Thursday, 19 August 2010

My mini adventure in Cardiff

If you've been following my blog, you'll know I went to Cardiff yesterday. The only thing I had planned was roughly how to get there and back, what I was taking with me and that I'd be meeting with a friend. I didn't know when I was coming back, but I figured it was going to be sometime before dinner or until I was tired of walking around.

My day started with me getting up at 8, getting ready for the day and making sure I had everything I needed. I caught my train in plenty of time and found a window seat with a table. The sun was shining and there were lots of fluffy white clouds in the air. This was pretty good news for me, since I'd read it was going to be overcast and raining.

An hour and a half later, I got to Cardiff central. Still sunny, a little breezy, and waiting for a friend of mine to turn up. I wandered around a bit and went indoors for a while, only when I came to the doors again I noticed the floor was wet. Strange, I could have sworn it was dry before. Sure enough, as soon as I looked up I saw that the heavens had opened right over Cardiff and soaking anything and anybody unfortunate enough to be outside at the time with big heavy rain drops. Sighing, I removed my heavy kit bag, pulled out the weatherproof cover, covered the bag and put it back on my back. Of course, that then meant it stopped raining. Ah well, what can ya do?

Not long after that my friend arrived and we went to grab a coffee at Starbucks and had a chat and a catchup. We wandered around a bit and then he left to go meet up with some friends at the cinema. I was invited along, but I had work to do. So after a quick lunch at Subway, I started on my hike around Cardiff.

I soon found out it was very hard to get lost in Cardiff. At least, it is in the city centre. It's pretty well sign posted and as long as you can find the castle, everything else is easy. I ended up going around in circles once or twice but I found plenty of things to take photos of. After a few hours of soaking in the happenings on the streets, I decided I'd like to go to the museum. Why not?

So, I wandered over. My entire trip was at a pretty leisurely pace really. I found some stuff in there to photograph too. I didn't find the upper levels too interesting due to them mostly being filled with pottery and ceramics at this point in time, and a few galleries being closed for refurbishment. So, I went to the bit with fossils, rocks, butterfly collections and bones, and learnt a few things.

After that, I wandered around the natural history section. I found it pretty entertaining and interesting, seeing all the elaborate reconstructed environments and relevant fossils. I felt smart as I walked around soaking it all in, since this was all stuff I've read about and watched programs on and generally had an interest in since I was a tyke who's favourite book was an encyclopaedia on dinosaurs. I know exactly how to fortify my house against raptor attacks. [/geekmode]

Anyway. I left after about an hour (since it was closing) and took a few more photos of the building and the fountain. On my way back I found a lovely garden that fit what I was looking for and took a few snaps there too. After this, I decided I was getting tired and wanted to go home.

Unfortunately, I missed the train I was aiming for by a minute or so, so had to wait an hour for the next one. It wasn't so bad, I had one of my Doctor Who books and carried on reading. The worst thing was the chill from the wind. The hour flew by.

I unwound on the journey back by taking photos of a wonderful sunset, reviewing my photos from the day and watching Invader Zim on my laptop with my earphones in and laughing quietly to myself. All in all, it was a pretty awesome day :)

In other news, I got an email from Nikon earlier on today telling me all about their new camera, the D3100. My impressions from the email are fairly good for the price, if you're after a beginner camera. I think I'd want to wait until the price came down a little though. You can get the D5000 for under £499 which is what you pay for the D3100 body only, and the image quality is fantastic.

What I found more intriguing was that this new camera has a 14.2mp sensor. As far as I'm aware, this is the only camera from Nikon that has that amount of pixels. The next one up is 24.5mp, and the next ones down are all around 12.3mp (in the effective range anyway, my D5000 has 12.9mp, but 12.3mp when you count effective. In all honesty though, you don't notice). It's priced at £499 body only, and £579 for the kit (which includes the 18-55mm lens). I expect the price to come down in time. It goes on sale at the end of September 2010.

They've also newly released the 55-300mm DX lens. Full title, AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR. Priced at £369.99, it's around £149 more expensive than my 55-200mm from the same family. I hardly use my zoom as it is really, it has its moments, but the 55-300mm while a nice idea isn't for me personally. Not only that, I'll be upgrading before long too so a DX lens will be redundant unless it's used with my D5000. But the extended zoom does sound pretty nifty if that's what you tend towards. As I've found, VR is a must with all zoom lenses if you're not using a tripod. It's amazing what it can do. It's on sale on the 2nd of September 2010.

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