Green Man 2018 – final line up announcement! Got your tickets yet?

Our favourite Brecon Beacons based arts extravaganza Green Man Festival is looking REAL FINE this year, with a line up that includes plenty of Cardiff talent (boom) and headliners from ACROSS THE GLOBE. Tickets usually sell out early summer, so make sure you get yours in soon!

New music line up additions today (we’ve highlighted our We Are Cardiff fav picks in bold – in particular we can’t wait to see Bristol gig legend Big Jeff making his Green Man DJ debut …!)

Teenage Fanclub | Whyte Horses | Follakzoid | The Lovely Eggs | Insecure Men | Frankie Cosmos | Eleanor Friedberger | Ari Roar | J. Bernardt | Horsey | Celebrating Bert Jansch | Black Midi | The Cosmic Array | Squid

DJs – High Contrast | Huw Stephens | Tom Ravenscroft | Alfresco Disco | Heavenly Jukebox | Lycra | Dutty Disco | Big Jeff | Fever Club

Chai Wallahs Stage – Afla Sackey & Afrik Bawantu | Agbeko | Amy True | Animal Noise | Animanz | Ben Catley | Berget Lewis | Edd Keene | Friendly Fire | Gringo Ska | Groovelator | Holly Holden y Su Banda | Joncan Kavlakoglu | Kiriki Club | Lazy Habits | Lost Tuesday Society | Monster Ceilidh Band | Samsara | Snazzback | Solana | Soul Grenades | Sounds of the Siren | The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble | Tropical Tea Party feat DJ Hiphoppapotamus | Will Varley | Wrongtom

And in case you need more convincing, have a look at our Green Man video from last year …

Previously confirmed music line up:

The War On Drugs | Fleet Foxes | King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard |

John Grant | Grizzly Bear | Dirty Projectors | The Brian Jonestown Massacre | Public Service Broadcasting | Anna Calvi | Cate Le Bon | Mount Kimbie | Floating Points (live) | The Black Angels | John Maus | The Lemon Twigs | Joan As Police Woman | Teleman | Kevin Morby | Baxter Dury | Curtis Harding | Tamikrest | Courtney Marie Andrews | Susanne Sundfor | John Talabot | Simian Mobile Disco (live) featuring Deep Throat Choir | Wye Oak | Jane Weaver | Alex Cameron | Phoebe Bridgers | Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever | Kelly Lee Owens | Bo Ningen | Beak> | Chastity Belt | HMLTD | Sweet Baboo | A Hawk and a Hacksaw | Xylouris White | Lost Horizons | Shannon Lay | Pictish Trail | Marlon Williams | Lucy Dacus | The KVB | Omni | Goat Girl | Duds | Snapped Ankles | Jade Bird | Boy Azooga | Snail Mail | Nubya Garcia | Charles Watson | Ider | Ed Dowie | Haley Heynderickx | Bas Jan | Seamus Fogarty | Juanita Stein | Sacred Paws | The Murlocs | Jim Ghedi | Sorry | Stella Donnelly | Spinning Coin | Group Listening | Haze | Fenne Lily | Adwaith | Accu | Sock | Aadae | Teenage Fanclub | Whyte Horses | Follakzoid | The Lovely Eggs | Insecure Men |

ERMEGERD right?? All of this in addition to the amazing Talking Shop and Last Laugh announcements made earlier this year … Get your tickets and join the annual decamp to the beautiful Brecon Beacons!

Buy Green Man tickets now

Green Man website

Images from last year’s birthday bash!

More We Are Cardiff – Green Man coverage:




TEDxCanton speakers announced!

As we (very excitedly) announced a few weeks ago, TEDxCanton is happening on 19 May! We’ve been announcing our AMAZING speakers and performers all week on Twitter, but here’s a roundup. The event is sold out, but tickets for the viewing party at Printhaus will be on sale next week!

Lia Moutselou and Becca Clark

Becca and Lia are community food waste trailblazers. Together they run Wasteless Suppers, which bring together local food businesses, food lovers and passionate people to create positive change and reduce food waste.
Lia is a self-taught chef and the director of Lia’s Kitchen, running pop-up food events, cooking classes and social enterprise projects around the world.
Becca is the director of Green City, a community of local green experts who are passionate about sustainable living and the environment, which offers fun, affordable and practical workshops, events and activities.

Follow them: @greencityevents @liaskitchen @moutselia

Stepheni Kays

Stepheni is an integration officer for the Swansea City of Sanctuary project. After leaving her home country in 2008, she was granted asylum and began studying a degree alongside her full-time job. She graduated in 2016, and began a Master’s in human rights shortly after.

Stepheni passionately believes that the effective integration of refugees and asylum seekers can make communities better for everyone, not just for new residents.

Follow her @madamekays

Sabrina Cohen-Hatton

Sabrina is an experimental psychologist and deputy assistant commissioner in the London Fire Brigade. Her unique perspective allowed her to research decision-making in places where most psychologists can’t – actual emergency incidents – from the viewpoint of the operational commander.
Sabrina’s work included fitting helmet-mounted cameras to capture incidents from commanders’ point of view, followed by cognitive debriefs afterwards to analyse their decision-making process. Her findings changed the way that rescuers respond to incidents.

Follow her @sab_cohenhatton /

Matt Callanan

Matt is a former worldwide DJ and music producer turned filmmaker. He is also the founder of kindness project We Make Good Happen.
The project started after meeting Bill Murray in George Clooney’s house (yep), and now he hides £10 notes in public places (#Tenner4Good), encouraging people to use the money for a random act of kindness.

Follow him @matt_4_good / @wemakegoodhappn /

John Parker

John is the chair of the London Tree Officers Association, and an arboriculture and landscape manager. He promotes urban forests and the benefits of green spaces, from better social cohesion to improved child development.

Follow the London Tree Officers Association @LTOA33


Josh Doughty

Josh is a kora player, which is a 21-string lute-bridge-harp used extensively in West Africa.

