference between a daffodil and a rose, but beyond that I am lost……

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On the clock tower of Cardiff Castle is a wonderful collection of Astronomical (or astrological) figures. Here is a little photo gallery of the figures. I will do a separate blog about Cardiff Castle and its history in the near future. Although the castle dates back to Roman times, most of what one sees these days was built by the Third Marquess of Bute in the late 1800s, with the clock tower itself being built in 1868.

Mars and the Sun on the clock tower of Cardiff Castle.

Mars and the Sun on the clock tower of Cardiff Castle.

The clock tower shows statues of figures representing the Sun, the Moon, and all 5 “naked eye” planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. In a separate blog I will show photographs of the sumptuous interior of the castle, including a room in the clock tower which has a star-painted ceiling and many astronomical motifs.

Which is your favourite castle?

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On Friday (18th January 2013) Cardiff woke up to a blanket of white. This was the first snow of the winter, and as usual in Wales, with a light dusting of snow chaos ensued. Even the M4 motorway was closed for several hours because of an accident. It’s very different from my 6 years in Wisconsin. I moved to Wisconsin in the summer of 1995. I remember waking up in November 1995 at about 2am on a Sunday morning, woken by the sound of snow ploughs out clearing the roads. By the time I got up on that Sunday morning, despite over 30cm of snow having fallen, all the roads were clear. Wales, on the other hand, shuts down if we have more than 2cm!




Here are some of the photographs I took of the snow on Friday, mainly in Bute Park.



What is the heaviest snow fall you’ve experienced?

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