Cats in a Bath

Oh no… that didn’t seem to work so well!

Ah, this is more like it… so a couple of cats went to Bath!

At times, the sheer volume of tourist visitors to this internationally recognised city of historic and cultural heritage can be overwhelming. So, pick your timing for a visit carefully. Instructive street signage combined with an unusual welcome from a top-hatted bird might just help set a favourable tone!

But I’m sure what you, and millions of others, came for was undoubtedly a glimpse of the Royal Crescent. Always good to spend a few moments dreaming of what is and what can never be, I guess!

But climbing that hill while taking in a large dose of culture and history will surely require some sustenance. Maybe a chance to stretch the finances to indulge those fantasies of wealth. Well, fear not, award winning nosh is close to hand, not to ignore the tempting wine selection hidden behind the restaurant name… Corkage comes with great prior reviews, so let’s give it a look…

Amongst a wide range of liquid temptations, an enticing invitation from Puglia takes centre stage. With a little nudge from the wine waiter the more expensive vintage is ordered, in a nod to the opulent surroundings of this whole trip.

But the question is what to have with it? Maybe ‘spiced sweet potatoes with pickled red onion, lime and sumac yoghurt’ sounds a mystifying enough temptation. Then again, ‘frogs legs pan fried with grilled baby gem, lemon breadcrumbs and satay sauce’ would at least demonstrate the British openness to all things European, in the ongoing shambles of Brexitland. Then again, ‘colley fillet with wild rice, pan choi, tarragon hollandaise and chilli oil’ keeps swimming into vision. But the wine choice is red, so perhaps that ‘lamb rump with smoked mashed potato, roast parsnip and coffee jus’ is what’s really standing up to be counted here. But, wait a minute, ‘rabbit ragu with tagliatelle and mustard’ also comes hopping into view.

Decisions, decisions… with a further range of other tempting options putting up their hands for attention across a small but extraordinary menu. Then it comes to you… there is that most wondrous of phrases in the English language… ‘All of the above‘! And just then, you’re helpfully reminded that this restaurant does a small plates approach to dining. Not to be confused with tapas, no, not that small. Something that perfectly solves the ‘all of the above’ dilemma…

Such perfectly proportioned finery may even permit space to encourage surprise and more than a little admiration from a certain US based dessert aficionado. Why not bring on the burnt Basque cheesecake with mulled wine plums, garçon! After all, I’ve given in to more of these dessert temptations during this spring season than I have across the previous decade. However, I don’t think anything more than the world’s smallest spoonful of that chocolate affair, even with its rhubarb ganache, miso cream and crispy caramel, will pass these lips though.

Such a fine and delicate dining experience demands a post-meal walk; which is beautifully accommodated by this place of history and intrigue…

A comfortable place to rest is the next item on the itinerary, preferably with a seductive location for breakfast. Got that covered as well, as long as you’re not spooked by a strange equine companion closely observing you…

Until we speak again, perhaps there is a near perfect cappuccino to be found more easily than a recent US quest! Step forward Cortado, near Pulteney Bridge… and chill (return and repeat)!

Five cats in a bath

There seems to be a strongly held belief that cats and liquids don’t go so well together. As I contemplated the wide world beyond my window a story came to mind that might just debunk such a myth. This is a tale of a rag-tag assortment of five Welsh and English cats who went on a trip to Bath. Clearly such an event would be infused with architectural and cultural highlights, as Bath is after all a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But, there was an ulterior motive driving this particular excursion, which may become more clear as the journey unfolds.
Who could possibly fail to be bowled over by the stunningly protected architectural heritage of the uniformly maintained Bath stone exteriors, including the eponymous Roman Baths. Palladian architecture purposefully integrated into urban spaces that create a unique historical urban aesthetic…

However, enough of the architectural appreciation; this was a day for testing whether cats and liquids mix! Cue the first experimental site aka The Old Green Tree:

With Welsh cats taking up the Pitchfork challenge, and English cats taking up the cider challenge, the first test was passed without incident.
For many people arriving in Bath for the first or subsequent times, a great draw is the 1499 Bath Abbey, built on the site of an 8th century church…

But, enough of the quasi-religious observation, what these cats were more intent on, was finding further evidence that liquids provide no fear to those who are determined. At 1482 the oldest building in Bath seemed to have been occupied by a Sally Lunn in 1680, but these cats had no time for stories of buns in the oven…

They had other challenges ringing in their ears, as the toll of The Bell would provide the next stopping off point in this epic trek…

Not to tax the sloshing of the brain cells too much, Welsh cats had a simple choice partly indicated by the name of the hostelry… a pint of Bellringer would provide the next source of water-based challenges. Meanwhile, our intrepid English cats were determined that apple was to be the continued source of experimentation. Be very clear, this is no Cupertino California fruit-influenced technological exploration; we are talking good old fashioned West Country apples.

Every herd needs a leader, or so they say. In this case it was Fat-Freddies Cat who chose to avail the herd of an extensive range of Bath-based water-inspired experience. Never knowingly a cat to be seen in a circus, but when the occasion demands the cat responds, and the ring-master was suddenly to be seen striding to the centre of a… circus!

When in Bath time needs to be devoted to the source of great Georgian attraction. Who would be a resident in the constant gaze of cats from all four corners of the planet? Though on close examination it would seem many residents are absent owners.

