“I’m proud to say that I’m in love with the city” – Tom

Tom Wentworth

I’m having an affair. I know what you must be thinking – but now I want to shout it from the very top of Capital Tower.

I have been indulging in my love affair with Cardiff since September last year. It began with an exclamation of recognition that you get when you meet an old friend, hurtling past the University of Glamorgan’s Cardiff campus the Atrium in Adamsdown, as I arrived on the train. After open days and visits to get my bearings, this was it. I was moving to Cardiff.

The Atrium building simply screams ‘buzzword’, with its glass frontage and the way it appears to rise from the ground. It symbolises my view of Cardiff – modern, fresh and exciting. The Atrium has become the centre of my personal map of the city. That map is growing all the time, adding in the restaurants, cafes and coffee houses where I guiltily eat chocolate cake and listen to city gossip. I hear candid reviews of the best places to eat; the new art collections at the National Museum and where to find peace in the city’s green spaces. I want to know who else I’m sharing my city with, so I drink in the chatter with my latte and head out to explore.

While I’m alone during these exquisite explorations I’m still surrounded by people who are not above waving or saying a cheery ‘Good morning!’. Of course, I’m never really on my own – the city is more than happy to act as the perfect guide, as I experience the new and old together; taking enjoyment from returning to familiar places, just as much as finding new ones.

Like in any relationship though, there are some days when one needs space. Then I head to Shropshire – the original focus of my affections – but I’m always pulled back, often to find that a new building or development has been erected in the time I was away. The city is ever changing and embraces so many cultures but it can sometimes seem rather apologetic of its status as the Welsh capital. However, its pull appears to remain unchallenged as students often seem to stay long after they’ve graduated.

In many ways I feel that I am writing my version of the city; the boulevards and streets have become places where an important part of my life is being played out. I feel a strong sense of ownership with a place I feel increasingly passionate about. I dread the day when I may have to break my bond with this place and relocate but it hasn’t happened yet.

So, I shall continue my love affair with Cardiff but it’s no longer a secret, and I’m proud to say that I’m in love with the city.

Tom Wentworth is a freelance writer and a student at the University of Glamorgan where he is studying Radio (BA Hons.) He openly admits to spending too much time in the cities cafes in the name of research when he should be writing or studying. Follow him on Twitter – @tomthetwit. He currently lives in Adamsdown.

Tom was photographed outside Atrium by Adam Chard

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“To me, Cardiff was just somewhere you had to pay to get to on the train” – Charlotte

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My 16 year old self wasn’t very keen on Cardiff. I grew up in Newport and thought it was great. It had everything I needed at that time: a McDonald’s where I could buy a Big Mac meal every Saturday lunchtime; a Miss Selfridge where I could stock up on black kohl eye pencils; and a Hitman where I could pretend to be cool looking through the grunge CDs. There was a bar called The Griffin where everyone from school used to hang out (yes, when we were 16) and I could recite the bus time-table. I remember an argument with a girl at school who was from Cardiff about how much better Newport was. I can’t even remember what my argument consisted of but I think I mentioned Annie’s bead shop in Newport Market more than once. At the time I’d probably only actually been to Cardiff a handful of times, it wasn’t ‘my place’ and I didn’t know much about it, but I was sure it just wasn’t that good. To me it was just somewhere you had to pay to get to on the train.

Eight years later in 2004, after moving to England for university, I’d changed. I wasn’t so interested in McDonald’s, kohl eye pencils or grunge, and was more concerned about finding a Pizza Express, an arty cinema and proper department stores. When I decided to move back to Wales, Cardiff seemed to tick all the boxes. I thought about what that girl from school would have said if she’d seen me moving in to my Llandaff flat.

Over the past six years, Cardiff’s become my home. I know all the shortcuts through the backstreets to avoid traffic, I’ve tracked down the best coffee shops, restaurants and bars found myself a dentist, doctor, dry cleaner, car mechanic and all the other things that make you feel like you’re really settled somewhere. I love everything about this place, from the Bay to St David’s shopping centre, Chapter Arts Centre to the amazing Bute Park, and I now find myself telling people how much better Cardiff is than Newport. Not many people argue with me, though.

Charlotte Laing is a freelance journalist and editor of ‘notebook’ magazine for St David’s shopping centre. She also edits her own online magazine about online shopping, www.mrsmagpie.co.uk. She currently lives in Llandaff.

