Ruck it and See
Outside it’s 2011, but inside the café Tom’s been keen to show me ever since he discovered it whilst I was running a Cardiff half marathon, it’s 1973. I keep looking up expecting to see the Welsh equivalent of Gene Hunt and Sam Tyler arguing at a table. Either the decor hasn’t been changed in decades or we’ve fallen through a time-space portal where murals, fake teak cladding and sage faux leather are all the rage. The service is old-fashioned too, in a good way; the staff are smart and courteous although I’m amused by a faint air of ‘Grace Brothers’ when one of the waiters makes an aside to his colleague about two disagreeable customers who have given him grief.
We’re here for brunch before the game, Wales v Barbarians. Despite the board outside advertising the ‘All Day Breakfast’, I’ve been told that breakfast is no longer being served, so I opt for the ‘Special Farmhouse Brunch’... sausage, egg, bacon and spaghetti, which sounds like breakfast by any other name to me. A student on the next table, with his parents, is also discovering that the menu means what it says; all the ingredients for a BLT baguette seem to be present, but it’s not on the menu so he can’t order it.
When my ‘Special Farmhouse Brunch’ arrives, it seems to be having an identity crisis until I realise that it’s doing exactly what it promised; two sausages, two rashers of bacon, a perfectly cooked egg and a big dollop of spaghetti bolognaise!! Not the tinned orange stuff I was anticipating at all. Then, because ‘main courses are served with chips and peas’ there’s also a big scoop of peas and a bowl of chips! Tom, in the meantime, is wading through a mixed grill (also with chips and peas) big enough to serve both rugby sides. Actually, it’s all good plain food and the prices reflect the interior so we leave with high happiness levels ready to enjoy the game.
Ah, the game! What an experience, even if Wales did manage, as our previous neighbour always says, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, yet again, conceding a try in the closing seconds to lose 28-31! We arrive early so we can enjoy a spine-tingling performance from the 1000 voice male choir brought together in honour of 130 years of the Welsh Rugby Union. There are plenty of asides to enjoy too; Jerry Guscott having his TV make up applied just in front of us, some eye-popping spectators - like the petite middle-aged woman in hot-pants and glittery Stetson sedately working her way through five pints (I would have been picking a fight, storming the pitch, or passed out long before then). A volley of flames leaping up from giant gas burners accompany the Welsh team on to the pitch, but first there’s a minute's silence for the four people who lost their lives at the Chevron refinery at Pembroke Dock earlier in the week.
The game itself is fast and free-running with plenty of tries. Gavin Henson, (not as tall as I expected, but, hey, he was surrounded by giants) in his first appearance for his country in two years, makes the pass that sets up a nice try for George North. Mike Phillips is still struggling to find his form, but there’s promise for the future in a powerful performance by Toby Felatu. There have been plenty of rumblings about the state of the game in Wales and the price of tickets, but I had a great time on Saturday so I’m not complaining. All in all, a good day out!
Two more images from the garden. A wildflower patch...