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february 2019

CARDIFF TIMES FREE

since 1983

Jewels Canley Interiors 2 Glebe Street, Penarth CF64 1EB 02920 707779 www.jewelscanley.co.uk

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Trying for a

baby?

Cardiff Open Evening Wednesday 13th February 6.30pm CRGW’s independent centres offer the latest scientific treatments and facilities to offer you the best chance of pregnancy. All clinics are adjacent to the M4 in Cardiff, Swansea and Bristol.

Swansea

Free consultations and free sperm testing appointments available. Join us at our free monthly open evenings where you can chat to us one on one or alternatively ‘ask an expert’ via our website. Visit our web site to find the next available dates and book yourself in.

Bristol

Cardiff: 01443 443999 | Bristol: 01174 409999 | Swansea: 01792 644 999 2 www.crgw.co.uk 2

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editors letter

cardiff times

Welcome PUBLISHER Cardiff Times Hi All, and welcome to our February issue.

EDITOR Louise Denning 07903 947594

What a month January was! It started off unusually warm, and then got progressively colder, and at the time of writing there is the potential for some snow to fall in Cardiff. We shall see!

FEATURES EDITOR Mark Denning 07758 247194

Proud parents alert - we received the brilliant news that our son has been chosen for the 2019 Cardiff & Vale U11 cricket squad! Not to be outdone, our daughter has been training with the Cricket Wales National Development Centre Cardiff Girls Programme. A busy summer awaits them both!

SALES & MARKETING Beth beth@cardiff-times.co.uk

CONTRIBUTORS Wyn Evans, Vince Nolan, Carl Marsh, Sarah-Jane Outten, Michael James, Sara John, Brett Salway, Natalie McCulloch, Ashleigh Mears, Craig Muncey

We're sad to say that Sarah-Jane Outten has submitted her last Beauty Edit article for us in this issue. Mark and I would personally like to thank Sarah-Jane for showing so much support and passion for local businesses in Cardiff, and for sharing all her beauty knowledge. She has been a huge asset to Cardiff Times and will be sorely missed. We wish Sarah-Jane the best for the future and sincerely hope she continues to write. We are very lucky to have a new contributor join us, a big welcome to Brett Salway, who will be reviewing many bars and restaurants in and around Cardiff, together with our entertainment columnist Carl Marsh. As you read this, Wales would have played their first match in this season’s Six Nations Championship, a preview of which you can find on page 72, written by Craig Muncey, a very knowledgeable sports writer. Good luck to the squad and especially head coach Warren Gatland, for whom this will be his last Six Nations coaching Wales.

EDITORIAL

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Finally, as it’s Valentine’s Day this month, don’t forget to spoil your loved one, even if it’s only for one day of the year!!

ADVERTISING 07903 947594 EMAIL

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Until next month, happy reading.

Louise & Mark

Follow us on Twitter

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February

CONTENTS FEATURES 14 February Diary

50 ‘And Another Thing…’ By Vince Nolan

18 Mixed Platter By Wyn Evans

54 Puzzle Mania

24 Beauty - Fall In Love With YOU This Valentine’s!

By Sara John

60 Lost Souls Regained

25 The Beauty Edit

66 Apres Ski At Eighty?

By Sarah-Jane Outten

By Michael James

30 Resolutions Are For Life. Not Just For January! By Natalie McCulloch

69 Seren Diemwnt Review By Brett Salway

72 Six Nations 2019 Preview By Craig Muncey

34 “In The Words Of…” By Carl Marsh

42 Valentine’s In Cardiff 46 Feature - Fun Things To Do In February! 10 10

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Cardiff Care Home Raising Funds To Send Irish Dancing Duo To The Top

Sheraton Hotel in Greensboro, North Carolina, and will be attended by the best Irish dancers from across the globe to compete for the winning trophy.

A Cardiff care home is raising funds for two Irish dancing sisters who are hoping to represent Wales at the World Championships next year. Staff and residents at Tŷ Llandaff, a private nursing, residential and respite care home in Pontcanna, got to know the talented girls when their grandmother, Tessa Holcombe, stayed at the home for a few weeks in 2016.

Tŷ Llandaff manager Janice Evans said staff and residents were so impressed by the girls’ talent for dancing that they wanted to do something to help them achieve their ambition. “We have got to know the girls really quite well since their grandmother stayed here a few years ago, and we’ve seen their dancing abilities go from strength to strength.

Sisters Ffion, 12, and Abigael Elson, 11, who have been frequent visitors at Tŷ Llandaff and have regularly performed their dances for the residents, have now been selected to represent Wales in the 2019 World Championships in Irish Dancing, held in the USA.

“We’re really excited that they’ve been given this opportunity, and we want to do whatever we can to help Ffion and Abigael make it over to America to compete. They’ve done so much for us over the years, dancing for us and getting to know our residents, they are lovely girls and we want to give them something in return.”

In order to help the girls achieve their dream of competing in the Championships staff and residents are rallying round to raise funds to help pay for the travel, accommodation and costumes needed for the trip. The 2019 World Championships, which are happening on April 14-21, are taking place in the

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For more information about Tŷ Llandaff call Janice on 02920 600 100, email: info@ tyllandaffcare.com or visit: www.tyllandaffcare.com

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february diary

     

     

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Boyzone have announced their ‘Thank You & Goodnight’ farewell tour and revealed they will split after releasing their ‘final’ album. ‘The No Matter What’ singers will pay tribute to the much-loved band member Stephen Gately, who died in 2009, in the Irish band’s 25th anniversary tour and album. The tour will feature one date in Cardiff. Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff www.motorpointarenacardiff.co.uk

    ! Г ! Г   - 7 7     ! Г Tickets are now on sale for snooker’s ManBetX Welsh Open, to take place in February 2019 at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff. It is snooker’s longest running world ranking event – other than the World and UK Championships – having been ever present on the calendar since 1992. There will be 128 of the world’s leading players at the Motorpoint Arena, battling for the famous Ray Reardon Trophy. Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff www.motorpointarenacardiff.co.uk

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Get ready for a collection of inspirational adventure films coming at you from the wildest corners of the globe! These extraordinary short films follow the world’s top explorers and action film-makers as they brave intrepid journeys into the most spectacular regions of planet Earth. Witness breath-taking cinematography, stunning scenery and an exhilarating dose of adrenaline – all on the big screen! St. David's Hall, Cardiff www.stdavidshallcardiff

     - 23 23    Starring Jake Canuso (Mateo), Janine Duvitski (Jacqueline), Adam Gillen (Liam), Sherrie Hewson (Joyce Temple-Savage), Shelley Longworth (Sam), Tony Maudsley (Kenneth) and featuring Neptune’s very own Asa Elliott, the official world premiere of Derren Litten's smash-hit ITV comedy BENIDORM is set to bring sunshine and smiles to the UK in the stage debut production of the hugely popular TV show. New Theatre, Cardiff www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk

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February Diary

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One of the most popular tours is of course – X Factor live. The X Factor live tour has dates all across the UK when it gets underway this year, so fans all over the country will get a chance to see the stars they voted for. Join them in Cardiff for the 2019 tour where recent winner Dalton Harris plus other contestants perform in a night full of glitz and glamour. Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff www.motorpointarenacardiff.co.uk

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Dive into a night of classic rock music presented at the globe. For only ÂŁ13.20 a ticket it will be a worthwhile night. You will be able to relive some of the biggest classic rock anthems of the century. And it will be a night to remember. The Globe, Cardiff http://globecardiffmusic.com/

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Brian Fallon is an American singer, songwriter and guitarist. He is best known as the lead vocalist, guitarist and primary songwriter of the rock band The Gaslight Anthem, with whom he has recorded five studio albums. He also performs with side projects such as Brian Fallon & The Crowes and Brian Fallon & The Howling Weather. Tramshed, Cardiff www.tramshedcardiff.com

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          It’s Half Term and we’re getting inspired by the Victorian era. Come and join us for some fun, family friendly activities: which include- Taking a guided tour and find out what life was like for children in the 19th Century, Play with some traditional toys, and even make your own peg doll to take home with you. St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff www.museum.wales/stfagans/

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Founded in Cardiff in 1943, WNO exists to produce, perform and tour thrilling and entertaining world-class opera. The opera company consists of a professional orchestra (The Orchestra of Welsh National Opera) and a professional choir (The Chorus of Welsh National Opera. The orchestra and the choir often perform at St David's Hall in Cardiff and at other venues throughout Wales. This month Roberto Devereux will be performing in this. Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay www.wmc.org.uk

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mixed platter By Wyn Evans

word. But today was one of her increasingly good days. Not bad for a girl a certain Hospital Consultant told us would, "probably never be able to say more than a few words." Not bad for a kid with short term memory difficulties. Not bad for a kid too many doctors and midwives strongly suggested to us we should abort. SHE IS SUCH A JOY AND A BEACON OF WHAT CAN BE ACHIEVED. Focus! We three are at the Happy Gathering in, Canton, again. The Boss and The Girl are focusing on the menu. I've asked them to include a chicken and sweet corn broth in the order and switched my attention to Sky Sports' football App to view Liverpool's goals from their 4:3 weekend victory. The Girl says: "Dad, put that phone away and focus on the real world." Amen! Later: "Dad, I need you to listen carefully. I'm going to the toilet now but I need you to ask one of these waiters, man or woman, for the dessert menu. Are you listening now? Do you understand? The dessert menu?!" Me, laughing: "Pardon?!"

It has been a while since I’ve shared with you some of my daughter’s wit and wisdom. You will recall that The Girl is twelve years old and is the first pupil with Down Syndrome (DS) ever to attend Cardiff High School (CHS), where she is in Year 8. A recurrent theme in these columns has been the negative reactions of many in the clinical community to her condition. I’ve explained how we were advised time and again during our pregnancy that we “ought to” consider a termination. We were told, as if it was an established fact, that her condition would “probably” prevent her speaking or playing any useful role in society, that a life with DS would hardly be worth living, and that it was just as well she had no siblings since she would become an intolerable burden on them. I’ve written here about the use by geneticists, policy-makers and clinicians of Non-Invasive Pre-Natal testing, ostensibly to offer pregnant women ‘informed choice’ but actually as the thin end of a eugenic wedge.

