A-Z of Cardiff – U is for Cardiff University

Katie Hamer continues her A–Z series of Cardiff by taking a walk along the corridors of learning. Here’s what she discovered!

Mythical beasts emerge from the earth at Bute Park

They say that travel broadens the horizons. What is equally true is that learning a new skill can have a similar effect. This is the discovery I made when I signed up for a creative writing course through the Centre for Lifelong Learning just a few months ago.

What course did I sign up for? Well, it began with ‘Once upon a time’ and finished with ‘they all lived happily ever after’. Is that enough of a clue? I signed up for a ten-week workshop: an ‘Introduction to Writing Traditional and Modern-day Fairy Tales’.

What inspired me to take up such a course? As I am an enthusiastic scribbler of short stories and poems I’m constantly aware that there is more I can learn. And Cardiff is the kind of place to inspire a creative writer with magic and fairy tales.

In fact, while writing this A–Z series, I have had many experiences to fill me with wonder. I’ve experienced a Medieval castle, ghosts at Llandaff, and even time travel in a matter of minutes at St Fagans. All these experiences have filled me with a sense of wonder as well as a curiosity to see what’s around the next corner. It’s this magic that is at the heart of fairy tales and I couldn’t have chosen a better place to study the ancient art.

I met like-minded people who had all been touched by fairy mythology in some way. We all sensed the otherworldliness, the escapism and the feeling that anything could be made possible from these stories.

Each week we wrote a new installment of our own stories before reading them aloud to the class. I loved this part, as I believe stories should be read aloud and not left static on the page. I wish we could just switch of our televisions and computers from time to time in order to share the experiences that previous generations took for granted.

Will this frog ever be a prince?

Each installment of the stories served a different purpose, for instance to introduce the main characters or send them on a quest, or present them with a different challenge or obstacle. It was a pleasure to hear each story develop towards its conclusion. Although we all chose from the same ‘dressing up box’ of characters and settings, typical to most fairy tales, our destinations couldn’t have been more contrasting.

As a result, I have my first completed fairy tale, although I intend to write more. Thanks to the corroboration of my fellow students, I also have a small anthology of stories to cherish for many years to come.

So, I’d like to thank Cardiff University for providing me with the opportunity to continue expanding my horizons through their prospectus of day and evening classes. I would also like to thank Briony Goffin, the course tutor, who has provided me with the motivation to delve into a deeper exploration of fairy tales and fairy tale writing.

You can find more information about courses available at Cardiff University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning here:
Their website

Thank you for reading my article. I hope you enjoy looking at my gallery of magical sights from around Cardiff!

A Celtic Ring in Cardiff Bay
A Tale of Three Geese in Roath Park
A Mother Goose Tale
A boat flying over the lighthouse at Roath Park
Fire-breathing dragons on Queen Street
The ghostly image of an owl at the National Museum
A giant dragonfly at the National Museum
Llandaff at night – a truly spooky experience on the Ghost Trail
Even nature is skeletal in Llandaff during the winter
Snarling creatures bare their fangs on the Animal Wall
Under the watchful gaze of the Animal Wall
East meets West
Back to the 1980’s in St Fagans
Then even further back in a matter of minutes
The remains of St Mary’s Church from the Caerau Hill Fort
An ancient flint at Caerau Hill Fort brings ancient battles to mind
Time travel from the safety of my sofa!
An ornate ceiling fills me with wonder at Cardiff Castle
An archer’s view of Cardiff Castle
A steep climb to the summit is avoided by some, including me!
Birds, who are often messengers in fairy tales


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LACED 2 at the Boiler House – this Sunday!

