Happy Flippin’ New Year!

From your favourite source of alternative cultural Cardiff irreverence (that’s us, silly!), HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Whatever you’re going to get up to tonight, do yourself a favour and watch this.

‘It was the freshest move I’ve ever seen…’ – ha!

I expect every single one of you readers to bust out this dance move at least once tonight, aight?

Peas!

Helia

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Merry Christmas!

From the few random folk here who work on We Are Cardiff, in the words of Gruff Rhys, we hope you are enjoying a Post Apocalypse Christmas!

Also, just in case you’ve eaten too much and are in need of a lie down in front of some really nice telly, why not treat yo’self to this lovely film, about Cardiff, that we made!

Have a great holiday. Peas on earth, yeah!

Helia
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Please help save Cardiff’s Nightshelter!

We’ve posted a couple of pleas for help over the festive period so far – one was to donate items to the Huggard Centre, helping the homeless in Cardiff, and the other was to donate toiletries for Project Shoebox, helping women and children in shelters across Cardiff and the local region. We’ll post an update on Project Shoebox soon, but in the meantime we’ve got ANOTHER plea for help – this time to help keep open the Nightshelter in Cardiff.

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DONATE TO KEEP THE NIGHTSHELTER OPEN

The Nightshelter opened in 1998. It was intended as a bridge between the street and hostel and originally was established as a time-limited winter shelter. It provides safety, warmth and food. Residents can take a hot shower, use the laundry facilities and enjoy a proper cooked meal. They also signpost people to longer-term solutions so they can escape the streets.

Residents have access to a support worker. Need assessments, risk assessments and support plans are produced. Resettlement, benefits and liaison with health, criminal justice agencies and gateway is part of the core service provided.

The Nightshelter provides 10 beds of emergency accommodation (plus two additional emergency beds that have never received public funding) in the Riverside area of Cardiff. Residents can access the Nightshelter between the hours of 7:30pm – 9:30am.

It has five shared bedrooms, a communal living room, kitchen, bathroom and WC. The Nightshelter is used by rough sleepers aged 18 and over, including vulnerable women and young people. Shockingly, in the last year, one third of those who accessed the service were aged 18 – 25.

In 2003, revenue funding received was £155,154. In 2014 approximately £97,000 was cut from the budget leaving just £60,000 to run the service. In 2015 the proposal is £0.

As a result of cuts to Local Authority funding, the emergency Nightshelter in Cardiff is in danger of closing. More than 250 people use the crucial service every year. Closure would mean an additional 10 to 12 people would be forced to sleep rough on the streets of Cardiff every night.

DONATE TO KEEP THE NIGHTSHELTER OPEN

We need to raise £21,000 to keep the shelter open. The shelter has already secured £20,000 towards running costs and is working hard with fundraising events and bucket collections to raise the rest. Keeping the Nightshelter open for the next 12 months depends on your generosity – we need this Crowdfunding appeal to reach its target so we can keep vulnerable people safe.

SO FAR the Crowdfunding appeal has raised over £4k. That’s great, BUT IT’S NOT ENOUGH.

DONATE TO KEEP THE NIGHTSHELTER OPEN

Here are We Are Cardiff (bearing in mind WAC s a voluntary project that doesn’t make any money and relies entirely on voluntary contributions), we’ve donated £25. It’s not much, but if everyone in the city donated just ONE POUND the Nightshelter would raise over £300K!

If you’re yet to buy some loved ones their gifts, how about donating a little money towards helping keep the Nightshelter open – then tell your friends and family about their incredible altruism.

PLEASE HELP KEEP THE NIGHTSHELTER OPEN! DONATE HERE: NIGHTSHELTER CROWDFUNDER

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all of you – and please try and spare whatever you can to help the less fortunate at this cold and dark time of year, eh?

Helia

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Butetown Carnival 2014 – in photos!

Okay, so it was a couple of months ago now … but I forgot to publish photographer Jess Ventura’s lovely pictures from the Butetown Carnival! What a silly selsig I am.

If you’re super-keen, next year’s carnival is already booked in – join the Butetown Carnival 2015 Facebook event to keep up to date on it!

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See you there next year? 🙂

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Cardiff A-Z: N is for the National Museum, Cardiff

Katie Hamer continues her A-Z exploration of the highlights of Cardiff with an excursion of discovery to the National Museum, Cardiff. Here’s what she discovered.

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I decided to go on a journey to explore the Evolution of Wales through the millennia, and where better to do this than at the National Museum, Cardiff?