He started learning the instrument from age 8, and was spotted by the Master Kora musician, Toumani Diabate. In 2007 Josh was invited to Bamako, the capital of Mali, to study under Toumani in his home.

During this time Toumani became Josh’s teacher, mentor and friend. Josh would spend hours playing Kora with him, improving his skills and immersing himself in Mali culture.

Follow him @joshdoughtykora /

Jon Vaughan-Davies

Jon is a lifelong magic fan. When a friend invited him to perform his fun blend of psychological illusion at an event in a pub one night, it led to many more pubs and many more nights. From predicting people’s choices to future headlines, he has a keen interest in why we want what we want and how understanding that can help us all to make better and more informed choices.


Lorna Prichard

Lorna, who will be hosting TEDxCanton, is a former TV news reporter now focusing on comedy. In the last year she has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, established her own comedy night ‘Howl’ in Tramshed and started a regular all-female comedy night – ‘Howling Women’ – thought to be the only one outside of London.

She’s also bilingual and also technically a world record holder having taken part in a 96-hour comedy marathon in Banbury.

Follow her @lorna_corner / @howlcomedy1

You can read more about the team of volunteers behind the organisation of TEDxCanton here!


Cardiff Animation Festival 2018 – preview

Chapter Arts Centre are doing something special for the Cardiff community once again by hosting this year’s Cardiff Animation Festival, right after the end of their successful art festival Experimentica. The festival, which looks to cover all types of animation from student pieces to Isle of Dogs, will take place between April 19 – 22nd at Chapter. A full schedule has already been released, detailing a bunch of fun stuff, including a live Q&A workshop with Isle of Dogs animators, over 90 short films, workshops, and industry sessions for those trying to break into the competitive world of animation.

The multi-day festival appears to have lots to offer everyone, regardless of animation ability. The first day, known as the “Industry Day”, is more catered towards those who have a professional interest in animation and the surrounding industry. Passes for the Industry Day are available, with sessions including Afternoon Tea with the Children’s Commissioners, giving delegates the rare opportunity to learn how to pitch to TV networks and how to market independent short-form content, as well as a chance to sign up for a one-to-one sessions. The Industry Day will kick off with a keynote from Bob Ayres, the head of TrueTube, which received a record-breaking seven awards nominations at the most recent BAFTA Children’s Awards. Panels also include a talk on Licensing and Distribution, featuring speakers such as Alison Taylor (Aardman Rights) and Helen Howells (HoHo Entertainment). The rest of the festival will take a slightly less serious tone for hobbyists and watchers, but the first day is incredibly useful for those with even a cursory knowledge of the animation sector.

Friday will celebrate new Welsh stop-motion animated feature Chuck Steel: Night Of The Trampires. Director Mike Mort, Art Director Bridget Phelan, Executive Producer Randhir Singh, and animator Laura Tofarides will give an exciting look behind the scenes, as well as a chance to see a few deleted scenes. The film is almost the centrepiece of the entire festival, as it will also be the basis of a four-day exhibition based on the film’s sets, props, puppets, etc.

Masterclasses will also be available, including one from Cartoon Saloon’s Mark Mullery who will treat audiences to behind the scenes of Oscar-nominated feature film The Breadwinner, a stunning animated drama about a little girl living under Taliban rule. The film will also be screened ahead of its UK release, which is a nice touch.

Another highlight appears to be the workshop by internationally-renowned artist Jac Saorsa, who will lead a Life Drawing for Animators workshop. The workshop is tailored to hone drawing skills crucial to animation. Suitable for animators, students, hobbyists and anyone looking to develop their drawing skills for animation.

The major highlight for We Are Cardiff who are, self-admittedly, a little too dog-obsessed, is the Isle of Dogs feature. For those who haven’t seen it yet (WHY HAVEN’T YOU SEEN IT?), the film is directed and written by Wes Anderson, and features some gloriously detailed stop-motion of talking dogs. A workshop based around the film, involving Lead Animator Kim Kong, Model Maker Josh Flynn, and Kerry Dyer, head of the Isle of Dogs Puppet Hospital, will be put on show, detailing some props, methods, and insights into the making of the film.

The festival will also be screening 99 short films, which will be assessed by The Jury, who are tasked with selecting the winners of the animation programme from films on display. The Jury, who are named rather ominously, will be made up of independent director Rhiannon Evans (Heartstrings, Fulfilament), Manchester Animation Festival producer Jen Hall, author and Skwigly Animation Magazine Managing Director Ben Mitchell, Aardman animation director Will Becher, and independent producer, Director of Animation UK, and newly-appointed director of the British Animation Awards, Helen Brunsdon.

Sadly, all passes excluding the Industry Day pass have now sold out, but there are tickets for sale on the Cardiff Animation Festival website for individual events. Further details, including the timetable for the entire festival, can be found there, too.


Record Store Day 2018 in Cardiff – events and happenings!

How is it already time for Record Store Day again?? If you’re looking to go join the queues or catch some of your favourite musical heroes in town, we’ve got the skinny on all the events – from Lauren Laverne broadcasting her BBC 6Music show, to Gruff Rhys and Charlotte Church djing! Don’t forget to check the full list of RSD 2018 releases

Get out and about and support your local independent music scene, this Saturday 21 April, 2018!

Record Store Day 2018 at Spillers Records

9am – 6pm, Spillers Records, Morgan Arcade

The annual celebration of independent record shops and all things vinyl is happening on Saturday the 21st of April – and alongside the armfuls of exclusive releases, Spillers  will be hosting their usual range of DJs and live music to keep you entertained throughout the day – and this year, they’ve got SPECIAL GUEST Lauren Laverne broadcasting her BBC 6 Music show from the store! She’ll be joined by guests Gwenno and Gruff Rhys.

