R.I.P. David Bowie Cat!

Farewell

It’s time for me to wish you my fond farewells, and send you the love for the last time. My recent trip to the dreaded vet, when my ‘in-house physician’ identified a lump on my rear right leg, was masking something I knew to be all the more sinister. It turns out that I have become a walking bag of tumours. No treatment could be offered, so it is with much gratitude that I say my all-too-shortlived home has been a comfortable place to continue feeding the dreaded Scary Monsters.

Here I am resting just before my final one-way trip to the vet. So, as you read this I have already journeyed to a new experience of Sound and Vision. But, as with David Bowie, I have the opportunity to offer you some of my reflections.

Juno was clearly the Blackstar, but as for this Lazarus, well I Can’t Give Everything Away. As for The Next Day, everything Changes in a Hunky Dory kind of way.

“What on earth am I going on about?” you ask. Well I’m no Ziggy but if any Spiders From Mars pass this way, I’ll be licking my lips and Loving the Alien. My apprentice Starman was perplexed the other week when I ate a sizeable spider crossing the carpet. Here I am supremely vigilant, always ready for more…

Where is that spider?

So, Where Are We Now? I’m off to A Better Future, as my Fame wanes. Little Wonder as I face the prospect of Ashes to Ashes, because the Fashion for John, I’m Only Dancing is finally Under Pressure.

Don’t be Low or experience Sorrow, but please don’t start Dancing in the Street, after all This Is Not America. I have left the Absolute Beginners with instructions and reflections to keep bringing you Modern Love through this blog. I have enjoyed my seven months talking with you, my Heroes, and I’m sure there will be another font of wisdom in the future to guide my resident Space Oddity.

Ready to eat

“Time to point that camera somewhere else!”

Bella (13/7/2009 ~ 8/4/2016).

 

Nadolig Llawen

It’s the time of year when Cardiff has to look deep inside itself… to find three wise men. But, if its wisdom you’re in search of just look up (no great discoveries emerged from looking on the floor all day, except unsolicited gifts from the rear end of dogs that is). Star Wars might be the ‘in thing’ at the cinema, but who would have thought that Cardiff will find a unique way of reminding you!

No 3 wise men!

It has become all the rage in recent years for German Christmas Markets. At least it provides something to do with all of those surplus sheds since the downturn in the economy; or is it a sign that the modern re-constructed man spends more time in the kitchen and in front of the bathroom mirror, and less time in the shed? The monotonous selection of wood winds its way around many parts of The Hayes, but try to find anything of use in any of them?

Festive Quarter [2]

 

The presence of a windmill does little to celebrate the German origin of the whole tradition…

Festive Quarter [1]

But fear not, when hunger bites the German sausage can be relied on to come to the rescue (or is this a convenient location to offload your badly behaved children?)…

Festive Quarter [3]Having dumped the minor irritants in the vicinity of a sausage making machine it’s time to catch up on some of that much-needed liquid refreshment. Why not try the Moose Head Bierkeller? Provided you can navigate the Canada and Germany cultural collision you might be surprised to find a full range of non-Canadian and non-German fayre. The ubiquitous Welsh flag and Union Jack are on hand to resolve any geographical cognitive dissonance at this point!

Festive Quater [4]So all that’s left to do is stagger home by the light of the understated seasonal illuminations…

The Hayes [1]

St Mary Street

Xmas is about?Which just leaves this home-based Bella time to reflect on the true meaning of this time of year. Is it something to do with the fairy tales that emerge from the dark tower at the heart of the pious city? Or should I just practice my look of utter surprise as Santa comes down the non-existent chimney?

X-ray eyes

 

 

 

 

Until we speak again have a merry christmas, or Nadolig Llawen as a few of the locals around here are occasionally heard to say.

Balls of bewilderment

Relaxed rugbyI’ve been hearing a lot about some Rugby World Cup just starting, and it seems to be invading my home city in very strange ways. It seems to me to be a weird game in more ways than one. Firstly there is that ball, it rolls where it wants to… hang on here, I’m the one in charge, I decide what goes where in this place.

I saw some of a match on the ‘couch potato’s’ TV last night, and from what I could see it was just a bunch of men jumping and diving all over the place, and throwing each other on the floor in a frenetic way. So I’ve decided to adopt a more relaxed approach to the game.

