It’s going to be great, really great!

Optimism can be infectious, even when the source is somewhat dubious and dangerous. But beware to take in the full picture when someone is promising to make things great again, really great folks. It’s going to change, really change folks! I loved a recent comment on the change in American politics… a nation that has undergone a transition “from the changey-hopey thing to the strangely-gropey thing!”  And I was particularly reminded of this in the following photo from my perennial seat of hope down at the Cardiff City Stadium. What is Bartley the mascot doing to that woman steward? If this is leadership, then Cardiff City FC may just be taking the USA lead a little too literally.

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But, where there is optimism greatness may just follow. Our own new leader seems to be doing something right…

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Following a recent home defeat we then went on to two away wins before hosting the bottom of the table Rotherham United. Well, expectations of a thumping win were high, and for once our team on the pitch didn’t disappoint…

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Yes, even I need to blink… 5-0. Things are going to be great folks, really great!

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Until we speak again, Bella reminds us to enjoy the sun while it shines, because in this game there will always be a ‘but…’

Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution

Forgive me the indulgence, but it was a quiet Monday night revisiting a good friend and an important place in my personal story. When you’ve been in Manchester at an important time in your life, I can assure you Manchester gets into you. Its history, its culture… come to think of it, Cardiff has a big lesson to learn, albeit far too late… that the places where people get together to share tall tales and fabulous ales don’t necessarily need to succumb to the persuasion of the bulldozer!

Tommy Ducks may have justifiably been buried under the foundations of the Bridgewater Hall, but Peveril of the Peak can still offer a good pint of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, amongst other fine beers, where Wilsons beers used to bring cheer.

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And while you’re in the vicinity The Britons Protection offers local north-west beers, before you jump on the tram in the background, though it prides itself on its whiskey collection…

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Portland Street offers a couple of interesting, if small hostelries. The Grey Horse Inn is the first of my Hydes Anvil Ales recommendations…

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If you’re looking for something a little cramped try the Circus Tavern. Proudly declaring itself the smallest bar in Europe with the warmest welcome. It advertises Tetleys beers, not the first of stops that take you down memory lane to beers that no longer exist!

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Take a minor detour around to Charles Street, just off Oxford Road, and you must pay a visit to the famous Lass O’ Gowrie. Try not to be put off by the incursion of southern beer from Greene King, as this historic boozer also showcases local micro breweries.

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And, talking about ‘paying a visit’, check out the sign on the side of the pub facing over the small adjoining canal. If you’ve been sampling the wares of each of the pubs so far you are certainly ready to ‘pay a visit’…

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Just around the corner I’m reminded of a ‘back in the day’ moment, as I stumble across The Garratt on Princess Street. Strange what time does, it used to be ‘The Old Garratt‘ in my dim distant memory… somehow, as time passes by, the ‘Old’ gets dropped! It also used to be home to Boddingtons beers, another name that passes into the supping history memory banks.

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Heading north on Princess Street towards the magnificent Manchester Town Hall (and taking a right and a left at the appropriate places) you are presented with three pubs in a row. You are now on Kennedy Street and I’ll spare you the agony of choice… go for the middle option, The City Arms. Amongst the local beers was the option of a Stoke-on-Trent import, but keep your eyes peeled for a Titanic Iceberg!

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But if t’s a taste of history you want, why not join the lawyers and modern day industrialists in Mr Thomas’s Chop House on Cross Street? Food might be the order of the day here, but if you are looking for northern sourced liquids, Holts, Thwaites, Robinsons or Black Sheep beers might just quench your thirst…

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The revolution has recently given rise to a Northern Quarter, so if you are in the vicinity of Oldham Street why not try the local brew of J.W. Lees at Gullivers

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Then you simply cross the road to grace the Castle Hotel, where the well-established Robinsons Ales from Stockport are now joined by a wider range in which to imbibe…

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The Northern Quarter is heavily populated with ‘bars’, but it is not difficult to find Port Street for a Moorhouse’s White Witch (that’s a beer by the way, from Burnley) in the Crown & Anchor

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Looking for something unusual, knowledgeable, and maybe a bit expensive if you’re not taking notice? But you need to arrive after 4.00pm to sample the thirds, halves or pints of what the Port Street Beer House has to offer. We did the evening before the following shot was taken, and I can assure you the beer menu goes on forever. Check the chalkboard sign top left at the bar for ‘Growlers’, you’ll have to ask Dave about those!

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However, for me there is only one place to end a long nostalgic trip down memory lane (or is that Ducie Street?).

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It’s not for the feint-hearted, and maybe some of the locals don’t actually have a home to go to…

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But the welcome is warm…

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And at this time of a pub crawl you just need to look over your shoulder and whisper a somewhat slurred goodnight…

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Well, what did you expect? Being an industrialised revolutionary was thirsty work you know! There is plenty of space in Manchester for the range of modern day ‘bars’, but they haven’t swept away the good old fashioned pub. So until we speak again, may all of your crawls be nostalgic, and don’t forget to finish off with some of Bella’s advice and check out the water!

