Tag Archives: canton

“I’ve poured more emotion, grit and passion into the city in four short years than I thought possible” – Hannah

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In Cardiff I have lived, and lived I have.

Cardiff has been at the centre of possibly one of the most exciting times in my life.

Although it’s presumptuous to say so as I’m only 24 – I suppose I might have to wait a long time to I find out – but it certainly feels like the city has propelled me through an important and formative period.

My first memories of Cardiff were a rainy road trip for a university open day in my late teens – despite being a Birmingham lass, the open spaces and Civic Centre made the city feel huge and grand – a memory of a lecturer speaking about the acclaimed School of Journalism was imprinted on my brain throughout my time editing the student newspaper at Bristol University. I applied for the course during my last year at Bristol – and moved into a house with three assertive and curious journalism students on Donald Street in Roath.

Fresh out of Bristol – where students live in ridiculously pricey Edwardian houses closer to organic delis and wine bars than off-licences and hardware stores – Albany Road was a dream. It mirrored more of the ethnic diversity of Birmingham – it felt relaxed, cool and homely.

Penarth was my news ‘patch’; I made regular trips past the tinkytonk castle, cutting through Grangetown to get to the little seaside hilly village. Sunny days were spent walking along the pier talking to wrinkled sun-soakers, rainy days running in the dark to get to town council meetings and eating tuna sandwiches in Windsor arcade inbetween.

As a trainee journalist, I got to know the geography of Cardiff pretty quickly – how you can be thrown out of the city by getting onto the wrong link road in Cardiff Bay, how to navigate the gridded backstreets of Splott. I made the move from east to west Cardiff in 2010 – unbeknown to me at the time I was joining a foray of frenzied media types in my little terraced house which straddles the tiny loggerhead wards of Canton and Riverside (known locally as Pontcanna).

According to journalisted.com I’ve written more than 1,000 articles since July 2008 – all involving Cardiff people – finding out more about the city and what makes it tick.

I’ve visited a Cardiff jester whose Facebook-famous ferrets had escaped, walked around Canton with the council’s chief executive, filmed the unveiling of a new nose for the anteater on the animal wall, helped a young lady get a disabled parking bay on Womanby Street, been out with the Cardiff Street Pastors on new Year’s Eve, learnt how to knit, tried out the new white water rafting centre, ran the Cardiff half marathon, sat in more council meetings in County and City Hall than I can remember….

I’ve let the charm of Cardiffian phrases seep into my vocabulary, chatted to crooners from Tiger Bay on the bus, I have struggled with the rain which seems to come up from the ground, tottered in heels down St Mary Street, cycled through Bute Park with my eyes closed, cried, laughed, cheered and loved. In truth I’ve poured more emotion, grit and passion into the city in four short years than I thought humanly possible, and the result will be with me, and Cardiff I hope, forever.

Thanks to everyone whose made this time so valuable – you’ve deepened the imprint of a dragon-shaped stamp on my heart.

Hannah Waldram is the Guardian beatblogger in Cardiff. Birmingham born and bred, Hannah started up a website for her hometown called BournvilleVillage.com and continued blogging and running social media surgeries before coming to Cardiff. In her spare time enjoys all things dance.

Hannah was photographed at Cardiff City Hall by Adam Chard

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“Fel Gog sy’n siarad Cymraeg ma’ gin i ddewis o fyw mewn 2 Caerdydd” – Bethan

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“Nai byth fynd i fyw hefo’r hwntws!”

Dyna ddudish i amsar maith yn ol. Wedi deud hynna, mi nesh i hefyd ddeud y baswn i byth yn mynd i fyw i ganol Saeson cyn i fi symud i Lundain am 8 mlynedd!

Caerdydd. Fel Gog sy’n siarad Cymraeg ma’ gin i ddewis o fyw mewn 2 Caerdydd- un Gymraeg, llawn barddoniaeth, Clwb Ifor Bach a chanu mewn cor cymysg. Neu yr un sy’n llawn pobol o bob tras, hil a iaith, yn amrywiaeth o straeon a llwybrau bywyd.