IMG_0404 LACED is all about bringing together people with a shared love for the ‘sneaker game’ and all that it represents. This Sunday, the Boiler House graffiti project plays host to the second of these special very special events, from 12pm until late.
Whether you’re into trainers or not, get down there and check out the amazing line up of music, shops and food.
Expect sneaker stalls, competitions, clothing, live graffiti, breakdancing and music.
There will also be:
  •  a pop-up barbers shop from Sleep When You’re Dead offering fresh cuts to all for a discounted price, and Captain Cats beard oil helping tame the wildest of facial fuzz;
  • the cool guys at Punk Bikes, who will be bringing along a range of their wares, and also running a sprints competition for anyone to try;
  • silent film screening of ‘Style Wars’ by OnerSigns;
  • tasty grub will be coming from Pieminister, Dirty South BBQ and Bake my Day cake specialists and vegan fare; and
  • an on site bar selling Pipes ales, Red Stripe, processo by the bottle, shorts and soft drinks for children.

As well as all of that, Cardiff Geek Party will be bringing a load of old Sega and Nintendo consoles, and they’ll be running competitions and bringing back a whole load of nostalgia through the day.
So dust off your freshest kicks, rock that Kangol hat, bring along the kids and join LACED events for the coolest Sunday ever!

Check out their Facebook event  for more info!



The Homeless Period in Cardiff – Eagle Eye Vintage need your donations

Cardiff based second-hand and vintage outlet Eagle Eye Vintage (EEV) have recently launched an appeal for Cardiff people to donate sanitary products for local homeless ladies.

Owner Linzie Elliott has put a suitcase in EEV, asking people to donate sanitary goods which can be given to homeless women as part of The Homeless Period campaign.

What’s that, you say? Watch this video on YouTube, and it will tell you …

Linzie says:

“I read about the Homeless Period on the Vice website and it really struck a cord with me. Couldn’t believe it had never crossed my mind before and felt really cross with myself! So decided that I’d try and help in some way. Having a period is rubbish enough, I can’t imagine how hard it would be on the streets.”

To this end, if you find yourself in town with a couple of pounds spare, why not buy some sanitary products and drop them into EEV, who will distribute them to women’s shelters in Cardiff.

Eagle Eye Vintage is based in the Castle Emporium, Womanby Street. Linzie will be dropping off the first batch next week, but wants to extend the operation. Please support your local women’s shelters, and also local independent businesses!

A sign that says there's never a good time to have your period but this has to be the worst


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Made In Spring! Made in Roath’s spring fling in review

Writer Ellie Philpotts headed over to Made In Roath’s Made in Spring, to check out all the artsy happenings. Here’s what occurred!

 Made in Roath bunting banner across a busy street

Ah, Spring. The time of joy; lambs; staggering around after too much Easter egg consumption; exams if you’re a student; battling hayfever (if you’re a hayfever-sufferer, otherwise known as Cardiff resident thanks to the blooms everywhere, pretty as they are) and blue skies (maybe not if you live in Cardiff, like most of us readers do). Have I missed anything? Oh yes… Also the time of Spring festivals!

Sadly, maybe Spring festivals didn’t jump to my mind straightaway because they’re a bit of a rarity. However, one compensated for the general lack of street showcases – and this was Made in Spring! I think Roath has to be the Cardiff suburb with the most going on, so I wasn’t too surprised to be instantly greeted with colour, life and vitality upon wandering down to Plasnewydd Road on Sunday 3 May. One thing that straightaway caught my eye was the washing line adorned with funky little-shirts, individually spelling out ‘Made in Roath.’ I’d already seen a similar snap as the event’s Facebook cover photo, but it looked even cuter in real life. Very Instagrammable, I must say!

teacups on the shelf of a food truck


bunting on the side of a school

The whole street had put real effort into the aesthetic content, but the stall-holders and fellow browsers were what brought the event to life. Through the medium of artistic creativity, the day appealed to everyone – young or old, native Cardiffian to newbie student. For example, there were super-cool easels to throw paint over (seriously, every street should boast one of these); purple sparkly trees (ok, human interaction may have played a role in making them so glittery); Roath Local History Society informing us through maps and books of the area’s heritage; a Hangover Tent, which I partially made my own despite having only drank Victorian lemonade the previous night, mainly because it was a private solace in which to inhale my very messy (but very good) falafel burger.

