Happy Halloween! Listen to our ghost hunting podcast

Happy Halloween!

If you’re not out ghost hunting tonight, perhaps you should curl up on your sofa, get yourself a hot chocolate, and listen to Helia Phoenix as she sneaks around the city of Cardiff, looking for ghosts…

Have a good one!

Halloween night out


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“Good times in Cardiff: rugby, journalism, and the novel I wrote about it all” – Nick

Author Nick Rippington recalls the jailer of Cardiff nick, ‘arf and ‘arf curries and hobnobbing with the famous in Kiwis.

Nick Rippington 

I handed over my £9 rent money for the week and Cliffy grasped it gratefully. “Come on then,” he said. “As it’s pay day we should go out and celebrate.”

I’d been in Cardiff for just a few days, a new recruit on the journalism training course at the further education college in Colchester Avenue, and was lodging with Cliffy and his family in a terraced house in Penylan.

I had the downstairs front room in a home that always seemed to be full. A constant stream of foster kids were in and out of the Simmonds house, mingling with their own offspring, two boys and a girl.

Forgive me if I can’t remember all the names, but we are talking 1978 – almost 40 years ago now. It was my first introduction to the ’Diff and the first steps in a love affair.

Despite my failing memory, though, I will never forget Cliffy. An enormous, larger-than-life character, he was jailer at Cardiff nick and in his spare time drove celebrities around in a Rolls Royce.

That first night he took me to the Albany Pub in Roath. It was long before the days of gastro-pubs, wine bars and new fangled phrases like “refurbishment”. This little backstreet boozer was a typical spit-and-sawdust Brains pub and locals greeted Cliff as if he was a long-lost friend, even though he’d seen them all the night before.

Immediately he dipped his hand in his pocket and shouted in the round, ordering without bothering to ask what my drink preference was. I was presented with a pint of Brains Mild (thank goodness it wasn’t SA) and as he chatted away to his mates about the latest Six Nations rugby tour he was organising I focussed on a small TV in the corner showing that evening’s episode of Coronation Street.

By the time the programme finished half an hour later I was staring rather forlornly at my fourth pint of mild. Cliffy, his pint-glass resembling an egg cup in his massive hands, was just getting into his rhythm. Not once had he asked me to put my hand in my pocket. When I offered he just said “It’s your money”, waving a few pound notes in front of me, the rent I had handed him just an hour earlier. I’ve no idea what his wife thought of his generosity with this extra cash but I had an idea from the raised voices I heard upstairs later.

On one such ‘rent night’, Cliff introduced me to the “best Chinese in Cardiff” – next to the student-friendly Claude pub in Albany Road – where an excitable Oriental man served me pancake roll and chips which he insisted had been made “very special for you”. Later I sampled the famous “Curry ‘arf and ‘arf”, rice and chips – a traditional Cardiff delicacy.

During those student days my classmates and I discovered a favourite haunt in the Philly, or Philarmonic to give it its full name, a lively nightclub on St Mary’s Street. The best gigs though were at the Student Uni. I recall fabulous nights there seeing the Jam and Graham Parker and the Rumour.

After that year in Cardiff alas I had to leave, taking up a job back on my local paper in Bristol. From there I travelled the country with my new profession, working in Stoke-on-Trent and Oswestry as a sports writer, before moving to Swansea in the mid 80s.

In 1989, I got my chance to return to Cardiff. The Western Mail and Echo were poised to launch their first Sunday newspaper and I landed the job as Chief Sports Sub-Editor. Establishing a completely new newspaper was a brilliant experience, and while many predicted Wales on Sunday wouldn’t last more than a couple of months it has just passed its 26th anniversary, so we must have done something right.

Wales on Sunday was the first “national” paper to contain a pullout sports section and gave blanket coverage to the Welsh football and rugby scenes, something locals were unable to get from the London-based media.

Eventually I moved in with a mate, Nick Lewis, who had bought a house in Cathays. Sadly, Nick is no longer with us but in those days we enjoyed everything Cardiff had to offer. On evenings off my housemate would rub his hands together with a twinkle in his eyes, and announce it was time for an “adventure”.

These “adventures” would take us down the docks to places like the Brown Windsor pub, where we could see brilliant Cardiff bands in action or enjoy a behind-closed-doors lock-in to watch televised coverage of the L’Arc de Triomphe.

Or, better still, we could go to Sam’s Bar on the corner of St Mary’s Street before winding our way down one of the arcades to a popular late night haunt called Kiwis. If we were really in the mood we might top it off with a Steak in the Taurus Steak bar.

On one such night we bumped into the actor Hywel Bennett and a pal who he was lodging with in Cardiff. Back in the days when I had hair people claimed I resembled him, so I recall going up to introduce myself with the immortal line: “People say I look like you”. It led to us spending a memorable night in his company, Nick and Hywel quoting Shakespeare at each other as the drink flowed (only the previous weekend we had published a story of how Hywel had kicked the booze!).

I was later promoted to sports editor and eventually left to try my luck on the Independent and, later, the Sunday Mirror in London. Five years later, though, Wales on Sunday came back to headhunt me and offer me the job of Assistant Editor. Many of my stories of that third time around in Cardiff, vaguely remembered, can be found on a blog I wrote called What I Cooked Last Night.

It was when I later took up the job of Welsh Sports Editor at the News of The World, only to lose it at 48 hours notice when Rupert Murdoch closed down the paper due to the phone hacking scandal, that I came up with the idea for my novel Crossing The Whitewash.

It draws heavily on my experiences in both Cardiff and London, and is set against the backdrop of the Rugby World Cup. It’s my debut novel and so far I’ve been very happy with some of the reviews I’ve been getting. Maybe when I make my first million I’ll return to Cardiff for good.

