23 April 2012

Having the Thai Touch in Cardiff – the best massage ever

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~  It would not be a shocking admission to make that I put a lot of store by recommendations, for a start I make a lot of them myself.  It would also I’m sure not be a surprise to find out that my Best Friend is an advocate of personal recommendations as well and that as a result of my BF receiving two good recommendations for Thai Touch in Canton, we ended up heading to this Thailand-by-Cardiff for back and shoulder massages.

Thai Touch massage, Cardiff
Although I am always keen to hear other people’s recommendations, my natural cynicism means that I still approach somewhere new with an amount of caution. Outside on Cowbridge Road East the weather was as grey as a rainy April day can be, inside we entered a little Thai haven. Seated on a cosy sofa our feet were bathed in warm water before being dried and placed in comfortable slippers and then escorted to a raised platform. Once in the raised area we were surrounded by drapes that could be tied back or lowered according to preference.  Feeling slightly awkward, BF and I followed the instructions given by the lovely Thai ladies to disrobe and replace our clothes with loose fitting white t-shirts and Thai trousers instead.

As neither of us had undergone a treatment alongside someone else before and we didn’t know what was happening, we weren’t sure what to make of it. We lay back on our separate mattresses and two Thai ladies, occasionally chattering to each other softly in Thai started to press firmly on the soles of our feet. BF and I did not speak to each other but agreed afterwards that the pressure would best be described as very firm to slightly uncomfortable. The firm pressing carried on up my spine and I could feel that the corresponding parts of my body would move a little in response to the pressure, that is until she reached the bottom of my neck. I could feel that there was no give, so voluntarily I lowered my arms, asking, ‘does that help?’ to which the Thai lady pressed again, it felt no different and she said, no. The treatment continued and I could feel the crunching in my shoulder blades as the tension was eased out of them. BF felt a huge knot under her right shoulder blade hurting as it was being worked. Her therapist moved on to other areas and then would return to the knot and continued to do this until it had fully gone.

Now sat upright my Thai lady placed my left arm above my head and with her arm she pressed down on my shoulder by my neck and I heard a clunk, my body was moved round to the right and I heard a crack and I started to giggle as a kind of reflex reaction. BF started laughing too, so did the Thai ladies, nobody really knew why we were laughing, it didn’t matter, the place had a warm, welcoming feel to it.

From the distant music, the oils mixed with a traditional Thai combination of herbs, to the d├ęcor and the little Thai ladies chatter, I really felt I had returned for a moment to Thailand.

After the massages had ended, BF and I felt that we had been given the best massage ever. To finish we were offered ginger tea, and we sat a moment to enjoy it, the tea tasted good and of real ginger, a suitable ending to a rejuvenating experience.

The lady at the desk told us the business is owned by her mother, which is why she started to work there too. Unlike the other Thai ladies, the lady at the desk grew up near Swansea and spoke to us in soft Welsh tones. We told her how much we had enjoyed the experience and she told us with a smile that the shop is looked after by its own Buddha and asked if we had noticed the offering in the morning of three cream cakes.

There are six female therapists and the shop is open 7 days a week. They also have a Happy Hour offer, every day including Saturday and Sunday 10am – 2pm when the Back and Shoulder massage, normally priced at £40 is priced at £30.

In the end it couldn’t have been better and as it was my birthday present I was chuffed as beans, thanks Blondie!


Thai Touch massage, Cardiff

Thai Touch
331 Cowbridge Road East,
Canton,
Cardiff,
CF5 1JE

Tel:  02920 236733
Web:  http://thaitouchcardiff.com/services/

Twitter: Thai Touch Cardiff


20 April 2012

No Wrongies, No Write-ie - Brighton fringe 2012

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Venue: Nightingale (The) - Dining Room    Category: Theatre

Dates: WORLD OF WRONG, 4th May at 10pm

CULT OF THE WRONG, 6th May and 7th May at 9.45pm

Entrance fee: £8.50 / £6.50 (£5.50 concessions)    Age Suitability: 18+

Website: http://www.thetwowrongies.co.uk/    Twitter: @thetwowrongies

Inching closer as we are to the Brighton Fringe and with hundreds of events to choose from, it's always good to have a few ideas of the best events to got to, which is where these ladies enter the party, with bells on.


The Two Wrongies

A couple of months ago I was only vaguely aware of The Two Wrongies, without knowing how or for what, when I saw them perform at the Brighton Fringe launch in London.  As soon as they came on stage their presence was mesmerising, shocking and hysterically funny.  I was sat on my own laughing and laughing and laughing.  Part of it was the shock factor of their act, but if it were that alone, the initial joke would soon wear off.

The performance I watched by Avis Cockbill and Janine Fletcher skillfully combined the absurd with carefully considered choreography, music and moments of comedy in their own unique way.  I loved it.  With the constantly upward trajectory of sexualising women's bodies it was refreshing to watch a performance that managed to do the complete reverse.  It was also amusing to overhear a sponsor complaining about the nature of the preformance and by doing so giving the act even more credibility.

