This instalment of Letters from Cardiff in lockdown is from a person who’s very special to us, and has chosen to share their lockdown experience. If their story hits home with you, there are people that can help.
Lockdown liberation – a complete contradiction in terms, right? No. Apparently not. At least not for me.
Nine years ago I got married. The usual fairytale stuff – or so I thought. Like so many relationships, the outer perception was far brighter than the inner reality. What appeared happy, loving and ’successful’ was unhealthy, coercive, and lonely. Really lonely.
I lived life on pins for 18 months, lying to those closest to me. If the truth be told, I was lying to myself too. The delusional “it will all be fine if I work hard enough to help him change“. The crippling “why was I too stupid not to have seen this earlier?”. The poisonous “it’s probably my fault anyway”.
But one day something happened. I don’t really know what exactly. I just broke. I broke and I left it all behind. I had £20 to my name, packed a rucksack I still had from school, and went home to my Mam and Dad. And then I cried. I cried for my 20s; I cried for the home I thought I’d created here in Cardiff; and I cried for the family I’d hoped he and I would create and raise together.
Seven years on, in these strange lockdown times, I’m still on my own. Turns out that the bit of me that deals with anything beyond platonic relationships has proved to be stubbornly unfixable. The thought of a relationship is petrifying – what if I pick another bad egg? What if, despite repeated attempts by friends, family and therapy to convince me otherwise, it turns out that he was right, and I was the disaster after all?
It’s paralysed any attempts to move on in THAT domain for years. Any glimmer of interest striking the fear of God into me, followed swiftly by a “well I’m not going to do anything about that because imagine the utter shame of showing an interest in someone only to find them avoiding you like the plague once they work it out”.
But then lockdown arrived. And everyone is quite literally avoiding each other like the plague. And there’s time to talk to people, to let things grow. To avoid the crippling horror that overcomes you when you imagine bumping into someone the day after you may have suggested the most tentative of interests in getting to know them a little better; or worse still, imagining having to explain the sorry story of a pretty abusive relationship in person at some point.
And guess what? Lockdown has been liberating. It’s freed me to show the most tentative of interests. To strike up a conversation I’ve been too petrified to even contemplate in Real Life, on The Outside. And I’ve felt excited at the prospect of WhatsApp pinging, in a way that I thought had died long ago when the apparently unfixable bit got broken.
So yes, lockdown is almost entirely grim. It’s succeeding in exposing all the gaps I’d tried to fill with other people and other things, and has made life resemble a bit of a leaky colander for the time being.
But leaky colanders let mucky water escape, and while I feel a bit ridiculous admitting that it’s taken a global pandemic for it to happen, it’s probably about time for the mucky water to be flushed out.
Running a business as a designer, maker, independent gallery or shop is really hard in any economic climate, but especially this one. The Just A Card campaign encourages people to support these creative enterprises by buying anything, however small- even ‘just a card’. The wonderful Charlotte from our favourite creative business Twin Made has written a quick round-up of Cardiff’s local creatives and their ‘Just a Card’ items.
Twin Made is a creative workshop that and sells crafts, supplies, clothing homeware and lots more.
Just A Card item: We have a range of postcards, which are scans of our original embroideries. These are just £1 each or 5 for £3. We do a happy dance everytime we sell something, however small!
Home by Kirsty is in a small but perfectly formed coach house in Roath. The shop brings you homeware by leading British and Welsh designer-makers who share a clean, contemporary aesthetic. From Tom Pigeon prints too Buddy & Bear’s amazing kids tableware.
I opened in 2014 in Cardiff City Centre, last summer I shock the businesses up due to massive over heads + changing shopping habits in Cardiff City Centre and relocating to the coach house in Roath. I run the business on my own being the shop assistant, visual merchandiser, Social Media the list is endless…. BUT I love it!! Shop in store (Thurs- Sat 10-6) + online.
We are a weigh and pay kilo store with branded concessions and also a functioning gallery and workshop space that we use for hosting events. Our goal is to offer accessible, sustainable and stylish clothing and accessories that we have carefully selected from all over the world.
Just A Card item: Any of our lightweight items… a blouse, t-shirt, hat or belt! They’re around £3 each!
Where to buy: Capitol Shopping Centre, Cardiff
I design and make interior items for children’s rooms. I’m a textile designer/illustrator/ printmaker – lots of different things! I love creating illustrations I can make into cushions and art prints alike. All a bit cute and a bit quirky generally with lots of colour!
