Tuesday, October 28, 2008

dear mr. fantasy

dare i enter? why, yes, since the doctor who up-close exhibition at the red dragon centre was one of the reasons i wanted to go to cardiff. i wished i had been able to get ahold of nick griffiths's brand-new book, who goes there, which is a travelogue of UK sites where the show has been shot, but i couldn't find it in two bookstores in bath, and i think it may only be sold online. oh, well.

the drive to cardiff was uneventful and even sunny. i paid 5 pounds 30 pence to go over the really cool-looking second severn crossing, the big modern bridge that takes the M4 into wales (where the road signs are all in welsh and english, a la scotland being in gaelic and english). but the fee is only one-way, phew. once in town, i experienced the same hapless luck and slight confusion in the neighborhood that i had in bath, but after getting oriented along cathedral road, i found my B&B, the town house, and parked in their back lot. signs everywhere admonish people not to leave ANY valuables in their cars, so, although i had planned to leave my suit bag, with all the theatre clothes i no longer needed, in the car's boot (as i had in bath), i decided to haul everything upstairs to my room. this was a single, but it was fine, with a good-sized bathroom, tv, tea/coffee tray -- the usual amenities.

my friend brendan found out via facebook that i'm in the UK; he's in wales right now, visiting an old pal in hay-on-wye, a town about 60 miles from here. we decided to try to meet up, and that idea really appealed to me after nearly a week of touristing, and not really having anyone to talk to. so, i figured i would do all my half-assed touristy who/torchwood stuff today, since it was pretty early when i got here. i took a coffee break (all hail the coffee tray) and got myself together -- then, just as was about to step out, the sky darkened and it started hailing. fuckin' hell!

i waited a couple of minutes, and it subsided to mere rain, so i ventured out with my umbrella, following the path along the river taff as my hostess had suggested. cardiff bay was about 2.5 miles away, but i decided to walk, b/c i didn't want to deal with the bus. whatevs, i wanted to be in the city, among the people -- but not too close; i of course had my ipod. emerging from the leafy path, i crossed the river and passed by millennium stadium. right in front of cardiff castle, i turned down the high street, which becomes st. mary street, which i followed to callaghan square, then headed east to lloyd george avenue, a long, long stretch lined on one side by apartment buildings (one called silurian house, a perfect name to notice on my who quest, as the silurians are old foes of the doctor).

i ambled along in a fairly steady rain, although the sky was clearing to the west. it was coooold. i saw a black-and-white cat running along the sidewalk in the opposite direction, but it was on a mission and had no time for me.

finally, i got close enough to see the millennium centre (which i later learned is nicknamed "the armadillo" by some locals) and the inscription on the front:

(although i actually took this shot later, from the opposite side of my approach.)

according to wikipedia, the inscription is taken from welsh poet gwyneth lewis: "creu gwir fel gwydr o ffwrnais awen" means "creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration." in english it means "in these stones horizons sing" -- and she has a whole explanation of that, which you can read at the wiki link, so please you.

i toddled about the freezing-cold plaza, taking pictures of the weird pillar fountain that's so famous in torchwood:

and this red building, which it turns out i was mightily confused about. i thought it was a church, but it's actually called the pierhead building, and it was the HQ of the cardiff railway company. ok, then. anyway, it's cool, and whenever i saw the opening credits of torchwood, i was so curious about what it was, standing out like a red thumb on the mostly beige waterside:

i also walked along mermaid quay, a touristy seaside area with restaurants and a starbucks, where i took another picture of the pierhead building:

it really is cool.

here's one more shot of the millennium centre:

but i didn't go in (and i totally missed the roald dahl plass, too -- sorry, anthony! ETA: der. i was actually STANDING RIGHT ON IT -- ahaha!). the afternoon was wearing on, and i wanted to check out the who exhibition. had to prioritize. maybe next time -- although if i ever come back to cardiff, it will be in the summer!

