Confused cat

A thought came to mind some time ago: ‘If you try to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything’. It came as I was sitting in the Seasons cafe/restaurant/bar/delivery joint in the Castle Arcade facing across to Cardiff Castle.

Strolling the arcades is always nothing less than a delight, and you will not be short of places to partake in a cats favourite pastime… okay, maybe eating comes a distant second to sleeping. I had often passed Seasons without really knowing what it was meant to be. But the sight of a full Welsh breakfast as I looked through the window on a particular lunchtime was a major draw.

So, what is so Welsh about it? The local references on the specials board try to give the game away…

Welsh specials board

The addition of the braised leeks helped…

Full Welsh Breakfast

But, perhaps it was the strange accoutrement that really gave the game away…

Strange teapot

The application of sheep to just about everything is probably meant to be a draw to any full-blooded Welsh cat. So, I guess, is the juxtaposition of breakfast with beers, wines and cocktails!?

Inside

So that is where the confusion really set in… is this place supposed to be a cafe, a bar, or what? We all know we can experience all four seasons in one day here in the UK, so why not experience all parts of the culinary/alcoholic day in one go?

Until we speak again, I recently realised that maybe I was not the only confused one… as, unlike this present winter, the Seasons has in fact gone!

Seasons gone!

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Requiem for peace

Since being dragged from the maelstrom of London life to the comparatively slower paced Cardiff, by the one who strangely believes themselves to own me, I have come to consider my home as a place of tranquility and peace by the sea. Little did I realise just how much the face of peace was dramatically changing. It seems to me that peace used to be achieved slowly by degrees; but now it is commanded by decrees! Cardiff Bay has played host to a gentle sign of peace since March 2012, when the World Harmony Peace Statue was unveiled, with particular recognition of Cardiff’s role as one of the first multicultural centres in the UK…

World Harmony Peace Statue [1]

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Listening in on the radio to daily news reports suggested to me a world out there, beyond Cardiff, that was altogether less calm… known to many as Newport! Then there has been the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), a symbol of post World War II peace, coming to places near me and radically shifting my picture of what peace looks like as the 21st century progresses (if progress is the right implication!). Who would have thought it… that a bunch of world leaders could come to Newport and Cardiff and create even more wind and hot air than the usual incumbents of Cardiff Bay down at the Senedd (Welsh Government building)?

So, what does peace look like in this contemporary world of ours? For a start, the World Harmony Peace Statue now appears to need protective fences and security personnel of its own…

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And just in case that isn’t enough, the Bay plays host to water-based hardware from around Europe, with the UK warship HMS Duncan and the French warship La Motte-Picquet, among many others, providing the neighbouring Dr Who Experience plenty of reasons to maintain a lower than usual profile…

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Those pesky shoppers in the city centre also seem to need a bit more control exerting over their more exuberant tendencies, completed off with some new high profile ‘retail flow management systems’, and something approaching a personally allocated police officer for every individual shopper…

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Stay out [2]

If you hold any concerns that peace and harmony might just be the type of ethereal concepts that can easily slip from your grasp… no such problem anymore. There is nothing like a few hundred yards of shiny metal for corralling peace and harmony into more easily manageable geography…

Stay out [1]

But even a brave cat like me wasn’t going to point a camera phone in the faces of these guys, brought in specially to smile and chat with the locals as they were going about the usual business of strolling around a city centre [With thanks to BBC News Online and Flickr Images]:

Armed police in CardiffArmed police    Then you can always instil a little peace into the grumbling locals with a colourful display of Red Arrows like hardware. Nothing like a pretty distraction for contemporary camera-phone society, giving the local residents something to bore the world of social media with for an attention span approaching a few seconds, until the next snippet of inane celebrity gossip hits the airwaves [thanks to Mike Griffiths on Twitter for the image]:

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Juno face

 

So, my prospective war-mongerers, until we speak again this is President Juno offering you the international feline salute of peace, and instructing you to be harmonious and peaceful.

Culinary adornment

Stay out [4]

So, that’s where the ancestors went wrong… a 25 foot high solid wall clearly wasn’t enough to keep the historic hordes of marauding cats out, particularly at banqueting time. Cardiff discovers that every good castle needs the unfathomable wisdom of an ugly Health & Safety intervention. Just add a 10 foot high steel fence, and you too can commune with your local population, delivering a message that something special is happening here, but you’re not invited!

