Adventures in English


Cormorants are waterbirds. They wait patiently for the right fish to appear. Watch one for long enough and it will dive deep under the surface of the water. Then you’ll have another long wait, but you’ll need to concentrate on a wide area. That bird will surface somewhere else entirely.

What’s the secret to their success? Patience? The deep breath they take before diving? Or a sense of adventure, a lack of fear that the future is unknown? Like Dr Who in his Tardis, they could end up anywhere!

Dr Who’s Tardis travels through time and space

I’ve watched cormorants in many places, from the river Thames in the heart of London to the spectacular Cardiff Bay. The latter is one of my favourites.

Many years ago, a short cut led from Penarth to Cardiff. It was a tunnel under the river Ely, built in the hub of some the busiest docks the world has ever known. My parents used to cycle through the tunnel but I have no memory of it. In my youth, the only way to get to the city was by road or rail.

But in 1999, a barrage was built, turning Cardiff Bay into a freshwater lake and once more giving Penarth a direct link to the capital. No need to go underground now – you can walk or cycle along the top of the sea wall, between the peaceful waters of the lake, dotted with yachts and swans, and the wilder waves of the open sea, with views of our magical islands and the majestic Penarth cliffs. If all that exercise sounds too much, hop into a boat and speed across the Bay.

It’s worth a journey. Come and see for yourself.

Looking across Cardiff Bay to Penarth, the Barrage and the sea by Andrew Davis

While you’re on the water’s edge, what about working on your English?

The secret to fluency in English is, yes, patience. Practice makes perfect. The fastest way to improve your skills and your confidence is to immerse yourself, like a cormorant. Then you’ll be practising every minute of the day!

Are you passionate about politics? Why not pop into the National Assembly for Wales while you’re here? Dazzled by drama? Spot the stars and the film crews while we stroll around Penarth. The BBC Drama Studios are right here in the Bay. Do you dream of the Daleks? Check out the Dr Who Experience. Obsessed by opera or mesmerised by music? The Wales Millennium Centre is waiting for you.

Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay

Would you prefer to be acquainted with architecture? Or calmed by coffee in one of the district’s many cafés or bars? If you’re hot on history, you’ll love this place. Think nature is nice? Watch out for those cormorants!

Cormorant with outstretched wings

Why don’t you take a big breath and dive into English? What adventures will you live through? Where will you come up for air?



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