Mugwump logic

I thought a mugwump was somebody independent of politics, or if you look at US literature it’s a Native American reference to a leader. So, thanks to the peroxide poser in the Foreign Office, the fashion for political soundbites leaves us with more heat than light.

White cat blue eyes

Careful who you’re calling a peroxide poser! I’ve got your bluebirds in my sight.

The current reference is prefaced with ‘mutton-headed’ and directed at the so-called leadership of the Labour Party. And, on the back of such confidence, the leader of the expected all-conquering English Tories heads into the Labour heartlands of Wales, gunning to take a Tory victory for the first time in 100 years or more. Political skies are looking grey wherever Labour supporters look…

Gloomy skies

But, surely the king mugwump isn’t going to lose one of his few remaining heartlands? This is Wales we are talking about. They don’t play Men of Harlech before each home match at the Cardiff City Stadium for nothing… with it’s line of ‘Welshmen never yield’ there is a strong message to any English insurgents.

Which brings me to the last home match of the season, as the marauding Geordies of Newcastle bring the largest away contingent… Magpies nesting at the home of the Bluebirds! Talking of peroxide posers… Newcastle United playing in anything other than their famous black and white stripes is unbelievable; but surely any mugwumps in blue are ready to repel the English confidence…

City v Newcastle

They might have already been promoted to the Premier League, but a Newcastle contingent in a mood to party were hardly going to obey the script of defiance writ large in the Welsh heartlands, were they? Well if you’re Jeremy Corbyn, or any of the faceless Labour wonders in Cardiff Bay, don’t look at the final score [Cardiff City 0 Newcastle United 2].

Until we speak again, if this match was prescient, then Juno exemplifies what the Welsh Labour stronghold has to offer in the coming General Election.

Playing dead

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Culinario gatti

Calling all you culinary cats… Giovanni’s has been established on The Hayes in the centre of Cardiff since 1983; but in 2013 a second branch opened on Park Place, conveniently opposite the New Theatre. But, don’t expect any Godfather III operatic grandstanding here… for a start, you may be greeted by a less than appetising facade of scaffolding, as painting is in progress.

Front [1]

It is worth getting past your penchant for deciding the quality of a restaurant based on the external appearance (particularly as this will change sometime soon). After all, you should be in food critic, not architectural critic mode, if your aim is to satisfy gastronomic urges. I know, I’m a hypocrite, as I am often critical of sloppy architecture, including that of modern restaurants.

On a recent post rugby match visit, there were plenty of persone che mangiano di ristoranti, with everyone engrossed in the menu under the expert tutelage of the resident maestro…

Giovanni's [1]

It is worth lingering over the menu, as this is no run-of-the-mill Italian chain. We are talking a family-run restaurant with plenty of amore put into the whole experience as well as the culinary produce. For the visiting young one it was Scallops Al Limone for a starter, which received glowing praise from someone who knows his scallops. I opted for the Gamberoni all Marchesa (roasted king prawns in garlic, white wine and parsley)…

Giovanni's [2]

Yes, I know it should be white wine with any seafood; but my inner Lecter couldn’t resist a nice Chianti! As for main courses, the visiting ‘Son of Cool’ went for the traditional option of a good home cooked Lasagne Emiliana Fatta in Casa, and yours truly was in the mood for a main that would live up to the red wine accompaniment. So, what better than a Penne Spezzatino (fillet steak in garlic, wine and tomato sauce)…

Giovanni's [3]

Some of you might be licking your lips with anticipation of what quintessential Italian desserts are about to be laid out before you. Well, tough… this is early evening, and space needs to be left for a few beers elsewhere (you can only have so much of a good Italian thing before reverting to what the British do better!). But, before I leave you, and in the continuing spirit of hydration, I did indulge in a double espresso and Sambucca on the side. There are some liquids that only the Italians really know how to make!

Giovanni's [4]

We both left full of culinario contentezza, as we transitioned from Italian delicato to the bustle of a Saturday night in a British pub. Until we speak again, may all of your cornetto’s be less than vanilla. And Bella says ciao.

Farewell

Searching for credible alternatives

With local elections just around the corner, credible alternatives to a noxious Tory controlled government are becoming difficult to find. The Labour Party are about as credible as an alternative design to those urine-stained lifts in so many tower blocks…

Students lift?

As for Plaid Cymru... they might well see themselves as a smooth alternative to the Scotch whisky market, but offer little credibility in the independence stakes when compared to the rampant Scottish Nationalist Party

Welsh Whisky

And the Liberal Democrats, well they are still trying to work out how they got decimated in the last General Election…

Difficult choices

The UKIP fraternity are coming to terms with weekly losses of so-called prominent representatives, as well the machinations of their new leader…

Bartley

Which leaves the earnestness of the Green Party, committed as they are to limiting the number of wheels polluting the environment, they never quite seem to get their full message properly coordinated…

Bikes on pitch

Meanwhile, down at the Cardiff City Stadium a credible alternative has emerged from the team that in October 2016 was languishing at the bottom of the Championship table. Cue the time for totally unreasonable expectations for next season…

City 1 Forest 0

Until we speak again, Bella offers no particular enlightenment regarding credible alternatives from the broadsheets. With expected turnouts to be nearer 20% in many places, it seems that most people probably don’t give a urine-stained lift for any alternative…

Reading paper and books

Surfing the turf

So there I was, in this crazy cats kind of world, suddenly finding myself back in Llanelli. Now, for those of you who haven’t been, you might just be wondering why go in the first place? And, for those who have been to this run down post-industrial area of south-west Wales, the source of wonderment is… why go back a second time? Well, we can’t always choose where the work is going to take us, is the plain simple answer to that conundrum.