Nick Rippington currently lives in London with wife Liz and youngest daughter Olivia and works for the Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday. His novel Crossing the Whitewash is available from Amazon in paperback and for Kindle. It can also be found on iBooks, Kobo and at selected stories including The Wellfield Bookstore in Roath.

Crossing the Whitewash Nick Rippington


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Launch party details unveiled for ‘The 42b’, We Are Cardiff Press debut book!


Following the news of our first publication, ‘The 42b’, we’re happy to announce we’ll be holding the launch party at the fabulous PORTER’S! It’s one of our favourite night time haunts in the city, and we’re over the moon to be launching our FIRST BOOK there!

19.30 – 21.30, Thursday 5 November, Porter’s, Cardiff –  part of the Swn Festival fringe.
Entry is FREE but please register on Eventbrite so we have an idea of numbers (the first 50 people will get a free drink, so make sure you’re prompt!).

There will be readings from the book, some live music, and hula hoop performances!

A special treat – see the online chapter!

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 18.19.35

The wonderful James O’Brien and Matt Harris have been beavering away putting together this AWESOME online chapter to give you a sneak preview of the book.

We don’t want to go on about this too much, but it’s one of the greatest things we’ve ever seen and we hope you like it too!
The 42b: Dark journeys in Cardiff – online chapter preview

Pre-order the book – one day left!

We Are Cardiff Press has been crowdfunding this first book, and we’ve actually hit our target of £2,000! This means that although there are no more spaces for your name to be printed in the book, you can still pre-order it through Indiegogo until midnight on Thursday 22nd.  

After that, you’ll be able to buy the book on our website (a new site will be going live at wearecardiffpress.co.uk soon), at the launch party and from us in person at our container office open house days, on the first Saturday of each month.

Why on earth would you set up a publishing company?

Director Hana explains why she set up We Are Cardiff Press:

“There’s an opportunity for small presses to take risks on alternative, challenging literature that the larger publishers don’t consider marketable … By publishing the very best work we discover in printed form, the slow-burn of old fashioned books spreads slower, but lasts longer.”

Read Hana’s full post here: Why I set up We Are Cardiff Press

Meet Jack – the man behind Tongwynlais.com

Today we get the lowdown on one of Cardiff’s many hyperlocal websites, from Jack Davies – the man who set up Tongwynlais.com.


My name’s Jack Davies and I run a hyperlocal website for Tongwynlais, a small village in north Cardiff. I’m a software developer, occasional runner, lapsed gamer and technology enthusiast.

I was born and grew up in the East Midlands but moved to Cardiff nearly 20 years ago. I’ve always worked in Cardiff but moved around a bit. I lived in Gabalfa and Cathays before relocating to Barry for a while. I eventually moved back to Cardiff four years ago when I settled in Tongwynlais.

castel coch

There haven’t been any major changes in the village since I moved here. The hotel as you leave the village onto Coryton roundabout is now a Holiday Inn and the long standing owners of the Phoenix Fish Bar have retired. The Old Ton Inn, a popular old pub, has been converted into housing.

There are some great community developments happening though: A proposal to develop land in the centre of the village spurred the formation of a new community group, who are working really hard to improve the village. The group launched a Time Credits scheme earlier this year that encourages residents to get involved and volunteer their time for the community. They’ve successfully applied for grants to run events and activities in the village and have plans for many more.


There have been so many changes in Cardiff over the last 20 years. It makes me feel old when I think about how the city centre and bay used to look. There’s definitely a feeling of excitement and confidence in the city these days. I love the fact that Cardiff is big enough to attract some world class events but small enough to get around easily. I’ve recently discovered a taste for ale so I’m really excited by the craft beer scene in Cardiff.


My favourite part of Cardiff is the Taff Trail. We’re very lucky in Tongwynlais to be able to cycle into the city centre and out to the countryside. I’ve written a lot about Castell Coch over the years and I have a real soft spot for this unique building. It inspires and amazes so many people. For Cardiffians, it’s the sign that they’re home.

I have to admit that 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you where Tongwynlais was. When I moved here I realised this was quite common. I wanted to put Tongwynlais on the map and create site that showcased the village. The project developed and soon I’d created a hyperlocal, before I even knew what this was. It’s a great way to meet people in the village and learn about its history. I’ve been involved in loads of community events and hopefully inspired others to get out there and get involved too.


The website recently celebrated its third birthday and I’ve taken a break to think about its future and revamp the website. I want to get out from behind my keyboard and encourage the community to help generate content. There are some creative projects that I’d like to get off the ground and I’d like to make the site generate some money for local projects. Cardiff has some great hyperlocal sites and I’d love to encourage more people to create a website and showcase the great community work happening in the city.

Thanks Jack! Why not check out Tongwynlais.com … the definitive source of information about that part of north Cardiff!


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Creative Cardiff introduces Show and Tell: Monday 19 October


You are invited to Creative Cardiff’s first Show and Tell party, at Porter’s on 19 October!

Creative Cardiff is delighted to welcome the following speakers:

Sarah Cole, a production and site manager who is working on the Roald Dahl centenary celebrations next year in a co-production between Wales Millennium Centre and National Theatre Wales.

Hilary Wagstaff, a dolls’ dressmaker for Blythe dolls.

Peter Rogers, a graphic novelist and creative producer at the award winning Bait Studio.

Creative Cardiff’s ‘Show and Tell’ is a quarterly event that gives a platform to some of the exciting range of creative people and projects in the city. It will bring together Cardiff’s creative community, from emerging talent to old hand, to hear about their current projects and ambitions.

What is Creative Cardiff?:

Creative Cardiff is a new city-wide network which connects people working in any creative organisation, business or job. By encouraging people to work together we believe that we can make Cardiff the most creative place it can be.

