We Are Cardiff and N0tice – Celebrating the high street

The goal of We Are Cardiff has always been celebrating the city of Cardiff through the stories of people who live here. Recently our (award winning – sorry, had to drop that in) blog was asked to be part of a campaign being launched by n0tice, which is a web platform that brings together hyperlocal news and events from various sites into one centralised place. The campaign that’s being launched is celebrating the British high street and its function in bringing together local communities across the UK.

N0tice’s celebrate and change the highstreet campaign is being launched in four different UK locations – Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, and Brighton. Revitalising city and town centre high streets as community hubs is an aspect of urban regeneration that we think is really important, and we’re delighted and really excited that n0tice have asked us to partner with them in promoting this new initiative here in the capital of Wales.

So – what does this mean for you guys reading this? Well, we want YOU GUYS to take photographs of what you want to celebrate or change about your local high street. You can tweet them with the hashtags #celebrate or #change and the hashtag #myhighstreet, and the n0tice guys are going to be putting together a hub of all the online activity, which you can see at http://highstreet.n0tice.com.

But it wouldn’t be fair to ask you to do ALL the work, right? So you can see below for two photographs of things that we’ve picked out as being things to celebrate and change.


The people. So many people. This photograph was taken at Mardi Gras this year, and it was the sense of joy and fun that this event created that we think is so key for bringing people together. Especially considering this was an event celebrating the diversity of communities in Wales. So this is our thing we want to celebrate about the city that we live in – the people. Not surprising I suppose when you consider what We Are Cardiff is about…


It’s a fairly obvious thing to point out about most urban centres these days, but there are increasingly more and more abandoned and empty buildings in these locations. It’s particularly sad when the buildings are old or have some sense of history behind them. Cardiff Bay has more than its fair share of these kinds of buildings (you don’t have to wander far from the bright sparkly lights of Mermaid Quay to find them either) – gorgeous old buildings that have been left empty, some for decades. The Coal Exchange, the Point, the Vaults (although these buidlings are being used sporadically). This photograph captures two things – another lovely old building that’s been left empty, but also another example of one of the 12 pubs that’s been closing (on average) per week over the past few years.

So this is the question we put to you: what are the things you would like to #change or #celebrate on #myhighstreet? Tweet us your pictures with the hashtags and take part in this campaign that’s running over October 2012!

Dirty Protest, The Real Valleys: “Treorchy is a small town at the upper edge of the Rhondda Valley” – Rachel Trezise

If you’ve been on a train in or out of Cardiff recently, you may have noticed an enormous billboard just outside Cardiff Central promoting a television show of dubious – well, dubious everything – called MTV – The Valleys. As yet another example of lazy, poorly executed ‘reality’ brain mush that misappropriates everything about the place we live (the valleys are part of south Wales, after all, just like Cardiff is), you can imagine how annoyed we were to see it was being produced.

If any of you have watched the programme, you have our sympathies. For those who have managed to avoid it and are as angry about it as we are, then take hope from local underground theatre group Dirty Protest, who are reclaiming the valleys through an event being held on 25 October 2012 called ‘The Real Valleys’. The event is being held at the Bunkhouse in Cardiff, 7.30pm, tickets £5. For more anti-MTV valleys discussion, read this Radical Wales article and please support The Valleys Are Here campaign.

To show our support for the real valleys and these events, we’re publishing our first ever non-Cardiff story – Rachel Trezise, about her home town of Treorchy.

Treorchy is a small town, (pop. 8,105) at the upper edge of the Rhondda Valley, 14 miles north of Cardiff, cushioned on all four sides by great looming mountains that turn ablaze every spring and summer. It’s famous for three things; the commanding grey stone of the Edwardian Park & Dare theatre; its 1913 construction funded entirely by mine workers, a male voice choir founded in 1883 and described by Anthony Hopkins as ‘the master choir of them all’, and a seminal album by Max Boyce called Live at Treorchy, recorded in the town’s rugby club in 1974, (in the presence, I might add, of my stout-drunken grandmother).

Aside from brief stints studying in Ireland and teaching in America, I’ve lived in and around Treorchy all my life, growing and learning amid the hotchpotch of the old and the new, the melting pot of Welsh, Anglicized and immigrant culture: swimming in the sheep dip at the foot of the Bwlch, bunking off school in the sunken bomb shelter under the rugby pitch, drinking frothy coffee in the Italian ‘bracci’ long before Britain came to terms with the word cappuccino, staging-diving through band sets at the Pig and Whistle, hanging out in the library reading Flannery O’Connor, or tattoo magazines in my brother’s tattoo parlour. My first short story collection Fresh Apples was inspired, in part, by the yips of Treorchy Comprehensive School pupils drifting through my study window.

Early on a Sunday morning I roller skate in the park where, as a child, I learned to tread water in the open air paddling pool, where I first tasted salmon in a friend’s unwanted sandwich. I use the food trays and lager cans left by teenagers for floor markers to practice my weaving. I like eating Victoria Sponge at Wondersuff on the High Street. There is nothing more homely or satisfying than finding oneself cwtched-up in bed at 11.04 at night, hearing the whistle of the last train from Cardiff pulling into the railway station; the day ended, permission to fall fast asleep granted.

Rachel Trezise’s debut novel In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl won the Orange Futures Award in 2001. Her debut collection of short stories Fresh Apples won the inaugural Dylan Thomas Prize in 2006. Her debut non-fiction work Dial M for Merthyr won the Max Boyce Prize in 2010. Her current novel is Sixteen Shades of Crazy. Her second collection of stories Cosmic Latte will be published by Parthian in 2013. She hails from Treorchy.