Did I say I loved it?  Ok, yes I have already, well, they are unique, seriously funny and absolutely worth going to see.

There's even a chance it will lead you into whole new world of dance discovery with the two wrong'uns as they run dance classes through Evolution for those who think they can't dance.  Sign up for Sept 2012.

14 April 2012

A Titanic connection, the ship is launched

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As 15th April 2012 approaches and with it the tragic centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, I thought it relevant to commemorate a happier event in the ship’s history and also that of Belfast, the city that had been so proud of its involvement in constructing it.


It was a ship that my own Great Great Grandfather would have been very proud of, because in his capacity as Head Foreman Shipwright, it was his responsibility to ensure the smooth launch of the greatest ship ever made into the river Lagan. Hailing from Newcastle upon Tyne he had completed his apprenticeship at Armstrong Mitchell & Co before moving to Belfast to work for Harland and Wolff in 1894.


Robert F Keith,
Head Foreman Shipwright,
Harland and Wolff

And so it was that my Great Great Grandfather came to launch the big 401, the Titanic, on Queen’s Island, Wednesday, 31 May 1911, under auspicious skies and watched by an estimated 100,000 spectators.

During the build up to the launch, the Belfast Newsletter carried advertisements about purchasing tickets for the event, nine pence for adults and six pence for children.

Distinguished guests including Bruce Ismay, the Chairman of White Star Line were greeted by the Chairman of the Shipyard William Pirrie.

Wearing his top hat and tails as he usually did for launching ships, Head Foreman Shipwright Robert F Keith supervised the final stages as props of wood were knocked out to allow the hull weighing around 20,000 tons to slip into the Lagan.

At noon a rocket was fired to signal that the main gates of the shipyard were to be closed and no one else allowed in. Five minutes later another rocket was fired to warn all small craft in the river Lagan that the launch was imminent. At ten past twelve a final rocket was fired to signal that the launch was to proceed. No one broke a bottle of champagne over the bows of the ship and no one uttered the words “God Bless Titanic and all who sail in her”, quite simply because the White Star Line never believed in a christening ceremony for their ships. From his seat in the stand Pirrie was heard to shout “NOW” and Robert Keith released the hydraulic ram, at exactly thirteen minutes past twelve Titanic started down the slipway and entered the waters of the Lagan. Once the hull had come to rest, slowed down by massive drag chains and anchors, the hull was then towed to the out fitting wharf where all the internal fixtures and fittings would be put in place before the ship would leave Belfast for its fated maiden voyage.

The launch had been a success and to celebrate a special luncheon hosted by William Pirrie was provided for the distinguished guests at Queen’s Island while the Press and other guests dined at the Grand Central Hotel in Royal Avenue.

However, almost a year later tragedy struck on 15 April 1912 and Belfast fell under a cloud of shame and grief for the ship that they had once been so proud of. Generations remained silent, stories were lost while the top hat and tails that had launched the Titanic were folded and put on the top of a wardrobe, eventually finding a new purpose when Great Uncle Willie decided to dress his scarecrow in them.

One hundred years later and the cloud has lifted enabling Belfast to celebrate the workmanship that went into the construction of the ship and its various connections with the Titanic.

To find out more about the launch of the Titanic, visit TitanicBelfast.



7 April 2012

The antiquarian bookshop with hidden gems in Holywood

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The Old Abbey Bookshop, Holywood
The Old Abbey Bookshop

118 High Street, Holywood, Co Down

Tel: 028 9042 5472

Open: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays  9.30am to 4.30pm

Owned by Harold Mitchell this antiquarian bookshop at the top of Holywood High Street is as enticing inside as its sash window display suggests. Full of antique treasures that include a collection by Oliver Goldsmith, letters from the Court of King Charles II to books on vintage cars and old fashioned children's books, there's a subject to suit every book lover.


Old Abbey bookshelf


As well as a diverse selection of antiquarian and second hand books in history, literature, art, cookery and children's titles the collection includes sought after first editions.

First inspired to set up a bookshop 20 years ago after a lifetime love affair with books, Harold has a bookshop full of his own favourite items, "there's a lovely little 1884 first edition of Kate Greenaway's Language of Flowers and a very nice two volume leather bound 1842 illustrated edition of Don Quixote."

What makes this bookshop even more special is the growing scarcity of this type of old fashioned, independent bookshop and so this is definitley a hidden gem worth checking out, located just outside Belfast.


Old Abbey Bookshop, Holywood



While you are in the delightful town of Holywood, Harold suggests some more places worth going to.

"Holywood (the home of golfer Rory McIlroy) has many Restaurants such as The Bay Tree and The Coffee Yard and many gift shops such as The Mews, Cape Table, Urban Orchard, The Cove, Antiqua."