It’s a name-changer

I am losing count of the number of times my sleep pattern is being interrupted by some inane football comments on the TV. It is my guess that if you place all of the footballing cliches end-to-end you still would not get anywhere near the land of common sense. Commentators, pundits and general all-round-idiots, who have nothing better to do in life than talk about things they were never any good at themselves, like to identify ‘game-changers’. Such-and-such a player is a game-changer, the manager’s next substitution needs to be a game-changer, the referee’s decision was a game-changer.

As yet another weekend of wall-to-wall TV and radio football punditry and commentaries arrives I was contemplating the benefits of hibernation that so many smaller mammals seem to go in for while much of the football season is on. Then, with my usual easy-going languid effortless creative self (with the help of the Life of Pi DVD advert) I chanced upon a true game-changer… get some Tigers on the pitch! Get back to some wholesome Roman sporting spectacle to keep everyone awake.

   My ‘football evangelist‘ is uncharacteristically quick to say this is exactly what is happening at the Cardiff City Stadium today. It’s the arrival of fellow promoted hopefuls, Hull City, or is that Hull Tigers? Seems to me that it is the battle of the ‘Name-Changers’… is this City v City or are we talking Dragons v Tigers? Who knows what your team is supposed to be called when the true match is the battle of the owners billions fuelling total disregard for the history or passion close to the hearts of true fans?

My ‘delusional optimist‘ has constantly gone on about how Hull are one of the teams that will finish the season below Cardiff. The only failing in their logic is the fact that Hull have been above Cardiff in every week of the season so far… but what does a superior cat like me really understand about the simplicities of the peoples’ game? From what I hear this is a battle between two teams that find it relatively difficult to score goals… which, as far as I am aware, are game-changers! The anxious local crowd are hoping the tigers roar is going to be little more than a whimper:

It’s 3.00pm on a game-changer Saturday afternoon, so let the confusion begin… guess from the picture who the Bluebirds are? Yes, the team in red. As for Tigers, when did they come in a blue variety?

City v Hull [1]The first half progresses with a series of attacks from the home team, but unfortunately ‘Puff the Magic Dragon‘ seems to have brought along his mate ‘Huff‘, and also seems to have mislaid the ‘Magic‘ bit somewhere. As for the Tigers, as cliches go they seem to be playing within themselves… sounds anatomically strange to me, but that’s what the aficionados of footballing nonsense like to say when they haven’t got anything exciting to say about a team. The real action takes place off the pitch, as both sets of rival fans form a vocal connection: “Stand up for your history” rings out as a collective middle finger to both clubs owners. It seems that very few present are interested in the concept of the ‘name-changer’!

Then suddenly along come two chances and the Tigers score two goals…  cue mass depression across the majority of the ground, as most of the home fans become so disoriented they are drifting away for half-time refreshment 10 minutes before official half-time.

City v Hull [2]As the second half begins the home fans calls for desperate measures are partially answered, as one over-paid lazy git is replaced by a young upstart from the new manager’s native Norway. However, the much used cliche that football is a game of two halves takes on a strangely unexpected twist… all present have been duped into the deja vu world of watching one half, but twice! ‘Huff and Puff‘ continue their wearisome double act, while the roar of the tiger makes itself known infrequently, but ever so loudly for the comfort of the home crowd. Another two goals for the away team acts as a reminder to about 10,000 of the home fans that this was a day they promised to be home early. 20 minutes to go and the magic trick arrives… a football stadium turns instantly into a library, only slightly interrupted by joyous sounds from the relatively small numbers of travelling away fans.

My ‘in-house statistician‘ returns head bowed, mumbling something about having the higher amount of possession, corners, shots on and off target; with uncomplimentary references to ‘them’… after all, this was one of those teams that ‘delusional optimist‘ remained adamant would finish below the ‘Mighty Purple Dragonbirds‘ or whatever they are called. I guess I don’t help the depression levels with my addition to our statistical interlude… “I believe another cliche in the beautiful game is that only one statistic counts in the end”, and on this occasion it reads:

  ‘Whatever they are called dragons’ NIL



    ‘Who are they tigers’ FOUR

It looks very much to me like it is going to be check all ligature points, and hide the belts and laces week, again! Until we speak again I am Juno, advising local people to shift allegiances to the Welsh national rugby team.