Husband material Girl: "I like that James, he's a real Hottie. He's going to be my husband." Boss: "Who's James?" Girl: "A star on 'Totally Spies'." Boss, patronisingly, if realistically: "Oh you mean he's an animated cartoon character." [From a programme aimed at kids aged nine to twelve I reckon, with lots of dating, shopping, kung fu, and teen-stuff.] Girl, long-sufferingly: "Oh Mam, I know THAT!! [Laughs!] But he’s still a Hottie!"

All this goes some way to explain our joy in the following verbal exchanges. (Some of these have featured in my Facebook Blog - https:// www.facebook.com/BeatingDownsBarriers/)

Emissions My nose, as is its wont, started bleeding this afternoon, without any sensible proximate cause. The Girl brought me some cotton wool. She is well-versed in dealing with my nasal explosions and can find cotton wool wherever in the house we are. She grinned at me and said: "your nose always bleeds, mine just produces snots" and ran away giggling, immensely pleased with herself.

Speech, language and understanding The Girl has just spent twelve minutes fluently, clearly, and more or less grammatically, telling her mam what she and I have done during today's school Inset day. In detail. With humour. You may wonder why I'm posting about this? Because even now, she is not always fluent - she may trail off mid-sentence for example - as she searches for a

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CT Feature

"What's she like?!" The Girl and I got back from visiting the bank and shopping at Sainsbury's at the same time as our cleaner, Lisa, arrived. The three of us were in the hall divesting ourselves of coats. My arm brushed The Girl's head... Girl, grinning, to Lisa: "That dad, he's always hitting me." She giggles. I say: "I've never hit you, you little monster. And never will." Lisa says: “I'm glad I'm not the only one with a daughter who comes out with 'stuff'." By now, we are all in the kitchen. The Girl laughs and merrily continues: "Anyway, mam is my favourite today..." Me, frowning theatrically: "... ." Girl, to Lisa: "What's he like?! Dad is my favourite too..." I smile: "..." The Girl delivers the coup de grace: "..., sometimes!!"

Thus the music department did what the ALNco, LSAs, form and subject-teachers do: i.e. one heck of a job, always going the extra mile, and finding things in the kids that even the parents can be surprised by. Way to go, CHS; way to go The Girl!! Science (Physics) Test It looks like The Girl nailed her mixed practical/ theoretical test today. It was about permeability/ porousness of different sorts of rock. She had to pick out the rocks, weigh them together and apart, pour the water then put the rocks into the water, weigh them again, and then write it all up (dictating some to her LSA, writing some herself). She got a 'merit' from her teacher for her efforts and loved telling The Boss and me about it. The things one says are often not what others hear us say Part of a tea-time conversation twixt me, The Girl, and her Uncle Rob. Rob: “What's that you have there?” Girl [holds her doll-toy up]: “This is my Sharpened Satsuma.” Rob: “Satsuma, that's an interesting name.” Girl: “No, it's my Sharp-End Shimmer.” Rob: “... .” Girl: [Speaks slowly as if to the hard of hearing] “Her name is Sunset Shimmer...”

Cardiff High School Xmas Carol Concert This was held at St. Martin's Church on Albany Road. This a deceptively large and high-ceilinged building, nicely white-washed with a simplepanelled pattern, tall candles on the 'altar' and, I think, artwork representing the stations of the cross (though I'd be delighted to be put right in this regard). It's at the 'High Church', smells 'n bells end of the spectrum and none the worse for that. The acoustics were lovely.

A little later ...

It was a whole-school concert, comprising Year 7 girls' choir, Y8&9 girls' choir, senior and junior boys' choirs, chamber and string orchestras, individually and/or in combination. There were excellent readings from kids in each of Years 7-13, and congregational carols led by the school choirs, with the lovely descant sung on O Come All Ye Faithful and Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Me: “Yes, The Boss is emotionally much better than I would be at coping with relatively short-term employment contracts, interspersed with periods out of work, before getting a new...” Girl, interrupting me: “Oh dad, can you please stop talking about periods.” [Giggles!] Me: “...!”

The Girl was in the girls' Y8-9 choir which presented the Star Carol quite beautifully. She stood just to the right of middle in the second of three rows. I had an aisle seat and can say that, as before, she knew the words and sang them on the beat along with her peers. She hasn't quite got the hang of singing one hundred percent in key yet but she really is making progress in that direction. She smiled throughout, even whilst singing, which I would have said beforehand was impossible!

I will be back again next month with a more traditional column format. But I hope you found something to enjoy in this one!

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Fall in Love with YOU this Valentine’s! FACE Blurring the lines between makeup and skincare, Lavera has merged its active skincare complexes with its foundation and colour correcting products to deliver makeup that cares for the skin. Lavera Soft Liquid Foundation provides a light to medium coverage whilst nourishing the skin. Lavera Tinted Moisturising Cream 3 in 1 adds a touch of colour and moisture to the skin, resulting in a natural healthy radiant complexion. The organic cream is formulated with Aloe Vera, Argan Oil and Cocoa Butter as well as Vitamin E to nourish your skin and keep it hydrated. Lavera Cover & Care Stick reliably covers redness and small skin imperfections, while the antiinflammatory formula, enriched with organic witch hazel, can prevent and reduce blemishes. All products are vegan, 100% certified natural and organic by NATRUE and contain organic plant ingredients where possible. Available from independent health stores nationwide and online at www.laverauk.co.uk

LIPS The Extra Tint Collection from Bobbi Brown is an oil-infused balm with a sheer tint of colour. The balm leaves lips feeling hydrated, smoother and softer. Lucky in Luxe Collection by Bobbi Brown is a limited edition of bold colours to offer that perfect dose of glamour. For the full collection visit : www.bobbibrown.co.uk

HAIR Applying continuous heat to your hair causes damage. Moisture content is just as important to the health and beauty of your hair as it is to your skin. We recommend using Philip Kingsley’s Re-Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner. It helps to restore the moisture content of your hair and to nourish it. www.philipkingsley.co.uk

HANDS During colder months, hands are prone to dryness and can get chapped and weathered. Take your skincare to the next level by treating your hands to a little TLC with the 20 minute Hand Application by Skin Republic! The full Skin Republic range is available at numerous UK stockists including Superdrug and lookfantastic.

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The Beauty Edit By Sarah-Jane Outten Regular readers will know me from my column featuring local businesses and charities. So, you will understand that my passion for writing is nothing new. However, you may not know that I am also a qualified makeup artist with a love for all things beauty related.

When we talk about beauty, our thoughts easily head to make up, but looking after our skin should always be the priority. Not only do I adore products from Liz Earl, I love to read the many books that she has written over the years. She has written about so many aspects of wellbeing, from homemade organic products to gut health. In her book Skin Secrets Liz talks about the many factors that influence the condition of our skin. From simply having good genes, hormones, food, pollution to the ingredients that our in our everyday cosmetics and products. This book is packed with lots of scientific research that Liz then applies a holistic approach to. She discusses how we can look after our skin at every stage of our lives, as well as general health, including how to relax and sleep better. Something that many of us, with busy lives, need some help with.

Hello and welcome to the February edition of The Beauty Edit. It is with a heavy heart that this will also be the final edition from me. As I grasp some serious focus on my Masters, family life and work commitments – it was simply time to leave Cardiff Times. It has been an absolute joy, and I will miss it greatly. So, as a goodbye I thought I would share some of my favourite books from the world of beauty and health. This time of year, is the perfect time hunker down under a bundle of blankets, a cup of tea and good book. And let’s take a look at ways in which we can start something new, and these books will certainly lend a hand.

Finally, sisters and makeup artists, Sam and Nic Chapman started a YouTube channel back in 2009. They focused on tutorials showcasing favourite make up looks – enabling women and men to recreate the professional look at home. Since then they have launched their own range of affordable quality makeup brushes with Real Techniques, which I thoroughly recommend. The sisters have merged together a beautiful coffee table book packed with glossy and glamorous photography along with step by step ‘how to’ instructions. It’s visually pleasing and informative. Face won’t disappoint, think of it as an essential to any budding makeup artist or enthusiast.

First up, something from Wales’ very own Sali Hughes, a journalist, broadcaster, Guardian columnist and founder of The Beauty Banks. Over the last 20 years Sali has gathered a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the beauty industry. In her book Pretty Iconic, Sali gives real women advice on creating those beauty looks that we thought we could only dream of. She has something for everyone from teenagers to brides and the mature woman. Rather than a set of instructions, it’s more of a friendly chat with your best mate. It’s heartwarming and will leave you feeling nothing less than fabulous.

And so that concludes the last Beauty Edit from me. Thank you all for reading. All the best. SJ x

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prepare for summer with these popular treatments! If you’re wanting to look your best this summer, there are numerous cosmetic treatments that can help. However, it can be difficult knowing which areas to focus on in order to gain the best results in such a short time period.

treatment can provide a long lasting solution to this problem. Lasers can successfully destroy unsightly legs veins. Initially the vessels appear darker and then gradually disappear over a period of 6 weeks. To ensure you are ready for summer it would be wise to start this treatment at least 3 months before your target date. Plan ahead to be ready for those beach holidays.

If you’re trying to decide which procedures you should be focusing on, below we’ll look at the top summer prep treatments you’ll want to invest in.

Laser peels – reveal a fresh, rejuvenated complexion Do you want your skin to look perfect this summer? Laser peels can really help. They are suitable for all types of skin and a variety of skin concerns. Laser peels can be targeted at trouble spots in the top layer of skin, treating problems such as unsightly pigmentation. Deeper laser peels can target the deeper layers of skin, stimulating collagen production to produce a smoother, more youthful appearance. More aggressive laser peels can improve acne scarring.

CoolSculpting – perfect for those stubborn love handles Ideally, for best results CoolSculpting should be done in spring or late winter time if you’re looking to benefit in the summer. However, even if you’ve left it a little late, you’ll still see the benefits almost immediately. It works by exposing the fat cells in the targeted areas, to safe, cold temperatures. This in turn, causes the cells to literally shut themselves down. They are then eliminated over a period of around 12 weeks, when you’ll get to experience full results.

