Tag Archives: blog about cardiff

The elastic band effect – in conversation with Meryl Cubley

In this week’s person to person, we sit down for a chat with Meryl Cubley, Cardiff-based journalist and writer.


Cardiff is my home – despite not being born here. I’m originally from a very small village located on the Staffordshire Moorlands (very Heathcliffe) but I spent much of my childhood growing up on the coast of west Wales.

You could say that that particular part of the Welsh coastline is intrinsic to who I am – it certainly makes up a good 70 per cent of my childhood memories. It was a very special time for me and the friends who I grew up alongside in west Wales: mainly Welsh, though two or three of us were English. These were dark political times – significant tension existed between the local Welsh and the English interlopers who had holiday homes – but never used them: basically pricing locals out of their own areas of birth because they could no longer afford the house prices.

It was also a time of miners strikes, huge unemployment and a change in the cultural landscape of Britain that we have never recovered from. Yet despite these difficult times, tucked away in a tiny part of the world seven coves long, we enjoyed a halcyon childhood that many will never experience. I know that I feel incredibly lucky to have such amazing and special memories of that west Wales coast; and whenever I go back now, I immediately feel all the stresses and strains of everyday life disappear as soon as I smell the sea air, or look at the different play of light there, or look up to see a canopy full of stars. It is a very special place – and I simply wouldn’t have those memories if it weren’t for Cymru – the people and the place.

Being a country girl at heart brought up pretty much on horseback; I knew I’d have to move to ‘the big smoke’ if I wanted to live the exciting kind of life I dreamed of and read about in the countless novels and biographies I often had my head stuck in. So I left home at a very young age; and over the years lived in London, Manchester and Bristol among others; and leaned my street smarts the hard way. Each city had its charms, its time ‘on the map’. There’s no question that they have influenced my passion and love of arts and culture, music and society. There were incredible music scenes, new political ideas, a change in style, culture and fashion: we’re talking about in particular the scenes in Manchester and Bristol here – London always seemed like a rat trap to me.

But Cardiff had me hooked from the start. I was living in Australia, pretending to be a surfer chick, on a gap year before they were called a gap year; after a particularly nasty accident left me in a wheelchair for eight months. I got a phone call from my Mum at home in west Wales, to say I’d had an unconditional offer from Cardiff’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies – one of the top rated institutions in the UK for media training. I think it’s significant to note that I was seriously considering studying in Sydney at the time – but I knew immediately that I wanted to study and live in Cardiff.

After three years of hard graft and like many students, I decided to stay and work in Cardiff after I had graduated. I’ve worked for all of the Welsh media institutions at one time and another – and learned a lot – and had a lot of fun doing so.

When I did leave in 2003, to edit a graffiti publication in Bristol; I honestly didn’t think I’d be back – but lo and behold – nine years ago I did come back to live and work in Cardiff once more. It seems I just can’t stay away!

Since coming back I love the range of things on offer here. If I had friends visiting for the weekend, this would be our weekend itinerary:
  • Friday night – local drinks – which ranges from the Albany pub to Milgi to all the choices on Wellfield Road.
  • Saturday – brunch at Porro or Cameo – or one of the greasy spoon cafes if it was a really good night! Then follow that by a walk around Roath Park Lake or Bute Park. In the summer it’s great fun hopping on the little boat docked near the Bute Park entrance; and zipping down to Cardiff Bay. A walk across the barrage to Penarth is a must, blows away the night before, feels like a million miles away – and is an awesome spot for collecting marine fossils. Grab the train back to Cardiff, have a brief siesta; then the fun starts all over again! Dinner at Il Pastifico, Potted Pig or Cafe Citta, followed by cocktails at Dead Canary; and dancing over at Gwdihw. Then on to an after party wherever that happens to be …
  • Sunday involves, bed, cat, papers and ordering in!


Meryl Cubley is an Editor, Journalist and Writing Consultant. You can see more of her work at merylcubley.com or follow her @merylcubley. She currently lives in Roath.

Meryl was photographed by Lorna Cabble at Cameo Club on Wellfield Road.

We Are Cardiff’s most viewed posts of 2014: in review

This blog was viewed about 130,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it. And that’s a FACT.

The busiest day of the year was December 10th with 1,758 views. The most popular post that day was Cardiff Indoor Flea Market.

Check out our most viewed posts of 2014!

NUMBER ONE: Street Food Cardiff – food pop ups every weekend from now to Christmas!


The top of our list was the post about the pop-up food hall that totally occurred on Dumballs Road between October and Christmas. We went along to the preview night, which was epic, even though they ran out of squid ink burgers JUST before we got there, sad face. Looking forward to new big things from the creative crew behind this in 2015!

NUMBER TWO: Cardiff hidden gem – Rose Street flea market


At number two, it was a Cardiff ‘hidden gem’: Rose Street Flea Market, tucked away on Rose Street in Roath, and only open a couple of days a week. One of the best places in Cardiff to pick up your secondhand goods from!

NUMBER THREE: Cardiff Indoor Flea Market


Another post about a flea market – this time, Cardiff Indoor Flea Market over in Tremorfa. It’s a bit out of the way (unless you live just off Newport Road), but well worth the journey down there.

