Day Out at SSE SWALEC

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Sounding a little like the SS Enterprise these days, it was my first experience of the Cardiff stadium. I ventured from the depths of Newport on the bus which was surprisingly easy only to be dropped off by the Millennium Stadium. I had no idea it was so close to the city centre – something we would never see in Manchester! Anyway this stop in the city gave me ample opportunity to purchase a Boycott style hat before following the cricket faithful to the stadium.

The Stadium

The walk to the stadium was nothing short of glorious – through a beautiful park and over the bridge – the path paved with Ashes signs, Welsh plays on words and a few cricket inspired sculptures. The sun was shining, everyone was very pleasant and we were all hopeful for a great day in the stands. Even the ticket touts were less aggressive than i’m used to and I was through security in less that two minutes – although the guy in front brought a picnic I was quite jealous of.

The seats are very close to the pitch and you felt almost on top of the game but fantastic for viewing and interacting with the players. We did venture on a lap of the ground to get to the fan park. Apart from a bottleneck half way there it was all smooth sailing and the fan park was bustling with activity – and the champagne tent was full to the rafters. Apparently we missed Graeme Swann taking a turn on the mic during the musical set but i’ve been assured he is no Mark Butcher. The only odd thing was that you could see the players corridor from the fan park – I’m not sure I want to see Darren Lehmann sprint down that corridor ever again!

The Cricket

What can I say that hasn’t been said? Nothing really – this was day 3 of the first test match and we saw 15 wickets fall, a whole lot of runs scored and a few egos on show. Probably the best day to have witnessed, the game could’ve gone either way but there was always a quiet confidence after days 1 and 2 that England were in the driving seat.

The Beverages

£11 for a pint of Pimms – all I can say is it wasn’t the most expensive breakfast I’ve ever had…. I quickly turned my attention to the lesser priced pints and found solace in the warm bottles of water in the extreme sunshine of Wales. I was extremely interested in the iced bags with bottles of Hardy’s wine in but alas the stand was too far from the toilets and my seat. Perhaps at Lords?

The Food

Thank you Waitrose for your wonderful sponsorship of England Cricket! I go through phases of not wanting to go near friend food, to be honest the smell knocks me a little sick. It turns out that Waitrose sponsorship has meant a mini supermarket being erected at the ground! So instead of queuing for an hour for a greasy burger or buying a hog roast and complaining constantly that it wasn’t as good as the American version – I filled a bag full of snacks from Waitrose and tucked in sat on the grass in the fan park. I will say tho that the pizza’s being consumed looked rather nice!

The Crowd

Oh the wonderful cricket supporters. I had forgotten quite how drunk and rowdy the crowd get at Test Matches especially in the heat. I first encountered a group of rather posh Bristol Boys, one of whom had secretly got married 3 years ago. This made fro great listening as the day went on, and their liberal application of sun cream meant some random tan lines on their faces too.

After the tea break it didn’t seem to matter what the cricketers were doing – the crowd were in control. The beer snake was being fed and Mitchell Johnson was being thoroughly abused. I’m not sure how he managed not to cry his way through his overs with 10,000 drunk people singing ‘he bowls to the left, he bowls to the right……’. There were of course a few drinks spillages as the day neared the end but although beer was spilt there was no gushing blood – always a bonus where plastic seats and concrete steps are concerned.

Goodbye Cardiff

We ambled back in to the city to grab some food and took a bus back to the hotel just before the rain started to fall. The whole day had been fantastic and we finished our visit the day after with a trip to the food festival at Cardiff bay, ate some scrumptious goats cheese and olive pizza and ended with a quick nibble at Wahacca. Again the rain arrived so we headed home and listened to the final wickets fall via cracking car radio.

See the pictures HERE

Now on to Lords on Friday!

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