Charlotte was photographed outside Jaspers coffee shop in Llandaff by Adam Chard

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“Splott Road” – Darren Floyd

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Splott Road

It’s bad at night.

It gets quiet like.

You know, there’s – like- nothing happening. A few cars going by, but there’s not even anyone hanging round the Spar or the Christian Centre that used to be a Bingo Hall like. So you know it’s like boring you know. When I say it’s quiet, there is a noise – it’s like a fridge being on, there’s a… thing you know…a…what do you call it … a buzz. It’s never completely quiet like, but it’s dull, really dull. I don’t know why I’m telling you this or anything you can’t even bastard hear me can you? You can’t even bastard hear me.

I knows why I’m saying it really, it’s something to do isn’t it? Something to kill the seconds and hours and days and weeks. Though I don’t know just where any of it’s gone, do you? I mean, there’s like some clear stuff, like light and day and stuff- I’m not retarded – and like summer and winter. But like, do you know what month it is? It could be July or it could be September who knows? I don’t. I don’t think you do. Is it important? I don’t suppose it is, but – like – nothing’s important anymore, is it like?

It’d like to know what month it is, cause like if it is September that would mean that my birthday would be coming up, but I suppose it would be bad to know that wouldn’t it? Would be a killer to know that you should be going on the lash, but that all you can do is to is to stand in the doorway of a rubbish church, that smells of piss and has broken windows, no one comes here, ever. Terrible.

I knows you talks, cause I can see your lips move, do you thinks you can hear me? Do you pretend? I don’t bastard knows, who knows?

Do you remember that time we tried to make up our own talks like? Remember? It was soon after, you know, when … just after … we gave up … just … gave up. Didn’t seem much point did it? I mean if we had managed to sort something out, it would have been shit wouldn’t it? I remember you when you were alive and you weren’t exactly Peter bastard Kay then were you? Dull to be honest. The only thing I can ever remember you getting excited about were the cheap breakfasts they do in McDonalds on a Friday morning. So it would have been dull like – boring – like everything else.

There is something I’d like to know from you mind. I’d like to know if you can see them. Can you see the others? I can see two of them, dressed like something from the TV, or from a game you know, old stuff. One of them is dressed like out of the Hitler war, I can see him clearly, but he doesn’t do much anymore, and there’s another one, I can just about see him. He’s down by the Co-op on Splott road and I don’t know what he’s dressed like, but he’s always jumping up and down and doing stuff, gets on my tits a bit if I’m honest, but what else is there?

I lied. There is something else I’d like to know.

Do you think that any of the living can see you? I’ve seen you make a start, like you’ve sat on a spike or something. I think … I think someone saw me once. There was this jacked up Subaru coming round the corner like what we did. They got the speed wrong and skidded, and I saw this kid in the passenger seat, and I saw that he was shitting himself like. I knows that. I was shitting myself when we went in for the skid. Then I saw this look on his face, a shock and it jolted me, like the time I touched that dodgy plug like.

He saw me.

I swear on my mother’s life, he saw me. It was like just a second, it was there, and gone. The driver was sharper than ours and got control and shot on down the road, I saw him laughing, but honestly the kid in the passenger seat saw me.

I don’t know why, but I was thinking about that for ages like. Sometimes it made me feel good, it was the first time I can remember anyone seeing me, it was like – I don’t know – like there had been something to me other than this, what’s now. It was over so quickly but I haven’t stopped thinking about it, and how long ago was that?

There’s other times when I think about it and it makes me feel bad, terrible like worse than most of the time, you know what I mean?

Look at the flowers. Look at them, there’s nothing there anymore, even the dead bits have blown away, I don’t remember when. All that’s left is the elastic band, and that’ll be gone soon. I don’t know why but that…that scares me, no, you know, freaks me out. I remember when the elastic band…when it was new and red, now look at it, grey and just hanging on, like my Nan.

