What makes a city a home? That’s the question I’m asking myself today as I ride back to my flat. There’s an intermittent, gentle precipitation, rays of sunlight pierce through a cool breeze, reviving the senses. In mere minutes, I have shifted from a bustling city centre, to a garden oasis.
The Taff Trail, it’s a place I frequent, in fact I’ve rode this path hundreds of times and yet, just when I think I know every bend, every bump, every fissure in the tarmac, I am reminded that each season will leave its stain, meaning no two days can be the same.
Today, I’m riding home from the centre of town, a total of six miles, hardly strenuous. I can afford to take my time and breathe it in, or maybe just rejoice for the early spring. Starting at the castle gates I follow the river north. The path stretches an impressive and mostly traffic free 55 miles into the heart of the Brecon Beacons.
In the Bute Park section alone, you’ll find a rich ecosystem, hundreds of plant species surrounding quaint cafes, the perfect setting for a picnic, or perhaps you’ll just want to admire the sculptures that hide shyly amongst the thick shrubbery. I pass by numerous joggers, dog walkers, meditators, conservationists, and of course my fellow cyclists. We all benefit so greatly from this space, or might I say, this escape. Though I have to wonder, how many people come here to work, or to study, and then leave, all the while staying completely oblivious to the fact there’s this gateway to rural freedom, right on their very doorstep!
The idyllic Taff Trail makes Cardiff a utopia for us cyclists. And as we all know, the benefits of cycling are indisputable, save the environment, save money, save yourself! In our city, cycling is generously facilitated. So, if you’re fortunate enough to live within the vicinity of an access point to the trail, why not consider leaving the car at home and instead taking the scenic route?
Four miles into my ride and without haste I’m pedalling through shallow puddles, with plenty of time to admire the daffodils standing triumphantly and in ubiquity, the soft sounds of a distant weir reverberating and the enticing aroma of wild garlic, in less than a month these flowers will blossom, transforming this setting yet again.
Not to worry though if foraging is your game, you’ll not miss out as edible plants grow in abundance along the entirety of the trail! I find a quiet spot on the bank of the river, the sun reflecting upon its surface warms me, awe inspired I bask in its glow. As I watch its ripples swirl before me, I ponder, and suddenly it becomes clear, what makes this city a home, that is. Home is not necessarily some formation of brick and cement to return to after a long day. Nor is it a hefty storage box to which we apply fickle sentiment. Though the very definition is subjective, I believe that home is simply a place where peace is found, because ultimately where there is peace, there is belonging. You see, although I wasn’t born or bred in Cardiff, somewhere within this tranquility, I belong.