Meanwhile, after an early morning’s flick and a snooze I thought I would check out what is going on around Cardiff city centre on this first of eight Millennium Stadium match days. The in-house ‘domestic grump’ keeps going on about plastic glasses, whatever that’s supposed to mean. Apparently, this so-called gentleman’s game watched by supporters who mingle and banter in friendly style still invoke city centre pubs to adopt plastic glasses for beer all day on match days.

Anyway, the quality of the beer wasn’t uppermost in my mind as I strolled around town.

Try Inn [3]

Sanity was of greater imperative as I turned into Duke Street… it seems even the iconic Cardiff Castle is not immune to World Cup fever…

Castle rugby ball [1]

As the world arrives on the shores of the United Kingdom for these matches over the next 6 weeks I anticipated strange things would be happening involving balls, but a sight on Queen Street even had me somewhat dumbfounded…

People,balancing act

Until we speak again I am going to be bewildered Bella, but may all of your balls be baffle free.

Anatomy of a beach

BatmanJuno was often known to occupy her strategic position while she pondered the meaning of life in her adopted home of Cardiff. As summertime struggles to make itself known the reflection currently coming to mind is that ‘life is a beach‘, or so they say (I think that needs to be deciphered in some sort of southern European accent for the meaning to be realised!).

Opening day [2]

But a beach is surely a design of nature… or is it? Not for the first time, strange things are happening in the city of Cardiff! Beware men at work, particularly as the kids school holidays are arriving imminently:

Beach 2015 [2]Beach 2015 [3]

 

 

 

 

 

The phenomenon of the ‘pop-up shop’ or ‘pop-up street food gig’ now seems to have crossed the divide from the artificial world of commerce to the natural world.

Nature may have taken thousands of years to erode rock formations in order to create beaches along our shorelines, but in the commercial world what’s a week between glances at the balance sheet?

Beach 20 07 2015 [2]

As the bones of the beast begin to take shape it is time to add a little flesh…

23-7-15 [2]

Then as the sun rises on an opening day, no sooner can you utter the most fashionable of terms in the commercial lexicon… transformation… while adding that most crucial of money generating ingredients… people; hey presto, you have a playground for cats both local and from far away…Opening day [5]

Does the lapping of the shore against the beach make a noise if nobody is there to hear it? Who knows, or even cares! Where there is fun to be had, with the occasional tug on the purse strings, there will always be the sounds of the beach to be heard at strategic times of the year in the face of the old dockland.Opening day [6]

23-7-15 [3]

 

 

Transformation in action:

<<<<Before & After>>>>

 

 

 

 

23-7-15 [1]

 

Transformation in action:

<<<<Before

Opening day [4]

 

 

 

After>>>>

 

Until we speak again I’m sure Juno would wish that all of your beaches be bathed in sun and filled with smiles.

Opening day [1]

The power of food

Juno was an enlightened cat, but among all of the things she knew, the attraction of food was up there. So it was to be with the 2015 International Food Festival ‘down the bay’, as Cardiff once again plays cultural host to the wider world (who really cares about Ashes cricket a mile up the road?!).

What a difference a day makes in the world of eating, as the following pictures attempt to illustrate:

Before…

Food festival prep [1]

 

 

 

During…

Food festrival [1]

 

 

 

 

Before…

Food festival prep [2]

 

 

 

 

 

During…

Food festival [3]

 

 

 

 

Before…

Food festival prep [3]

 

 

 

 

 

During…

Food festival [2]

 

 

 

 

The imagination was truly exercised through mouth-watering choices. The range of Welsh home produce was fully complimented by some English regional fare covering all kinds of cheese, pies, and ice-creams from predominantly south-west border locations. But the real essence of the whole event was provided by a much wider range of exotic cuisines, from ‘Persia‘ and Turkey, the Caribbean to India, with stunning contributions from the Iberian peninsula, Italy and Greece to represent the European Mediterranean countries.

For our personal delectation, this Wales-Trinidad delegation settled for a pig & goat combination to satisfy the taste buds… nothing like a goat curry with rice & salad to set up the prospect of a long walk around the bay. This was shared with a Jerk Pork & Dumplings  combination. The home nations were not to be denied our patronage, as a completely unexpected take on the traditional sausage roll was to leave me never looking at this snack in quite the same way again! The thinnest of delicate pastry was to surround the thickest of tasty pork sausage and chilli, with an additional choice of pork and mushroom. These might have cost about double the standard sausage roll, but they say you get what you pay for… and more in this instance.