NUMBER FOUR: The Gower Pub, Cardiff 1895 – 2014. RIP

Gower Pub by Jon Pountney

A sad post about one of Cathays’ best pubs, closing its doors for the last time in 2014. Photographer Jon Pountney went along to document the closing.

NUMBER FIVE “Malaysian – Cardiffian – a harmonious fusion between two cultures, two cities and two lifestyles” – Zainah

zainah by jon pountney

This one is a bittersweet entry in the top five, because a couple of months after we posted this story, KL Canalog was forced to close. Boo! I only went there to eat ONCE before it closed down, which is a CRIME against my belly, because frankly their mie goreng with a fried egg on top was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.

And that’s our top five posts of last year! Hope you’re enjoying January and it’s not been too hard on you so far.




“Work in progress” – Alex

Alex Norton by Joseph Singh

Cardiff and I didn’t begin auspiciously; I’ve found that the best relationships rarely do. Friends have suggested that that’s a reflection on my own social ineptitude but, in this case, it’s irrefutable proof of this city’s ability to charm you into a three year relationship off the back of a farcical first date.

If you were to conjure up an image of a sodden Central Square on a bleak Spring day, you might be inclined to agree that the combined effect of the overbearing conditions, fast food outlets and an array of characters best described as ‘colourful’ would be conducive to a sobering first impression. Dismissing any initial angst that might have crept in as a product of sheltered, rural naivety, I made my way to Cathays Park.

The ambience inspired by the Edwardian architecture here was altogether more agreeable, and I advanced into the Bute Building with a sense of purpose. Once inside I was informed that the next introductory lecture wouldn’t be taking place for another two hours, and promptly left again. But having spent an unadventurous youth in rural Dorset I rapidly became disorientated amidst my new surroundings – and to make matters worse, the rain had cranked up to apocalyptic levels. I huddled in a bus stop.

I had become a vagrant.

Worse for wear and somewhat dispirited, a cup of coffee and the subsequent lecture nonetheless brightened my mood – and my outlook was further bolstered by a member of the welcome committee, who laughingly assured me that the prevailing meteorological conditions were anomalous and that I would enjoy city life. I now know the first part of this statement to be marketing at its most deceitful. On the second count, however, she couldn’t have been more correct.

Within six months I had been blown back to the city by the winds of whimsy, this time as a fully fledged Welsh resident. Two years on, I remain convinced that I’ve struck the jackpot.

Having perused this blog time and time again, it is hard not to wholly plagiarise the sentiments with which I agree wholeheartedly. Cardiff is the perfect introduction to real life, particularly for a small town émigré. Whilst large enough to make every trip the opportunity to discover something new, it is small enough to know intimately. A capital city that retains the feel of a secret, close-knit community, it is a city of contradictions – and all the better for it.

My friends, perhaps dazzled by bright lights, used the university application process to head for London. That (coupled with the fact that it’s home to my beloved Fulham Football Club) means that I frequently find myself wandering the streets of the Big Smoke. There can be no doubt that it is an exceptional city to work, a sprawling metropolis unrivalled in its social and economic opportunities. But to live? Not for me.

It may be that the dangling of the economic carrot obliges me to migrate there sooner rather than later, but I have a feeling that I will always be drawn back to Cardiff and its nuances – the arcades, Bute Park, Tiger Bay. Even the Millennium Stadium holds a place in my heart, despite the pain that has been inflicted on my home country upon its hallowed turf.

I know of few cities that blend high street amenities, waterfront café culture and unspoilt greenery so successfully within the confines of a few square miles. To me there are few more idyllic afternoons than lunch at the New York Deli and a stroll along the Taff. It’s a city designed for living, and I can only hope it stays that way.

As a sport fan, it’s a near-perfect location. There are few other cities in the world which you can leave your house and be within walking distance of regular international rugby, football and cricket and the accompanying carnival atmosphere. The ability to see the world’s most expensive footballer tearing Wales’ opponents apart and be home within twenty minutes is a convenience shared only by the residents of Madrid, and it’s one that I treasure.

In 12 months time, my stay in south Wales is due to come to end – and I don’t know what I’m going to do about it. Whatever jibes that are unfairly directed its way by those who live blissfully in their ignorance, it is an immense privilege to call myself a Cardiffian.



Alex Norton is a final year undergraduate at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Culture and currently serves as News Editor for the newly launched monthly ‘The University Paper’. Like all proper students he lives in Cathays, and in his spare time he’s either travelling to football matches, reclining in Coffee Barker or walking around the city in a daze asking people if they’ve seen the last two years of his life. He can be found on Twitter @thealexmancan.

Alex was photographed at Cathays Park by Joseph Singh

Cardiff: our personal geography – by Cavalry

This week in our personal geographies, we’re squeezing in an entire band! Meet Cardiff band Cavalry…


(C A V A L R Y from left to right: Joni Buckland, Richie Lovett, Dan Briggs, Gareth Hallybone)


Introduce us to the band

Hi all! We are Cavalry and we consist of Richie Lovett (vocals) Dan Briggs (guitar) Gareth Hallybone (bass) and Joni Buckland (drums).

