Home made

You looking at me?As I happen to be a cool cat born in Cardiff it was only reasonable that I should educate this wanderer resident who I find occupying my new home. I understand they left this wonderful city for some strange reason, and then returned after many years. Well, I suppose original errors can be overlooked when action is taken to rectify the stupidity! Anyway, I digress, and not for the last time I’m sure… so what should I begin my tenure of Juno’s View with? I am Bella, and as I’m 100% home grown today I’m going to let you in on another home grown gem… come with me on a stroll around the Millennium Centre.

Slinking my way down Lloyd George Avenue towards the Bay I can’t help but stop in my tracks as I take in the visual invitation drawing me towards this shiny shed…

Millenium Centre 2‘In These Stones Horizons Sing’… whatever that is supposed to mean. Personally, I don’t give a bag of mouses’ tails for much of what goes on in the way of performances in this place, except the staging of ‘Cats’ of course. Oh, and possibly ‘The Lion King’, but that sounds a bit scary to me. As a sophisticated cat I understand how some of you humans get caught up in what you like to think of as ‘culture’, but for all of your opera, ballet and classical concerts, I am initially interested in the architectural wonder  of the building itself.

Millenium Centre 3

This is a home grown building, designed by Jonathan Adams a local architect with Percy Thomas Architects, and made of Welsh materials throughout… the metals, slate, wood and glass. The part that first catches the eye is the great metal frontage, a bronze coloured dome clad in steel and treated with copper oxide to cope with the less than wonderful climate of Cardiff Bay (think rain, and add some; not conditions conducive for us self-respecting fur paraders).

Then there is the slate; five separate colours of Welsh slate each from a different Welsh slate quarry…

Millenium Centre 6Another home grown eminence, Ivor Novello, seems impressed as he sits quietly taking in the ambience of the Bay, or is he distractedly looking over his shoulder scanning the area for other Cardiff cool cats?

Just as we can see on the outside so we see the same on the inside, a good use of natural materials in their natural condition. Bands of hardwood give the natural look, with oak, ash, beech, sycamore, alder, birch, chestnut and cherry wood from sustainable Welsh sources…

Inside Millenium Centre [3]

Inside Millenium Centre [4]

 

 

 

 

 

Inside Millenium Centre [1]

 

 

 

Inside Millenium Centre [5]

 

 

 

 

 

Metal dominates the reception area, but steel columns topped with lights also give an impression of tree-like structures within the wide open spaces. Clearly this is a home made statement of architectural intent, even though the site has a history of architectural diplomatic turmoil. A world leading Iranian female architectural cat (Zaha Hadid) was less than pleased to have won the original design competition but fail to get the financial backing to get her ideas built. Apparently she doesn’t want anything to do with Cardiff again… some cats just don’t know how to lose with grace!

Riveting

 

As for my first post, I hope you found it as riveting as the covered entrance to the Millennium Centre. Riveting… get it!

Until we speak again I’m going to continue to be Bella, and you have my permission to continue being whoever you happen to be. Feel free to let me know what is man made in and around your life.

 

[Football explained, or not!] B is for…

Beautiful cats, as Juno prepares to hand on the baton of blogging to Beligerent Bella, who will be unveiled soon as the new voice of Juno’s View!

B is for BLUSTER, an atmosphere created where unfavourable meteorological conditions meet with the untamed expectations of fans. With minutes to go before the kick-off the heavens open, but is it a good omen, or not so good?

City v Wolves [1]

It is also for Boondoggle, finding trivial, time-wasting pastimes when a bunch of guys have nothing better to do than rue missing past opportunities to get involved in the weird and wonderful world of rugby scrums…

City v Wolves [2]

But ultimately B was for BENEFICENCE, as two gifts from somewhere enabled the home crowd to dabble in a little BOMBAST before departing the ground for anything resembling a BANQUET to celebrate the first win of the season…

I thought we were celebrating!!

I thought we were celebrating!!

Until we speak again… Cardiff City 2 Wolves 0 means home and away Played 4 Won 1 Drawn 3… may all of your beatifications be those of a benign bodhisattva, or words to that effect!

Worship in the Bay

Sunshine at 14 2Juno was a cat who knew what contemporary worship was all about… following the movement of any warm rays that shone into her home. Cardiff is not internationally known for its high sunshine quotient, so this act of worship required a depth of spirit and a persistence from deep down in the soul.

So this got me  reflecting on the current state of worship in my native city. With the sounds of a slightly out of tune bell-ringing practice resounding from St. Mary’s Church on Bute Street, I thought about the spiritual foundation of this once thriving maritime city being located somewhere ‘down the docks’. So perhaps the newly minted Cardiff Bay would be the place to investigate the changing face of contemporary worship. Traditionally worship has needed a place, usually in the form of a church…

Norwegian Church [2]

 

The Norwegian Church was originally built to meet the spiritual needs of Scandinavian seamen during their stay in the port of Cardiff. But a cursory knowledge of the area (aka being an old git) immediately indicates it is not located today where it was originally erected. True, its water-side setting on the Bute West Dock was seriously disrupted when the dock was firstly closed, secondly filled in, and finally built over with residences and a dual carriageway! So relocation would surely be for reasons of accommodating the recognised ley lines of the spiritually inclined. Well, perhaps not, as that would be forgetting that a new source of 21st century worship is… um… coffee!

Norwegian Church [3]

With coffee challenging for the mantle of a dominant religion, I wondered what might offer any competition. Look no further than 100 yards from the altar of the bean… Is it sharp? Is it groovy? Well, yes to both of those; but is it a home of worship? Katradius is an imposing marbled neighbour to the Senedd, home of Welsh government.

