So, you think Venice has water…

You talking to me?Juno didn’t care that much for Birmingham. But then again, many people from outside of Birmingham don’t either… and a friend of 40 years hails from Birmingham, and says they will never set foot in the place again.

So when I reminded her of the phrase that only someone from Birmingham could endlessly repeat… ‘Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice‘, Juno’s response was a steely glare that inferred if it’s water you’re looking for try Cardiff! True, the meteorological statistics of the last 30 years make it the wettest city in the UK, but that’s not what she was implying. You can’t stroll very far in Cardiff before you are challenged to circumnavigate some body of water or another. And that steely glare did little to hide the fact that any self respecting cat does not take a fancy to water!

Juno was an indoor cat, and a stroll around the city offers some possible reasons why she was so contented in this demeanour. No less than 50 yards outside of the building and the proud fur is already under threat of aquatic disturbance…

Roxby by water

Being a site of docklands redevelopment it comes as no surprise that certain expanses of the ‘two parts hydrogen one part oxygen’ prove too much of a challenge for the municipal predilection for paving things over and constructing multi-storey car parks. The grand old Bute East Dock still stands in the heart of the city awaiting some constructive utility, as it’s levels of toxicity now drop to permissible levels for some juvenile ignoramus or another to consider jumping in. Note to Planners: it could be a perfectly good parking space… for things that prefer to float!

Bute East Dock [2]

Meanwhile, only a quarter of a mile away lies another man-made threat to the curious nature of the cat. Cardiff Bay is frequently host to water-bourne ‘events’, even though it offers many a moment for tranquil reflection. As the original gateway to what had been 5 busy docks, the construction of the barrage now renders it a more peaceful lagoon attracting both the water-obsessed thrill seeker and the pleasure boat tourist.

Cardiff Bay view

I guess it should feel quite natural to expect a former industrial dockland to display remnants of its aquatic history, but venture inland into the heartbeat of the city and you will find that there is much more to the Cardiffians’ need to produce man-made antidotes to the incessant drizzle tap-tapping on any hard surface you happen to be in close proximity to. This scene deep in Roath might even appeal to the salmon in you, as you are drawn in your quest to battle upstream…

Roath lake exit [1]

Then, suddenly the horizon gives way to yet another large body of the wet stuff, as you gaze across Roath Park Lake

Roath  park lake [3]

Roath park lake [12]This acreage of liquid comes with a Juno seal of approval, otherwise know as a Michelin Star for gastronomic interest (though I think the numbers would have made it no contest!).

So next time you’re in the fine city of Cardiff, and you need something to remind you that all that’s wet is not rain, you will not have to travel far with your umbrella and wellies. And all of this without a single mention of the River Taff… oops!

Until we speak again I’m forever in pursuit of something a little more dry… Sauvignon Blanc anybody!?

Blues brothers

Cardiff City (the Bluebirds) 2 Birmingham City (the Blues) 0


Until we speak again it is important toChillout cat remember that Bill Shankly once claimed football was more important than matters of life and death, but Juno’s view on football hyperbole was to respect it primarily for its sedative qualities… what can’t be said about football under 10 words wasn’t worth listening to!!!

Where did the sunshine go?

My ‘irrational optimist‘ is expressing a load of expletives, something to do with a ‘villa’. It has me very confused, because when I think of a villa I get the following images:

White & BlueHydra port




… sharply contrasting blue sky and white buildings.






Yachts slowly drifting into port…

Sunset Restaurant






… a meal overlooking the sea.

Hydra sunset 2





Boats disappearing into the sunset…


But it seems that the ‘Villa‘ in question today is something to do with the less salubrious Aston area of the city of Birmingham! Not even a reference to Alabama… it’s got more to do with Brummies arriving in town! Though how they will be getting here is anyone’s guess… it’s February, so they should be battling the snow. Instead, half the country is under water; so to get from England’s second city (as far away from the sea as you can get) to Wales first city (right by the sea) is going to require a boat!

   Stormy weather and the prospects of a stormy match; as the locals are quietly panicking about their ability to ride the crest of the Premier League wave beyond this first season. As for Aston Villa, they may be viewing mid-table safety as being within their grasp, but defeat today and it could be deja vu as laughing boy doesn’t spend much time out of the managerial sack-race spotlight.

It’s 7.45pm on a cold and wet Tuesday night in February… so welcome to the grim, the battered and the ugly! The first half sees the home team viewing this villa as something they could occupy and take control of, but not quite doing enough to make a clear purchase. Little signs emerge of the background storms invading this particular patch of real estate. Half-time dawns and it remains a becalmed 0-0.

City v Aston Villa

As the second half begins many of the home fans are slow to get back to their seats, possibly not entirely convinced that the necessary storm surge is going to engulf their opponents. Fears turn to reality as the half progresses, and it is the turn of Villa-folk to eye up an opportunity to gazump any home team offer to take the match. Finally, and not for the first time this season, it is up to Cardiff’s main line of flood defence, their goal keeper David Marshall, to pull out one of the saves of the season to preserve one point for his team.

So, with prior expectations of both teams desperately needing three points for the win, a stormy battle was on the cards… but in football, Estate Agent type levels of exaggeration are made but rarely reflected in the bleak reality. As for the final score, it ends up as a becalming Basement Flat 0 Under-whelming Villa 0.

Until we speak again the forecast suggests I am going to be batten-down-the-hatches Juno!

[A few pictures in this post were gratefully borrowed from sources on google images to illustrate points being made].

Great place for a litter tray

Cardiff Beach 1

Ok, before the health and safety ayatollahs get onto me, I am not really going to use the sand of the new artificial beach down at Cardiff Bay as a litter tray (at least not during the day!). But it did come as surprise to me as I was strutting around the bay to suddenly be confronted by a mix of sand, water, funfair rides and the usual trappings of a bona fide beach where there used to be an open space in front of the Millenium Centre. It seems Cardiff is not the first, as European cities as well as London, Liverpool, Nottingham and Birmingham have already stumbled upon similar ideas… though I never thought of a day by the beach when I was in East or South-East London.

Well, I suppose if the United Arab Emirates can build cities in the desert, then why shouldn’t Cardiff bring sand to the city? If I was being ungenerous, I might suggest a sand-pit has been placed next to a paddling pool. But judging from the crowds, and other good reviews, this seems like a great idea that should become an annual event:

Cardiff Beach 5Cardiff Beach 6Get those handkerchiefs knotted at the four corners, get the trouser legs rolled up, there is a deck chair with your name on it if you beat the crowds… well it isn’t quite St.Tropez yet. We even have another British summer quirk to set the right scene… a ‘scorchio’ of a July with temperatures into the 30’s bode well for a summer at the beach, but no sooner does the attraction open on 27th July (until 1st September) and we get clouds, lower temperatures and showers! Still, pack your shades and brollies, beachwear and plastic macs; its time to do what the Brits do best, and stoically hope that your few hours on the sand will be the few that get the sun.

Cardiff Beach 8

It doesn’t seem to have dampened too many spirits so far… and as I was strolling under the boardwalk I reflected back on days spent up the pool, to times spent on the dunes, and like a stranger on the shore there was nothing quite like being on the beach. I have been Juno your bayside DJ, see you again soon.