Just A Card item: I make cards with some of my favourite illustrations including this ‘go get em tiger’ design(£9), which is one of my favourites.
You might have spotted the super exciting Kickstarter campaign for a new zero-waste store in Cardiff called ripple. As you know, we LOVE small actions that turn into big changes. So today, Sophie Rae – the kick-ass woman behind the idea – tells us all about her amazing concept…
Ripple, Cardiff’s first not-for-profit zero-waste store, has launched a Kickstarter to bring the shop to the city in time for a new wave of conscious consumers.
Inspired by the independent community of Cardiff, ripple founder and Cardiff native, Sophie Rae, launched the crowd funding campaign on 16th July at fellow not-for-profit business Big Mooose Coffee.
Pledgers have shown their support in vast numbers, with the campaign reaching 25% of its target within 72 hours! Here’s why you should back the project too:
So, what’s ripple about?
It’s simple really. Ripple is all about conscious consuming; from food to fashion choices. We think everyone deserves the chance to shop more ethically. When one person makes a change, everyone else pays attention, because ripples create waves. That, and you know… plastic.
What’s wrong with plastic?
Don’t misunderstand us, we’re not anti-plastic. It’s a material that’s saving lives and has a much-needed purpose worldwide.
But single-use plastics? Yeah, they suck. BIG TIME. Plastic bags, water bottles, coffee cups, straws, packaging, wet wipes, sanitary products… the list is endless and it’s getting longer.
The ugly truth
By 2050, it’s estimated there will be more plastic than fish, in our world ocean. Studies estimate that 8 million tonnes of plastic waste is dumped into the ocean each year and by 2025, that’s set to double.
Worried yet? Us too. Plastic packaging accounts for an eye-watering fifth of the cost of your weekly shop. What if you could shop package free? Well, we’d all be saving a lot of money and precious resources.
So what is a zero-waste store?
To help the people of Cardiff pass on plastic, ripple will offer over 120 bulk wholefoods and encourage customers to bring their own containers, jars, tubs and bags to refill every time they shop. And because the team believe in treating every creature with kindness, they’ll be be stocking the best natural and cruelty-free home and beauty products too, from eco laundry detergent to shampoo, soap and washing-up liquid.
There’s even going to be some sustainable homeware and ethical fashion thrown in for good measure. Think bamboo socks and organic cotton underwear!
Sophie tell us:
I watched Blue Planet II in 2017 and was deeply shocked to see the devastating harm humans are having on our planet. Since then, I’ve felt pretty ethically queasy. My zero-waste journey started not long after, I’ve been making small changes to help lighten my personal plastic footprint.
The campaign is helping create sustainable foundations for ripple, so our impact can be bigger and bolder than we could have ever imagined on our own. It really is a community project, led by the people of the city.
I hope ripple will change the way Cardiff consumes, so that we can turn Wales’ capital into a true green city. That’s what ripple is all about:making small, sustainable changes to help create a bigger impact.
Ripple’s Kickstarter campaign will close at 11:59pm on Sunday 29th July, when the target of £30,000 must be reached or no funding will be released.
To help entice supporters to pledge, ripple has collaborated with local independent businesses to offer rewards,including zero-waste starter kits, Hot Pod Yoga class passes and ethical accessories from Cardiff-based fashion brand Maykher.
On a hot and sticky Saturday afternoon in May, the very first TEDxCanton event was held in our favourite micro-pub, St Canna’s! A tiny, very special audience attended the main event, and more watched through the day from the viewing party in the Printhaus, and even more caught the Facebook Live stream!
We had SUCH an amazing day listening to incredible speakers with fascinating ideas. We also drank (a lot) of Pipe’s special ‘From Acorns’ IPA (inspirational pale ale…), ate delectable smoked aubergine canapes made from food waste, and were captivated by beautiful music.
And even on the day of the Royal Wedding AND the FA Cup Final, TEDxCanton was trending in Cardiff on Twitter! Over 600 people watched the live stream on Facebook too.
This week, TEDx have uploaded the talks to YouTube. Here’s a round-up of all the speakers so you can re-live the day all over again!
Sabrina Cohen-Hatton: Ordinary people who do extraordinary things
How do firefighters make decisions in emergency situations? Sabrina explores who protects the protectors, and how our brains work in high stress situations.
