My first impression of Cardiff was somewhat romantic. My dearest friend – later to become my husband – lived in ‘Hail Gabriel’. How fantastic I thought – in Cardiff they name roads as salutations to angels. I later learned that ‘hail’ was in fact ‘heol’ and simply meant ‘road’, but by that time I was already in love with Cardiff and it mattered not.
It was an interest in Buddhism that brought me to Cardiff. I had been attending weekend events at the Lam Rim Buddhist Centre in Raglan for two or three years and had developed friendships with people living in Cardiff. On first moving to Cardiff as a newly qualified teacher, I worked in many schools throughout the city providing supply cover. I struggled with the children’s names. Rhiannon, Angharad and Iwan were new names to me, and even familiar names were spelt strangely, such as Dafydd, Alun or Huw. I never did get used to children telling me that they had ‘been to England’ for their summer holiday. It had been quite usual for my family to go to Wales for a holiday, but it just sounded really odd to hear people saying the same about England. For me England had always been where I lived, not a place you went to for a vacation.
I have taught in Community Education since I first moved to Cardiff in 1983. At first I taught pottery as I had trained in art and design, particularly ceramics. The health problems of my children when they were little led me into studying homoeopathy and so I taught this for a while. Underlying all my experience and work is my life as a Buddhist practitioner and I am now ordained as a ngakma, and so in more recent years my community education teaching was meditation and Tibetan yoga. My second book has just been published which draws on my experience of these classes. Relaxing into Meditation offers a gentle and pragmatic approach to the practice of meditation through relaxation and breathing exercises. We also run a weekly meditation class in Whitchurch which anyone is welcome to attend.
Cardiff is both spacious and compact. It is spacious with the many wonderful areas of open parkland where you can cycle or walk and feel part of nature. It is compact in that the main shopping centre is easily covered in a single expedition whilst still offering a great range of shops. We call our local Whitchurch shopping area ‘the village’ and indeed there are many such areas surrounding the city centre and each has its own personality. I also love that I need only travel a few miles north from my home in Whitchurch and be in beautiful and scenic countryside.
My two sons are Welsh like their father, and I now feel rather more Welsh than English. Although the sound of a Brummy accent makes me feel warm inside and brings a smile to my face, Cardiff, and Wales are my home. I have tried to learn the Welsh language with some success – I can read and write simple Welsh, but I have never succeeded in tuning in my ear to hearing it. I pick up words here and there, but I cannot follow the flow of a conversation. I hope to get back to this soon and improve my understanding.
I revitalised a love of horse riding at Pontcanna riding stables and eventually, in my middle age, realised a childhood dream of owning my own horse by purchasing a mare from them. We now have two horses and livery them at the splendid Briwnant Riding Centre in Rhiwbina. It still amazes me that I can keep my horses five miles from the city centre and yet ride for hours on woodland trails, hardly needing to touch a road.
Ngakma Nor’dzin Pamo grew up in the Midlands of England and moved to Wales as an adult. Her training in meditation began in the early 1980s and in 1989 she was ordained and became the first Western woman to take ordination into the non-monastic tradition of Nyingma Tibetan Buddhism. Her first book, Spacious Passion, was published in 2006. Her most recent book, Relaxing into Meditation, is available now through Aro Books Worldwide. Follow her online through her blogs, ceffylau.blogspot.com, transport-of-delight.blogspot.com, ngakma-nordzin.blogspot.com or spacious-passion.org. She currently lives in Whitchurch with her husband and has two sons.
Nor’dzin was photographed with her mare, Dee, at Briwnant riding stables in Rhiwbina. She was photographed by her husband, ‘ö-Dzin Tridral
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