The packed crowd were continually entertained by a succession of musicians…

Food festival [4]

… but for us the heavy weight of the fabulous food, combined with the fire-breathing quality of the tiniest sip of the world’s strongest chilli vodka, required the little matter of a 5-mile stroll around the whole of Cardiff Bay, with a brief interruption provided by white-water rafting (but more of that in a later post)!

Until we speak again may your culinary encounters be sumptuous and exotic.

Stumbling into Chinatown

Anything that involved water orArmadillo pose sport tended to induce the same reaction from Juno…

If you combined them both together you could even induce the audible sound of cat-snoring!

Bute East Dock [2]

 

But much to my surprise, just the other day, not only did both coalesce into the strangest of mixes for a Cardiff location, but they also constituted a welcome disturbance to the usual becalmed nature of the local Bute East Dock. Dragon Boat racing had surreptitiously arrived:

Dragon boats [1]

Bute East Dock warningIt would appear that the longstanding welcome provided at the dockside… that of imminent and painful death if you so much as breathed within a mile cordon of the inviting waters, can now be ignored. Is this a strange triumph for the laws of ‘Health & Safety‘, as historic industrial waterway gives up its toxic defence?

Or, perhaps it is just a UKIP ploy to con overseas visitors into plying their favourite pastimes while unwittingly reducing their numbers through leisure-based poisoning agents!

Either way, my usually quiet stroll past The Wharf (site of Brains Brewery’s sad but gradual neglect) was happily interrupted by more than the usual quota of waterside fun-lovers, thrill-seekers, and barbecue-chompers:

Dragon boats [3]

I was half expecting to hear ‘Hawaii-Five-O‘ theme music to blast out across the dock as the contestants took to the new addition of clean water in the city…

Dragon boats [4]

But I was quickly alerted by the comparative lack of muscle-bound athletes that I had indeed stumbled into a quaint Chinese custom being appropriated by a few Saturday afternoon fun-seekers, not a new cultural takeover of Wales as China’s preparation for world-dominance…

Dragon boats [5]

Nonetheless, this would still be a sight of fierce Welsh competitive spirit. The organisers of the annual University Boat Race had better be prepared to move over, there is clearly a new kid on the block…

Dragon boats [6]

Dragon boats [10]

 

 

With another race over, the victors make their way towards a well-earned pint of Brains SA, and the losers will have to make do with the consolation of a warm pint of flat Euro-fizz (or two pints of Brains SA in the view of Fat-Freddies Cat!).

Until we speak again may all of your toxic algae provide you as much pleasure as that which we nurture ‘down the docks’!

Reality cinema

Juno always agreed with my stance on reality TV, that it is a far more enjoyable and informative pastime to sit and read the paper instead…

Newspaper

However, being an indoor cat she never got to experience the joy of cinema. Perhaps just as well, as on a recent foray around the old haunts of Cardiff, I became painfully aware of the impact of the recent trend for the multiplex. It is heart-warming to hear of year-on-year increases in cinema attendances, the video/DVD/Blu-ray predictions of the death of cinema are clearly premature. However, this is not the full story, and nostalgics and history lovers have some causes for concern.

Cinema, as some of us old gits originally knew it, has certainly suffered in recent years. The ‘joy’ of cinema is hardly exemplified in the outward projection of the ‘Gaiety Cinema‘ on City Road in Roath

Cinematic experiences

Having first seen ‘Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines‘ here as my first evening visit to a cinema back in 1966, I was saddened when the old place succumbed to a subsequent wave of cinema > bingo transformations. Clearly, the continuing appeal to a youthful demographic by converting the place to a venue for bowling, music and a bar seems to have secured its future!

Then, as I walked along Pearl Street in Splott, or Adamstown (that’s a geographical debate yet to be had), I was reminded of the dangerous outcomes of what you might put up on the big screen. ‘Splott Cinema‘ may have seen better days…

Splott cinema

… but with all the explosive action movies that have been the rage in recent years, it is my guess that ‘The Towering Inferno‘ was a film too far for this grand old local community cinema…

Splott Cinema after fire

As Juno used to often say to me, until we speak again “I’m watching you!”

You talking to me?