chairs in a food truck

One of my favourite elements was the mini mobile-home. Not only was it decked out in adorable vintage designs, but the task was to write your definition of ‘Home.’ Some were things like ‘Home is where the bra comes off’; ‘Home is laughter’; ‘Home is where the pets are.’ I’m starting to think my goal during my Creative Writing module next year should be to be more concise, because as usual I deviated from this trend, and wrote quite a long paragraph, which of course referenced that Cardiff is now my beloved home … being a newfound Cardiffian seems to be my selling-point lately! They were also giving away novels for free. Not many things are free these days, so I loved the idea of spreading the bibliophile love for very little cost!

a blackboard that says 'Roath draw the line' noticeboards for drawing on the side of a street

There were also hot dogs, a vintage tea and cake stall, a project called ‘Roath, it’s time to draw the line’ and a bubbling atmosphere. Events like Made in Spring are one of the reasons I’m such a fan of Cardiff. There’s a truly welcoming vibe – this was enhanced on the day due to the papers all splashing the day-old Royal Baby’s face – of course, this engages Britain and I’m so patriotic when it comes to all things regal – but the real sense of community came from Roath residents on May 3!

Made in Roath’s Facebook page

Made in Roath website


Ellie PhilpottsEllie Philpotts is in her first year at Cardiff University studying English Literature, Journalism and Media. She is  a teenage-cancer survivor; is obsessed with travelling, and her favourite cities outside Cardiff are being Sydney, NYC, Nashville and Paris. Her ‘likes’ also include general Britishness, cups of tea, exploring, attempting to write songs, journalism, Italian food, finding new places, going out for dinner and taking photos – of everything. She is not a fan of maths, mashed potato, narrow minded people, her phone constantly running out of memory for photos, or people who are mean about Taylor Swift. Follow her blog or Instagram.

All photos by Ellie Philpotts

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Welsh Hula Hoop Convention 2015 – WhoopC in review!

Recently, Cardiff hosted the first Welsh Hula Hoop Convention (WHoopC!) We sent photographer Lorna Cabble along to document the day…

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If you’re interested in going along to play hoop next year, make sure you join the WHoopC Facebook group for discussions of their next event.


All photos by Lorna Cabble

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“My teenage cancer experience” – by Cardiff Uni student, Ellie Philpotts

Today’s We Are Cardiff entry features Cardiff uni student Ellie Philpotts, talking about her experiences as a teenage cancer survivor.

black and white photo of Ellie Philpotts

There are many taboos in today’s society. Words that have entirely negative meanings, or just hush-hush connotations. Words we don’t talk about. Words that evoke feelings we don’t want to feel. Which, in some ways, is understandable. Maybe it makes sense to block some images out. Perhaps that’s a coping mechanism – if you’re not thinking or talking about it, it doesn’t exist. That might even be the recipe for more peaceful living. After all, who WANTS to be haunted by unpleasant things?

But there’s one relatively taboo term which can’t be avoided, however hard you try. And that’s cancer.

You might be a person who thinks, ‘What’s taboo about cancer?’ It is undeniable that it’s everywhere. Pink ribbons symbolising breast cancer; girl power in the form of Race for Life fever dominating the country; moving TV ads; Macmillan billboards in shopping centres, usually shouting the message, ‘No one should face cancer alone.’ Yet despite this, it’s still a topic a lot of families don’t want to delve into. So much so, there are even other terms for cancer – ‘the Big C’ and ‘the C-word.’

To be honest, those colloquialisms make me cringe. But I also see where their users are coming from. Cancer is connected to such horrors that it does seem partly logical to want them masked.

For me though, cancer has remained strikingly unmasked, as it’s become an integral part of my identity. And I’m now happy with this status!