Overall, there are many treatments you can invest in to look great this summer. However, the above four are some of the most commonly requested at the Specialist Skin Clinic as pre-summer treatments.

It’s worth noting this treatment isn’t a good treatment option for obesity. It’s designed to treat small pockets of fat only and will only help you to drop a few pounds, focusing more on contouring the body, than helping you to lose weight.

For more information on these and other treatments go to our website at www.specialistskinclinic.uk or contact us on 02920617690 to book an appointment.

Laser hair removal – say goodbye to painful waxing! Of course, one of the key things you’re going to be concerned with this summer is ensuring your legs and body are hair-free. Waxing is often seen as the easiest way to achieve smooth hairless legs, but it’s also known to be extremely painful. Many people also don’t realise that you can still gain a little regrowth just a few days after waxing. With laser hair removal, it works by destroying the hair follicles, ensuring the hair follicle either does not grow back for a long time or it produces hair which is much finer and less visible. It does require a few sessions, depending upon which areas are being treated. However, it’s really effective and will help you focus on simply enjoying the summer season, rather than dreading it. Laser treatment of leg veins If you are planning to wear summer dresses, leg veins can sometimes get in the way. Laser

Dr. Maria Gonzalez 27

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Craniosacral Therapy brings about a eep state o relaaon

Are you feeling stressed. Is life getting too much?

This can help resolve problems such as back or neck pain, heaaches or any stress relate symptoms It can also help spee your recovery rom accient, operaon or illness

Do you feel like you have nowhere to go? Looking for somewhere safe to talk?

Craniosacral Therapy enhances health an well–being

We listen & work with you for change

or more inormaon, contact !uy Clover RCST on 029 20 481844 or mail@juyclovercouk wwwjuyclovercouk

enquiries@reflectivehorizonstherapy.co.uk Tel: 07874114416

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resolutions are for life. not just for january! By Natalie McCulloch As a society we tend to use January 1st as a marker to commit to setting New Year’s Resolutions or initiating changes to our lives or ourselves in some way. But, as just 8% of the population are said to stick to these resolutions, perhaps it is worth us reconsidering the January ritual? Ultimately, it’s never too late to make a change. After all, surely resolutions can be made any time of the year, why let January take all the glory?

Elliot famously theorised. “It’s never too late to be what you could have been.” In fact, if you have something in mind right now, perhaps there’s never been a better time to start making positive changes in your life? According to Sam Sander of goal-setting-success.com, motivation and direction are keys to success. He deduces that there is a “clear link between people that set goals and people that succeed, because people who set goals have a clear direction towards their chosen destination - people who succeed have goals, and people who have goals succeed.” So, if you feel life is urging you to take action to do something differently, why not give it your best shot? “Dr Pepper it!” What’s the worst that can happen?”

Some common resolutions seem to be centred around: • health (i.e. quit smoking, change weight, alter diet/ activity level), • lifestyle changes (i.e. join activities or develop skills) • spending habits (i.e. better budgeting, start saving) • or doing something off your bucket list (i.e. visit somewhere exotic, participate in a charity fundraiser). The likelihood is that all of these goals are possible, but there are so many factors to consider in order to make sure the chances of success are maximised. Perhaps in the flurry of Christmas excitement, some of these components go astray and instead we go into the new year like a bull in a china shop, shattering all of our resolutions at the same time?

An important point to raise here is to not beat yourself up about having broken your NYR but to embrace it! James Clear theorises that we should be ‘treating failure like a scientist’. Clear states that instead of being negative about having not achieved something, we should look at it objectively, evaluate the issues that arose and formulate solutions based on the findings. In this concept, we are constantly accepting ourselves as fallible human beings, embracing this and learning from it. This self-compassion is surely a more humane and motivating approach as opposed to constantly blaming ourselves when things go wrong, or allowing it to set us back in other aspects of our daily living?

Interestingly, it is thought that 4,000 years ago when the tradition of setting New Year’s Resolutions arose, New Year was celebrated mid – March when workers crops began to flourish! Perhaps this delay isn’t a bad idea after all, to let the hype of Christmas die down, the indulgent festive food supply diminishes and reality starts to resume as normal following Christmas shut down.

If you bake a cake and it doesn’t rise, do you resign that you can’t bake or look back over the process you used and evaluate what may have gone wrong (did you use the right ingredients, bake it for the correct time?) then try again? Hopefully the latter because that way, eventually you will get a yummy cake!

Did you know that there is an official day when most people give up on their New Year’s Resolutions? Shockingly, this is just 12 days into the new year! So why so soon? Perhaps it’s the pressure of postChristmas excitement come down. The high expectations we establish that set ourselves up to fail before we even really get going. Or simply us trying to do too much too soon instead of setting achievable goals over an achievable timespan

As Winston Churchill said, “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.” So, how can you guarantee to succeed at your goals? Sadly, you can’t. As with any change there is always an element of risk and uncertainty, but if you have the urge to change you have the task of weighing up

You may be entering February feeling pretty demotivated or ashamed of yourself for lapsing in your good intentions, but all is not lost, as George

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CT Feature

• A – Attainable. Is what you are aiming for realistic? Is it achievable or does it maybe need modification? If you are aiming to do 10k every day on the treadmill, is this going to be possible with your current lifestyle/ fitness levels? • R – Relevant. Is the goal you have set relevant to you? Do you know why you want to do something? Can you think of how you are going to motivate yourself when the ‘going gets tough’? For example, if you enjoy eating meat then setting a resolution to go vegan without good reason may not be advisable. Life coach, Bethan Jarman advises people to ask yourself, “If I say no to x, what could I say yes to?” Figure out your motivator, your ‘why’, so that you have a good enough reason to want to change. • T – Time-bound. Do you have a certain time scale that you want to achieve your goal in? When will you reassess whether your goal is being achieved? If your goal is to read 10 books, is that 10 books a week, or a month, or longer? Please note, on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behaviour becomes automatic - 66 days to be exact. Length of time can vary widely depending on the behaviour, the person, and the circumstances. In an experiment by Lally, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit, so when you set your goals, set your expectations accordingly.

whether the risk is worth it and whether you think you have the ability, resources and drive to succeed. There are a few pointers however, to help you on your way. Firstly, you need to decide on your goals. Look at your current lifestyle; if you could change something what would it be and why? It may help you to identify your values and look at whether your current lifestyle reflects them i.e. if you have a value that you want to be a good person – look at how you attain this in your life – perhaps you do volunteer work, charitable deeds or simply do random acts of kindness in your everyday life? If not, then maybe these could help formulate a goal? Secondly, you need a game plan! Look at strategies you could formulate to help implement your goals, and obstacles which may arise. If you want to start getting fit, you could look at local gyms or running groups and times you could slot this into your current schedule. Then look at issues which may arise, such as finances, weather or motivation and how to overcome these, for example, looking at free running groups, buying good running gear (waterproof ideally – this is Wales after all) and possibly even recruiting others to join in for company and support! Now it’s time to get started! Start small and don’t expect miracles straight away, keep reminding yourself of why these goals are important to you (post it notes or phone reminders may help) so that when times get tough you can reflect on why you set out on this goal in the first instinct. Equally important, as life coach Bethan Jarman explains, you need to “reward any progress however small and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet your new goal one day - be selfcompassionate and just ask yourself why you think you didn’t manage it that day.” It’s also worth considering your goal setting process – why not utilise the SMART principles of goal setting. Ask yourself if my resolution/goal is: • S – Specific – what is your exact goal, what do you want to change? How can you make this change? Instead of saying ‘be healthier’ why not narrow it down to ‘take my multivitamins’, ‘attend all medical appointments’ or ‘look after my skin better by implementing a skin routine daily’. Specific goals are more likely to guide individual success. • M – Measurable how will you know if you’ve achieved it? How can you measure your success? For example, if your goal is around changing your weight, would you measure it on the scales, using a tape measure or just by how clothes feel?

Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall – Confucius So, go on – put on your party hat and celebrate another glorious month full of multiple opportunities to make 2019 a happier, healthier year for you!

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Article - Natalie McCulloch - Febr... page 2

Resources: https://liveboldandbloom.com/12/habits/how-to-make-good-habitsstick https://www.mindtools.com/page6.html https://jamesclear.com/failure-scientist

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“in the words of…” By Carl Marsh

was a brand new tapas restaurant on N Church Street in Cardiff called Santiago’s Tapas. Before I get to the review of said venues, there is something that I need to mention, and hoping that you don’t mind the pun, but I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew writing hospitality type reviews (bad pun, I know!). I will still attend restaurants, bars and the like but I thought best that it was done by someone who has a considerable interest, huge personality and tremendous talent in all of these areas. So from this month, I have the absolute pleasure to welcome on board my go-to food, drinks and venue expert, and his name is@, Brett Salway.

February, The month which allows us to brush off those January woes by giving us Valentines Day! Some might cherish this day, some perhaps not. For those inclined to partake in it then I have a suggestion for you and that is of a little Welsh gem of a company found just outside Cardiff, Cowbridge to be precise and they are called Sloane Home. I will be treating my wife to a beautiful relaxing candle, chocolate truffles and a bottle of their gin, all are handmade and using natural ingredients, and it is supporting a Cardiff postcode small business! It also keeps me in the good books, I just need to make sure that I don’t forget the card again, (again!).

Interviews This month I was able to interview Dr Michael Mosley, the guy credited for popularising the 5/2 Diet and is always on our TV screens, often putting his body up for new medical trials and did indeed cure his own Type 2 Diabetes from doing so on one of his TV shows. He will be appearing at St David’s Hall on the 27th of February. Next up is Jay James, the new host of a brand-new music, entertainment and celebrity-packed show on Nation Broadcasting’s five regional networks across Wales on a Sunday between 4 pm and 7 pm. I guess it’s a bit like me, but on the radio (I can dream!). Appearing just outside Cardiff on the 9th February at Blackwood Miners Institute are The Searchers who celebrate their 60th year. I speak with John McNally, and we even chatted about the early days when he used to swap music with a fellow Merseybeat band called The Beatles, where I got to learn some unknown facts! Lastly, and still sticking with music and another legend, and that is Peter Hook. He is touring with his band Peter Hook & The Light at the Tramshed in Cardiff on the 23rd February. You will know that he was in Joy Division and New Order, and he will be playing tracks from two New Order albums called Technique and Republic, while he may get to do a few Joy Division ones also.

