I went to university in Cardiff. Looking back, an ideal city in which to study. I loved the place, probably less than 30 minutes’ walk from the city centre, wherever I lived (Roath, mainly), and studied in a leafy area adjoining the centre.
I suppose I had my fair share of ups and downs. My first time away from home, my first loves… Academically I did quite well in the end (BSc Physics), despite my poor attendance in the second year. I worked in the main university building, a beautiful Victorian construction, and very grand.
I liked Cardiff so much that I didn’t want to leave. But, in a way, I didn’t have to make a clean break. In my final year I dated a girl who was at a different stage of a different course. She didn’t finish until the year after me, so I went back quite regularly. But Cardiff was different. Every street, so-and-so used to live there. Used to. So, the place became quite melancholic. In the end, the girlfriend finished her course, and enrolled on another in London, so my visits to Cardiff became rarer, although I still had friends who worked at the uni. In any case, the girlfriend and I split up a few months later.
In the years immediately after I graduated, I had a job in Oxford. A couple of hours away, so allowed me the occasional day trip.However work started becoming busier, I started travelling on business, so visits dried up.
Fast forward a few years, it was the late nineties. I had been to the USA and had come back. I now lived in Southampton, too far for day trips, although I did take my girlfriend (now my wife) there for the weekend for a glimpse of my past. And, we’ve been back several times since. Even with daughter, we took her to see the place too. It helped that Doctor Who, and, later, Torchwood, were filmed there, as my wife loves her sci-fi. It also gave us a chance to see how the docks area had been redeveloped – in my day, it was a no-go area. Now, it was full of daleks!
I think the last time we went, our visit even clashed with a Wales rugby match. Really, to visit Cardiff on a match day can’t be beaten, although I never got into the sport itself despite my fanatical Welsh friends.
I have so many good memories of Cardiff, and, in fact, my first visit to Salisbury is linked. My girlfriend and I would get on the train for a change of scenery, and found both Salisbury and nearby Bournemouth on day trips. Little did I know I would end up here.