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Hi! I'm Helia. Blog boss at We Are Cardiff, I mostly love culture, travel, reading, writing, and riding my bike. Cardiff, Wales, and the world!

#SupportWelshBusiness – Alex Feeney

#SupportWelshBusiness – erm, that’s it

#SupportWelshBusiness. There, that’s pretty much it. It’s all there needs to be said about the economy in Wales right now. I could go on, in fact I am going to go on, but if you take one thing from this blog, it is that. Think of it as the TL/DR version.

For a five minute version, please watch the video below.

 

Completely separately, but entirely related to this is an opinion piece I stumbled across in the Financial Times recently. It posited the idea that UK governments should stop providing financial support to small and medium-sized businesses and concentrate on large-scale companies.

The argument was that SMEs are disposable and will be replaced, or replicated, while large national, or even multi-national companies, are plugged so deeply into the UK economy that they cannot afford to fail. 

They employ more people, both directly and indirectly through supply chains or even whole communities built around one plant (Port Talbot being an example). And if they were to fail, tens of thousands of jobs would be lost and communities would never recover (see former coal mining towns in the valleys for further details).

This, the columnist concluded, could irreparably damage the UK economy, setting us back years and ultimately lead to another Great Depression, swarm of locusts and world-ending meteor strike. (I might have made the last two up).

The reasoning was reasonable, carefully worded and played very nicely to the audience it was intended for i.e. not small businesses, but business and political leaders. It was a lobbying piece.

Disrespectfully, I disagree, i.e. you can fuck right off son! 

As a small business co-founder I may be slightly biased in my view, although no more or less biased than big business wanting more support for big business. But I find the notion that small businesses are disposable and easily replaceable as nonsensical as a fish playing tennis, with a jelly racquet, and a cannonball. 

I offer you this POV. A coffee shop closes down, then a few weeks later another sprouts in its place or just across the road. Some jobs are lost, but they don’t affect whole towns, or countries. I get that.

But the argument ignores the wider issue. The person who lost their job at the coffee shop has to find another job. Because they weren’t working for a massive company there is little in the way of financial support, retraining, redeployment etc. No politicians are lobbying ministers on their behalf. 

It is a very personal and very lonely experience. It impacts on their mental health, their family, their income. They may need to take another job quickly to make ends meet because they have bills to pay, families to feed. They can’t weigh up their options or follow their dreams. There is no time. 

So they gratefully take a job when it is offered, even if it is a zero hours contract and they don’t know from one week to the next how much work they will have. They also can’t then get another job to work alongside because the hours vary.

They may hate the job, hate the company, the manager, the commute, the time away from their kids, or their studies. They may take a credit card, or a loan to get by, which eats into their monthly income, meaning the household budget is stretched even further. That brings increased stress and depression. They may not be able to work because of it and end up on benefits. And so the circle goes on and on and on. They are trapped. 

When a big company fails, everybody hears about it. Everybody is sad and shocked and supportive. The TV cameras, radio mics and photographers are there to feast upon the misery. It is tweeted across the world. There are hashtags, gofundme pages, messages of solidarity, politicians looking solemn and concerned with their arms around upset workers and their families.

But if you lost your job in a coffee shop, none of this happens. 

Now, multiply that one coffee shop by hundreds, or thousands, or tens of thousands.

Depending on which Google result you tap on, anything between 40-60 per cent of small businesses fail within their first five years.

One result claimed as many as 600, 000 small businesses could fail this year. 

If that’s true, and I’m not saying it is because, y’know, the internet, if each of those business employed on average two people, that’s 1.2 million people out of a job.

So, Mr FT opinion writer, tell me that 1.2 million people out of a job isn’t going to have a profound effect on the economy. And of those theoretical 1.2 million, how many will have to take the first job offered and face a cycle of low-income, hand-to-mouth, increased pressure existence. And what is the longer term impact on the country in terms of financial support through benefits, social care, health care and loss of tax revenue through lower wages. 

Big business likes to believe it takes longer term view of things, but its view is always very narrow, and self-focused. That’s not a completely negative thing, nor is it the sole preserve of big business. There are lots of businesses, organisations, people, politicians and governments which have similar views.

But without the broader view, without seeing the whole picture, without seeing not just one small business fail, but tens of thousands like it and the impact that brings, then we miss the opportunity to make things better and to end the cycle.

I’m not saying don’t support big business. They still employ millions of people across the country and have a massive role to play in our recovery. But I don’t think supporting big business over and above all others is a productive, rational or responsible thing to do.

Yes, small businesses fail, for many reasons, and yes, they can be replaced. But what are the longer-term, broader, cumulative effects on the nation? That’s why small businesses need support. That’s why we made this video. We met loads of really amazing people all doing their bit to support each other, their community, to do something different, or to do something in a different way. 

Each of the businesses we featured was run by passionate, dedicated people who cared about more than the bottom line. And there are thousands of small businesses across Wales run by people who feel the same way. That can only be a positive thing for the economy and for communities.

That’s why we’ll be doing all we can to tell these wonderful stories, highlight these amazing people and support companies which are trying to make things better one small step at a time.

Alex Feeney is a co-founder and director of EatSleep Media, a production house which makes cracking content showing what an organisation is doing but in a way its target audience finds entertaining and informative. He also hosts the Accidental Startup podcast which tells the stories of entrepreneurs, their experiences, their decisions and what they have learned along the way. The Accidental Startup is available on Apple, Spotify and most other podcast providers. Follow EatSleep Media on Twitter.

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Clwb says – Save our venues! #saveourvenues

Clwb Ifor Bach and a number of other Cardiff venues have joined other grassroot music venue across the UK in this campaign. They are asking for support for the music sector to survive the next three months (July, August, September), and for help to recover in the future.

You can view the open letter and see all the signatories so far here: Open Letter to the UK Government (Scribd)

Clwb and other Cardiff venues are asking fans to join the campaign by sharing the hashtags #saveourvenues and #dotherightthing across Facebook, Twitter and Instagam, along with the link to the open letter here.

Clwb also say:

“We would also like to thank you for your continued support and generosity throughout the past few months. It is the kindness that you’ve extended to us, as well as other grassroots venues in Cardiff and across the UK, that keeps us going. We now need the momentum of your support behind this campaign to put the necessary pressure on the UK government to listen to our concerns.”

If you want to help support them, check out the new shows they’ve just put on sale for next year! FONTAINES DC! JOHN GRANT! BAXTER DURY! HOLY F!

Go get those gig tickets bbz, you’re totally worth it. While you’re at it, get over to the Clwb shop and pre-order one of their rad new tees!

A couple of the designs….

oooooo

and

aaaaaaa

etc!

Go support them!

Big love y’all

WAC x

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Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Helia Phoenix

Helia Phoenix has been trying to write this Letter from Cardiff in lockdown since March! Better late than never. We’re looking for your stories, so please carry on sending in your letters for our series … 

Cardiff Bay

Early lockdown was extremely unsettling.

