Finding homes for Cardiff’s abandoned dogs – meet Alex!

We’re animal lovers here at We Are Cardiff. (Yes, my dog Zelda has her own Instagram, don’t judge me, I’m a DOG PERSON). And you can’t be a Cardiff-based animal lover on Instagram without following  Alex – aka therescuehotelcdh. She devotes all her spare time (and her entire IG account!) to helping the abandoned poochies at Cardiff Dogs Home. So I decided to spend some of my spare time talking to her about her passion for those pooches.  So here she is – meet Alex!

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A girl and a dog

I started volunteering at Cardiff Dogs Home in 2016. I’m originally from Pontypridd but moved to Cardiff just before that.  I always loved dogs, and all animals. My parents had an English bull terrier called Dylan, and I loved him so much. But they split up and my dad took the dog with him, I didn’t really speak to my dad so that meant I didn’t see Dylan, which made me sad, every single day. So I think i needed to give my attention and love to some other puppers, who are desperately in need. That’s how I started out helping at Cardiff Dog’s Home.

I’d love to see my Dylan and I think about him all the time, but I don’t think I ever will. That’s why I have a soft spot for bull breeds, especially English bull terriers. I think they have a bad reputation with a lot of people – I think people think they look so scary, with their long piggy nose and eyes. They’re also very stubborn, so I suppose if you don’t know the breed you would feel very unsure of them.

We used to get a lot of Staffordshire Bull Terriers being turned into Cardiff Dogs Home, but not so much anymore. There are still a lot of staffies, and most bull breeds. At the moment we seem to be getting a lot of French bulldogs in. As the craze for a frenchie is ending, there seems to be a lot of them dumped at the home (most have been used to breed, which is sad).

View this post on Instagram

Hiya everyone. We can finally say that Friday is over so bring on the weekend hehe 🙋‍♀️😘 I’m Maisie and I’m another long termer at the hotel, who is getting over looked day in day out. I’ve had no applications on me, I sit in my kennel and just watch everyone walk by. So Alex took me out today for a pick me up and boy did we have fun heheheh. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE PEOPLE. I will sit by you for cuddles and kisses all day long, I’m such a happy pupper when I’m with you I think I may even have a smile on my face hehe. So me and Alex went for a lovely walk, I saw some ducks and swans and we sat my the river watching the world go by. But then it started raining, and I do not like rain so I made sure I told Alex that it’s time to go 😂🙋‍♀️🤷‍♀️ I’m such a loving girl and I want nothing more than to find a home I can call my own, it would be so lovely for someone to say ‘I’m here to see Maisie’ ♥️ I need to be the only pup of the household please, I tend to get a little anxious and reactive when I see dogs. But I am the most loving girl you would ever meet. Please can you share me far and wide, let’s use the power of social media in a positive way. Thank you everyone, lots of love Maisie 😘😘😘😘 #adoptdontshop #cardiffdogshome

A post shared by Cardiff Dogs Home,Rescue Hotel (@therescuehotelcdh) on

We also get a lot of greyhounds and lurchers. Most of them have been ex-racers and when they’re no longer wanted to race, they end up with us.

The best thing about helping out at the home is seeing dogs go to their forever homes. Especially the long termers  (ones that have been with us for a long time), and the ones that struggle with being in the kennels.

Agnes was a lovely dog who came through the home, and when I think of her it’s bitter sweet – I loved her so much, and I regularly took her home on respite to give her a little break from the kennels. I knew that someone else could give her a great home, and now she’s living the high life in England. She has a house in England and France, and her parents are home all day so she’ll always have someone around. I miss her!

Then there was Peter, who constantly got over looked, a lady from Devon drove all the way to meet him and it was love at first sight. Then there’s Oggy, bless his little heart. He’s with the most lovely couple, he’s in the most perfect home for him and you can see how much both of them dote on each other. Then, there’s Roxy. She went on a home trial today, seeing her drive off in the back of the car with her teddy in her mouth was the sweetest thing. We’re all hoping that it’s going to be her forever home. We have a feeling that they’re going to keep her, they were such lovely people just what she’s been waiting all this time for.

Roxy, who never leaves home without her trusty teddy in her mouth

It does happen that someone takes a dog with them and it doesn’t work out. When people adopt a rescue, most people know that it will take time for the dog to settle into their routine. You have no idea what that poor dog has gone through, so they need more time and patience.  On some occasions (not a lot), some dogs get brought back as the people who adopted did not realise what having a rescue dog entails. I mean, it’s great that more and more people are choosing rescues now instead of going to breeders, but I think you definitely need to do your research on rescue dogs.

Rescue dogs are not your typical dog. I think they know they have been given a second, third or maybe fourth chance in a new home (depending on how many times they have been passed about before arriving at the home!) but it will on occasions take them longer to come out of their shell.

For the dogs that have been brought back to us, they always go on to find a better home for them.  I always think I’m glad they’ve got brought back because it was a reason for this. Their new family was mean to have them, and the pups are so much happier. It’s like they know this. So it’s sad when they come back, but then when you see them with a new family/individual you see that they were always meant to be with these individuals instead. Everything happens for a reason, as they say.