However, once drawn into its web of intrigue, don’t expect things to be as they usually are! For a start there are the Castle Buildings as a prime place to stay… but it’s not the traditional Welsh castle that you might have been led to expect?

Vista Hotel

The hotel occupying this so-called castle site is the Vista Hotel… but I suggest you revise your expectations of vista’s before you arrive!

Church from hotel window

However, there is one thing that should cause most unsuspecting cats to pause (or is that paws?) before they pounce… it’s always interesting when your meal looks you in the eye and says ‘Your move!’

Surf and Turf [2]

The thing is… where to get the energy to launch an escape beyond the orbit of Llanelli’s gravitational pull? Rest assured, cats wishing to get out of the bag can take on an early morning full (Welsh/English) breakfast…

All Day Breakfast

Though be warned… the food in this place might just be enough to tempt you stay… at least until the next meal, if for no other exciting reason!

Until we speak again, Juno will display the level of industriousness now associated with the former powerhouses of Welsh industry…

Armadillo pose

 

 

Cats swallowing wasps

We seem to be living in the age of outrage. But do we really need a new universal amendment to assert our right to be offended? The slightest hint of challenge or disagreement leaves too many people looking like they have swallowed a wasp. Take the so-called leader of the Western World… yes… please… go ahead and take him! He seems to have elevated wasp swallowing into a nocturnal pastime, with a blue-tinged cat snack as his vehicle of choice…

Donald Trump

Then, a little closer to home, when we are in desperate need for a credible opposition in Britain, what do we get? What do you think about Brexit Jeremy? What do you think about the future of the economy Jeremy? Who are the voters you actually need to get you  within a Gnat’s testicle of being able to do something Jeremy? It seems that wasp swallowing is a universal affliction of our so-called leaders…

corbyn

Talking of leadership and the intrusion of hymenoptera (well, weren’t we?). Just the other day, down at the home of football, the Cardiff City Stadium, manager Neil Warnock is reported to have had cause at half-time to employ his own particular brand of wasp swallowing

Neil Warnock

Many a player has had cause to experience the half-time verbal tongue lashing from Sheffield’s finest. On this occasion, the swallowing of wasps was employed as a means of devouring bees… the bees of Brentford FC, that is. For the record, at half time it was Cardiff City 0 Brentford 1; and at full time the score is Cardiff City 2 Brentford 1. Bees well and truly devoured!

As for Juno and Bella, one good thing about being indoor cats was the lesser chance of being tempted to supplement the meagre rations by chasing wasps, as you never know what the impact of success might be…

 

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[With acknowledgements to YouTube, BBC and the Independent for original images].

Home of the Black Cats

Black Cat House

Sunderland is a city with a claim to be first to return their count at just about any national vote. Indeed the shock Brexit vote of 23rd June 2016 can be claimed to have started here. A recent visit gave some insights into why they are quick with the count… as a tour of the city centre suggests there is little else to do than stay in doors and count votes! What the Luftwaffe started in the 1940’s the city planners completed in the 1960’s and 70’s.

The local people are informally known as ‘mackems’, one explanation emerging from their former shipbuilding tradition, whereby it is the Sunderland shipyards that ‘mackem’ (or make them); and the rival Newcastle shipyards that finish them off… ‘tackem’ (or take them). My recent visit to the city was perhaps summed up by a representation of this very name, but closed to business…

Machem Pizza

Even their strangely named football ground, the Stadium of Light was shrouded in darkness (though it wasn’t a match night).

Stadium of Light

However, all is not doom and gloom. If you have a spare couple of hours, that should be just about enough time, then get your Google maps out. A stop off at the Hilton Garden Inn, next door to the Stadium of Light offers a great steak and glass of Rioja.

Hilton Garden Inn [2]

Then take a stroll over the old iron bridge into the city centre…

Bridge [3]

Navigate your way passed the colourful Magistrates Court (Tip: don’t end up inside as a result of thinking you can vandalise or litter the place as a means of visually improving the city’s demeanour!)…

Somewhere within the tribute to grim concrete lies a couple of interesting pubs with good ale selections. If the local CAMRA reps are to be believed, then The Ship Isis is the best pub in the area. Test that claim for yourself, but I would certainly recommend a visit if you like a pint of Allendale Mosaic &/or Camerons Strong-arm in restored Victorian surroundings…

But if you want to experience the real deal, there is always the likes of an Anarchy Blonde Star waiting at the Dun Cow, next door to the Empire Theatre…

Dun Cow and empire Theatre

As I write it seems the local football team are hurtling towards relegation out of the Premier League. I can only muse that if the disgruntled of one Stadium of Light decided to smash up the town to vent their anger, it would take Sherlock Holmes like attention to detail to spot the difference.

Until we speak again, I am sure that Juno would advise no more than a couple of hours needed to sample all that Sunderland has to offer, and then quietly make your escape!

Plotting an escape