My name is Alistair and this is my ode to Cardiff. Well, as close to an ode as an amateur like myself can get.
I have lived near or in Cardiff for most of my life. I grew up in Cowbridge, approximately 14 miles away, and in those hazy days of childhood, Cardiff was the proverbial “Big City”; shimmering (in places), noisy and just a little bit scary. Now I come to think of it, Cardiff has seen me through some pretty important junctures in my life. It has witnessed my darker days of dodgy student attire, misguided boyfriend selections and many a questionable home dye job! It has nurtured me through adolescence, the university years and now my current incarnation as a “young professional”- whatever that means!
The great thing about a place like Cardiff is that there is literally something for everyone. Granted, that is a worn-out expression, but in this case it truly applies. Whether you’re a lover of vintage goods, farmers markets, art house cinema, filthy nights out, fine food, not-so-fine food or shopping- oh! the shopping- Cardiff has it all. I know what you’re thinking; most cities in Britain do have it all these days, but my response to that is that not many other cities have achieved that elusive blend of cosmopolitan edge and homeliness that Cardiff has.
My partner and I recently began an illustration and design enterprise, the first few months of which were spent selling our wares at craft fetes and gift markets around the city. Despite the early mornings and lugging around of heavy boxes I was both thrilled and inspired by the amount on home-grown talent on show. I encourage every resident of Cardiff to visit the many events taking place around the city as much as possible – my particular favourite is the Joie de Vivre market at the Norwegian church which offers up a variety of Welsh-made products in one of the most charismatic venues in Cardiff.
Cardiff continues to evolve and, I think, improve; and whilst there are always emerging attractions there are also hidden gems that occasionally fling themselves into your path. Jacob’s Antique Market, Madame Fromage delicatessan and Milgi’s bar are all places I stumbled across by chance, invariably using the expression “How did I not know about this place sooner?” Now they are amongst my favourite haunts.
Of course, like most things in life, Cardiff is not all champagne and roses – it certainly has its dingier regions – but in all honesty our fair city would not be the same without them and their absence would detract from its eclectic charm. Waxing lyrical, you say? Yes, but I mean every word.
After reading this I hope you take a moment or two to wonder at the magnificence of our capital city, kick back with a cocktail (or your tipple of choice) and find yourself feeling very proud to be a Cardiffian.
Alistair Stuart is a freelance illustrator, avid dickie-bow wearer and proud parent of Slightly Wobbly Designs www.slightlywobbly.co.uk. He lives with his boyfriend, Jonny, in Cardiff Bay.
Did you know that We Are Cardiff are making a film about our project? It’s about all the lovely things that happen in the city over the course of 2012. If you’re sick of bad press about the city, why not donate just £3 to help us make a lovely film we can all be proud of? Donate money here or check the film’s blog here
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