Don’t mess with Valleys Girls!

So, there I was, a bedraggled and tired travelling cat arriving home from a fabulous trip to the USA. When all of a sudden I am metaphorically arrested by a sight that would send so many Americans into rapturous delight…

Police woman with gun

Why, in American culture there are those who believe in the right that this is what every city street should look like. As for me, in my addled brain, all I could muster as a fleeting thought was an old mantra for self-respecting city cats, Don’t mess with Valleys Girls!”

So, what was going on here? I like the implied message, but couldn’t see how it was meant to be a homecoming for me…

Welcome banner

However, the image did bring to mind the old saying: “lift up any pony tail, and what you’ll find beneath is a horses ass!”, Best be careful who you aim that description at; after all, “Don’t mess with Valleys Girls!”

In the meantime, it seems like all roads home are blocked off…

Tyndall Street

Lloyd George Avenue

Could it be preparations for the stilettoed hordes descending on the city for a long weekend of perma-tanned indiscretion? If so, then the advancing mob above are surely unwittingly walking into a psychodrama beyond their wildest imaginations. After all, “Don’t mess with Valleys Girls!”

It seems that the ‘lionesses of liquor’ have already set up a roll-call of their preferred end of night play-things, with the castle walls providing a historic backdrop for contemporary fantasies. If you don’t want to end up strung up on the battlements, “Don’t mess with Valleys Girls!”

Castle

As it turns out, there was a simple explanation for all this metropolitan malarkey… it was the small matter of the biggest sporting event on the planet this year happening just around the corner from home. As much as I have fantasised about Cardiff City FC going to the Champions League Final, it could be a long wait; so the Champions League Final had come to Cardiff City! For the victors, the spoils, and the opportunity to kiss ‘old big ears’ (affectionate name for the trophy, not one of the belles of bedlam).

Modric jubilant

Until we speak again, all I can advise Luca Modric in the image above, is kiss the metal by all means fella, but “Don’t mess with Valleys Girls!”

What could possibly happen?

So 2016 has gone, and you are no doubt left wondering what on earth happened there? It was a year when some of the great seats of power were reduced to simply spinning the wheel…

city-hall-and-big-wheel

Across the world the light touch paper was ignited, as populist decisions set off fireworks under the seats of the so-called western democracies…

fireworks-2fireworks-3

And, with all of the celebrity departures leaving so many sobbing into their record and film collections, there was always the great reassurance that shopping never dies…

royal-arcademorgan-arcade

So, what will 2017 bring? Who knows, just try asking Bella and see what reaction you get… ready-to-eatUntil we speak again, Cardiff sends you the very best of wishes in whatever happens across the next 12 months!

Feline felicitations

Juno and Bella were always partial to an event where tasty morsels would appear in abundance. So I’m sure they would be more than happy for those of you who are cat lovers to use the season of joy and giving as a time for sharing some of the plump bird with furry friends (even a dog or two if you have to!).

As a mark of the occasion, Cardiff presents its decorative side with a message of good will to all who stumble across this site. It seems we are home to some lost and confused reindeer…

castle

We even have some alien visitors who are more than likely lost in their search for intelligent life (particularly in the city centre during party season)…

duke-street

If you’re looking for a wooden shed as a gift to the man in your life, we have a surplus of the things left on the doorstep of the old library…

old-library

And if it’s rain you’re looking for, we are the UK capital of the wet stuff…

st-mary-street

Until we speak again, Juno and Bella will forever do their impression of an old Smith & Jones sketch (older UK readers may get that reference)…

cats-banner

 

Messing about on boats

“The owl and the pussy cat went to sea…” someone once said. But, whoever saw a cat taking a liking to water? This recent Bank Holiday weekend saw Cardiff Bay hosting an event that would cause most feline’s to high tail it straight to their favourite hiding place. Yet many cats of an adventurous disposition, into action and speed, were preening their whiskers in the balmy weekend weather. It seems like Cardiff City Council may even have got a grant from the Welsh Assembly Government to paint the water blue specially for the event!

Starting line [1]

Racing boat[2]

The architecturally challenged St David’s Hotel (this being about the best angle to wonder at it) has found a new function, as a starting line for the race.

Starting line [2]

The Grand Prix of the Seas comes to Cardiff Bay as part of its international tour, but does anyone know which way we are supposed to be going?

Racing boat [3]

If you don’t quite make it into the competition final, you can always pretend to assume some degree of speedster superiority by racing a pleasure boat…

Racing boat [8]

But look where you’re going, because those bouncy castles are just like shopping trolleys, they can suddenly appear anywhere…

Racing boat [9]

Phew, just missed it…

Racing boat [10]

If the thrill of semi-enclosed speed doesn’t float your boat, why not try standing on something resembling a high-tech plank of wood?

They're off [1]

Race turn [4]

Then again, if your preference is more of a sedentary dispensation, you don’t get to avoid a challenge… a nation awaits you!

Challenge Wales boat

Or, perhaps if it’s just the promenading that works for you, the terra firma of Mermaid Quay offers cool cats a modern day boardwalk…

Mermaid Quay [3]

Until we speak again, enjoy your water, however you take it.

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]