I looks over at there at them lot going into the Christian Centre that used to be a Bingo Hall like and I look at the piss heads going in and out of the Old Illtydian R.F.C Social Club and coming out for a fag and I can’t make up my mind which building is a bigger waste of time. I mean what’s the point like? You know? What’s the point? You can’t even bastard hear me. Look at you now, look at you, flapping your lips, and that’s not even the worse of it. I’ve seen you looking out like one of those Zombies like out of a game or something, doing nothing for ages with your mouth open and just looking like, then it’s like you wake up or something. The bad thing is that I knows that I does it too. Sometimes I’ll be looking out and the next thing I knows it’s like night or something and I don’t knows what happened. That should be good like, you knows, time going like that. It should be good. It should be good. Still it’s better than thinking about – you know – how this like, all happened, how we got here. You knows, I don’t want to think about it, but I can’t helps it. One minute I was in the car, and then … and then … I was watching, it was like something out of a game, no one told me why or like how, that made me mad at the start it’s like really unfair, you knows? I mean why? Why you knows? I want to know when will it end?

Darren Floyd is a writer/artist who lives and works in Cardiff. His novel “Match Day” was published recently, and is available from Spillers and online here. He will be doing a reading in the Wellfield Bookshop tomorrow (Saturday the 16th of October) at 12 noon as part of the Made in Roath festival. Some of his paintings and random mutterings can be seen here. He currently lives in Splott.

Darren was photographed on Splott Road by Adam Chard

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“it’s funny to remember world famous American DJ David Morales arriving for a four hour set at the Coal Exchange and demanding a Burger King before he went on stage, which meant heading back in to town” – Henry

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In many ways this is where it all began for me in Cardiff – the magnificent Coal Exchange building in Butetown Cardiff. I arrived in the city from Manchester in September 1992 to work in the University Union Entertainments department and within months was co-promoting a dance music night called Spice of Life with Gareth Evans and local DJ and house music pioneer Dave Jones. In January 1994 we secured the Coal Exchange to launch a brand new night.

We scratched our heads as to what to call the new project – it had to be something bloody good as the venue was out of this world for a clubbing event. If you look closely at the clock above my head in the photo there is a gold inscription, the motto of the Coal Exchange, that reads TEMPUS FUGIT. So there it was. Tempus Fugit was launched on Saturday 22nd January 1994 with Dave Jones and Craig Bartlett as resident DJs.

And the parties there took off overnight, so much so that we had to move after just three events to the bigger, equally impressive and more centrally located City Hall building. It was here that we changed the name of the night to the English translation of Tempus Fugit……….Time Flies – a name that has lasted the test of time, and still pulls in the crowds in Wales today. There were a few different reasons for the name change, the best one being that Pete Tong could never pronounce Tempus Fugit correctly on his Friday evening BBC Radio 1 Essential Selection show.

Looking back it’s funny to remember world famous American DJ David Morales arriving for a four hour set at the Coal Exchange and demanding a Burger King before he went on stage, which meant heading back in to town. The area of the city where the venue is has since undergone a complete transformation with the creation of Cardiff Bay and now boasts an array of fantastic restaurants and bars in the fashionable Mermaid Quay that Morales could choose from today. Plus the iconic Wales Millennium Centre is there now too.

Certainly in the two decades I have known Cardiff I have seen the city change beyond all recognition. The building of the Millennium Stadium put the Welsh capital on the global map permanently, particularly as the English Football Association contrived to make a complete balls-up of the redevelopment of Wembley and so handed Cardiff such prestigious sporting events as the FA Cup, the League Cup and Play-off finals for six years that were beamed around the world to massive audiences and so attracted visitors who would never have thought of coming here. Liverpool made so many appearances at the Stadium it’s rumoured the players and fans bought properties in the Bay.

Thirty minutes from gorgeous beaches, 30 minutes from the Brecon Beacons and 30 minutes from the nearest airport, Cardiff is in many ways unique and a fantastic city to be a part of.

Henry Blunt lives in Roath, has a 4 year old daughter and has been running Time Flies and staging shows in Wales for 18 years. You can find out more about his up-and-coming events by visiting the Time Flies website, and you can find both Henry and Time Flies on Facebook. Contact him here: henry@timefliesuk.com. Henry currently lives in Roath.

Henry was photographed outside the Coal Exchange in Cardiff Bay by Adam Chard

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“On opening this letter, it will have been exactly three years since leaving London behind” – Kieran

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Dear Kieran,

On a break from city hall and working on the impending return of the students I have escaped to a café near the station to enjoy my usual herbal tea. I thought it would be a good idea to remind you of why you are in Cardiff and what your thoughts were between turning 29 and 30.

