About Steve Morgan

Occupational Therapist since 1986, Case Manager since 1990, Author since 1993, Consultancy since 2001. Launched a blog from 2013, a podcast in 2014, and YouTube videos from 2017.

No Place for Racists

There are many reasons why a Welshman might not extend the most gracious of support to an English football team. I was brought up from a young age to see Wales as my first priority in sport, and anyone playing against England as my second priority!

Whilst this might have been understandable childhood banter at that age, the English press and many of their fans kept providing the kind of arrogant sense of entitlement, combined with recurring failure, throughout the 1970’s that made it difficult to offer support to their team.

Then came 1983, with the English Football Association announcing they were no longer taking part in the annual Home Nations Championship, with a main reason being that they wanted to play stronger teams in more competitive matches! Understandable if they had a pedigree of winning major World and European Tournaments, but… they often struggled even to qualify for such tournaments!

Which brings me to 2021. Congratulations to Gareth Southgate and all of his squad for the completely different way they present themselves; and, now being a team that are showing they can compete with the best in the world. I, for one, hope they do win a major tournament soon (even if they do beat Wales in the semi-final to get there!).

And what has brought about this decades long change of mindset? A persistent minority of vocal vile English racists!

Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho… it took enormous courage to step up and do what you did on the night. Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings… congratulations for speaking out in the way you have. Particular kudos go to those of you who have shown up our despicable Government for their perpetual populist stance. You have changed my feelings towards the English team going forward.

And, a final congratulations to Italy… best team on the night and across the whole tournament.

Until we speak again, may all of the anonymous racist thugs just stay in the swamp where they belong… you will most likely find that Donald Trump is the plug preventing it from draining.

The Tastiest of Thistles

For most people a visit to Edinburgh is likely to stir up thoughts of The Royal Mile, Arthur’s Seat, Princes Street, castles, museums and palaces. Steep hills, stone steps and cobbled streets ooze history. Then there is the incessant din of those bag pipes as you stroll from one quintessential Scottish souvenir shop to the next (all selling the same range of stuff). But, enough of these time fillers, when it comes to the serious business how does Edinburgh stand up to satisfying your appetites? Savouring Auld Reekie comes with impressive surprises.

‘How do you like your eggs?’ is a very pertinent question of any culinary adventure, whatever time of the day it happens to be. But, what about your bee pollen, goji berries, pak choi and whisky sauce (but not all in the same meal)? Traditional Scottish fayre has certainly taken on an altogether more exotic flavour.

Starting the day needn’t be a boring tradition! At the Urban Angel in New Town, just around the corner from Thistle Street, the eggs might come baked with a tomato sauce accompanied by chorizo and black pudding. Just add an Acai Bowl of goji berries, bee pollen and coconut flakes, alongside your avocado on sourdough, with a freshly baked almond croissant. Just make sure you book a morning seat, because this place is deservedly popular.

So, you’ve loaded up on history and culture, or good old shopping. But, what you’re really focused on is the potential provenance of that next meal. What is it currently doing… quacking, mooing, baaing, or maybe gently gliding some slinky watery moves.

Cafe Marlayne on Thistle Street doesn’t go in for the over elaborate menu choices, but what it offers comes with a side of style. Swoon over a crispy fried egg and asparagus starter, complete with a grainy Freekah (whatever Freekah is).

Then, it’s time to offend Daffy’s sensibilities, with neatly presented duck breast, carrot and ginger puree, pak choi in sesame oil, spring onions and a hoisin glaze.

Fishers in the City, on Thistle Street (yes, there again) offers good old fashioned Scottish tradition with a modern twist. Scallops, salsify puree, and Stornoway black pudding was just begging to be eaten long before the ubiquitous photograph could be taken.

Then there was the national treasure… Loch Duart Salmon simply presented but delicately flavoured, served with new potatoes, green beans and a sauce vierge. It just called for a side of perfect chips, and Fishers duely obliged. This was my kind of Fish & Chips!

Before you start thinking Edinburgh only does British dishes, albeit in quite some style, Cafe Andaluz on George Street in New Town (parallel to Thistle Street) sets up a fine range of tapas. OK, so you need longer to read the menu than to eat the food, but each dish was presented in a way that says ‘we want you to plan your return… very soon!’. You’ll have to guess the range of dishes here, but somewhere in there lies a black pudding dish that deserves its own Michelin star.

So, what about traditional Scottish Haggis? Well, the Haggis & Whisky House on Cockburn Street in the Old Town (what, not Thistle Street in the New Town?) shows that even tradition can be tinkered with to great effect… Haggis, tatties and neeps in a whisky sauce showcases the dish in all its finery. OK, so chips aren’t the natural accompaniment, but when they’re this good, tradition can be left outside the door.

Until we speak again, all of the above delights, except the Haggis & Whisky House, were found within a 200metre walk within New Town. Why expend unnecessary energy searching for fabulous food. There is even a most fabulous coffee place on Thistle Street where the beans are often roasted while you wait, and believe me, the wait is worth it.

Social Intrusion

“You come any closer with that camera and you will need more than a pair of tweezers to remove it from where I’ll put it! What do you think this is… a fashion shoot?”

“Hey ladies, I’m sure we’re okay with these pillars being 2 metres apart… but watch out for the strange dude with a camera at 4 o’clock!”

“Back off sneaking up on folks like that. By the way… does my bum look too big in this?”

Until we speak again, Juno never did do sneaking up that well…

Lost & Found

In Wales, the impact of the pandemic is once again easing, as we find ourselves topping the world table for progressing the vaccine rollout. But, what did you miss during the long winter months of lockdown restrictions?