A black dog with its tongue hanging from its mouth

If you’re looking for a way to feel good about yourself or to socialise or learn new skills, there’s no better way to spend your time that volunteering at Cardiff Dogs Home.  If ever you’re feeling down, or need a little bit of a pick-me-up, volunteering at the home will always put a smile on your face. The dogs are sooo happy to go out on their walks, and despite that they are homeless with nothing, they have so much joy and love to give. It also really puts things in perspective.

I spend all my weekends down the dogs home, and if I have some time off from work I’m usually down there!

If you’re thinking about adopting a dog but worried about getting an older dog, please, PLEASE don’t get put off! In regard to the older dogs, these are the ones who need homes the most. They’ve spent most of their life with the people they class as family, to only find themselves at Cardiff Dogs Home at some point, bewildered, and confused. It’s no place for an older dog to be (or any dog). When the older pups get adopted it’s like they are smiling when they are leaving, they know that they can now live their last few years in a home environment on warmth and comfort.

Adopting a rescue dog will change your life, for the better. You’ll get to see how loving and forging they are, after they have endured so much. It really does put things in perspective. It’s like they know they have a second chance and they will do anything for you, they are so loyal and loving. It makes you appreciate the little things more, and not worry about mundane trivial things you may have been stressing about.

If you are thinking about adopting a rescue dog, do it. Their lives matter, they’re just a bit less energetic than a puppy. But in my opinion, they’re much better! They’re usually already house trained, the older ones generally need less exercise than the very young ones. They just want to be loved, and to love in return. If you’re interested, please have a look at my @therescuehotelcdh instagram or check info about Dogs Looking for Homes.

A large brown and white spaniel
Jonah, who has recently joined Cardiff Dogs Home – looking for his forever sofa!

Cardiff Dogs Home really relies on volunteers. You’ve got to think without volunteers, some dogs may not get the much needed walks they need. Staff at home will walk the dogs but because they have so many other things to do, it can be very limited. But volunteers can walk the dogs for however long they want, some volunteers also adopt that one dog that they bond with. Which is great. It also gives the opportunity for the dogs to get used to different people. All of this helps them getting rehomed, and them ending up with their perfect homes.

So if you just think ‘I’m just a volunteer’, you’re not – you are so much more than that! If this sounds good to you, register to become a dog walker at Cardiff Dogs Home.

I set up my Instagram account @therescuehotelcdh in 2016. I  hated all social media! I know you wouldn’t think it now from looking at how much I post on there. I remember asking my friend what Instagram is, and how it is different to Facebook, because I had no clue or no interest. But I did want to start up something that would  show people these dogs were lovely pets waiting for their homes. I wanted to do something different rather than just say the same generic thing that others post up, such as the basics like breed, age, name etc – I wanted to show their personality (because they all have different personalities, that you totally see when you spend time with them!) So that’s why when I write the posts I wrote it as if the dog is talking, just so it gives people more of an insight into them. I hope it helps!

The next steps for Cardiff Dogs Home are exciting. We’re setting up a charity which will be such a game changer. We have had so much interest social media wise, we should be up and running with charity status soon, which is so exciting.

This means that it will be much easier for people to donate money, and all of the money will be used for the pups and whatever they need. We’ve also got Sam Warburton on board as an ambassador which is amazing.

So this year will definitely be one of my highlights and it hasn’t even really started yet!

Alex Milakovic is a dog lover, originally from Pontypridd. She runs @therescuehotelcdh Instagram account, where you can get up close and personal with all the lovely dogs that have ended up in Cardiff Dogs Home. Alex remains dog mad, and currently lives in Cardiff.

More on Cardiff Dogs Home:

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Introducing – the Welsh Music Podcast!

Happy New January! This post is dedicated to a new podcast you NEED to be listening to. This is the Welsh Music Podcast, hosted by James Cuff (We Are Cardiff fans may remember James for helping out on the We Are Cardiff documentary that we made a few years back) and Neil Collins, both avid music fans.

They set the podcast up in 2019 to celebrate Welsh music and culture, past and present, and the people who helped shape it.

Welsh Music Podcast logo

Here’s more about them: “From Anhrefn to Zabrinski we’ll cover it all, including obscure, emerging and established artists, across the Welsh and English language spectrum.

“Each episode will feature a music obsessive guest who has, in some way, helped shape Welsh music and culture. They’ll be talking about their careers and giving an in-depth analysis of their favourite Welsh album.”

Their most recent episode of the podcast features me! (Helia Phoenix, helllooooo). I chat about various things on my musical journey through life in Cardiff, including Catapult Records, Kruger Magazine, Lady Gaga, club nights in Cardiff through the 1990s and 2000s. SO much to chat about. Thanks so much to the Welsh Music Podcast for inviting me on, it was such a lovely chance to reminisce and celebrate!

My nomination for best Welsh album of all time is High Contrast‘s True Colours. I don’t think the electronic scene in Wales gets anywhere near enough coverage or kudos for how diverse and wonderful it is, so this is my attempt to correct that. Also if you think about global impact, Lincoln (High Contrast) is a producer who is leading his field. He worked on the music for the Olympics opening ceremony, he’s a Grammy nominee. This will date this piece, but check the High Contrast Spotify profile and you’ll see his top 10 tracks have had 47 MILLION LISTENS. That’s big time.

Anyway, that’s today. Back to True Colours. It’s a wonderful album, and I mention in the podcast that I did a pre-interview with Lincoln to refresh my memory. We ended up chatting for nearly an hour and there was a lot of interesting stuff in that, so look forward to a post about that in the future.

