Monday, December 07, 2009

[The Life of Shaun #374] Road trip

Everyone should have a friend like Argie. She happily indulged my fascination with urban fancy and folly with the suggestion of visiting Swindon solely to see a traffic intersection, and she was on board for Cardiff, the capital of Wales, purely because it's unvisited and for the accent. Her only request was that we see "something nice" this time, so a short detour to the ancient roundabout of Stonehenge was pencilled in.

Now, Swindon doesn't just have any intersection, but the world- (or at least county-) renowned "Magic Roundabout", an intersection consisting of five separate roundabouts connected by secondary and tertiary clockwise and counterclockwise super-roundabouts. This supposedly alleviated huge queues at the five-way intersection, but as an outsider I cannot verify that. It seemed like an exercise in roughly organised chaos to me, but it could just be that I didn't know the rules, so was throwing everyone off their game.

The Magic Roundabout was smaller than I'd supposed, but even with a diminished stature, it was far and away the best and most exciting thing in Swindon. The town centre is basically a concrete outdoor mall surrounded by multi-storey car parks. I was entertained by Cherry Poppins, the resident drag queen and £5 double Belvedere and soda cocktails, but even cheap drinks and bad drag can only take an intersection so far, no matter how prolific.

So Cardiff was a treat afterwards. From the way the English talk of Caerdydd, I was expecting Middlesbrough on the Severn. But it's actually quite a nice city, from what we saw of it. Admittedly, since it was pouring rain, that was not too much. But it was pretty, agreeable, walkable and had a respectable gay scene. And as I have come to learn in my year of travelling Britain, that's pretty much the most you can hope for outside the M25.

Iechyd da,

01) DSC00016 - Cherry Poppin, the Grande Dame of Swindon, drinking wine through a straw

02) DSC00021 - Central Swindon

03) DSC00025 - What better place for a little park than inside a traffic circle?

04) DSC00026 - The British dream can be yours! (Note: That's our hotel directly next to this New Build Home Buy development. It shares a building with Salvation Army housing.)

05) DSC00029 - I made it!

06) magic_roundabout - Its true glory can only be appreciated from space.

07) DSC00034 - Stonehenge from afar, the most impressive view, I think.

08) DSC00035 - Argie cold outside Stonehenge. We didn't pay to go in, so we had to stay two feet farther away than the others.

09) DSC00037 - All the Welsh you need!

10) DSC00039 - Ah, so that's what's in french fries!

11) DSC00040 - Argie's veal goes for a swim

12) DSC00046 - Central Newport, Wales' second city

13) DSC00051 - Severn Bridge

14) DSC00052 - Heading back to London; the taller white building in the distance is central Swindon.

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