ok, so. the red dragon centre sounds like it might be groovy, but it's really just a small mall next to the millennium centre, with several restaurants, a movie theater (showing high school musical 3, yikes), and a bowling alley called hollywood bowl, ahaha. i could hear the cacophony of recorded sounds -- the theme song, various crashes and crackles, and shouts of "exterminate!" -- as i was paying my 5 pounds at the entrance to the exhibit. it reminded me a lot of the rock 'n' roll hall of fame, which when i visited many years ago was a riot of overlapping, clashing sounds as you moved from one display case to the next. it was hard to get good pix inside the exhibit, thanks to all the flashing strobes and different colored lights.

but who cares, b/c ... daleks!

there's another one, look out!

when you push the button on this interactive exhibit, the supreme dalek rises from the back of the stage, going "elevate! elevate! elevate!" brill!

the mirrors make it look like there are three, but there's only one.

also there were cybermen -- eyieee!

and a tick-tock man from "the girl in the fireplace":

i had a hard time getting shots of the costumes that were right inside the entry, but this is probs the best one, showing the tenth doctor's jim-jams from after his regeneration and his blue martha-era suit:

martha's costume of jeans and oxblood leather jacket is right next to the blue suit, but that shot's cut off, rats.

right around the corner was the ol' familiar blue box:

i had a grand time wandering around looking at all the stuff, including lots of costumes, like jack's trenchcoat, donna's jacket and jeans from when she had the spider on her back (in "turn left"), and astrid's waitress outfit from last year's christmas special, "voyage of the damned." they had a cool display of the hath from "the doctor's daughter," and the donna-faced info-bot from "silence in the library," but my pix suck. one centerpiece was the whole lazarus machine from "the lazarus experiment," and there were a couple of the weeping angels from "blink," but they were high atop the walls, and i couldn't shoot them. plus sontarans, w00t!

i think my favorite things were the smaller props in the cases, including river song's TARDIS-esque journal and her future-doctor sonic screwdriver, harriet jones's ID card, the adipose capsule from "partners in crime," the dimension-jumping discs that rose, mickey, and jackie used in the last series finale, and even the osterhagen key, among other cool pieces. i managed to get a good clear shot of john smith's journal from "human nature"/"the family of blood" -- if you embiggen it, you can read the text and everything:

and not forgetting a lovely sight at the end of the exhibit: k-9, yay!

i wandered through it and then doubled back to look more closely at the smaller items, and finally made my way to the little shop. it didn't have as much stuff as i had expected, but i got a nice haul of easily packable/portable stuff, including dalek party napkins (should've bought the tablecloth too, oh well), a TARDIS-decorated soft pencil case that will make a great makeup bag, some other stuff as gifts, and the best thing EVAR: an ice cube tray with shapes of k-9, daleks, cybermen heads, TARDISes, and DW logos. the lady at the checkout said the molds also work great for chocolates and mentioned she'd made a white cake with brown chocolates stuck all over -- wowee! the mind boggles. now i can have a dalek cake for christmas, or a TARDIS cake for my birthday -- whee!

ahem. ok, so i escaped with my haul and started the long hike back to the B&B in the deepening twilight. stopped and got yet another chicken sandwich (on wheat bread with mango-chutney mayo and mixed greens, OMG delish) and some wine and crisps. it was fully dark by the time i reached the river path, but tons of people were jogging, walking their dogs, and riding their bikes along it, so i wasn't worried. it started to rain while i was about a half-block from home, so my timing was good. now back in my warm room, i'm starting to realize just how frickin' cold i've been all day. in the morning i'll call brendan and sort out the last details of the drive to hay-on-wye -- it's supposed to rain tomorrow, and it looks like part of this drive goes on mountain roads, but i'm up for it -- but right now i think i'm gonna finally watch (some of) kenneth branagh's hamlet and unwind. hmmm, maybe i'll do a little stretching first. yeah.

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