Event Details: Creative Cardiff:  Show & Tell #1

Monday 19 October
Porter’s, Bute Street,
Cardiff, CF10 2FE

Observer Food Monthly Awards 2015: the Cardiff contingent

Well done to all the Cardiff businesses featured in the Observer Food Monthly Awards 2015! Have you visited these eateries yet? If not … why not?

Penylan Pantry - one of Elliot's choice spots in Cardiff

OFM awards 2015 best independent retailer: runners-up

Penylan Pantry, Cardiff
Get an organic veg box delivered to your home by bicycle, if you can’t drop in to the little shop.
72 Kimberley Rd, CF23 5DN; @PenylanPantry

The One Mile Bakery, Cardiff
If you’re lucky enough to live within one mile of this bakery then you can sign up (for either one, or three months) to get their original or sourdough loaves delivered.
07939 211809; onemilebakery.com

Wally’s Deli, Cardiff
An amazing array of European ham, salami, sausages and pickles on offer in this characterful deli, with a nod to Wally’s Polish heritage.
38-46 Royal Arcade, CF10 1AE; 029 2022 9265; wallysdeli.co.uk

OFM awards 2015 best market: runners-up

Riverside Market, Cardiff
One of three Cardiff markets, this one, opposite the Millennium Stadium, is the first and flagship, and draws more than 1,500 people weekly.
Sun 10am-2pm; 17 Fitzhamon Embankment, Cardiff, CF11 6AN; 029 2019 0036;riversidemarket.org.uk

Cardiff Central Market
Indoor market home to long-established independent traders in an impressive Victorian glass roofed building.
Mon-Sat 8am-5.30pm; St Mary St, Cardiff, CF10 1AU

OFM Awards 2015 best Sunday lunch: the runners-up

Milgi, Cardiff
Imaginative vegetarian cooking – try the Indian street food platter or Peruvian superfood plate – plate – with gluten-free and vegan-friendly dishes.
213 City Rd, CF24 3JD; 029 2047 3150; milgicardiff.com

Kings Arms, Pentyrch
At this pretty as a picture country pub the customer is king. The excellent value Sunday lunch menu offers three courses for just £16.
Church Rd, Cardiff CF15 9QF; 029 2089 0202; kingsarmspentyrch.co.uk

Bully’s, Cardiff
There are always five starters and five mains (two of which are a traditional roast) on the Sunday menu that changes according to what’s in season and good.
5 Romilly Cres, CF11 9NP; 029 2022 1905; bullysrestaurant.co.uk

Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
Diverse and vibrant restaurant in the middle of this large arts centre with a range of lunch options varying according to season.
Market Rd, CF5 1QE; 029 2030 4400; chapter.org/eat-drink

The Lansdowne, Cardiff
A Camra pub of the year two years on the trot, this local is the place to come for ale, cider and good pub grub (also, pickled eggs).
Cnr Lansdowne Rd/Beda Rd, Canton, CF5 1PU; 029 2022 1312;thelansdownecardiff.co.uk

OFM Awards 2015 best restaurant: the runners-up

Purple Poppadom, Cardiff
Anand George serves imaginative Indian food with a twist (try a class at the cookery school, too).
185a Cowbridge Rd East, CF11 9AJ; 029 2022 0026; purplepoppadom.com

The Potted Pig, Cardiff
Industrial-style subterranean restaurant in a former bank vault. Potted pig is, of course, on the menu, as is whole suckling pig (which can be pre-ordered for a minimum of 8 people).
27 High St, CF10 1PU; 029 2022 4817; thepottedpig.com

Milgi, Cardiff
Popular vegetarian with its own backdoor yurt.
213 City Rd, CF24 3JD; 029 2047 3150; milgicardiff.com

OFM Awards 2015 best ethical restaurant: the runners-up

Milgi, Cardiff
Plant-based dishes, seasonal, organic, sometimes foraged.
213 City Rd,, CF24 3JD; 029 2047 3150; milgilounge.com

Penylan Pantry, Cardiff
Neighbourhood café/deli and hub promoting local producers.
72 Kimberley Rd, CF23 5DN; facebook.com/PenylanPantry

The Potted Pig, Cardiff
The French and American inspired menu is built around independent and locally sourced seasonal ingredients.
27 High Street, CF10 1PU; 029 2022 4817; thepottedpig.com

OFM awards 2015 best cheap eats: runners-up

Penylan Pantry, Cardiff
Store, deli and café that promotes local producers through the food it sells and makes.
72 Kimberley Rd, CF23 5DN; facebook.com/PenylanPantry

The Deck, Cardiff
This cosy cafe specialises in blow-out breakfasts (four-egg omelettes) and hot baguettes – try the Hog and Hen (sausage, bacon and egg) for a very reasonable £3.80.
20 Harrowby St,CF10 5GA; 029 2115 0385; thedeckcoffeehouse.co.uk

Hang Fire Smokehouse, popping up across Wales
Samantha Evans and Shauna Guinn are dedicated to authentic southern style barbecue, as is their roving not-really-a-restaurant. Check the website for their next appearance.

Caffi Bar at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
Wide ranging menu with an international flavour and Welsh ingredients.
Market Road, CF5 1QE; 029 2030 4400; chapter.org/eat-drink


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Oil and assassinations: kidnapped trade unionist GIlberto Torres speaks in Cardiff TONIGHT

Gilberto with banners - Da

Gilberto Torres, the trade unionist who was kidnapped and tortured after he challenged oil companies is coming to Wales to tell his story TONIGHT at 6.30pm at the Temple of Peace, where there’ll be an evening of Colombian food, music and performances. Tickets are STILL AVAILABLE.

Gilberto is bringing a case with Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors against British Petroleum for his ordeal where he was taken, held for 42 days in insect infested pits, tortured and made to watch fellow captives being dismembered. He now lives in exile but wants to share his experience. He states:

“I want to discuss what action British people can take to stop the damage that multinationals are causing to human rights and the environment around the globe”.

