Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Bernard James

This instalment for the Letters from Cardiff in lockdown series comes from Bernard James, who runs the Atlantic Wharf Residents Association with his daughter, and is soon to turn 81 years old! We’re looking for your stories, so please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown.

Docks Feeder canal – photo by Bernard James

As a widowed man of just two months short of 81, some people could assume that the lockdown would have little change on my life other than getting provisions.

I can honestly say – anyone that thinks this would be very wrong. As an active oldie the lockdown has had great affect. If you have spare time, and a lot of people have in the present situation, I will relate to you how it has changed my lifestyle.

Our libraries are closed and I am now denied my three or four books that I read every three weeks. I really miss my afternoon reading hour and again before going to sleep at night.

Just 12 months ago I was recovering from a heart bypass operation, part of the ongoing recovery programme has been regular exercise to raise my heart rate. Health Wales has an arrangement with “Better Gyms” that allows gym membership for a substantially reduced rate, I took advantage of that and attend Splott Hub where a Health Wales trainer runs a class. I enjoy that as one can exercise in a group, making it quite companionable.

The gym has now closed due to the situation, and that has made quite the impact on my lifestyle.

Photo by Bernard James

I feel quite guilty that my daughter is taking all the risks by doing the shopping. It is useless trying to get a slot on the supermarket home delivery service, one has to wait four weeks for a slot.

I feel lucky that my daughter has lived with me since my wife passed away, so I have her companionship. I have always liked to do the supermarket shopping, but my daughter has taken on the shopping role as she feels that it is too risky to have me mixing with so many people, some who take little or no notice of social distancing.

The council closure of the cemeteries has hit me hard as I am unable to visit my wife’s grave at Pant Maur. This was especially so when my daughter and I were unable to go on the anniversary of my wife’s passing.

The council decision to keep the allotments open has been good for me, even though they have restrictions on how long one can be there. The allotment means a lot to me for physical exercise, mental also, thinking of what and when to grow gets quite complicated sometimes.

My allotment in happier times! Photo by Bernard James

I have to travel three miles to the allotment as there are none in the Butetown, Cardiff Bay area.

The council actually took a proposed allotment site for the south side of Cardiff out of the Local Development Plan. When I complained to the previous Butetown Councillor about that he said that he had only had two people who wanted a plot, and one was me.

Can you believe that other than two of us, nobody else in the Butetown ward wanted an allotment plot. There are two year waiting lists in some other areas of Cardiff.

Part of my daily walk. Photo by Bernard James

As I have a dog and no back garden I take the dog out for three short walks each day. We don’t stay out long and ensure we keep our distance from other people.

The closure of restaurants and public houses affect me in lesser ways, even though I always enjoy a visit to them. I am worried about the long term affect of this lockdown on jobs, and on the city centre.

Many shops and entertainment venues may never open again, the city centre that was so vibrant could become a ghost town. I dread the thought of that.

It frightens me that people seem to like the thought of more people working from home and not commuting to the city centre. After all it is these commuters that give the city its life.

I think I have written enough now. Keep safe and look after yourselves.

A ghostly Lloyd George Avenue. Photo by Bernard James

Bernard James was originally born in Caerphilly. He worked and lived in the south of England until 2001 when he moved to Atlantic Wharf.  He worked as a guide on the Open Top bus, and now he and his daughter run the Atlantic Wharf Residents Association.

Want to write for Letters from Cardiff in lockdown? Find out how here…

See also:


One thought on “Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Bernard James”

  1. This is so sad about the cemetary. I’m really glad you could get to the allotment. Green things to make it feel better. I love fresh air.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.