Yesterday found me 'abroad' in Wales for the day as my friend H (of GNO fame) suggested we take a train trip to Cardiff to take in the Sisley exhibition at the National Museum and Gallery of Wales. She also suggested we have lunch at Madame Fromage, a marvellous chance discovery we'd made when we went to the RHS Cardiff Show last year. A combination I couldn't resist.
It was another day of chance discoveries. The National Museum is a magnificent place, built at the beginning of the Art Deco era, so is full of clean lines and elegant details. I didn't know Sisley had spent part of his final years in Wales painting the area around Langland Bay on the Gower Peninsula. Many of my childhood holidays were spent at this very spot as we often visited my aunt and uncle in Swansea, so I was able to play back some of my very early memories through a painter's eyes.
Another surprise was the Diane Arbus exhibition. I'd studied her at A level photography classes a few years ago and was keen to make her reacquaintance. I love her photographs, but she had a way of making the ordinary seem slightly disturbing and the extraordinary even more so. An exhibition about Darwin's time in Wales, mouthwatering ceramics, paintings by Monet (including studies of Venice and those famous water lilies) and a walk round Rodin's The Kiss meant we found far more culture than we'd bargained for.
Cardiff is full of little shopping arcades stuffed with tiny boutiques, vintage clothing, designer jewellers (at very reasonable prices) and cafes. This is where Madame Fromage is to be found (do click on the link to have a look) - a family run deli, proud of its Welsh heritage and visited by a Welsh rugby player (so H tells me) at the table next to us. Their Cawl is to die for, though you need to starve for a week beforehand to do it justice. As a result we needed to walk round the shops afterwards, where we found some public planting for me to show you soon. We also chanced upon an exhibition by local artists in the old library: H bought a painting and I liked the play of light from the window. All this and the lilting sound of Welsh speakers rounded off our day spent 'abroad' perfectly.