Saturday 23rd September 2022
Had a pretty good night. It was a little noisy about 10pm with people coming and going into and from the Red Kite restaurant nearby. But it soon calmed down and we were off to sleep. This morning, Saturday, we had tea and biscuits in the room as there was nothing going on at the Travelodge hotel. We left hotel at around 10:15am and headed for what is known as the Castle Square. This has appeared since our last visit here. Basically, it is a traffic-free precinct that is about a quarter mile long and runs to the main street in town. On Saturdays there is a bunch of market stalls in the middle all along the rows of shops and is a lively place with the locals. It was all very interesting and we spent a couple of hours wandering around that location.
One of the stores in that precinct was called Poundland. If you think about the British currency being pound sterling, that is where the pound comes in as everything in the store is pretty much a pound – much the same as our Dollar Stores in the USA. We wandered in there and we manage to fill have a basket with Cadbury’s stuff for Betty. Dammit! She got nearly one of everything. Chocolate this, chocolate that – nothing but Cadbury’s. We spend over £30 in Poundland just on stuff for her. Can you imagine spending over $30 in a Dollar Store. Think of the amount of stuff you would come out with. The mind boggles! Never come between a woman and her shopping. Then I wondered why there were so many men waiting outside the store.
A little further on from the precinct was the local market square where there were quite a lot of stalls selling all sorts of stuff. Metal jewelry, home made coconut candy, wooden plaques with Welsh sayings on them like: Whose coat is that jacket hanging up there?
After another couple of hours wandering aimlessly about, we decided to go up to Pontypridd – an ancient market town that has been there for years and is famous for celebrities like Tom Jones and a few others. They also have a famous market that operates on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It was only a 15 minute drive and we drove into a multi-storey car park and boy, were those parking spaces narrow. If I had my Ford F-150 with me I would have needed at least 2 spaces, maybe three. But we made it, took a ticket and headed out into town. Where were all the bloody market stalls? Where were they all? Where had they gone? We couldn’t really see any, but as we got further into town they appears in little bunches here and there. Apparently, a local told me that national chain stores like Marks and Spencer and others had closed as the local economy had dwindled over the years. And as these stores closed, they took local ones with them and a lot of the market stalls as well because people weren’t coming into town as much as they used to and things had gone downhill and some of the local market traders had either gone elsewhere or had packed up altogether. There were only about a quarter of the ones that we saw last time in 1998. However, the big covered market was still there and that was packed and bustling with little cafes, tiny pubs, butchers selling fresh meat and doing quite a trade too, selling Welsh land which the locals were very prone to. It was nearly the good old days again. We spent an hour or so in there sampling freshly baked Welsh cakes which Betty hadn’t ever heard of before. We chatted to a few of the locals who were surprise to see we had come from the USA West Coast. Some had never even left their home town.
Back to the multi-storey car park, paid our ticket and headed back to Caerphilly. After last night, we were looking forward to eating dinner at the Red Kite restaurant again, and it didn’t disappoint either. We had a lovely meal washed down with a couple of pints for me and a couple of Zinfandel spritz for Betty.
This has been part 5 of a series of posts highlighting the trip of a British ex-pat in the US when he returns to the UK for a vacation. He shares the experiences with us here on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for the next few weeks. I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I have, and seeing the areas he (and his lovely wife) visit, through my friend David’s eyes. ~ Sherry