Antidote in Blue

Many animals need to hibernate in winter, though I personally enjoy the rare sight of snow in these parts. However, for some people I have to accept that long winter months of cold and gloom tend to trigger the blues. So, it got me reminiscing about previous visits to the Greek island of Hydra.

Here, for those feeling deprived of the vitality accompanying sunny summer days, is a prelude of things looming just beyond the horizon…

Hydra sky

 

White & Blue

Bell Tower

Mira Mare @ Mandraki Bay

Until we speak again, hold on to your dreams, and soak up the blue.

Advertisements

Slam and Dunk

Deep in the Northern Hemisphere winter is a time when the egg-chasing sports enthusiasts get their moment in the limelight; when the Six Nations Rugby Championship takes centre stage; where some of the people of Wales connect with a strange kind of religious fervour.

This year it all kicked off with the biennial ‘Men in Skirts‘ weekend, as Scotland arrive in Cardiff. A brief moment when men can be true to their inner selves, and at least one shopping-laden woman can turn a blind eye…

1. a) Scary scrum

Scotland were in the rarified position of being tipped by many as favourites to win in Cardiff, only to be blown away 34-7 by the native dragon of Wales

1. b) City Road dragon [2]

Next up, it was the turn for Wales to be on the road, with the fixture that inspires thoughts of a clash with old enemies rather than a celebration amongst rivals. What would the marauders across the Severn Bridge take to the hosts of England, tipped to be champions before the tournament started? Well, with dragon-hearts in mouths for most of the last 60 minutes, it wasn’t to be, as St George stumbles to a 12-6 win, and the guest fire-starters prove at the final whistle to be a little more inert in portraying their true heritage…

2. Inert firestarters

Staying on the road, next up is the always welcome trip to Ireland, where the lotion joyously flows, and the red army have frequently found travelling success. As added-on time arrives Wales are only 3 points behind and in possession with the potential of a match-winning try; and then that wayward pass…… Ireland clinically strike for a 37-27 victory, as Welsh heads are bowed…

3. Fallen head [4]

With two oh-so close matches away, Wales return home determined not to let an unpredictable season slip on the banana skin that Italy may lay down at the Millennium Stadium (no Principality Building Society product placement accepted here!). A frenetic first half is followed by a procession to a 38-14 home win…

Banana skin

Which only leaves the simple matter of a victory in the final home match with France to secure a creditable second place in the Championship. If only… Wales don’t do ‘simple’! After most of the match watched through parted fingers, mouth agape, from behind the sofa, the final whistle brings that rarest of outcomes… Rabbits 14 Headlights 13…

5. Desperately holding on

Until we speak again, you may ask “but what about the other matches?” to which the carefully tutored Juno and Bella would answer “so what!” Another Six Nations comes to an end, with congratulations to Ireland for the Grand Slam of 5 wins in 5 games, and even greater congratulations to England for their Number 5… the Dunk of finishing 5th out of 6!

4. Pride restored

And the Oscar goes to…

Cardiff, for the Shape of Water! Starring:

  1. Roath Park Lake

Roath park lake [3]

2. The River Taff

Millenium Stadium 3

3. The Dock Feeder Canals

Roxby by water

4. The Bute East Dock

Bute East Dock [2]

5. Cardiff Bay

Penarth Head

6. The Mud Flats out into the channel…

Flatholme and Steepholme [3]

Until we speak again, if asked, a non-plused Bella would probably say the shape of water is rather ‘fluid’!

Water [2]

 

 

 

Brexit made simple

First there was a hard Brexit

Seagull on binstore

But where exactly has that one gone?

Cat at start

Then there was a soft Brexit

Squirrell [3]

Which is proving to be just as elusive…

cat at corner

So, just when everything appears to be going arse over tit…

Swans face down

… look for Juno or Bella when you need an answer?

Looking to Juno

Plotting an escape

Until we speak again, Juno reckons it will  be a hard fought draw, going to penalties… which the Germans always win!

Doing nothing wrong!