How did you all meet, and how long have you been playing together for?

We all met at a house party that Richie threw (from what we can remember). They were legendary parties and somehow we ended up playing a New Year’s Eve show in his basement at one of the parties shortly after. We’ve been playing together for two years now, mainly rehearsing and refining our set in MusicBox Studios. We’re currently readying ourselves for a huge summer which will see the release of our debut single ‘Mexico’, our first music video to date, the launch of our new website www.wearecavalry.com and new Cavalry merchandise.

Explain your sound to us

Heavy nice, nice heavy?… When we write, we like to mix clean verse sounds with fuzzy choruses. Rich has a talent for signing soft, tuneful verses and then belting out huge anthemic choruses so it works well. Basically, we want our songs to stick in your head so you wake up the next morning and take a peak at our website or log on to Spotify to have a second listen…

What’s your favourite Cardiff venue?

It has to be the Globe on Albany Road. The sound is incredible, it gets hot and sweaty, you meet really cool people and there is a really intimate vibe at the shows.

How did you all end up in Cardiff?

We were all drawn to the bright lights of Cardiff from Newport and Maesteg. For us, it was a sort of natural progression to a bigger city and a lot of our friends did the same thing. Three of us (Rich, Dan and Jon) actually lived in the same house for a year which was great. There’s no better test of a band’s patience than being stuck in a house living together.

What parts of Cardiff have you lived in so far?

The 4 of us combined have lived in Roath, Cathays, Grangetown, Canton and Cardiff Bay. Rich definitely takes the award for living in the best rented accommodation in Cardiff. He lived in a four story mansion and had a gold fireplace in his bedroom. Beat that.

What was the last gig you went to?

We all went to see Royal Blood in the Globe two months ago and it was by far one of the best shows we have seen in a very long time. We caught them just before they really took off and it was amazing to see them in such an intimate venue. We will be definitely watching them at Glasto this year!

What was the last book you read?

(Dan) I last read Dial ‘M’ for Merthyr by Rachel Trezise. It’s an amazing account of being on tour with a Welsh band called Midasuno in 2005. It’s a real warts ‘n’ all account of life on the road which every touring musician can relate to. I would definitely recommend giving it a read!

Tell us a secret

Dan played session guitar for Tina Barett from S Club 7. Shortly after playing, Dan and Rich ended up drinking £1000 worth of Champagne with her and her boyfriend! Good times.

What’s your favourite place for breakfast in Cardiff?

The Deck in Cardiff Bay is the place to go. One word. Bacon.

What’s your local pub?

Our local is Dempseys on Castle Street. Even if we start off there and move on, we always end up back there at the end of the night! The bar staff are great, the Guiness is great and the atmosphere is great. God bless the Irish.

Tell us a hidden part of Cardiff that you love

There is a lighthouse on an island in the middle of Roath Lake. It’s a great little landmark but we found out the other day, it’s actually a four bedroom, rentable property?! It’s safe to say we were blown away when we find that out. We are hoping it will become Cavalry HQ in the not too distant future!

If you had some friends coming to visit for the weekend, where would you take them?

We would wake up in the morning, take them to the Deck for a ‘Hog and Hen’ roll (seriously you need to try one) and then go for walk around the bay. We ‘d pop in to Techniquest, pretend to be Brian Cox and then nip over to the Waterguard pub as we’d have definitely worked up a thirst by then. Next stop, the Mochyn Du to sample their selection of real ales and then trek across town to Milgi’s on City Road to chill out in their yurt and have a cocktail. Lunch would be an epic burger in the Grazing Shed in town and then on to Clwb Ifor Bach to catch a gig in the night. That actually sounds like a great plan. We might do that this weekend…

If people want to see you live, when’s their next opportunity?

We are playing Undertone this Friday 9 May! It will be our first Cardiff show so it promises to be quite an event and our good friends Ghosts as Alibis and Calling Apollo are on the bill with us. If you want any more information please visit the facebook event page on this link: https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/1413579325565844/

Thanks Cavalry! More Cardiff personal geographies real soon …


March in review on We Are Cardiff

Well, March was a pretty busy month on the blog, so I thought I’d do a quick round up to pull together some of the best stuff. Read on!




March was the the start of our Instagram project, where we handed over our Instagram account to a Cardiff resident and got them to document their journeys through the city that month. Rhian Richards broke our Instagram project cherry (ooer!) and took some damn fine snaps in the process. In April, Elizabeth Watt will be taking over – follow her on our We Are Cardiff Instagram. If you fancy taking over the feed for a month this year, contact us on wearecardiff@gmail.com.

Tanya by Joe Singh

We featured someone who was truly, actually ‘kick-ass’ on the site – Muay Thai fighter TANYA MERRETT told us about how she got into the sport and explained a little about her background and her training schedule. Click the image or her name to read her story. Her next fight is on 6 April 2014 – good luck Tanya!

Penarth by Helia Phoenix

Excitingly for me (and I’m sure thousands of Cultural Criticism/English Literature students from Cardiff uni), one of my old lecturers NEIL BADMINGTON wrote up some of his memories of Cardiff from his youth and his favourite spots here now. Click his name or the picture of his hometown Penarth to read that feature.

