the hoofindex - rewind to the previous trip (road trip to York) - fast forward to the following trip (Rome!)

After a good win against the English (which I milked at work) and two wins against the French, today (25th Nov) was the scene for the All Black's to take on the Welsh. So at some crazy hour we had to climb into Maude the Ford and head down to what was going to be Kiwi central this morning - Stamford Brook station. When we got there it was a mess of Kiwi's, flags, AB shirts, and cases of Fosters... mental note to try and get more real beer for next year - in with Steiny, out with Foster's I say.

I hear you wondering why there was this mass of Kiwi's all in one place. Well in the spirit of back packing, we'd bought tickets through a back packing tour company so were going to be traveling in a convoy of 8 buses full of back packing kiwi's... carrying Foster's. Obviously the ex-Lion Nathan, current InBev employee (me) had an issue with the beer of choice for these kiwi's.

There was initial chaos as the pack of flightless kiwi's rushed each bus to see if that was theirs. Finally bus 6 arrived which was our ride for the 3 1/2 trip, so we raced in to secure front row seats (the Hoof'ess can get car sick which the Hoof doesn't find particularly sexy). Soon after the convoy moved off to the wonderment of locals, just imagine 8 tour buses with various flags making comments about the AB's beating the Welsh and few girls who want to marry Dan or Ritchie. Add to that 60 black jersey wearing kiwi's in each bus screaming, waving and jumping up and down in excitement.

About three hours after leaving London we crossed the River Wye and were in Wales, or should I say Cymru. I was aware of the Scottish speaking Gaelic, but the Welsh also have their own language - another Celtic language called Brythonic. Which meant we weren't actually going to Cardiff, rather Caerdydd as the Welsh would say. The language is still well used, all the road signage was in dual languages and while everyone seemed to be speaking English there were many local shops, pubs and restaurants which had Welsh or dual languages. I have to say it seems an odd language, the letter structure is definitely unique and having been through a few countries with different languages, this one stumped me the most with a strange mixture of consonants and lack of vowels. On saying that we haven't been to Russia yet. But to give you an example, just check out a typical bi-lingual road sign. Also UK's longest town name is in wales, its Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Try saying that quickly 3 times.

In case you're ever in Wales and want to know a couple of key words, here they are: Bore da (bora-da) = Good morning, and more importantly Peint o gwrw (paint-o-guru) = Pint of beer.

Shortly after we arrived in Cardiff and ditched the buses just out of the city centre - short walk and we came to the pub which the tour company had organised - while the majority went inside to start getting liquored, we decided to check out what this town had to offer. One minute up the road and right in the middle of town was Cardiff castle.

Cardiff Castle is amazing, its mock medieval frame has been extensively remodeled in Victorian times to create a castle which is more flash than defense. It was a fantasy holiday home for the Earl of Bute and while it was built around a Norman keep (below) the castle was not involved in any major battles - unlike the Norman keep or the Roman fort which preceded it.

The Hoof'ess prepared for the climb up to the top of the keep to check out the view, a view which Hoofy was pretty impressed with.

The medieval castle in the foreground is in stark contrast with the modern Millennium stadium in the background.

And one last look at the grounds, we were worried Hoofy was going to jump eyeing up that green green grass. It certainly would have been easier than the twisting stairs which were made back when people were Hoofy's height. After wandering around the town it was time to make our way to the stadium, along with half of Cardiff.


Now this is one impressive stadium... 75,000 people can squeeze into this giant shed. So after sourcing some beer, parking ourselves on our seats with our flags we were ready for the AB's to kick the Welsh.

With the teams out there was electricity in the air - anticipation of a big game, and of a great haka to start the match. Well as we all know now, the haka had already been done in the changing rooms much to the crowds (and Hoof'esses) disappointment. Fortunately we were in amongst about 200 kiwis who then went into a massive haka to start the game. Even though we were up in the rafters it was the best place in the house - 200 haka crazed kiwis screaming... can't beat it.

After an impressive scoreline to the AB's we were back onto the buses for a rowdy trip back to London.

Weekend off but then onto Rome for Hoof'ess Birthday.