Dwi ‘di dewis yr ail.

Dwi’m yn saff pam ond dwi’n gofyn y cwestiwn yn y gerdd isod.

Pam lai?

Does na’m cyfieithiad i’r Saesneg
Dio’m yn golygu run fath.
Dau air syml iawn
Ond yn ateb perffaith I lot fawr.

Pam lai?

Llundain- y lle mwya’ unig yn y byd
Ond alli di byth fod ar ben dy hun.
“Why don’t we move to Cardiff?”
medd fy nghariad.
‘Ia. Pam lai.’

Ty i jesd ni’n dwy,
Gardd i neb ond ni,
Gallu cerdded i bobman
Pawb yn deud “hello”
Ond neb yn deud ‘helo’.
Prifddinas Cymru i fod.
Lle ma’r Cymry Cymraeg?

Ma’ nhw yma,
Mewn grwpia’
A ma’ na groeso cynnes i fi.

Ond be’ am fy nghariad?
Oes ‘na groeso iddi hi?

Dwi’m yn cau drysa’
Dwi’m yn un am ddal dig
Ond dwi’n ysu
I ddysgu
I wybod mwy am y byd.
Dwi ishio gwrando ar leisia’
Ar ieithoedd dwi’m yn ddalld
Byta bwyd sy’n hollol ddiethr
Dwi ishio byw!

Prif ddinas adra? Ella.
Ond ma’ hi’n ddinas newydd i mi.
Dwi’n barod am antur
Am newid
Bring it on!

Troi cefn ar fy mamiaith?
Na. Byth. No we.

Profi rwbath newydd?
Ia. Pam lai?

Bethan’s obsession lies in people’s steps- how they got to where they are and why they act the way they do? She casts judgement aside, gets rid of right and wrong and delves into that dark, grey area to find what makes them smile. She was raised in North Wales, went to London to train as an actress and finally found her place as a writer. Theatre credits include The Beach (National Theatre Wales), Patroiophobia (Sherman Cymru) KKK (RSC) Come to Where I’m From (Paines Plough). Her online credits include Such Tweet Sorrow (RSC), Cei Bach (S4C) and Hatty Rainbow (You Tube). Bethan’s latest play ‘Unprotected’ will be on at the WMC on Dec 8th and 9th. Che currently lives in Canton.

Bethan was photographed at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay by Simon Ayre

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“We all gravitate back to Cardiff” – Cerys

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I grew up in a small village eight miles outside of Cardiff. Cardiff was the big town we were allowed to get the bus to on Saturdays. The last bus home on a Saturday was ten past five! One of my last school trips in primary school was to Cardiff Bay- “Europe’s most exciting waterfront development”- the slogan sticks in my mind with the image of remaining piles of coal and remnants of industry amongst promised development. A few years later, along with my friend Paul, I was a school-rep on Cardiff Council’s Young People’s forum. We only went for the free sandwiches and time off school. At the time County Hall, Atlantic Wharf was virtually the only new building down the Bay. Little did I know then I’d be spending so much time there.

While I have amazing memories of Cardiff as a child- being smuggled into rugby matches at the Arms Park under my dad’s jacket and picnics in Bute park stick in the mind- by the time it came to go to university I knew I wanted to be somewhere else, learn new neighbourhoods, and new people. I only went as far as Bristol, but it was so big, so different, so vibrant and mixed –I still miss it sometimes. But strangely, being in Bristol only strengthened my love of Cardiff, and Wales.

I’d said I’d never come back, I probably sneered slightly at my friends who never left. A year or so after graduating I got a job working for an MP in Bristol. Although I’d grown up with actively Labour parents, and been a member of the party as a teenager, my membership had ‘actively lapsed’. Politics was far from my mind in Uni. I’d marched against the war, voted green, maybe even voted lib dem. It didn’t matter to my boss that I wasn’t a party member- she must have seen it in me. After a while, I wanted to do further study. I was really interested in the things going on in Wales, in Cardiff. Since I’d been away the Assembly had been established, there seemed a new momentum and purpose in Cardiff- like it had begun to realise its identity as a capital city.