We also featured our first story from a Cardiff ex-pat. Having come across the We Are Cardiff site a few years back, ex-Cardiffian-current-Londoner James Davies was inspired to write about his memories of living here. We’ve got an excerpt here or click over to James Davies’ website to read the whole thing.

Richard Shaffner by Joe Singh

Photography lecturer RICHARD stopped by to tell us why he’s starting to think of Cardiff rather than his native St Ives as home these days…

AND …. MOST IMPORTANTLY … we supported CEO Sleepout Cardiff, supporting Llamau, Cardiff Foodbank and Service Leavers Wales. 

March was quite the month. See you in April!


PS – @wearecardiff on Twitter, also on Facebook. Come join us there!

“It’s changed so much that parts don’t even resemble the old Cardiff” – Colin


I don’t live in Cardiff, let me point that out firstly. I’m from Penrhiwfer, a small village near Tonypandy in the Rhondda Valley. But, I’ve worked in and around the city for years, and seen big changes. I used to deliver all over from the Ely link to St Mellons and so I knew all the short cuts and side roads. That was then, before it began developing into the trendy, cosmopolitan capital we see today. Now, it’s changed so much that parts don’t even resemble the old Cardiff. The Bay for instance, which depicted the docks, is so fresh and fashionable now. The beautiful cafés, clubs and restaurants, a far cry from the humdrum and drab existence it used to portray. Don’t get me wrong, we still need our history, but the world has to move forward too. I like the transition from old to new.

I was, as I said a delivery driver; delivering everything from TVs to furniture and everything in between. I drove through Fairwater, Roath, Grangetown, Ely and many other areas. But my life changed when I took the experiences and jotted them down on paper.

I got great ideas travelling through the various streets and that eventually gave me the setting for a book. I’m a full-time fiction author now. I have done lots of book-signing events at Waterstones in the Hayes, to Borders (now gone) and indie book shops. I wrote Crank Tech One: Destruction. This is a sci-fi novel with scenes that were eventually set in the middle of the city. At the time they were filming a lot of locations in Cardiff for Dr Who with David Tennant. This excited me to pen my novel here.

Places change and people move on too. I don’t deliver anymore, but have fond memories of the places and characters I met that depicted the Cardiff way of life.

Colin Parsons is a writer. Find out more about his work on his website www.colinrparsons.com.

Colin was photographed inside the Wales Millennium Centre by Helia Phoenix


“Cardiff has a heart and a bruised beauty which makes it a wonderful place to be” – Richard


I guess Cardiff has always felt like a city that I always knew through association. Kind of a like a friend of a friend. I come from Cornwall and have always felt a bond and a close affinity with my group of friends. We aren’t a big bunch, but we are a tight bunch, friends for life, that kind of thing. When I left Cornwall in 2002 to go to university, I chose to study Fine Art at Bristol. Far away enough to be far away but close enough to be close. Painting and photographing things from my home and creating work which revolved around displacement and memory. Cornwall was always my muse.

I was lucky though that my best friend Jon had moved just over the Severn, a 40 minute train ride away. Cardiff, a city in Wales; a city in another country! Memories of the times visiting Jon in Cardiff revolve around the studenty side of things. His house in Cathays, Chippy-alley, endless queues waiting to get into the CIA, St. Mary’s Street and the big cinemas, the tunnel under the Severn. The usual sort of things. But I remember it well and always thought that it seemed like a great place.

After uni, Bristol stayed as my base and I stayed on after I finished university. Jon moved to Bristol and other friends (Dave, Alan, Becky, Lauren and Ruth) all ended up in the city at some time or another. It was like a little Cornish ex-pat community! This didn’t last forever, as the call of the motherland, home, took hold and most of them moved back down to Cornwall.

Now, I fast forward a few years to Feb 2011 and my next liaison with Cardiff takes place. I had grown up, I had got a job, and I had got a girlfriend! A sort of serious one. I was still in Bristol, but said girlfriend was working in Cardiff at a new museum (The Cardiff Story) that had just opened. Both of us working away from the city that we lived in led to lots of money being spent, lots of arguments and tiredness and meant that really, only one thing had to happen. We had to move to Cardiff. Something I never thought would happen. This place that I kind of remember from drunken shenanigans and fun years before had never had ‘home’ written on it for me, but the things you do for love eh?

But moving to Cardiff still didn’t mean that it would become more than an acquaintance. It was still nothing more than something which I knew, but only a little bit. I was driving out of the city every morning to go to my job in Weston-super-Mare, and driving back in the evening, knackered and not wanting or feeling like exploring this city that has so much to do. I felt, again, that I was in Cardiff for somebody else, not for myself. Not for my own reasons.

I felt isolated, lost and a little demoralised. I didn’t really like it here (if I am honest, I cried the first night I was here. But keep that to yourself!). We moved to Adamsdown; to a sweet little two bedroomed house with a little garden and a toilet beyond the kitchen! We had paper-thin walls and everything that went on either side of the house was heard with excruciating honesty and intimacy! It was a kind of baptism of fire. I missed my peaceful existence in Cornwall. The sea and the light. All I thought Cardiff existed of was seagulls and bin bags. And neighbours who made too much noise and didn’t walk their dogs. Their dogs liked to bark!

