“Metropolis and nature; memory and future; big and little” – Alice


Having been born in Birmingham I’ve always felt very protective of my Cardiffian status. I moved here when I was two so I think that I’ve lived here long enough to consider it home. It’s an energetic, sleepy city that has history and vibrancy all at the same time. ‘Big Little City’ seems a perfect description for a place where you can always encounter a new experience and still bump into someone who knows someone, who knows someone you knew.

When I’m away from Cardiff I realise how much I love it, and feel proud to say that it’s my home. It seems that with distance you truly appreciate what matters. There is a possibility that I might move away, but Cardiff seems to have a hold on me. My childhood memories of life and death situations at the ‘big slide’ in the rec are ones that I hope to relive through my own children (one day!). The nature that surrounds the city so tightly is reassuring, and nothing is more calming than being next to the sea. Whilst it’s great to visit other cities and countries, Cardiff always seems to be the benchmark for the perfect city of contrasts. Metropolis and nature; memory and future; big and little.

Alice Paetel is in her third year studying English and Popular Culture at Cardiff Metropolitan University (Previously UWIC). She hopes to go on to become a Secondary English Teacher and have a siamese cat. She currently lives in Splott with her husband and pooch.

Alice was photographed in her garden in Splott by Adam Chard

Do you enjoy the We Are Cardiff website? Want to help us turn this project into a documentary film? Please donate any amount to our fundraising campaign and join the Facebook group




Help us make We Are Cardiff: the documentary!

Very very exciting news… we have decided to move our project on to the next level, and make We Are Cardiff: Portrait of a City!

It’s a documentary about our fair city. Basically think about how great our website is – and then imagine how amazing it would be on screen!

We’re trying to raise the sum of $4500 – please help us by donating anything you can afford to our IndieGogo campaign!

Here’s some background to the film, and to the whole project.

Our Story

Two years ago, a group of friends got annoyed with all the negative stuff they kept reading about Cardiff in the national newspapers (like it’s the capital of drunk and debauched Britannia, etc etc).

So they created a website called We Are Cardiff, designed to give a more authentic account of the lives of ordinary people who live in our ordinary little city.

We’ve always said we wanted to give a balanced version of the kind of city we live, in rather than the one dimension (drunks/chavs/benefit scroungers/hen parties) you get from most national media.

But if you look at the We Are Cardiff website, you’ll see we’ve still not really achieved that. We have a collection of lovely stories from lovely people, but there are parts of the city that we don’t have any stories from, and countless minorities and community groups who deserve to be featured.

We haven’t had any funding and have been running the project in our spare time, just because we felt like it should be done. But because of the limited time and resource, we haven’t managed to be as comprehensive in our city coverage as we wanted.

So what better way to get the balance right than in a film? “We Are Cardiff: Portrait of A City”?

We feel passionately that we live in a great city that has a lot to offer, and has some really amazing people living in it. We want to document that – as a snapshot of a place in time.We aren’t film makers. (not at all). We have our strengths – mine is writing, Adam’s is designing, and Simon’s is all things web. We’ll be planning the film, interviewing our people, and doing any graphic design and web building ourselves (as those are things that we can do).

BUT we need to rope in the talents of film types to help us film the interviews and sequences for the film, and edit the whole thing together so it looks good and is a joy to watch. Hiring equipment and doing post-production work all cost money, and we have no skills to do that stuff.

So we’re looking for a little cash to help us get this thing shot, edited together, looking lovely, and ready to view! DONATE TO OUR CAMPAIGN HERE

Once the film has been created, it will be put online on a website where it can be streamed live and watched by anyone, anywhere, anytime, though we’re also planning to have a screening and launch party in Cardiff before the film goes online. We want to have the film completed by the end of 2012.

If You Are Cardiff – if you live here, or love the place, or are just interested in helping some struggling artists try and put something that might be quite lovely together about this wonderful capital of Wales – then we need your help!

In return, we can offer a variety of exciting bits and pieces in reward for your support. And our gratitude. Our eternal gratitude.

Other Ways You Can Help

If you can’t afford to spare any cash (we understand, times are hard) – please support us by posting links to our IndieGoGo campaign on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else online (and please tell people in the real world too!).

Also please join our Facebook group for the campaign.

Also if you can donate any time or skills to the project (anything technical OR perhaps you could suggest potential people for us to feature) we really need that too!