Gilberto’s case is almost unheard of as he escaped with his life, something he puts down to the solidarity and support he received from people all over the world who called for his safe release. His case is just one of thousands of similar cases in Colombia and his region over 12,000 people have been murdered or disappeared since BP started oil exploration. He sees international solidarity from British Trade unionists and other groups as a crucial part of their struggle.

There has also been huge environmental destruction in his region due to the oil exploration people unable now to farm the land and experiencing grave drought and huge losses of livestock.

This is part of a UK wide tour being put on by Oil Justice which is a collaboration of War on Want, Colombian NGO COSPACC, and Deighton Pierce Glyn Solicitors. His solicitor Sue Willman said:

“Gilberto Torres is risking his safety by suing oil companies in UK and by coming here to seek the truth. He and his community face huge barriers in accessing justice. We hope his courage and the Oiljustice initiative will be a small step in breaking down those barriers, and changing the behaviour of corporations.”

Tom Lebert of War on Want said:

“Big oil companies are devastating communities across the world. Their operations have forced people from their land, polluted the environment, and led to widespread human rights violations. It’s time these companies were held to account..”

The event is being held by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and is part of their series on celebrating human rights and is free to attend.

There’s more information the Facebook event page.


Cardiff A–Z: Z is for Zzzz…

Katie Hamer concludes her A–Z series of Cardiff with the letter Z. Here’s what she discovered when investigating this most illusive of letters…

So this is my final article for this series! I can’t believe I’ve reached this point after all these months of exploring our very special capital city. But here we are…

The River Taff in Cardiff, nr. Bute Park and the Millennium Stadium

What have I chosen to investigate for this concluding part? You’ve probably already partly guessed from the title that it has something to do with sleep. And you’d be right, because I’ve decided to explore places to stay in Cardiff.

Cardiff isn’t renowned for its plentiful supply of hotels, unfortunately, as visitors may discover when attending a major sporting event or festival. It does have its fair share of corporate chains, but I’ve decided not to focus on these. After all, I’m going to concentrate on what makes Cardiff special, and therefore different from other major cities.

NosDa Hostel on the Taff Trail

With my focus on more unusual places, I have decided to cover hostels on the back-packing map of Cardiff. Why my interest in these, you may ask? Well, it was while I was investigating ‘T is for the Taff Trail’ that I first discovered the NosDa Hostel and this is my first topic for this article.

Outside NosDa

You can find NosDa, which means good night in Welsh, on the banks of the Taff, in close proximity to the Millennium Stadium and Bute Park. You couldn’t think of a more perfect location to explore the city centre and all the various activities it has to offer. Known for being Cardiff’s original independent hostel, it has recently been refurbished in a modern style that still manages to compliment the Victorian style of its architecture. As their website states, they are:

The reception to NosDa

“Proud to be one of Europe’s Famous Hostels we ensure our service is second to none, standards are high and our hostel is impeccably clean.”

The reception and bar


The bar resplendent with international flags

Certainly, their tripadvisor reviews back this claim up. So I decided to pay them a visit, just to make enquiries. I certainly learned a lot from visiting them.

Other facilities


Places to eat at NosDa, surrounded by art

They are a very modern and professional set-up, with a 24-hour reception, free WiFi, Key Card Access and free city maps, among other things. They also have a bar with a pool table and a lounge in which to relax. More surprisingly, perhaps, they also have an art gallery, which displays a fresh collection every three months.

Furthermore, they have an intimate ‘Underground Sound Lounge’, the Hafod, which is available for private hire. Perhaps less surprisingly, they also have a Tours Desk from which it is possible to enquire about options to explore Cardiff and the surrounding countryside by bus, by bike and on foot.

As fascinating as this residence is, its not the only option for backpackers on the Taff Trail. And so I now turn my attentions to the The River House.

The River House

Situated within close proximity to the NosDa, The River House describes itself as ‘a smaller, family-run boutique style backpackers hostel’. They have been repeatedly voted one of the best places to stay in Cardiff if you’re looking for both great service and value for money. So, apart from that, what makes them special?


Well, for a start, they’re more of a B&B than a hostel. They put on a fabulous breakfast for guests by all accounts. Also, they cater for people of all ages, whether they happen to be into backpacking or not. And when I paid them a visit, they also enthused about sights to visit and places to eat. I felt welcomed, and I would indeed be tempted to stay there.

There are of course, other great places to visit in Cardiff, but I feel I’ve covered enough in this article to at least give you a taster. You can find further information on either place here:

NosDa Hostel




The River House




Thanks for reading. I hope you’ve enjoyed my A–Z series of Cardiff! Sincerely, Katie Hamer.


It’s time to have a clear out – Exchange in Roath is BACK!

If you need to refresh your wardrobe, fill your bookshelves with new material or just fancy getting yourself some new furniture, you can do it all for free at Exchange In Roath (EiR) Green City Events’s giant swap shop!

Last year’s Exchange In Roath saw over 1.5 tonnes of clothes, books, DVDs, CDs and records, furniture, electronics, toys, kitchenware and even bikes donated. This year Green City are bringing the event back to Cardiff as part of the Made In Roath festival.

“We were really surprised at the quality (and quantity) of the items donated – in the mix last year were some lovely designer clothes and beautiful vintage items! One of the best parts was hearing so many people say ‘ohhhh I was just about to go out and buy one of those so you’ve saved me loads of money!’” – Becca Clark, founder of Green City Events

As a completely free event attendees will be given five free ‘points’ (which can be exchange for items) just for turning up. If you want to walk away with more, however, you can gain more points by donating your own unwanted things.

From Monday 12thto Friday 16th October there will be a yarn-bombed shipping container on Keppoch Street, right next to the Gate Arts Centre, ready and willing to take donations. Look how cool it is:

That is a well and truly yarn-bombed shipping container!
That is a well and truly yarn-bombed shipping container!

