Don’t mess with Valleys Girls!

So, there I was, a bedraggled and tired travelling cat arriving home from a fabulous trip to the USA. When all of a sudden I am metaphorically arrested by a sight that would send so many Americans into rapturous delight…

Police woman with gun

Why, in American culture there are those who believe in the right that this is what every city street should look like. As for me, in my addled brain, all I could muster as a fleeting thought was an old mantra for self-respecting city cats, Don’t mess with Valleys Girls!”

So, what was going on here? I like the implied message, but couldn’t see how it was meant to be a homecoming for me…

Welcome banner

However, the image did bring to mind the old saying: “lift up any pony tail, and what you’ll find beneath is a horses ass!”, Best be careful who you aim that description at; after all, “Don’t mess with Valleys Girls!”

In the meantime, it seems like all roads home are blocked off…

Tyndall Street

Lloyd George Avenue

Could it be preparations for the stilettoed hordes descending on the city for a long weekend of perma-tanned indiscretion? If so, then the advancing mob above are surely unwittingly walking into a psychodrama beyond their wildest imaginations. After all, “Don’t mess with Valleys Girls!”

It seems that the ‘lionesses of liquor’ have already set up a roll-call of their preferred end of night play-things, with the castle walls providing a historic backdrop for contemporary fantasies. If you don’t want to end up strung up on the battlements, “Don’t mess with Valleys Girls!”

Castle

As it turns out, there was a simple explanation for all this metropolitan malarkey… it was the small matter of the biggest sporting event on the planet this year happening just around the corner from home. As much as I have fantasised about Cardiff City FC going to the Champions League Final, it could be a long wait; so the Champions League Final had come to Cardiff City! For the victors, the spoils, and the opportunity to kiss ‘old big ears’ (affectionate name for the trophy, not one of the belles of bedlam).

Modric jubilant

Until we speak again, all I can advise Luca Modric in the image above, is kiss the metal by all means fella, but “Don’t mess with Valleys Girls!”

Icon revival

As much as I would like this heading to be applied to Juno and Bella, thus reversing two tragic demises of recent years, in reality it is an update for my loyal follower. The Coal Exchange building, deep in the heart of Mount Stuart Square, has been apparently left to rot and collapse through gross negligence by local and national Welsh administrations. How nice it is to refer to an ‘iconic’ status on perimeter hoardings, while the subject of said reference basks in a catastrophic state of neglect behind.

Coal Exchange board sign

Coal Exchange exterior decay [3]

Coal Exchange [6]

Coal Exchange approach

Rumour had it that developers of a boutique hotel would be the saviour of the building where the very first £1 million cheque was handed over. No, that’s a historical fact not an inflated cost of a suite in the proposed new hotel!

Well, in March 2017 there were distinctly positive signs, for those who hold a candle (rather than an incendiary device) to the preservation of Cardiff’s architectural heritage! Coal Exchange Mar 17

Then, just as Spring in May should bring a promise of new beginnings, so the revival of a favourite old building seems truly under way…

Coal Exchange May 17 [2]

Coal Exchange May 17 [3]

Coal exchange May 17 [4]

With extensive work still to be completed across most of the site, the ultimate sign of intent is captured… as bona fide hotel residents arrive to occupy some of the small number of rooms early opened.

Coal Exchange May 17 [6]

It seems that Signature Living have sympathetic plans for the regeneration of the building, that will recapture its historic past as well as provide a sustainable basis for looking forward. And while there will be the inevitable carping about handing a community resource over to a commercial venture, the photographs at the top of this post are evidence enough of the only other real alternative!

Until we speak again, Juno’s View promises to bring documented evidence of the interior in the near future. [However, in the interim period, behold views of Chicago and New Orleans coming here very soon!]

 

 

Feline fortitude

So, what did we learn from watching more than 124,000 seconds of Championship football home matches at the Cardiff City Stadium across 2016/7? The main message to take into the summer:

Football is… a bunch of fat blokes sitting down, telling a bunch of fit blokes running around, what to do.

Pinterest and 9Gag

And, for those cats who prefer the scintillating excitement of watching on TV from the comfort of their sofa…

Zak Show dot Com

Until we speak again, choose your refreshment to get into shape, and build your ridiculously high expectations for your team, in time for the new season in August!

[For the record the Mighty Bluebirds have risen from 24th in October 2016 to finish 12th at the end of this season. Project that rise forward, and… no, I’d better not go there, at least until too much sun has fried my brain.]

[With acknowledgements to Zak Show.com & 9GAG for the original images used to illustrate this post.]

 

Culinario gatti

Calling all you culinary cats… Giovanni’s has been established on The Hayes in the centre of Cardiff since 1983; but in 2013 a second branch opened on Park Place, conveniently opposite the New Theatre. But, don’t expect any Godfather III operatic grandstanding here… for a start, you may be greeted by a less than appetising facade of scaffolding, as painting is in progress.

Front [1]

It is worth getting past your penchant for deciding the quality of a restaurant based on the external appearance (particularly as this will change sometime soon). After all, you should be in food critic, not architectural critic mode, if your aim is to satisfy gastronomic urges. I know, I’m a hypocrite, as I am often critical of sloppy architecture, including that of modern restaurants.