I’d never actually lived in Cardiff, only in the leafy privileged green belt. It was exciting looking for somewhere to live, from Splott and Roath to Llandaff North and eventually Canton. I remember house hunting- we kept getting confused between City Road and Cowbridge Road East. Seems ridiculous now, but although I’d always said I was from Cardiff, I realised I didn’t know its geography, the short cuts, the hidden gems. I landed on my feet and have loved Canton ever since. I love living in a neighbourhood where you can walk to work, to parks, the shops, and back from town at two in the morning when it seemed like a good idea at the time. And I love living in a city where as well as all those things, you can be on the beach, in the mountains, or the rolling countryside in within half an hour.

Maybe a little bit of me felt like a fraud when I decided to stand as a Councillor for Canton two years ago- I’d only been living here for five years. But then it’s a neighbourhood where people do come and go, a mixture of old and young, new radicals and die-hards Cantonians. And now my home, and that of my family.

Friends from other parts of the UK still can’t quite understand how we still have such a close knit group of friends from home, from school, from Cardiff. That’s the thing you can’t pin down. We all gravitate back to Cardiff- we don’t want bigger, maybe we don’t even want edgier- it’s our comfort zone, I’m proud to say my comfort zone, and I salute you for it Cardiff.

Cerys lives in Canton, Cardiff. She works for the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) and is a Labour Councillor, representing Canton since 2008. Cerys has worked in education for the last six years, and been an active in Labour politics for far longer. You can follow her on twitter @cerysfurlong. She has one daughter and currently lives in Canton.

Cerys was photographed at Canton Library by Ffion Matthews

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“My city has its ups, my city has its downs … bad boys, and bad girls, geniuses and clowns” – David (Verso)

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I was a babe in arms when I first came to Cardiff; however, my very first memory of it was when I was sat in the window seat of a bus going down a then almost squalid ‘Cathedral Road’. I distinctly remember asking my mother why all the lovely houses were boarded up.

My parents met at a dancehall down the docks. My father was a boy from the Merthyr Valley; born of Welsh, Irish and French descent. On my mother’s side of the family I inherited African, South American Indian, Italian, Irish and English; so to say I am mixed race is a bit of an understatement. However, I am a proud and patriotic Welshman and Cardiffian, along with the rich multi-cultural genetic rainbow of nationalities within me. It is worth noting the word Welsh is actually an Old English word meaning “foreigner; slave” and at first was applied by the Anglo-Saxons to all the native peoples of Britain.

I detail the race and cultural accent here because that is what makes me especially proud of Cardiff as a place unlike most others. I once spoke to a Nottingham born second-generation Pakistani man who could not believe his eyes on seeing that Sikh, Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistanis were friends and next-door neighbours.

It may be of little consequence to the average white native, but for a man of another race, it does make a significant difference.

Cardiff is like a village that happens to be a city; and a county that feels like a country. Not that it is apart from the rest of Wales, it’s just that there are representatives from all parts of Wales, mixed with a lot of English, Irish, a broad mixture from sea-faring nations, and now from every corner of the globe. Such diversity enriches the experience of both dweller and visitor.

For some, Cardiff is like a practice for London or another city; and for plenty of others, a perfect place to settle. Many students end up staying for many years after their studies are complete; if not for the rest of their lives. Cardiff is a place that people return to; not run away from.

There’s something here to remind them of home, and many more things that their last home can never have. Although Cardiff is the hub of the creative and financial industries, it is unlike London; thankfully. People still smile and say hello, give you the time of day. They still say please, thank-you and excuse me… well, usually ;). It is a place where you can find enough people alike yourself to feel a part of a movement / tribe / community … from artisans to anarchists.

I love the stunning parklands throughout the city; and a real jewel of the inner city that is the oasis of Bute Park.