Listen below:

Here’s the beef:

We talk to music journalist and Cardiff Music Board member Lalovely Phoenix about DJing, working on Kruger Magazine and writing Lady Gaga’s biography.

She also chose the Grammy-nominated High Contrast’s debut as her favourite Welsh album.

Earlier episodes of the podcast so far feature discussions with Dave Owens, Patrick Jones, Huw Stephens, John Rostron, Matt Durbridge, Keri Collins, and they’ve got a lot more guests to come (more about Welsh Music Podcast guests).

Two other Welsh electronic artists I wanted to give a special shout out to:

LINKS TO MORE STUFF:

Follow the Welsh Music Podcast…

LINKS TO EVEN MORE STUFF:

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Bite! Cardiff – Food Festival returns to Insole Court, 27 July 2019

Last year’s Bite! food festival was one of the highlights of our calendar. This year they’re returning, but with a new aim – sharing great food while reducing single-use plastics. Specially designed reusable cups will be available to buy at the bar (or order in advance)!

And now THIRTY incredible chefs are returning – bringing pop-up food at a street food price to the beautiful surroundings of Insole Court. They’ll all be creating a single dish each for just THREE POUNDS! Which means you can sweep the site and try loads of different dishes without busting the bank or your belt.

BITE! FOOD FESTIVAL – INSOLE COURT, CARDIFF – EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

SATURDAY 27 JULY, 11AM – 9PM

BITE FESTIVAL – FACEBOOK EVENT

FOLLOW @BITECARDIFF

WHO’S GONNA BE COOKING …

  • Simon Wright, Wrights Food Emporium
  • Tommy Heaney, Heaneys & Uisce
  • Darren Lewis, Joyful Jar Company
  • Michelle Evans, Paternoster Farm
  • Jamie O’ Leary, JOLS
  • Ceri Johnston Bower, The Early Bird Bakery
  • Deri Reed, The Warren
  • Matt Waldron, Stackpole Inn
  • John Cook, EMBER
  • Tom O Sullivan, Spit & Sawdust
  • Tom Furlong & Gwyn Myring, Milkwood
  • Derw Robertson, Tan A Mwg
  • Andrew Gwynne, Gwynne’s Ice Cream
  • Jon White & Rosie Eastwood, The Two Anchors
  • Abi Dymmock, Jack & Amelie
  • Krish Pankaj, Keralan Karavan
  • Gareth Daw, Henry Webb’s Restaurant at St Mellon’s Hotel
  • Laurian Veaudour, Cocorico Patisserie
  • Vicky Crabtree, Shawarmarama
  • Stephen Terry, The Hardwick
  • Montserrat Prat, La Cuina
  • Antonio Simone, The Humble Onion
  • Nick Spann, Bao Selecta
  • Leyli Homayoonfar, Leyli Joon & Co.
  • Rob Haswell, Ceridwen Centre
  • Simmie Vedi, The Warden’s House
  • Sam Speller, Lazy Leek
  • Rhodri Evans, Pieporium
  • Lali Suto, Hoof
  • Debs Lewis, Dusty Knuckle

AND WHAT WILL BE AVAILABLE TO DRINK?

The 30 chefs and producers are joined by five great drinks providers. This year, Bite Cardiff has partnered with Freedom Brewery, a member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA).

Wrights Wines will also be serving a range of natural wines, and Skyborry will be offering a selection of Cider and Perry.

Both Little Man Coffee Co and The Handlebar Barista will be serving coffee – so don’t forget your re-usable mugs / flasks!

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THE REUSABLE CUPS?

In an effort to cut down on waste this year and also avoid single use plastics, Bite are selling reusable cups for use at the bar. These will be on sale on the day for £3.50, or you can buy one in advance, for £3, by clicking here.

Buying a cup helps Bite to cover the costs of putting on the event, ensuring that it can be kept *free entry* for years to come. Purchasing one in advance will help speed up and lessen the queues at the bar on the day and mean you can fast track your way into the event. The cups can also be taken away as a memento and are dishwasher safe on the top shelf.

 CAN I BRING BLANKETS ETC? 

People are encouraged to take picnic blankets, and also, their own picnic crockery and cutlery if possible, as well as refillable water bottles.

IS THE EVENT CASH-ONLY? 

Yes – you will need cash to buy tokens (stickers) which can be exchanged for food. £3 = one token = one dish. This is to prevent chefs from having to handle cash on the day. The bars will run as normal (you won’t need tokens) but the whole event will be cash only.

WHERE CAN I BUY THE FOOD TOKENS? 

These can be bought from token stalls dotted throughout the festival. You can also pre-purchase these, on any day in the week before the festival, at the Insole Court visitor centre.

ARE DOGS ALLOWED? 

Yes, well behaved dogs on a lead.

  IS THERE PARKING ON SITE? 

Parking at Insole Court is reserved for festival staff and disabled drivers only. There will be a limited amount of Bite festival parking available at Rookwood Hospital, at Fairwater Road Llandaff Cardiff CF5 2YN.

Though some parking is available at Rookwood, we are encouraging people to use public transport to access the festival as much as possible. The nearest buses that operate between Cardiff city centre and Insole Court are the 66, 25, 62 or 63 (operated by Cardiff Bus) and the 122 or 124 (operated by Stagecoach).