Sharp & groovy [1]

 

Sharp & groovy [2]

 

 

 

 

And it conveniently represents everything that contemporary politicians seem to worship… mammon. Such outward projections of ostentatious élan are hardly within the purview of your modern day happy clappy’s! For here lies the home of corporate finance, nonchalant in its lack of connection with everyone else who passes it by; pointedly projecting to the watery horizon beyond the enclosed bay upon which it sits (and no doubt slurps from the secretive and exclusive pond for the already bloated and bounteous).

World Harmony Peace Statue [1]Perhaps there is a spiritual sign, at the mid-point between coffee and dosh, as I stroll bayside in deep contemplation of what became of the historic fire and brimstone tradition of Welsh methodism. No, it was not the new location of spiritual leadership and guidance, cunningly placed next to a car park. It is the World Peace Statue, with no less a message of deep calling for the secular masses who pass it by often oblivious to its presence.

Was I really having these deeply philosophical reflections? Or, in reality, was I just imbued with Juno’s other main source of worshipful activity… contemplating the next meal! Strange that, because a cursory glance across Mermaid Quay illuminates the other modern day focus of our worship…

Mermaid Quay

Until we speak again may your worshipful exertions bring you whatever nourishment floats your boat!

[Football explained, or not!] A is for…

Armadillo poseJuno was never one to let any form of exertion, even spectating, interrupt a more important priority. This was the usual pose as the ‘resident masochist’ waxed lyrical about nothing of much importance… football.

But, what is this UK version of the widely recognised sporting name really about? For any readers thinking of switching off at this stage, stay with me for a few moments. My promise to you is an A-Z of the game like you wouldn’t imagine, all brought to you courtesy of a life sentence as a Cardiff City fan! So, in this game what does ‘A’ stand for?

A is for AQUATIC, something that any self-respecting cat would be scampering away from. But in irrational footballing terms, a little water at the start of the season can only help grow those completely unrealistic expectations that every fan harbours for their team just as the new dawn emerges…

Watering pitch

A is also for ALCHEMY, as the home team line up with flattering intentions of transforming the ordinary into something extraordinary by the kind of chemistry never previously seen in these parts… so the intelligent cat would surely be asking why would it suddenly work now?

City v Fulham

A is for ANATHEMA, as the away side take the lead through a wicked curse of a deflection that outwits the home team goalkeeper. Amazing how it takes all of 47 minutes for the expectations of home fans to drain at the prospect of defeat at the start of the season.

Negative mindset

But A is also for APOCRYPHAL, as less than 30 minutes later the home team equalise to send their fans into the unlikely claim of being the greatest team in football the world has ever seen!

Until we speak again Juno would surely wish that you maintain a sense of emotional balance… unlike most football fans. Cardiff City 1 Fulham 1.

So, you think Venice has water…

You talking to me?Juno didn’t care that much for Birmingham. But then again, many people from outside of Birmingham don’t either… and a friend of 40 years hails from Birmingham, and says they will never set foot in the place again.

So when I reminded her of the phrase that only someone from Birmingham could endlessly repeat… ‘Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice‘, Juno’s response was a steely glare that inferred if it’s water you’re looking for try Cardiff! True, the meteorological statistics of the last 30 years make it the wettest city in the UK, but that’s not what she was implying. You can’t stroll very far in Cardiff before you are challenged to circumnavigate some body of water or another. And that steely glare did little to hide the fact that any self respecting cat does not take a fancy to water!

Juno was an indoor cat, and a stroll around the city offers some possible reasons why she was so contented in this demeanour. No less than 50 yards outside of the building and the proud fur is already under threat of aquatic disturbance…

Roxby by water

Being a site of docklands redevelopment it comes as no surprise that certain expanses of the ‘two parts hydrogen one part oxygen’ prove too much of a challenge for the municipal predilection for paving things over and constructing multi-storey car parks. The grand old Bute East Dock still stands in the heart of the city awaiting some constructive utility, as it’s levels of toxicity now drop to permissible levels for some juvenile ignoramus or another to consider jumping in. Note to Planners: it could be a perfectly good parking space… for things that prefer to float!

Bute East Dock [2]

Meanwhile, only a quarter of a mile away lies another man-made threat to the curious nature of the cat. Cardiff Bay is frequently host to water-bourne ‘events’, even though it offers many a moment for tranquil reflection. As the original gateway to what had been 5 busy docks, the construction of the barrage now renders it a more peaceful lagoon attracting both the water-obsessed thrill seeker and the pleasure boat tourist.

Cardiff Bay view

I guess it should feel quite natural to expect a former industrial dockland to display remnants of its aquatic history, but venture inland into the heartbeat of the city and you will find that there is much more to the Cardiffians’ need to produce man-made antidotes to the incessant drizzle tap-tapping on any hard surface you happen to be in close proximity to. This scene deep in Roath might even appeal to the salmon in you, as you are drawn in your quest to battle upstream…

Roath lake exit [1]

Then, suddenly the horizon gives way to yet another large body of the wet stuff, as you gaze across Roath Park Lake

Roath  park lake [3]

Roath park lake [12]This acreage of liquid comes with a Juno seal of approval, otherwise know as a Michelin Star for gastronomic interest (though I think the numbers would have made it no contest!).

So next time you’re in the fine city of Cardiff, and you need something to remind you that all that’s wet is not rain, you will not have to travel far with your umbrella and wellies. And all of this without a single mention of the River Taff… oops!

Until we speak again I’m forever in pursuit of something a little more dry… Sauvignon Blanc anybody!?