And Lauren’s excited about her visit to Cardiff! She says: “I love taking my show on the road for Record Store Day, but to be going to Spillers in Cardiff – the world’s oldest record store – this year is something really special. We’ll be chatting to the team there and will be joined by Gwenno and Gruff Rhys, with music from Haley. It’s going to be a fantastic show and I’m so looking forward to be heading to Wales’ capital city!”

A Record Store Party That’s Not A Record Store Party

9am – 6pm at RIP Outpost, in the Castle Emporium (Womanby Street)

Come and join us at The Castle Emporium for a right old knees up to celebrate all things vinyl! Come join the Official-Unofficial Record Store Day 2018 All-Dayer, where there will be :



Record Store Day at Kellys Records

9am- 6pm, Kellys Records in Cardiff Indoor Market

A Cardiff institution, Kellys has all your second-hand music needs – and a great line up of DJs on the day!

DJs on rotation at Kellys through the day:

  • 9-11am – Kellys staff
  • 11-12pm – Sarah Sweeney
  • 12-1pm – Don Leisure
  • 1-2pm – Gruff Rhys
  • 2-3pm – Ani Glass
  • 3-4pm – Charlotte Church & Esther
  • 4-5pm – Boy Azooga

Record Store Day After Party hosted by Vinyl Cruisers and Spillers Records

6-11pm, The Andrew Buchan Bar, Albany Road

Vinyl Cruisers and Spillers Records present The Record Store Day After Party! Besides the normal crew there will be Spillers regulars manning the decks. Expect some exclusive tunes for your delight!

If you’re out and about over Record Store Day 2018 be sure to tag us in your pics and we’ll reshare the best! Enjoy! #shoplocal #independentcardiff.

Also shout out to woke Record Store Day sponsor, Friels Cider! Supporting independent music! Give them a big up and tag em in, #FrielsRSD.


Polly Thompson talks Cardiff, and a new kind of living

Our reporter Jenny Jones speaks to Cardiff resident Polly Thompson today, about her move from the city to London in the ’90s – and back again last year, and the new kind of living she’s found here.

I’m that common person, who grew up in Cardiff through the bleak and grey 80s and then couldn’t wait to leave. In fact I found out about We Are Cardiff when I read James’ piece ‘Cardiff – it’s where you’re between’ and couldn’t believe how similar our stories were, almost exact parallels. I came across it by accident, just lost in endless scrolling one night on the internet, maybe I saw a link to it on Twitter. James’ experience of wanting to escape ’80s Cardiff totally resonated with me.

I was living in London at the time I read it – a couple of years ago. I was jobless, living for cheap in an old people’s home near Tottenham that was up for sale (I was part of one of those guardian schemes that stop squatters moving in by letting legitimate tenants live there for peppercorn rent). It was a disgusting place, with damp on all the walls, plasterwork that crumbled to the touch and squelching carpet over soaked underlay in every room, including the kitchens and bathrooms. But it was cheap. Really cheap. And in London, cheap housing is not to be sniffed at.

I left Cardiff when I was 16. I couldn’t wait to leave. There’s a big age gap between me and my older brother and sister, so they were already long gone from home when I was growing up, flown the coop, abandoned me in the nest. My was already in his 60s when I was born so my only real memories of him feature his disappearance into dementia, which started almost the second I was born.

By the time I arrived on earth, my sister had married and moved to Caerphilly, with children of her own just a few years younger than me (I’m nearly 16 years younger than her). My brother had slipped away and was living in some off-grid community in north Wales. Neither were around to watch the end of dad’s life. They barely visited, and didn’t register in my young mind as siblings. I saw how hard it was for my mum, working part time, trying to bring me up, and care for my father who was getting more and more confused. He almost never knew who I was, and so we had a strange relationship – he was a dad but also a not-dad, just some crazy old man who lived in the house.

I hated school. I don’t know how it’s possible to enjoy or engage when your home life is so mad. I felt isolated all the time. We lived in a small two bed house in Roath. I think it was somewhere around Alfred Street, but I’ve never been able to find its exact location. All I remember are heavy velvet drapes and dark wooden panels that were so fashionable in houses for a while.

My dad died when I was ten and my mum when I was thirteen, and so I ended up moving in with my sister in her new-build-box-house. I remember being young as pointing the TV aerial towards Bristol so we could watch Channel 4 instead of S4C – I never learned to speak Welsh, and besides that I felt like being Welsh was a strait jacket I couldn’t escape. It didn’t feel cool, it felt parochial, not something to be proud of. I wanted desperately to move where things were happening, to somewhere so big I could get lost within it and forget about all the crap things I’d experienced as a child. I wanted adventure and neon and to stay up all night. And none of those things felt possible in Cardiff in the 1980s. I would have preferred New York, but London was a pretty good second on the list.

The second I was old enough to leave, I did. I had barely any money but my sister surprised me by paying for my coach ticket and then handing me an envelope with five hundred pounds in it. She’d been saving up for me since I’d started living there. I’d told her what my plan was when I moved in, and apparently she had believed me.

I won’t bore you with the details of what happened in London, but here’s the short version. I went to art college, made good friends. Had a few boyfriends and one girlfriend. Fell in love with one of the boyfriends. I mostly lived around south London, as that’s where was cheapest, around Peckham and Deptford. To say I lived thriftily is an understatement – but I was where I wanted to be, and that was the most important thing.

I learned to turn off my Cardiff accent. I very deliberately cut ties to home. I told people I was from the West Country if they asked. I never wanted to come back to Wales. Never.

Fast forward 20 years. I’m divorced now, and after a couple of years where I actually had money, I’m broke again after some terrible decisions – very bad timing in buying and selling our married flat, which ended up with both of us divorced, in negative equity, having to bear the debt of fifteen grand each, which I am still paying off (although I’m almost completely debt free). I was technically homeless for a bit, a couple of months sofa surfing with friends until I managed to get myself back on my feet (and it really was sofa surfing – no one I know in London has a spare room). I spend most of my time drawing and illustrating, which is what I love and prefer to do but it’s not a steady job and so I do days of supply teaching around it.