Insole Court is approximately a 25-minute bus ride from Cardiff city centre, and a 10-minute walk from Victoria Park.

Alternatively, the nearest train station is Fairwater. Insole Court is 500m from the Fairwater Road exit.

The main cycle routes to Insole Court are:

·      From Cardiff Bay via the Ely Trail.

·      From Cardiff city centre via the Taff Trail.

Bike parking is located near the Visitors’ Centre / in the car park.

For more information, visit: https://www.insolecourt.org/visit

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Support the Creative Republic of Cardiff – become a patron of The Moon!

Creative Republic of Cardiff is a non-profit organisation that plans to rejuvenate Cardiff’s live music and creative culture. It was been set up by former staff & friends of The Full Moon, which closed in April 2017.

The Full Moon doorway, Cardiff

They set up an Indiegogo campaign which raised £14,000 in two weeks, which helped them to take on the building’s lease and open at the end of April 2017 as a new community-led, non-profit venue & arts space called THE MOON.

THEY ARE NOW SEEKING YOUR ONGOING SUPPORT! They’ve been busy getting the venue ready, which includes all sorts of things:

eg – securing the lease; licenses; insurance; tills; stock; accounting; legal; security; design & signage; plumbing & electrics; continuing refurbishment – painting, carpentry, tiling, loads of odd jobs and fixing stuff, lights replaced, little cloakroom/space for band gear; & everything else associated with maintaining a fully functioning venue!

Additional funds will allow us to improve the venue, carry out maintenance and provide them with basic working capital.

Creative Republic of Cardiff will use the venue to establish an environment of collaboration, networking and knowledge sharing. It will nurture, develop, organise and showcase talent from Cardiff and beyond.

The Moon has been an powerhouse for supporting grassroots artists, and supporting them is support for our independent music scene!

They’re currently offering two levels of support: £7.50 per month, or £20 per month. Here’s how they break down:

$10 (£7.50) or more per month:
  • Moon ‘Saviour’ T-Shirt
  • 10% discount at the bar FOR LIFE any time you come in wearing your Saviour t-shirt
  • Your name will also be placed on the wall plaque of saviours
$25 (£20) or more per month:
  • Saviour t-shirt
  • 10% off at the bar for life when wearing Saviour t-shirt
  • 1 free gig per month at The Moon of your choice (subject to ticket availability)

Crazy good options! Head over to the Creative Republic of Cardiff’s Patreon page and get supporting.

Creative Republic of Cardiff Facebook

Creative Republic of Cardiff Instagram

Creative Republic of Cardiff Twitter

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Looking for a fun, inclusive choir? Join Technicolour!

In today’s interview, we meet Patrick Steed, the Musical Director for Technicolour – a new, inclusive choir that practises every week in Chapter Arts Centre. And they have a concert on Friday 28 June! If you’re into musicals and pop mashups, get along to their concert this Friday!

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Q. Hello Patrick! So tell us – what’s your story?

A. Cardiff has been my home since 2005 when I came here for Uni. I live here with my amazing fiancé – Matt – and after being in Wales for 14 years now, I feel I’m a Welshman! I’m a musician with a massive passion for musical theatre and choirs. I’ve been leading choirs here for 11 years. I’ve worked as a composer and lyricist for musicals such as Stalking John Barrowman, Blink! and I’ve been composer in residence for Hello Cabaret for the past three years! Musical theatre songs have the capacity for such emotional depth and invite the audience to step into a moment with a character. That’s why I love what I do!

Q. What’s your favourite musical?

A. It changes on a fairly regular basis – there are so many fantastic musicals to choose from! I absolutely love ‘Hamilton’ and it’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda is an absolute genius. Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, Legally Blonde, The Last Five Years, Wicked and anything Disney also hold a special place in my heart.

Q. Why did you create Technicolour?

A. I love musicals. I love epic harmonies. I love festivals. I love clubbing. I love glitter. And I thought, wouldn’t it amazing if I could turn everything I love into a choir? Our tagline is #musicalsremixed – and we love putting a twist on conventional ideas. That’s why we mix up Chicago with Dua Lipa and Wicked with Ella Eyre. And that’s why our gigs feel more like club nights that concerts! We’ve got 90 members in less than a year and more joining next season – which makes me think I’m not the only person to love musicals, epic harmonies, festivals, clubbing and glitter!!!

Q. What’s next for Technicolour?

A. ‘Life in Technicolour’ – our summer gig – is fast approaching! It’s all inspired by The Wizard of Oz and uses music from an eclectic range of musicals – everything from West Side Story, to RENT to The Lion King to reimagine the classic tale. We’re taking over Tramshed and turning it into an Oz inspired wonderland! And the amazing Disco Motel will be getting us dancing until the early hours! It’s all happening on Friday 28th June from 8pm at Tramshed – there’s still some tickets available @ www.tramshedcardiff.com

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Invitation to the FCI 2 listening party!

USW’s School of Music and Sound have a listening launch party for this year’s Create Sampler, FCI 2 on 14th May from 3.30pm, and they want you to go along! 

Following steep competition and over 40 entries, a staff panel selected the final tracks to represent the School and release on vinyl, complete with cover artwork from The Wild Midnight. 

FCI 2 contains 13 eclectic tracks ranging from rock to folk to electro house, collaborations and an exclusive track recorded at Rockfield Studios. The creative standard this year is exceptional and they can’t wait to share the finished product with you. Finished copies will be available on the day and also on the shelves of Spillers Records.