I will still be doing all interviews and film/tv/music/book/ entertainment reviews, but Brett will do the food and drink reviews. As mentioned above, the first recommendation, and I can vouch for it seeing as I went with him, is a restaurant called Seren Diemwnt in Llandaff. I found it a quaint and relaxing setting and offering a delightful menu, with me choosing the goose as my main. (Brett’s review can be found here www.cardiff-times.co.uk/blog/) His second review is of a new tapas restaurant in Cardiff called Santiago’s Tapas which is on N Church Street in the city centre towards Cardiff Castle. I found this place so enjoyable that I have booked a return visit tomorrow! (Brett’s review can be found here www.cardiff-times.co.uk/blog/)

Local Mentions January can often be a quiet month but towards the end of January I went and ate at two venues, one is Seren Diemwnt, which is in Llandaff, and the second

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Dr Michael Mosley

The Searchers - John McNally

How much freedom are you given with selecting the subject matter for the shows that appear on our TV screens? Some of the stuff I do is from things that I have come up with, while at times it’s others that decide such as the producers and the researchers for shows such as Trust Me, I’m a Doctor. Whereas with Eat, Fast and Live Longer was from part of a conversation I had with the editor of Horizon, and he asked me what I wanted to do, so I told him “I’ve got Type 2 Diabetes, and I want to get rid of it, and I want to make a film about it!”. So, we got some *

Did you save anything such as posters, flyers, tickets from when you were performing in the late 1950s, or from other bands like Gerry and the Pacemakers or The Beatles? That’s the annoying thing about it! My wife has a signed picture of The Beatles as she got that since she used to go to The Cabin in Liverpool but I didn’t see it like that at the time. When I was performing at the same venue as say The Beatles, I just saw them as fellow musicians enjoying themselves in clubs. You are so young that you don’t think about these things at the time but with the footballers, well*

( to read more - www.cardiff-times.co.uk/blog/ )

( to read more - www.cardiff-times.co.uk/blog/ )

Jay James

Peter Hook & The Light

You’ve been quite busy these last few years haven’t you, and now you’re the new prime time Sunday afternoon host on Nation Radio’s networks across Wales?

Your new tour will be having you perform the New Order albums Technique and Republic, and maybe a little bit of Joy Division, what was the reasoning behind doing this?

Well, obviously I am still involved with the music side of things by working on my new record, but radio has become a bit of bread and butter to me for these last 2-3 years. I’ve been honoured really for the opportunity to get involved in this industry such as BFBS Radio, which is Forces radio and you yourself Carl will know of it because of your time in the Army. I do The Big Show on there, and it goes out three times a week and is worldwide. The Nation Radio gig is my first solo show though, and I know I am taking over a kind of mantle that was the Chart Show slot there, so*

What happened was the boys in the band are so good that basically, once we add an LP to our repertoire, we can play all of them. So if somebody asks us for any LP that we have played, then we can actually brush it up and play it. Some gigs we do (tracks from) Substance, some gigs we do Technique and Republic. My aim was to find a gimmick that was to play the LP, in full because a lot of the audio on a record has never been played*

( to read more- www.cardiff-times.co.uk/blog/ )

( to read more- www.cardiff-times.co.uk/blog/ )

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Entertainment Previews & Reviews Educational/Interest The Spanish course that I have been trialling called the Michel Thomas Method and the ‘Foundation Spanish’ has been going well, so well in fact that I am nearly halfway through the course already. Perhaps it is because January is a quiet month spent in the home, avoiding anything that plans to take your money but it was not just that, I am finding this method of learning quite enjoyable, bar the irritating not-so-quick-to-learn chap’s voice (mentioned last month) who is the second learning voice you hear on the audio. Him aside, Michel Thomas still has my interest levels very high, and it is a course I will finish. I plan to undertake the next offering. Or perhaps I should try a different language entirely. I will see how the rest of this month goes by just aiming to finish this one first. (Four Stars - still!)

is the home of such beauty? The author does an excellent job of detailing for even for those that have never picked up a similar book before, so the words used are not just aimed at the railway connoisseur! It’s a significant quality book too, with photo’s aplenty throughout. One lovely book for any table in any home. (Four Stars)

Literary There were three books that I read this month. All are non-fiction, and all are books usually ‘out of my comfort zone’ when it comes to what I would typically read. They are all by the same publisher Pen & Sword Books Ltd, as they kindly contacted me asking if I would be interested in reviewing any books from a large selection of titles over different genres that they sent me. I took the plunge into reading a history book about Hugh Despenser and then two books about trains and railways! I am so glad I did.

The third and last book was A Pageant Of British Steam by Geoff Swaine. Closely genre connected to the previous book but this one talks about the steam engine preservation and how the conservation of them by many volunteers has led to the saving of this key and much loved part of our British history. Like the last book, this is also a large book with an even more significant number of pictures in it. The author also does a superb job of writing for the newbie and experienced, its a topic that might not tick everyone's box but for me, it was a great escape into times gone by. (Four & a Half Stars)

The first books full title is Hugh Despenser the Younger and Edward II - Downfall of a King’s Favourite by Karen Warner. Hugh Despenser was not a nice man, solely responsible for the first ever deposition of an English Monarchy, this book, however, does highlight all of his wickedness but also does portray him in a different light when it comes to showing him as a loving family man. Even though Despenser lived in the 14th century, many of his letters, survived, so the author has been able to provide us with an insight to all parts of this mans existence, both good, and incredibly and extremely bad! (Five Stars) The second book was Rebuilding The Welsh Highland Railway by Peter Johnson. A subject where I am honest to say is one that I would probably not even entertain, but it was the subparagraph stating it was “Britain’s Longest Heritage Line” that did it for me. Who would have thought, apart from those in the know, that Wales

Carl Marsh - February 2019 page 3

Cinema At the time of going to print, I was unable to get to see The Mule which stars Clint Eastwood, but I just had to mention it here. The Mule looks promising as it is based on the true story of Leo Sharp, a World War II veteran who in his late 80s became a drug courier for the Sinaloa Cartel. That paragraph in itself has sold it to me, I’ll let you know next month what I thought of it.

Theatre / Music This month it was Jersey Boys which was showing at the Wales Millennium Centre, the show is the life story of how The Four Seasons and Frankie Valli came to be. The story is told as brutal as it was for them throughout their career, yet aired on the lighter side for the most part and it blew me away with how good the voices were, which was if Frankie Valli et co were on the stage. The highlight of my month. (Five Stars) Thank you all for reading, see you next month, and do feel free to contact me on Twitter @InTheWordsOf_

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We are WE Bridge Academy – a professional English language school located in the very heart of Cardiff. Our premises can be found inside South Gate House – an executive business building that overlooks the centre of Cardiff and is a five-minute walk from Cardiff Central railway station. Our friendly team are passionate about delivering exceptional standards of education and encouraging the very best from our students in a professional learning environment. Our spacious classrooms are equipped with modern technology. We offer tea and coffee making facilities, a spacious student lounge, free Wi-Fi and a multi-faith prayer room and washing facilities. In 2018 we took over additional space within Southgate House to create new offices and four brand new classrooms. Floor 10 boasts a ‘quiet room’ for our students where they can relax or work on those all-important assignments without being disturbed. Our genuine and friendly approach to teaching is what makes us different. We have a real passion to see everyone that studies with us succeed and anyone aged 16 and over is welcome to join us.

Southgate House, Wood St, Cardiff CF10 1EW 02920 225656 www.we-bridge.co.uk

Homestay hosts within the Cardiff area required for International students aged 16 years and over.

Excellent remuneration offered. For further information, contact Richard (We-Bridge Academy) on

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With the increased awareness of climate change, people are making more conscious decisions to reduce the impact their day to day lives have on the environment. Reusable cups, paper takeaway straws and bamboo toothbrushes are just a few items that are available to people to help them live a greener, plastic-free lifestyle. When we think of recycling most of us would associate it with newspapers, baked bean tins and wine bottles but Revival Bridal Boutique is taking recycling to a more glamorous level. Their ‘Revival Collection’ is an ever-changing collection of dresses unique in both design and production.

Each dress is ‘preloved’ having been reinvented, or even completely recut, into a beautiful, bespoke gown ready and waiting to be loved again. By using preloved gowns for their fabrics, trims and fastenings they minimise the effect that the boutique has on the environment.

A single wedding dress is estimated to use 9000 litres of water! Most high street wedding dresses start their lives as huge rolls of raw, tan coloured fabrics that are bleached white using an ugly, energy-intensive process that consumes gallons of water and harmful

chemicals that affect the environment. Revival Bridal Boutique aims to provide brides with a unique wedding dress shopping experience and a bespoke range of eco-friendly dresses. Their in-house designer and award-winning dressmaker has more than 10 years of fine hand-sewing experience so anything is possible. Revival Bridal Boutique Castle Emporium Womanby Street CF10 1BS 02920 371659 revivalbridalboutique.co.uk


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Also Showing All Six Nations Games

635 Newport Road, Rumney, Cardiff CF3 4FB 02920 002499 www.thackeraycardiff.co.uk 43 43

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Fun Things To Do In February! The Inflatable Arena The Inflatable Arena is a place where friends and families can come together and have the time of their lives. It has vertical drop slides, an assault course, climbing mountains, and a pitch black maze and challenge zone. Our inflatables are suitable for adults as well as children. Our arena is a 15,000 square foot space and was built to engage people from all age groups in fun activities. The "Ninja Warrior" style assault course and the "Gladiator" style games are both challenging and exciting. If you are an adventure enthusiast, we have mountain climbing and vertical drop slides available too! The activity centre has slides, rope swings, and tunnels, all for the sole-purpose of having fun! The arena also boasts a café , which offers a variety of refreshments. We have the skills and expertise to host great birthday parties for the kids, and Fun Saturday evening sessions for adults. Team Building and School trips welcomed. Free car parking on site. Our Holiday/ weekend opening hours are from 10.00am - 5.30pm, Monday - Friday and Sunday. 10.00am - 7.30pm Saturday. £9.00 - ages 10 and under , £11.50 – Ages 11 and over or £3.95 per adult accompanying a child. Jubilee Trading estate, East Tyndall Street, Cardiff 02920 493003 www.theinflatablearena.com