It was the day I visited the Haringey food bank that I realised the cost of living in London was breaking me. Most of my friends were happily married or “consciously coupling” with children, and had moved out into north west London. Some of them are struggling too – squashed together in one bedroom flats, carrying their prams up and down the stairs. But they’re together. There’s probably little that’s as depressing as getting divorced when you’re in your early 30s. It should be the decade you’re making babies and growing a family and having widening waistlines but it doesn’t matter because you’re all together and that’s what counts.

Instead I was edging closer to 40 and worried about making rent, I was worried about being able to eat, what was I doing with my life. I was swinging in the other direction from almost everyone I knew – I was single, working jobs I hated to pay for £800 a month for a room in a communal house full of twenty somethings, with a shared bathroom that was always covered in other people’s hair, and a kitchen I’d stopped storing my food in as people openly helped themselves to whatever they wanted.

I was drinking a lot, alone. One of those days I was in the kitchen bitching about the rent – which had just been hiked by £50 a month for each of us – when my Australian housemate told me a couple of them were thinking of moving out and joining a guardianship scheme, where you get moved into empty properties to stop squatters and pay next to nothing. Did I fancy joining them?

I did, and so I did, and for the next year the worries about money eased up a little. But it’s a very unstable existence. You can be moved on from the place you’re staying whenever the landlord sells it (or decides to remove you). The places are often in a state, they may have been empty already for years, and it takes a lot to renovate a place that’s like this.

I was lucky – one of my housemates was a set designer, and very handy at building and repairing things. But I had just moved into my fourth place in 18 months when it hit me – I couldn’t keep living like this. I was exhausted, I was worried about money all the time. I was still drinking, all the time. It is a sobering (no pun intended) realisation to be a female that’s nearly 40, divorced, single, and living a life that is miserably itinerate.

I had come across James’ piece about Cardiff shortly after moving into the Tottenham residential home. It was a strange, squat building – seventeen rooms set across this weird sprawling building that only had one floor. I ended up living there for nearly eight months, during which time I started seeing a counsellor through a scheme that was training students for a nearby university, which made it a lot cheaper. And I tried to make a plan for myself.

During that time I started talking to my sister again on a more regular basis. I’m not sure why. We fell out of touch after I moved to London because I just wanted to eradicate the past from existence – it was easier to have no contact than try and renegotiate all the things that had happened every time I spoke to her. I think she understood. My sister sent me money every year after I left her house, up until I was 25 – always at Christmas, always £50. She stopped sending money the year I got married, which I told her about in a letter … after the ceremony had happened. I didn’t invite her to the wedding, which I feel guilty about to this day. She still sent me a card every Christmas, even then. I never sent her anything. I am objectively a terrible, terrible sister.

Anyway, during that time, I started thinking about moving out of London. From the second I arrived there I had never wanted to leave. But over the course of 24 years, things can change, right? I wasn’t the same person I had been when I arrived there. Sensing I was perhaps open to options, my sister suggested I come back to Cardiff to visit her for a weekend, for us maybe to spend some time together and for me to get some distance from London. I hadn’t been back for years – not since the late ’90s.

There was some big football thing on that weekend, she said, so it might be a bit busy in town, but she was looking forward to seeing me and showing me around. She booked my train tickets and emailed them to me (I’ll never really ever be able to pay her back for everything she’s ever given me, in terms of opportunity and opening doors for me).

I apprehensively boarded the train. It was the start of June, and I arrived in Cardiff to witness the hundreds of thousands of people creating a hot, crazy carnival in the city for the Champions League Final.

I think it’s fair to say that Cardiff astonished me. I’m sure the weather helped that weekend – scorching hot sunshine and blue skies – but it was more the scale of everything. That enormous stadium right in the heart of the city centre. The huge St David’s 2 shopping centre. All those high rises that seem to be exploding out of the earth all around. The Wales Millennium Centre. The BAY – and the barrage. It was a million miles away from the Cardiff I remembered – all squat buildings and bad weather and aerials pointed towards Bristol and verruca socks at the Empire Pool.

There is something tangible in memory that is beyond anything you can explain to someone about a place, however hard you try to. It’s a feeling, it’s colours, it’s a weight. Cardiff was grey and brown in my memories, and heavy, like a wool jumper soaked in cold rain. This Cardiff was somewhere entirely new, with bars and clubs and people with dyed hair, all dressed up, and a circus, and opera, and galleries. It was like the Cardiff I remembered was an entirely different place. While we walked around the stadium I struggled to remember how it had looked before with Empire pool there, even though I used to go swimming in it nearly every week.

On the Saturday of my visiting weekend we went down into the Bay, where I marvelled at the Millennium Centre, the Senedd. I don’t really remember going into Cardiff Bay as a child – it wasn’t the sort of place you’d go for a day out, like it is now. My only memory is driving through it once when I was really young … and my mum locking the car doors.

And now there were thousands of people – families, tourists, everybody – wandering around, eating ice creams. There was music blaring. We bought pints from some outdoor bar and walked around, people watching, place watching. I have never really been into sports, but Champions League was a really impressive event.

When the actual match was on we walked back through town to my sister’s house. She lives in Canton now, she has done for years – on a small side street off Cowbridge Road. It’s very old school – she knows her neighbours – everyone knows everyone on that street. Next door to her is a young family, who she sometimes babysits for in exchange for them looking after her dog. She said she had told them all about me, that I was coming to stay, and that we hadn’t seen each other in nearly 20 years. At first I found it a bit alarming, even intrusive that she would share information like that with total strangers – they’re just neighbours. My sister laughed at me when I said that to her. “I’ve spent more time with them than I ever have with you!”.

It wasn’t that that made me decide to move back, although it was a part of it. We got on better than I imagined we would. We’re quite similar, although I never would have been able to see it or admit it when I was 16. While at her house that night, we put on some Hitchcock films, ate popcorn and I idly checked rental prices in Cardiff. Just to check. If you’ve ever compared rental prices in London to Cardiff, you’ll probably be able to imagine what comes next.