“Firefighters are the last thing standing between a dying breath and another day…. Whose job is it to prioritise firefighters’ safety, so they can prioritise yours?”
Did you know that trees in urban areas can improve child development, reduce violence and boost house prices? John tells us about ‘nature’s air-conditioners’, and why we shouldn’t take them for granted.
The benefits of trees to human health are massive. Pregnant women who spend time close to green infrastructure have bigger, healthier babies. Children exposed to green infrastructure at a young age show less signs of allergies. Patients in hospitals recover more quickly and are discharged faster if they have a view over green infrastructure than a hard landscape or no view at all.
Follow the London Tree Officers Association @LTOA33
Josh Doughty: From west Wales to west Africa
The kora is a 21-string lute-bridge-harp used extensively in West Africa, which Josh learned to play under the Master player Toumani Diabate. Hear his beautiful music and listen to the extraordinary story of how he came to play the instrument.
One of the rules of the kora is that you don’t play it at night by yourself, because the spirits come and listen and corrupt your soul. But if you don’t fear the spirits and you listen to them, they have things to teach you.
Becca Clark and Lia Moutselou: How we turned a city’s food waste into a supper club
How much food do you put in the bin? 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.
Our Wasteless Suppers are a collaborative platform of local food businesses to create a food surplus feast. We collect food surplus and our chefs create beautiful dishes from food that otherwise would have been wasted.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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, 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.
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.
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 Projectwill 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!
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!
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.
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:
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, onTED.com. 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 includeTED.com, 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 initiativeTED-Ed; the annual million-dollarTED 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 theTED Fellowsprogram, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.
Have you ever wanted to learn to make your own clothes? Do you want to embroider swear words or cross stitch your wifi password? Fancy making gorgeous, unique home furnishings?
Well, we have found the woman for you. Twin Made (aka Charlotte) is quickly becoming our favourite creative micro-business in Cardiff. Operating out of a shipping container at the Bone Yard in Canton, she runs INCREDIBLE creative workshops to help you make anything from retro skirts to lampshades – no experience (or common sense, in our case) necessary. T
We were lucky enough to experience her circle skirt workshop this weekend and were so impressed that we asked her to tell us a little bit about her recent journey from secondary school teacher to full time creative queen!
Hi, I’m Charlotte. I have just left my day job to see if I can make my craft business in Cardiff into my full time job! Current feelings: scared, excited, worried, elated, overwhelmed, underwhelmed, a whole mixed bag of emotions!
I am the Boss Lady at Twin Made. I often rope my husband in – have two colourful creative containers at The Bone Yard in Cardiff, slightly hidden but conveniently located in the heart of Canton. We run creative workshops, sell craft supplies, and rent sewing equipment.
It all started about 13 years ago, when doing a standard 9-5 job in a library. I got royally dumped by someone I thought, but definitely was not, THE ONE; he just happened to be the one who was still in the pub at the end of the night. About a month after our split, when he was off with his new fiancee,, I decided that I really needed to get a hobby that wasn’t just drinking two bottles of wine for a fiver ( or at least something I could do while drinking this admittedly questionable wine).
I had always been creative and had been to art college. I moved to Cardiff because I loved the band Mclusky, but also to study Graphic Communication at what was then UWIC. I dusted off my art supplies and started painting and knitting and making all manner of creations. My bedroom in a crappy shared house, in Roath, soon became the creative haven for a business I proudly called Boozy Floozy Designs. I would sell my makes on Etsy and Folksy and at local markets.t was great fun and I got to meet lots of Creative Cardiff types. Later on my twin sister Kathryn got involved and we rebranded and relaunched as Twin Made.
About five years ago I did a Design Technology PGCE at the Cardiff Met and became a qualified teacher. This was a really steep learning curve but I realised I was able to transfer my skills in a more creative way and at weekends I began to run workshops in Cardiff and London with my twin sister, teaching people how to create lampshades and embroidery.
During this time I met my now husband (out mutual likes were gin and embroidery). He was my dream man *insert emoji heart eyes* and he encouraged me to go ahead and find a more permanent home for Twin Made. And so it was that two years ago we moved in to the Bone Yard and set up a colourful new home.