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Right at the heart of Cardiff’s beating civic centre, I experienced a permanent exhibition of fascinating artefacts, which took me from pre-pre-historic times right up to the present day. I found it breathtaking to discover just how much Wales has evolved. Although today the country has a relatively wet but stable climate, its history reveals an entirely different story.

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My journey started 4.6 billion years before the Common Era. I ventured past giant screens where molten lava boiled and flowed, before cooling to form solid rock. I heard explanations for how meteors from space formed minerals here on Earth. I stood amazed in front of displays, which revealed that Wales at one point had a tropical climate with coral reefs around its shores. It appears that the country has had a very tumultuous time in the past, and we cannot take for granted that our current stable climate will last. Indeed, we take it for granted at our own peril.

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By visiting this vast exhibition I gained a great understanding of how modern day Wales came to be. I saw fossils of shells and plants, minerals such as gold, iron ore and coal. I discovered that the black gold, which led to the nineteenth century population explosion of the city, originated from fossilized peat deposits. I also witnessed dragonflies as big as buzzards, came face to face with dinosaur skeletons and even a life-sized Woolly Mammoth with cub, if that’s the correct word!

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I discovered that the Wales we know and love today didn’t actually begin to take shape until after the last Ice Age, 10,000 years ago. At this point the glaciers retreated, and flora and fauna flourished. But it wasn’t for another 4,000 years that farmland for grazing herds of sheep and cattle were claimed from the woodlands, which resulted in the first permanent settlements being established. Farming communities, where families lived in wooden huts became the norm, then led to the extinction of the hunter-gatherer way of life.

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Following on from that, Wales experienced a Bronze Age, an Iron Age and eventually a Coal Age. We’re now heavily invested in the Technology Age without which I wouldn’t be sharing this article with you now.

So, where next for our small corner of the planet?

I’m sure whatever occurs the National Museum Cardiff will keep us updated.

You can find out more about the National Museum and its various exhibits here:

Museum Wales website

Twitter: @AmgueddfaCymru

Facebook: Amgueddfa Cymru Facebook Page

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy looking at my gallery. Catch up with you again soon!

 

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Llandaff Cathedral – photos by Rob Khoo

A while ago, reader Rob Khoo got in touch with some lovely photos of the National Museum in Cardiff. He’s been out with his camera again – this time, he’s been to Llandaff Cathedral. Here are his photos, and a little bit of info from Rob about his links to the place.

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My parents have strong links with Llandaff Cathedral. My mum has been cross stitching since she was a little girl (part of her Dutch heritage), so she took on the task at one point of redoing all the kneelers with a little band of volunteers.

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There’s hundreds of them… when one was finished the person responsible marked it with their initials. My dad got involved and did a few too (like you do). Dad died a few years ago… I was wandering around the Cathedral today taking pics and I found two kneelers that they made next to each other. Made me smile; there will be a bit of them both there for a good few years to come.
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Rob Khoo is a bicycle obsessed chef and musician who lives in Canton. He has lived in Cardiff all his life and has no intention of moving away. See Rob Khoo’s photographs on Flickr

Speaking of Llandaff Cathedral, it features heavily in our Cardiff ghost-hunt radio program. Have you listened in yet?

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Help homeless people in Cardiff: Christmas 2014 edition

If you live anywhere south of Cardiff Central station, you may have seen the Huggard Centre, that sits at the top of Dumballs Road. Huggard is a Cardiff-based charity tackling homelessness and seeking to overcome the problems and barriers that force individuals to sleep rough on our streets.

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That’s a big deal, right? Now, it’s Christmas. Whether you were one of those people battering others out the way for a cut price TV on Black Friday or not, hopefully you aren’t going to have to spend Christmas in the cold, sleeping on the street.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a roof over your head, and probably give and receive way more than you or your loved ones need this Christmas, how about giving something to those who have not?

This Christmas, while you’re heading to town and stocking up on bits and pieces for your family, could you maybe fill a couple of stockings with sundries and essentials for homeless and vulnerable people?

The Huggard Centre is looking for:

– toiletries, male and female
– disposable razors
– socks
– underwear, male and female
– scarves
– gloves

Also, stocking fillers! Things like:

– chocolates
– sweets
– books

Just think about having no family, and no friends to support you at Christmas. Could you provide a little Christmas cheer for someone less fortunate?

If it’s logistically impossible for you to drop anything off there, could you maybe arrange a raffle, or ask friends for donations this Christmas? If so, you can donate to Huggard’s Just Giving page.

Huggard’s services focus around our day centre open 365 days of the year, a 20 bed hostel with additional emergency spaces, 14 shared houses with tenant support that accommodate 52 clients. In extreme weather conditions they also open their day centre at night, to provide shelter for people who would otherwise be forced to sleep rough.

