Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Millennium Stadium, the Queen and a Hawk

Since I used to live in Cardiff, there has been a Millennium.

To celebrate, in Cardiff, they built this:

It's the Millennium Stadium, near the City Centre and next to the River Taff.

For £6.50, you can have an hour's tour of it and I'd certainly recommend it - it was fascinating, and thanks to Silverback who suggested it!

We went all over but the bit I liked best was seeing the whole stadium from the very top - huge and stunning. Silverback and I delayed the tour a bit by taking lots of photos and if we'd been playing in a match the position we'd have played in would have been Left Behind (oh yes, har har, I know, I know).

The seats slope very steeply - they're at the maximum slope that's permitted by law - and it's no place for anyone who doesn't like heights (though I DO, as long as I'm not in danger of falling off.)

The stadium's used for rugby - of course! - soccer, other sporting events and also concerts.

I was wondering how on Earth you'd take out all the grass and replace it with a different surface. Then I found this notice that explained it!

They do it all in little squares! And apparently for soccer you can put the squares down and play immediately but for rugby you have to wait three weeks. And each time you do it, it costs £195,000 - mind you, it is a bit bigger than most people's front lawns.

At the far side of the stadium was a little group of people and if you click on the photo to enlarge it you can see that on the right there is a rather blurred bird of prey.

It's a Harris Hawk. Now then. The roof of the Stadium can be either open or closed. (It takes twenty minutes to open, and costs £2.50 in electricity - - hey, Tour Guide Tom, if you ever read this, you will know I was listening to you!!)

Because Cardiff is on the coast, there are plenty of seabirds, and there are lots of pigeons too, and as you may imagine, they would find the Stadium a good place to roost. You would not, of course, want to close the roof with a lot of birds trapped inside and they'd make a mess too.

So to keep them all out, there are two Harris Hawks kept at the Stadium. They are let out to fly around singly - and because Harris Hawks, unusually, hunt in packs, they don't actually kill any birds that they find. However the presence of a hawk is enough to scare the other birds away.

One last thing for this post. As with most stadiums, there are lots of boxes that you can hire (from £99 per person for a minimum of 10 people) to watch matches. And there's the President's box too.

When we went into the President's box, by complete chance I sat in the seat where the Queen sat when she was there watching rugby. I'd have liked to have seen the Queen watching rugby. It's not often that you see the Queen jumping up and down shouting "Kill him!".

This is probably the only time in her entire life that the Queen has sat in a seat that I was to sit in later. I expect that news of this has got back to her by now.

"What? Daphne? Of My Dad's a Communist? That Daphne? Hey, Philip, have you heard this? Amazing, eh?"


Anonymous ruth said...

Do people really jump up and down shouting "Kill him!" at rugby matches? That just confirms to me that, along with boxing, I am right not to like rugby.

6:17 pm  
Blogger Grumpy Old Ken said...

That's a hell of a slope!

6:39 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

I thought that only Monica Lewinski was allowed in the President's box.

3:25 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Ruth - - well my Mum used to. And still does, from the comfort of her living-room. And her cousin Frank most definitely used to. So I bet the Queen did too.
Ken - - yes, indeed it was! I'd find it a bit scary to negotiate it in a huge crowd but it was great fun when there were just a few of us.
YP - teehee! (Ooh, rhyming!)

6:17 pm  

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