Olympic Mission Impossible

For Juno and Bella this would certainly have represented dreams of ‘fast food’; much too fast for either cat, who took a simple view of olympic feats… usually taking the form of lengthy snoozes on a sun-soaked window cill. But, for other members of the animal kingdom, the olympics are drawing close, so practice is essential.

[Note to UK readers… a particular Mission Impossible soundtrack ad may help you to seriously appreciate the following event… though hopefully not the urine of the gnat product!].

Right, on your marks, get set…

Squirrell [1]

Go…

Squirrell [2]

C’mon Usain Bolt, keep up!

Squirrell [3]

Hey, where is my medal?

Squirrell [4]

WHO ARE YOU LOOKING AT?

Squirrell [5]

Seagull on binstore

I knew there was a reason why I run so fast…

 

 

Until we speak again, keep practicing!

 

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The Raj revisited

Window cillWith the recent TV series ‘Indian Summers‘ now disappearing into the memory banks, to be stored somewhere in a file listed as ‘Brexit and the resurrection of my imperial dreams‘ (created by the 52%, not those of us who already have an embracing world view), it was time to locally recapture an experience of India and summer. To listen to some of the Out rhetoric expounded from our so-called tolerant shores, you would swear that we have been locked away in a European constructed dungeon, and are only now creating the opportunity to stagger bleary-eyed into the bright lights that constitute the new world beyond European shackles.

As much as your correspondent is frequently regaled with messages about how cheap it is to visit India, I personally find that it is even cheaper for India to visit me! This is where Cardiff Bay comes to rescue me from the standard notion of an Indian takeaway. However, the choice requires a decision to be made, before we even get in front of one of those War and Peace sized menus. A proposition that just might drive us to follow Bella’s idea above… when decisions need to be made find a clear window cill in the sun!

The Duchess of Delhi does its very best to smooth away the challenge of the decisions decisions malady… nothing like a great big sign 18 months after opening to remind us, well, that they are open!

Duchess of Delhi [1]For those readers who are not old enough to have been present at the height of the Raj, which I guess is pretty much everyone (as it is listed as 1858-1947), here is a glimpse of what it might have looked like…

Duchess of Delhi [2]

Strangely enough, that is what nearly all traditional British Indian restaurants inform us the Raj looked like. Other versions of the authentic Indian theme are available (even in Cardiff!). So, cultural and historical context cleared up, it was time to navigate the challenge of the ubiquitous Indian restaurant menu. Is it any surprise that bottles of Cobra were invented in large sizes? Dying of thirst while reading the menu can be a serious proposition! Though it is important to say that the Duchess of Delhi has a slightly more specialist and restricted menu range, which always instils confidence in this intrepid devourer of world nosh.

Duchess of Delhi [4]

The starters were a very tasty reminder of what British style Indian food has to offer. My vegetarian visitor was satisfied with the Onion Pakora, and my cat-like carnivorous tendencies were equally satisfied with the Sheek Kebab, even when adorned with the entry-school colourful scribblings across the plate. With appetites stirred it was time for the main event. It was the decisions-decisions time again, with so many tempting treats on the menu.

My vegetarian friend enjoys a cat-like dispensation when it comes to fish; and is never able to resist something hot. So there was one simple decision… when a dish entitled Bengal Naga Jhaal Jhol is described as the hottest dish on the menu, and includes one of the hottest chilli’s in the world, why look anywhere else. Our host initially looked a little puzzled when he also asked for additional hot chilli on the side.

As for me, I was ready to retreat to a distant table, just in case the heat from the dish put summer into the shade. Apparently there was ‘smelted’ shark somewhere in that bowl! I’m a sucker for a Peshwari Naan and a Coconut Rice, but would ideally like a little of most of the menu to accompany them. But, on this occasion the sound of bleating lambs ambling towards the slaughter house en route to my bowl prevailed. I’m not sure if they picked the green chillies themselves as they sauntered towards their primary purpose in life…

Duchess of Delhi [5]

The Lamb Pepper Roast was succulent and tender, melt in the mouth, and worthy of its place alongside the Naan/Rice combination. Other Indian restaurants of varying focus and price range have been the subject of Juno/Bella style scrutiny within this blog, but the Duchess of Delhi can now take its place as part of a range rather than a competition. Until we speak again, if you are looking for a taste of India Cardiff has a selection, as long as you can cope with decisions-decisions!

Nuovo Wyndham

Take a chance, something new is in the wind… Wyndham Arcade that is. Well, you could try this, but I wouldn’t ‘literally’ advise it…

Hair by Cats [2]

No, there is definitely a something old something new vibe going on, as Servini’s has had a revamp, and is ready to tempt me occasionally away from some of Cardiff’s fabulous coffee shops (Coffee#1 & Coffee Barker particularly coming to mind).

Servini's [1]

Servini's [2]

 

The perennial high quality all-day-breakfast with tea or coffee is still there for the die-hards amongst you. But gone is the salad counter, and old-style formica tables with chairs rooted to floor and table to prevent the Wyndham set of old resorting to convenient projectiles if the spoon doesn’t stand up in the tea! Now it is ‘anyone for cushions at ten paces’?

 

 

Servini's [3]

 

I jest, as this has always been a higher class of caff, but now seems to be branching out to slightly wider tastes… you can even indulge in steak with a choice of vino or birra, should the fancy take you.