We run a wide range of creative workshops, such as lampshade making, modern embroidery, macrame and our very popular dungaree dress class. All our workshops are designed so that in 2-3 hours you can come to Twin Made, learn a new craft, and create an item to take home having gained the confidence to make more. The workshops are always very creative, relaxed, and are a great opportunity for people to forget their worries and, without too many distractions, engage in a new skill or refresh an old hobby. We also host craft parties, one-to-one sessions, and corporate events.
This year we are looking to increase our craft supplies and our range of equipment hire, as well as teaming up with lots of local makers to create more excellent workshops. I love reusing any leftover fabrics and am currently working on a exciting range of colourful collars and capes, all created from leftover textiles from our workshops.
In short, then: come and visit us in our colourful containers, support your local creatives, and even if you buy just a card we really appreciate it all. I’m looking forward to making Twin Made bigger, brighter, and giving it my all as my full time job!
Give us a follow to see what we are up to next! You can find us on Twitter, or if there’s something in particular you’d like to make/do email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Hold on to your pants, one of our favourite Cardiff bands (who played at our book launch back in 2015) are dropping their debut album this week as a Christmas gift to you all! Here’s Robin from the Jutes to take you through the album track by track, along with a video (made by our very own Jameso) and some gorgeous album art….
A scene-setter rather than a first song, really, this was an instrumental guitar piece I’d had knocking around for a while that we quickly jammed and recorded in the studio. We recorded all of the basic tracks for this EP in one hectic day in the Music Box this spring – live as bass, drums and guitar, and pretty much in the same sequence as the track-listing.
Sadly Dan – our bassist – couldn’t make it, so Adam deputised on bass as well engineering/producing with his brother Paul. Adam was a complete monster – playing all these songs for the first time on the day we recorded them. I imagined this as the soundtrack to a shot of a car driving towards the vanishing point in the American mid-west at sunset. Not sure that explains the frog noises.
Track 2: Light a match
An attempt at a punchy, crowd-pleasing first proper song, we tried to channel Yo La Tengo and the Lemonheads, with hopefully some Real Estate guitar on the chorus. It’s one of only two songs on the EP about anything – distracting yourself from existential boredom by chit-chat and getting drunk. I tried to go full J Mascis with the guitar solo, but perhaps mustered up a slightly virile Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub.
Track 3: Dear Susan
I really love Orange Juice (Edwyn Collin’s early-’80s fusion of the Byrds, Chic and fey Scottish teenagers with plastic sandals and fringes like Roger McGuinn) and this is intended as a straight-up homage.
The first line (“Evidently my dear Susan”) seemed like the sort of comically overblown thing Edwyn Collins would sing, though I couldn’t quite manage the voice – which Alexis Petridis described as like “a tipsy man launching into an after-dinner speech with his mouth still full of port and walnuts”. The lyrics are an aggressive take-down of religious extremism, which should hopefully sort a few things out.
Track 4: Gallic Way
When I formed the band I basically wanted us to be Pavement, but we could never manage their nonchalant slacker charm. Sounding like you don’t care and still being good is really hard! This is probably as close as we got. I think Neil nailed the drums, which sound like someone very drunk falling down the stairs holding a pint and somehow not spilling a drop.
The lyrics are fairly Malkmus-pastiching, but those are the sort of lyrics I like – a collection of (hopefully) striking images and phrases rather than a coherent narrative. No-one listens to lyrics beyond the first verse and the chorus anyway. The chorus refers to a traumatic haircut I once received where the hairdresser maintained eye-contact with me – in the mirror – throughout, seemingly never once looking at my hair/head, and relying on some sort of echo-location to avoid cutting my ears.
Track 5: Persian Regret
The name for this song is taken from the Jutes range of hard-wearing interior paints. The concept (for the song rather than the paint range), is that you (YOU) have just stepped out of a taxi in down-town Addis Ababa and into a club where this music is playing. Full disclosure: I’ve never been to Addis Ababa or listened to any Ethiopian music. Paul made some throat-noises, as this is what he presumes happens in Addis Ababian nightclubs.
Track 6: Borderline
This starts as a charming tale of love thriving in the tedium of low-level espionage, but quickly resolves into gibberish. Quite an unorthodox pronunciation of “archipelago”, but I’m sure Mick Jagger has done worse. After a straight-up American 90s college-rock first half we tried to seamlessly weld a 70s psych-rock outro onto the back like a backstreet mechanic. I enjoyed trying to play guitar like Neil Young, anyway.
