100 days in Cardiff – Callaghan Square

We Are Cardiff contributor Jeremy Rees is recording his days in and around Cardiff with 100 photographs of local points of interest. We’ll be publishing some of them here on We Are Cardiff – and make sure you tune in to Jeremy as he presents the Saturday Soulful Breakfast on Radio Cardiff!

Callaghan Square

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“This always makes me think of the EEC for some odd reason… It’s not looking at its best today, with the grey overcast sky almost merging with the colours of the paving stones and steel posts. It was named as a tribute to the former Prime Minister and long-time Cardiff MP ‘Sunny’ Jim Callaghan. It’s usually deserted save for people using it as a thoroughfare and a couple of random skateboarders and could do with a dash of colour to brighten it up. And some sunshine would help of course…”

Thanks Jeremy! Catch you next time…

100 days in Cardiff – Coopers Field

We Are Cardiff contributor Jeremy Rees is recording his days in and around Cardiff with 100 photographs of local points of interest. We’ll be publishing some of them here on We Are Cardiff – and make sure you tune in to Jeremy as he presents the Saturday Soulful Breakfast on Radio Cardiff!

Coopers Field

coopers field

“This stream into the River Taff is in Coopers Field. Bute Park in Cardiff and is only a mile or so away from the bustling City Centre. The park is full of beautiful and tranquil spots and is a tonic to the hustle and bustle of city life.”

Thanks Jeremy! Catch you next time…

100 days in Cardiff – the Samaj

We Are Cardiff contributor Jeremy Rees is recording his days in and around Cardiff with 100 photographs of local points of interest. We’ll be publishing some of them here on We Are Cardiff – and make sure you tune in to Jeremy as he presents the Saturday Soulful Breakfast on Radio Cardiff!

The Samaj

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“In contrast to yesterday, today’s picture is of a building very much in use, The Samaj in Grangetown – a centre for the city’s Gujarati community. It’s a magnificent structure, and more than being a place of worship for many people from the Indian sub-continent it’s also contains a thriving social centre which serves some excellent Indian cuisine. Within a couple of miles of where I live there are places of worship for all the major world Faiths which is testimony to how multi-cultural Cardiff is. I know this surprises many people who are not familiar with the Welsh capital, but built as it is on the docks and international trade, the city has been home to people from all over the world for generations. It’s one of reasons I love the place – despite being quite small in UK terms (at around 350,000) it has a really international population, especially in the south. And if you know where to look you can find really wonderful authentic food, like what I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy in The Samaj at many events over the years.”

Thanks Jeremy! Catch you next time…

100 days in Cardiff – Blackweir Bridge

We Are Cardiff contributor Jeremy Rees is recording his days in and around Cardiff with 100 photographs of local points of interest. We’ll be publishing some of them here on We Are Cardiff – and make sure you tune in to Jeremy as he presents the Saturday Soulful Breakfast on Radio Cardiff!

Blackweir Bridge

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“What a beautiful day! The sun is out and so am I – I’ve walked along the Taff Trail from Butetown to Blackweir. The river and park is looking so photogenic in the sunshine it’s hard to choose a subject for today’s picture. I’ve decided to show you Blackweir Bridge, an elegant (and bouncy) footbridge across the River Taff that was designed and constructed in the 1980s by engineering students at nearby Cardiff University.”

Thanks Jeremy! Catch you next time…

Cardiff hidden gem – Rose Street flea market

Ever in search of nooks and crannies in the city, we sent Philip Jenkins off to Rose Street flea market in Roath to uncover some hidden treasures. Read on to see what he found!

Cardiff’s hidden treasures – Rose Street flea market

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When asked by We Are Cardiff to name my favourite secret of the city, this was the first thing that came to mind.

Rose St. Flea Market, more informally dubbed Steptoe On Steroids is a hidden gem like nowhere else in Cardiff. Situated in the heart of Roath, set almost central from City Road, Newport Road & Albany Road (address 37A Rose Street, CF24 3EA). It’s a place worlds apart from the vintage markets, “shabby chic” shops, Urban Outfitters & ETSY culture that is popular today. Rose St. Flea Market is a proper junk shop.