However, enough of the neo-classical appreciation society; these cats had business at hand, and the next challenge as darkness draws in, was to find a guiding light…

Best not waste a Star when it offers illumination on the challenge at hand. No shortage of Bellringer in this hostelry, but yours truly veered off in the direction of Buttcombe Bitter; perhaps mistakenly side-tracked by a name reminiscent of the pastime so much enjoyed by cats dedicated to cleaning the nether regions! As for our English cats, well, they were determinedly committed to inspection of the apple.
The attraction of cats to water was further inspired by a minor detour to a viewing platform above the Avon weir…

… a sight that suddenly inspired a thought-bubble for Gogledd Cat understandably struck by the Magic of Bath!

But enough of the mythical and mystical distractions, this ‘not so famous’ five had some staggering on to do, as the water-based consumption combined with the challenging terrain were beginning to take their toll.

Enough of the standing, where are the seats, demanded an English cat’s representative? If a cat was seen to be flagging, be sure Bath had ways of swooping down on you… cue the next port of call, The Raven would surely keep our intrepid warrior cats lively and awake. Plenty of golden and also darker coloured waters to sample here, and the Exmoor Gold was a tasty addition to the accumulating reservoir.

As the water-borne experiment kept flowing on, could we be sure our aquatic interlopers even noticed the passage of time? Religious illumination abounds in Bath when the natural light of day fades away. But this was no time for kittens, as the weight of aqualine intake rises so it’s time for lions… cue the arrival at the final lotion provider of the day, Coeur de Lion:

No shortage of Bellringer in this city, but the quantity is beginning to tell, and our intrepids need to find a way to shore before they run the risk of drowning. In this place of religious artefact and instruction there was surely one final message to be heeded. It seems that previous aquatically challenged cats found a strange way to exit the scene… when the head begins to feel fuzzy perhaps the only way is up!

Until we speak again I’m going to be Bella, a student more of cultural and architectural interests, and temporarily less of aquatic culture. The verdict from a trip to Bath is that cats and water-based refreshment are a fabulous mix… try it some time.

Introducing Fat Freddies Cat

This week I want to introduce you to a true polymath, a cat of infinite talents… the Leonardo da Vinci of Grangetown…

Whether it is beer or photography, travelling or just knowledge of the all-night sounds of downtown radio ‘FM San Francisco’, Fat Freddies Cat is the go-to guy. His knowledge expands across many fields, from the iconic Ninian Park in Cardiff (now only a lifetime of memories) to the Estadio do Maracana in Rio, via the greener parts of Scunthorpe and Walsall. Santiago and Kilimanjaro are no strangers to this world traveller; very much at home at any event in Cardiff; an occasional drifter into Fagins Ale & Chop House in Taffs Well; but never cooler than when he is purring through the old streets of Bath. If you don’t know Bath you just haven’t lived, in this cat’s eyes.

Nothing and nowhere in the animal kingdom or pub environment is a stranger to his inquisitive eye:

Just take a picture of this…           is that a fisheye lens? asked the bull  as many of God’s creatures collide in a cat’s eye perspective of a cow through a fish-eye.

max boyces £1 each  Always an eye for a bargain, with Max Boyce’s apparently available for £1 each.

And when the famous or infamous disrobe, reapers day off   beware, for Fat Freddies Cat just might be there to catch anyone on a day off… even the Grim Reaper (sans cloak and scythe)!

But never is this cat happier than combining interests, such as the unique ongoing series of ‘A pint in…’

The City Arms, Cardiff…       a pint in the city arms II

a pint in the packet  The Packet, Cardiff.

The Couer de Lion, Bath:           a pint in the couer de lion

a pint in the green tree   The Green Tree, Bath.

And when a watering hole is not the priority, you can always rely on this supreme opportunist to be on hand when the special moment happens; such as the relatively unknown ‘Welsh incident’ where an inexplicable giant cake-icer transformed Flatholme island…

from the delightful to the delicious:         welsh incident

And then there is Bath… did I mention Bath?

Any time of day or night, lamplight  any angle or perspective… and most of the city centre pubs… fall prey to this inquisitor.


evening falls on bath

Nowadays our friend the cat focuses his prying eye on people, and a curious bunch they can be (cat’s eye view of people)… check out the ever-growing gallery and you will find a merry band of folk celebrating all kinds of life on the streets of Cardiff… oh, and did I mention Bath? Click on and open the following links for Lindsey the tightrope walking violinist 9695091724; Cardiff LGBT Mardi Gras 2013 9638382836; Ninjah 9431888430; and Jah Scouse 9485654736. And if you’re talking beer and pubs you can’t help but entertain a cameo slot from my old friend Sean… still at home in his world: 9370359347.

So… did I mention Bath? If I didn’t just call in on The City Arms, and look for a cat on a stool at the bar, the one with a fish-eye to hand. Talk to him nicely and Fat Freddies Cat will organise special tours, even with the occasional reference to the history and architecture of the old roman city… between the pubs that is! Little do the tourist information folk in Bath realise, but there is a thriving franchise frequently to be seen boarding the buses and trains out of Grangetown, armed with a camera and more enthusiasm than Julius Caesar himself. As for me, I’ve been Juno, and all I got was a trip to Newport! See you again soon.