Track 7: Plane
Another contender for most-Pavementy-song (an attempt to channel Here from Slanted and Enchanted), this was the first song we wrote as a band, and the last one we recorded. Despite playing it for over two years, 6 songs into the session I experienced some sort of studio-induced dementia and had to do star-jumps in the car park until I could remember how to play it again. Paul (producer and long-time friend and collaborator) reminds me that this is the second time I’ve used the line “sold up and moved to Tibet” in a song, which could tell you something (I’ll plagiarise anything: including myself).
I’m glad there’s some funny guitar halfway through. For me, the worst thing that’s happened in music in the last 20 years is the dominance of self-obsessed earnestness – in indie music and X-factor pop. When people talk to each other, they constantly use irony and humour, but when they pick up a guitar or a microphone they so often rely on po-faced seriousness. Whatever happened to Chuck Berry singing about his ding-a-ling?
The Jutes are:
Robin Wilkinson: guitars, vocals, songs, arrangements Neil Williams: drums, arrangements Adam Rustidge: bass, keys, percussion, production, engineering, mixing Dan Holloway: bass inspiration, arrangements Paul Rustidge: production, engineering, mixing, head of logistics
Recorded at Music Box, Cardiff
Mastered by Charlie Francis at Synergy Mastering
How exciting is this! The brand new Welsh Cheese Company (run by a founding member of the awesome Barry Horns) is launching on Monday! They’ll be selling the very best artisan Welsh cheeses online through their website, working directly with 12 cheese producers, and stocking over 50 cheeses. They’re also doing a subscription service called Clwb Caws and a range of hampers and gift boxes – just in time for Christmas!
Cardiff-based musician Tom Pinder – who plays the sousaphone in Welsh Supporters’ band The Barry Horns and the trombone for world famous performers such as Paolo Nutini – is about to embark on a new adventure after founding The Welsh Cheese Company, an online retailer selling the very best Welsh cheeses. You can check out the produce at www.welshcheesecompany.co.uk, or on Twitter @welshcheeseco.
WHY CHEESE, TOM?
Tom decided to create the company when he realised Welsh cheese doesn’t always get the attention it deserves:
“Over recent years I’ve been getting more and more interested in the sourcing and the quality of the food I eat, and as a non meat-eater I’ve been particularly interested in the dairy side of my diet.
I’ve been eating a wide range of amazing Welsh cheeses from the delis in Cardiff, and local farmers’ markets, but I was frustrated that I couldn’t get all of the Welsh cheeses I’d come to love from one supplier, so I thought I’d do something about that and start a business that would bring together cheese from my 11 or 12 favourite Welsh cheese producers in one place.”
Since founding The Welsh Cheese Company, Tom has enjoyed getting to know the producers behind his favourite varieties. He is now keen to introduce more people all over the UK to these cheeses.
“The producers are so passionate about the cheeses they make, but Welsh cheese often seems to be a bit overlooked somehow. Some of the English cheesemakers are great at publicising themselves, and promoting themselves online, but some in Wales don’t seem to be as well known, despite often being even more critically acclaimed than their English counterparts.”
One of the most important parts of The Welsh Cheese Company’s mission is to tell people the story behind the cheeses it is selling. The website will have lots of information about all of its cheesemakers, and the farms that each cheese comes from:
“We’re working directly with producers, and buying direct from the farm, so we’ll be able to get cheese to the customers in the best possible condition.”
Tom isn’t stopping at cheeses, either: The Welsh Cheese Company will offer a glorious selection of other Welsh produce to compliment its cheeses:
“We’ll be offering a range of hampers and gift boxes, all full over the very best Welsh artisan food and drinks, to suit every budget. From gin to chutney, and from beer to chocolate, there will be something for everyone!”
Meet Tom Pinder, he’s great
The Welsh Cheese Company’s founder Tom Pinder is well known in Wales as a founding member of the Welsh football team’s official supporters’ band, The Barry Horns, but his career in music has taken him on many other adventures, including travelling the world with acclaimed Scottish singer-songwriter Paolo Nutini.
“It’s taken me all around the world,” he says. “The tour of the last Paolo album took us to New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, the USA several times, and most countries in Europe. Our last tour was to South America just a few months ago.” He plans to continue performing with Paolo as much as possible, as well as continuing to play with the Barry Horns at Welsh international football matches too.
