They do things very strange…

Juno was always very clear… “The beach is a place for dogs, don’t bother me with all of that sand and sea stuff.” And I have to agree, I’ve seen plenty of dogs being walked on or near beaches (don’t forget those pooper scoopers dog owners!), but a cat on a lead flouncing across the dunes is something that belongs only in the strange recesses of the imagination.

On a recent visit to the infamous Barry Island in South Wales (for anyone who has seen the UK TV programme Gavin & Stacey) I was reminded of a lyric by one of my favourite bands of all time… Steely Dan“Over there in Barrytown they do things very strange”. So, maybe a cat on a lead, blah-blah-blah…

Following on from the unseasonal wintery start to this June a couple of days ago, it was good to experience Barry Island’s ability to create a mysterious draw of that sea and sand. It has the ability to entice all living creatures (except feline’s it would appear):

Barry [8]

But the sea here is not for the faint-hearted; my memory of childhood visits was of a hike to get to it, and that still seems to be the case. Juno would certainly not have been the slightest bit inquisitive about something so wet that was also a distance away. It seems that people only travel to it in packs these days!

Barry [4]

However, for students of classical architecture, you might think that Barry Island has the doric column vibe going, in order to stimulate those with an interest in culture:

Barry [1]

But close up… you begin to see the cultural vibe is more of the ‘they do things very strange’ (or even ‘Gavin & Stacey’, who are serially referenced in this arcade):

Barry [6]

It is safe to say that many things at Barry Island have not changed since those long forgotten days of my childhood. A fading but familiar sign might have been the subject to prick up Juno’s ears, something to do with food. John’s is still going:

John's cafe [1]

Though a few spare penny’s wereJohn's cafe [2] lavished on the entrance…

… not too many are required for daily specials:

John's cafe [4]

 

 

 

 

 

 

But for a true stroll down the seaside memory lane, and to prove to the Juno’s of the world that in Barry ‘they [just might] do things very strange’, just gaze at the internal decor:

John's cafe [3]

So until we speak again, enjoy your memory lanes, and feel free to go ahead and do something very strange! Why not let me know about it with a comment on this blog post?

Defining disaster

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Its the predilection for sniffing each others arses that reminded Juno that rugby was more a sport of dogs than the superior refinement of the cat. Yet setting aside the strange sexual proclivities of the public school playing fields of England, dressed up as men playing sport, it occasionally provides moments of ‘event’ proportions… and the Wales v England fixture is up there amongst the world’s great rivalries.

IMAG1515The stage is Cardiff, lauded by the locals and many fans around the world as a historic rugby fortress.

It is an hour before the kick-off, and no place for any weary shepherd and virgin combinations, as room in the inn has become impossible to find…

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But the Millennium Stadium is poised ready to greet warriors of both tribes as they converge on the battlefield…

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The tension gets ramped up even further as the full-strength gladiators of Wales enter the arena preparing to slay the under-strength superior numbers of England…

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10 minutes into the match, and everything is going to the home fans favoured script as Wales take a comfortable 10-0 lead. All Welsh minds are reflecting on the demolition of their opponents in this very stadium a mere two years ago. However, England’s patchwork quilt of a team manage to fashion a try of their own to stem the red tide. A few other points from respective boots and half-time arrives with an unexpected but still seemingly comfortable 16-8 lead for the hosts.

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Half-time team talks that transform a performance are legendary, but few and far between. But this must surely have been an occasion when the words said in the England dressing room should be bottled and sold for a fortune. My mind drifts back to a poster featuring one of the present day commentators, England’s own Brian Moore, which basically posed the threatening message ‘It’s not the winning or losing, it’s the TAKING APART!’ Well, Juno would have undoubtedly taunted me during the second half of this match, as the country of her birth, England, set out as a team possessed. With only a few minutes on the clock their persistent pressure and a moment of magic brings about a converted try. 16-15 to Wales, followed shortly after by further disarray in the battered home defence leading to an 18-16 lead for England. With little of any threat from the home team, the visitors add another penalty for a final score of Wales 16 England 21. The home nation are stunned, and the underdogs instantly show what this score means to them…

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It’s the start of the Rugby World Cup year, when these two teams will meet in England in the group stages of the competition. When a full strength Wales lose at home to an understrength England in such a shock one-sided end to a game, don’t believe me or any of my fellow countrymen when we say this has no bearing on the forthcoming World Cup. Half cat half doorLike all good cats we like to shrug off such an experience as a disappointment, when in reality it is better described as a calamitous disaster.

Until we speak again, watch this space… while memories of Juno’s favourite rugby pose neatly sums up the performance of the Welsh team.

[With thanks to shutterstock.com, erfeidine.blogspot.com and tweetsport.co.uk for original posts of the images borrowed to illustrate this tragic tale].

Immigrant Song

How is a cat who has moved between countries supposed to feel with all this anti-immigration stuff in the media? Where is the evidence for all this negative impact of immigration? It seems to me like us cats bring nothing but diversity and peacefulness into your miserable whining lives.

I ask you, am I putting additional pressure on your precious veterinary resources? It seems to me like not many of your indigenous cats are desperately queueing up to get additional appointments at the local vets. What’s more, I am a fairly healthy cat, doing my own thing and not needing much else other than an annual check-up. Hardly the basis for claims I might cause the collapse of your animal health and welfare services.

Do you really think I am just an opportunist trying to cash in through some kind of ‘cat litter tourism’, cynically just trying to avail myself of the benefits of your superior quality litter? It seems to me like you should be more concerned about the way your indigenous cats just go around digging up other people’s gardens with no consideration for the inconvenience they cause.

What do you think about the fact I simply arrived in your country and moved straight into a nice flat surrounded by quiet canals, close to all the amenities of the city centre and the bay? It seems to me, listening to the headline grabbing nonsense in the media like you think I obviously deprived one of your indigenous cats out of a home.

Do you think I have suddenly arrived and put one of your local mouse-catchers out of a job? It seems to me that there is an absence of local cats queueing for any available jobs currently; more interested in waiting around for a ‘more for less’ job opportunity to show up. Taking in the rays and having naps seems to be the preference for many of the indigenous cats (though I can’t criticise them on that count).

What about the issue of dog immigration… after all, don’t they go in for eating your children? It seems to me like that would be a real alien invasion; so perhaps you need to get a more positive immigration policy in place, not just allowing any old dog in, but prioritising how we integrate and get on well together.

        

Fortunately for me my host servant recognises the value of us cats moving into their humble abode, and bringing some colour and variety into their lives. It seems to me like many of you people should be a bit more selective about the scare-mongering nonsense you listen to from a small minority of those on the small-minded political extremes. Sure, one or two of my kind step out of line a little, and they may cause you a few problems; but don’t let that be your view of all of us. However, I am a bit partial to the idea I keep hearing called UKIP… I like to kip as often as I can, after all this amount of beauty doesn’t come without a great deal of sleep you know!

Juno cushion [3]

It seems to me like you do have some of the more objective media reporting around, if you can be bothered looking for it; and until we speak again this immigrant wouldn’t have anything other than the Observer lining my litter tray.