In weeks beforehand, we watched the death toll mount in other countries, while still being encouraged to go out and about our business, like nothing was wrong. My last outing in the default world  was watching Jon Hopkins at the Forum in Bath – the tickets were a birthday gift last year. We deliberated hard on whether to go – I’m glad we did, I think. It was an amazing show, but with a strange, sour edge to it. The chat all around – in the loos, at the bar – everywhere – was virus related, in hushed tones, the early scenes from a 50s B-movie. “They think someone in Frome has caught it. It’s only a matter of time before it gets here.” After we came home (a week before anything  was announced), I stopped going out. Unofficial lockdown began.

Socially distanced trolleys, Asda, Ferry Road

There was no stockpiling in our house. But I definitely added an extra couple of ‘essentials’ to each shop. Lentils, rice, UHT milk, that sort of thing, just in case. I tried to keep calm waiting in queues at the shops. People who hadn’t grasped the two metre rule stood too close to me. I felt breathless in my mask, bringing on panicky thoughts about infection, which made it even harder to breathe. Early lockdown was a strange and eerie time, where the radio and TV were still advertising shops being open and events taking place, like nothing had changed – except everything had changed. Shops were closed. Everything was cancelled, just like that.

I’ve been working from home since my office  in the valleys was flooded back in February (remember the floods?? Storms Jorge and Dennis?? Ah, a simpler time). I’m essentially a desk monkey, so no frontline stress, but work was still hard. I forgot Mother’s Day. I ran out of meds. And I couldn’t drink, as I was on antibiotics. Like everyone, I think, I was a bit of a mess.

Different running route – Curran Road Industrial Estate

The one constant thing that’s got me through (and has got me through many other things in the past) was/is exercise. I found the fitbit I abandoned last year, and I walked, and I ran. I was actually originally going to structure this piece like a running route. But then I realised running was just one thing I’ve done during lockdown. I have done a lot of it, but again – it’s only one thing. I’m grateful for how AMAZING exercise is for everything – mental health, appetite, sleeping.  If you’re feeling like crap and you don’t exercise, PLEASE consider doing something. If you want to run, I recommend doing the NHS couch to 5k. It’s a wonderful plan and hardly takes any time out of your day.

When it first starts, suddenly lockdown opens up the roads – for walkers and runners.

Once I exhausted routes around the Docks, I headed to town. Queen Street was empty, quiet, and creepy. Suddenly the rough sleepers are hypervisible. They’re not hidden in doorways, or confined to benches along the edge. They’re the central attraction, because they’re the only people still there. Neil Cocker wrote about this in his Letter from Lockdown, the first one we published. 

Gwdihw

On my runs through the city centre, I started changing up my route so I could pass by some of Cardiff’s clubs. Places I spent so much time in, through my life. Gwdihw and the other buildings are just facades now, hiding the scaffolding and gaping nothingness behind. Fuel has a heartfelt note on the door. Undertone. We will be back. The Moon – how many more times are we going to have to save The Moon??

I run past clubs long gone: the Hippo, now some offices; the Emporium, still empty; Club X, unrecognisable; Apocalypse / Vision 2k / Top Rank / The Forum / Astoria, depending on when you went there, which is now Matalan; and Dirtbox (remember Dirtbox??) – nothing more than skeletal remains –  a stack of deserted slipper limpets, attached to the side of the good ship Clwb.

Dirtbox

Venues close, venues open, promoters make money, or they go bust. People have a gutsfull, move away. Younger people are hungry, move toward. But right now, the universal outlook clubs and pubs everywhere is bleak. I sit on the Cardiff Music Board, and our first Zoom meeting is just as you’d expect it to be. Many venues aren’t set up for anything other than mass gatherings – they can’t reinvent themselves to sell food, or do drink takeaways. Some have no outdoor space at all. Without gigs, how can they survive? The scene in Cardiff has been through a lot in recent years. How is it going to survive this?

I scour the news impatiently for information about mass gatherings in other countries. There are legal, socially distanced raves in Nottingham. There are illegal raves, ravaged by troublemakers, like the ones at the weekend in Manchester (the headline is so grim it’s enough to put you off forever – Greater Manchester illegal raves: Man dies, woman raped and three stabbed‘). A socially distanced festival (the No Art Hotel) in Amsterdam is engineered, promising a clinical clubbing experience with limited social interaction and DJ sets streamed to hotel bedrooms, to limit chances of viral transmission. Sounds weird as hell to me but it sells out regardless. Whatever people are doing elsewhere, we’re still a long way off any of that, here in Cardiff.

Washing day, Cathays

As well as being extremely unsettling, the first few weeks of lockdown were a revealing time. I, like all of you, I imagine, Zoom-fatigued myself on video calls with many people – work meetings, family, friends, my therapist. (Not even joking about the therapist part although it does sound like the punchline of a bad Woody Allen joke). A lot of them were people I hadn’t seen or spoken to in a long time, and it was wonderful to catch up. But none of that matched the wild ecstasy of genuinely accidentally bumping into friends when out on one of my walks. That is, I suppose, the beauty of Cardiff – you can’t swing a cat without smacking someone you know. We only stood and spoke for about five minutes – we were all mindful of the rules, and didn’t want to mix, even socially distanced, at that early time. But just that five minutes was enough to totally revive me. That’s the thing about face to face contact, to actually being there with someone. Nothing can beat it. That’s why watching streamed gigs, or plays, or anything, is never as good as being there in person. Humans vibrate together. We charge the atmosphere. Bodies in a place, taking up space.

This idea of ‘bodies in a space’ is something I think about a lot through lockdown. Firstly because of the mass gatherings thing – and my love of music, and working in tourism, I guess you could say my life revolves around mass gatherings of some kind. Secondly, because George Floyd dies after being arrested by police in America, and the world erupts in anti-racism protests.

Black Lives Matter protest, Cardiff Castle, 31 May 2020

Cardiff had its first socially distanced protest on the lawns at the front of Cardiff Castle. The speakers were invited from the crowd that gathered. They encouraged people to join unions. They denounced racism. And although some people questioned why we need these kinds of protests here, because “we aren’t America”, two mothers spoke about the systemic racism their children have faced in the UK, and continue to face, on a day to day basis – being pulled over in cars, stopped and searched, about how their families were targeted and abused and beaten by police when they were younger. One woman was in tears talking about how she worries daily about the safety of her son. Younger people spoke about being racially profiled and denied entry into clubs here in Cardiff. It’s sobering.

I spoke to a number of friends who support the cause, but don’t go to the protests. Some have young children, or other caring duties, and are worried about taking their charges with them, just in case something happens. Some are frontline workers, in social work or healthcare. Some just don’t feel comfortable protesting during a pandemic. Because so many people can’t, I feel it’s important that I do. I appreciate that I experience a lot of privilege, being a light skinned Middle Eastern person. My parents were born in Iran. We are an immigrant family. I walked to the BLM protests, a 20 minute stroll from my house. I wore my mask, was diligent with the hand sanitiser, and stayed socially distanced from people, as did everyone else I saw there. Listening to the speakers was a humbling experience. I’ve had plenty of racist stuff said to me over the years, but I’ve never felt like my life was in danger just for the colour of my skin. No one should ever have to feel like that.