I’m 19 now, healthy (if we ignore my inability to attempt any sport without tripping over 300 times), and in my first year studying my dream degree at Cardiff University. Life is running pretty smoothly for me, but this hasn’t always been the case. I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 15. My 2011 began with a bang – in the form of Hodgkins Lymphoma, which NHS Choices describes as ‘an uncommon cancer developing in the lymphatic system, a network of vessels and glands spread throughout your body.’ It continues, ‘Hodgkins Lymphoma is a relatively aggressive cancer and can quickly spread through the body.’ ‘Oh dear’, you may think. ‘That doesn’t sound too good.’ Well, I suppose it doesn’t, but to cut a long story short – I beat it. I guess I’ll have to tell you more though, considering this is a piece on my cancer story, and I’m working at making my text fit the title in at least some way.

In summer 2010, my symptoms began, as itchy hands and feet, not serious enough to warrant a doctor’s visit. Before long they’d accelerated into more serious stuff, which by January was intense breathlessness; drenching night sweats; fatigued lack of energy; no appetite and a lump in my neck. Even walking around my house would leave me panting for breath and overall my breathing sounded horribly laboured. The night sweats were unusual for me – I’d always tried to avoid PE like the plague (usually without fail, but I still didn’t exercise enough to break out in sweat.) So January 2011 saw me transport myself to my GPs three times. I was presumed to have the flu, a winter virus or glandular fever, which has symptoms similar to Hodgkins, so was given an inhaler and tablets, but my condition only seemed to worsen. So on 20 January I was finally hospitalised, where scans indicated a mass compressing my windpipe, and that the problem was too big for them to deal with. So two days later I arrived at my ex-second home, Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

BCH exposed me to my medical world – neck biopsies; bone marrow aspirates (checking if cancer had spread to my spinal fluid); PET Scans and drips, all before official diagnosis. This eventually came on Friday 28 January, when I was doing homework in the Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) unit, in the form of Hodgkins Lymphoma Stage 2B, meaning it’d spread from its original site, and comprised of a 9cm long, 6cm wide mass wrapped around my windpipe then two smaller lumps.

So January-May threw me into a new sphere, of chemo, steroids, scans and plenty of new experiences, both within the ward and beyond. I went on my first TCT trip less than two months after diagnosis, which included hanging out with Roger Daltrey and The Who before their Royal Albert Hall show in aid of the charity. Since then, I’ve been on numerous trips with my cancer friends, from sailing with the Ellen Macarthur Trust to long weekends of fun Find Your Sense of Tumour conferences at Centre Parcs, to meals with my Birmingham group. To look on the bright side of cancer (there is one!!), it’s a great way to make so many new friends, who understand what you’re going through. Although I finished treatment four years ago next month, I’m still attending charity events and meet-ups – they can’t get rid of me!

Of course, post-treatment isn’t solely fun and games. There’s the constant thought that it may come back, and my hospital group has lost a few members. Thousands will recognise one of them – Stephen Sutton MBE, who died last year having raised nearly £5million for Teenage Cancer Trust, with over 340,000 people donating. Stephen was one of the first cancer friends I began speaking to after diagnosis, and was a bright, funny and positive member of our group. It was absolutely breathtaking to see the entire nation be similarly sold by his story and inspiring nature, and for that volume of money, 454 per cent of his original target to be raised.

Cancer is literally formed of haywire cells, but figuratively of highs and lows, so here are my top 10 tips for anyone – patient, survivor or curious reader, regarding the whole cancer universe!

