The best place to be on a drizzly Tuesday afternoon in West Cardiff is a pub, especially when there’s a wet bike ride to face when you’re done. Cue a half of Strongbow and a bowl of chips at the Canton Cross Vaults which is nestled on Leckwith Road just off the hubbub of Cowbridge Road East.
Landlord Brian McDonald is holding the fort as the only other customers are a ladies’ lunch club whom he keeps happy with food and banter. Brian, originally from Rhymney, used to run a pub in Gabalfa before he took over the Cross and he does a very good line in v-necks, as today’s lime-green number and a bright pink one in pictures on the pub’s Facebook page can attest. The Cross is owned by pubco Punch Taverns – one of the UK’s largest – which hasn’t had an easy ride in the past year, but Brian said he’s just happy to have a job given the current economic climate. Tied-in on alcohol as he is, Brian said the beer could be a bit cheaper but that’s the only complaint he has about the bosses.
The Cross is a lesson to other pubs in using Facebook to promote itself, with over 900 friends and frequent updates, pictures and comments on its page. There’s plenty to talk-up too with karaoke nights, quizzes, darts teams, poker tournaments and a Sunday league football outfit competing for attention. Printed in valleys green on a roof beam is the following: “To be born Welsh is a privilege, not born with a silver spoon in your mouth but with music in your heart and poetry in your soul.” Stirring words from a pub making a real go of a crowded Canton market. Oh, and the chips are great.