Look behind you!

The problem with a mega cream-based confection is that it might just trigger a stampede! But that’s when a solid brick wall comes in handy…

Until we speak again, next time you happen to be visiting Cardiffs Castle Arcade beware what you order in Coffee Barker!

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Chillout, dude

JunoMore sunshine please always had a pretty chilled out way of approaching every day, particularly when there was sunshine to soak up…

But she sure would have understood the latest instructions to come with your cuppa at Coffee Barker in Cardiff’s Castle Arcade:

Barker wall plaque

Until we speak again do as the good coffee people tell you!

Cats love coffee

Preening the whiskers and slinkingArrival in Cardiff around the city centre it became very clear to Juno that the great new industry of the 21st century has become drinking coffee. Whilst slurping it from a bowl would more likely have been her choice (and no, for the RSPCA affiliates out there I didn’t feed my cat on coffee!), it would appear that people are becoming more sophisticated and even somewhat nostalgic about how and where they take in their beans. A quick slurp of the hot and wet stuff is so 20th century Britain!

Connoisseurs of the art now have several locations around the city of Cardiff, with Brains Brewery even being the owners of a favourite independent chain of Coffee#1. Then, as you turn into the Castle Arcade you are rewarded not just with a light, airy and fascinating space, but also a great example of the new world of consuming coffee… welcome to Coffee Barker.

Castle Arcade 2

 

Castle Arcade 5

 

 

 

 

Coffee Barker [2]

 

 

 

Step back into a world of dimmed lighting, leather chairs and sofas of all shapes and sizes, and celebration of stripped back brickwork and wood. Chaotic displays of bric-a-brac only add to the ambience… unless you happen to be a stickler for the post-modern clear lines and surfaces favoured by the multinational chains, who largely want you to know you are in their place (anywhere in the world), not somewhere distinctly individual!

Coffee Barker [5]

 

Barker interior

 

 

 

 

 

This is a place for cool cats (Note: other cats are also welcome!) to hang out, chat, check out their digital world, or even do some old fashioned pastimes like reading physical copies of print!

Coffee Barker [1]

But, Juno would always have been more intrigued by the goods on offer, and she would have been interested in the early bird offers (for more than one reason)… get there before midday to sample one of the best doorstep bacon sandwiches of any vegetarians nightmare:

Barker bacon

The cappuccino is also made to be savoured in a state of relaxation. So, until we speak again Juno would always wish that your coffee beans are brewed with an artisan’s love.

 

Cool at One

How time fly’s when you spend most of the day either sleeping or licking your nether regions. There I was, deep in meditation…

Chillout cat

… when my ‘kidnapper of culinary dreams’ decided it was time for a literary celebration. It seems that a year has already passed since the resident ‘Nonsense-in-Chief’ decided I would become a star of the blogosphere. No, I haven’t got a clue what that means either. To my personal dismay I am told I have been a Cool Cat for precisely one year… this of course is complete tosh; being a lady I’m not giving away my age, but I assure you I have been a Cool Cat wherever I have been for the whole of my life!

As for this celebration thing… there are limits, and a point when a head down the loo or offering a simple view of a fury rump out of a nearby box have their merits. Or it is just time for the more sophisticated among us to get a grip…

Olive branchApart from you humans, the point at which a year arrives is as good as any to do a bit of reflective thinking. Whereas all you lot seem to have achieved at one year is the ability to scream and wail, and project nasty stuff in all directions from both ends!

So, what should you have learned about this Cardiff place from my first year of imparted wisdom? Firstly, they have a strange way of doing architecture. When the brief says “a sophisticated blend of the old and new” I’m not sure that this is what the commissioning people exactly had in mind:

Architectural wonders

But, when it comes to combining architecture with food, and if food really is your religion,  the locals can come up with interesting new ideas for accommodating the likes of multiple feeding bowls and litter trays:

Chapel [2]

As for those moments when you left your shopping list at home, and you are sure that a violin, a Dalek, and a good cup of coffee were prominent amongst the essentials of the day, then the Castle Arcade is the place of your dreams:

Castle Arcade 6

 

Many a fellow feline in London told me before I moved that they communicate differently in that Wales place, but I was still unprepared. For example, they take health and safety of children very seriously, to the point of being very clear of the dangers of tree-climbing:

No tree climbingAs an indigenous population many of these cats may not travel very far (or is that Americans I am thinking of?), but they like to keep busy. So, there is no shortage of signs telling you were to go… in the politest sense of the phrase of course (unless you happen to be more obviously English):

Places to go [1]

Before, during and after a busy day having been told where to go, you will be in need of refreshment. So, this is when in Cardiff you really have to use your Brains! However, refreshment is also where the true multi-cultural legacy of the capital city comes into its own:

4. Brains journey [1]

The local brew is often to be found in its most splendid clarity (with Chris at The City Arms offering me free beer for the publicity… Not!). But, beware of local historians, all too eager to share their rose-tinted time warp stories of when Brains SA was the real deal.