Photo from the BLM protest in Bute Park by Lorna Cabble

As well as my first socially distanced protests, the lockdown has given me a couple of other ‘firsts’. I’ve always been grateful for where I live – a quiet but friendly street down the Docks (I am chastised constantly by people who’ve grown up here when I call it Butetown or Cardiff Bay). During lockdown we have our first socially distanced street parties, where I learn the electric slide. A swan gets stuck on our road on one very hot day, and me and a group of us usher it down the street and back into the river. Some enterprising neighbours set up a Whatsapp group for our street, and we are now all in an endless dance of lending tools and swapping plants and gifting books and baking cakes for each other. I love it.

Socially distanced street party

I also cook Persian food properly for the first time. There’s a point during lockdown where I’m feeling really low and I just want things my mum used to cook for me when I was a kid. I’ve never been an eat-your-feelings person, but suddenly that’s ALL I want to do. I  want to consume comfort from the past, gorge on an illusion of proximity to my family through herbs and naan lavash and citrusy stews. I cook for my household and cook extras for friends, thinking maybe we could all do with a bit of comfort food.

I feel so much and so hard for all the people living alone, struggling. People who have no one. I scour the internet for recipes and cook things I never thought I’d manage. I make tadig, for cripes sake! You can keep your sourdough starter. I got these zesty rice pies on the stove. (All the recipes I cook are from Persian Mama and come highly recommended.)

Zereshk polo and khoresht bademjaan
Zereshk polo and khoresht bademjaan

I start growing things – sunflower seedlings (they’re my favourite thing to grow) until the house is overrun with them. My partner and housemate request a plant amnesty, so the plants find a new home at the Salvation Army Hostel on Bute Street, where a couple of residents are looking to improve the grounds. (If you have any you’d like to donate, they’re still looking for plants). I borrow some kit from Keep Grangetown Tidy and hit the streets, picking up litter during my walks.

Also I eat my first Michelin starred birthday cake from Restaurant James Sommerin. It is delicious. (They’re still doing them, and so I suggest you go get some). I do my first online workouts. My favourite one is still Fridays at 5pm, when my kitchen becomes a dancefloor for the Bristol Drum & Bass workout.

I also give blood for the first time, which is one of the most insane things I have ever done. I ask if I can touch the bag before they ferry it off. IT IS STILL WARM, and it is a complete trip for me. I’ve been there for ten minutes, they’ve extracted a pint of blood out of me,  given me some biscuits, and I’m essentially totally back to normal.

Giving blood at Cardiff Met. Gnarly.

If anything, trying to write something coherent about my experience of lockdown has just proved how impossible it is to describe it as a cohesive experience. Because it hasn’t been one. I’ve loved a lot of things – the lack of traffic, working from home. I’ve hated not being able to see or hug people that I love. Queuing is annoying. Also, I’m really glad this happened in the spring and summer and not during a bleak wet winter.

Also, it’s made me really think about all of those times we get told that things just aren’t possible. It’s not possible for you to work from home. It’s not possible for us to “solve” homelessness. It’s not possible to do anything about child poverty. It’s not possible to curb our fuel emissions. Somehow these were all unsolvable problems, wrapped up in immutable systems.

And yet, within a 12 week period, all the people who can work from home are doing just that. Beds have been found in Cardiff for rough sleepers. A premier league footballer has persuaded the government in England to provide meal vouchers for children who would go hungry without them (we already had this in Wales). Britain goes for over two months without burning coal for electricity, the longest period since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. People across the world are asking for us to interrogate our history and not celebrate oppression – by removing statues that glorify those that profited from colonialism.

So I guess that all those things were always possible. The will to do them just wasn’t there. Think about that. And please, next time there’s an election of any kind, GO AND VOTE, for the things that are most important to you.

Twelve weeks into lockdown. Our rules are relaxing. Reality is flexing. So before anything else happens, and I have to rewrite this entire thing again, I want to finish this off. Here it is. The end.

(For now.)

Cathays Park, Cardiff City Centre
Queuing for the bank, Death Junction

Also, I have to mention my doggy, Zelda. She’s a disabled greyhound. (She broke her back a while ago, it was a whole thing). She’s old and a bit knackered but she still gets around. Look at that smile. I love her.

SOUNDTRACK.

I’ve put together my ideal lockdown 10k running soundtrack, from looking at the songs I’ve played most often while running since the lockdown started. Spotify playlist – Phoenix Lockdown Rundown 

SHOP LOCAL!

I also want to give a BIG shout out to all the local independents that have kept me fed and watered during the lockdown. It’s great that the bigger chains are opening up again, but don’t forget to shop local, and support the independent scene!

In no particular order:

Follow Helia on Instagram @HeliaPhoenix or Twitter @HeliaPhoenix, although tbf the content you want is all over @ZeldaPooch

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Support Cardiff’s independent businesses – open for deliveries and takeaway during COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown

(Page last updated 12 June 2020, HP)

CARDIFF’S INDEPENDENT BUSINESSES – OPEN FOR DELIVERIES AND TAKEAWAYS!

We love independent businesses here at We Are Cardiff. They make up the soul of the city.  At the moment loads of these businesses are super vulnerable, so below is a list of ways you can support some of the city’s indies!

This page will be updated regularly and things are changing every minute (!) so please comment on this post if you think something needs to be added or removed.

LOCAL BUSINESSES – HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT!

The tech whiz that is Matthew Passmore has made a SEARCHABLE LIST OF CARDIFF SHOPS DOING DELIVERIES! Check out Cardiff Delivers

First up: we asked Twitter: How can we support local businesses? Full thread here

Outside of Cardiff, FIND MY DINE have this great list of eateries doing takeaway / delivery / gift vouchers across Wales

Also Hungry City Hippy has put together this list of how to shop local during the Coronavirus Crisis

INDEPENDENT BUSINESSES – BY LOCATION

I’ve done this list by location just to make it easier for you to see who’s local to you. Some businesses are delivering across the city, some only within a small radius, some are streaming services online. Please check with the businesses for full deets.

If you are going into these stores, remember – only shop for essentials, don’t stockpile, don’t be a dick, PLEASE RESPECT GOVERNMENT GUIDELINES ON SAFE INTERACTIONS IN RETAIL ENVIRONMENTS. KEEP 2 METRES AWAY FROM OTHER PEOPLE, USE CONTACTLESS PAYMENTS IF YOU CAN ETC. AND WASH YOUR HANDS!!!