On a recent post rugby match visit, there were plenty of persone che mangiano di ristoranti, with everyone engrossed in the menu under the expert tutelage of the resident maestro…

Giovanni's [1]

It is worth lingering over the menu, as this is no run-of-the-mill Italian chain. We are talking a family-run restaurant with plenty of amore put into the whole experience as well as the culinary produce. For the visiting young one it was Scallops Al Limone for a starter, which received glowing praise from someone who knows his scallops. I opted for the Gamberoni all Marchesa (roasted king prawns in garlic, white wine and parsley)…

Giovanni's [2]

Yes, I know it should be white wine with any seafood; but my inner Lecter couldn’t resist a nice Chianti! As for main courses, the visiting ‘Son of Cool’ went for the traditional option of a good home cooked Lasagne Emiliana Fatta in Casa, and yours truly was in the mood for a main that would live up to the red wine accompaniment. So, what better than a Penne Spezzatino (fillet steak in garlic, wine and tomato sauce)…

Giovanni's [3]

Some of you might be licking your lips with anticipation of what quintessential Italian desserts are about to be laid out before you. Well, tough… this is early evening, and space needs to be left for a few beers elsewhere (you can only have so much of a good Italian thing before reverting to what the British do better!). But, before I leave you, and in the continuing spirit of hydration, I did indulge in a double espresso and Sambucca on the side. There are some liquids that only the Italians really know how to make!

Giovanni's [4]

We both left full of culinario contentezza, as we transitioned from Italian delicato to the bustle of a Saturday night in a British pub. Until we speak again, may all of your cornetto’s be less than vanilla. And Bella says ciao.

Farewell

Searching for credible alternatives

With local elections just around the corner, credible alternatives to a noxious Tory controlled government are becoming difficult to find. The Labour Party are about as credible as an alternative design to those urine-stained lifts in so many tower blocks…

Students lift?

As for Plaid Cymru... they might well see themselves as a smooth alternative to the Scotch whisky market, but offer little credibility in the independence stakes when compared to the rampant Scottish Nationalist Party

Welsh Whisky

And the Liberal Democrats, well they are still trying to work out how they got decimated in the last General Election…

Difficult choices

The UKIP fraternity are coming to terms with weekly losses of so-called prominent representatives, as well the machinations of their new leader…

Bartley

Which leaves the earnestness of the Green Party, committed as they are to limiting the number of wheels polluting the environment, they never quite seem to get their full message properly coordinated…

Bikes on pitch

Meanwhile, down at the Cardiff City Stadium a credible alternative has emerged from the team that in October 2016 was languishing at the bottom of the Championship table. Cue the time for totally unreasonable expectations for next season…

City 1 Forest 0

Until we speak again, Bella offers no particular enlightenment regarding credible alternatives from the broadsheets. With expected turnouts to be nearer 20% in many places, it seems that most people probably don’t give a urine-stained lift for any alternative…

Reading paper and books

Surfing the turf

So there I was, in this crazy cats kind of world, suddenly finding myself back in Llanelli. Now, for those of you who haven’t been, you might just be wondering why go in the first place? And, for those who have been to this run down post-industrial area of south-west Wales, the source of wonderment is… why go back a second time? Well, we can’t always choose where the work is going to take us, is the plain simple answer to that conundrum.

However, once drawn into its web of intrigue, don’t expect things to be as they usually are! For a start there are the Castle Buildings as a prime place to stay… but it’s not the traditional Welsh castle that you might have been led to expect?

Vista Hotel

The hotel occupying this so-called castle site is the Vista Hotel… but I suggest you revise your expectations of vista’s before you arrive!

Church from hotel window

However, there is one thing that should cause most unsuspecting cats to pause (or is that paws?) before they pounce… it’s always interesting when your meal looks you in the eye and says ‘Your move!’

Surf and Turf [2]

The thing is… where to get the energy to launch an escape beyond the orbit of Llanelli’s gravitational pull? Rest assured, cats wishing to get out of the bag can take on an early morning full (Welsh/English) breakfast…

All Day Breakfast

Though be warned… the food in this place might just be enough to tempt you stay… at least until the next meal, if for no other exciting reason!

Until we speak again, Juno will display the level of industriousness now associated with the former powerhouses of Welsh industry…

Armadillo pose

 

 

Cats swallowing wasps

We seem to be living in the age of outrage. But do we really need a new universal amendment to assert our right to be offended? The slightest hint of challenge or disagreement leaves too many people looking like they have swallowed a wasp. Take the so-called leader of the Western World… yes… please… go ahead and take him! He seems to have elevated wasp swallowing into a nocturnal pastime, with a blue-tinged cat snack as his vehicle of choice…

Donald Trump

Then, a little closer to home, when we are in desperate need for a credible opposition in Britain, what do we get? What do you think about Brexit Jeremy? What do you think about the future of the economy Jeremy? Who are the voters you actually need to get you  within a Gnat’s testicle of being able to do something Jeremy? It seems that wasp swallowing is a universal affliction of our so-called leaders…

corbyn

Talking of leadership and the intrusion of hymenoptera (well, weren’t we?). Just the other day, down at the home of football, the Cardiff City Stadium, manager Neil Warnock is reported to have had cause at half-time to employ his own particular brand of wasp swallowing

Neil Warnock

Many a player has had cause to experience the half-time verbal tongue lashing from Sheffield’s finest. On this occasion, the swallowing of wasps was employed as a means of devouring bees… the bees of Brentford FC, that is. For the record, at half time it was Cardiff City 0 Brentford 1; and at full time the score is Cardiff City 2 Brentford 1. Bees well and truly devoured!

As for Juno and Bella, one good thing about being indoor cats was the lesser chance of being tempted to supplement the meagre rations by chasing wasps, as you never know what the impact of success might be…

 

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[With acknowledgements to YouTube, BBC and the Independent for original images].