Join us in the Theatre to listen to the album and hear the stories behind the tracks from the artists themselves TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE HERE

Theatre listening party 3.30pm-5pm

Zen Bar Social, DJ & Buffet 5pm – 7pm

Get yourself along and support tomorrow’s musical stars!

Side A

“Y Diweddaraf” – Adwaith

“Zen Me Kan Dao Zi” – Min & Hui

“Curves and Lines” – Suleiman Atta

“Nowhere’s Ark” – Jacob Haslam & 3rd Year BMus Contemporary Music Performance

“Platform 10” – Ste Powell

“Flying Kites” – Chloe Ferguson

Side B

“Advantages” – Bloom!

“Venn Diagram” – Carlen Williams

“Everything is Happening” – Jacob Haslam

“Work Hard” – Dan Ham

“Love International” – Girl International

“My Dear and Me” – Alan’s Bank

“Matulu Moja” – Klementyna Wasiewska & Alastair Evans

Last year’s Sampler, FCI 1 gained critical acclaim in the industry receiving radio airplay and was championed by BBC Producers Huw Stephens, Adam Walton and Bethan Elfyn. It is also stocked in Spillers Records and will be available for this year’s Record Store Day. Featured bands MelltThe Kelly Line and Naomi Rae have continued to gain attention in the business and we anticipate big things for this year’s artist rostra.

Join us in the Atrium theatre to listen to the album and hear the stories behind the tracks from the artists themselves.

Theatre listening party 3.30pm-5pm

Zen Bar Social from 5pm

Bought to you by the School of Music and Sound this event is free, open to students & the wider music community, please tell your friends. If you are looking to get into the industry or advance your business within it these talks are for you.

Instagram usw_music

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Millennial Mother’s top 5 indoor activities for kids in Cardiff

Today, we welcome Millennial Mother over to We Are Cardiff to give us some insights into the top things to do in Cardiff with your kids – when the weather sucks! Welcome, Millennial Mother!

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The colder months are tough in our household. My three year old is one of those children who gets cabin fever after 9am. In the warmer months we can explore an array of countryside walks, beaches and parks around Cardiff. But in the winter months, with frost, rain and wind it is hard to get the motivation to change out of my loungewear and into 10 layers of waterproofs.

We have found some great indoor activities for children in Cardiff that have saved our skin more than once. This is a list of my top five. I hope you find them useful!

1. National Museum Cardiff

This was where I could usually be found on a Saturday as a child. I watched Jurassic Park about age six, and after that just wanted to be an archaeologist. I would spend days wandering around the dinosaur exhibition, pretending I was on an excavation! Now, I play the same games with my little one. After delighting in the dinosaur exhibition, you can enjoy the whale in the sky, and an intriguing creepy crawly section. Upstairs holds some beautiful pieces of art from Impressionist to Modernist, which are great to relax even the most busy of minds. I would recommend holding onto toddlers extra tightly to avoid orange crisp fingers staining 500 year old paintings though!

P.S if you like good coffee stop off at Brodie’s Coffee afterwards.

2. Cardiff International Pool

This swimming pool is a wonderful rainy day activity. The facilities are excellent, there are three large slides for older children and adults and a smaller slide for smaller children. The swimming pool doesn’t have a deep end, which is fabulous for someone like me (5 foot 3). It also has a small paddling area for younger children. The changing area is communal, which is ideal for families, as parents can swap and change to help out with kids there. On a rainy day there is nothing better than a family trip to the swimming pool. As my Nanna would say though ‘make sure you dry your hair probably before you go out in the cold as you don’t want to catch a cold!’

3. Techniquest

This is where science comes to life through interactive engagement. Children can learn how water currents are created in the water works, watch balls shoot up in the air, play on a giant piano and learn about all sorts of science. The museum is an excellent visit for children of all ages and the venue provides Toddler Days, Theatre Shows, and more. The museum is based in Cardiff Bay, so after you can enjoy a nice spot of lunch at one of the many cafes and bars.

P.S. I recommend a trip to Quantum Coffee because their coffee is insanely good, and friends have spotted A List celebs enjoying an Americano there!

4. Cardiff Story

This is my husband’s favourite place to take Nancy. As the name suggests, it tells the story of Cardiff’s rich history, and how it evolved from a small market town to the capital city we know and love. My daughter’s favourite part is the reconstruction of a house on Cathedral Road. It shows changes in these houses, and showcases how differently we live in comparison to our ancestors over one hundred years ago. There is also a variety of interactive resources that show the different people living in the Cardiff Docklands.

There is also a wonderful restaurant on the top floor that caters for children and adults alike. Milk and Sugar have a small but area with enough toys to keep your little occupied while you drink your latte. I would recommend keeping an eye on the Cardiff Story website as they often run special events called ‘Dinky Dragons’ which is a Rhyme and Story Time.

5. Playtown Cardiff

This is a hidden gem, right in the heart of Canton. Your little one can explore what it is like to be a doctor, a postman, a barista, a hairdresser, and even to do their own food shop! This imaginative playtown is a fantastic opportunity for your little one to develop their role-playing skills and to enhance their vocabulary as they come across new items. I always love to make up games and watch Nancy pretend to be me as she wanders around the shop. The centre opens in slots to allow the staff to tidy the rooms before new arrivals, I would therefore make sure you check the opening times to avoid disappointment There is also a family room for snacks and drinks, which is ideal, especially if you have more than one child and one needs feeding while the other needs entertaining.