But through this, friendship came from unlikely places and my horrendous commute found other poor souls who were doing the same thing. We ended up lift sharing and my soul began to settle. Home is where the heart is? Home began to become Cardiff.

I am a photography lecturer and jobs are always a little hard to come by so the commute existed for nearly 18 months. It was intense and insane. 550 miles a week and £450 a month. This couldn’t go on. I prayed for (not religious!), wished for (pennies in wishing wells) and trawled the job sites for new jobs in Wales. There must be something. Eventually, there was something. I got a job. And another bonus, it was on the right side of the bridge. A job and a sort of promotion! I am half way through my second year teaching at this college and life is looking up. Friendship has been a constant fuel for me, and in my new college I am blessed with a multitude of friends. Barmy, warm, generous, wickedly funny, kind and lovely!

Cardiff has become my home. Said girlfriend and I were engaged, but have parted ways. We had bought a house. In Roath. Near the park. I ran around it and tried to get fit. We went to galleries, gigs, exhibitions and we took in the beautiful country around us. Garth Mountain was a particular favourite. Things change and life moves on. We are now friends, but Cardiff remains a constant. I am still here and I am still enjoying it. The future hints at excitement and intrigue, and things to be happy about, but also lots of things to think about and work out.

Canton is now ‘home’ and Chapter has become a favourite haunt. Makes me feel involved and connected. Instead of running around the park, I have joined a gym and am getting fitter!

Home is supposed to be where the heart is, but my heart will always remain in Cornwall. For me, now, home is where the soul is. And my soul is happy here. Cardiff has the city element which is important for all of the things that it brings, but it is also always near to the country. I make my artwork here and feel confident and inspired. Wales, and in particular Cardiff, has a heart and a bruised beauty which makes it a wonderful place to be. Perhaps I have found my new muse.

Richard Shaffner is a lecturer in photography. He was born in Maidenhead, grew up in St. Ives, and currently lives in Canton.

Richard was photographed in Chapter Arts Centre by Joe Singh.



Cardiff: my personal geography, by Neil Badmington

A new series here on We Are Cardiff, where locals and those who live nearby let us into their key locations around the city … and tell us a little bit about themselves in the process. First up – Neil Badminton, lecturer at Cardiff University. 

Penarth by Helia Phoenix

In Cardiff, home is…

Not in Cardiff at all, actually: I live in Penarth. (As Staten Island is to Manhattan…) There’s something fatally reassuring about living at the end of a railway line. All things terminate here. No passing through, no going on. For other destinations, go back the way you came. We have reached the end of the line and are waiting quietly for the sea to claim us.

Favourite Cardiff eatery …

Mission Burrito on The Friary has been seducing me recently, but I have long carried a torch for the garlic aubergines at the Riverside on Tudor Street.

Ideal first date in Cardiff …

A first date in Cardiff would have been my dream as an unloved and unlovable teenager marooned in the Welsh borderlands. These days, as an unloved and unlovable adult, I’d choose for a first date the ink display stand in Pen and Paper, in the Royal Arcade. If you can’t embrace my love of ink and fine fountain pens, this relationship is going nowhere.

Tell us something that most people don’t know about you

I was one of Cardiff’s buskers in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Van Morrison’s ‘Gloria’ was always a money-spinner, although on one occasion a man put £5 in my guitar case and then took it back out again when, on a giddy whim, I segued from ‘Gloria’ into M’s ‘Pop Muzik’ via an ambitious harmonica solo. ‘Same chords! Same chords!’, I yelled, hoping that he’d change his mind and put the money back. ‘Different shit, mate’, he replied.

Earliest Cardiff memory

I grew up about forty miles away from Cardiff, so many of my weekends involved escaping on the train from small-town narrowness to the unbound promise of the city. I have countless memories of Cardiff, then, but one goes back further than the others. I’m standing on the pavement of Queen Street before the road was pedestrianised, holding hands with both of my parents. The traffic seems impossibly fast, loud, and dirty, and I’m wondering how we are going to make it to the other side of the road without dying. One of my parents tells me that the street is soon to be paved over. ‘And the cars will go away’,  I say. The pedestrianisation happened in 1974, so my memory must be from around that date, when I would have been three years old.

What was the last film you saw?

David Lean’s Brief Encounter. This is my favourite film, and I need to watch it every few weeks or I become worryingly optimistic about the universe. I crept back to it late last night with a cup of lime blossom tea and the promise of reviving gloom. When I was staying in Lancaster a few years ago, a friend took me to nearby Carnforth railway station, where much of Brief Encounter was filmed. In many ways, the station has been modernised beyond recognition, but the clock and the underpass are still there, and there’s a charming platform café which has been designed to recall the one in the film. I wanted never to leave.No, no, I don’t want that time to come ever. I want to remember every minute, always, always to the end of my days.’

Favourite Cardiff shops

Wally’s delicatessen in Royal Arcade has been a world of wonder since I was a child. Pen and Paper, further down the same arcade, satisfies my endless desire for ink and paper. Troutmark Books in Castle Arcade always contains something surprising, as does The Pumping Station on Penarth Road.