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The owner, Frank (affectionally known to customers as Steptoe) is an avid collector. He began collecting things from the early age of eight, and has worked in reclamation (junk) shops since the age of 15 until present, where he owns and runs Rose. St Flea Market.

From the outside, the shop is very unassuming, met with just a few signs to promote it’s opening (Saturday & Sunday 10am to 4pm). Each weekend you’ll notice the constant flow of activity in the streets, of people visiting, all in search of their weekly bargain.

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What appears to be a garage but really a two story house conversion is crammed, top to bottom with a hoard rare collectibles, vintage and antiques, furniture, clothes, books, records and pretty much everything and anything else you can think of. You’ll find everything from brick-a-brack to bicycles, crockery to vintage clothes, old signage, antique musical instruments, stage props and various other oddities. If you enjoy a rummage then this place is right for you.

The market itself has little interest in self promoting, and very much thrives on old fashioned word of mouth. Aside from one or two signs displayed when open each weekend, the market has no website or social media presence. It’s quite off the grid in that sense, but the shops ambiguity adds to the character of the place.

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In a time where “shabby chic” and vintage is more popular than ever, not many legit junk shops exist. Where some places might use the terms vintage and antique as an excuse to charge ridiculous mark ups, Rose St. Flea Market is very reasonably priced and the perfect place to get yourself a real bargain. The owner Frank operates a policy where by the attitude of the customer determines the price of the what he’s selling. He’s a friendly guy and can be helpful, usually throwing in extra bits and pieces, and generally offering you a sweet deal. Years of experience means he often has a tale to tell or an anecdote to take home with your purchase. Being nice is key and I suggest being reasonable with your bartering … emphasis on not pushing your luck.

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I find myself there habitually, every weekend. If you see something you like it won’t be there for long. The eclectic treasures found inside are constantly evolving and once you’ve visited once you’ll find yourself a becoming a regular.

Philip Jenkins is a 27 year old musician and photographer, originally from Bridgend. His interests include film, music, upholstery, vintage anything and other stuff. He is currently based in Roath.

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The Abacus opening party: Solve et Coagula

On Friday night, we sent Jodie Ashdown along to the opening of a new gallery in the old Cardiff Bus ticket office. The place is now called The Abacus, and is currently hosting the Modern Alchemists’ exhibition, Solve et Coagula.

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Friday 20 June 2014 was the opening night of the latest Modern Alchemists exhibition in their new space named The Abacus, which is just over the road from Cardiff Central Bus Station. Being the old bus ticket office, it looked pretty grim when they first got it (believe me, I helped rip up the carpets) but they’ve made the place their own and turned it into a perfect exhibition space.

And their first event? Solve et Coagula.

But this isn’t just any old art show, the guys at the Modern Alchemists decided to put a call out for writers to create a piece of ekphrastic writing (this is a fancy word I learnt at uni, it just means to be inspired by art) based on artwork created by local artists. The idea was simple, selected writers would be sent a piece of submitted art anonymously and were asked to come up with a poem, play, rap, composition or story inspired by it. I myself was sent an amazing comic which included a minotaur, a women on a flying lion, cookies and a vomiting eagle by the very talented Borja Perez Mielgo.

I found it a challenge to produce a piece of writing which did the piece justice, but also represented me as a writer but was happy with how it came out. The experience was a unusual yet creatively stimulating one, and I really enjoyed it. The artists hadn’t read any of the written work before the exhibition, so it was interesting to see their reactions as they engaged with the words, and as there were over 30 artists and 50 writers, there was a lot going on.

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As well as the artwork and written pieces, there were live poetry readings by some of the writers, a play, music, a DJ, beers and a contraption which smushes your newly painted face onto a piece of blank paper. There’s also visual instalments, including a piece in a little room under the stairs which I can only describe as a David Lynch-esque-Vulcan-mind-meld. Make sure you close the door after yourself, to get the full effect. The exhibition also included work by We Are Cardiff’s very own Helia which took roots in the sad demise of Cardiff’s Coal Exchange.

The exhibition is open for another few weeks so get yourself down there to check out some local talent (the creative type, rather than those queuing up outside O’Neill’s) and experience some originality.

