Stumbling into Chinatown

Anything that involved water orArmadillo pose sport tended to induce the same reaction from Juno…

If you combined them both together you could even induce the audible sound of cat-snoring!

Bute East Dock [2]

 

But much to my surprise, just the other day, not only did both coalesce into the strangest of mixes for a Cardiff location, but they also constituted a welcome disturbance to the usual becalmed nature of the local Bute East Dock. Dragon Boat racing had surreptitiously arrived:

Dragon boats [1]

Bute East Dock warningIt would appear that the longstanding welcome provided at the dockside… that of imminent and painful death if you so much as breathed within a mile cordon of the inviting waters, can now be ignored. Is this a strange triumph for the laws of ‘Health & Safety‘, as historic industrial waterway gives up its toxic defence?

Or, perhaps it is just a UKIP ploy to con overseas visitors into plying their favourite pastimes while unwittingly reducing their numbers through leisure-based poisoning agents!

Either way, my usually quiet stroll past The Wharf (site of Brains Brewery’s sad but gradual neglect) was happily interrupted by more than the usual quota of waterside fun-lovers, thrill-seekers, and barbecue-chompers:

Dragon boats [3]

I was half expecting to hear ‘Hawaii-Five-O‘ theme music to blast out across the dock as the contestants took to the new addition of clean water in the city…

Dragon boats [4]

But I was quickly alerted by the comparative lack of muscle-bound athletes that I had indeed stumbled into a quaint Chinese custom being appropriated by a few Saturday afternoon fun-seekers, not a new cultural takeover of Wales as China’s preparation for world-dominance…

Dragon boats [5]

Nonetheless, this would still be a sight of fierce Welsh competitive spirit. The organisers of the annual University Boat Race had better be prepared to move over, there is clearly a new kid on the block…

Dragon boats [6]

Dragon boats [10]

 

 

With another race over, the victors make their way towards a well-earned pint of Brains SA, and the losers will have to make do with the consolation of a warm pint of flat Euro-fizz (or two pints of Brains SA in the view of Fat-Freddies Cat!).

Until we speak again may all of your toxic algae provide you as much pleasure as that which we nurture ‘down the docks’!

The hard yards

There seems to be no hiding placeYoda eyes down [1] in international rugby, but Juno was clear that the strange rituals of putting heads between a team-mates thighs in order to push a group of guys a mere foot or two backwards was something definitely worth switching off to. As for the idea of kicking the ball 50 yards into the sky and 10 yards forward, just so you can run full speed into an opponent always seemed to her to be a strange premise for a sport. But, whatever the quirks, Wales v Ireland is going to be a game of intrigue and celtic passions. A true sporting battle is on, with high stakes… for Ireland a victory means the chance of a Grand Slam is still on. Victory for Wales leaves them still with a slim chance of winning the Championship. And all of this happening at the beginning of a World Cup year!

So where will the battle be fought? In the first instance, Ireland have an unassailable advantage:

Brains-BlackRugby ball

 

 

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The young pretender from the Cardiff brewery presents well, but what is going to compete with one of the world’s most renowned liquid refreshments? Step outside of South Wales and who has even heard of Brains Black?

Then there is the matter of the scrums, and the arena of myth and legend suggests that the Irish might again be too strong:

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leps

 

 

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So when it comes to the real hard yards, where the big guns aim to charge through the defensive lines of the opposition, both sides are well equipped with their examples of the hard stuff, but arguably Welsh anthracite reality may triumph in this phase of the game over Irish mythology:

Coal [1]ii-kissing-the-blarney-stone

 

 

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‘Emblematic’ is an often overused phrase in so many walks of life, and none more than sport. So, in such an emblematic game, where emblematic heroes will have emblematic moments, with the potential to provide us all with a truly emblematic result of emblematic proportions… it is important that we look at the emblems each country are able to call on in order to underscore their emblematic expectations.. It seems obvious to me that in a game of rock, paper, scissors the leek will most likely crush the four-leaf clover:

l_dfour-leaf-clover

 

 

 

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So, my intrigued reader, you are left no clearer about how this match is going to play itself out. With an array of plants and vegetables, rocks and stones, and liquid dark stuff to line the sensibilities before, during and after the event… fill the arena, bring on the gladiators, take possession of cultural and religious metaphors of your own choice. Then, at the final whistle just add a joyous and decorous home support…

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This has been Juno’s View of rugby, but until we speak again to find out what she thought of the current Cricket World Cup you will need to go somewhere lower on the excitement scale than baking cupcakes or creative crochet patterns.

[With thanks to http://www.2beerguild.co.uk, http://www.interest.com, http://www.sassycats.com, http://www.irishindeed.com, http://www.data-wales.co.uk, http://www.themissfitchronicles.com and http://www.universityobserver.ie for posting the images used to illustrate this post].

A saintly celebration

People around these parts always celebrate the 1st March… it’s St. David’s Day for all proud Welsh folk. So as I was ambling around the neighbourhood I wondered what local tradition might a cat take up in order to join in the celebrations. They are helpful people, they even signpost the way…

Its Brains you want

I decided I would follow a so-called cerebral journey to see what Brains is all about locally. As good a starting point as any would be the brewery, conveniently located in the centre of the city, with a backdrop of the Millenium Stadium…

2. Brains Brewery [2]

… and even adorning the national rugby shirt.  

You get a wide range of views on the product from the local beer aficionados, ranging from it’s one of the best beers around, to it used to be one of the best before the brewery lost their mojo, to “is it called brains or drains?” My ‘personal taster‘ tells me that the capital city of Wales needs a clearly defined brand of beer crafted to the highest standards… meanwhile I drift off into another snooze.

Getting back to the task at hand, I am led to believe that breweries require loads of water, so this one seems nicely positioned on the bank of the River Taff (so that’s where the locals get their nickname from!).

3. Brains Brewery [3]Ignoring what some say, that there is little difference between what you see in the river and what you taste in the pub, I decide a cat needs to visit the iconic City Arms pub (the landlord Chris scripted that bit!!) in the centre of the city to check out the quality…

City Arms [1]With my old friend ‘Fat Freddies Cat‘ already filling the tank with anything but Brains, I was suitably impressed by the visual elegance of this local brew…

4. Brains journey [1]

5. Brains journey [2]

 

And it seemed to slip down very easily…

My investigations identified that strangely beer is not something you buy, in reality it is a product you rent; and pubs even come with their own built-in recycling plants for keeping the rental process turning over…

6. Brains journey [3]

 

 

 

Being a cat of impeccable values, my next question was one of the importance of recycling and what happens when several pints of this local nectar have been consumed? 7. Brains journey [4]

Look away now if you are a lager drinker! My best guess is that the in-house recycling plant produces a keg style by-product. What doesn’t return into the Taff for the short journey back to the brewery seems to retain the straw-like colour of the previous waste products, emerging as it does through several taps on the bar serving up brands of what is more characteristically known as European style juice.

My journey was nearly over, but a final surprise awaited. It seems that these emporia of the country’s good working folk also cater for the tastes of the modern day fat cats, with a specific beer crafted for the bankers of the world…

8. Beer for fat cats

 

I hope you enjoy your saintly celebrations, wherever you are; but until we speak again I will be a staggering Juno, as  wind my way back on a journey to my usual water bowl.