Where am I?

Sofa perch

Having just informed you, my readers, about my home grown credentials, I realise it’s early days in my new home. But, between you and me, I think the odd job I see walking around this place is trying to confuse me. Take the photographs on the wall, this doesn’t look like the Cardiff I know and love…

Twin Towers pics

 

What’s more, there seems to be some kind of artistic thing going on around the place with further worship of things New York!

My drawings [1]

My drawings [4]

Cardiff, Cardiff… so good they named it twice; well that’s my mantra, and I’m sticking to it. Though I might just share some of my worldly reflections in later posts. For now, I need to recalibrate my bearings, so lets go out for a stroll around this cauldron of Welsh culture. Anyone for a taxi? Hang on, what’s this, a pink Cadillac! Whatever happened to the good old Morris Oxford?

Pink Cadillac [2]

All of this confusion just serves to remind me I need to sharpen my claws. Ah, that arm rest will do, and perhaps a moment of madness with the conveniently placed pink fluffy dice…

Pink Cadillac [4]

The stress of all this geographical dislocation has generated quite an appetite; perhaps something indigenous and rustic is what’s called for. Oh no, not the American takeover vibe again…

Eddies Diner

Even the sweet stuff has been appropriated by the land of the buck…

More Americana

Roller coaster blue sky

 

Where has my Cardiff gone? Until we speak again my world has been turned completely upside down… anyone got an atlas?

[Football explained, or not!] B is for…

Beautiful cats, as Juno prepares to hand on the baton of blogging to Beligerent Bella, who will be unveiled soon as the new voice of Juno’s View!

B is for BLUSTER, an atmosphere created where unfavourable meteorological conditions meet with the untamed expectations of fans. With minutes to go before the kick-off the heavens open, but is it a good omen, or not so good?

City v Wolves [1]

It is also for Boondoggle, finding trivial, time-wasting pastimes when a bunch of guys have nothing better to do than rue missing past opportunities to get involved in the weird and wonderful world of rugby scrums…

City v Wolves [2]

But ultimately B was for BENEFICENCE, as two gifts from somewhere enabled the home crowd to dabble in a little BOMBAST before departing the ground for anything resembling a BANQUET to celebrate the first win of the season…

I thought we were celebrating!!

I thought we were celebrating!!

Until we speak again… Cardiff City 2 Wolves 0 means home and away Played 4 Won 1 Drawn 3… may all of your beatifications be those of a benign bodhisattva, or words to that effect!

Worship in the Bay

Sunshine at 14 2Juno was a cat who knew what contemporary worship was all about… following the movement of any warm rays that shone into her home. Cardiff is not internationally known for its high sunshine quotient, so this act of worship required a depth of spirit and a persistence from deep down in the soul.

So this got me  reflecting on the current state of worship in my native city. With the sounds of a slightly out of tune bell-ringing practice resounding from St. Mary’s Church on Bute Street, I thought about the spiritual foundation of this once thriving maritime city being located somewhere ‘down the docks’. So perhaps the newly minted Cardiff Bay would be the place to investigate the changing face of contemporary worship. Traditionally worship has needed a place, usually in the form of a church…

Norwegian Church [2]

 

The Norwegian Church was originally built to meet the spiritual needs of Scandinavian seamen during their stay in the port of Cardiff. But a cursory knowledge of the area (aka being an old git) immediately indicates it is not located today where it was originally erected. True, its water-side setting on the Bute West Dock was seriously disrupted when the dock was firstly closed, secondly filled in, and finally built over with residences and a dual carriageway! So relocation would surely be for reasons of accommodating the recognised ley lines of the spiritually inclined. Well, perhaps not, as that would be forgetting that a new source of 21st century worship is… um… coffee!

Norwegian Church [3]

With coffee challenging for the mantle of a dominant religion, I wondered what might offer any competition. Look no further than 100 yards from the altar of the bean… Is it sharp? Is it groovy? Well, yes to both of those; but is it a home of worship? Katradius is an imposing marbled neighbour to the Senedd, home of Welsh government.

Sharp & groovy [1]

 

Sharp & groovy [2]

 

 

 

 

And it conveniently represents everything that contemporary politicians seem to worship… mammon. Such outward projections of ostentatious élan are hardly within the purview of your modern day happy clappy’s! For here lies the home of corporate finance, nonchalant in its lack of connection with everyone else who passes it by; pointedly projecting to the watery horizon beyond the enclosed bay upon which it sits (and no doubt slurps from the secretive and exclusive pond for the already bloated and bounteous).