I found a nice room in a shared house in Adamsdown, really near the city centre, sharing with three other girls – two Spanish girls studying postgrads at Cardiff uni and one girl from Porth who was a hairdresser. My sister persuaded me to send them a message – might as well go and have a look while you’re here, right? So I wrote some long rambling message to them on Gumtree about my situation in London, and how I probably wasn’t going to move in but would like to have a look … Sofia messaged me back and told me to come over anyway. I took the bus over there, and from the second I stepped into the house, something clicked. We had a glass of wine, and I ended up staying for dinner.

But I couldn’t do it … it seemed too drastic, too big a step. I went back to London, but within two months the management agency were in touch. The place had been sold, and was going to be knocked down so flats could be built there. We had to move. Again.

I packed up my meagre belongings – the ones that weren’t already in storage from the divorce – hired a van, and moved to Cardiff.

Unfortunately the room in Adamsdown was taken so I ended up in my sister’s spare room until Christmas, when Sofia messaged me and told me their new room mate was moving out – she was Greek and had decided eventually that Brexit would make it impossible for her to stay, and was going back to Greece. I moved into her room on New Year’s Day, and I’ve been in that house since. It feels like a whole new life, like it did when I first moved to London.

I didn’t think it would be possible to move somewhere, aged 40, and make new friends, and feel at home. It doesn’t feel like moving ‘back home’ in the sense that Cardiff never felt like home to me before. But I was so desperate to escape when I was 16, that coloured my view of everything. It’s also possible that Cardiff was fine back then. I just couldn’t see it.

Much of what remains from my childhood in Cardiff are photos my sister has now, that seem weirdly over-saturated technicolour compared with my memories. There are hardly any photos of my brother and sister, but my sister doesn’t care. She’s the archivist for our weird disintegrated family now, our historian, and she’s taken good care of these memories for me, when I probably would have burned them if I’d known they existed.

I’m glad they still exist. Me, aged about four, in some bizarre red woollen jumper that has  ‘cute’ repeatedly emblazoned across it (either to reinforce the message or set the record straight in case you saw me and thought I looked hideous), lying on a blanket in the flower gardens in Roath. This would be around 1980-something, the early 80s though, maybe ’82 or ’83. My dad has a ridiculous tash and I can’t even really describe what mum is wearing, she looks like a cross between Joan Collins and someone ready to dance around the Maypole. Other photos are from the fountains outside City Hall, me in a white dress covered in grass stains and mud, carrying water from the fountains over to some flowers I saw scorched and dying in a nearby flower bed. It is the sort of hopeless endeavour I’m attracted to that probably explains most of my relationships and the major choices I’ve made in my life.

Apart from now. This move feels a bit different. I hope I’ve approached it in a slightly less manic way. And I like Cardiff. It feels busy and buzzing. I’m impressed with Cardiff’s creative scene. There are so many co-working spaces and meet-ups and exhibitions and things going on, it’s been a very quick process to find out what’s going on and meet other illustrators, something that felt hard and intimidating in London (and often included an hour Tube ride to the other side of the city). It’s hard to describe the difference – in London there’s so much more going on, you do feel part of this huge machine – but then it can feel inaccessible, because you don’t know the right people, or that all the fun is happening somewhere else.

It’s still such early days of being back in Cardiff, I’m not sure what the future holds or whether I’ll stay here permanently. And I’m not saying there’s nothing wrong with living here – already I can see problems with inner city traffic, parking, public transport – especially compared to London.

But I’ve managed to pick up work here and it’s easier to walk or cycle to work in Cardiff then it was in London. Well it’s closer distances, although the roads could do with actual cycle lanes. And less potholes. But for the moment, I’ll take those.

Polly Thompson is an illustrator and teacher who lives in Adamsdown. Polly’s story was told to Jenny Jones. Her name was changed for this article, at her request.


Global Gardens needs your vote!

Global Gardens, a wonderful Cardiff project that supports intercultural exchange through gardening, cooking and eating, is one of five Welsh projects in the running for a share of up to £150,000 of funding.

But they need your vote! Now in its 13th year, the Big Lottery Fund, ITV Wales and The National Lottery are teaming up to give the public a chance to decide how National Lottery funding should be put to good use in their local area.

The Global Gardens Project runs weekly garden sessions at the allotment site and monthly suppers at the Embassy Café in Cardiff. If successful, this funding will help Global Gardens Project to develop the gardening and cooking activities offered and facilities on site. This includes development of a small kitchen so that dishes from the garden can be cooked on site. Their aim is to make the site more welcoming and accessible to people.  

Please take a minute to vote for this lovely project at

Fancy getting involved with their work?

The Garden also won funding from Grow Wild to to deliver a series of practical workshops and identification walks, with the aim of inspiring and educating a future generation of seed-savers and fungi enthusiasts.

The Seeds and Spores Project will start on 21 April (10.30am-4.30pm) at the Global Gardens site, with a workshop on outdoor fungi cultivation with fungi enthusiast Rich Wright.

In June, Annwen Jones (Rhizome Clinic) will be leading a workshop on a range of healing native plants found. They will also be hosting a seed-saving workshop with Green City.
There will also be opportunities to develop identification skills later this year-Rich Wright (Feed Bristol) will be leading a fungi identification walk, and Julian Woodman (Glamorgan Botanical Group) will lead a walk on native plants in the local area.

International fungi expert Prof Lynne Body will talk about the good, the bad and the ugly (in fungi terms).

The workshops and walks are free but places are limited so book a place to avoid disappointment.

Throughout the project they will be creating a zine and various artwork, and the project will culminate with an exhibition in the Global Gardens Greenhouse. So, if you are an artist who would like to get involved, they also want to hear from you!

To find out more and keep up to date with activities, follow the Global Gardens Facebook page:


Cardiff haze pop trio XYandO announce Big Top residency!

