Woman killed by cows serves as warning to walkers

A woman has been trampled and killed by cows yesterday on the outskirts of Cardiff, Wales, the South Wales Echo reports.

Marilyn Duffy, 61, was walking her dog through a farmer’s field. It’s believed the cows were frightened by the dog and attacked. Cows are calving at this time of year and can become easily frightened by dogs or even lone people. Farmers say it’s best to give cows a wide berth and if they come at you and your dog to let your dog go. The cows will generally chase after the dog and the dog can easily get away.

Since many public footpaths in the UK pass through farmers’ fields, this incident serves as a warning for walkers planning on enjoying the countryside.

I myself was nearly attacked by cows. While hiking the Hadrian’s Wall Path two years ago, the path took me over a stile into a field and up a low rise. When I get to the top I saw a large herd of cows and their calves standing not twenty yards away. The rise had hidden them from view until I was almost upon them.

The biggest one started bawling with a noise that sounded like a mixture of a moo and a roar. I backed away as the cows lined up between me and the calves. More of the herd started mooing angrily and cows from other parts of the field started converging on me. I moved quickly but calmly away, which is the best thing to do with an angry animal that isn’t actually attacking. They held their ground, still braying, and the rest of the herd joined them to make a long line facing me. Even after I got a couple of hundred yards away they still turned their line to face me as I went the long way around the field. If they had moved closer, I would have hopped the fence, even though it had barbed wire on it.

At the other end of the field was another stile with a sign saying, “COWS WITH CALVES. ENTER WITH CAUTION”. Farmers are supposed to put up signs like this, but they’re supposed to put them up on all entrances to their fields. It’s not clear from the news reports if the field where Marilyn Duffy was killed had warning signs.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Three days in Cardiff

Once known for its coal trade and busy port, Cardiff’s transformation into a cosmopolitan city and tourist destination over the last decade has been given a boost by two dashing heroes: The Doctor and Captain Jack Harkness.

To be exact, that’s the BBC’s mega-hit science fiction television shows Doctor Who and Torchwood, which both film in the city. One of the first stops for visitors is the stunning redevelopment of Cardiff Bay, which is the headquarters for alien-fighting organization Torchwood lead by Captain Jack. Oh, and there’s also a rift in the fabric of time and space over the bay that allows pesky aliens to occasionally fall into Cardiff and cause mayhem.

While dodging Daleks and other little green men, there is plenty to see in modern Cardiff with museums, shopping, beautiful parks and even a castle.

Creating Cardiff Bay
Cardiff Bay is a marvel, mainly because it’s only existed for about a decade. The bay was created by building a barrage at the mouth of the Taff and Ely rivers to form a freshwater lake. The derelict docklands area was regenerated with high-end apartments, shops, the construction of Roald Dahl Plass (named for the beloved children’s writer) and its centerpiece, the Wales Millennium Centre.

Constructed of slate, metal, wood and glass, Millennium Centre is instantly recognized by its forward sloping roof with the inscription “In These Stones Horizons Sing,” written in both Welsh and English. The building is the permanent home of the Welsh National Opera and also hosts concerts, theatre, ballet and more. There are often free performances happening on the ground floor, which also has numerous shops, cafes and restaurants.

Just outside the main doors of the Millennium Centre is the 70-foot tall Water Tower, a metallic monolith with water cascading down its sides, which is also the fictional entrance to the Torchwood headquarters. The illuminated light pillars in Roald Dahl Plass are a nod to Cardiff Bay’s original name, Oval Basin.

Also in Cardiff Bay is the Snedd, the ultra-modern Welsh Assembly Building, which looks like a glass box, juxtaposed next to the Pierhead Building, the 1897-era French/Gothic building also used by the Assembly.

The Doctor Is In

Next door to the Millennium Centre is Red Dragon Centre, another modern building full of restaurants, nightclubs, a casino and, the biggest draw, the Doctor Who Exhibition.

The museum deals mostly with the latest incarnations of the Doctor, although there are reminders of the show’s more than 40-year history. Kids and sci-fi fans will get a kick out of the full-sized replica of the Doctor’s time machine, The TARDIS, costumes, props, and dioramas with all the villains like the Cybermen, Daleks and Sontaurans. There’s also a gift shop with every Doctor Who toy ever made. Admission is £6.50 for adults, £5 for kids, although if you just need a sonic screwdriver or action figure, you can browse the shop for free.

City Centre
Much of Cardiff city centre has been turned into wide pedestrian walkways. Queen Street is filled with shops, restaurants and nightclubs, while The Hayes is now home to the giant St. David’s Shopping Centre, which is home to upscale shops, an Apple store and more. It’s anchored by John Lewis department store, which is the second largest in the UK. Also in The Hayes is the new Cardiff Central Library, which has more than 90,000 books and regularly host’s art and music events. Along side these new structures are historic ones, like the beautiful St. John the Baptist Church, the oldest in the city dating back to 1490.

A visit to the city centre wouldn’t be complete without browsing Cardiff Market, which has been a landmark since 1891. The two-story, indoor market is filled with fresh produce, specialty foods, books, clothing, jewelry and art.

If you’re looking for an unusual hotel in the city centre, look no further than The Big Sleep. Co-owned by actor John Malkovich, the hotel is in a reclaimed office building and the lobby and rooms are all monochromatic white and blue. The rooms are big and comfortable (rates range from £45 for a budget room to £99 for the penthouse suite) and offer incredible views of the city. There’s also a photo of Malkovich looking moody in various poses by each bed. A little creepy, yet very cool.

Overlooking the city is Cardiff Castle, which has a history dating back 2,000 years with the site first being occupied by the Romans between 55-400 AD. By 1766, the site was owned by powerful Bute family, which created Cardiff’s coal-exporting hub. It was the Bute family that transformed the site into the Neo Gothic fantasyland visitors flock to today. The Norman Keep (circa 1091 remains) along with a series of towers and the main mansion are beautifully restored and maintained.

A Traditional Pub
The Conway, located northwest of the city centre in the Pontcanna district, was built in 1850 and considered an “old man’s pub” until its reinvention in 2005 as a gastropub. There are plenty of booths and tables inside around the L-shape bar, a big patio to enjoy a pint with your mates and the changing menu is written on large chalkboards. I had the skirt steak with chips (£15) and it was one of the best meals I had while visiting the UK. And, yes, The Conway was also made world-famous by being featured in Doctor Who.

Collin Kelley just returned from Europe, where he traveled and guest lectured on social media at Worcester College at Oxford University. He is the author of the novel Conquering Venus and three collections of poetry. Read his blog on Red Room, or check out his other pieces for Gadling: Three days in Paris, and Three days in London. All the images in this post are copyright Collin Kelley.

Pilot tells passengers “I am not qualified to land the plane”

A Flybe Airlines flight from Cardiff to Paris had to turn around because of fog at Charles De Gaulle Airport. The fog did not force the airport to close. Rather, the pilot, a man with 30 years of experience, had never completed low-visibility training for the particular aircraft that he was flying.

Passengers on the flight were stunned when, 20 minutes shy of De Gaulle, the pilot got on the PA system and, instead of announcing the imminent arrival, said the following:

‘Unfortunately I’m not qualified to land the plane in Paris. They are asking for a level two qualification and I only have a level five. We’ll have to fly back.’

And fly back they did. The bizarre incident is nothing if not humorous, but I doubt the passengers on the flight were amused.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said that such a situation was rare, but not unheard of. “There are different classifications of aircraft and when an aircraft is updated, pilot’s who have flown an older version have to completely retrain.”

Think that pilot pulled an unusual stunt? What he did is nothing compared to the stunts these girls pulled.