[Some of the images in this post are taken from google images with thanks, as they helped to illustrate key points being made].

When Meccano met Lego

My home-based ‘frustrated architect‘ was busy regaling the BBC4 programme ‘The Brits Who Built the Modern World‘ last week. “If you are so enamoured by modern architecture what are you doing in Cardiff?” I asked. But it did get me appreciating the convenience of an in-house laptop with private photo library. Do I really want to ruffle my fur braving hurricane force gales bouncing February inside out, just to check out the local definition of iconic?

The BBC4 programme included a few old but cool cats by the names of Foster, Rogers, Grimshaw, Farrell and Hopkins …. some even referencing their childhood love of meccano as an influence on their later design ethic:

So I started to ponder where the Lloyds of London and Pompidou Centre of Paris was to be found in the cultural capital of Wales… when my mind drifted towards the Bay. There across the water stood an iconic location…

Across Bay [1]

… but is it the under-use of meccano, or is it the introduction of a distracting lego vibe that causes so many first-time visitors to ask “what on earth is that supposed to be?”

St Davids Hotel [9]

St Davids Hotel [1]

In all honesty, the same has been asked of the Lloyds & Pompidou buildings in their time, but I await with baited breath the remaining two episodes of the BBC4 programme to see if they spend any time reflecting on the architectural majesty of Cardiff Bay!

St Davids Hotel [2]

5-star accommodation is usually based on the luxury of the living space, but for those who can’t afford it (or access the necessary business account) the external aesthetic is what counts if locals are to take pride in their architectural icons.

St Davids Hotel [5]

But, perhaps the St. David’s Hotel on the Bay has more to offer if we take more than a churlish glance… how about an outdoor meeting with a view, or the curviliciousness that is less noticeable when the building is viewed from a distance?

St Davids Hotel [3]

St Davids Hotel [4]

Perhaps the hotel entrance and internal atrium offers further redemption, particularly for the internal decorators amongst you…

The restaurant may not offer value-for-money to the aficionados of Caroline Street style, but it may offer the ideal place for those who splash out on the special occasion; and those who can afford a loyalty card to place next to their Government/Banking membership cards. My ‘resident banker‘ went there over 10 years ago and tells me it suited the bill for a special family occasion, particularly with views out across the Bay while you eat. But it is up against a wide range of competition in the local area for all budgets.

Either way, it seems to a mere cat like me (no, not a meerkat!) that this architecture game is a bit like any other design or fashion based affair… you likes what you likes, and whatever reasons I have for my personal taste, no amount of reasoning will persuade the luddites who don’t agree with me! As for the definition of ‘iconic’ in local architectural terms, my guess is you will have to look to some of the older gaffs… watch this space for more lessons in the finer points of bricks and mortar, glass and steel, and the minutiae of what passes for design. Until we speak again I will sharpen my ‘Le Corbusier Juno’ persona.

[Images of Lloyds of London & Pompidou Centre, and a few of St. David’s Hotel are gratefully borrowed from google images to illustrate a point.]

Where did the sunshine go?

My ‘irrational optimist‘ is expressing a load of expletives, something to do with a ‘villa’. It has me very confused, because when I think of a villa I get the following images:

White & BlueHydra port




… sharply contrasting blue sky and white buildings.






Yachts slowly drifting into port…

Sunset Restaurant






… a meal overlooking the sea.

Hydra sunset 2





Boats disappearing into the sunset…


But it seems that the ‘Villa‘ in question today is something to do with the less salubrious Aston area of the city of Birmingham! Not even a reference to Alabama… it’s got more to do with Brummies arriving in town! Though how they will be getting here is anyone’s guess… it’s February, so they should be battling the snow. Instead, half the country is under water; so to get from England’s second city (as far away from the sea as you can get) to Wales first city (right by the sea) is going to require a boat!

   Stormy weather and the prospects of a stormy match; as the locals are quietly panicking about their ability to ride the crest of the Premier League wave beyond this first season. As for Aston Villa, they may be viewing mid-table safety as being within their grasp, but defeat today and it could be deja vu as laughing boy doesn’t spend much time out of the managerial sack-race spotlight.

It’s 7.45pm on a cold and wet Tuesday night in February… so welcome to the grim, the battered and the ugly! The first half sees the home team viewing this villa as something they could occupy and take control of, but not quite doing enough to make a clear purchase. Little signs emerge of the background storms invading this particular patch of real estate. Half-time dawns and it remains a becalmed 0-0.