To support the release of their new single ‘Shades of You’ on May 4 – and in celebration of surpassing 32 MILLION STREAMS on Spotify alone – Cardiff haze poppers XY&O have announced a spring residency of live shows at The Big Top!

Entry to all shows is FREE, and each gig features support from different artists (including Safari Gold, Jack Ellis, Sønder Choir and rising stars Hvnter and The Dead Method).

WATCH: XY&O – Low Tide

XY&O’s Big Top residency shows are:

  • April 19th: XY&O + Safari Gold
  • May 4th: XY&O + Jack Ellis + Blue Honey DJ Set [single launch show]
  • May 17th: XY&O + Sønder Choir [semi acoustic show]
  • June 1st: XY&O + Hvnter + The Dead Method [presented in association with the Forte&Project]

We caught up Skip, Nick and Tudor for a mini interview before their residency kicks off!

Q. Where and how did the band form? Introduce all the members and maybe tell us a bit about your musical influences

Skip. We met in Cardiff, I was at University there. Me and Tudor crossed paths down at a little studio in Cardiff Bay and almost immediately decided that we should write some songs together. Our tastes are styles when it came to writing where similar, but also different enough so that we could spin off each other. He yinged, I yanged.

I knew Nick because I was recording and producing some tracks for a band he was in at the time, he was only about 16/17 and had an amazingly original style of playing guitar and writing even then. I thought it would be interesting to rope him in and see how his musicality fitted with the songs me and Tude had started.

My musical tastes are pretty broad. I can usually find something I like about a track or genre. Some of my biggest influences would be artists like Prince, John Martyn The Cure, Sting, stuff my Dad was listening too as I grew up. When I hit early teens and started finding my own music, then it was all about Jimmy Eat World, Alkaline Trio and Blink 182 for a couple of years. I like heavy music, soft music and everything in between. Atreyu to Arianna Grande.

Nick. My influences constantly change, at the minute I’m listening to a lot of electronic soul type stuff as well as artists such as Mt. Joy and Jordan Mackampa.

Tudor. My musical influences are pretty broad and always changing. I love haunting and spacey music like Daughter, RY X and Sigur Ros. I’m also a massive Coldplay fan (saw them in Cardiff for the first time not so long ago and it only confirmed my obsession). I’m currently listening to a lot of traditional Colombian music (probably due to watching all of Narcos on Netflix in three days).

Q. Where are you all from originally? How did you end up in Cardiff?

Skip. I’m originally from the valleys, a little town called Abercarn. I came to Cardiff University though so lived in the city for 3/4 years at that time.

Tudor is from Barry and Nick from Whitchurch so they’re both Cardiff boys.

Q. What are your musical memories from being younger? What made you all decide to get into making music?

Skip. Most of my musical memories just revolve around listening to it. I sang in school and stuff like that but the most vivid memories for the first times I heard certain artists. I remember listening to REM, Led Zeppelin and Sting CDs in the car with my parents. I remember the first time I heard Youth & Young Manhood by Kings of Leon and amazing records like that. I used to sing and make up songs as a kid, and I guess I just never really stopped…

Tudor. Family BBQs that went late into the night with Bob Marley albums being played back to back. I’ve always been obsessed with how music makes people feel and I suppose I wanted to be a part of that process.

Nick. Listening to Jimi Hendrix in my dad’s car was a big one, I remember being pretty mind blown that those kinds of sounds existed (especially the solos in All Along the Watchtower). I think it’s that curiosity that got me into music

Q. What are your favourite music- related spots around Cardiff – venues / shops etc?

Tudor. We’re big fans of The Full Moon, Clwb Ifor Bach, Womanby Street as a whole really. Gwdihw is a pretty cool place and The Big Top of course. That’s a great venue for intimate gigs.

We’re also looking for a New York Deli sponsorship so will give them a shout out too!

Skip. Also, Bomber’s Deli…un-related to music, but if you’re in Cardiff and it’s lunch time then you need to check that place out.

Q. Tell us about the Ten Feet Tall/Big Top residency

It’s going to be a chance for us to experiment with all of our new lights, equipment and music. Our live show has evolved massively and we’re keen to show it to people in an intimate setting. We’re using the gigs to try out new songs, experiment with arrangements and just generally play some fun local shows because we haven’t really played in the city that much. We’ve made all the gigs free entry because we’d rather people just come and enjoy, critique or just listen to our new music

Q. What’s been the best gig you’ve played to date?

We actually played at Glastonbury 2016 on the BBC Introducing Stage. It was obviously pretty amazing so that always ranks highly. It was only out 10th gig as a band so very strange and looking back on it, it almost feels like a different band. Our live set up then was very different to what it is now. We played an amazing gig at The Phoenix in Exeter in the run-up to Glastonbury. It was a BBC show at a big sold out theater and the crowd were amazingly receptive to us.

Q. What are your plans and hopes for the future?

Our new single ‘Shades of You’ is scheduled to come out on May 4th so we’re excited for that. We’re shooting the music video for it next week actually.
We’ve just been picked up by the live agents Primary Talent so we’re keen to get out playing live much more. We’re hoping to use the residency to fine tune our live set too.

Tudor. We want to go over to the US and play for all the Americans that have been streaming our music for the last two years!

XY&O is the creative amalgamation of songwriters Skip Curtis, Nick Kelly and Tudor Davies.

It began in early 2015 – Skip (from the Valleys) and Tudor (from Cardiff) began writing music and songs with the intention of pitching them to other artists to use. Skip quickly roped in another Cardiff native Nick Kelly in hopes of bringing another dimension to the music. After posting some early demos online under the moniker ‘XY&O’ the trio started seeing their play count rise. They started receiving airplay on US Radio stations as well as gig offers from US promoters, some of whom assumed the band were from Cardiff, San Diego.