Modern Alchemists are a pretty interesting group as well – they’re a voluntary, not-for-profit social enterprise, so plenty more interesting projects coming up from them in the near future….

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LINKY DINKS:

theabacusrooms.wordpress.com
modernalchemists.blogspot.com

A-Z of Cardiff – C is for Cardiff Castle …

Writer Katie Hamer is busily discovering parts of the city and revealing them through her We Are Cardiff series, the A-Z of what makes Cardiff special to her. She’ll be sharing the parts of the city she finds with you over the following weeks, so stay tuned! 

C is for Cardiff Castle

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I’ve always noticed a special atmosphere outside the castle, most noticeably at Christmas and on St. David’s Day. It’s very picturesque when decked out with twinkling fairy lights or crowned with daffodils. Also, in the summer you can see the tourists arriving by the coach load, pausing at the gates to take a group photo, before entering. The festive feel of this walled castle projects a vibrancy into the city. I often wondered if I were missing out on something by not making a visit, as I would rush by on my daily commute.

I finally decided to make a visit to Cardiff Castle last Monday, and was very pleasantly surprised by what I saw. As soon as I entered the castle grounds on my visit, I felt welcome. They have someone to meet and greet, who also informs you of the time of the next guided tour. I decided to join a tour, which takes you through a selection of Victorian apartments normally locked to the public.

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Entry into the castle isn’t cheap, but once paid for, you can stay there the whole day. If you live or work in the city, you do have the option to sign up for a Golden Key ticket, which allows you free entry for three years. For those who don’t, there’s also the option to buy a twelve-month season ticket.

Cardiff Castle has existed in one form or other, since the first century AD. There’s evidence of the Roman influence in the stonework of the castle walls. Apparently, the Roman fort would have originally been of wooden construction, but this was replaced by the twelve-sided Norman Keep which can still be seen today.

(below: two pictures of the Norman keep, from the stocks)

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Perhaps the most radical changes to Cardiff Castle were due to the Bute dynasty. The second Marques of Bute had much influence on turning Cardiff into the city it eventually became. In 1839, he built a dock, now known as Bute West Dock. His influence led to Cardiff becoming an international importer of iron and coal, and also led to a huge expansion of the population throughout the nineteenth century.

It was his son, the third Marques of Bute, who collaborated with artist and architect William Burges, to dream up much of the romantic Gothic revival style that characterises the Castle Apartments. The first part of the new castle to be built was the magnificent clock tower, intended to be bachelor quarters for the young Marques.

(below: photos of the ceiling and fireplace from the Winter Smoking Room inside the Clock Tower)

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There is a running theme, of the passing of time, within the Clock Tower. For instance there are stained glass windows designed to depict various days of the week, and astrological signs painted on the ceiling of the Winter Smoking Room, one of the featured rooms.

Burges also played upon the passage of the sun within his design schemes. In the roof garden of the West Tower, he created an optical illusion with the statue of the Virgin and Child. A Mona Lisa smile plays upon the Virgin’s face as the sun moves from east to west, and its rays soften.

(below: the Virgin and Child from the roof garden in the West Tower

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Time has not stood still in Cardiff Castle, since the Victorian era. Within the castle walls are also the air raid shelters, which would have been deployed during the Second World War. These were big enough to hide approximately 1,800 people.

(below: the air raid shelters…)

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The expanse of these tunnels takes you right round to the back of the castle, near to the Keep. Some parts are still fortified with blackout windows. Within the tunnels, the wailing of air raid sirens, and the crackle of a gramophone record playing Vera Lynn transport you to another era, as do the advertising slogans of that decorate the walls.

(below – three photos of the air raid shelters, complete with public information posters)

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Even today, parts of the castle are in use. As the expert who led the tour of the Castle Apartments informed me, the Banqueting Hall is available to be booked up for functions and weddings. It’s still the place for royalty, and celebrities alike, to dine in style.

(below: the ceiling in the Arab Room)

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I could tell you so much more about the castle, but I’d urge you to explore, and discover for yourselves.

Visit the Cardiff Castle website
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100 days in Cardiff – the new buildings of Cardiff

We Are Cardiff contributor Jeremy Rees is recording his days in and around Cardiff with 100 photographs of local points of interest. We’ll be publishing some of them here on We Are Cardiff – and make sure you tune in to Jeremy as he presents the Saturday Soulful Breakfast on Radio Cardiff!