Multiple locations / delivery only

MAKE SURE TO CHECK THE CARDIFF DELIVERS WEBSITE FOR A FULL LIST OF BUSINESSES DELIVERING ACROSS THE CITY

Beanfreaks – organic / health food shop, store locations are city centre (St Mary Street) / Canton / Roath. Check for opening hours. Call 029 2025 1071 or Beanfreaks Facebook

Bruton’s Bakery – this AMAZING local bakery delivered free goodies up to the Heath hospital this week for the staff there. SHOP LOCAL AND SUPPORT THEM. Shops in Grangetown / Fairwater / Canton / Splott / Penarth. They have a website but are more active on Facebook: Bruton’s website | Bruton’s Facebook

Cardiff Quarantine Delivery – person on bike offering pick up and delivery of whatever you need –  for those who can’t get out and about! Cardiff Quarantine Delivery Facebook

Curado Bar – if you simply must get that bottle of dessert wine and mojama to try and get through the week, Curado got your back! The shop is doing deliveries across the city, see their Facebook for full list of items. Curado Bar Facebook | Curado Bar Twitter

Daisy & Belle Ice Cream – dairy and vegan ice cream deliveries across Cardiff. Daisy and Belle website | Daisy and Belle Instagram

Dusty Knuckle Pizza – delicious pizzas available for delivery! You can find them through Uber Eats and Deliveroo. Dusty Knuckle Twitter

Greazy Vegan – offering deliveries across the city through Uber Eats, every day! Greazy Vegan website | Greazy Vegan Twitter

Hard Lines Coffee – how you gonna get through the lockdown without dat caffeine zing?? Support this Cardiff indie through their online shop. Deliveries across Cardiff. Hard Lines website | Hard Lines Twitter

Holy Yolks – AMAZING HOLY YOLKS are doing Scotch Eggs AND ALSO co-ordinating food deliveries up to the Heath hospital for health care workers! PLEASE BUY THEIR EGGS AND DONATE TO THE NHS FUNDRAISER. Holy Yolks Twitter | NHS FUNDRAISER

Keralan Karavan – our FAVOURITE INDIAN TAKEAWAY! Their burgers and fries are out of this world. Support them and stuff your face. Keralan Karavan Twitter

Little Man Coffee – our favourite coffee house are doing specialty milk and coffee deliveries across the city! They’ve got a ton of stuff they can deliver, check out their Instagram for the full list. Little Man Coffee Instagram | Little Man Coffee Facebook | Little Man Coffee Twitter

The Med Shed – family run kitchen offering an authentic taste of the Med! Deliveries can be booked on weekends, menu changes weekly. Email The Med Shed | The Med Shed Facebook | The Med Shed Twitter

Naked Vegan – baked goods (the brownies – oh my!) – doing deliveries across Cardiff. Email for more info: sarah@thenakedvegan.co.uk. Naked Vegan website

Pop’n’Hops – BEERS! WONDERFUL BEERS! Help keep yourself nicely tippled and these dudes in business. They offer delivery across Cardiff, with a wide selection of ales / craft beers etc from all over the place. Pop’n’Hops Twitter

The Parsnipship – you usually see these dudes feeding the masses at festivals or at markets – now they are delivering their frozen delights across south Wales. Lucky us! Parsnipship websiteParsnipship Twitter

Riverside Markets – Rhiwbina, Roath and Riverside are reopening! Re-opening info as follows:

  • Rhiwbina – Friday June 12th 10am – 1pm
  • Roath: Sat June 13th 9:30am – 1pm
  • Riverside: Sun June 21st 10am – 2pm

Riverside Markets have updated their website with info about social distancing and other hygiene steps – please visit to find out more before visiting any of the location. Riverside Markets website | Riverside Markets Twitter | Riverside Markets Facebook | Riverside Markets Instagram

Totally Welsh – GET YOURSELF A MILK DELIVERY LIKE FROM BACK IN THE 80S! They also do juices, eggs, cheese, bread and other essentials. Direct to the doorstep, plus the bottles can go back to be cleaned and refilled. Totally Welsh website

Ty Caws – Formerly the Cheese Pantry in Cardiff Indoor Market, now delivering delicious cheese direct to your door across the city! Ty Caws Twitter | Ty Caws Instagram

Quantum Coffee – based in Cardiff Bay, they are still roasting, and doing deliveries across Cardiff AND THERE IS 20% OFF EVERYTHING ONLINE!  Quantum Coffee Twitter | Quantum Coffee Instagram | Quantum Coffee website

City centre

Cardiff Indoor Market – the indoor market has the following stalls are offering home deliveries:

K. Blackmore & Son Butchers – (Cardiff Indoor Market). if your supermarket has run out of meat, luckily for you these guys are rolling in steaks. K. Blackmore & Son Butchers Facebook page

Sullivans Fruit and Veg – (Cardiff Indoor Market) now doing fruit and veg box deliveries across Cardiff, Penarth, Barry, Sully, Dinas Powys. Call them on 0771012816 or for veg box orders visit their website. Sullivans Fruit and Veg website | Sullivans Fruit and Veg on Twitter | Sullivans Fruit and Veg Instagram

Brodie’s Coffee – you can find Brodie’s in the lovely little wooden hut in Gorsedd Gardens (in front of the museum). They’ve just reopened! Go pay them a visit and pick up a tasty treat for yourself. Brodie’s Coffee Twitter

La Pantera – margaritas, mezcal, tacos – all open for takeaway! La Pantera website | La Pantera Instagram | La Pantera Facebook

Chronic Fried Chicken – order in advance for tasty fried chicken – pick up or delivery within 1.5 miles of Sully’s Cafe.  Chronic Fried Chicken Facebook | Chronic Fried Chicken Instagram

Butetown / Cardiff Bay

Spokesperson – (Williams Way) bicycle upkeep and repair, offering online classes in how to maintain your bike and also emergency repairs. Spokesperson Facebook

Canton / Pontcanna

Cardiff Salad Garden – (Bute Park) growing delicious salad leaves and delivering them to your door, if you’re local (Pontcanna, Llandaff North and Taffs Well areas). Contact them 07715388771 or cardiffsalad@gmail.com. Cardiff Salad Garden Twitter

Crafty Devil Brewing – (Llandaff Road) beer! beer! beer! Collection from Canton or delivery. Crafty Devil Brewing website | Crafty Devil Brewing Facebook | Crafty Devil Brewing Twitter | Crafty Devil Brewing Instagram

Chapter Arts Centre – although the Centre is closed, there are still some businesses operating inside (like our buddies The Printhaus) – see this Chapter Tweet for more info

Kemi’s – (King’s Road) DELICIOUS food in Pontcanna still open for takeaway and deliveries! Peep the menu and order now! Kemi’s website | Kemi’s Facebook | Kemi’s Twitter | Kemi’s Instagram

Laura’s Greengrocers – (Cowbridge Road East) delicious fresh produce, doing veg box deliveries – call 029 2022 8796. Laura’s Greengrocers website

Lufkin Coffee – serving coffee at two locations in Canton / Pontcanna. Lufkin Coffee Instagram | Lufkin Coffee website

Pettigrew Bakeries – (Cowbridge Road East) delicious baked goods! Shop open for contactless pick up, and they can organise deliveries. Breads, snacks, fruit, veg, CHEESE! Call them between 7-11am on 02921 321270 or 07897 995409, minimum order £10. Pettigrew website | Pettigrew Twitter | Pettigrew Instagram

Pipes – (Kings Road) local brewery offering pick up over the weekend or delivery! Pipes website | Pipes Twitter | Pipes Facebook

St Canna’s Ale House – (Llandaff Road) open for takeaway and deliveries! Text 07890106449 with your order. St Canna’s Ale House Twitter

Cathays

Katiwok – (Crwys Road) delicious Asian cuisine doing contactless deliveries and takeaways. They’ve got a £6 meal deal for all key workers. Katiwok website | Katiwok Facebook

Riverside Sourdough – (Cathays Youth & Community Centre) I once bought a loaf of their bread and ate the whole thing still warm in the car before I got home. Didn’t share with anyone. No regrets. These dudes are supplying local stores but also doing a pre-order local pick up Tuesday and Saturdays from Cathays. Riverside Sourdough Facebook

Llandaff

Caffé Fragolino – (Waungron Road) Selling eggs, pasta and other essentials alongside takeaway food from the cafe. Caffé Fragolino Facebook

Llanrumney

Countisbury Fruit Supply – (Countisbury Ave) fresh supply of veg, fruit and bread available daily and the WONDERFUL man that runs the stall is offering free deliveries for those in need who live local and can’t get out. Please give this man all your monies and call on 02920791101 (there’s an answering machine, please leave a message, 24/7).