City v Aston Villa

As the second half begins many of the home fans are slow to get back to their seats, possibly not entirely convinced that the necessary storm surge is going to engulf their opponents. Fears turn to reality as the half progresses, and it is the turn of Villa-folk to eye up an opportunity to gazump any home team offer to take the match. Finally, and not for the first time this season, it is up to Cardiff’s main line of flood defence, their goal keeper David Marshall, to pull out one of the saves of the season to preserve one point for his team.

So, with prior expectations of both teams desperately needing three points for the win, a stormy battle was on the cards… but in football, Estate Agent type levels of exaggeration are made but rarely reflected in the bleak reality. As for the final score, it ends up as a becalming Basement Flat 0 Under-whelming Villa 0.

Until we speak again the forecast suggests I am going to be batten-down-the-hatches Juno!

[A few pictures in this post were gratefully borrowed from sources on google images to illustrate points being made].

In a parallel universe

Atlantic Wharf       local weir





I was just contemplating the peace and tranquility of my local area when it was rudely interrupted by one of those rival birds. Those at home around me who would benefit by ‘getting a life’ tell me that the Bluebirds are away to their local rivals, Swansea, today.

Nobody passes!So, why are they in my backyard, and trying to recreate the ‘Black Knight’ sketch from Monty Python and the Holy Grail? “Nobody passes by here” was the implication of this creature’s demeanour; and a pretty mean demeanour it struck too.

Being a pacifist cat, I retreated from what would only result in the usual nasty Cardiff – Swansea affair. Personal dignity was my primary concern.

Swan burglary

But these swans do not seem to share my more delicate contemplations and meditations on peace and quiet.

“Where are you, I know where you live” were the threat-like remonstrations from my long-necked tormenter.

I reluctantly became drawn into my inquisitor’s more base conduct… “You and who’s army” I enquired, in my politest of tones. But little did I expect the beaky one to bring the whole family in on the altercation…

Swan family 2012 2


I was beginning to get the hang of this Mexican standoff routine… “Bring your family, all the more meals for me next week” I retorted. But, in true poker playing style the feathered-one upped the ante with a call to more troops that would have been better deployed at Swansea’s ‘Liberty Stadium’ for the Premier League grudge match:

Swan armada [2]

You can use threats and intimidation as much as you like, but ultimately for us stylish cats it is the elegance of our demeanour that will always triumph… but just occasionally a flash of the gnashers is regrettably required…

Roath park lake [5]

… and the swans go diving for cover. Synchronised swans arses can mean only one thing… peace is once again restored in the Juno universe.

As for the match taking place in a parallel universe somewhere out west, serenity has clearly been denied, as my domestic ‘religious correspondent‘ is busy praying, begging, searching for any spare miracles that might have been mislaid in my personal conquest of the white renegade hoards. It is so undignified, but what else can you expect from football fans, particularly those on the end of a 3-0 defeat to their bitterest rivals?

Until we speak again I intend to be imperious Juno, and my household will be a place of merciless mirth-taking with regards to all losers!

[The cat pictures have been borrowed from google images, with special thanks to their originators for providing additional material to illustrate this tale].

The Tourist ‘Bored’

It’s the time of year when we are all bombarded by ads for destinations to visit during the forthcoming months, as well as the wider economic attractions of just about everywhere. I am sure from the wording that some of these things are put together by Estate Agents, so it got me thinking about ways to promote my new found home, and what it truly has to offer, particularly for cats with open minds and a taste for the different.

1. For the intrepid traveller there are excellent rail links, with a welcoming environment to arrive in:

Top class rail links

2. For the local traveller we have designed some of our bus stops on a more traditional welcoming Irish theme (you don’t have to wait for 17th March):

Irish bus stop

3. If it’s buildings that you are into there are some architectural wonders, accommodating the old and the new, or simply something to leave the connoisseur, well, just wondering:

Architectural wonders 4. We are not short on the cultural venues for staging, well, I’m not sure what they stage exactly, but they’ve been around for a good while:

Cultural centres5. But if your idea of culture is more about films, there are a variety of cinemas in which to see what the gritty British Film Industry is all about (even if you can’t get in any more):

