You never really stop to think about what you like about the place you live, do you? You just, sort of, live there. You go through the motions, ride out the bad times and enjoy the good times; but you never really stop to think what it is about that place that you love or just what it is that keeps you there, do you?
Well, that’s how Cardiff’s always been for me, anyway. The seven years I’ve lived here have definitely been mixed, and it’s only during the latter few that I’ve truly settled and stopped gazing at the Severn Bridge!
In fact, when I was first asked to do a We Are Cardiff entry I remember stalling for ages before telling Helia (founder of WAC), “to be honest, I’m not sure I really like living here.”
I can’t really pretend that my ending up here was the result of informed, well thought-out ‘life choices’ like you’re encouraged to make by teachers at school. My decision to move here seven years ago from Pembrokeshire, for university, was shaped largely by circumstance really, and my decision to stay here after university was, at first, a reluctant one.
I certainly loved university; I enjoyed my course and made some great friends. But as soon as I graduated I was desperate to join the rat race and get to London, so I was secretly a bit disappointed when my boyfriend moved to Cardiff and suggested I stuck around and moved in with him, but it did make sense.
I remember having a conversation with my mum who said everyone should ‘do London’ at some point; I felt sure she was right. Despite having a job in Cardiff, I remember trawling the London job sites looking for my ticket out of Wales and I even secured a job there and was ready to make the move. Something stopped me from taking it and I carried on as I was, albeit unenthusiastically.
So the first few years after university in Cardiff were reluctant, to say the least. I watched my friends fly high in London and elsewhere and I resented staying here. I started to pave my own path – but at the back of my mind I always felt the Cardiff chapter was one I was simply skating over.
I’m not quite sure exactly when things changed; but I remember around two years ago driving across the barrage back into Cardiff Bay after netball training and feeling a real sense of contentment. It was a gorgeous sunset and I remember feeling really at ease.
Since then I’ve really changed my view of where I live. I’ve realised how much control you can have over your own fate and I’ve embraced all of the opportunities Cardiff has offered me. My roots have been firmly planted here now and I can’t imagine started afresh anywhere else. I’ve also realised the value of being relatively close to family in West Wales.
Of course, I’d be lying if I said that this is THE place for me or that I’m ‘meant’ to be here, but what was an initial reluctant acceptance has morphed into a ever-growing appreciation. Cardiff really is a great place to live, it’s become my home and I’m here to stay.
Anna Milewski works for the Federation of Small Businesses in Cardiff. Away from the office, she is an avid netball player (for MJM), an occasional horse rider and an average jewellery-maker. She loves the countryside and says there’s nowhere she’d rather be than on a deserted Marloes Sands in Pembrokeshire. Failing that, she’s happy wandering around Splott market on a Saturday morning picking up all sorts of tat for the flat – or having lunch in Cowbridge on a sunny Sunday. She currently lives in Cardiff Bay.
Anna was photographed in a field at Culverhouse Cross by Adam Chard