Trip Start Oct 17, 2011
24Trip End May 22, 2012
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Big, urban Bute Park was being well used in the warm spring sunshine when I was there. I saw only the exterior of Cardiff Castle, but I read that it has Roman walls, a Norman keep, medieval halls and towers, exquisite Victorian restoration and a regimental museum.
The National Museum of Wales holds art, archaeology, natural history and geology. Loads of interesting exhibits and artwork. I also enjoyed the special exhibit of pictures of Queen Elizabeth (this is her Diamond Jubilee year, and many exhibits and events are being mounted around the nation). I visited the museum twice. It’s free! Outside, tulips were already blooming in profusion - and it's still only March!
I saw a London West End theatre production of An Inspector Calls, very well done and with an ingenious set.
Environmental features include geothermal heating and cooling, a biomass boiler burning recycled waste wood, and rainwater collection for toilet-flushing. A wind cowl on the roof rotates in the wind, drawing out warm air and allowing cool air to enter, thus reducing the need for air conditioning.
A thousand tonnes of Welsh slate were used, and I was surprised to learn that the massive, undulating, wooden ceiling is made from British Columbia red cedar!
Glass walls let in natural light and represent the transparency of government.
Further notes for my Hansard friends:
The Welsh Assembly is the most balanced in the world between women and men members. The public gallery seats 127 people, each with screen in front, which displays the agenda and TV shot of the member speaking. The Speaker is called the Presiding Officer here. Simultaneous interpretation is provided, and the Hansard transcribers sit on either side of the Presiding Officer in the chamber.
The assembly sits only two afternoons a week! The draft Hansard online is bilingual, but the final printed version is English only, for cost reasons. Staff offices are in an adjacent building.
The mace was a gift from New South Wales’s parliament in Australia. The mace always sits in the chamber; it is not processed. The Presiding Officer doesn’t wear a gown, just regular office attire. There are no raised voices in the chamber; everyone is well behaved.
In July 2008 the NHS Redress (Wales) Measure was the first law to be made in Wales since the 10th century! A March 2011 referendum said yes to granting the National Assembly for Wales further powers for making laws in Wales. One recent law decrees that shopkeepers must charge 5 pence for a plastic shopping bag.
Bye to Wales for now. I’ll be back someday.