On the day itself screen-printing arts collective Printhaus and skill-sharers Trade School Cardiff will be on hand to run up-cycling stations and offer workshops centred on creatively repairing unwanted objects. So, as well as swapping items, people can learn how to give their old items a new lease of life.

The Trade School Cardiff classes are limited capacity so you need to book these in advance – and you’ll need to bring something to exchange with the teacher (in exchange for learning, that’s the ‘Trade’ part). More on the TSC website.

You’ll be able to screenprint the winning designs from the Swap It! design competition (below) onto your old tshirts and tote bags!

Alyn's design
Alyn’s design
Lauren's design
Lauren’s design
Rosie's design
Rosie’s design

You can drop off donations  THIS WEEK! 

Drop-off Donations: Monday 12th-Friday 16th October, 5pm-7pm
Exchange In Roath: Saturday 17th October, 12noon-4pm
: The Gate Arts Centre, Keppoch St, Roath, Cardiff, CF24 3JW

More about Exchange in Roath….

How many people attend Exchange In Roath?

Last year between 800-1000 people attended Exchange In Roath and, within four hours, 1.3 tonnes of donations had been rehomed.

“A real mixture of people attend this event but it’s very important to us that’s it’s accessible to all. One of my strongest memories from last year was of a family that came in. We gave all the kids five free points each and when they came out they had huge grins on their faces and arms full of toys! They were clearly not a wealthy family and this had made their day, maybe even their year. We told them to come back at the end as we make it take-what-you-want for the last hour. They came back and picked up lots of things they really needed like kids clothes and kitchenware.” – Becca Clark, Green City Events


What is the atmosphere like at Exchange In Roath?
“I really love this event, the atmosphere was exciting and there was anticipation building up in the form of a large queue outside the Gate before we opened the doors!” – Becca Clark, Green City Events

How does the point system work?

“The exchange system is a very simple one. Our drop off container is run by volunteers and as a rough guide one bin bag or box full of stuff is worth between 5-10 points. We will not be able to go through the boxes to judge the value of items – we are judging all donations as equal with the assumption that these are things that people would like to get rid of.
On the day everything is worth just one point – this could mean one point for a coffee table or one point for a DVD. Everything is of equal value in the swap shop and it will be on a first come first served basis. There will be the option, however, for people to make a cash donation to the YMCA if they feel they would like to.
Everyone that walks through the door will be given 5 free points, whether they have donated or not. Those that have donated of course will have lots more points to spend.” – Becca Clark, Green City Events
What up-cycled events are taking place?
“This adds extra fun to the day and encourages people to re-use and re-love their items before throwing them away! We will have upcycling stations which will be running simple workshops to quickly revamp clothes and items you might throw away. Printhaus will be joining us to screen print designs on to your old clothes or tote bags and we have joined forces with Trade School Cardiff to offer skill share workshops in our shipping container.” – Becca Clark, Green City Events

What happens to the items that don’t get new owners?
“We work in partnership with the YMCA and anything left over goes to their warehouse to be sorted for their charity shop or donated to their residents.” – Becca Clark, Green City Events


We can’t WAIT!!


Made in Roath 2015 – top picks!

Okay, we’re a little late to promoting this party (apologies, we’ve been busy publishing a book!), but the city’s premier arts festival, Made in Roath, is ON THIS YEAR (in fact, it’s on RIGHT NOW, for the rest of this week, and you need to know what’s going on!).

Helia has done a We Are Cardiff’s Made In Roath Top Picks list for you below – there are OODLES more things going on – for full listings, visit the Made In Roath website.

made in roath 2015

Thursday 15 October: ROATHBUD

The annual short film night returns to The Globe! As ever, there’ll be an eclectic mix of comedies, dramas, documentaries, music videos and gems from the archive, all from filmmakers who live in, have lived in, visited or heard of Roath. Or who might like it if they came.

Roathbud, The Globe, 20.30

Friday 16 October:Made in Roath: Skylark Review Launch and Open Mic

Join us in the friendly atmosphere of the tearooms to celebrate the publication of Skylark Review, a new Cardiff based literary magazine crammed full of great poetry and short fiction from across the globe. We will have readings from the magazine followed by an open mic.

Waterloo Tea House, 18.30 – 20.30

Friday 16 October: Made in Roath: An evening of Jazz and the Spoken Word

Kathy Davies a song stylist combining eclectic repertoire with a distinct jazz flavour, accompanied by hugely respected musicians Julian Martin on piano and Dave Moreau (saxaphone). The evening brings together published writers and performers Claire Syder, Terrance Edwards and Karen Sherrard, for an enjoyable night of jazz and the spoken word.

More details:
Claire Syder, Terrance Edwards & Karen Sherrard (Writers)
Kathy Davies, Julian Martin & Dave Moreau (Musicians)
The Coffi House, Wellfield Rd, CF24 3NZ
Friday, October 16th, 20.00 – 22.00

Saturday 17 October: Roath Swap Shop

Exchange in Roath is a giant swap shop event!

Following the success of last year’s event we are hosting it again, bigger and better! The event is split into two main parts: the GIVE element and the TAKE event.

You can GIVE your unwanted stuff by bringing it to our drop off shipping container which will be situated next to the Gate Arts Centre on Keppoch Street. It will be open Monday 12th – Friday 16th October between 5 – 7pm. People who bring stuff will be able to collect points (to exchange for items at the event) and might even get a piece of cake (bring and cake!).

Then for the super fun part – you can come and TAKE stuff on Saturday 17th October between 12 – 4pm inside the Gate Arts Centre. Join up-cycling & re-use workshops, print new designs on old clothes, check out some yarn bombing action or even join in a skill share workshop with Trade School Cardiff.