World Harmony Peace Statue [1]Perhaps there is a spiritual sign, at the mid-point between coffee and dosh, as I stroll bayside in deep contemplation of what became of the historic fire and brimstone tradition of Welsh methodism. No, it was not the new location of spiritual leadership and guidance, cunningly placed next to a car park. It is the World Peace Statue, with no less a message of deep calling for the secular masses who pass it by often oblivious to its presence.

Was I really having these deeply philosophical reflections? Or, in reality, was I just imbued with Juno’s other main source of worshipful activity… contemplating the next meal! Strange that, because a cursory glance across Mermaid Quay illuminates the other modern day focus of our worship…

Mermaid Quay

Until we speak again may your worshipful exertions bring you whatever nourishment floats your boat!

[Football explained, or not!] A is for…

Armadillo poseJuno was never one to let any form of exertion, even spectating, interrupt a more important priority. This was the usual pose as the ‘resident masochist’ waxed lyrical about nothing of much importance… football.

But, what is this UK version of the widely recognised sporting name really about? For any readers thinking of switching off at this stage, stay with me for a few moments. My promise to you is an A-Z of the game like you wouldn’t imagine, all brought to you courtesy of a life sentence as a Cardiff City fan! So, in this game what does ‘A’ stand for?

A is for AQUATIC, something that any self-respecting cat would be scampering away from. But in irrational footballing terms, a little water at the start of the season can only help grow those completely unrealistic expectations that every fan harbours for their team just as the new dawn emerges…

Watering pitch

A is also for ALCHEMY, as the home team line up with flattering intentions of transforming the ordinary into something extraordinary by the kind of chemistry never previously seen in these parts… so the intelligent cat would surely be asking why would it suddenly work now?

City v Fulham

A is for ANATHEMA, as the away side take the lead through a wicked curse of a deflection that outwits the home team goalkeeper. Amazing how it takes all of 47 minutes for the expectations of home fans to drain at the prospect of defeat at the start of the season.

Negative mindset

But A is also for APOCRYPHAL, as less than 30 minutes later the home team equalise to send their fans into the unlikely claim of being the greatest team in football the world has ever seen!

Until we speak again Juno would surely wish that you maintain a sense of emotional balance… unlike most football fans. Cardiff City 1 Fulham 1.

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!?

What’s wrong with the old?

You talking to me?Juno never did seem to mind sharing her living space with what she would occasional refer to as an ‘old git’ (as long as she was fed to order, and everyone present fully respected her generosity in sharing HER home). But then her sprightly demeanour belied a substantial number of cat’s years (but beware never to ask a lady her age!).

She was also a secretly avid inquirer into the state of contemporary architecture and the ebbing and flowing trends between conservation and speculation. She always seemed content with her move from the Victorian terraced splendour of London to the relative modernity of docklands regeneration in Cardiff. But, she would occasionally suggest to me, as the cooler of cats have a tendency to do, that the race to build empty new offices to the detriment of the existing architectural gems was a tad out of balance (though I’m not entirely sure that ‘tad’ was one of her preferred turns of phrase).

“Where is your evidence for such assertions?” I would remonstrate. To which she would less than politely retort “Try walking around the place with your eyes open, specky!” She had a point… about the architecture that is, not about me! Just take a look at what’s up in the so-called Capital Quarter these days…

New offices

Right next to the newest largely empty office building is the erection of, you guessed it, another soon to be largely empty office building; with a crane out of view to the left starting on the foundations for… drum roll… another largely to be empty office building! Better than the previous derelict land, some might say; but the best productive use of such land? Guess who got to decide on that conundrum, the landowners & property developers or the creative locally knowledgeable minds of the indigenous folk?

What the world really needs now is more of the blandly cold looking accumulations of glass and steel that will be completely out of bounds to the vast majority of people living in the local area. Meanwhile, a mile down the road, we get to see the stranger side of the coin, as buildings that could surely outlast the current soulless edifices under construction receive treatment of a very different variety…

IMAG1298

While even more grand old edifices remain in a derelict condition, instead of receiving the attention that would restore their iconic visage…

IMAG1326

We seem to have developed an aesthetic ability to allow perfectly functioning historic buildings of architectural interest to rot to a point where more clamour mounts to have them bull-dozed. Then seemingly replaced by something altogether shiny but more flimsy and of a lesser potential lifespan. Juno would occasionally imply that these old buildings, even in their run down state of deliberate neglect, are far more visually interesting than the newer upstarts (or at least that is how I chose to interpret her meow responses when I was talking about architecture to her!). But then I would expect nothing less from a beautiful cat!

Until we speak again examine your own reflections on the possibilities of restoring the majesty of what we already have, before we rush to over-populate the built environment with a myriad of bland lookalike boxes (or don’t… however the mood takes you).

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]