Roath

Albany Road Fruit and Veg stand – (Albany Road) this is open, plus owner Sam is a legend! go by and pay him and visit and pick up some lovely produce.

Eartha – (City Road) Eartha has now taken over the entire of the Blue Honey Local site (I still think of it as Milgi, because I am OLD) – head here for plant shop, café and restaurant focusing on working with local producers, growers and enterprises. Eartha Facebook | Eartha Instagram

Ripple – ethical lifestyle and zero waste – a great place to pick up food and other bits!  Ripple Twitter / Ripple website

Spice of Life – (Inverness Place) health food store selling dried foods, organic cleaning products etc etc. They’re doing contactless Click and Collect. Spice of Life website | Spice of Life Facebook 

Waterloo Tea – (Waterloo Gardens) the best tea in the UK! Still doing home deliveries and also co-ordinating a wonderful fundraiser for a temporary pop-up cafe serving free meals and coffee at the Heath hospital. Show them some love. Waterloo Tea new volunteer cafe fundraiser | Waterloo Tea website | Waterloo Tea Facebook

Riverside

Twin Made – (Odan Nos da) these crafty devils are selling hand made goods online, as well as releasing free crafting patterns for you to do at home, plus vouchers for future sewing / crafting classes. Twin Made website | Twin Made Facebook | Twin Made Twitter | Twin Made Instagram

Rhiwbina

One Mile Bakery – delicious baked goods, delivering to addresses within a one mile radius. One Mile Bakery website | One Mile Bakery Twitter | One Mile Bakery Instagram | One Mile Bakery Facebook

Thornhill

Thornhill Farm Shop – (Capel Gwilym Road) these dudes have fresh local honey! As well as jams, marmalades, chutneys, pickles, fresh meats, fruit and veg. They’re open for collection or delivery. Call 029 2061 1707 or visit Thornhill Farm Shop Facebook.

Slightly further afield…

Penarth

AB Snell and Son – groceries, newspapers, all your bits and pieces – reduced opening hours but also offering local deliveries of some products. AB Snell and Son website | AB Snell and Son Facebook

Griffin Books – independent bookshop are still taking orders online and doing deliveries. Griffin Books Twitter | Griffin Books website

Pizza Pronto – local pizza pop up, still open on reduced hours (check the site for details). Pizza Pronto website | Pizza Pronto Twitter | Pizza Pronto Instagram

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Online services

Blackdog – wellbeing services, offering therapy and wellbeing services online through Zoom. Blackdog website

Lucent Dreaming – local creative mag, offering pay-what-you-can reading and entry fees to creative writing competitions. Lucent Dreaming website | Lucent Dreaming Twitter

Green Squirrel – greener living social enterprise are running online workshops, craft-alongs and storytelling in lieu of  public workshops. Also delivering seed sowing kits and other treats! People can still book onto workshops to transfer onto a future date or buy a gift voucher to support. Green Squirrel website | Green Squirrel Facebook

 

That’s all for now. Peas. WAC x

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#blacklivesmatter Cardiff resources and round up

So. There’s a lot going on. (I feel like I’ve said that multiple times, like way more times than I should have said it, since the start of this year?? Anyway.) Just wanted to round up some resources and events taking place that might be of interest at the mo.

BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTESTS

You may have noticed a couple of #BlackLivesMatter protests taking place in Cardiff this week. If you are attending a protest, please remember to keep socially distanced, wear a mask, and take sunblock and water to keep hydrated. Follow Black Lives Matter Cardiff on Facebook for more information.

Also be careful when taking photos of participants at protests –  try and respect people who don’t want to be in photos or filmed. VICE US have a good article about protecting your digital privacy while protesting (but remember it’s written for an American audience).

This public Google Doc – How to support black lives in the UK – was made by @perkin_amalaraj specifically for a British audience, and has a useful list of online resources for learning about the history of slavery, colonialism and racism – including a number of free online courses.

If you’d like to undertake more reading, try this: Anti-racism resources for white allies (compiled by one of the BLM organisers – info ranges from articles to read, to anti-racism books for children, to anti-racism film recommendations).

BLACK MUSIC WALES PLAYLIST

Something nice to listen to: this Black Music Wales playlist on Spotify. TASTY! Featuring tunes from Aleighcia Scott, Eadyth, Wibidi, DJ Jaffa, and more!

LISTEN TO SHREDS

This is the second time in a week we’re mentioning the BBC Sounds podcast Shreds by Ceri Jackson. But we really, really, REALLY recommend it. It’s an upsetting but vital listen about systemic police racism and corruption in Cardiff over the Lynette White case, which sparked off one of the biggest overhauls of the justice system in the UK. And it happened not far from where you live. Educate yourself and give it a listen.

COME TO THE PRIVILEGE CAFE

If you’re after something practical you can dial into from home, check out the Privilege Cafe. This virtual cafe is a safe space created by Mymuna Soleman, to make a new inclusive environment! Be empowered, be confident and let’s talk privilege! Their next event takes place 5pm on Thursday 4 June: Labels, Language and Linguistics.

OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION / THINGS TO FOLLOW:

(not exhaustive obviously – please add more sources in the comments…)

Word from us here at WAC.

Remember we’re open to submissions about literally ANYTHING you want to write about – whether it’s just to talk to us about your community project, or write a poem about the city, or write us a Letter about being in Lockdown. We’re run on an entirely voluntary basis. What we are depends on what you want to write for us. So use that voice and send us your stuff.

Peas.

WAC
x

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Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Pete Sueref

Today’s instalment for the Letters from Cardiff in lockdown series comes from Pete Sueref. We’re looking for your stories, so please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown

Nurses? Forget nurses. They should give me a medal for being locked up with three kids for the last eight weeks. I mean honestly. It’s fine for Mr and Mrs Sourdough Starter and their darling cat, but for us parents, especially us SINGLE PARENTS, lockdown is literally hell. (Yes, literally. Not figuratively. This is actually what hell would be like for me).

It’s not that I don’t love my kids. There’s an expression – love the people, hate the job, right? But have you actually met kids? They’re awful. Just the worst possible humans to be stuck with for an hour, let alone 24 hours, every day, without a let up. Needy, whining, bickering, gross. If you’re thinking of having kids, then DON’T. (Note to We Are Cardiff editors – could we link to a contraceptive provider here?)