  1. If in doubt, check it out. It’s probably not cancer, but unfortunately the disease is getting all the more common. So if you’re unsure, there’s no harm in going to the doctor’s. Persistence is key – my symptoms could’ve been longer dismissed as asthma or glandular fever, so if I hadn’t kept going back, my prognosis would’ve been worse.
  2. Life gets better. It may seem like you’ll be confined to the ward forever and a day, but someday it’ll be a distant memory.
  3. Cancer can actually improve your life. I wouldn’t have thought it, but now I’m genuinely glad I had it. For me, I may have lost hair, some time in school and a peace of mind regarding health, but I gained incredible opportunities; inspiration; friends; experiences and confidence!
  4. There are people out there who understand what you’re going through – even if it doesn’t always feel like it. Here in Cardiff, I’m now also part of Shine, for slightly older patients and survivors. TCT were my original group, but Shine is also fab!
  5. Take each day at a time. Cancer can be overwhelming business, one where it’s easy to panic about your future and whether you even have one, so focus on the here and now – it makes daily life easier.
  6. Make plans. I know I just said to take it slowly, but working towards a goal – a holiday, party or just nice day out to mark the end of treatment or Cancerversaries (anniversaries of dates like diagnosis or remission) is motivational – plus you deserve a treat!
  7. Say yes to things! You may be surprised at just how many opportunities cancer brings. Work experience; chances to break your comfort zone and try new things such as charity abseils; extreme sports on Climbing Out camps; sailing; meeting celebrities; performing in London; even realising your dream career via cancer. Nothing to lose by trying new things!
  8. Don’t neglect your family or shut yourself off completely from the outside world. They may not understand exactly how you’re feeling, but it’s hard on them too. They’re there for you at your best and worst!
  9. Don’t feel guilty for taking time for yourself. Cancer is tiring business, and you’re at the centre of yours. So listen to your body and rest!
  10. Your illness doesn’t completely define you. You’re still YOU. Just perhaps an improved version – having being made more emphatic of others, or now realising the importance of living life to the full.


Ellie Philpotts is in her first year at Cardiff University studying English Literature, Journalism and Media. She is  a teenage-cancer survivor; is obsessed with travelling, and her favourite cities outside Cardiff are being Sydney, NYC, Nashville and Paris. Her ‘likes’ also include general Britishness, cups of tea, exploring, attempting to write songs, journalism, Italian food, finding new places, going out for dinner and taking photos – of everything. She is not a fan of maths, mashed potato, narrow minded people, her phone constantly running out of memory for photos, or people who are mean about Taylor Swift. Follow her blog or Instagram.

Photo by Ellie Philpotts

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‘Ride me all day’ bus advert gets We Are Cardiff really angry – ads are withdrawn!

‘Ride me all day’ bus pisses everyone off on a rainy Cardiff Monday morning

I was cycling down Cowbridge Road this morning, feeling very pleased with myself for not puking in the dentist’s chair, when I got stuck behind this bus:



It said lots of things to me. It said that, in 2015, an advertising agency and ‘family-run’ company still found it acceptable to run this ad. It said that a bus journey needs to be sexualised in order to sell itself. It said that prostitution is something to be trivialised and joked about.

What it didn’t say is: “this company is for people like you”.

It was aggressive, offensive and impolite. After I tweeted about it at 9.30, we had literally hundreds of responses. Not from ‘bleeding heart, whiney liberals’, but from people who didn’t want this kind of advertising shoved in their face first thing in the morning.

We then found out that the company receive Welsh Government funding, and run school buses.

With our following of 30,000 people, we try not to use We Are Cardiff to express opinions, but we felt like we had an obligation to the women and men of the city to call this company out on the commodification of a woman’s body, and the trivialisation of prostitution.

The story was covered by the Guardian, the Huffington Postthe Independentthe Mirror, Western Mail and ITV, and by the Everyday Sexism campaign. Even the Daily Mail and Daily Star reported it! As a result of such incredible pressure, the company told Cardiff MP Stephen Doughty that it was a ‘misjudgement’, and that the adverts would be withdrawn within the day.

The company made a statement saying that the “objectives have been to make catching the bus attractive to the younger generation”. Do young people buy stuff because it uses prostitution as a marketing tool? We don’t think so!

Well done, people of Cardiff (and everywhere else), for making your voice heard and getting results.

Moral of the story: GET ANGRY AND GET SOMETHING DONE! Never stay quiet!!!

Big love from your We Are Cardiff women – Hana & Helia x




Just a reminder. Today is the General Election. You get the chance to pick who represents you in Westminster, in the laws that are made and the government that puts together policies to carry out those laws.

You should probably care about that, and you should definitely vote.

