Penarth, her past and her Possibilities
STANDING on Paget Terrace, Penarth, on an early spring evening, looking across to Cardiff Bay, I see the water lapping and the blinking lights and I am filled with joy and a ripple of anticipation.
Looking at a spectacular skyline always makes me feel like this.
Many years ago I went to Hong Kong. I was staying in a hotel by the Star Ferry Terminal in Kowloon.
I spent much of each evening standing in the hotel car park because from there I had a clear view across to Hong Kong Island. When the lights flashed and bounced off the skyscrapers and reflected on the water, it felt like a dazzling dancer showing off, just for me.
I have walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and seen Manhattan writ large in twinkly technicolour with the East River sloshing below. In London my favourite walk is at night, by Tower Bridge, seeing The Gherkin photo bombing the Tower of London with HMS Belfast bobbing in the foreground. All are deliciously dazzling in their brightness.
Why I am filled with anticipation with these views is that in the lights is energy, a signal that someone is busy, producing, crafting, creating, beavering away, someone is doing something and this speaks of possibility and opportunity and life and who knows what.
I love a skyline that mixes the old with the new; the natural with the human made.
In Cardiff Bay there is the historic Pierhead building built in 1897 and the modern Wales Millennium Centre opened in 2004; there is the home of The National Assembly for Wales, The Senedd opened in 2006 and the Coal Exchange Building, which was apparently where the world’s first £1 million deal was struck near the beginning of the 20th century.
All of this hugging the lake formed by the impressive engineering of Cardiff Barrage, which used the rivers Ely and Taff to transform the area, marrying nature with man-made nurture to create the buzzy basin we can now all enjoy.
Penarth, like Cardiff, has a history entwined with coal, docks opening in the 1860s with millions of tonnes of coal and coke passing through it during the subsequent decades. During the Second World War it was home to naval and military equipment and it played its part in the D Day landings, housing landing craft in preparation for the liberation of France.
Since then it has been utterly overhauled and modern homes with big windows allow their inhabitants to gaze out at the yachts before they stroll to the La Marina or Pier 64 for a glass of something chilled and tasty and a bite to eat.
Nothing stays the same, maybe we shouldn’t we expect it to. Change is as inevitable as rivers flowing into the sea.
But it doesn’t mean that what has gone before shouldn’t be cherished. Beauty, in the past, present or future and whether nature made it or we did, should always be celebrated.