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ReportsWednesday, 13 June 2001
Bristol, England --> Cardiff, Wales (UK) Well, Wales is not exactly another country, but as a part of the United Kingdom, it is just something else than England - respectfully speaking anyway. Experience my stay with an Italian Englishman in Wales for today...
Adam knew I was pretty tired last night, so he let me sleep in this morning. About 11am he woke me up, while carrying this place with a delicious English breakfast. And this time I ate all of it, while sitting in bed and drinking coffee (with milk and sugar, please).
Adam had taken the morning off and had to go to work after noon, so after a last email-check and a shower I had everything packed again and I was ready to go.
Today I would cross a little -intern- border, from England to Wales, which still is the United Kingdom (but the Welsh do never want to be called English!).
Therefore Adam paid me a bus ticket to get to the nearest motorway, where I could hitchhike up North. We got out of the bus also at the Business Park where he works and after I thanked him for his hospitality, I only walked half a mile to get to the best place to get a hitch.
During this waiting I got called by a lady from BBC World Service and we arranged a live radio-interview for tomorrow, Thursday 14th, between 1 en 2pm GMT (2-3pm European Time) in Outlook.
When I told her that I think Bristol is pretty boring after what I had seen of it (impossible in one day of course), she said "No, no, no! I went to University in Bristol! And I always had so much fun! And there are a lot of clubs, so a lot of party's." But Bristol just doesn't party on a Tuesday, apparently...
I wrote the name Cardiff on a piece of cardboard that I found along the road and within 45 minutes I got a ride up in a pick-up where the driver loved to play all kinds of charts-music with a big fat bass (I can still hear them).
After crossing the long bridge onto Wales, the driver even had a little argument at the toll for this bridge, because his pick-up is seen as a van and not a normal car.
Along the roads I started to notice that everything was double lingual, in English and in Welsh (or Cynghrair, which is 'Welsh' in Welsh), a very unlogic and unknown language for me (learn it online). And it seems only some 100.000 people in Wales can actually speak it.
The pick-up driver put me off at a roundabout in Newport, where I could continue to hitchhike to Cardiff on the same road. Anybody by the way ever heard about the Stereophonics? They are from Newport, also called the Seattle of Wales.
In Newport I got the next hitch to Cardiff within 25 minutes, by a man who even works at the Millennium Stadium, a place that -according to Adam- I definitely had to see when I'd be in Cardiff.
When the man parked his car at the personnel entrance, that was as close as I could get to it. I did hear typical Welsh songs being sung inside of the stadium, just before a game begun.
In the centre of Cardiff I called my host for tonight, Daniele Procida, who leaves in Victoria Park in Cardiff. Around 5.45pm he picked me up while I was walking into the direction of his home.
Daniele Procida is originally Italian but has been living in the UK for over 15 years now. He lives together with Carol and together they have two (very active!) young children.
As soon as I got at their home, the kids were literary climbing on me and checking every detail of me while asking over one thousand questions. They even got into all my pockets to see if something interested could be in there.
'Ramon, what is that?'
'This is my camera.'
'Ramon, where do the pictures come out?'
(Oops, difficult:) 'This is a digital camera, the pictures go to the computer.'
'Where is your computer?'
'I don't have a computer with me.'
'So how can you see your pictures than? You will never see your pictures!'
'Yes, because your father will let me use his computer and then I can see my pictures.'
'Oh! Ramon, do you want to make a picture of us? Please please please?'
(Just to imagine how this afternoon was and think about them hanging on my arms and walking around on my lap...)
After the kids got their dinner they were put to bed, while I watched Carol make our Pasta Special with salad.
Daniele has his office at his home, called "Apple-Juice", an Apple Macintosh constancy agency. Next to this he also, but rarely, teaches Philosophy at the Cardiff University.
His reason to invite me, "he's always into things like that" as Carol told me, was that he used to hitchhike a lot when he was young. So why not give some world traveller something in return? He had read about me on the Register.
Carol is now studying hard to finish her PhD in Philosophy, so she'll also be a teacher, next to a mother.
After dinner Daniele had planned to take me out to this gig in town, which I'd probably enjoy because it was 'honest music from the heart'.
But just before we left, around 9.30pm, I handed them over -very unexpected- The Gift from Adam in Bristol. They unwrapped the paper and Carol just could not understand what is was. A glass-alike plate with a hole in it, that was all. Very soon Daniele showed us the real meaning of it: it was a one-bottle-wine-holder-plate, that stabilises itself by the weight of the bottle. Even I had never seen that before!
After this surprise Daniele and I got moving up to Lower Cathedral Road where 'Riverside Burning' presented the 16-year-old singer/songwriter Rachel Mari Kimber to perform in "Rajahs' bar".
When we got in the pub -after a long 30mins. walk- it was pretty empty. Next to some personnel and some technicians of the music, we were the first. When Rachel showed up, she didn't look like a 16yo at all, more a very adult 20-some.
When she started to play on her guitar and sung some very enjoyable songs of her own, the place started to fill up. The public even interfered with her, asking to play a certain song again.
After each song she got a big applause and everybody could hear a shy 'Thank you' from the stage.
This was my first real musical experience in the UK and it was very neat to see it in real life. I hope more will come during this journey, because this kind of music is very inspiring.
Some songs of this performance have been recorded this night and I might put a link the some MP3-files on the web, just to let you have a hear on it - coming soon.
Just before closing time of the pub, at midnight, we hopped into a taxi that took us back home.
Tomorrow, I'll be in England again. So good night Cardiff! Good night Wales!
Follow my tracks on Ludo's map of my travelling so far!
It's in Dutch, but you'll see a lot!
>> Click here <<