“The Barry Horns has been a big part of my life over the past 7 or so years. When we started the band it was just a small group of close friends who had played in Cardiff bands together for years, but it’s grown and grown and been an amazing experience. The Euro finals in France last year were absolutely incredible.”
Tom has been working primarily as a musician ever since finishing his music degree at Cardiff University in 2002.
“During university I was in a couple of bands, and when I graduated I moved into a two bed house with the six other members of one of the bands, and we toured round Europe and the UK for a few years. In 2006 that band came to and end, and I decided I should try to get a proper job. I worked briefly in public affairs in the Bay, and then more music opportunities came along, so I started touring with Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, and then with Paolo Nutini, and that’s been my main job since then really.”
Alongside the touring, Tom also set up a music rehearsal studios business in Cardiff around six years ago, called the Cardiff Arches. That’s still going strong and has been his main preoccupation when he’s not touring. With the new cheese business taking off he will be handing over the running over the studios to colleagues.
“I’m very excited about The Welsh Cheese Company and it’s refreshing to be doing something outside of music – although I remain as passionate about music as ever, and will always continue to play in bands,” he says.
UPDATED 31st AUGUST! While one half of We Are Cardiff is a proud Cardiff Bay-er, the other half lives in Canton. As Cardiff is so small, we always take it for granted that everyone knows all the nice places to eat and drink. But we met someone the other day who didn’t know Canton beyond Chapter, so we thought we’d do a little round of our favourite spots in Canton (and slightly beyond) that you may not know about.
We’re assuming here that everyone knows the well-established big hitters of Chapter, Bangkok Cafe, Calabrisella, Ichiban, Got Beef, Kimchi, Chai Street, Time and Beef and The Lansdowne. Have we missed any off this list?
This place has quickly become our new local since it opened in April. Run by the lovely James, he keeps us busy between free beer Fridays, delicious local ale, food popups from the likes of Pettigrew Bakery, Bearded Tacos and Great Eggspectations, pianos, games, dogs, babies, artwork and general warm, friendly lovely amazingness. We have SO MUCH love for this tiny micropub! (photos from @stcannas/@sarahchew1/ @pettigrewbakes)
Hidden away beside a mobile phone shop opposite Peacocks, we stumbled upon this place after moving to Canton. For £25 a month (no contract), you get access to a super friendly gym (run by the wonderful Mered), with a great selection of weights and cardio equipment and a fantastic selection of classes (no extra cost). From fitness pilates to to circuits, they also run socials and competitions. AND Mered let me rig my trapeze in the studio! What a hero.
It’s easy to miss Vivo Latino at the city end of Cowbridge Road, but it’s a great spot for big groups or a quick cocktail. When it first opened, we decided that their nachos are THE BEST in Cardiff. The staff are super lovely, the decor is cool and the drinks are great.
This place is a three-in-one: brewery, bottle shop and bar! The CD boyz make their own beer in Canton (I’m reliable informed it’s cracking stuff, especially the Mikey Rayer) the bar has a great atmosphere and they now have a big screen and Sky Sports out the back for SPORTZ. (photo from @craftdevilbrew)
Again, another hidden gem! If you wander through the Printhaus gate on Llandaff Road of an evening, you’ll find this oasis of tasty food and booze. Since they moved here about a year ago, it’s hard to get a table in the semi-outdoor restuarant. The pizzas are spectacular, with adventurous combinations and perfect dough. The environment is so special, and the staff are banging too.
Speaking of Printhaus, we couldn’t miss those guys off our list. Printhaus is an independent creative community based in Cardiff, offering artists’ studios, screenprinting workshops and event space. We’ve all taken workshops here, from bookbinding to screenprinting, and their frequent artists’ markets are ideal for presents, interior decor and art. Super friendly classes are a great way to try out different skills for a day, You can see their upcoming courses here. (photo from @ThePrinthaus)
We were lucky enough to check Mangla’s out in the first week of trading, and since then she has brought a burst of spice and happiness to the top of Cowbridge Road (opposite Victoria Park). Her exceptional skills as a cook are matched by her hosting and effervescent personality. It’s an Indian vegetarian restuarant, but also has great reviews on the vegan site HappyCow.net. Read Mangla’s story on WalesOnline!