Servini's [5]

It’s a little bit early for me, so I will stay with the tea, now accompanied by milk in a cute bottle (remind anyone of school?). And, as tempting as the famous old all-day-breakfast was, I couldn’t turn down the chance of a corned beef hash with a difference, and a fried egg to top it off…

Servini's [6]

The open kitchen has been retained… always a sign of confidence in the cooking. And the new staff have clearly been recruited through a customer care symposium, largely unattended by their predecessors.

Servini's [4]

So, until we speak again, if you happen to be drifting by the lower end of St Mary Street, and feel that need for some good quality refreshment, there are now plenty of options in the vicinity, but the all new Servini’s gets a recommendation from this satisfied cat.

And so to eat

Call this food!Here in Cardiff it is a weekend where the events just keep coming. After the triumphant return of the national football heroes it is time to eat.

Fortunately, for local culinary cats, the timing just happens to coincide with the annual International Food Festival in Cardiff Bay. Drizzle-like periods of rain are a staple of Cardiff weather, but does little to dampen the crowds or the atmosphere of eating, drinking and live music.

Stalls display their wares from far and wide, with vegetarian options for ethical cats, and a smorgasbord of flesh cooked in every which way for the Juno’s and Bella’s of the world.

If it’s beer you want then Cornwall and Ireland provide a range of Sharps and Guinness lotions and potions, for those who are not so pernickety about drinking out of plastic cups:

Beer [1]

Beer [2]For those who don’t wish to get wet on the outside while watering on the inside, there are a selection of appropriately stocked tents around the site.

But for your loquacious reporter, it was time to talk less and eat more, with some exquisitely tasting morsels to be sampled. Good Welsh fare is represented by Cambrian Organics meat, with the choice of Lamb Burger being one this cat couldn’t resist…

Cambrian Organics [2]Lamb Burger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile the Hand Made Scotch Egg Company tease the tastebuds with approximately 40 varieties (including vegetarian versions). Your able representative chose the Casablanca, flavoured with harrissa, chilli, paprika & red peppers.

Scotch eggs

To round off the culinary voyage of discovery, Blacks Cheese stall presented a range of previously undiscovered delights. As much as the Piri Piri taunted the tastebuds, it was the Jalapino & Lime that seized hold of the wallet for further indulgence.

Cheeses

The event was not short on entertainment, with a full line-up of musical diversity to provide a back-drop to the informality of the grand social occasion…

Music line-up

And on the occasion of a Saturday afternoon at 3.00pm it was the turn of Immigrant Swing to provide a lively set…

Music [3]

Until we speak again may your jalapeno’s and limes enjoy a cheesy coming together!

Wales Euro Stars!

Ready to eatCats all over Wales have had a month of excited bewilderment, as the focus of the nation’s passion for sport took a seismic shift from rugby to football. We could be forgiven for thinking after a 58-year wait, that turning up to make up the numbers was a great achievement. But this is Wales, a land with a passion for the spectacular.

Apart from Gareth Bale, who would have thought in the heady days of early June that we would go further than the former World Champions and current European Champions, Spain; and then equal the current World Champions, Germany? Along the way we managed to send home the hosts of the next World Cup, Russia; and magnificently dispatch the so-called World’s second ranked team, Belgium! We might have scrapped a win against Northern Ireland, and lets just forgive and forget the generosity we offered England (while thanking Iceland for the non-Wales highlight of the whole tournament). All great stories need to come to an end, and for us Portugal in the semi-finals is recognised as the game too far.

The City of Cardiff decorated itself with banners and flags to raise expectations…

Welsh football [2]

Brewery Quarter banner

St Mary Street waits

Then there was the reminder that we had a little matter of group games to negotiate…

Welsh football [1]

But fairy tales happen (not just shit, then); and they often begin with some kind of castle in the picture…

Castle [1]

… and just a few adoring fans lurking in wait for a glimpse of the heroes of the story…

Castle [2]

And who would have thought that over-paid young football players would forgo the expensive cars to travel anywhere on a bus?

On the bus [1]

On the bus [2]

On the bus [3]

On the bus [4]

This was a one-way ticket to adoration, destination Cardiff City Stadium, and a rousing rendition of the Manic Street Preachers Welsh football anthem. And this was a squad that didn’t win the competition! But, perhaps the salutary lesson of the great homecoming was a sign that even Solicitors have a heart… occasionally!

Solicitor

Until we speak again the great new footballing super power will be recuperating in time to stride towards the even bigger stage of the 2018 World Cup. Look out world, we are coming.

[With acknowledgement to BBC Wales for some of the images used in this post].

The Somme Remembered

Got my papers

Nobody is left to remember that surge of enthusiasm for signing up to go to war in the teenage years of the 20th century. Here was Bella not looking overly enthusiastic about her signing up papers.

Who would want to relive the experience of the morning of 1st July 1916, at the Somme, looking up over those trenches in readiness to run headlong into a field of bullets. Juno always had that look that suggested the trench was a safer place to be…

Batman

 

 

So, it is with great poignance that this historic anniversary of carnage is remembered in Cardiff Bay, with the establishment of a memorial entitled simply ‘Field‘. No other words can convey the intensity of meaning, the Welsh National Opera banner and the visual representation of the installation say it all…

The Field [3]

The Field [1]

The Field [4]

The Field [5]