Being a homeless person sucks. If everyone in this city donated a Christmas stocking full of essentials, imagine how much Christmas cheer we could bring!

If you can pull together some extra Christmas gifts this Christmas, you can drop them off to the Huggard Centre on Hansen Street, just behind Cardiff Central Station (CF10 5DW). Tel: 029 2064 2000, or post@huggard.org.uk.

Alternatively, you can contact them on their Facebook page – they reply to comments, and are super grateful for any help they can get: Huggard Centre Facebook

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Mary Bijou’s Nut Cracking Christmas Cabaret – Review

We sent Darryl J Carrington along to Mary Bijou’s Cabaret to review it for us. Read on, and enjoy!

Mary Bijou by Tom Beardshaw    Mary Bijou by Tom Beardshaw

I was met at the door of the four elms by a grumpy looking reindeer and other curious looking characters. I was enticed in by the smell of mulled cider and friendly faces. What I found was a fantastic cabaret setting, with a lovely warm Christmas glow about it.

From the off, Mary Bijou did not disappoint, with the charismatic host George Orange opening the proceedings, welcoming us and making us laugh straight away with his quick wit.

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What followed was a delightful mix of incredibly high skilled performers, presenting well thought out and witty acts. Each with their own take on Christmas happenings, like Anna’s Austrian hula hooping yodeler, who reminded me of that crazy uncle everyone has!

Laura Moys’ Christmas angel routine was very funny and showed off her incredible control on the Chinese pole.

Kitsch’n’Sync’s ice skating routine had me in absolute stitches, as they paraded a ridiculous dance around the stage!!

Paul Evans singing Santa baby, was also a massive highlight of the first act, having the audience screaming with joy.

Jani’s triple cloud swing was like no other act I’ve ever seen. Tying himself in impossible knots and releasing himself with death defying drops – a true craftsman.

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Hannah’s singing ballerina was also beautifully executed, and showed what is possible when using the voice and aerial equipment at the same time, very mesmerising.

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There was a great dance done by the Kitsch’n’Sync girls and Mark who made a lovely nutcracker ballerina. 

As with all of Mary Bijou’s work, there was great use of physical theatre. Stories were being told in a very witty and amusing way.

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I especially enjoyed, Anna and Tom’s ignored wife trapeze routine and Laura’s Virgin Mary on the back of a donkey smoking a fag gag.

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During the performance some burglars got in and invaded the stage with a lovely dance/acro routine that surprised everyone! Where did they come from?

And some boxes danced and a pig and turkey emerged leading to the turkeys demise.

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To top it all off George and Anna did a lovely ski workout, zat was full of laughs ya. That led into the wonderfully talented reindeer Adie Delaney, the big finale act that did not disappoint. With some really technical and impressive swinging trapeze sequences, she beautifully blended her character of a depressed reindeer that had us on the edges of our seats with excitement and laughter.

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What a fabulous cabaret, one of the best I have seen. Was so lovely to see a Christmas cabaret that was not afraid to question the norms, but be incredibly amusing at the same time. I can’t wait to see the next outing by Mary Bijou.

For me; five stars!!!

Mary Bijou by Tom Beardshaw

Photographs by Tom Beardshaw

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Help women in Cardiff refuges – donate unwanted toiletries for Project Shoebox

Too much stuff in your bathroom cabinet? Project Shoebox are collecting shoeboxes filled with unwanted toiletries to make gift boxes for women in refuges in Cardiff and the South Wales area.

Good idea, right? Go into your bathroom right now and tell me you don’t have at least an entire shelf’s worth of stuff you never used. Half of it you probably haven’t even opened. Amirite?

This is a community project, which is an attempt to help the women who arrive at Women’s Refuges this Christmas. Many will arrive bruised, battered and with nothing more than the clothes they are standing in. And that is not cool at all.

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Project Shoebox will collect together unwanted toiletries like shampoo, body lotion, toothpaste and brushes, put them all into shoeboxes, and make them into a gift to get these women started and remind them that people can and do care.

SO WHAT CAN YOU SEND?
Anything from your bathroom cabinet that’s unused or very nearly unused. Think basics like toothbrushes, shower gel, shampoo – but also anything nice like cosmetics or face cream is very welcome. If you’re unsure, ask yourself: would you feel comfy giving this to a friend? If not, recycle it. There’s a big list of ideas further down this post.

WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR DONATIONS?
The Coal Exchange in Cardiff Bay have been kind enough to donate some disused office space for a donation station! When you have your shoebox goodies ready for collection, post a message to the Project Shoebox Facebook page and they will arrange a time for you to drop off. The organisers work full-time, so collection will mainly be in the evenings or weekends.