Early on, the boys wrote what would become ‘Low Tide’ – bringing with it the genesis of their unique style, coined by Skip as haze pop. ‘Low Tide’ was self-released and went straight into Spotify’s Global Viral Chart at number 7, reaching an audience worldwide, but was particularly well received in the US. The track has since gone on to accumulate over 20 million streams. The trio gained huge popularity on all online platforms, it was at this point the three had discovered that XY&O had somewhat unintentionally become a band.

The band slowed things down the second half of 2016 and early 2017, allowing Nick to finish his final year studies at University but have now re-focused their efforts into their live show and have recently been taken on by live agents Primary Talent. The boy’s story was picked up by the Wales Online in late 2017 which led to them being featured live on the ITV News at 6pm talking about their unusual story of being a little known Welsh band with an audience in the USA.

They hope to expand their live following over 2018 as well as release plenty of new music. New single ‘Shades of You’ is set for release on May 4th, 2018.


Setting challenging times for Velindre – a Greek running story, as told by Gwydion Griffiths

There are some avid runners amongst the We Are Cardiff volunteers, so we are delighted to welcome Gwydion Griffiths on to the blog this week. He ran the Athens Half Marathon, and while he might not be sure why he did it, he’s helped raise thousands for Velindre.

The day of the race had come. I had arrived to run the Athens half marathon and I was nervous, excited and apprehensive. I’d never run a half marathon before. Then the questions started. What if I don’t finish? What if I finish last? Does eating too many bananas give you the runs? I got to the starting point, regretting my decision to sign up for this. Looking around, everyone was lean, toned and fit. I was gutted; fortyish, fatish, unfit. I toyed with the idea of taking a few photos of myself with them, spending the morning at McDonald’s, and then picking up my medal after a few hours.

Why had I thought it would be a good idea??

I’ve been raising money for Velindre for years now. Cancer will affect one in two people born after 1960, and that’s sobering statistic. My relationship with Velindre stretches back decades. Just under thirty years ago, when I was studying for my GCSEs, my father was diagnosed with cancer.  Although a little too young at the time to fully understand the implications, I remember being devastated.  However, he received superb care from Velindre and lived to see me, and my siblings, Angharad and Iestyn, pass our exams, go to university and get good(ish) jobs. The cancer returned 12 years later, and this time he lost the fight.

It was a gut wrenching blow to our family, and our mother would be alone in north Wales. She’d made some good friends up there and we visited as often as possible, but she had lost her husband and we had lost our father. Then, three years ago, our mother was diagnosed with cancer. It was another crushing blow. We arranged for her to move to Cardiff to be near her children and receive fantastic care and treatment at Velindre and Marie Curie. She lived to enjoy a nice holiday in Italy, a country that she loved, with me, and spent some quality time with her young grandchildren.

And then 2017 happened. My wife was made redundant in February, my mother passed away in May, after her cancer returned, and then my mother-in-law passed away in August after being diagnosed with cancer. It was a horrible year for us.

Out of adversity, I wanted some good to come, and that’s why I set my Velindre fundraising and running challenge. So, maybe that’s why I ran the Athens Half Marathon – to remember my parents and raise some money for a fantastic cause.

Last summer, I had joined Canton Chargers and Skills running club, who run from Café Castan on Monday nights. Their advice, training and support proved inspirational. I’d also made a new friend, Andy Kreppel, who, despite being a devout Swansea City supporter, became my running partner. Off we’d go every weekend, running up the Taff Trail towards Castell Coch, or down to Cardiff Bay, enjoying chats about football, rugby, work and how much we hated running. One low point was running from Pontcanna to Penarth, about six miles, when it was chucking it down with rain. I was drenched.

Then came the heavy snow. I was miles behind on my training and needed to run. ‘It’s clearing up Andy. Do you fancy it?’ ’No’. He’d cried off like a big baby. So, off I went by myself, running through the snow like Sylvester Stallone about to take on Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV, but a much less lean and ripped version. The training was done and I was ready. Of course, a special mention must be given to my wonderful wife who gave me time to go out training and her heartfelt words of encouragement. ‘I bet you feel all pious now, running around Cardiff like you’re bloody Mo Farah’ was a particular favourite.

But running around Cardiff isn’t quite the same as doing a half marathon race in Athens. And that was where I found myself, at the front of the race, surrounded by super fit looking athletes. I did what any sensible first-time half marathon runner would do: I went to the back, where I hoped all the slowest people would be. The headphones went in and I started listening to Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds, Live in Las Vegas. This would put me in the right mood; upbeat, with a fast tempo. I started feeling a little bit better.

Then the tap on the shoulder came. I was busted. I turned around and a very nice Greek racing steward pointed me in a different direction. ‘I think you are in the wrong place. Your number is blue and you need to be with them’. I don’t speak any Greek and assumed that something had been lost in translation on my registration form. I was placed at the front with people who looked to me like elite athletes. I tried to think of something to comfort myself with. I failed to find anything.

To my left, a man had his ankle on top of a metre-high barrier, stretching. I thought, if I did that I’m going to do some serious damage to my groin. I looked to my right. Another man was wearing what can only be described as a hunting vest. However, instead of bullets and cartridges, he had drinks, gels and sun cream in each compartment. He also had that tape on his legs that is supposed to be good for your muscles. All the gear! I had rocked up in Cardiff Blues shorts, a Velindre t-shirt and my old trainers. And then the race started.

As we passed the starting line, I remember thinking to myself, ‘only another 13 more miles to go’. Within the first mile, I was overtaken by hundreds, if not thousands, of runners. I didn’t mind. I hadn’t set my Strava App deliberately. I didn’t want to know how slow I was going—it’s not a sprint, it’s a half marathon, was my motto.

Then, at about two miles, the noise! There were huge speakers blaring out techno music. Bang. Bang. Bang. If I was in a nightclub it would have been amazing. But I wasn’t. I was running 13 miles around the Greek capital city, and I needed to focus. Then, at about four miles, the African drums came, spurring me on. Boom, boom, boom to the beat of my feet; every stride taking me closer to my goal.