So, on opening this letter it will have been exactly three years since leaving London behind. Yes Cardiff might not have as much going on, but remember that’s a good thing, instead of running around trying to do everything listed in Time Out – from theatre to gig, to art show to three clubs in one night, wake up and repeat. There is that feeling of anticipation in Cardiff and an enjoyment in and of the moment rather than constantly charging on to next, next, next.

In hindsight the move and career change from working for an art collector to student liaison officer – private to public, although an initial shock, has taken you out of the comfort zone you were in danger of falling into, coming to Cardiff to be a bit more selfish; write, study and work.

Yes, frustrations underline your work, but don’t forget the freedom the post has allowed; working from your own initiative. Working with the three universities and the council as the Student Liaison Officer is a unique position across the UK. The post has helped make the city and its students safer, cleaner, and hopefully greener, more socially aware and responsible. It’s helped people to invest in their communities and become enveloped within the city outside of the student bubble. The work empowers the community and changes perceptions. Follow-ups to the Buy Nothing Day and the first ever Speed Dating litter picks should have come about, work progressed towards ‘Get it Out For Cardiff’ charity collections throughout the year, and ‘cardifference’, Go Green and ‘Lock it. Hide it. Keep it’ campaigns launched, and added onto your website cardiffdigs.co.uk, a website for all student housing and living needs.

If when you open this letter funding has run out, then you know that forces outside your control took possession. You have taken the job as far as it could go, perhaps it is time for that move into the charity sector or maybe into social marketing as you’ve been mulling over in your thoughts.

I wonder if you are still living in Grangetown? Remember not to take the ability to walk everywhere for granted. And look up more – you must have brought a second hand bike by now for further explorations.

Do you remember that man on a night out casually taking a poo against a wall in full public view on a less than salubrious street like it was normal behaviour? In Cardiff you constantly need to keep digging deeper to avoid the shit on the streets. Finding uniqueness stops you giving up on humanity and retains your optimism for the city. Don’t get blinded by selfish attitudes, the consumerist city clone, our throw-away society, bad manners/litter or underlying cliques – it’s finding the off-the-cuff parts, seeking out interesting people and places that make this city remarkable.

If you still haven’t dedicated time to writing then it’s time to put pen to paper again. You will have graduated with a certificate in higher education, subjects in philosophy, psychology and social marketing, by the time you open this but that’s no excuse to not have continued learning. You had thoughts of sociology and such like up your sleeve so I hope as much time this past year has been spent holed up in various libraries.

At the time you were listening to Steve Mason, Stevie Wonder, Laura Marling and the XX on repeat. This was the soundtrack to Cardiff.
You’d just finished reading Buy-ology, Master and Margarita and Wind In The Willows, and hope some headway was made on the stack of books by the bedside.

A weekend with the SWAT adventure group was impending – if you haven’t organised something this year, then why not? Remember how much fun things like the Llama trek, Go Ape, trips and walks to Snowdon and Brecon were.

Hopefully you’ve found an additional volunteer opportunity, been on another conservation holiday, got more involved in the Cardiff Rivers group, community radio and Radio Cardiff, and found a creative outlet.

The last week is fairly typical in that you’ve met up with close friends played squash, gone to the cinema, had a veggie dinner somewhere, gone for tea and cake, seen something random like Celtic wrestling, ice hockey, circus, theatre or gig and taken those dancing shoes for a good old shuffle around. You know who these people are that make this city into a bonanza, so pick up the phone now if it’s been more than a few weeks.

I leave you with this:
“At 30 a man should know himself like the palm of his hand, know the exact number of his defects and qualities, know how far he can go, foretell his failures – be what he is. And, above all, accept these things.” – Albert Camus

So yes you are still nauseatingly cheesy but happy birthday, from me (nearly 29) to me (30).

Kieran McCann is slightly addicted to chocolate soya milk, loves having breakfast for his tea, gets guilty pleasures from reading comics, has only walked through the new St David’s 2 once, can’t pass an open charity shop without going in and is still fending off having a personal profile on facebook. He is the founder of cardiffdigs.co.uk ; you can follow his work on the blog: http://cardiffdigs.blogspot.com/

Kieran was photographed near the Taf at Tudor Street by Adam Chard.

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