Baby Ballet babyballet Cardiff is here! Go online now to book your 3 week introductory trial for just £15! www.babyballet.co.uk/cardiff Find us on Instagram and Facebook @babyballet_cardiff

Cardiff Pottery Workshop Come and take some time out and have a giggle on the potters wheel. Here at Cardiff Pottery Workshops one of our aims is to make pottery accessible to all ages and abilities. Spending an hour on the potters wheel learning to throw a bowl is a great way to be creative, get messy and have some fun. The kids love seeing mum, dad, grandparent or guardian having a go too! Saturday 23rd February 2pm-3pm. £30 for adult and child. Online booking essential. Alternatively, come and let your child's imagination run wild with our mid-week hand building workshop. What would their ideal pet be? Rabbit ears, unicorn horn, tiger teeth? Well, this workshop encourages children to engage with the wonderful qualities of clay and make their own pet pot. Wednesday 27th February 10am-12pm. £7.50 per child. Online booking essential. For further details please visit our website: www.cardiffpotteryworkshops.com Contact: kelly@cardiffpotteryworkshops.com Mobile: 07478223611 Address: Unit 15A Freemans Parc, Penarth Road. Cardiff. CF11 8EQ.

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Cardiff Bus ‘The Cardiff Bus ticket for Half Term Family Travel’ Half term family outings just got even better thanks to Cardiff Bus. Whether it’s a spot of shopping, a day out to the Bay or Barry Island, or a fun outing to explore the city, the Family Day-To-Go Ticket will get you there. Thanks to its unbeatable value, families can now explore the city and Penarth for just £8.60 in the week, and £5.50 on weekends and school holidays. While a visit to Barry and the city centre will cost just £11.50 in the week and £8.00 on weekends and school holidays. And with the ticket covering one or two adults and up to four 5-18 year olds (a maximum of 5 people per ticket), no-one needs to get left out in the cold! Stuck for ideas on where to go this half term? Make sure you check out cardiffbus.com/things-to-do for ideas for great family days out. To find out more visit cardiffbus.com/family-travel.

Glamorgan Cricket ‘February Half Term Cricket Camps’ Fight off the February blues with Glamorgan C.C.Cs first Cricket Holiday Camps of the year! Running Monday 25th February – Friday 1st March, take advantage of the fantastic facilities here at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff. Stave off the cold weather, get ready for the new season and get stuck into some cricket! Our fun filled soft ball cricket camps will not only be a chance to make friends, improve your batting and bowling but also provide key fundamental movement skills that will be invaluable throughout your lifetime. Open to all abilities and a range of age groups, coaching will run from 9am till 4pm with drop off from 8am and last pick up at 5pm. The price is just £30 for one day booked, £55 for two days, £75 for three days, £90 for four days or £100 for the week. Email: stuart.grimmond@glamorgancricket.co.uk to book or for more information call 02920 419 363.

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm ‘Woo at the Zoo – 14th February – 2nd March’ Join us in February half term and help us celebrate LOVE! Between 14th February and 2nd March follow our heart trail around the zoo. At each giant heart find out about conservation issues and ways in which you can help as well as fun facts about the animals. Complete the trail and answer the questions for your chance to win a family day ticket for 2 adults and 2 children. Once you have completed the trail why not hang a heart on our Promise Tree and make your pledge to conservation. Don’t forget to check out all our wonderful baby animals including our two lion cubs Kojo and Tau, our baby Zebra, Zenah and our flock of Ostrich chicks. Look out around the zoo, our animal couples will be receiving some heart themed enrichment throughout the event. Our daily keeper talks will focus on conservation and how our animals play a role in breeding programmes. In the afternoon why not treat your loved one to a special afternoon tea in our café! The trail is included in Zoo entry price. To find out more and plan your visit, go to: www.noahsarkzoofarm.co.uk

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Aerospace Bristol Visit Aerospace Bristol and step aboard Concorde in her 50th anniversary year. Boasting the last Concorde ever to fly as its stunning star attraction, Aerospace Bristol is a fun family attraction only a short drive from Cardiff. Get ready to take off on an exciting and interactive journey through more than a century of remarkable aerospace history. From WW1 biplanes to modern fighter jets, helicopters, rockets and satellites, Aerospace Bristol takes you on a fascinating flight through time, including fun interactive games and children’s trails to enjoy along the way. There’s something for all ages to enjoy and it’s the perfect time to visit, as 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Concorde’s first flight. Concorde made her maiden flight from Toulouse on 2nd March 1969, with the first British Concorde taking to the skies a month later, when Concorde 002 made her maiden flight from Filton. Aerospace Bristol tickets are valid for free return visits for 12 months, and now that there is no longer a bridge toll, there’s never been a better time to enjoy Concorde50 celebrations throughout 2019. To find out more, plan your visit, or buy gift tickets, visit aerospacebristol.org.

Big Pit National Coal Museum A FREE day out at Big Pit, Blaenafon Experience the thrill of going 300ft underground with an ex miner (children must be at least a metre tall to go underground) and visit our exciting underground interactive galleries and Pithead Baths exhibition. 029 2057 3650

Better Leisure Centres Get Some Half Term Happy! Parents, Feb Half term is just around the corner! Bring the kids in from the cold to your local Better leisure centre; we have a number of fun activities to keep the kids active and entertained across the city. Let them burn off some energy, make new friends, try new sports and have fun – all in the safe hands of our friendly, highly qualified staff. Across seven pools in the city, you can book your child onto our Intensive Swim Courses. These lessons are the perfect way to help give your child a boost in their swimming confidence and ability and are suitable for beginners all the way to competent swimmers. Alternatively we have a wide range of activities for kids under 16, including everything from free swimming, junior gym, pool inflatables, football, gymnastics, dance, soft play, inflatables and much, much more. What’s more, Better Fairwater Leisure Centre are launching brand new Street Dance, Football and Gymnastics tasters as well as Better Llanishen Leisure Centre offering FREE Gymnastics tasters on Monday 25th February ahead of it’s new Gymnastics course launch in March! To find our your centres specific timetable of activity over the February Half term, check out our website which will give you more information www.better.org.uk/cardiff Why not mix it up and pick and choose your activities across the city?

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Introducing Rum & Fizz from the guys who brought you Gin & Juice and Coffee Barker in Cardiff. “We wanted to explore everything about Rum, the origins, the rich history and the very different styles. Exploring perfect accompaniments and how each Rum should be served has been a journey of discovery, as a result we will present an opening selection of over 200 individual Rum’s from around the globe.” “Fizz represents our love for Prosecco, Champagne and all that sparkles. Organic prosecco, rose Prosecco, skinny Prosecco and Vegan Prosecco to name a few. In addition, we offer a wonderful collection of double bottles magnums. These huge bottles are perfect for a celebration.” “Our ethos is to offer the finest selection to the Welsh capital city with service that is casual yet always professional and knowledgeable.” Open 7 days a week 8.30am until late! Join us for Breakfast through to late night drinks. With over 201 Rums, great cocktails & magnums of prosecco and champagne to enjoy with friends all day everyday! Located next to Gin & Juice and adjoining Coffee Barker in the bustling castle quarter, Rum & Fizz will extend the sophisticated social scene that thrives in the area.

Rum & Fizz Castle Arcade, Cardiff CF10 1BU

029 2022 4575 rumandfizz coffeebarker

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coffeebarker rumandfizz

@CoffeeBarker

Tuesday, 29 January 2019 15:01 Magenta Yellow Black Cyan


“And Another Thing…….”

By Vince Nolan

life’s a beach “Oh, my old man's a dustman He wears a dustman's hat He wears cor blimey trousers And he lives in a council flat.”

Hello Chums. Now here’s the thing, I thought I knew much about the other Cardiff’s’ dotted around the world until I recently stumbled on Cardiff-by-theSea, located in Encinitas in San Diego County, California. The Pacific Ocean is to its’ west and apparently the beach is protected in the state park system of California. Popular activities include swimming and surfing.

Of course times have changed since then. A more contempary version allowing for political correctness is now required and would go something like this: “My father is an environmental refuse operative He wears appropriate protective headgear. His tailoring leaves a lot to be desired And he is housed by the local unitary authority.” All together now99. I am conscious that I have not shared any lookalike pictures with you for a while and so here are Liverpool Manager, Jurgen Klopp and Aussie Actor, Guy Pearce. Decent doppelgangers I think you will agree (German for doppelgangers).

See if you can pick which one is our Cardiff Beach where popular activities include trying to see the sea when the tide is out and dumping builders rubble on the “beach.” February sees the celebration of the Chinese New Year. This year it is The Pig which was the year I was born (don’t). Apparently the pig represents luck, overall good fortune, wealth, honesty, general prosperity, symbolising a hard-working, peaceloving person, truthful, generous, indulgent, patient, reliable, trusting, sincere, giving, sociable with a large sense of humour and understanding. Did I mention I was born in the year of the Pig? Staying with our porcine chums, I was reading a book on pig anatomy the other day. It was all pretty standard until I got to the end. There was a twist in the tale. I was thinking about the hard-working guys and girls who carried on collecting our household rubbish throughout the recent holiday period. It reminded me of the song “My Old Man’s a Dustman” which will be remembered by some of you as a chart number 1 in 1960 by Lonnie Donegan. The first verse went as follows:

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Anyway, there I was recently abandoned by the current Mrs Nolan in the local hostelry, The Pointless Complainant, whilst she went off to her unarmed combat class. There were three alleged businessmen from out-of-town sat on the next table having had dinner and having split the bill with the sort of precision a surgeon would have been proud of. It was clearly hierarchical as one guy did all the talking (but not paying) and the other two didn’t tell him to go forth and multiply at any stage. He had a better story than his colleagues on every subject including this verbatim one:

me to leave and I never received any compensation. It just sums up what is wrong with the retail sector in this country.” Apart from the faint sound of tumbleweed blowing across his table nobody had the temerity to break the silence. Believe it or not this diatribe lasted 30 minutes. I gave him my best Paddington Bear hard stare as he mercifully left the premises with his two acolytes in tow. I was left wondering if he was married and how the long-suffering woman could possibly have seen anything but a life of utter boredom stretching ahead of her until a long-off but welcome death.