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Look through any window

It may be a famous old Hollies track, but the instruction also offers a taste of nostalgia. Here is a bygone age, when Brains were truly great beers to challenge the best around…

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But this scene in a Cardiff Coffee#1 shop just got me reflecting back on a recent trip to Llanelli in west Wales. This was once a boom town built on heavy industries with a specialist focus on tinplate, but now it’s a faded shadow of itself. Perhaps it might still look like a big place to someone steeped in the rural ways of life, but to the average urban dweller Llanelli leaves you asking “what’s the fuss?” If you look closely enough you might find something resembling a modern welcome…

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But then again, as the first image implies, Brains used to be something once, but what’s the fuss? Better to settle for a smooth New Zealand Pinot Noir when the beer offering is the range of modern day corporate Brains!

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Come to think of it log fires were something once, but now they have succumbed to a strange elevated form of designer chic as a centrepiece of a room…

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Then again, pork chops were something once, but what’s the fuss? Now they have to be Harissa spiced with a side of creamy slaw!

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It’s good to know that a hearty cooked breakfast still is something, even if beans now have to come in a gravy pot!

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If you find yourself in the time warp, aka Llanelli, The Thomas Arms should provide that comfortable reality check that the 21st century is soon to make an appearance. Meanwhile, looking through any window provides me with a nostalgic remembrance that it was a favourite pastime of Juno

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Until we speak again, remember that nostalgia is a thing of the past. Spare yourself a moment or two, and look through any window

 

Living in La La Land

If there is one thing we can learn from Jeremy Corbyn’s all-new Labour Party it is the folly of short-sighted optimism. Two party election victories combined with an easily won parliamentary bi-election provides the fuel for the activists to spark their delusional ideas of grandeur into action, with dreams of electoral victory in 2020.

The problem with a burgeoning band of over-enthusiastic activists is their inability to even want to see the bigger picture. Why spoil a beautiful delusion with references to reality? 600,000+ plus members are not going to paper over the cracks of the millions of the wider public who have been previous Labour supporters and who are witness to a plot being lost!

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Which reminds me, just when the locals win against Aston Villa and Preston North End, with an expected win over the relative minnows of Burton Albion, some of the activists dream of their team rising through the Championship table. Could it be that we are marching towards a play-off position, with dreams of winning a place back in the Premier League at a Wembley play-off final? As night turns to day the deluded dream on…

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Then, along come Norwich City to act as the unwanted reminder that reality comes with a spike to puncture dreams! Cardiff City 0 Norwich City 1.

Until we speak again, Bella dreams of completely different sporting delusions, as the Rugby Six Nations Championship prepares to return to its spiritual home! C’mon Wales!

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What the NHS doesn’t need!

Created out of a post-war political furore, with the locally revered Aneurin Bevan winning the battle against political and medical foe; the National Health Service has become the cherished possession of the nation. Well, most of the nation anyway. It’s free at the point of need for everyone for a reason… we all experience health and the possibilities of ill-health, and this remains something that we believe shouldn’t be determined by wealth. Well, at least most of us do.

The NHS is an institution…

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… but that doesn’t mean we look on it as some antiquated entity. It is staffed by many (not all) experienced, passionately committed and skilled individuals. What we need to do is listen to them and support them to develop best practice.

What we don’t need is meddling politicians creating incomprehensible NHS structures and systems, requiring faceless bureaucrats to create incomprehensible and time-consuming administrative procedures. Why, just the other day, I noticed that this so-called ‘blue sky thinking’ comes with an exclamation mark…

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And talking of institutions, until we speak again Juno always kept a close eye on one when she saw one!

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Inauguration Day

Well, if it’s good enough for the ‘Man Fart’ in Washington D.C., then it’s good enough for the War-lord in Cardiff!

As the massed ranks take their place to witness the pageantry, all await the Gettysburg, no, Cardiff City Stadium address…

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“We’re going to make the Bluebirds great, again!”

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“We’re going to build a wall to keep the others out!”

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“And we’re going to make the Albion pay for it!”

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Until we speak again, don’t blink with the boredom of the first 91 minutes, the outrageous promises of the previous campaign may have been missing, but you don’t want to miss the big moment!

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God Bless America

It seems like the soothing sounds of philarmonia have seen better days in Cardiff. More recently home to tumbleweed rather than orchestral delights. Once known as Morella’s Palace of Varieties, seating up to 1100 people in a grand old Victorian music hall style, with three sided balconies, the grand old dame has experienced a long and undignified fall.

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While the centre of Cardiff has much to be admired, the neglect of several old gems leaves discerning cats with a sense of an unattended litter tray! So, it is with mixed blessings that we might be heard quietly muttering “God Bless America”.

 

The tantalising question is “whether any commercial use that saves an old building is worth having?” Coyote Ugly arrives in this historic area of St Mary Street, at once restoring an old frontage to a modicum of former glory…

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What Texas has brought to a former Victorian auditorium on the inside is anyone’s guess. Well, you don’t expect me to have used the place do you? Can bawdy Victoriana be replicated by tits in hats (that refers as much to the men, for any feminist critic)?

wine-stocksUntil we speak again, follow Juno’s lead and be a little more discerning regarding your tipple.