I plodded around for what seemed like ages, and then I saw it, like an oasis in the distance. The finishing line. Off I went, foot down on the gas. Give it my all; don’t save anything for the swim back. I saw the clock — I’d smashed it. About 60 minutes off my target time. I’d nailed it! Unbelievable. And it was. ‘Bravissimo, bravissimo, one more lap to go’ shouted the nice Greek racing steward as I approached.

I was gutted. I was halfway. So, off I went again. ‘Tough times don’t last but tough people do,’ ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going’ and other such clichés raced through my head.

Round the corner, up the hill, down the hill, up another hill, down another hill. Bang, bang, bang Dalek music. Boom, boom, boom African drums. Past the collapsed Corinthian columns of the ancient temple and the old Olympic stadium.  Then, with a mile to go, in went the headphones again. Big Black – Kerosene. Nothing like some classic ‘80s Californian Anarcho punk to drive me to the finishing line.

I did it. I’d completed my first half marathon, in Athens, the birthplace of politics, philosophy, democracy and drama. The birthplace of the Olympics. A city I’d always wanted to visit since seeing photos of the Acropolis as a child.  The race itself took just under three hours (it was hilly) but the journey and all the training had taken about nine months.

None of this would have been possible without the support of the incredible Andrew Morris and Kylie McKee, and the amazing team at Velindre Cancer Research based in Cardiff. A charity that does fantastic work and is close to my heart.

About two years ago, I came up with a simple idea that I hoped would raise thousands of pounds for Velindre. Like most good ideas, it was born in a pub. I’d gone to watch Cardiff Blues record another rousing victory at the Arms Park and went for a few beers with two mates afterwards. I explained to James and Illtud that there were about 660,000 schoolchildren in Wales. If I could get them all to wear red and donate £1, that would raise a lot of money. They thought I was nuts. Undaunted, I ploughed on. I’d worked out that if 10 per cent of the schools took part, that would raise £66,000 and one per cent would raise £6,600. And thus, Wear Red for Wales and Velindre was born.

I trialled it during the glorious Euro 2016, asking 13 friends if their kids’ schools would ‘Wear Red for Wales and Velindre’ when Wales took on England on that sunny Thursday afternoon. All the schools agreed and we raised £3,500. Then I took the idea to Velindre. They liked it, and in 2017, through Velindre’s hard work, about 80 schools and companies took part and raised £20,000.

In 2018, on the eve of the first Six Nation match, Velindre had received 344 registration forms: 185 from schools, 139 from companies and organisations such as the Welsh Government, and 20 from individuals. They all took part in Wear Red for Wales and Velindre 2018. Each person had donated £1 – and we just heard the total amount raised is now in excess of £100,000!

Next year’s date for Wear Red for Wales and Velindre has been set for Friday 1st of February 2019, when Wales open the Six Nations, taking on France in Paris. It’s easy to take part, just get your work, school, university, club, gym class, pub, choir, or whatever, to Wear Red and donate £1 per person. You make the difference. Please donate at Velindre’s website.

Gwydion Griffiths, lives in Pontcanna, Cardiff with his wife, eight-year-old daughter and two cats. Having previously worked for S4C and Cardiff Blues, he now works in Business Marketing for the Welsh Government. A season ticket holder at Glamorgan Cricket, Cardiff Blues and Wales football he can be spotted plodding around Llandaff Fields and is thinking of participating in another fundraising race.


Introducing TEDxCanton: the tiny event with BIG ideas

On Saturday 19 May, a specially curated event will bring inspirational speakers and performers to the heart of Canton to share exciting new ideas and discussion.

Speakers include a firefighter who changed the way emergency services make decisions, and a man who believes trees can solve social problems. The talks aim to challenge, inspire and motivate the audience, and give them ideas to improve their lives and the world they live in.

Only 30 tickets will be available for the main event in local micropub St Canna’s, and there will be a viewing party down the road in the Printhaus with some extra community-led events. The talks will also be streamed online.

Event organiser James Karran said:

I opened St Canna’s to help create a place where people could meet, talk and drink great beer. Running an event licensed by the world-famous TED conferences is a fantastic way of bringing new ideas to our little community.

The three organisers and our team of volunteers have worked really hard to find the most inspiring speakers and amazing performers, and we can’t wait to reveal our full plans for the afternoon’s event!

Tickets will be released at midday on Tuesday 3 April. The price is £15, which includes four talks, two performances, two videos, a goody bag and a snack. Follow @tedx_canton for updates on ticket sales, speaker announcements and more exciting news!

About us

TEDxCanton is being organised by James, Hannah and Sara.

James Karran 
is the owner of St Canna’s and the holder of the TEDx license. He is a Baptist minister with a history of arranging unusual events, once running a ‘pub church’ project around Cardiff city centre. He opened St Canna’s in April 2017 with the intention of creating a space for the local community to meet, chat and drink great beer.

Hannah Johnson co-runs We Are Cardiff, an award winning volunteer-run blog that celebrates Cardiff’s alternative culture, arts scene and diverse communities. In her day job she’s a parliamentary researcher specialising in equality, human rights and poverty. She also writes for a human rights public education project, and works as a consultant for the UN Development Programme.

Sara Williams has managed corporate partnerships between businesses and the third sector for six years. She is incredibly passionate about bring local community and businesses together, and has led on sponsorship for the TEDxCanton.

About TEDx

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organised events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.

At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organised events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organised TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organised.


TEDxCanton is kindly supported by the Waterloo Foundation, and sponsored by a range of very generous local businesses and organisations:

Notes for editors

For more information about the event, contact

About TED
TED is a nonprofit organisation devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or fewer) delivered by today’s leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED’s annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, and made available, free, on TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

TED’s open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from thousands of volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed; the annual million-dollar TED Prize, which funds exceptional individuals with a “wish,” or idea, to create change in the world; TEDx, which provides licenses to thousands of individuals and groups who host local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Follow TED on Twitter at, on Facebook at or Instagram at