If you’re registered to vote, FIND YOUR LOCAL CARDIFF POLLING STATION (Cardiff Council’s website isn’t great, but the info is there) and GET THERE BEFORE 10PM to put a cross in a box.

YOU DON’T NEED YOUR POLLING CARD, so don’t freak out if you can’t find it. You don’t even need ID. So no excuses. Get out there and vote.

Wales dwellers – don’t forget laws about things like health and education are made by the National Assembly for Wales. About My Vote have a good explanation page of how things are divvied up: About My Vote – the National Assembly for Wales.

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Art auction fundraiser and all-day festival for the Abacus, Saturday 9 May 2015

Everyone’s favourite, Cardiff-based, volunteer-run art-space The Abacus is doing an all-day festival fundraiser extravaganza on Saturday 9 May, and you are all invited!



With an art auction, workshops, a jumble sale, street food, home brewed chai, cocktails, local real ale and live music from the likes of Junior Bill & The Scallies, The Brwmys, Third Party, One Time Alive, Efa Supertramp and more TBA, this promises to be a corker of an event!

For the last year The Abacus has aimed to provide Cardiff with a grassroots, creative and open-minded space that allows artists, musicians and other creatives to explore, challenge and experiment within a supportive environment.

The Abacus runs on the passion and commitment of a handful of volunteers who give their time to run an entirely not-for-profit arts space. However, the cost of the building, recent break-ins, and essential repair call for your help! The Abacus will use the money to support Cardiff’s thriving art-scene and continue providing subsidised galleries, studios, rehearsal rooms and event spaces.

Our favourite hooping teacher Elliecopter will also be teaching a hoop workshop at 4pm (suggested donation of £4): hoops supplied! Hoop workshop Facebook event

Come along on Saturday 9 May 2015, for a true Abacus style knee’s-up and help us raise the funds for a sustainable future!

Abacus May Fundraiser – Facebook event


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We Are … Changing!

We Are Cardiff is five years old. Can you believe it?? In that time, we’ve published over 400 articles, racked up nearly 300,000 views and we have 30,000 followers on social media.

The Guardian chose us as one of the best city blogs in the world. We won the People’s Choice Award at the Wales Blog Awards. We made a film. We made a radio documentary. We’ve had exhibitions and a stage at Swn festival. We even have an official sister site in We Are Chester.

Now, we are changing …

We’ve already mentioned that we’ll soon be launching a small press called We Are Cardiff Press. Based on that, we thought we’d try and refine what we’re doing a bit. So here’s what we’ve decided!

The We Are Cardiff site will be split into four brand new, easy to see categories:

  • The People: featuring the personal stories that we’ve been documenting for five years;
  • The City: historical and documentary posts about the city, and local campaigns;
  • The Arts: reviews, interviews and all the news on music, art, photography, performance and film: and
  • What’s On: ever-popular events listings and previews of upcoming awesome things.

The site will continue to feature factual, ‘people-powered’ blog posts with minimal editorial oversight. We will aim to commission more work, but focused around these four categories. Helia will pretty much be in charge of all of this stuff, and Hana will still be running the Twitter feed.

The We Are Cardiff Press will publish beautiful, collectable books to showcase new creative work from Cardiff, which could be literature, art, photography or personal storytelling. It will have a stronger editorial influence to ensure that the quality of the physical end product is incredibly high. Content from the books will not be available online, only in the limited edition books, bought online or in selected retailers in the city. Hana is running the Press, which will be announcing its first publication very, very soon…

We are so excited about the future, and looking for MORE writers, photographers, historians, artists, campaigners, citizens, musicians, businesses, performers, experts and EVERYONE ELSE to feature on the site or in our books, films and everything! If you want to be featured on the website, get in touch on wearecardiff@gmail.com, and if you have any questions about the Press, contact hello@wearecardiffpress.co.uk.

We can’t wait to fill the next five years with Cardiff stories.

Big love

Helia and Hana xx

Photo by Simon Ayre
The We Are Cardiff joy monkeys, photographed by the wonderful Simon Ayre