Best Cardiff-based leisure activity

The word ‘leisure’ suggests rough games to me, or possibly outdoor activities. I detest sport and nature. If ‘leisure’ can be stretched to sedentary film-going, I’d single out the cinema at Chapter, although I make a point of avoiding anything by my beloved Woody Allen there, as audiences tend to take the screenings as competitions to see who can laugh loudest at obscure Kierkegaard references, thus drowning out the dialogue. That’s the only bad thing I can say about the wonderful Chapter, though. I will never forget my first visit there in 1988 to watch, for reasons I can no longer recall, Mississippi Burning. I had never seen so many effortlessly cool people; I knew even then that I would never be one of them. To this day I feel inadequate whenever I step through the doors. (Shouldn’t I have a piercing? A tattoo? A tattooed piercing? And shouldn’t I be on my way back from photographing a DJ in a Gabalfa garage?)

What was the last book you read?

The Days of Anna Madrigal — the ninth and final volume in Armistead Maupin’s ‘Tales of the City’ series. I was bereft when I reached the last page. I spent a lot of time in San Francisco and the surrounding area when I was a student in California in the early 1990s. I’ve never been back, but these books, with their perfect sense of mischievous place, have been a constant connection.

Best Cardiff pub/s

I hate pubs and the dim place of alcohol in British life, so I can’t answer this question. If Temperance Town still existed in Cardiff, I’d be one of its secular inhabitants, banging my dry drum on my high horse. (A colleague tells me that I spend my life on my high horse, to which I say: better a high horse than a Shetland pony.) St. Mary Street should be a wonderful, elegant boulevard (look at the architecture, the built possibility), but instead it’s a valley of vomit. Sentences from Tolstoy’s ‘Why Do People Stupefy Themselves?’ ought to be carved into the paving stones … if the latter were visible beneath the grease, the jilted thongs, and the caked bodily fluids.

Favourite Cardiff discovery

At some point in the second half of the 1980s (probably 1986), word began to spread around my secondary school about a place known only as “Jacob’s”. Hidden away beneath a dark and dripping railway bridge near Cardiff Central, the myth whispered, this was an indoor market on several floors which sold second-hand clothes capable of transforming the wearer into an authentically angst-ridden teenager. Ordinary kids disappeared there over the weekend and turned up in school on Monday looking like they’d shuffled out of a Anton Corbijn Joy Division photo-shoot. I saved my money; I made the trip. I came back with a long black Crombie coat which was heavier than I was, and which transformed my keen posture into a defeated hunch. With the help of this magic cloak, I spent the rest of the 1980s being disaffected in various locations in south Wales, always staring solemnly into the distance for something lost, something better.

I’m delighted to see that Jacob’s is still there, although the surrounding area is unrecognisable when I compare it to my memories. The place no longer has quite the same appeal, but the mere sight of the building from the passing train transforms me instantly from a tubby middle-aged man back into a skinny teenager. I discovered by chance a couple of years ago that my favourite trader from those distant days, Tails and the Unexpected, still exists, but now operates from a house in Penarth, just around the corner from where I live. Mark, the owner, sold me that original Crombie coat, and these days he oversees with elegance and charm my desire for hats.

Jacob's Antiques by Walt Jabsco

Old gramophones in Jacob’s Antiques

Last album you listened to

Van Morrison’s Veedon Fleece. I listen to this most days with a sense of wonder.

If you had friends coming to Cardiff for a weekend, what would you recommend they do?

There’s unbearable ethical pressure in this question. I’m never comfortable showing people around or making recommendations: no one’s going to be interested in my fancies. (It was once put to me, rather wearily, that a romantic weekend in Paris should contain more than an artisan ink maker’s studio and Proust’s grave.) All I’d recommend, then, is structuring the day around two seductive views of the city. Start the morning at the top of Cardiff University’s towering Psychology Building, near the top of Park Place, from which you can see for miles in all directions. When day is done, when darkness has fallen, look back over the water at the illuminated city skyline from Paget Road in Penarth. In between, well, I’m not getting involved.

Neil Badmington teaches English Literature at Cardiff University.

Photo of old gramophones in Jacob’s Antiques by Walt Jabsco on Flickr

“I train and fight a style called Muay Thai. It is known as the art of eight limbs” – Tanya


I grew up in Cogan and Penarth. As a child I was very shy, quiet and worked hard in school. I was always sporty in primary school. I was on the school football team and also lacrosse team which won the under 12s British championships. In secondary school I used to play hockey and enjoyed cross country running and swimming. In secondary school I was bullied really badly, both physically and mentally. I was different, and that never goes down well in a school full of sheep. My dad wanted to find a way to give me more confidence and to help look after myself. He found classes in a local hall in Penarth. My twin sister was doing Aikido and wouldn’t let me join her, so the next class on was Muay Thai and that’s how I fell into the sport.

Ater I left university and took up the sport again I realised that I wanted to pursue it seriously. My fitness improved and my technique progressed, I decided I needed to learn more, which meant flying over to Thailand and training in a camp out there. It was there I was offered my first fight, and I accepted. I wanted to see if I really was any good at this sport.

