A ray of sunshine

What do you think when I suggest ‘Portugal‘ to you? Sunshine, Atlantic breezes, seafood, Lisbon, Porto, fine wines and ports? Am I the only one that thinks ‘Cardiff‘? A bit of lateral thinking maybe, but come on people, get with the programme. I might have travelled here at the behest of my resident fur-ball from my familiar home in London, but at least I am making an effort to acclimatise to their triumphant homecoming. Azure blue skies, white walls bathed in sunshine, and the prospect of mouth-watering Portuguese dining… it can only be Cardiff.

Madiera [1]

 

Here is a pub quiz question for you… where is Madeira? An archipelago located off the Portuguese Atlantic coast you geographical geniuses recite, with the confidence of the world traveller informing the majority of Americans who are busy searching their world atlases that only stretch from Washington State to Florida, and Maine to California. Well, my eccentric informant tells me it is to be found on Guildford Crescent in downtown Cardiff somewhere close to the archaeological site of a local swimming pool best known for its indoor version of lido style changing rooms facing directly onto the poolside.

In the case of the Madiera Ristorante, the adjacent Masonic Hall and Thai House provide the wider urban vista in place of the more usually expected Atlantic panorama. But don’t simply turn up at this place. Since 1998 it has built a reputation for a relaxing atmosphere, fine dining, and the sight of your food dripping from the ceiling! This is somewhere that definitely needs a booking, and it is popular for all sorts of groupings. If you are an intimate pair of cats with designs on mutual purring over dinner be prepared to unashamedly shout your sweet nothings back and forth… as you could easily find yourself located in a darkly lit corner only to be joined by large and small groups of contestants practicing for a foghorn blowing competition…

Madiera [2]The menu reads like your holiday memories from those lovingly remembered trips to the Algarve… plenty of the swimmy flappy things that us cats so love to play with eat raw (a bit like the Japanese in that sense). Caranguejo (crab), lulas (squid) and Gambas (prawns) are to be found in shoals. But, if you like to put plenty of meat on to your fury rump there is no shortage of Carne dishes, both of the conventional (steaks) and adventurous (portuguese twists to familiar favourites). Then there is the creative use of space… why have your skewered delights laid out across your plate when you can simply hang it from the ceiling over your table?

Madiera [3]Espetadas are a Madeira speciality that come in pork, beef, lamb, chicken, monkfish or combinations; and are simply deliciously cooked kebabs hung from hooks above your table, with the option of garlic dripping down through the whole skewer. However, if you are a vegetarian, try being one of the fish eating variety, or else your range will be limited to what you normally buy in the supermarket!

Once again, I have had to stay at home Olive branchguarding the ancestral pile, while those who don’t know how to wrestle a fish around the floor, pawing its head against a handy skirting board, are enjoying gastronomic delicacies and delights. Until we speak again this Juno will be planning to hideout in the bin store behind the Madeira Ristorante… just perfecting the right pose to catch any falling fish.

Extreme Sailing

What have Muscat (Oman), Singapore (S.E. Asia), Qingdao (China), Istanbul (Turkey), Porto (Portugal), Nice (France), Rio (Brazil) and Cardiff all got in common? No, its nothing to do with eating cats or dogs… they are the eight venues for the World Series of Extreme Sailing. Yes, take that NY Yankees… a real World Series!

Lining up to start

 

In the interests of self preservation this cool cat considers a few planks of wood topped off with a tablecloth to be extreme enough, but these things are great big catamarans with sails up to sixty feet in height.

Mermaid Quay background

 

So it’s the August Bank Holiday, and a number of Olympic sailors have descended on Cardiff Bay, the largest bay in Europe, for the sixth leg of the 2013 World Series, with the Land Rover sponsored Team Wales representing the UK in the event. All the action is on the water, and us cats can watch water all day long, but I sure as hell am not getting too close to the stuff… in my world it is for drinking, so I am going to stick to the safety of dry land.

Action

 

At the final turn

 

On the subject of ‘extreme’, my surrogate daredevil started talking about their experiences with parachutes, gliders and motorbikes when they were young (a lot younger I must add). “Nothing“, I said, “try doing what I did with mice and other stupid creatures when I was allowed out!” There are all kinds of images of extreme sports around (though nothing involving my ideas about mice), but my favourite just has to be Extreme Ironing… what’s that all about? Didn’t you just know that such an idea had to originate in England!

On the subject of smooth… this fabulous coat of mine takes some looking after, but if my personal groomer was to come anywhere near me with an iron there would be some extreme consequences for their health and well-being. Here is a link to help those of you who don’t understand the joy of ironing, and another link to things you could do with a bicycle other than let a fish ride it (did I tell you about my ideas on things to do with fish…).

Coming to the finish

 

If only things happened at a more leisurely pace… perhaps I will establish the new sport of extreme sleeping:

Juno 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the meantime, to all those of you who believe in your extreme ways, may all of your injuries be minor and your rewards come with the maximum rush. I am still Juno, and I will speak with you again soon, but not until I have had a lie down and a good sleep.