The types of things you can bring are: Books, CD’s/DVDs, Clothes, Toys, Tools, Garden Items, Plants, Small Electrical Items, Kitchenware, Small Furniture and Bikes. Please DON’T bring ‘white goods’, VHS tapes, broken items or rubbish.

The exchange system is a very simple one. We advise people to only donate things that are unwanted rather than items they would like to have a certain value (in cash or items) in return for.

Our drop off container is run by volunteers and as a rough guide one bin bag or box full of stuff is worth between 5-10 points. We will not be able to go through the boxes to judge the value of items – we are judging all donations as equal with the assumption that these are things that people would like to get rid of.

On the event day everything is worth just one point – this could mean 1 point for a coffee table or 1 point for a DVD. Everything is of equal value in the swap shop and it will be on a first come first served basis. There will be the option however for people to make a cash donation to the YMCA if they feel they would like to.

Everyone that walks through the door will be given 5 free points, whether they have donated or not. Those that have donated of course will have lots more points to spend.

Swap Shop, The Gate, Roath, 12.00 – 16.00

Saturday 17 October: Blas – Roath

We are excited to let you know that we will be launching Blas as part of Made in Roath Festival in Roath on Saturday 17th October.

Blas is the new food events side of RCMA Social Enterprise, the people behind Riverside, Roath and Rhiwbina Farmers’ Markets. Frustrated by turning away brilliant hot food producers from Cardiff’s Farmers’ Markets Blas began its journey as Riverside Winter Street Food in December 2014. Popping up again in Riverside and in Roath we have seen many fantastic street food traders making appearances in our tents leading us to plan a year of appetising events as Blas.

Blas means taste, something that we are all about. We want to bring Cardiff a taste of the foods that are quickly helping put the city on the foodie map. With so many local traders making delicious and locally sourced food we wouldn’t be following our commitment to fresh delicious local food if we didn’t bring at least some of them to your plates.

Mackintosh Sports and Social Club, 16.30 – 21.30


Saturday / Sunday 17-18 October: Open Houses and Studios

From the very first Made in Roath festival, local people have been opening the doors to their houses and studios to show an eclectic mix of the creativity that goes on in our fair neighbourhood, and this year is no exception! Over the final weekend of Made in Roath there will be plenty of art to see and plenty of people to meet, so make sure you pop into some houses near you.

For a full list of the times and addresses of all the open houses and studios visit the Made in Roath: open house

Saturday / Sunday 17-18 October: Made in Roath Clitoris Lucky Dip

Hosted by DinahVagina: “I am thrilled to be part of Made in Roath 2015. You are cordially invited to join me at this years art festival where I’ll be running a Lucky Dip with a clitoris theme of course … come along, put your hand in and have a feel …. everyone’s a winner! ‪#‎getcliterate”

The Lucky Dip will be available from 12.00 to 16.00 on Sat 17th Oct and Sun 18th October.‬

All looks great, huh? Download this year’s Made In Roath Brochure and get over there!


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Why I set up the We Are Cardiff Press

Today Hana Johnson – the director of our sister project, the We Are Cardiff Press – tells us why she decided to get into publishing. The Press’s debut book, The 42b, is available for pre-order now, and its official launch party is on 5 November.

You can read a preview chapter from the book online here.

Our Hana

On Friday, I did an interview for a WalesOnline story about the launch of the We Are Cardiff Press and our debut book.

The reporter asked me why I decided to set up the Press, and I began to describe the hundred reasons why I wanted to get into a dying industry.

Here are the five top:

1. I love books

Words have been my closest friend since I was about six years old. I used to get told off for reading in the bath and making the pages go all crinkly, and staying up until 3am reading Point Horror when I had school the next day.

I tasted razor-sharp suspense reading Rebecca for the first time, and fell in love with Edmund Dantès on a 26-hour south American bus journey.

I’ve been on adventures with Graham Greene, Paul Theroux and Alex Garland.

I’ve weed myself laughing at White Teeth and Alexei Sayle. I discovered injustice reading 1984 and The Killing Fields.

I recoiled at Ian McEwan’s The Innocent, and read Roald Dahl’s short stories over and over and over.

My bookshelves strain under the weight of unexpected buys, swaps, gifts and mysterious acquirements.   

My bookshelves are rainbow colour coded. And?
My bookshelves are rainbow colour coded… too far?

I can’t imagine a day when I won’t buy books. My house would be empty, for a start, but I’d have no presents to give people, no more afternoons wandering the damp depths of Troutmark and nothing to accompany me on long journeys.

Many of my friends feel the same, and even though book sales have been plummeting for years, I think there is still a place for beautiful, physical books in our lives.

And so, the idea for our first book was born…

Coincidentally, book sales are actually up this year, so there may be hope for the printed word yet!

2.  I wanted to contribute to a new kind of publishing

I received an offer for a publishing deal for our debut book, The 42b, in 2013. It was yet to be written, the illustrations were undrawn, and we didn’t know whether it would be any good.

The publisher told me that they could ‘turn around’ a 30,000 word book in three days – that meant editing, formatting and designing a cover. The unit price of the printing was suspiciously low, and the contributors would receive a tiny royalty for each copy sold.

It was tempting: easy, fast, on to the next project. But the publisher handed me a copy of a book they had recently launched… and they had spelled the author’s name differently on the cover and the spine. ‘Mistakes happen, it’ll be corrected in the second edition’, they told me.

The cover looked like it had been made on Microsoft Publisher, using Clipart from 1998.

It repulsed me. I hate seeing books with bad design or terrible marketing – the Lousy Book Covers website is almost too much for me – the grammar, the designs, the audacity…

The eleven people who had agreed to write and draw for the book are passionate about writing and art. They spend their free time writing stories, giving feedback to other writers, re-writing their work, attending creative writing classes, and submitting their work to journals and publishers and websites. They know that there’s no big money in writing, but they do it because they love it.