The new buildings of Cardiff

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“For a change, here is a view of the ‘new’ Cardiff – the buildings (Central Library, John Lewis and Radisson Blu) were designed to give a feel of ships heading into docks as a ‘nod’ to the maritime heritage, and I suppose it does have that sense about it. Very cleverly done. The revamped city centre has been a success in many ways, though whether it will survive the passage of time as long as some of the buildings it replaced remains to be seen…”

Thanks Jeremy! Catch you next time…

100 days in Cardiff – The Lady and Prince of Wales

We Are Cardiff contributor Jeremy Rees is recording his days in and around Cardiff with 100 photographs of local points of interest. We’ll be publishing some of them here on We Are Cardiff – and make sure you tune in to Jeremy as he presents the Saturday Soulful Breakfast on Radio Cardiff!

The Lady and Prince of Wales

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“The lady and The Prince of Wales. I suppose we have to thank Wetherspoons for saving so many iconic buildings in Britain. Today’s picture is of a statue adorning The Prince of Wales (ex) Theatre in Cardiff. Now a massive pub, it was previously a cinema – and originally a Music Hall in the great days of variety where entertainment was offered Twice Nightly. Now open from 7am to midnight offering entertainment in liquid form.”

Thanks Jeremy! Catch you next time…

Glastonbury travel from Cardiff. Not going? Glasnost Festival at The Moon!

For those Cardiff people who are heading to Glastonbury this year (which includes me for the first time ever!), First Great Western have put up some information about public transport by train to the festival. Great news for those wanting to travel green; if only train tickets were cheaper, maybe more people would do it! But there we go, that’s what happens when things are privatised. Big thanks to the Conservatives of many years ago for that one. But I digress …

For those Cardiff people NOT going to Glastonbury this year, every year The Moon and The Full Moon on Womanby Street put on Glasnost;  a full few days of festivities, all arts and music related. Ideal for those who aren’t heading to the big G but still fancy getting their jig on. This year’s Glasnost looks better than ever – five days of bands, DJs, cabaret – and a five day pass is only £15!

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GLASNOST FACEBOOK PAGE

 

100 days in Cardiff – the Glumms

We Are Cardiff contributor Jeremy Rees is recording his days in and around Cardiff with 100 photographs of local points of interest. We’ll be publishing some of them here on We Are Cardiff – and make sure you tune in to Jeremy as he presents the Saturday Soulful Breakfast on Radio Cardiff!

The Glumms

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“This bronze statue stands at the top of Churchill Way and I pass by it most days. It is called ‘Family’ and depicts a man, woman, boy and girl – none of whom look too happy it must be said. Seems like a rather odd subject for a city’s main shopping street and often looks incongruous as they look on to the promotional antics of whatever campaigning roadshow is trying to get shoppers attention on that day. Who can blame them for feeling bored and glum …”

 

 

Thanks Jeremy! Catch you next time…

Two weeks in Cardiff – photography by Tom Beardshaw

Friend of the blog Tom Beardshaw has been manning our Instagram lens for the past two weeks – have a look at what he’s been up to throughout our city…

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Do you know where any of the above pics were taken?

Some more about Tom: he’s been a Cardiffian since 1996, when he arrived for a quick visit to a protest squat in Canton (anyone remember Yr Enfys?) and the van he was living in at the time broke down. Since being here, he’s work to strengthen children’s relationships with their fathers (he got Paternity Leave introduced into UK law in 2002 and founded www.dad.info) and more recently, he started the social media company NativeHQ, helping organisations like the National Assembly, National Theatre Wales and Arts Council Wales use social technologies effectively. Tom’s based in Roath with his teenage son, Cole, who lives with him for half the week and you’ll find him on Twitter here → @tombeardshaw and on Instagram here → @t0m5k.

And remember, if you’d like to take control of the We Are Cardiff Instagram for a month, then give us a shout on wearecardiff@gmail.com. You don’t need to be a professional photographer, just someone with a camera-phone and a healthy enjoyment of exploring your local area!