In case you don’t know where the Coal Exchange is, here’s the address:
Coal Exchange, Mount Stuart Square,
Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, CF10 5EB

UPDATE!!! THE LAST DAY FOR DONATIONS IS MONDAY 15 DECEMBER!!

IDEAS!
You can choose to donate individual items or make your very own shoebox gift. Feel free to get creative but here are some ideas:

    • New toothbrushes
    • Toothpaste
    • Shower Gel
    • Flannels/sponges
    • Facial wipes
    • Deodorants
    • Hairbrushes/combs/bobbles/clips & grips
    • Sanitary products (sealed)
    • Sample packets
    • Moisturisers
    • Perfumes
    • Body Creams/Face creams
    • Body scrub
    • Make up/ Make up bags
    • Nail polishes / Nail polish remover/ Files & Clippers
    • Cotton wool
    • Hairspray

The women’s shelters have also said they are desperate for colouring books and pencils, so feel free to add in any of these sorts of things for the children.

You can also choose to make, or donate things for, a baby box with things such as nappies, baby wipes, cotton buds, baby wash, small soft toys, etc.

THIS IS THE PROJECT SHOEBOX FACEBOOK PAGE. IT IS A REALLY REALLY WORTHWHILE CAUSE SO PLEASE DONATE WHATEVER YOU CAN.

Still need persuading? Look at this cute picture of a puffin for a while. It might help.

Puffin - Fratercula Arctica

Also, if the whole consumerist binge of Christmas is making you feel a bit queasy, hold tight! We’ve got a couple more posts over the next two weeks telling you how you can help some local Good Causes.

Sincerely,

The We Are Cardiff Christmas Monkeys

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Cardiff Indoor Flea Market

One of the best off-the-beaten-tracks spots for vintage lovers in the city has got to be the Cardiff Flea Market. Hidden away in an industrial estate just off Newport Road, you’ve got to know where you’re going … but it’s definitely worth it when you get there!

I sent photographer Ben Kirtley along to take some snaps, and reader Alan Storey was good enough to get in touch with some info about the place.

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Cardiff Indoor Flea Market is located at Unit 2, Clydesmuir Industrial Estate in Tremorfa, Cardiff.

It was the brainchild of David Raine, a South African now living in Chepstow. He inherited a huge building which had not been occupied for eight years and the work he and his partners have done on restoring the massively leaking roof and preparing the whole building for occupation is nothing short of astonishing.

The market opened on Saturday, 19 July and combines antiques/retro, crafts (known as Which Kraft) and general purpose stalls.

 

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There approximately 60 permanent pitches at the market with new sellers arriving all the time. There is also space for one-off car boot trading and plans to expand to an adjacent building on the estate, which will cater for car boot sales and live auctions.

Already, the market has created a unique, friendly atmosphere which is sadly lacking at many similar markets. There is a café area providing hot and cold drinks, bacon sandwiches, toasties and stunning home made cakes.

 

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The market is open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 5pm with plans to increase the number of opening days in the near future.

Like all new establishments of this nature, it is still very much a “best kept secret” but it won’t be for much longer. Say you visited it before it went mainstream!

Cardiff Indoor Flea Market – Facebook Page

 

Photographs by Benjamin Kirtley

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Cathays Cemetery Military Insignia Walk – Jodie Ashdown

Writer Jodie Ashdown headed off for a Cathays Cemetery Military Insignia Walk on 26 October, 2014. Here, she spills all about the experience.

I had no idea that Cardiff Council held free walks, until my mother stumbled across it whilst looking for walks in Cardiff. We have a weird fascination with graveyards in my family, so this particular walk seemed like the perfect introduction to these free tours.

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Run by Cardiff Council Bereavement Services and Friends of Cathays Cemetery, this walk in the cemetery was focused around Military Insignia and Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones. They also run lectures in Cardiff University as well as other, more general tours of the graveyard, but this had a specific leaning towards those that gave their lives during the World Wars – very apt for this time of year.

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We were led around the site by Phil Amphlett from Bereavement Services who pointed out and explained many of the fascinating and often tragic stories which are to be discovered in third largest municipal cemetery in the UK.

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We learnt about the various insignias, the religious and personal inscriptions on the headstones, and also about how the Commonwealth War Grave Commission regularly replaces headstones of the young men and women who gave their lives during WWI and WWII. Stories included the raid on Zeebrugge (for which one man postponed his wedding and unfortunately didn’t return) and a member of Churchill’s Secret Army (the Baker Street Irregulars). We also heard about the bomb which landed on the cemetery, blowing gravestones high into the air, and about a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force who died in a factory bomb blast. It was an incredibly moving and educational tour and was completely free.