A pint in the City Arms

However, with all of the zeitgeisty nonsense about immigration going on around these ancient lands of Perfidious Albion, it is the demands of the time warp fraternity that are at the centre of allowing interesting brands of low cloud in from the regions of England. The original multicultural port of Cardiff, giving rise to the infamous Tiger Bay, is now succeeded by little more than multi-regional representation in the brews that local people are prepared to fall over from, as a result of joyous consumption.

Just don’t ask about the local football team… you are a season too late on that one. And as for the historic local rugby team… my coughing and spluttering has nothing to do with choking on a furball. Suffice to say, this is a city that wears its sporting failures with as much ‘anonymity’ as it can muster. They even provide convenient masks lying around in public places in order to avoid being easily identified as a supporter:

Fallen headSo, it has been one year of me filling your bowl with quality morsels, and tugging on your tail about the issues that matter in this adopted city of mine. As I preen my whiskers at the thought of 84 posts in the bag, my final thought before we speak again is “are you looking at me?”

You looking at me?

When Dr Who Called

It was only a matter of time before my laid back life in Cardiff would be interrupted by a call from the doctor.

Castle Arcade 10There were suspicious goings on in the Castle Arcade, as a Dalek was spotted trying to canvas support for their application to appear in an episode of The Simpsons

After all of the tense and challenging situations the doctor has experienced in combat with his greatest foe you would have thought this should be a simple matter to expedite. But then again, you would have thought after 50 years of trying, and several different drivers, that someone would be able to

Tardis

land the Tardis in the right place, instead of missing by a few hundred yards and getting stranded in the local castle without an admission ticket!

So a mayday call arrives through one of those strange Torchwood like portals of fire and brimstone that Cardiff has become renowned for (or not, depending on which dimension you live in)…

  Unfortunately Captain Jack and Gwen were off to some fancy dress shindig in Splott or Grangetown, or another exotic sounding part of Cardiff…

Wall mural [2]

X-ray eyes [2]

So, this was a job for a cool cat with intense concentration. A momentary stare from me and the Dalek’s resistance was futile… Exterminate!

 

    The End.

The key hole in the sky

 

While you have been oblivious to the perils of the world, I have been Juno. Now, if only I can find the key to the great mystery in the sky before I speak with you again…

 

The City of Arcades

If there is one defining thing about us dames… it is that we do like to shop! Back in the wilds of East London I had to make do with scraps from street markets, and the bins of corner shops and local stores. I am not complaining, at times I had the choice of delicacies from many different parts of the world. It often felt like the United Nations emerged from the diversity of those very streets; and that got me excited about the idea of being near to Tiger Bay… the original United Nations-by-sea. But, that is not to be; I am near it, but the Tiger Bay I heard other cats talking about has long since gone.

It seems my local corner shop is now a great big John Lewis store, a bit more upmarket than I have been used to, but something I can easily adjust to as long as my personal banker keeps the taps running.

John Lewis 1

But wait… it seems this Cardiff place has something else to interest us discerning shoppers. It seems like the Victorians in this part of the world had an idea for building shopping ‘arcades’, and from the Royal Arcade in 1858 to the Dominions Arcade in 1921 Cardiff has become famous as ‘the’ city of arcades. As I slink along the shop fronts it can get quite confusing with all these different arcades with their fancy shops, and some not so fancy shops. High this and Morgan that, the odd Castle, and even a Duke, not to say a Wyndham (whatever that is).

Castle Arcade 1

High St Arcade 2

Duke St Arcade 1Dominions Arcade 1

Morgan Arcade 1

Wyndham Arcade 1

Then I hear there was a Queen Street Arcade, a Dickens Arcade, an Andrews Arcade, and an Oxford Arcade… all gone. It is enough to make your head spin, but at least there is one great industry thriving in all of these arcades… coffee! How much coffee do you think there is in Brazil… well most of it seems to have found its way to Cardiff from what I see as I mooch along these mini glass-rooved shopping cathedrals.

After a smooth cappuccino in the Morgan Arcade I am looking like this:

A few macchiato’s in the Castle Arcade and the world is beginning to look at bit like this [go see loads of brilliant images by my friend Fat-Freddies-Cat at http://www.panoramio.com/user/5357514]:

castle arcade cardiff - balcony panorama

Then an espresso in the Royal Arcade and I’m shimmying across the glass roof looking something like this:

Thank heavens for the dimly lit recesses of The Old Arcade… the more familiar territory of the alley cat, with its stretch of beer-soaked, cigarette-butt littered cobbles leading me directly into the culinary palace that is… the Central Market.

I will have many more tales to tell about my sojourns around these arcades (and the market), but in the meantime if I have sparked your interest in this unique feature of my city I suggest you go to http://cardiffarcadesproject.com/ for loads of stuff and things about each of the arcades. See you again soon. Juno