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Thanks to Millennial Mother for dropping by! You can catch Kelly on any of her channels:

And now back to us …

Introducing the Ladies of Rage

Today we welcome Hannah Weiss to introduce the Ladies of Rage, a new Cardiff musical collective. All images here by Aiyush Pachnanda. Enjoy!

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The Cardiff collective Ladies of Rage (LOR) was established by radio DJ Ffion Wyn Morris, to unite women in the Welsh music scene. The group is 80 members strong, the group welcomes anyone interested in learning to mix tracks or take their turn on the mic. Whether you’re into D’n’B or old-skool hip hop, writing lyrics or beatboxing, there’s a place for you here.

There’s a LOR showcase for International Women’s Day in March – it will be held on 9 March at The Moon, and we’d love to see you there!

The LOR had a showcase at The Moon in December, which was a real success. The ladies had honed their skills through a series of monthly jam sessions and workshops, ready to take the stage for the first showcase.

The Moon is Cardiff’s prime space for up-and-coming indie acts and the perfect place for the Ladies of Rage to make their debut: large enough to pack a solid audience, small enough to allow each performer to connect with the crowd. There was a mix of men and women; a healthy cross-section of supporters in the scene, people looking for a good show and a handful who wander in throughout the night, drawn by the music to find out more.

Stella Marie and Trishna Jaikara Shan kick-start the showcase. Both DJs are here to demonstrate their skill on the decks, and each brings her own flair to the hip hop mixes they’ve come to play. People drift from the bar to the stage, as the hype builds for the first emcee.

First on the mic is Becky Cee, a new rapper who found performing through poetry. This is evidenced by the compelling lyricism of her words, as she explores anger and anxiety. At times her delivery is backed by music, at others she lets the timbre of her voice fill the space. Each of the trio of tracks is deeply personal, a timely reminder of the purpose of the night: enabling women in music to make their voices heard.

Following her is Judy Price, the leading lady on tech for the night, who blends her words with a self-composed mix that gives her set a smooth, bluesy vibe. There’s a steady confidence in her delivery that matches the evocative self-awareness of her lyrics.

Amelia Unity is up next, an OG in Cardiff’s hip hop scene. The spoken word poet, graffiti artist and B-girl takes the stage to give The Moon a taste of the talent that won her first place at the Swansea Poetry Slam last year. She’s ready with an arsenal of talking points, from the personal to the political.  Quoting the ‘colour war on the high street’ and ‘a gambler who couldn’t play her game’, Unity flips from uncovering cracks in Cardiff’s hip hop community to smoking public discourse on beauty standards and aging, taking her audience on a vivid ride through her experiences of life and art.

Lyrical depth is a clear strength these women share. Leah Hutchinson shifts into a more introspective tone with her mix of singing and spoken word, showcasing her flair for flow and a unique vocal tone. She welcomes the audience into her world through four tracks that unfold in a gorgeous string of metaphors referencing nature, poetry and religion. Framing both her fellow performers and the audience in the statement ‘we are all an expression of infinite art’, she encapsulates the purpose of the night in one beautiful turn of phrase.

Building on Leah’s tentative step through the divide between poetry and music, singer-songwriter Asha Jane dives into a soaring R&B set of self-penned tracks. ‘If you fall in love with a storyteller, you might be in love with the stories’, is the haunting refrain of stand-out track ‘Oyster’. Asha spins a soulful tale of love and loss, while the hype of the audience around her stills to rapt attention.

Asha stays on stage to collab with battle rapper Shawgz, who transforms the crowd’s focus into a flare of energy with a rapid-fire salvo of tracks from her new BLK Tape EP. The pair play off each other’s strengths, letting the tempo rise and fall as they shift flow in perfect sync. Shawgz owns the stage with flair, demonstrating her freestyle chops as she ribs with the audience.

The vibe stays at a simmering high as Lady SP hits the stage with a flow so fast it ricochets around the venue like gunfire. If the first half of this showcase drew the audience in through the ladies’ lyricism and exchange of shared experiences, the latter sets are a performance of sheer power.

The strength of the collective really hits home when Tasha, better known by her moniker TT, rallies for her first time on stage. The other women gather, ready at her back, while the crowd before her chants their collective support to welcome her onto the scene.

The full roster of emcees, singers and DJs share the stage to swap verses in a friendly-fire cypher that rounds out the night with a display of unity and mutual respect. Every women takes her turn on the mic, the hype of the others around her never letting up.

Lubi J and Stella shift the showcase from performance to party, taking turns on the decks to play some D’n’B, with emcee Missy G stepping up to the mic to freestyle over the mix. Before the night comes to a close, the ladies present founder Ffion with a birthday present as she thanks the audience for their support, giving a shout out to each performer’s tenacity and talent, and a nod to Amy Farrah’s photo exhibition. Headshots of the performers line the walls, accompanied by words, as each gives her voice to the need for this new era in music.

The Ladies of Rage showcase is a clear demonstration of the treasure-trove of talent among women emcees, DJs and musicians in Wales. It’s not just a performance, but a call to arms. This is the first time several performers stepped from the edges of the underground scene to go onstage. How many women in the audience, you wonder, might be inspired to pen lyrics and experiment with mixes after watching the skill on show that night?