I train and fight a style called Muay Thai. It is known as the art of eight limbs. You strike with kicks, punches, elbows and knees. It is very aggressive and highly technical. It requires you to be fast thinking, sharp, controlled and skillful in order to out maneuver your opponent and score points.


I’m currently training for a fight, so will train around 10-14 times per week, work commitments permitting. This means on the days off from work that I have, I’ll train twice – sometimes three times a day. When I am not training for a fight, I still train every day to keep my fitness in check. I train between two gyms, doing my strength and conditioning at Dave’s Gym in Roath and I do my fight training and pads at Eagles in UFC gym in Roath Cardiff. I also run most days, between seven to 13 kilometres.

I have lived in Cardiff on and off since I was 20. I have been in Roath now for the past four years. One of the main reasons I decided to settle in Roath is because its close to both my gyms, near to town, easy for me to commute to work. I have the best of everything. Cardiff really is a brilliant place to live, it’s big enough to have everything you want and small enough that your now overwhelmed like it can be in places like London etc. Roath is the best place for me, it has a young vibe and some cool places to hang out in.

My advice for people interested in fighting would be to try out an interclub first. If you have been training a while and want to see if you can put what you have learnt into practice, participate in an interclub. This is a controlled environment where novices fight (with shin pads and big gloves) in a ring to a time. This will give you a taste of what a real fight will feel like, and how you control your nerves and perform against an unknown opponent. It’s also a really fun day as lots of gyms get together and everyone has a laugh and watches some potential shine through with the new up and coming fighters.

My favourite Cardiff places – if I had some friends visiting me for the weekend, I would have to take them around the parks we have. I run around Roath Park every day, and I love it there. I’d also have to take them for tea and cake, as well as heading into town and showing them round the castle, stopping off for a drink or two (if I am not fighting of course!)

Tanya Merrett is 30 years young and has been training Muay Thai for nine years, fighting professionally for two and a half years. She fights out of Eagles Gym in Cardiff. Her ambition is to become a world champion and take her fighting up to the very highest level, and fight the best out there. Her next scheduled fight is against Christi Brereton A Class on 6 April 2014 in Manchester – for more details, visit her Facebook page: Tanya Merrett.

Tanya was photographed at her gym by Joe Singh.




“Cardiff happened to me totally by chance” – Biv


Cardiff happened to me totally by chance. If it weren’t for my best mate from home not going to University and getting a job in Cardiff, I wouldn’t be writing this article today.

Born and brought up in Doha Qatar, I went to University of Warwick following school. At this point, my mate from home came to Cardiff University to pursue his undergrad. Hence, I’d been to Cardiff a few times and liked it straight away. It reminded me a lot of my hometown; though it was small, being a capital city, it had everything you’d want. Friendly people, lots of restaurant and café options, and a great vibrant night life. So when it came to applying for graduate jobs, I didn’t think twice before putting down Cardiff as my first choice for a graduate scheme with a national employer.

It’s been almost seven years since I moved to Cardiff with work; the city and its people have been very welcoming and I consider it as home. Though I’ve been approached with job roles in other parts of the UK, I can’t come to terms with leaving the city and my mates behind now. I’m in a comfort bubble but it’s one that I’m happy not to burst for the time being.

Having lived in Cathays, Cardiff Bay and now Roath, I probably love Roath the best. The neighbourhood cafes and local establishments, the park and lake, the Farmers market are just some of the things that make this a great neighbourhood to live in. Its proximity to town is also a bonus which means that it’s a reasonable distance to stagger back home after a cracking night out in town!

If I had to pick one place that I love the most and would be able to take with me wherever I went, that would be Milgi. The awesome ‘your living room’ feel, the friendly staff and the eclectic mix of clientele are desirable extras to the lush drinks (hot and cold) that they serve. However, not a big fan of the ‘only vegan’ turn that they have adopted over the last few years as that’s limited me to ordering only drinks. But hey ho, I’ve still got umpteen amazing local establishments to choose from to satisfy my palate.

Cardiff ticks all the boxes for me; like every city, it has its undesirable aspect / elements but it isn’t in your face and you have the option to stay clear of them. When one does that, don’t see why this city wouldn’t rank as one of the best to live in the nation.

Oh, those bloody seagulls!! Forgot about that…

Bivin Mathew is 29 years of age and still unsure what the fuss is about turning 30 – a sports loving foodie and movie buff who uses an accounting qualification to pay the bills. Biv has been living in Roath for the past three years and remains unconvinced about moving to other parts of the city. Spare time is spent trying to play squash and tennis, or knocking a football around in a cage, watching films (Cineworld Unlimited card should be given its own star on the Hollywood walk of fame!) and enjoying all the delicacies that the various restaurants and cafes that Cardiff has to offer. Follow Biv on Twitter @bivlar or by blog.

Biv was photographed in Waterloo Tea Rooms and in Waterloo Gardens by Tom Beardshaw



“Cardiff has such a diverse range of people, humble, intelligent people” – Stephen


I’ve lived in Cardiff since 2010, moving here to complete the Master of Architecture at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University.

Good friends who lived in Cardiff previous to 2010 always said what an amazing place it is to live.