We Are Cardiff – Big Little City interactive wall responses

Between April 14 – July 22 2011, We Are Cardiff took part in the BigLittleCity project at The Cardiff Story – the new museum dedicated to the capital of Wales. As well as displaying stories and photographs from the project, we had an interactive story wall, where visitors to the exhibition were invited to write their Cardiff story on cards and put them up for others to read.

Click on the image below to visit the Issuu website and read the booklet. There are some wonderful stories on its scribbled pages!

“More and more Cardiff is less my city” – Lee


Cardiff looms large in my life. I slag it off, complain about all and sundry, move elsewhere and still end up coming back. It’s that baggy old mis-shapen t-shirt you would never wear outside but is the first thing you put on when you have the flu and feel crappy.

It’s my first kiss, closed eyes and disbelief on my bedroom floor in Fairwater. It’s my first betrayal, my first break-up, The Cure in my headphones and tears down my face. It’s playing my first gig, 17 years old, downstairs in Clwb Ifor Bach, the stage lights making sweat run down my face, over in a blur, my hands shaking like mad till I fretted that first chord and muscle memory took over propelling me through the set, a bundle of teenage nerves and elation.

I was born in East Glamorgan hospital, and lived the first years of my life in Llantwit Fadre, my family moved us to Cardiff when I was two years old, determined for me and my brother to have the best opportunities for school and work, and partly to make sure I didn’t end up with a Welsh accent, something that my family have always hated. I always got corrected, and as such have ended up with a bizarre posh half accent that doesn’t really belong anywhere. I get everything from Australian to Bristolian thrown at me. “No, I’m Welsh” is always my response.

Cardiff has changed massively in my time here. Growing up as a teenager I was introduced to a warren of crazy small shops in the city’s beautiful indoor Victorian arcades, which seemed to sustain a colony of weird and fascinating shops like a coral reef. Places like Emporium, which was more like 50 small shops all crammed into one big one, reeking of incense, dope smoke and musty second hand clothes, you could buy anything from a seven inch record to a world war 2 mortar shell and everything in between. Shops like Partizan, all long hippy skirts and moon and star paraphenalia, that pretty much defined the early 90s for me. Tie dye and candle holders, incense and adhesive stars on bedroom ceilings, first cigarettes, band posters, red wine in the park, falling in and out of love.

The building of the Millennium Stadium was the death knell of a lot of these shops, as rents doubled overnight, many of the shops and stalls folding immediately. It’s only got worse since, and it’s been terrible to watch, as shop by shop has vanished to be replaced by another identikit franchise that you could find in any city, and the heart of Cardiff died. Spillers Records, Troutmark books and Wally’s Deli are the only survivors from those days, and they took casualties on the way.

I never understood the logic of putting a stadium slap bang in the middle of a city which struggles with its infrastructure at the best of times. For a capital city, Cardiff has one of the smallest city centres I have ever encountered. Everything is on top of everything else. You could probably throw a stone across town if you tried hard enough. Come 5pm there are queues in and out of the centre, long before the rugby dumped 70,000 people on top of that to create bedlam and bring the city to a standstill.

Full disclosure. I hate rugby. Yes I know, I should be banned from Wales just for that, but there we are. Why the stadium couldn’t be outside the city, like the Cardiff City stadium, with its own rail station and transport links I will never understand. Then maybe we could have kept the bits of the city that I liked the most.

Similarly the arrival of the hulking behemoth that is the St. David’s 2 centre ground out a few more of the independents, and put Starbucks and the Apple Centre in their place. Attack of the Clones.

More and more Cardiff is less my city, and more a place that I wouldn’t want to go, and I don’t feel I belong in.

It will always be the place I grew up, it will always be my first kiss, it will always be my first cider in Llandaff Cathedral graveyard, but it might not be my home any more.

Still, Bristol is just over the bridge eh?

Lee Marshall is a freelance music producer, dj, remixer and sound designer,as well as recording albums under the name “Underpass”. His new album “Submergence” is released on the 21st November by Mutate Records. He makes a mean veggie spag bol and is obsessed with camouflage. Visit the Underpass website, Lee is also on twitter, @leeunderpass. You can listen to his work on Soundcloud. Lee currently lives in Riverside.

Lee was photographed in the Castle Arcade by Amy Davies – you can also see more shots from Lee’s photoshoot on Amy’s blog