(Note from the We Are Cardiff editors: normally we don’t insert ourselves into stories if we can help it, but actually this is a good link, bookmark it kids! Cardiff and Vale UHB Sexual Health info).

Today, this happened at breakfast: My three year old, who can most kindly be described as unhinged, was eating his Rice Crispies. His six-year-old sister decided, for reasons, that she had to have a poached egg for breakfast. Not a fried egg, not a scrambled egg. Poached.

For the childless, it’s worth mentioning that each interaction with your little angel has the potential to turn into a battle. Small decisions, like which colour dress to wear, whether or not to go to the toilet before getting in the car, or how to cook an egg, take on a level of seriousness and import usually more suited to high-level government meetings (I say usually. Not really the case with the current mob; their main decisions seem to be how to pick the policy which causes the most needless death and suffering and then figuring out how to lie about it.)

As with Boris’s daily briefings, every conversation with your child has the potential to end in confusion and tears.

At nine in the morning, after 50-plus monotonous breakfasts in a row, you have to decide if this is really the hill you want to die on. On the one hand: give-in, show weakness to the enemy and then suffer a conflict over every breakfast to come. On the other hand, play hardball, announce to the room that “we don’t negotiate with terrorists” and serve up a hot dish of justice-flavoured scrambled eggs with a side-order of tantrum.

Dear reader, you know the punchline. After some tears and some stern words (from her to me), the poached eggs were served. The previously quietly chomping three-year-old took the opportunity to tell his big sister that he hated the smell of eggs. And by association hated her. Violence was in the air. Their eight-year-old brother, displaying admirable neutrality to that point, decided to play both sides like a cold war double-agent, announcing that he, too, hated the smell of eggs (thus lending credibility to the accusation), but also that despite this hatred he would tolerate it because he was older and “not a baby”. This final remark was the spark that ignited the powder keg, and moments later both the Rice Crispies and Poached Egg were no more. Spilt and splattered, like a metaphor for my family, indeed, for the nation! What joys will lunch bring? God only knows…

And this is just one small incident in five minutes of one day. Repeat this over and over and over again, every day, with no let up, no respite and limited alcohol. A medal, please. A big one. Made of gold.

Lest you all consider me a terrible parent and a terrible person (I won’t try to defend myself against either accusation), I should point out that I have been home-schooling diligently throughout, although we have deviated from the curriculum recently. My eldest is now learning about political revolutions in preparation for the post-COVID world that may emerge. His Machiavellian instincts, practised on his siblings, put in him in a good position to be the next Washington (or more likely Robespierre). My daughter has learnt to read which is a genuine delight, undermined only slightly by her absolute lack of desire to read anything not on an iPad.

My youngest has been building more and more elaborate shapes and patterns out Magna-Tiles. He may be trying to summon some kind of demon. I’ve decided to leave him to it.

It should go without saying that clearly we are in an immensely fortunate position – none of us are ill, none of our family or friends have been seriously affected and my wonderful employers have taken pity on me and allowed me to mostly forget about work and focus on taking care of my children. A word also for my wonderful mum who’s been living with us for the last five months, cannot possibly have expected to be locked up with small children again and has dealt with events like most Greek mothers in a crisis: cleaning and cooking constantly.

And there are some small pleasures to be had, particularly as a runner (I know – you already thought me insufferable, but a runner, too!).

Jogging the full length of Waterloo Road right in the middle of the street with no traffic is still weirdly fun. And crossing the normally log-jammed Newport Road whenever and however I like will be sorely missed once the world returns to normal.

And of course, loudly tutting all the people ignoring the one-way system around Roath Park almost makes the whole catastrophe worth it. Almost.

Anyway. After all that, I don’t actually want a medal. What I’d really prefer is for people to stop dying needlessly. I want doctors and nurses and carers and especially teachers to be paid a lot more. And for a kinder, better world to emerge at the other end.

But mostly, I just want this hell to end, all of us to be safe and happy and to have some time away from my fucking kids.

Before Pete became a full-time quaranteacher and part-time alcoholic, he worked in data science for Centrica. He hopes one day to return…

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Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Debbie Hiskins

Today’s instalment for the Letters from Cardiff in lockdown series comes from Debbie Hiskins, who writes about being pregnant during the lockdown. We’re looking for your stories, so please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown

Spending the final weeks of my first pregnancy in isolation with my husband wasn’t quite what we’d had planned.

The diary was full of grown-up activities we might struggle to enjoy for a bit – meals out, evening drinks with friends, visits to my family in Kent (a 4 hour drive away), cinema trips, my brother’s 30th, a Christmas present of stargazing in the Brecon Beacons and our first wedding anniversary celebrations.

Covid-19 had other ideas though and in the run up to lockdown one by one the cancellation emails arrived. Then the announcement that pregnant women were in the vulnerable category and should self-isolate meaning I’d spent my last day in the office without even knowing it and hadn’t said bye to anyone. Initially I felt really upset about missing all these things I’d been looking forward to doing. When would I next see friends from work? How were we going to meet new parents if our NCT classes didn’t go ahead? Would the hospitals be overrun?

Then came a reality check about how lucky we are. We’re fortunate to work for Principality Building Society, a company which immediately let staff know that no one would be furloughed and changed its operations to support working from home for nearly everyone. We could both do our jobs remotely with surprising ease and that comfortable chair I’d bought for feeding the baby could be used immediately at my new make-shift desk. We work together normally so the adjustment to spending a lot of time with each other during the day was easy although we did set up in separate rooms to avoid hearing each other on calls saying phrases like “let’s drilldown on that” or “going forward…”.

We have a home we love and being there 24/7 meant we had more time to crack on with the jobs that needed sorting before the baby arrived. We tried to pace them out to break up the first few weekends. Soon the nursery was decorated, the wardrobes were full on Marie Kondo bliss, the bathroom cupboards an oasis of organisation. Who knew you could hoard so many half-used bottles of moisturiser?

Our NCT classes went ahead virtually and it wasn’t the crackly, awkward experience I’d feared. Everyone was lovely and we could chat in smaller breakout rooms on Zoom, view the information slides and laugh on mute between the two of us about the hilarious grey(?) knitted (?!) breast used to demonstrate breast feeding without anyone else being able to hear.

We also signed up for hypnobirthing with Claire from Yumi Yoga to help prep for the birth better. I hadn’t been feeling anxious about it but the news that the mid-wife led unit at the Heath had been closed (it’s now back open) and that we wouldn’t be able to stay together for some parts of labour, or if I needed to stay in after the birth, had made me feel less in control. The three sessions, run successfully on Zoom, were really helpful and allowed us to meet another friendly group of very local parents too.

Most significantly all the fun activities we’d had planned could still be achieved with a bit of forethought. The independent restaurants of Cardiff have done an amazing job diversifying their businesses to protect staff and customers but still be able to trade.