It’s those women in the crowd the Ladies of Rage came for. The ones who haven’t yet dared to test their skills. Now when they do, there’s a full collective of women ready to share their experiences and stand alongside them.

This is just the first step.

JOIN THE LADIES OF RAGE!

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A new comedy night – underneath Cardiff Castle

We were VERY excited about this brand new comedy night in Cardiff, put on by Little Wander, the learned folks who run the Machynlleth Comedy festival. And the venue is a brand new one for comedy in the city! Read on to find out more.

Comedy at the castle

You can catch Comedy at the Castle in Cardiff Castle’s historic Undercroft! Previous acts include Jonny and the Baptists, Evelyn Monk, Frank Foucault, and Stuart Laws. Find out about the latest Comedy at the Castle gig and buy your tickets now!).

We spoke to Little Wander to get some more info on Comedy at the Castle. 

We’re almost certainly best known as the people that founded and run Machynlleth Comedy Festival which has its tenth birthday this May. But we do loads more than Machynlleth, including we run monthly comedy clubs for arts venues across Wales and the UK, we bring touring comedians to Cardiff, mainly at Chapter and Clwb Ifor Bach, we book and manage national tours for some of the UK’s best comedians, including James Acaster, Kiri Pritchard-Mclean, Jen Brister and Gein’s Family Giftshop. Last year we made our first TV show, Stand Up at BBC Wales which went out on BBC 1 and BBC 2 in October, and also started a second comedy festival in Aberystwyth last October, which will be an annual event. Alongside this we work for other festivals, so we booked and managed the comedy at Green Man Festival since 2008, and worked with Manchester International Festival in 2017 to deliver comedy programming. We’ve worked with NTW on numerous projects including NHS70, and delivering a specific element of the Roald Dahl City of the Unexpected celebrations. We do loads of stuff, almost exclusively in comedy.

Camping at Machynlleth Comedy Festival
Gareth and Lauren, Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest
Two of Sparkles Hoop Troop enjoying the festivities at Machynlleth Comedy Festival

We always said that we’d only ever run a regular comedy night in Cardiff if we felt that it could be perfect. I knew of the Undercroft, a medieval vaulted cellar underneath Cardiff Castle, from our work on Roald Dahl’s City of the Unexpected, and always felt it would be perfect for a comedy gig. So when Lloyd Glanville from Cardiff Castle approached us I kind of knew straight away we’d say yes. It’s a perfect space for it right in the centre of the city, but couldn’t feel further from the city when you’re down there. Lloyd had been to a lot of our shows in Clwb and Chapter so had a good idea of what we offer and so we’ve got the basis of a really strong partnership. It’s going to be monthly, and there will be four acts on each month. We plan to  showcase our favourite acts from the live comedy scene, and we can’t wait to share them with the city.

Aside from our monthly night at the Castle we’ve got a fair bit on the way in Cardiff in the coming months. Keep an eye on the Little Wander Facebook page to see what’s coming.

Keep up with all the Little Wander news …

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We also recommend you take note of Machynlleth Comedy Festival is the biggie, held on the May bank holiday weekend, and the new Aberystwyth Comedy Festival held in October. Get them in your diaries, and come enjoy some world class alternative comedy in fabulous surroundings.

Get outside for a wild Cardiff winter – enjoy nature in the city all year round

Today’s guest writer is Pip Gray, who is joining us to talk about the joys of urban nature – specifically in Cardiff, in the colder weather! Take it away, Pip!

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With acres of green spaces, wild coast line and miles of waterways flowing through the heart of the city, Cardiff is a city full of wildlife and nature to appreciate all times of the year – including the best time to go out and see it, winter.

Spending time in nature is scientifically proven to improve our mood, mental and general health, there’s no better time to get outside than in winter! Full to the brim with some of our most dramatic and exciting natural experiences, which can rival any summers day in the sun – disconnect and get involved.

Wrap up in your big winter coat, pull on your wellies and let’s create some warming winter memories outside amongst our cities ancient trees and wild neighbours.

Winter Visitors

Whilst we’re wrapped up in scarves and boots, wildlife from our chillier highlands surrounding Cardiff flock to our city for a warm escape from freezing conditions.

Look for winter birds such as Fieldfare and Redwing, relatives of the Song Thrush, who will be visiting our parks and gardens to feast on berries and seek shelter from colder climes.

They’ll be joined by one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in the UK, huge Starling murmurations. To enjoy this free performance, spend a little time looking up just before dusk at the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve, or across the city’s parks including Splott Park to watch up to thousands of birds swirling and dancing in the sky together before they roost.

Get In The Garden

Winter isn’t best known as a popular time to get in the garden, but our garden birds really appreciate a little helping hand during this tough season.

Setting out a feeding station and/or water is a lifeline for birds such as Robin and House Sparrows whose populations have plummeted due to loss of places to live and feed in our suburban sprawl. A simple feeder from a pet or DIY store filled with suet balls and a water bath will reward you with close up views of our most colourful garden birds including Blue Tits and Chaffinches – it’s like a safari, but for your garden!

Now is also a great time to start thinking about how to make your garden wildlife friendly for the year ahead, whether it’s pots of wildflower for bees or a fruit bush which supports everything from butterflies to birds!