Cinematic experiences6. We have water-based theme parks, with rides that will baffle old and young alike:

Water based theme park7. And staying with the water theme, there is always an opportunity for the adventurous among you, such as those who like snorkeling for instance:

Innovative traffic control schemes8. For the fashion conscious, make sure you get the right week… there is nothing in London, Milan, New York or Paris to match the local models demonstrating the latest in rainy-day chic:

Ground breaking Fashion9. This is a city that thinks highly of it’s lost sons and daughters, so do pay your respects to those who sacrificed all to save the planet:

Dead icons10. And for those of you scouting to re-locate your business there is state-of-the-art open plan offices just waiting to accommodate you, with built-in air conditioning at no extra cost:

Open plan officesBut, with all of the above on offer, the true attraction of Cardiff is the permanent blue skies framing iconic architecture (old and new), with a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere in which to just eat, drink and be merry.

Mermaid Quay

Until we speak again I have been Juno, living in Cardiff so I can bring you nothing but joy and tranquility.

Canaries in a Coalmine

I have been so obsessed with food of late that I have forgotten my responsibility to mock my resident ‘grieving fan‘ on their local team hitting rock bottom in the Premier League. What makes matters worse for the poor soul is the clash of sports, with Cardiff City at home to Norwich City at the same time as the rugby international at the Millenium Stadium with Wales hosting Italy. From what I can see the wallet has triumphed over the heart, as the use of a pre-paid season ticket to watch the tedium of two teams who can hardly score a goal, yet both seem happy to let them in (surely a nailed-on 0-0) triumphs over the possibility of watching pure passion for free on the TV.

The Cardiff City Stadium prepares to ramp up the levels of boredom to new heights, with Norwich taking about 30 attempts on goal without scoring, in the corresponding match at their ground earlier in the season. Though they did get the ball in the net by cheating, which was fortunately disallowed. The match promises as much excitement as watching a canary slowly choking to death in a coalmine… a fitting analogy, as Norwich City are known as the Canaries, though God only knows why (actually it is after 16th century European refugees); and South Wales is known for its coalmines, though finding one these days is a bit like witnessing goalscoring chances for the Bluebirds.

Tantalisingly for me, it’s yet another footballing ‘battle of the birds’, and all I get is to comment from afar. Let me at them and there just might be some excitement at the match today. But for now it is 3.00pm on a damp February Saturday afternoon, and the Bluebirds are wondering where to find any Canaries, whilst the disguised canaries stare perilously into the coalmine:

City v Norwich [1]

 The Bluebirds have new faces from the January transfer window are flocking all over the place without seemingly working as a team.

  The Canaries celebrate with a simple goal against a ragged Bluebirds defence. An inconsequential first half ends CARDIFF CITY 0 NORWICH CITY 1.

City v Norwich [2]

The home birds start the second half with a Norwegian flea in the ear (Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the new manager), and the proverbial ‘game of two halves’ is about to unfold.

  You can’t miss from there, and on 49 minutes local boy Craig Bellamy obliges with an equalising goal.

      Nice goal celebration Craig. Yet a mere minute later and it’s new boy Kenwyne Jones showing the fans a different perspective on the Cardiff City StadiumKenwyne Jones

As the match enters the final 20 minutes an all-too-familiar pattern emerges for the home fans as their team sits back and invites the opposition to launch wave after wave of attacks.

  With the help of a tiring home team, the Canaries seem to have found renewed energy from somewhere.

  My resident ‘panic merchant‘ tells me it only takes a short memory in these parts to remember Bluebirds on course for a nasty collision if they don’t sustain their need to attack. But on this occasion they desperately hold out, and with great home sighs of relief…

   … it is the away team that has to look at its frequent inability to take their chances. As the final whistle blows, it is a time for Bluebird celebrations, and for Canaries to hang their heads in defeat.

   2 v. 1   

So much for my prediction of 0-0. Until we speak again my ‘desperate optimist‘ will hang on to any morsels of success, but I have been a frustrated Juno… so many birds on display and all I can do is observe from a distance. In the meantime, my ‘anti-stereotyping consultant‘ just congratulated me on a post about Norwich City with not a single mention of Delia Smith, Colman’s Mustard or that everyone looked the same… oops!

[Some of the images in this post just might have been copied from google images (and BBC Sport)… many thanks to those of you posting images that support my stories].