You can find out more about walks run by Cardiff Council here: Guided walks (PDF)

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Thanks Jodie! Catch you soon…

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A-Z of Cardiff: M is for the Millennium Stadium…

Katie Hamer continues her alphabetical adventure through the landmarks of Cardiff! Today she’s reached M … and heading to the Millennium Stadium…

 

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The Millennium Stadium has to be the most iconic landmark in Cardiff. Its eye-catching structure is one of the first things visitors encounter after leaving the Central Station. The city centre positioning is exactly the reason why it’s so special as it places it within the beating heart of the city. It lends to it a vibrancy and liveliness that is harder to create in a stadium on the outskirts of a town or city.

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It’s strange to think that I’ve passed this Stadium nearly every time I visit Cardiff on the train and yet I’d never been inside it. Clearly, this didn’t put me in the best position to talk about the Stadium experience, did it? And I wondered what I could do about that. By searching the web I soon realised that I could sign up for a guided tour of the Stadium and buy tickets online, so that’s exactly what I did. This is what I discovered from my visit:

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First, I’ll give you a few facts about how the Stadium came to be built. The Millennium Stadium, home of the Wales National Rugby Union team, was built in order to showcase the best that Wales could offer in the run-up to the country hosting the 1999 Rugby World Cup. When it opened its gates to the public for the first time in June of the same year it could boast a full capacity crowd of 74,500 which makes it the third largest Six Nations Championship Stadium to this day. It also stands out for its amazing fully retractable roof, as there is only one larger stadium in the world to have this feature.

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All in all, the Stadium has to be one of the best features in Cardiff for getting a photographer’s ‘trigger finger’ fidgety. It’s photogenic from so many different angles. I felt wowed by the potential of visiting such an eye-catching landmark, so unsurprisingly the first question I asked upon joining my tour group was, “Can I take photos?” To my great relief, Pete the tour guide informed me that absolutely, I could take photos and there were no restrictions on what I took. Phew! That was good to hear!

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Pete guided my group of intrepid explorers on a tour of the whole building, taking in the press conference suite, the changing rooms for both the home and away teams, the prestigious boxes and of course the Stadium itself. Along the way we were allowed to take our time to relish the memorabilia that they keep in glass display cabinets and which also decorate the walls.

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At one point, when we were about to go through double doors which are the player’s entrance onto the pitch, Pete told us all of an experience he’d recently had, and of which he was most proud. He’d told us that he’d met many famous people while working at the Stadium, but the guest he met on Saturday surpassed them all.

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While the crowds within the Stadium were waiting in anticipation to see the home team play New Zealand’s All Blacks, he got a chance to speak with a world-famous celebrity, the ‘Hoff, no less. From what I recall, he told me he got a genuinely warm response along the lines of “Hey Buddy”. Oh, to be a fly on the wall on that occasion.

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We then entered the Stadium through that most lauded entrance. As I did so, I could imagine the sense of anticipation that the players must feel, the sense that anything is possible, that victory could be within their grasp. I imagined the roar of the crowds on all four sides of the Stadium as the teams finally made it on to the pitch.

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During the tour, we visited the Stadium at various different levels, drinking in the atmosphere each time. Pete the tour guide was very congenial and made every effort to make the tour memorable by offering to take photos for us. I’m very pleased with the photos that he took for me from one of the seating areas high up from the pitch. He’s clearly had a lot of practice.

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We finished up the tour gazing at a Rugby cup, which was perched on a stand near the top of the Stadium, which was emblazoned with ribbons, but sadly was not a Six Nations Cup. The whole tour party sat in seats over-looking the cup and out towards the pitch, admiring the way it is carefully preserved with sprinkler systems and sun lamps between matches, especially in the winter when there’s not much chance for natural daylight to filter into the grounds.

Looking out at the Stadium I got a real sense of how great the atmosphere would be when there’s an important match, or when the place is full of music fans dancing along to one of their favourite bands. I could imagine how the crowd would react to seeing headliner acts such as Madonna, Take That and Bruce Springsteen performing here. I read somewhere that the Manic Street Preachers were the first band to play at the Stadium, on New Year’s Eve 1999. Now, that’s one concert I wish I could have been at. Perhaps I should see if Doctor Who’s time machine in Cardiff Bay could take me back there!

You can find out more information about Millennium Stadium tours and events here:

www.millenniumstadium.com

Once again, thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy spending a few minutes looking through my photo gallery.

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Thanks Katie! More Cardiff A-Z very soon…

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