Paella made with fish from Ashtons and Spanish ingredients from Curado

We’ve had some splendid romantic dinner takeaways from Heaney’s, Bully’s, Dusty Knuckle, Leyli Joon, Hoof, Matsudai Ramen, Da Ling Kitchen and Mr Croquewich. We’ve also been able to get food delivered without relying on the supermarkets where we could never get a slot. Fresh veg every week from Paul’s Organic Veg, fresh meat and eggs from Oriel Jones and fish from Ashtons, cheese from Ty Caws, tapas treats from Curado, bread and amazing brownies from Pettigrew Bakery. Being able to cook proper meals has helped make things feel a bit more like normal even if you do have to get a bit creative to use up some of the random veg.

Salad made with veg from the veg box and Ty Caws cheese!

We’ve got subscriptions so we could still watch films and binge on box sets. My parents got Facebook so we could video call (albeit with a six second delay due to their appalling bandwidth). We did virtual pub quizzes and an escape room. I started a book club with my octogenarian granny, sister and mum. If anything I was too busy!

Family zoom session!

It’s fair to say the video chat fatigue has set in a bit. Now our classes are finished we’re taking a complete break from video calls next week. After all it might be our last one as a twosome before the baby arrives and we’ve got another “new normal” to adjust to.

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Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Ashley West

Today’s instalment for the Letters from Cardiff in lockdown series comes from Ashley West. We’re looking for your stories, so please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown. 

Bute Park. Photo by We Are Cardiff

My anxiety was waiving
My isolation already grown
As we entered into lockdown;
I felt even more alone.

One daily routine of exercise
Didn’t seem to change
The way in which I was feeling
In a world that turned so strange.
Our worlds got flipped, turned upside down,
It happened overnight.
No one could have predicted
That we would ever face this fight.
Each day brings on new worries
As I sit and hear the news.
But I’ve had to try to distance myself
As our leaders set out to confuse.
I work from home to bring normality,
To keep a routine, I’d guess you’d say.
But each morning I get up I think
“Here’s another struggle today.”
So many lives are being lost.
Groceries we had to ration.
It has spread through the world like wildfire
This virus has no compassion.
However, positives are being seen
As the world now starts to heal.
Pollution slowed, travel stopped,
Although still does not feel real.
Even though this has been tough,
This storm we can weather.
As communities have rallied round
Showing we can all get through this together.
Ash
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The Welsh Blood Service needs you!

Taking a brief break today from the Letters from Lockdown, we bring you this plea for help from the Welsh Blood Service.

The Welsh Blood Service needs to collect 350 units of blood every day to supply the 19 hospitals in Wales, which is a tough ask during the lockdown. At present only THREE PERCENT of the population donate blood. We need more of you than this!

Sobering stats. Get your butts out to donate! Donating blood is considered essential travel, so you can safely travel to any donation location.  

At the moment they can only accept donors with an appointment, so if you’re keen to donate, please head to the Welsh Blood Service website, register with them and make yourself an appointment.

It’s essential people continue to donate so patients can receive the treatment they need. YOUR BLOOD WILL BE SAVING LIVES! The WBS have taken extra measures to ensure donors and staff are safe while in clinic: read more about that here – Welsh Blood Service – coronavirus.

If you’ve been trying to book an appointment in Cardiff but haven’t found one yet, good news! The Welsh Blood Service will be visiting Plasnewydd Community Centre for five extra days from 1-5 June. They’re looking for people to donate, so please head over to the Welsh Blood Service website, register and book an appointment.

And because we don’t just preach, we practise too, Helia from the We Are Cardiff crew is heading out to give blood next week, and because she is 100% dedicated to life in the Matrix (and to try and encourage more of you to do it) she’ll be posting the whole thing LIVE on we WAC socials. Head to the We Are Cardiff Instagram on Wednesday 27 May for the full bloody Monty.

GET IN TOUCH WITH THE WELSH BLOOD SERVICE:

COVID-19 – CARDIFF CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN RESOURCES ON WE ARE CARDIFF:

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Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Abbie Morgan

Today’s instalment for the Letters from Cardiff in lockdown series comes from Abbie Morgan. We’re looking for your stories, so please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown

“2020 is going to be my year!” is the statement I made to friends at the end of January. So many other humans had used that phrase before me that it caused an eye roll for most, but I was trying to persuade myself that this would be the case. Moving to a new house, getting back to the person I have always been after the end of a really tough relationship and as I went through February and the start of March, it really felt like I was on track to make the most of that statement. Then came lockdown.

At the first suggestion of some time working from home, I was apprehensive but at the same time believed I could use the time wisely. I bought art supplies in the week running up to my last day in the office and reassured myself that I would be completely fine, knowing full well that loneliness had caused so many mental health issues in the past. Turns out I have done very little drawing or painting but taking photographs has definitely become a thing. Its almost like I have been trying to document what’s been happening to us all with the least amount of mental/physical effort.

Then the day came, as part of my job I had to make sure a few others in the office were okay before leaving. Little did I know that 7/8 weeks later I would miss their faces so much.

Working from home is okay… Just okay I’m afraid. One great piece of advice from my best friend was to make an office space so I could feel like I was in a work environment, not just curled up on the sofa every day or worse still, not getting out of bed other than to eat. My little breakfast bar is the spot, but it means sitting on a bar stool type chair every day leading to having to get up and stretch A LOT.

I have two cats as my isolation buddies and, If I am completely honest, are a great source of company despite sleeping for most of the day. They keep me in a routine and force me to get up at 5am to be fed. If you have ever experienced two cats screaming in your face at that time of day, you will know it is definitely a sound you cannot ignore. This in turn has led to me heading out for a run first thing in the morning and making the most of Cardiff Bay at that time of day. I stop at points on the route each time to take a photo or two and share them on my Instagram stories for those who sleep way past sunrise.

During this whole situation there has been the question of dating. I went on a few dates prior to lockdown being in full force and it was great to have the idea of getting to know someone new.

Dealing with what is now lovingly known as the new normal whilst trying to date or connect with someone new throws up all sorts of challenges. How many messages a day is reasonable? How much do you need to share about your boring day in the flat? How do you know if you actually like this person or how much do they like you without being in each other’s company? Is this just a lockdown thing or are the plans you have made for later this year real or just a fantasy?

It’s a mental health nightmare, especially for an overthinker like myself. All I can say is that the idea of company at the end of a phone from someone who thinks enough of you to reply is a nice feeling. Maybe it’ll be something or, maybe it’ll be a strange version of a holiday romance and once lockdown changes, their attention will head back to their life before. Either way, a connection with someone who you are slowly getting know, a message or call at a time, has allowed me to dream about a time without restrictions.

My favourite personal challenge during this time has been to post a photo of all the outfits I have decided to wear. It has to be plural as I often feel the need for a costume change half way through a day. I have spent 17 years collecting so many different items of clothing from vintage fairs, charity shops and even some expensive gowns for posh events in the past. Most have only seen the light of day once so it felt like a good time to show them off. There have been fancy dress Zoom parties and dressing up for VE day which have been little excuses to dig right to the back of the wardrobe for something special.

As I write this, I am currently wearing outfit 65.. and still have, I think, at least another 30 days’ worth to go. I honestly do not want this lock down to continue until I run out of clothes, but I get the feeling that may well be the case!

