Photo essay: East Berlin in the bay


Balcony view

Recently I attended a ride organised by Sustrans for the benefit of attendees of the Cardiff City Vision conference. Starting at Pedalpower  – close to the Senedd and the Norwegian Church – we rode a 4 mile loop, circling the Bay and riding through several communities en-route. It’s a great example of cycle route planning.

Now I’m a born and bred Cardiff man with significant ties to the area. My grandfather was a merchant seaman, a survivor of the North Atlantic convoy during WW2, he sailed around the world from Cardiff Bay (or ‘Tiger Bay’ in the popular imagination). My uncle was a trainee ship’s engineer who tragically died at sea, aged just 19. My mother was born half a mile from the Bay trail and I played there as a kid. But these days much of the Bay is wallpaper, a passing canvas as I drive along the overpass on the occasional foray to IKEA. What struck me about the Bay was how alien it now is to me. I simply don’t recognise it. A concrete construction of sharp lines and modernism, its tumbleweed boulevards have an East Berlin feel.  Not unattractive. Just eerily quiet and imposing. Perhaps mildly surreal.

On Saturday I returned to the same spot. I paddled up the river to the Millennium Stadium and observed the Taff embankment from the water. I wandered the windswept pavements and watched sparrows flock from wall to wall. I tried to capture the feel on camera.

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