“Have I told you this story before?” Silence from his chums. I thought to myself that they had either heard it many times and were being polite or perhaps were waiting with bated breath to be entertained with another whizz-bang anecdote. It went like this: “It was about three years ago at Christmas and I needed to buy a pillowcase so I went into a well-known high street store and bought one for £8 as a present for a friend.”

Anyway, this stimulated a whole new interest in pillowcases on my part. Have you heard about corduroy pillowcases? They’ve been making headlines.

I was already taking notes by this time. Who buys somebody a pillowcase as a present? Must have been some friend. “When I got it home I noticed that it was 70cms square which is a non-standard dimension so I went back to the shop to complain.” Who would know what a standard dimension for a pillowcase would be? “I said to them that they should not be selling goods which are not compliant with market norms. The manager was not interested. I warned him that I would be writing to his head-office. He kindly provided me with their address and encouraged me to do so which was nice.” Silence from his colleagues.

Remaining with household items, why is it called stainless steel? I know it is not supposed to rust but please! We have a new kitchen, taps, sink, bin, hob and spotlights, microwave and slow cooker. All stainless steel and all covered in stains. I know I can use stuff to keep it clean but what a misnomer. It’s like suggesting there is non-slip ice or a safe Brexit.

“I then wrote to their head-office and they called me back and offered to send me a cheque for £8. I told them that this was not good enough and demanded an ex-gratia payment to compensate me for my disappointment and loss of a present. They refused and so I then threatened them with the Press, warning them that they would take a dim view of the matter. They encouraged me to write to whomsoever I wished.” Still silence from his colleagues.

Finally, I saw an advert in a window that said: “Television for sale, £1, volume stuck on full.” I thought, I can’t turn that down. Bye for now.

“I went back into the shop and they asked me to leave. I told them I had made a 28 mile round trip to stand up for my consumer rights. They still asked

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Puzzle Mania! Crossword 1

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8

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Across 1. Pleasant sound (5), 4. Teacher responsibility (5), 7. Devout in religion (5), 10. Three-pronged spear (7), 11. Fragmentary (7), 12. Measure of current (3), 14. Excited happiness (8), 16. Broad flat fish (8), 18. Stunned state (6), 20. and so on (abbrev) (3), 21. Predator (6), 23. Not active (7), 24. Meat axe (7), 27. Yeast (6), 29. Limitless period (2), 30. Business group (6), 32. Mariner (8), 33. Extremely fast (8), 35. Look at (3), 37. Eccentric (7), 40. Typical example (7), 42. Man without honour (5), 43. Strong thread (5), 44. know-all, smart/ (5) Down 1. Handed out (5), 2. Glide over snow (3), 3. Farewell (7), 4. Hundredweight (3), 5. Source of nuclear energy (4), 6. Weaken (3), 7. Vicious S American fish (7), 8. French word for yes (3), 9. Saline (5), 12. Traffic light colour (5), 13. Prepare mentally, / up, (5), 15. US State (9), 17. Machine for tilling soil (9), 18. Calyx leaf (5), 19. Large black bird (5), 21. Historic artefact (5), 22. Pastoral (5), 25. Poetic rhythm (5), 26. Dwarf as a garden ornament (5), 28. Originate (from) (7), 31. New World continent (7), 32. Sudden impact (5), 34. Examine (5), 36. Abominable snowman (4), 38. Genetic fingerprints (1,1,1), 39. / It be, Beatles song (3), 40. First Woman? (3), 41. Spanish shout (3)

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WORD WHEEL

F E

W S

R

K

E.g. ROW

I

R O

Including the middle letter, how many words of 3 letters or more can you make? 20 = Good 25 = Excellent 30 = Outstanding

Sudoku Easy

Hard

2

1

5

5

5

1

8

6

7

2

7

3

5

4

6

3

8

3

3

1

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1 5

2

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1 5

8

7

2 3

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8

6 9

6

7

3

5 1

2

6 4

4

9 9

55

1 8

3 1

For solutions, please go to: www.cardiff-times.co.uk

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Friday, 25 January 2019 16:01 Magenta Yellow Black Cyan


lost souls regained By Sara John

At that very “Now I think I’ll have a nice cup of coffee” moment there was an urgent ringing of the telephone. My heart sank slightly, not because of the ringing but because of the worrying urgency of the sound. I feared it was Viola. Again. I picked up the phone. It was Viola.

have never demonstrated any abiding interests in curtains, then or now) would hang curtains with the fancy side on the inside, thereby depriving passers-by of the chance to pass judgements. In contrast, Aunt Elvira would explain, with some authority to Viola, that in the Valleys curtains faced the ‘outside’ world. Cultural, economic and anthropological statements were being signified to the passers-by, (locally known as ‘showing off’). Choices of curtains; colours, textures, qualities and patterns invited comments and silent suggestions from pedestrians taking a quick peep into someone else’s front room. Or Parlour, as it was usually called then. Clearly this topic demands more research.

“So, how did you enjoy all the festivities with your cousins in Swansea?” I asked immediately, surely a general question, inoffensive in itself, acceptable to all, and planned to disseminate any potential hysteria and possible panic attack. I asked it in a fresh, New Year, breezy and optimistic kind of voice. “Don’t talk!” snapped Viola, dropping the phone at the other end as she put both hands with palms facing outwards towards the right hand side of her face, tilting her face to the left, in a feeble attempt to ward off any more evil spirits.

Now, let’s get back to Viola’s phone call. “And, I can’t leave the house! What am I to do? Sara, please help! Help!” I glanced out of the window, looking for fresh inspiration. It was February. On some days it was deeply, darkly depressingly winter. On other days, just occasionally there’d be a whiff of spring in the air. Snowdrops peeping out. Sturdy sheep checking their calendars and diaries for their ‘due-dates’.

I had seen her use that gesture so many times, copying her favourite Aunt, Aunty Elvira, who had lived in Pontypridd since her marriage just after the war and was very happy and welcoming to visitors, family and friends. She could have been described as ‘deeply Valleys’, but as she had been born and brought up in Llandaff North, she always insisted to Viola that she was “’arf and ‘arf”.

“The thing is, see Sara, is that I have no go.” Viola was still on the phone. “No energy. No interest. All those magazine articles about a new beginning, ‘a fresh outlook’ and all that stuff about New Year resolutions, What, I ask you, is the point? I made no resolutions. I could not keep pretending that I did, it was something else to feel guilty about. Like having dandruff or eating food just past it’s ‘best by’ date. I am in a swamp. I have got swamp fever.”

Viola adored her Aunt and had learnt a lot about the realities of life from her. Unfortunately, after the trauma for Viola of physically growing up and then reluctantly realising she was not going to be a film star after all, not even a film starlet (along with being rejected by the Odeon in Queen Street after a third try at a job as an usherette), she forgot all Aunt Elvira’s good advice and found it very difficult to look on the bright side of life, frequently claiming, for her, it was dark all round.

“That is unlikely”, I replied. “You live in Llanishen. There have been no confirmed cases of swamp fever since 1467. And, you live a fair step from the reservoir which has not been a swamp since the Normans arrived and decided to settle. In 1093.”

Although Aunt Elvira had not been familiar with academic sociological studies, her ethnographic research, her mindful observations and her deeply developed curiousity about her surroundings and regarding other people were second to none.

“Right”, I shouted down the phone cutting short her self pity and over long potential prologue for a tragedy that Shakespeare never quite got round to writing. Probably targetted at a Scandinavian television audience who had had laughter-removing lobotomies and now could not even smile. And did not want to anyway.

Take curtains for example. She would comment and point out ‘indicators’ to Viola when she visited, which would have provided lots of evidence for an extensive thesis which could have been titled, “Postwar Patterns of Behaviour and the Setting of Competitively High Standards in the Furnishings of Family Houses During the Everlasting Rationing, Frequent Shortages and Depressingly Low Wages in the South Wales Valleys in the 1950’s.”

“Right” I said, again, in my ‘Right said Fred voice’, “get your chocolate-stuffed-post-Christmas personage round here by 12 o’clock and together we will make A PLAN.” I started thinking to myself what Aunt Elvira would say about all this wallowing of Viola’s? She was always positive, a quick thinker, and able to see through gloom

Aunt Elvira had commented, fairly often, that in Cardiff most housewives (it was okay to say housewives then, it was not considered a term of abuse and, anyway, men

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CT Feature

Sometimes in trying to help someone sort out where they are at and where they should be aiming, it actually helps to go off the point, and turn sharp right at the first tangent. Viola looked more relaxed, as I explained that it seemed to me that INNER VIOLA was letting down OUTER VIOLA. She needed to make a few adjustments to INNER VIOLA, then we could have some fun with helping OUTER VIOLA.

and fog. Quick to help and encourage anyone who needed support. This latest situation is probably not as bad as it seems to Viola, I thought to myself, as I put the kettle on, got two vegetable fritters (Lebanese style) out of the deep freeze and chopped up some kale ready to pop into a hot oven for five minutes at 220F. I resolved to make a firm start helping Viola with clear action points and achievable targets. Always making sure that Viola is on board. Anyway she, bless her, would do the same for me. Ten seconds later I cancelled that last thought.

I ventured to give her some guidelines to ensure she was on the right lines. “What would your Aunt Elvira have done in this situation? An appointment with your GP (taking a list of what you wanted to convey), an appointment with your dentist and a follow-up date with your optician would be the place to start.”

If our roles and scripts had been reversed Viola would have tried to console me with: “Oh! there’s terrible, I thought last week how awful you had gone to look and so miserable, nothing new to say and always wearing those black and white spotted leggings, I mean from the back++!”

Using the analogy of running her car: I explained that the engine, brakes, technicals, steering and so on had to be in good order before you could decide whether to get the exterior bodywork fixed, which could lead on to a possible respray. A change of colour perhaps?

