In Cardiff I have lived, and lived I have.
Cardiff has been at the centre of possibly one of the most exciting times in my life.
Although it’s presumptuous to say so as I’m only 24 – I suppose I might have to wait a long time to I find out – but it certainly feels like the city has propelled me through an important and formative period.
My first memories of Cardiff were a rainy road trip for a university open day in my late teens – despite being a Birmingham lass, the open spaces and Civic Centre made the city feel huge and grand – a memory of a lecturer speaking about the acclaimed School of Journalism was imprinted on my brain throughout my time editing the student newspaper at Bristol University. I applied for the course during my last year at Bristol – and moved into a house with three assertive and curious journalism students on Donald Street in Roath.
Fresh out of Bristol – where students live in ridiculously pricey Edwardian houses closer to organic delis and wine bars than off-licences and hardware stores – Albany Road was a dream. It mirrored more of the ethnic diversity of Birmingham – it felt relaxed, cool and homely.
Penarth was my news ‘patch’; I made regular trips past the tinkytonk castle, cutting through Grangetown to get to the little seaside hilly village. Sunny days were spent walking along the pier talking to wrinkled sun-soakers, rainy days running in the dark to get to town council meetings and eating tuna sandwiches in Windsor arcade inbetween.
As a trainee journalist, I got to know the geography of Cardiff pretty quickly – how you can be thrown out of the city by getting onto the wrong link road in Cardiff Bay, how to navigate the gridded backstreets of Splott. I made the move from east to west Cardiff in 2010 – unbeknown to me at the time I was joining a foray of frenzied media types in my little terraced house which straddles the tiny loggerhead wards of Canton and Riverside (known locally as Pontcanna).
According to journalisted.com I’ve written more than 1,000 articles since July 2008 – all involving Cardiff people – finding out more about the city and what makes it tick.
I’ve visited a Cardiff jester whose Facebook-famous ferrets had escaped, walked around Canton with the council’s chief executive, filmed the unveiling of a new nose for the anteater on the animal wall, helped a young lady get a disabled parking bay on Womanby Street, been out with the Cardiff Street Pastors on new Year’s Eve, learnt how to knit, tried out the new white water rafting centre, ran the Cardiff half marathon, sat in more council meetings in County and City Hall than I can remember….
I’ve let the charm of Cardiffian phrases seep into my vocabulary, chatted to crooners from Tiger Bay on the bus, I have struggled with the rain which seems to come up from the ground, tottered in heels down St Mary Street, cycled through Bute Park with my eyes closed, cried, laughed, cheered and loved. In truth I’ve poured more emotion, grit and passion into the city in four short years than I thought humanly possible, and the result will be with me, and Cardiff I hope, forever.
Thanks to everyone whose made this time so valuable – you’ve deepened the imprint of a dragon-shaped stamp on my heart.
Hannah Waldram is the Guardian beatblogger in Cardiff. Birmingham born and bred, Hannah started up a website for her hometown called BournvilleVillage.com and continued blogging and running social media surgeries before coming to Cardiff. In her spare time enjoys all things dance.
Hannah was photographed at Cardiff City Hall by Adam Chard
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