Signs Of Spring

Another easy way to connect with nature that’s accessible to all, is to get down to earth. No really, get down to the ground and start noticing our amazing wild plants! Here in Cardiff we have countless numbers of wildflower, grasses, fungi and ancient organisms such as lichen and moss. A really great way to get interactive with our botanical buddies is with #WildFlowerHour at 8pm every Sunday on Twitter, where you can share your finds, have help identifying and get involved with protecting the plants which support our wildlife, and us.

In winter, look for snowdrops in our wooded areas, which will begin to flower alongside delicate yellow primroses. Some of our most ancient plants such as ferns and lichen thrive in our oldest forests, visit Howardian Gardens or Coed y Wenallt to lose yourself in the magic of an ancient woodland without leaving the city.

Thanks Pip! Pip Gray runs a Cardiff based wildlife blog, Wildly Pip, where she documents her journey living wildly in the city centre.

Pip’s next wildlife talk about Cardiff’s winter wildlife is run through Green Squirrel and is on February 16 at Roath Park Lake.

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Celebrating Independent Venue Week with Rainbow Maniac – Q&A and album recording photo essay

So there’s nothing we like more on We Are Cardiff than supporting and celebrating local talent. So we dropped in to speak to good time rock and rollers Rainbow Maniac, who have just recorded their debut album, and will be playing on Tuesday 29 January at The Moon. Read on for a photo essay of the recording, and a Q&A!

And don’t forget to catch them Tuesday 29 January: Independent Venue Week – Rainbow Maniac / The Rotanas / Carolines / WYNT (all ages, The Moon).

So you guys have just recorded your album! Tell us all about it.

With Charlie Francis as our producer, we recorded most of it over two days cause we’re hipsters and we wanna be like the Beatles in the early days. It was pretty easy and relaxed because we’d thought about it for a while and we’re pretty well rehearsed.

Some of the songs have been around for two or three years, and some of the songs were finished in the last few months so it feels like we’re releasing a mini greatest hits album as our debut!

When is the album due to be released?

We want to find a label to release with first so a release date is very much TBC. We intend to put out some singles in the meantime though so don’t worry! We are going to promote our new single ‘Snowball’ and take it from there.

Can people see you live any time soon?

Yeah for sho. To promote ‘Snowball’ we booked a mini tour this month – you can catch us at the last show in Cardiff at the Moon, on the 29th January. The single is also being released on 29th so it should be a fun night getting boozy with our support acts Al Moses and Rotanas!

Many thanks to Aiyush Pachnanda of Yo SNAPS for the photos.

See the full photoshoot at the We Are Cardiff Facebook page

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Meet Irina and Silviu – documenting local creatives

A couple of months ago I got an email from Irina and Silviu, asking if I would be free to answer some questions and be featured on their website. I do get asked relatively frequently to do things like this, but I’ve only got limited time available to me so I usually turn the offers down.

However, I had a look at the website for this project that they are running – Together and Sunspell – and got back in touch with them to say yes. Have a look at it and you’ll see why. The photography is just wonderful, and they’ve got an interesting mixture of interviews with people doing creative jobs or creative work across different industries, and also across their local area – they live in Usk, so their project spans Cardiff, Bristol and Bath. I asked them a few questions about Together and Sunspell. Enjoy!

Please introduce yourselves.

We are Irina & Silviu and we do everything together. We met at Uni in Transylvania where we were both studying Philosophy and a few years down the line we’ve decided to call Wales home.

Tell us a little bit about your project ‒ where did the idea come from? Why did you decide to do it?

Together & Sunspell was born out of our innate curiosity and inquisitive openness towards the Other and the way they interact with their environment. As foreigners we found this to be a good way of getting to know people and feeling less isolated. We also felt that by creating an online collection of these encounters we would support and promote local and regional talent and raise awareness of the creative richness surrounding us.

What has your experience been of meeting people and taking the photos? Have you enjoyed it?

T&S started without us really knowing it and this randomness helped us ease into what the project was going to become. We went from almost zero interaction to having covered over 120 stories in the span of two years; the whole process has been exhilarating, draining at times and paired with our innate need to permanently question and analyse everything, the journey has been anything but boring. Have we enjoyed it? We’ve absolutely loved it. It taught us things about ourselves that we might have never learned otherwise and it offered us a plethora of firsthand insights into so many different stories topped up with being able to share all this richness with everyone.

Are there any memorable photoshoots you have done?

They are all unique, thus all memorable. They all taught us something different, things you can only perceive in the company of people who open their hearts and homes and share their inspiring stories with us. At the end of the day, our project is not about photography as such, but about meaningful connections, genuine interactions, openness and inclusiveness.

What’s been your favourite location to take pictures so far?

The favourite location is always the one we are in at the time of conversing and being with the other. We can’t separate the person from the location or vice versa, they both complement each other creating a meaningful story.

And finally, what are your hopes and dreams for 2019?

We’d love to continue doing what we are doing: making more handmade collages, documenting more stories, collaborating with other creatives, developing more personal projects and enjoying our being together.

You can find Helia’s Together and Sunspell interview here:

Other lovely Cardiff people they have featured:

Find the full archive of Cardiff stories here: Together and Sunspell – Cardiff

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A blog about Cardiff, its people, and the alternative arts and cultural scene!

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