Perhaps the only good thing about a prolonged bout of illness is the opportunity to catch up on some of those TV programmes you meant to watch. Well, one of the more striking ones has been the BBC series ‘House of Saud‘. How reassuringly revolting it is to see so many mega-wealthy individuals, when confronted with the merest whiff of their own corruption, quickly resorting to the time honoured mantra of all fat cats… ” I didn’t do anything wrong!”

fat-cat

Then take the current Carillion scandal… whereby so many employees and other small businesses face extinction, or at least the loss of their pension rights and other financial hardships. But rest assured, the directors are safe in the knowledge that they could continue to receive eye-watering salaries and bonuses extended beyond the period of their natural incompetence; safe in the knowledge that they feel they “didn’t do anything wrong!”

o-CASH-CAT-facebook

Which only serves to remind me of so many politicians back in the recent financial scandals of duck moats, and paid-for penthouses in central London, who to a man (and it usually is men) were always quick to reassure us they “didn’t do anything wrong!”

Piles of money

So, until we speak again, I intend to get all hypocritical about my lack of interest in new year’s resolutions. For 2018 I unashamedly declare an ambition to “do nothing wrong!” (possibly for all the wrong reasons, if you ‘kerching’ what I mean). With hope and a fair wind my next post will be coming to you from a Caribbean tax haven.

Hidden in plain sight

Ever wondered “What is in there?” as you glance up at shuttered windows; or you see most lights are on, but one room seems to be bathed in the mystery of darkness.

It would hardly be a thought worth thinking as you gaze over at a city centre Burger King joint, as late night revellers are acoustically invading your alcohol-infused imagination…

Outside at night

But, thanks to a recent ‘Hidden Cardiff‘ TV documentary, by the adventurer/writer Will Millard, the secrets of the 300 year old Green Dragon pub are briefly revealed. The building now largely occupied by a Burger King hides the only remnant of a bygone past… The Mahogany Room.

Inside [1]

Apparently, this ornate delight is obscured from public gaze for health & safety reasons (personally I think that could be more to do with the other current occupier!).

Inside [2]

Here is where the alcohol-infused imaginations of Cardiff’s former great and good discussed the pressing civic matters of the day, and made the decisions that would shape the growth of the would-be capital city of Wales.

Inside [3]

Alas, the premise of the ‘Hidden Cardiff‘ TV programme was that the city, unlike many of its English and Scottish counterparts, has not been very good at valuing its past history and architecture. It prefers to give an outward impression of the new and shiny, either destroying or hiding many of its gems. And The Mahogany Room is a classic example of such a cultural crime…

Inside [4]

Until we speak again, if your gaze is halted by closed shutters or images of darkness surrounded by pools of light, Juno and Bella would have reminded you to summon up your alcohol-infused imaginations!

Cool cats in Cardiff

Was that the ghost of Juno I saw looming over the Cardiff skyline the other day?

St Johns Church [3]

It’s funny how a distorted photograph can spark strange connections in the imagination. So, no, it turns out it was one of those rare ‘old’ buildings in the city. A recent TV programme called ‘Hidden Cardiff‘ set out the premise that the city cares little for its past, with the exception of Cardiff Castle and St. John’s Church. And the Juno vision turned out to be St. John’s Church

Night [1]

The original church was thought to have been built in 1180. But there is a certain irony in the above photograph, as it was ransacked by a rebellion led by Owain Glyndwr in 1404, and rebuilt later in the 15th century in the form it now takes… looking down on the Owain Glyndwr pub (as any ‘good’ beer lover would!).

It also seems to be a particularly ideal location for a somewhat pastoral ignoring of any fireworks across the pond in celebration of the American Declaration of Independence!

Old Cardiff pic [2]

Talking of distorted photographs and strange connections in the imagination… my New Orleans sojourns of 2017 have heightened my sensibilities to the presence of cool cats; and I recently noticed an example of the genre providing a different type of congregation at the site of St. John’s Church

Jazz band and St John's [1]

Until we speak again, listen out for Bass Twelve if you happen to be around Cardiff; or, if not, simply enjoy imaginary meanderings of your own!