We literally only tried this place out yesterday, after hearing our buddies RAVE about it. It DID NOT disappoint! It’s just a few doors up from Mangla’s, and sports a fresh and modern interior that overlooks Vicky Park. Bedecked with houseplants and trendy lighting, the open kitchen churns out incredible pizzas with unusual toppings like cashew cream with spinach, and tasty-ass starters like dough sticks with a tomato dip and HUGE green, lemon infused olives. Smashing staff, great Poretti beer on tap and kid-friendly. They are planning to expand the menu to include meatballs, and are starting Prosecco Sundays…. I don’t know that it involves, but I’m in.
YOU LIKE BREAD AND CAKES AND MERINGUES THE SIZE OF A CHILD’S SKULL? Yep, us too. The Pettigrew tea gang have built a baked empire of tastiness and long may it spread! Their innovative pop-ups (like pinxtos at St Cannas) are a fantastic way to sample their goods if you’re too lazy to walk up Cowbridge Road.
We are always surprised how many people don’t know about this beautiful park that sits quietly between Canton, Victoria Park and Pontcanna. The beautifully kept lawns, gardens and trees are set across a gentle hill, and the field at the top has a great view across the city.
And so, to end, a classic. If your heels break 5 minutes before leaving for a party- they’re there. If you need a new key cut after an scuffle with a metal-eating wolf- they’re there. If you’ve realised that you don’t have anything but Converse to get married in- they’re there. Cheap, reliable, excellent quality, AND they have a great logo.
ADDITIONS – 31st August
We had lots of suggestions for additions to this list, so here goes:
The Bee & Honey, 63 Clive Road http://www.thebeeandhoney.co.uk/ @thebeeandhoney
This place only recently opened and we haven’t had the chance to visit yet. But, judging by the people who recommended it, we should head over soon! It’s a deli and cafe, and sells a wide range of goodies from freshly baked artisan breads and marinated olives to Welsh cheeses and homemade jams and pickles. The cafe menu looks fab too, we can’t wait to check it out!
Since its establishment up a few years ago (we covered it here), this beautiful little patch of life has matured into something fabulous. They throw garden parties and gives Canton and Riverside residents a chance to get their hands dirty by volunteering.
Park View Cafe, 571 Cowbridge Rd http://parkviewcafe.org.uk/ @parkviewcafe
Another recommendation from a lovely reader: Park View Cafe is just opposite Victoria Park, run by “lovely people and good food and very affordable prices” in the words of Aivi! We were sold already, but the cafe is also a social enterprise- it supports trainees with learning disabilities, who may struggle to find regular employment, to give them the confidence and skills to find work.
Sally Williams left us a comment about the print workshop (unfortunately we couldn’t find a working website or Twitter account). She said “Cardiff print Workshop has a gallery and small workshop [..] It’s open every Saturday from 10.00 to 3.00. They sell original prints, handmade books, cards etc. All of the work is made by members and are original prints that have been either etched, embossed, litho or relief printed. The work is really high quality and they do classes! Watch for the latest dates and times pinned up on the front window.”
I’ve never been in there even though I live on the next street – one to put on the list!
If you haven’t been down to Cardiff Bay in the last few days, you won’t have seen the mesmerising new sculpture that’s currently visiting the Senedd. The ‘Weeping Window’ installation was originally at the Tower of London, where 888,246 poppies were displayed- one for every British or Colonial life lost at the Front during the First World War. Now you can see the whole piece up close on your doorstep, and there are loads of events surrounding it to suit all ages!
The display forms part of Wales’ programme of events marking the centenary of the First World War, which are taking place across the country. The display of Weeping Window will coincide with the centenary of Battle of Passchendaele, which took the lives of many Welshmen, including the celebrated poet Hedd Wyn.
For the first time visitors will be able to view the sculpture from all sides, including behind, through the Senedd’s floor to ceiling windows.
Younger visitors will be able to explore a free Senedd Trail or try their hands at making a poppy. For those a little older, there will be free half-hour tours on the hour to illustrate why democracy at the Senedd is important to ensuring peace in society.
In addition, on Thursday evenings in August, the Senedd will be open until 20.00 for visitors to see the sculpture as the light changes, and the Senedd café will be open for longer to accommodate this.
Alongside Weeping Window the National Assembly for Wales will also host an exhibition titled Women, War and Peace. Renowned photojournalist Lee Karen Stow brings her world-famous exhibition to Wales, featuring the addition of specially commissioned portraits telling the story of Welsh women affected by war.
You can see Weeping Window until 24 September – trust us, don’t miss it.