Apologies and sympathy to those of you having to downgrade from Heinz to Own Brand baked beans. Juno’s View is that quality always trumps quantity, so Heinz for a day or two less a week would be my heartless advice!

In pursuit of that quality, it is the idea of a favourite independent restaurant re-opening that kept stirring my imagination. And, one such establishment seems to have taken the opportunity for an internal refurbishment during the months of closure…

Getting in an early booking, before the arrival of most other desperate punters, provided an opportunity to see where some of the felled rainforest ended up! Though it does make for a relaxed space for fine dining.

This was always a place for a limited menu of high quality local produce. So, would a re-vamped menu trouble any prior expectations?

Not wishing to overload the meat feast… a starter of asparagus and poached egg, with avocado, cherry vine tomatoes and hollandaise sauce offered an instant reminder that I’m not at ‘chez Juno’s View‘ at this point. Here, presentation combines with a delicate assault on the taste buds. Not for me, the fleeting thought of eating out of the carton/bag or whether to use a cheap porcelain plate!

Then there is the whole reason for dreaming and wishing… that poor Daisy has been grazing the ranch for months with no chance to provide a pleasurable outcome for others… Yes, the Fillet Steak experience! OK, so I cooked a couple of good quality ones at home over Christmas. But this is what getting out of bed on a rainy Tuesday morning in May is all about…

Just add some buttered greens, triple cooked chips and pink peppercorn sauce, and the picture is complete…

Until we speak again… what, you thought I’d share more of my steak with you? I’m too busy sipping the accompanying smooth Argentinian Malbec. Enjoy your Own Brand whatevers.

5 past midnight

It’s Christmas Day in the lower part of St Mary Street in Cardiff. In the land of raucous bars and nightclubs it’s time to get the party started…

Until we speak again, welcome to the celebrations… 2020-style! Have a cool yule!

Nadolig Llawen 2020

It’s three days to Christmas, and all in Cardiff will be frantically hitting the high street in a last minute flurry of over-commercialised action. So, let’s venture forth with great trepidation, and take on the challenge of negotiating a path through the maddening hordes of shoppers. But hang on, what’s happened to The Hayes? Always a place to provide a sight of festive elegance, but now seems a little deserted…

Let’s try the Christmas Market… always a good place for a warming festive scene (when it’s not being dismantled early, that is!!)…

Maybe the pubs and clubs are doing a roaring trade as an alternative to the worries of what to buy… but then, I forgot, they have already been consigned to memories of a cultural history!

Perhaps everyone is gathering in front of the Castle for a special pre-Christmas event? Or, maybe not…

Okay, at least Queen Street as the main shopping thoroughfare can be depended upon for accommodating the masses… Wow, my kind of shopping!!

Until we speak again, it seems I can only wish you a Merry Covid! Perhaps in years to come we will all look back on this experience and say… WTF???

Second bite

Sometimes it takes a second visit in order to truly satisfy those expectations… wherever they may originally have come from. Take I Giardini di Sorrento for example…

Great reviews and a sight of a sumptuous swordfish main dish on the website, and I’m salivating at the prospect of my first visit. However, combine such raised expectations with a visit to a Cardiff based independent family-run Italian restaurant in the company of a fine food critic, who just happened to be returning from Venice 24 hours earlier, and the recipe for success could be quite a challenge!

Fortunately, a light and delicately fried calamari starter primes the taste buds nicely, and those potentially unachievable expectations begin to dissolve into the tender seafood chewiness, spiked with the sharpness of squeezed lemon…

Then comes the tinge of disappointment, as it seems the swordfish has gone awol off the menu tonight, taking a break to allow some poor sea bass to put in a shift! Thoughts turn to a Plan B, and though my choice of salmon pistachio penne was only slightly overly salty, for my guest the risotto principe was quite a few furlongs behind in the race with its Venice counterpart of a few nights earlier.

We leave sated, but with a sense of disappointment; the important lesson being one of tempering expectations before a first visit… just taste the moment. So many awards and great reviews can’t all be misplaced… cue a re-visit, and a chance to soak up the authenticity of a lunchtime capriciossa pizza

It might be Cardiff, but could we really be dining elsewhere?

And even a visit to the restroom involves an additional reminder we could be absorbing Mediterranean vibes…

Until we speak again, there is a question about whether our tastes on the night have anything to do with the overall quality of what is on offer. Should we allow particular expectations to determine our experience in the moment? Well, yes we should… but don’t let that block further adventures into culinary discovery.

Art of the night walker

Going down the docks after dark just doesn’t seem to hold the same threat as it used to!

An autumn blend of colourful speculation, cultural reflection and historic reminiscence can provide a soothing balm for the mental health.

Even some of the more bizarre architectural oddities can assume a new persona… Cardiff Noir anyone!?

Until we speak again, a gentle nighttime stroll may even occasionally illuminate some of life’s mystery’s… like whether pedestrians and cyclists will ever see eye-to-eye.

Strategic advice

Anybody seen anything resembling a strategy floating around? Particularly amidst the clear-as-mud-mess our Tory incompetents revel in serving up on a daily basis?

Our witless Government misinformation trumpets like to spout lies and nonsense to the gullible masses about how they are confidently in control.

But, take a closer look at the detail clouded by the confused messages…

Is that the truth of stark reality we can sense hoving into sight? Surely even those previously blind to the shenanigans of our ‘Liar-in-Chief‘ at Number 10 might benefit from some closer scrutiny of what is before them?!

Until we speak again, my strategic advice is to keep your eye on the prize!

Rude awakening

Leave me alone… I’m trying to make sense of this pandemic thing.

Perhaps gravity will come to my rescue!

Until we speak again, trust me… swanning about is the only way to cope with this restricted way of being!