Catch yourself on

Slow, slow, quick, quick…

For a city cat from Cardiff, a visit to the west of Ireland can provide a soporific change of gear. Not least because you have to catch yourself on to a naturally slower local pace of life.

Looking for a quiet indulgence in the national libation? We may not be ready just yet…

And there is a stark reminder that corners here were made for waiting on; even if they are not exactly on the corner! It is what it is, and you just have to catch yourself on

And, just because we are about 25 miles from the west coast doesn’t mean we can’t have a harbour, does it?

If it appears to you that we are ‘a few boats short of a regatta’, well, just catch yourself on

There again, the so-called Marina Point does provide home to further aquatic references, in the form of the Shearwater Hotel

This just maybe the place where the traditional lotion can be found. But, catch yourself on, it will only be served to you after an appropriate settling wait… as the local pace of life is more about quality than speed.

Further indulgence in the life of a snail brings its own rewards, as this is most certainly a cosy home where bovine and porcine companions can be found deliciously co-habiting in a bun…

Those who like their steaks of the lean variety, catch yourself on, and find a healthier part of the world. The juicy offerings here come with a protective layer of fat. But if that is not enough, try a basket of triple cooked chunky chips and a base of caramelised onions. Button mushrooms intrude on the base to showcase what healthy eating could be… if you were somewhere else, that is!

Until we speak again, check out county Galway in the west of Ireland, and Ballinasloe particularly, if you want to catch yourself on to a lifestyle of the slow.


Celebration day

It turns out that the president and vice president of my fan club celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary the other day. They even called in for a few minutes to offer me pats, strokes and unsolicited compliments, when it probably should have been me doing that for them… but why change the natural order of things! So momentous was this event that even the right royal Lizzie, queen of as far as she can walk, dispatched a member of her own staff (well it said HM Royal Mail on the side of the van) to deliver a card with congratulations on achieving what ‘ones husband and I’ also managed to do a few years back. It seems the Queen has even changed her dress in the picture on the card, following some televised complaints by some ton-up Tessa’s who live long enough to build a collection of these things.

So how do you celebrate such an event, and what kind of place would match up to the occasion? For all that Cardiff may have to offer the final decision (imaginary drum roll at this point…) goes to the Gwaelod-y-Garth Inn a few miles north of the city in the foothills of the Taff Gorge… a portal into the terrifying spectre of the place known as ‘The Valleys’, comparable only to ‘Mordor’ in the Lord of the Rings.

         The view from the Garth (the rocky outcrop visible from the A470) down the Taff valley towards Cardiff. The Bristol Channel is in the background and on clear days Weston Super Mare is visible

I digress, into territory where no cats played any roles of consequence, so lets get back to the more important subject, me.. oh ok, them. Despite 60 years of saying ‘eh… what?’ and more recently enjoying the divergent tracts of ‘coffee with the girls’ for her and ‘golf’ for him, it seems that there are still a significant enough number of blood relatives and close friends scattered about the regions of South Wales, and even back in my old haunt of London. So it was that a great celebration was organised to bring the tribal elders, the deluded young, and the real young together for a magnificent feast. ‘The Gwaelod’, as it is known by its locals, was tasked to meet the challenge:

Now don’t get me wrong, but my personal imbiber can go off on one occasionally… is it a pub, is it a restaurant, why are the campaign for real ale folks honouring a place that focuses so much on grub? There is a simple answer that I offer in these situations… ‘if the quality of everything is fabulous enough just do less thinking and more enjoying’! However, a point was well made when the range of beers available included London Pride as a guest… even I, as a cool cat formerly of that parish, have to wonder at the waste of a good hand-pump by presenting this particular number. Fortunately, I am told that the regular Wye Valley bitter was adequately complemented by a stellar cast that included the Dark Star Hophead (which my surrogate drinker won’t shut up about since discovering it in a few local hostelries). Apparently the red wines could have done with being served at a slightly cooler temperature, but the gluggers of the Sauvignon Blanc were too busy emptying bottles to offer any professional comment… but the New Zealand economy has sent its appreciation.

Downstairs bar

The real triumph of the evening seems to be the food (and I will try not to go on again about what I find in my perpetual bowl of blandness). I am reliably told, by someone who often appreciates the curves in a walked straight line, that a herd of the highest quality gave of their loins so that the multitude could stuff themselves to the point of synchronised satisfied grinning. The fillet steak at this place was superb, as were reports of the various parts of lambs and pigs consumed in honour of the newlyweds of 60 years previously. As in previous posts of mine, I can confidently report that no vegetarians were harmed at this event, but the vegetables and chips were also deliciously presented, should any meat-avoiders want to attend any similar such occasion (blindfolded of course).

In the interests of financial considerations, I count myself lucky that my paws and fine coat are designed for better things than messing in the murky world of money… yet the satisfied throng seem to be suggesting that ‘The Gwaelod’ is not only a place for fine dining and watering, but very reasonable in its prices. One word of warning though, I noticed on their own website that this place had recently hosted some of the stick-waving bell-jangling bearded types… just when I thought I had escaped the English embarrassment of Morris and his local yocal dancing troupe!

That aside, if you are looking for quality for any occasion I think you will be purring after a visit to this place. I need to do some purring of my own right now to try and get some attention out of my typing staff, and to find out how I get my teeth into some of that herd. To my personal fan club I am still Juno, see you again soon.