Car stopped outside. Doorbell. In came a very frail, pale, shaky, sad wraith. She was looking like an elderly ballerina who had invaded a provincial production of Giselle and joined the corps de ballet about halfway through the performance when the dead ones come out to dance in the forest holding hands with their arms crossed in front to stop each other going wrong.

“So you are saying I need retuning, oil change, new battery and+” “Yes,” I answered. “Anything that needs fixing for INNER VIOLA must be underway before we plan how OUTER VIOLA is going to welcome the spring. That will include hairdos, manicures, facials, then clothes and shoes once you are back to normal.”

One half of me was cross with her loss of self esteem, with no real sense of who she had been, or was. This was my pal of many years and numerous adventures who used to leave a comfy home to travel to and spend time at Greenham Common. What had happened to that feistiness?

“You make it sound easy and good fun, thanks a million Euros Sara and Aunty Elvira,” Viola said with a broad grin. “Then your inner and outer Violas will fuse back together so you can feel consistent, confident, contented and able to enjoy life again. Let me know how you get on and come around NEXT week at the same time. Okay with you?” I wanted to cash in on Viola, at last, exiting the dark place and coming back into the light.

As we relaxed together on the squashy sofa, I decided not to ask what was wrong. Clearly everything was wrong, I needed to proceed with caution. “Well”, I hesitated not wanting to undermine the apparent seriousness of Viola’s self diagnosis, “well, um, we have usually managed to work something out in the past+..”

Viola glanced at her watch, looked at me, and the worried look had suddenly returned! “Saying about the car, I have just remembered that the MOT ran out three weeks ago.”

Viola, thinking back interjected, “Do you remember on that school trip to Paris when we were 15 and I thought I was preggers because I had been necking that waiter in the hotel where we were staying and we were not standing up at the time! Amy Davies’s sister had said that as long as you stayed standing you would never get a baby. Even if it was French kissing, which it must have been because his name was Jean-Louis and we were in France.”

Another panic - ette, I thought quietly under my breath. Picking up the phone I rang Good Dave (as he was called) at the Corner Garage, literally around the corner. “No probs,” was the reply, “anything to help a damsel in a dress. I’ll fetch and deliver. I’m on the way. We are quiet at the moment.” “Fantastic” announced Viola, “I feel so much better already.” The doorbell rang. “That’s him now.” She grabbed her bag and coat and shouted back to me, “what a dishy looking man, wow!” I looked at them in astonishment as he took her arm. “We’ve met before” I heard him say to her, “How are you Viola?”

“Sara, you were so sensible. You drew pictures of rabbits that looked as though they were stuck together to prove Miss Pennington (biology) knew her stuff. They were definitely not kissing, Welsh or French. I’ve still got those drawings.”

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apres ski at eighty? By Michael James

The front covers of the Cardiff Times, November 2018 and January 2019 editions featured the sports of skiing and snowboarding and coincided with my latest attempts to stay young and add new experiences to my life. Regular readers of my monthly offerings might remember that I reached the great (young or old?) age of eighty in December 2018 and might be thinking, 'Oh no. He is not daft enough to attempt to ski or snowboard. Is he? It's OK , I haven't reached that level of daftness, yet! It's just that within six months of each other my wife and I will be 80 and our son 50 and instead of having individual parties we have a family holiday. On previous 'significant' birthdays we have visited sunnier climes, such as Las Vegas, and I was all for doing that this time. We were planning to go either in November last year or this February half term to the various theme parks in Florida but, unfortunately, the grand children's school holiday dates didn't match up. We looked at Christmas but at that time of year the costs to Miami just soared. Then my wife came up with the idea of a skiing holiday just after Christmas and over the new year. This was met with immediate approval from everyone, except 'yours truly' but not wanting to dampen their enthusiasm, I agreed to look into it. Our first area of choice was the Alps, so we spoke with our friends in France who are avid skiers, and they assured me that the best place for us, to ensure snow at that time of year, would be Tignes, near the popular resort of Val d'Isere. I researched a number of Ski holiday companies and found a chalet holiday for the ten of us. It seemed perfect until we discovered that it was located some way from the cable cars stations which we needed to transport us across the valley to the ski runs. Then came all the additional costs. Equipment hire of ski, boots, helmets, plus the cost of mandatory lessons and ski

Michael James - February 2019 page 1

lift passes. Suddenly from what seemed to be a fairly straight forward transaction, was escalating to a complicated, open ended, evermore expensive cost and I was getting more and more confused. I was grateful when my son and daughter-in-law, offered to take over the search for me. They are both skiers and were able to look out for all the pros and cons of each of the resorts. Pretty soon they came back with a deal which seemed perfect. Half the price of the Alps and including all the extras. Hotel instead of a chalet and directly opposite a ski lift. Perfect, but in Andorra! Where? Does it even snow there? Apparently it's a small, independent country up in the Pyrenees Mountains, between France and Spain and yes, I was assured that it does snow there and most of the ski resorts were equipped with snow cannons which could provide artificial snow if not enough fell naturally. So it all seemed ok and our two families could fly from Bristol and Manchester respectively. None of the hassle of trying to get to any of the London airports. With everything planned and everybody getting excited we enjoyed Christmas and looked forward to our holiday. On the day, the early starts to get us to the airports on time only added to the anticipation. The Manchester contingent flew off on time but when we arrived at Bristol we discovered that our flight was delayed because of dense low cloud. Much hanging about, I am sure that many of you will have had similar experiences so will know what that is like. Eventually, some four hours later we were airborne. A smooth two hour flight but we had to be diverted to different airport in Spain and then a three and a half hour coach drive before we reached our hotel in the little town of Arinsal at 10.30pm. Completely shattered, especially our three grand children, we quickly took to our beds anticipating an early start the next day.

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CT Feature

After a good night's sleep and a leisurely breakfast, everything seemed better. A brilliant blue sky, from which the sun shone brightly onto the snow capped mountain tops, inviting us to get up there as fast as we could to get on to the skiing. The cable car station was directly opposite the hotel and together with dozens of other skiers, we were in the small gondola cars swinging our way up to the ski slopes. A lovely picturesque ride made even better by the fact that it was free for my wife and I (old age has some advantages). The young and active members of our family were soon kitted out with their appropriate ski equipment and joined the ability groups they had been assigned to for their lessons, while we made ourselves comfortable with coffee at the mountain top cafe. Everyone catered for, we settled down to watch our budding Olympic skiers perform. All had skied before but were still expected to join in the skiing lessons, except for the two youngest who were whisked off to the beginners class on the almost flat nursery slope. We watched with a mixture of concern and laughter as our brave youngsters learned how to walk with their baby skis and just as importantly, how to deal with the many falls they encountered. Much to our relief, they took this all in their stride (so to speak), until their lunch break when all the others joined us. Everyone was happy and were looking forward to their afternoon sessions but for us non participants, the novelty was beginning to wear a bit thin. As the afternoon wore on, so the temperature dropped sharply and despite the copious amount of hot chocolate and coffee we were drinking, we were freezing. We decided to go back to the welcoming comfort of our hotel where we were greeted with lovely complementary pastries, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and delicious mulled wine. Our first taste of 'apres ski'. The others eventually joined us for their well deserved treats and then on to our lovely four course dinner at the hotel and, at the end of a long tiring day, bed.

many local bars which were thronged with high energy youngsters. My son, son-in-law and I braved the Irish Bar one night to see Manchester City beat Liverpool. The Guinness was good but the place was much too full and noisy for me, so despite the cold I sat outside to watch the match on one of the many TV screens, before heading back to the hotel. If this is what 'apres ski' is all about, I should have tried it and skiing, some fifty years earlier. Still we have given it a try and although it didn't snow during the week, which made it easier for Elizabeth and I to get about, there was enough snow, natural and artificial, at the top of the mountain for the youngsters to enjoy themselves. Their lessons paid off and all of them improved, including the two beginners, to the stage where they were all able to ski from the highest slopes. Each of our little group of eight were awarded Certificates for their achievements and two of them even received medals. One of our granddaughters received hers for being 'the most improved skier', and another, our son, for 'the most spectacular fall of the week'. Even we got a certificate, from our family, for 'Providing them with the best holiday ever'. All of us want to go back again, even we oldies. We enjoyed our family time together so much, and although the 'apres ski' didn't live up to what I expected and begs the question, 'What should I have expected at eighty?', it really was a great deal of fun. So all in all, yet another experience ticked off my 'bucket list'. Job done and all safely home. Let the search for holiday sunshine begin.

The next five days and nights followed the same pattern of a full day skiing/watching, followed by our 5.00pm treats and supper at our lovely hotel, but there was not really much in the way of traditional 'apres ski'. That was catered for in the

Michael James - February 2019 page 2

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Seren Diemwnt Review By Brett Salway

My latest discovery brought me to the beautiful village of Llandaff, Cardiff. Known for its iconic cathedral, it truly is a picturesque location, just north of Cardiff. Seren Diemwnt is set on High St, which is a prime spot in Llandaff. The head chef and owner Gethin Rees has worked in hospitality since he was 17 and has a unique flare for creating hearty inspiring dishes. The restaurant name translates to diamond star in English which has a very personal connection to Mr Rees. This name refers to someone he lost at a very young age. He envisaged the restaurant would be a sign of lasting respect to that person.

“My greatest influence wasn’t a chef, it was just the wanting to succeed” - Gethin Rees I chose the pork belly starter which was accompanied with a spinach Velouté, which really complimented the dish. It was garnished with a coral tuile which added even more interest to the dish. My guest opted for the pan seared goose breast which was accompanied with a chestnut purée, creamy mash purée and a pungent passion

Seren Diemwnt Review by Brett Salw... page 1

fruit and whisky sauce. The goose breast was served pink and was a sheer delight. I have to applaud Mr Rees’s offerings, as we both found them to be sensational. The internal space was very inviting and had an intimate charm to it. The contemporary lighting, use of wood and metal all add to the calming ambience. The waiter was very attentive and knowledgeable, which is key to making sure the whole customer experience is an enjoyable one. It was a cold winters evening, so moving into such an intimate and inviting space was really pleasant. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for something of superior quality and excellent value for money. The menu offered a wide variety of locally sourced dishes that would appeal to the most finical of diners. The restaurant is going to be further enhanced with the expansion of the bar and modernistic artwork. The restaurant won “Cardiff Restaurant of the Year” in the ‘Food Award Wales in 2018’. You can find the restaurants social media pages below: Facebook- Seren Diemwnt Twitter - @SerenDiemwntCDF

Monday, 28 January 2019 21:42 Magenta Yellow Black Cyan


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six nations 2019 preview By Craig Muncey ball in hand and also can create opportunities for others with a subtle offloading game which is very underrated. If fit, which is always the question which hangs over Tuilagi, he really could set this year’s Championship alight.