Follow Abbie on Instagram @babos87 

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Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Claire Ait-Hammi, The Med Shed

Today’s instalment for the Letters from Cardiff in lockdown series comes from Claire Ait-Hammi of The Med Shed. We’re looking for your stories, so please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown

One thing I am absolutely loving at the moment is getting to know our local community a lot more. Usually I am dashing to work/from work/running after the kids/working at weekends, so I am really loving being able to take leisurely walks in our local area of Penylan.

So here’s my summary of my life so far in lockdown – as a mum to Zach (nine) and Sophia (seven), wife (to Nabil), full-time employee and co-owner of a small food business.

Even though it seems we were following the spread of COVID-19 for ages, and lockdown was inevitable, it still came on a bit sudden. One minute I was in the office, Nabil was at work, the kids at school. Next minute routine was completely out the window as I enjoyed a delicious amount of free time with Nabil and the kids but was the only one who had to get up the next day to work.

Anyway after a few weeks I started to get into the rhythm of things a little bit. Nabil and I were tinkering with various projects in the house, starting painting and tidying jobs that were well overdue.

Zach and Sophia were enjoying (and still very much are), the freedom of childhood not currently bound by strict timetabling and ferrying from one extracurricular activity to the other.

Unfortunately we are not the type of people happy to tinker in the house for very long. Despite working full-time, our weekends are usually busy with events for our street food business – The Med Shed.  At first I was enjoying the freedom of evenings and weekends at home, but we quickly became bored.

We started to see fellow food businesses branch out into other ventures – including offering meals to NHS workers and offering a takeaway service.

We approached a charity based in West Wales – FeedtheNHSWales and began supplying meals to our hardworking NHS staff in Cardiff and Llandough. It can be tough coming up with suitable meals – considering reheating, presentation and flavour – but we’ve had some great feedback so far.

It certainly presented a new and exciting challenge doing bulk catering from a domestic registered premises!  Meals that we have provided so far include:

  • Poulet Roti with Pommes Lyonnaise
  • Algerian Meatballs & Couscous
  • Tchakchouka & Couscous
  • Chicken Shawarma Wraps
  • Falafel Wraps
  • Butternut Squash & Goat’s Cheese Lasagne
  • Goats Cheese & Caramelised Onion Tartlet.

Nabil is Algerian, so our street food is usually heavily influenced by North Africa, but we decided to create a Mediterranean name and theme to enable us to offer dishes from all over the Med and experiment with different cuisine.

One week in to providing meals for the NHS we got the fever and started to offer takeaway delivery service to locals on a Saturday. We usually take orders during the week and offer a Saturday night delivery. This is going very well and has certainly been a huge learning curve taking on different aspects to a food business during this time!

We have had great support from various local suppliers in helping to feed the NHS. Huge thanks goes out to The Orchard Butchers (Rumney) and C Snell Potatoes. Their generosity knows no bounds and they offer quality produce.

One thing I am absolutely loving at the moment is getting to know our local community a lot more. Usually I am dashing to work/from work/running after the kids/working at weekends, so I am really loving being able to take leisurely walks in our local area of Penylan.

Being a member of a Facebook group such as the Penylan/Cyncoed/Roath community is lovely, but it doesn’t work as well as personal interaction. We were looking forward to hopefully working with everyone at the Penylan Picnic event this year (organised by Waterloo Gardens Fete).

Last year’s event made a huge difference to our community and it was great to meet so many other locals. Hopefully next year! I’m hoping that when things start to go back to ‘normal’ (not sure I ever knew the meaning of the word!), I don’t forget our family evening walks, bike rides and chats (currently at a distance!) to other locals. As someone who has split their time as a full time employee working from home, tutor and food business owner, I never anticipated the lack of energy I sometimes have for either one thing or the other.

Can I confess something? I had big plans for home educating when all this started. I have all the resources/subscription to Twinkl/years of early education/personal tutoring, but sometimes I really can’t be bothered!

I’m often feeling torn between thinking I could (or is that should?) do more with my children; and thinking hang on! They are happy – and as long as they continue to be happy and can reintegrate when all this is over isn’t that enough? Please tell me I’m not alone in feeling this way!

So in short – I, like so many others, am just doing the best I can during this time. I won’t be taking up another language or learning a new subject (although languages is a huge passion of mine and I’ve always wanted to study forensic linguistics), because I really don’t feel like it at the moment.

However I will try my best to get to know my community of Cardiff better and try to be content with what I achieve on a day to day basis. Who else is with me?!

Follow Claire on Facebook (Claire Ait-Hammi), or check out The Med Shed and order all the goodies from them! Email The Med Shed | The Med Shed Facebook | The Med Shed Twitter | The Med Shed Instagram

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Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Alice, aged two

Today’s instalment for the Letters from Cardiff in lockdown series comes from Alice, aged two. Full disclosure, she had some help from a human adult she has enslaved to look after her. We’re looking for your stories, so please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown

My favourite lockdown activities include: clapping for key workers, swapping books with my friends, colouring the inside of a large cardboard box while sitting in it, yoga (I have invented extra poses, such as ‘fish’ and ‘snake’) and pretending to be a dinosaur. I would recommend all of them.

I ask most days if we can ‘do clapping’. But it turns out that’s only on Thursday nights. I like to see everyone outside clapping. It also means I get to wave to my friend, Jeremy, across the road, who, like me, is also in his pyjamas and sleeping bag by 8pm. When the clapping stops, I am known to shout “More clapping!” And sometimes that works.

It has been nice having Daddy at home. He’s normally at the university but he has been giving lectures to his students from the spare room. I have made the most of him being at home by waiting until I am outside his door to belt out Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo. I also once gave him a fright by running up the stairs and into his office while he was in a Zoom meeting and saying “What you up to?” (In case you were wondering, Mummy was just trying to wash her hands during all of this; they don’t call me Speedy GonzAlice for nothing.)

Mummy says our house now looks like we should be on an episode of Hoarders, whatever that is. It’s true that we have a lot more cardboard than we used to: a cardboard house, a cardboard boat, a cardboard TV and a cardboard under-the-sea scene. I also made an Elmer the Elephant using an old milk carton and some colourful paper squares. I say ‘made’, I mean project managed.

It is hard not seeing friends and family, though. I miss them. The other day I was walking past my favourite playground with Mummy and I asked if I could go on the seesaw with my friend Millie, but she said it’s closed now but we will do when we can. So instead we went into the grassy area of the park and I went up to all the trees and hugged them.

I feel a bit wary when I see people I don’t know walking around. I think it’s because Mummy sometimes picks me up or crosses the street if there are people about, and that’s very strange to me. I don’t always know how to react.

Normally I go to lots of different places, but now we have to keep a distance from everyone, even our friends. But we do make each other cards and talk on the phone. One time I said to Millie, “Wash your hands, nice and clean!” and then lay down on the floor and put a toilet roll on my tummy. It was hysterical. I think mummy would call that my peak lockdown moment.

I got upset the other day that I couldn’t go to the supermarket with Daddy. And when we saw an airplane I asked if I could go on it.

I’m lucky that I find beauty in small things. I am interested in all the different kinds of birds. I like spotting helicopters in the sky. Yesterday when I was in the garden, I watched a bee. Then I said “Excuse me, bee” and waited patiently for it to fly away before watering our apple tree.

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