I wanted a publisher that cares about the work as much as we do. Someone that aches over a perfect cover design, proof-reads it a million times, and promotes it with all the intensity with which it was created.

And so I thought, ‘I can do this better’.

The Duracell bunny that is Helia Phoenix set up We Are Cardiff five years ago, with the intention of telling a different story of Cardiff to the one written in the tabloids at the time. She saw all the creative and cultural vibrancy of this city and created an outlet to champion it.

I came home from that meeting with the publisher and told her that I wanted to set up a small press to publish Cardiff’s best writers, artists and photographers, and I wanted to call it the We Are Cardiff Press. She said (as she always does) – ‘YES!! GO FOR IT!!!!!’ (with a hundred more exclamation marks). She also wrote eight blog posts while we had that conversation (or thereabouts).

After throwing the idea around with some incredibly talented and wonderful friends, and after getting inspiration from small presses such as Tiny Hardcore Books, the We Are Cardiff Press was born…

I decided that it would be completely non-profit – all the contributors work for free.

Any profit from the books will go into the Press to fund the next project, and to run writing workshops to help new people contribute to our future books.

We decided that we would only print what people wanted to read. If people didn’t want to buy the books, we wouldn’t print them: that’s why we are running a pre-order campaign to judge the level of interest in the book, and then print the right number of books.

I made a conscious decision to not apply for funding from the Arts Council or Literature Wales. This project takes up a lot of my spare time, and if I had to fit in writing applications and funding evaluations, I wouldn’t have time to write, edit, or promote our books. It also means that we’re free to do whatever we want with our books –  we are not confined by funding restrictions.

3. Writers deserve to have their work showcased and nurtured

Typically, writers aren’t good at self-promotion; they need encouragement and exposure and confidence. Large publishers reject work without telling people what’s wrong with it, so it’s impossible for work to improve without feedback.

Creative writing classes such as Briony Goffin’s are brilliant spaces, where writers feel safe to read their work out loud without the fear of ridicule. The work written in these classes deserves to have a wider audience, if the writers want it.

People write for different reasons: some genuinely aren’t interested in publishing, they do it for themselves. Some want to make a career, and some want to create a legacy that will live in libraries and bookshelves for years to come.

There’s an opportunity for small presses to take risks on alternative, challenging literature that the larger publishers don’t consider marketable. We know that some work will have a niche market, but does that mean that it should only exist online?

Online publishing is fantastic, but it can be short-lived.

When we click ‘publish’ on We Are Cardiff, we instantly reach over 35,000 people for the moment that the piece flashes in their inbox, on their Twitter feed or Facebook timeline. But it risks being missed or forgotten.

By publishing the very best work we discover in printed form, the slow-burn of old fashioned books spreads slower, but lasts longer.

We may only sell a few hundred copies of our book, but a copy of it will sit in the British Library, the National Library of Wales, and Scotland and the Bodleian in Oxford. And, after only two weeks and minimal marketing, we’ve already received orders for The 42b from unexpected places – France, the USA and Scotland!

The acclaimed literary critic and writer Peter Finch recently told us that he is ‘so impressed with the way [we] are going about publishing and selling The 42b’. He said that it is ‘the best approach’ that he’s seen ‘in an age’. And he speaks as a former publisher, bookseller and a present day writer!

The best advice I’ve read on starting a small press is:

4. The We Are Cardiff community is capable of amazing things

As soon as I put a Batsignal out that We Are Cardiff wanted writers and illustrators for a new book, I received about 20 pitches for stories in a month.

While setting up the Press, I’ve realised the incredible strength of the We Are Cardiff brand and team. People and organisations want to support and grow the creative community in Cardiff, and it’s exciting.

A few examples:

  • the Cardiff chapter of Urbanistas gave me such valuable feedback, contacts and advice;
  • Dan at Porter’s, where we are holding our launch party on 5 November (more info on Porter’s next week) has bent over backwards to help us arrange our event;
  • Abbey Bookbinding is an amazing Cardiff-based, family-run printer; Darren has spent hours perfecting the print of our detailed cover design, and providing brilliant creative advice; and
  • I also got excellent guidance on the Press’s legal structure and finances from Branwen at the Wales Co-op Centre.

We found performers and musicians to play at the launch within days, and people have volunteered to proofread the book and give advice on stuff like distribution and ISBN numbers. Just look how gorgeous the book is:

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Due to Helia’s incredible marketing skills, James’s design and video ideas, Alice’s events management expertise and Lisa’s proofreading, the book and the Press has come together in people’s spare time.

The writers and illustrators (who alongside the core team include Adam Chard, Paul Hunt, Sam Bees, Robin Wilkinson, Llion Wigley, Georgia Burdett and Emily Jones) have made a bloody amazing book!

I also have to give a shout out to our developer Matt Harris, who made our gorgeous online preview chapter. He’s the only person who doesn’t live in Cardiff, but we figured Bristol is like an honorary Cardiff 😉

5. Our ideas are endless

As soon as we launch our first book, we’ll begin taking submissions for the next one. I have at least a million ideas, but here are a few:

  • a book of portrait photography and personal stories of refugees and asylum seekers in Cardiff – how they got here, what they brought with them, and how they’ve made Cardif their home;
  • a book of recipes from chefs in the city. There has been an explosion in pop-up food in Cardiff, from Hangfire to Lia’s Kitchen, and it would be fantastic to bring together the best dishes that this city has to offer; and
  • a collection of street photography, paired with poetry or a piece of writing.

We can’t wait to get started.

Get involved with the Press by buying The 42b or coming to our launch.

Let’s bring books back!

Han  – hana@wearecardiffpress.co.uk



Things an English person learns on moving to Wales

This week, writer Ellie Philpotts has mused for us on her experience as an English person moving to Wales.

doug_nicholls_instagram - 16

Photo by Doug Nichols

Moving all the way to “deepest Wales” (if Cardiff counts as that) as someone from exotic old England can raise some important questions, but also, more crucially, teach some key life lessons.