Starting this month will be the twentieth year of the Six Nations tournament and a fantastic time of year for all rugby union fans. Can Ireland retain their trophy from last year when they went undefeated and proved to everyone what a significant force they are in World rugby currently, or will one of the other teams put an end to their reign? It promises to be an exciting tournament in a World Cup year with players vying for selection. Join me in looking at those sides competing this year, their respective fixtures and our pick on a player to watch from each of the teams. The players selected may in some cases, not be the obvious candidates but players who I feel will have significant impacts for their respective countries and influence on how their teams fare in this tournament.

Picture credit: mirror.co.uk

France We have all seen the clichés when it comes to the French rugby union side, but they are a team that has you scratching your head and exasperated so many times. Certain phases of play they can look outstanding, but then they make silly individual/team errors and stop playing for periods of a game. They finished fourth last season and, in the summer, they performed reasonably well in losses to New Zealand.

Going in alphabetical order here are my thoughts:

England After a disappointing showing in last year’s Six Nations where England finished fifth with three losses to Scotland, France and Ireland respectively, Eddie Jones and his charges will be expecting and requiring a much better showing this time around. England did go into last year’s tournament with some injuries to key players and with some of those players now returning and in particular, Billy Vunipola and also a good showing in the Autumn Series, I do expect an improved performance this year.

Fixtures 1/2 Wales (H), 10/2 England (A), 23/2 Scotland (H), 10/3 Ireland (A), 16/3 Italy (A) Prediction – 5th What to make of this team currently? Some outstanding players such as Teddy Thomas, Wesley Fofana, Louis Picamoles and Gael Fickou to name a few all superbly led by Guilhem Guirado. Inconsistency in team selections has not helped with Brunel still searching for his best team. If they win their first game at home to Wales, then that might give them the confidence for a successful campaign, but I expect Wales to gain the win and then with England at Twickenham next up for France I can see a poor start to the tournament and players and coaches alike under extreme pressure.

Fixtures 2/2 Ireland (A), 10/2 France (H), 23/2 Wales (A), 9/3 Italy (H), 16/3 Scotland (H) Prediction – 2nd England start the campaign away to Ireland, which is as tough as it gets. They are capable of getting a win in Dublin, but a lot will depend on selection decisions. Who will they go with in the midfield in the 10/12/13 axis, an area they have struggled with to gain the right partnerships, fluidity etc. Will they go back to George Ford at 10 with Owen Farrell 12 and then a dominant ball carrier such as Ben Teo at 13? Or will they start Farrell at ten alongside Henry Slade and then bring back into the fold after some years of interrupted injury absences, Manu Tuilagi? England does have decisions to make in their back three and also in the back row so in my view as of right now, they are not settled on their best starting side, but there is no doubting the quality of the players pool they have to select from.

Player to Watch One player who has been badly missed for France due to a cruel spate of injuries is Wesley Fofana. The French centre before many injuries was one of the best centres in the world. Fofana, who is still only 30 years of age, is now back to form and playing very well for his club side, Clermont Auvergne. I hope he is selected in his best position of centre for this tournament rather than has happened on a few occasions when he has been selected on the

Player to Watch I am going as my choice a player I have already mentioned in Manu Tuilagi. The Leicester Tigers centre has had so many injuries in the last few years as well as some disciplinary issues in the past. However, he has now had a run of games for Leicester and is still only 27 years of age. Tuilagi provides England with a player in the midfield, who has the physical presence to get over the gain line with the

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wing. In my view he provides France with a much more decisive cutting edge when he wears the number 12 shirt for Les Bleus and will cause problems for all midfield defences in this campaign.

their conference with some excellent victories this season including wins over Ulster, Scarlets and Glasgow. The Italians are well coached by Conor O’Shea but with a few regular campaigners such as Alessandro Zanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Sergio Parisse’s international careers coming to an end, is there players of similar abilities who can step up to international rugby?

Ireland Irish rugby is on an all-time high currently. Reigning Grand Slam holders, defeated New Zealand last year and also provincial rugby is flourishing. Players and coaches alike deserve so much credit for this success, and going into this tournament they are favourites to retain their title plus one of the favourites to win the World Cup. This tournament will be Head Coach Joe Schmidt’s last Six Nations tournament following his announcement to retire after the World Cup and no doubt Ireland will want him to go out on a high in both upcoming competitions.

Fixtures 2/2 Scotland (A), 9/2 Wales (H), 24/2 Ireland (H), 9/3 England (A), 16/3 France (H) Prediction – 6th Another tough campaign awaits the Azzurri I am afraid. The final game against France at home could be their best opportunity of a victory and at that point of the campaign then who can predict that type of state the French will be in by then. Player to Watch With Jake Polledri missing at least a good part of the tournament with an injury, then my Italian player to watch for the upcoming tournament is Tommaso Allan. The outside half in recent seasons has shown some real control in his showings at 10 for Benetton and Italy and is maturing nicely into a good international player. Picture credit: rugbypass.com Early in his career he played for Western Province and Perpignan but seemed to struggle for any consistency in his play, but I have seen a positive change in his game in recent years and is now playing with confidence. Hopefully, an excellent individual campaign for Allan beckons.

Fixtures 2/2 England (H), 9/2 Scotland (A), 24/2 Italy (A), 10/3 France (H), 16/3 Wales (A) Prediction – 1st I am predicting Ireland to finish top of the table, but unlike last season, am not predicting a Grand Slam undefeated season. I fancy Wales to gain a victory in the final round of games against Ireland. However, I see them winning the Championship due to points difference from their victories against other opponents. Player to Watch A team stacked with stars, but one who I think will have a big say in this tournament is Garry Ringrose. The Leinster centre, from a very young age, has been tagged with the label as being the next Brian O’Driscoll, which is a considerable amount of pressure for anyone. He seems to glide over the pitch when in full flight, and for a centre slight in size in an area of the field where many a giant roam, is excellent in defence and very rarely misses a tackle Picture Credit: independent.ie.com — a real class act.

Scotland A side that has changed a lot in recent years with many game-breakers such as Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg and Huw Jones in their ranks. They now seem to be lacking strong physical ball carriers in their forwards especially in the back row which I feel they have to address. But on their day, they can cause many teams headaches, so will be very interesting to see how they perform this upcoming Six Nations, especially with the first two games being at Murrayfield.

Italy An excellent win against a team many have been putting forward to take their place in the Six Nations, Georgia this Autumn against heavy losses to Ireland, New Zealand and Australia respectively. The Italians have seen Benetton Treviso, their leading club side, put in some strong performances this season and currently lie third in

Fixtures 2/2 Italy (H), 9/2 Ireland (H), 23/2 France (A), 9/3 Wales (H), 16/3 England (A)

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Prediction – 4th The way the fixtures have fallen, Scotland could have an excellent tournament. Three home fixtures where you would expect them to beat Italy, and against Ireland they are generally tight games especially at Murrayfield, but against Wales, they do not have a tremendous recent record, but can they turn that around?

Fixtures 1/2 France (A), 9/2 Italy (A), 23/2 England (H), 9/3 Scotland (A), 16/3 Ireland (H) Prediction – 3rd I can see Wales having a solid campaign in the Six Nations and it could very well come down to the final game of the tournament against Ireland. From my perspective, I have a feeling England may defeat Wales, but I am predicting Wales beat Ireland on the last day of the Championship, thus stopping Ireland winning the Grand Slam.

Player to Watch As mentioned previously, I feel Scotland need a big strong ball carrier in their pack which would give them another dimension to their game plan, allowing them to get over the gain line and give their very talented backs front foot ball. The apparent positions for such a player are numbers 6 and 8. I do feel there is a player now available to Scotland who could be the answer. Gary Graham of Newcastle Falcons is a player who has a number of the skills required to play in the back row, one of those being his rugged ball carrying abilities and being very durable. With Blade Thompson of Scarlets currently injured who also has a strong ball carrying game, Scotland may have an upward turn in this area of their game in future years.

Player to Watch Will be interesting to see how the contest for the number 10 jersey pans out. Will it be Dan Biggar or Gareth Anscombe as the tournament goes on and leading into the World Cup. My player to watch however, who will have a significant outcome on how Wales do in this Championship, is Alun Wyn Jones. The lock forward has been a cornerstone of the pack for many years now and is vital for Wales if they are to have a successful campaign. The Welsh captain has amassed an incredible 120 caps to date and hardly misses a game for region or country. He always plays to a very high level and is widely recognised across all rugby countries as a world class player. There is a lot of talk about who will partner Jones, will it be Cory Hill or Adam Beard, but one thing is absolutely for sure, one of these will partner Jones and not instead of him. At 33 years of age he is showing no signs of slowing up but when it comes time for him to hang up the boots he will be a huge loss to Wales.

Picture credit: independent.co.uk

Wales Wales have put together a strong set of results recently including wins over Scotland, France, South Africa (twice), Argentina and Australia and there seems to be a lot of confidence in the Welsh camp. With Warren Gatland and Shaun Edwards leaving their coaching roles after the World Cup and this being their final Six Nations in charge of Wales, can they finish on a high?

Picture Credit: bbc.co.uk

This year's tournament I can see going down to the final weekend of games with England, Ireland and Wales all going into those games with a chance of winning the Championship. If I am correct, then we are in for some great viewing over the next six weeks. Let’s see how close I am with my predictions but most of all I hope all rugby union fans enjoy this great rugby spectacle.

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