Messing about in boats

News reports of Bank Holiday traffic chaos are simply music to my ears. No, I really don’t care. There are too many cars clogging up and polluting our planet, with most car drivers firmly of the belief that they own the road and have exclusive rights to travel and park wherever they want whenever they want. Audacity reigns as a response to the merest slight against their pre-eminence.

Combust all thee engines; and may your occupants become gasket-challenged! I personally have my own advantage in this scramble for serene holiday bliss. A whole 15 minutes of walking brings me to a place of tranquility…

2017 [2]

As the Cardiff leg of the International Extreme Sailing Championship takes place right on my doorstep on the August Bank Holiday…

2017 [1]

2017 [3]

So, for those of you recovering from the experience of boiling over with the raging curses of the tarmac, here is a peaceful few minutes to contemplate the rush of the breeze, the chop of the water, and an elegance of movement…

Until we speak again, chill out people!

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Who needs Glastonbury?

If it’s July then it must be time for Cardiff Bay to host the International Food Festival. That’s the one where cuisine from all over… well Cardiff, masquerades as being representative of the four corners of the globe (who said the world is round?). And, while I am asking the fundamental questions of life, why go continental when you can have Welsh crepes?

Food Festival 2017 crowd [2]

But then again, it’s all about folks coming together and having fun, not serious authenticity…

Food Feestival 2017 crowd [1]

The music line up is to be marvelled at… here you will find a whole lot of musical concoctions you’ve never heard of… and quite probably will never hear of again!

Food Festival 2017 music

And, though Martin Scorsese is known for his music documentary films, such as ‘The Last Waltz’ (The Band) and ‘Shine a Light’ (The Rolling Stones)… move over man, it’s time for some revolutionary music filming techniques. Check out 40 seconds of ‘Bae Caerdydd‘… a sideways glance at a fusion of African, Irish and Caribbean flavours!

But it’s really all about the food. And, until we speak again, this cat is going to be immersed in a black pudding scotch egg (courtesy of the Handmade Scotch Egg Company) with cheese to blow your socks off (courtesy of Blacks Cheeses). What’s not to love about cheese with combinations like Irish Whiskey & Stem Ginger, or Caramelised Onion & Rioja, or Jalepeno & Lime, finishing off with some Sticky Toffee cheese?

Blacks Cheeses

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]

 

 

A Brexit Apology

Where is that spider?Bella would no doubt have been looking on with bewilderment at the events of recent days.

Cats are most frequently known for a peaceful nature and openness to form trusting relationships with very different people. They are also known for an occasional sense of indifference to others, wholly wrapped up in the importance of their own world. Here in the UK the 48% of the former were insufficient to counter the will of the 52% of the latter. It would seem that a reflective look back at a sea-faring history has caused some to believe they can conquer the world through an ability to reclaim trading nation status, despite having little or no sea-faring and trading capability left. Welcome to the 19th century, but without the Empire status!

Once there were busy trading ports; but this is the 21st century, and European partners (soon to be ex-partners) share a sense of beauty where once there was busy commerce. The schisms in British society got me thinking more about similarities with European neighbours, and the portside beauty of Dubrovnik and Cardiff is as good an example as any of the importance of sharing. The Old Port of Dubrovnik provides a tranquil setting in which to reflect on a recent message highlighted through the tragic murder of Jo Cox (MP for Batley and Spen) that ‘we have more in common that what divides us’, a thought that has become even more meaningful within the newfound chaos that our nation wants to embrace…

Old Port [1]

But, if you don’t have the cash (in our newly plummeting market economy) or time to visit Dubrovnik, then Cardiff Bay can compete in the tranquility stakes…

Cardiff Bay sweep 6

Each has its own special atmosphere at night:

Old Port at night [2]

Busy day down the docks

Both are outward looking locations extending welcoming arms to travellers from far and wide:

Sea view [2]

Cardiff Bay view

So, as the sun sets on an era, and we embark on the challenge of a roller-coaster that will ultimately only benefit the ruling classes, I am sure if Juno and Bella were still with us they would be apologising to European friends for an outcome of a unnecessary referendum born out of right wing political panicking.

Old Port at night [3]

And a welcome will always be open from Cardiff (even if the majority in Wales wish to become the rump of a right wing England); as some of us search desperately for a place to pray:

Norwegian Church

Until we speak again, enjoy the chaos and keep the welcome genuine and open.