Many weekend breaks to Cardiff later, I decided to choose Cardiff over London to continue my Architectural Training.

This June, after working for a number of diverse South Wales Architects, I decided to commit to Cardiff, founding my own Architecture Studio.

Colleagues who practice in London can’t quite understand why I want to be on the fringe of the architectural profession.

For me, it’s being able to cycle to work in the morning, walking to meetings. It’s the fact that I work in a historic, beautiful office in the Castle Arcade, a stones throw away from, unsurprisingly, the Castle and Bute Park.

Being able to ride from one side of the city to another in 25 minutes dissolves any barriers. With a better cycle network, I’m sure we could move around our city even easier.

Without becoming too focused on the built environment, the people of Wales and Cardiff really make this city. Such a diverse range of people, humble, intelligent people. It’s a pleasure to meet you all.

I’ve just awoken from my slumber in the Victorian Terrace I share in Grangetown, and soon I’ll be off around town, visiting the rock climbing centre, the city centre and Chapter later.

Looking forward to another day in Cardiff …

Stephen Paradise was a young boy who had an interest in all things art and design, and from a young age started to build multiple creations out of just one box of Lego, discarding the manual after a day. As the number of sets grew, so did the complexity of the designs; a Lego Super Jumbo Jet took its maiden flight down a set of stairs – to his mother’s dismay. Fortunately, many other ground based designs; army bases, towns, towers, castles & houses managed to avoid this ill fated mishap. This influential past time recently led the slightly older boy (now a young man about town) to found his own architecture and design studio in the heart of Cardiff.

This passion and dedication for all things ‘design’ culminated in a nomination for the Royal Institute of British Architecture Bronze Award 2009, exhibiting at Portland Place. The formative years of his career were spent at a small contemporary local practice, PADstudio, in the New Forest National Park, South England. He completed the Master of Architecture at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University and has since worked for a range of practices in Cardiff and Swansea for the past year.

Stephen was photographed by Jon Pountney in Castle Arcade.


“There is so much to be inspired by in Cardiff” – Rosie

Rosie Oxley

I’ve lived in Cardiff for almost 17 years… just under half my life so far (I’m 35). There is so much to be inspired by…

Almost wherever you are in Cardiff you can see the hills of the valleys to the north and the Bristol Channel to the south. As the Capital city of Wales, there are a wealth of cultural landmarks, civic buildings and tourist attractions.

My father Andrew Fitton is an Artist by occupation. He studied at Cambridge College of Art from 1967 to 1969 and later Swansea Art School from 1969 to 1972.

Andrew has produced art through his working life. He has painted a number of views of his favourite places in Cardiff. Many of these are iconic views of our city.

Andrew’s influences include Paul Cezanne (1839 – 1906) and two artists influenced by Impressionism… Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880 – 1938) and Robert Delauney (1885 – 1941) The Impressionist style is much loved for it’s use of vibrant colour, subjectivity and depiction of outdoor views with the artist’s own individual responses and creativity incorporated into the work.

I’ve been inspired to set up ‘Impressions of Cardiff (and Swansea) a business bringing together his artwork in an online gallery, and selling a range of Giclees, greetings cards and gifts featuring images from his art. www.impressionsofcardiffandswansea.org.uk

The title reflects the influence of the Impressionist Art style on Andrew’s work, and also the fact that the art hopefully gives a good impression of the locations depicted…!

Individually and together, the paintings offer an excellent depiction of some of Cardiff’s most iconic locations which are significant to the city’s culture, heritage and social life.

Some favourites are…

Andrew’s painting ‘An Impressionist View of Cardiff Castle’ offers a unique depiction of this tourist attraction, and symbol of Cardiff’s heritage.

‘The Hayes Island Cafe’ portrays the popular venue in the heart of the City Centre, and shows people visiting the cafe and sitting at tables outdoors in the Hayes.

Andrew’s view of ‘Castle Arcade’ highlights it’s Victorian style architecture, boutique shops and independent cafes which contribute to Cardiff’s lively cafe culture.

‘A stall on Cardiff Central market’ shows a stall offering an abundant array of vegetables and produce highlighting the contribution of independent and local retailers in the city.

The image of Roath park depicts the expansive lake, the Captain Scott Lighthouse, and looks across to the tree lined verges and Lake Road East beyond it.

The business also features art by Andrew featuring views of Swansea.

I’m enjoying operating Impressions of Cardiff and Swansea. Independent businesses bring unique and diverse goods and services, and offer alternatives to high street chains. I hope this sector continues to grow and thrive in the years ahead.

Rosie Oxley was born and grew up in Swansea, has lived in Cardiff for almost 17 years, and currently lives in Fairwater. She set up Impressions of Cardiff and Swansea in 2011 shortly before the arrival of her young daughter Jessa. She’s an enthusiastic fan of Cardiff and of Impressionist Art, and is thrilled to be selling items featuring images of iconic views in the city. Visit the Impressions of Cardiff and Swansea website at http://www.impressionsofcardiffandswansea.org.uk Twitter @ImprCdfandSwans

Rosie was photographed at the Roath Craft Market in the Mackintosh Community Centre, by Amy Davies.