Stay out [5]

Clearly somebody forgot to tell Batman… a fence and a high visibility cone threat will do nothing to deter a super hero with a skateboard. As for the subtle human addition to the high-vis security… just set your egg-timer to suss out the frequency of patrols by plods-on-wheels cycling the whole perimeter of the prolateriat-diner-exclusion-zone…

Stay out [6]

So, what is all the fuss about, you ask? NATO are holding a summit… somewhere else!!! Yes, the summit is in Newport, about 15 miles away. Maybe, my reader, you have been to Newport, in which case you know it doesn’t need anything added in order to be twinned with cold war Berlin, or the present day West Bank or Gazza Strip! Cardiff largely ignores its scruffier little neighbour, and instead casts its ambitions wider by adapting the model of the Green Line in Nicosia, Cyprus, with a contemporary version of their no-man’s land.

Stay out [3]

It seems that dining out just got very expensive for all the residents of Cardiff, even though they will not be invited to the table themselves. The grandest nosh on the planet takes place in the setting of Cardiff Castle, providing the main distraction for world leaders desperate to get together to say nothing of any significance about a whole load of very significant world issues. As an exclusive meal it takes some beating, with a leeked preview (is that the Welsh version of ‘leaked’?) of the indigenous menu of laver bread starter…

    … cawl main, and Welsh cakes for pudding…

 

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… all washed down with a pint of Brains finest SA.

4. Brains journey [1]

The unanswered conundrum is why a meal that lasts no more than a few hours requires a month of security measures? Until we speak again send you answers nailed to the forehead of a peaceful protester to a somewhat disillusioned Juno.

funny cats   [Thanks to http://www.sodahead.com as the source of this image, and gypsy-willow.com for the previous food images].

Animals and the city

My in-house DJ seems to be regularly blasting an album by Muse at me over recent months, and one track called Animals keeps attracting my reluctant attention. Whilst the actual track is a damnation of the bankers who have recently brought the world to its financial knees, I have had cause to link it more specifically to the mental state of the self-professed musicologist who seems to think it is ok to address more attention to their living soundtrack than the more obvious priority… me!

X-ray eyes

 

Whilst I consider myself to be somewhat superior to your average mammal, I see no particular reason to desert the inevitable challenges and travails of living in a predominantly human oriented urban environment. Why would I want to go scavenging and scrapping for territory and food, when I can just look cute and get it all brought to me on a plate (well in a pathetic bowl, if I am honest)?

So, you will understand my dismay to see all of this local evidence of my animal friends plotting their escape out of Cardiff. Firstly there is The Bear Shop, a Cardiff smokers institution since 1870…

Bear shop [3]

 

 

… yet only now does theBear shop [1] locally famous occupant decide to take a run at the window in an audacious attempt to experience the new largely smoke-controlled environment outside. He must have heard that a million beagles can’t be wrong (but you have to be above a certain age to understand that animal liberation tale).

   And as if dog emancipation wasn’t enough to tax my powers of compassion, I am then reliably informed that a couple of monkeys in the city centre are constructing some form of time-machine, with the aid of English saboteurs from Leeds, to facilitate their potential for escape:

Strange animals 2

 

What did Cardiff ever do to Leeds? Well, apart from claiming to trigger the massive plummeting of their football team from the brink of Premier League football glory in 2002 to third tier ignominy in 2007.

However, nothing could prepare me for the massive animal jail break out of Cardiff Castle. Perhaps it is just a local animal amateur dramatics society re-enactment of the Colditz escape. The William Burges design for the Third Marquis of Bute in 1880’s provides a popular sight for locals and tourists alike around part of the castle wall, but now it seems poor unsuspecting shoppers and tourists would be powerless to evade the ensuing stampede…

Meanwhile, down the Bay, perplexed sea-gulls circle in anguished patrols, determined that their preferred fish suppers remain on the menu, as news gets out that some of the aquatic types have sussed ways of escaping through the barrage:

Cardiff Bay sweep 7Barrage [1]

But, once again, if you are looking for success, even in the arena of escapology it seems we all have to look back to my previous home city of London. Rather mystifyingly, my ‘resident numpty‘ tells me there is terrifying evidence that a super-sized hamster has gone missing!

London Eye [7]  
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Personally, I think the only hamster that is really missing is the one that was supposed to be driving the wheel operating the brain of my surrogate scribe! Until we speak again this Juno may be contemplating her own escape, in search of a saner environment.