Despite crossing the border, we don’t exactly qualify as international students, but, still the England-Wales move is bound to be an educational one … so here we go. Here is what I have learned, as an English person, who has moved to Wales.

1. No one does rugby quite like the Welsh

giant rugby ball

OK, so of course the atmosphere at Twickenham is always electric, but do the English really give their national teams the welcome they’re warranted with in Wales? And frankly no English city would be innovative enough to PUT A BALL IN THE WALL. The wall of a very old castle, no less.

2. ‘Lush’ is THE adjective for everything good

doug_nicholls_instagram - 08

Photo by Doug Nichols

The roaming countryside that’s in abundance in Wales; a top outfit, those birds on that fence; even Cardiff’s Lush store itself – everything fits the bill. Got it? Lush.

3. The Welsh are seriously proud of their heritage

welsh flags

Patriotism is a good thing! And one of the reasons multiple flags stand proudly down St Mary’s Street. Go Wales!

4. Welshies are a friendly people

wearegreenman2015_ - 10

Whether it’s a farmer in Carmarthenshire, a hotelier from central Cardiff, or revellers at Green Man festival, you’re bound to be greeted with a good helping of jolliness. The two just go hand-in-hand here in Wales!

5. You never knew a red dragon could mean so much

welsh dragon

You’ll find that familiar face hung up in windows more than you’d spy the old George’s Cross back in England. Thank God there’s a dragon emoji on the trusty iPhone.

6. You’ll question how you ever lived without Bara Brith

bara brith Photo by JenSteele
Whatever your religious beliefs, you can’t deny it must be sent from the Gods.

7. The same applies for Welsh cakes

Welsh cakes
Photo by Zingyellow

Because English cakes, not even Tesco’s Finest, just don’t match up. Sorry Mr Kipling!

8. Oh, and while we’re talking about food, Welsh Rarebit is NOT just cheese on toast

welsh rarebit
Photo by TristanKenney

It’s so, so much more. Luckily, Cardiff cafes do it preened to perfection.

9. The Severn Bridge unfolding before your windscreen is the greatest sight you can see when travelling back into this wonderful country

Second Severn Crossing from Sudbrook
Photo by Ed Webster

It’s a sign you’re… well, nearly back in Wales. Which is only ever a positive. And it brightens up the journey. Not literally, because it’s Wales, and it always rains in Wales. But figuratively.

10. No-one does farmers’ markets like the Welsh

Riverside Market #2
Photo by Ffitography

Yes, I was meant to prise ourselves away from the foodie topic, but lasted one whole point and now we’re back. Basically, Wales is the capital of farmer’s markets. In Cardiff, the crème de la crème has to go to one of the Riverside Community Market Association’s markets … catch them in Rhiwbina on Fridays; Roath on Saturdays and Riverside on Sundays.

Yep, the three Rs – easy to remember and even easier to get fat thanks to. From curry to cheese, Cronuts to coffee (and some foods that DON’T begin with C), the farmers’ markets are the tried-and-tested best ways to start the day.

11. Local produce is celebrated, and kind of delicious at that

pumpkins at riverside community garden
Photo by Riverside Community Garden

The vast farmlands around Wales make it easy for Cardiff, although obviously more industrialised itself, to reap the benefits of fresh food.

12. Diversity is everywhere

Sure, London mixes ranges of cultures, and so does Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool and so on. But Cardiff’s take on diversity is just so friendly.

13. Nothing lifts your heart more than a jovial ‘croeso y cymru’

doug_nicholls_instagram - 17

Photo by Doug Nichols

There’s something about Wales that makes you want to run to the nearby hills and fields and channel your inner Maria from The Sound of Music in celebration of all things Welsh.

14. The little Welsh gift shops dotted around Cardiff (and probably the rest of Wales) are adorable

Photo by I Loves The Diff

If you’re born and bred here, the novelty may have worn off many moons ago, but for us English folk who’ve been adopted by Cardiff, the appeal is still very much real.

15. Welsh people are the queens of making fudge

Photo by Gary Knight

And kings, as fudge-making is definitely not gender-specific. Only Welsh-specific. Mixing traditional flavours like Chocolate with more daring varieties, like Chilli, is definitely the way to go.

16. You’re close to both sea and city

doug_nicholls_instagram - 14
Photo by Doug Nichols

Admittedly, there are places in England which also fit this criteria – Portsmouth, Brighton, Bournemouth etc – but Cardiff is the only British capital in walking distance of the ocean. And towns like Penarth and Barry provide the perfect break from the hustle and bustle. Even if that does mean the hustle and bustle is swapped for squeals of ‘Ooh, what’s occurin’?’

17. If you’re not a fan of crowds or mess or just value your health full-stop, avoid town like the plague when the sport’s on

Photo by Tomasz

Namely, rugby. Oh yes. Did I mention Wales LOVES rugby?!

18. The whole two-languages thing never loses its charm

Caerdydd sign! Cardiff Arts Institute 5/11

At first it can be kind of confusing. But then you get used to the ‘Arafs’ on the streets and ‘ffordd allan’s above train station exits, and most of all, you learn to love them.

19. There’s something about Welsh pubs that makes you just know you’re in a Welsh pub

The City ArmsPhoto by Walt Jabsco

We don’t even need to say more. Apart from that they’re always over-spilling, loud, and definitely atmospheric.

20. Basically, there’s something about Wales full stop.

doug_nicholls_instagram - 21
Photo by Doug Nichols

Ydym yn caru Cymru. That’s ‘We love Wales’ for the non-speakers among us!

Ellie Philpotts




Ellie Philpotts is a writer, based in Cardiff.



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