Also, the stunning and varied coastline and wild national parks all around us within walking/cycling distance; or a short train/bus/car ride away. Cardiff is a worldly city; despite its size and population. I would like to see it be ambitious and evolve to be considered among the best cities in the world. No city is perfect, nor ever will be. We have our share and experiences of the negative as well as the many positives. I recorded a song with a designer/musician friend, Matt Harris, which captures my perspective. It’s called, The City in Me (“My city has its ups. My city has its downs / Bad boys, and bad girls, geniuses and clowns”).

I was extremely disappointed when the winning design of Zaha Hadid was vetoed by the unimaginative old-order of councillors of Cardiff. The Armadillo is ok because of its nod to the industrial past. But we’ve been there, done that, and got the postcards. Neither am I too keen on the lack of creativity down at the homogenised, indistinctive Cardiff Bay.

What about the future? I would love to see our city reaching boldly into the future, rather than just clinging to its past. My hopes are high though. There are a decent number of creative folk, and an entrepreneurial zeitgeist running through the city right now fuelling a new agenda that doesn’t depend on the backward thinking policy makers in the greasy seats of power and influence

David (Verso) is a poet for non-poets and poets alike, creator of wordplays like ‘Cardifferent’, singer/songwriter, dancer, artist, visionary designer, innovator, businessman in the making… procrastinator in the doing. Find him on Scrib and Myspace. He currently lives in Canton.

David (Verso) was photographed in Chapter Arts Centre by Adam Chard

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A lifetime of supporting Cardiff City – Dan’s story

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Ninian Park. What a strange name. What a strangely alluring place. Its shabby terraces, corrugated iron and wooden seats had been my home-from-home for the past 20 years or so. My dad had first taken me down the City (as we call following the local association football team here) for a promotion party game against Crewe Alexandra in May 1988.

And from the moment I sat in the grandstand that day until the final whistle when grown men with bad 80s perms and tight stonewash jeans invaded a little piece of grass and danced around and hugged each and just looked so bloody happy, I was hooked. I wanted to be that happy. Every Saturday please. No more BMX rides around Splott or shopping trips to town with my mum for me. No way. I was going to the happiness factory to dance around, have a bit of a laugh and forget about my biology homework.

Turns out we didn’t get promoted every Saturday. Most Saturdays we lost and it rained and there was no dancing and very little hugging. I can only blame my father. Taking me to a promotion party for my first ever game was the equivalent of taking a girl to Paris on a first date. ‘Yes darling, I’m always this romantic’ you’d say as she gazed into your eyes at an intimate Michelin-starred restaurant on the banks of the Seine while a waiter brought over oysters and champagne and the band struck up Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’, knowing full well next week she’d be lucky to get half a cider out of you at the Labour Club and she’d better keep quiet as there was a good singer from the Valleys on.

And then last year, after two decades of bad dates, the old place was no more. Knocked down flat to have houses built on it, while the City moved to a brand new state-of-the art piece of Meccano across the road in Leckwith. Like most Bluebirds fans, I had mixed feelings about the move. It was painfully obvious the club needed to move with the times and have a place to call home that was attractive to people other than sadistic football fans and which could ring the tills seven days a week through hosting everything from business breakfasts to Bar Mitzvahs.

But Ninian Park was home. Having moved around a hell of lot over the past ten years (student accommodation in Liverpool to shared house to failed house purchases with girlfriends to sofas) and with neither of my parents living in my childhood home, it was the place I felt most comfortable on Earth. And it was being taken away too.

Ninian Park saw some sights in its time. Crowds of 60,000. Pope John Paul II. Bob Marley. And me.

Dan Tyte is a PR Director at Working Word. He loves debut albums, tea and, as you probably guessed from the above, Cardiff City FC. He’s on Twitter @dantyte, writes a column about man stuff for the Western Mail, blogs for Wales Online Your Cardiff, wrote about music for the dearly departed Kruger Magazine and other stuff for other national mags. He’s currently writing his debut novel, which you’ll all be reading on Eastern European city breaks in 2015.

Dan was photographed at Ninian Park by Ffion Matthews

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“To my nine-year-old self, Wally’s Deli was heaven. I still feel like that today” – Nicola

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I remember it quite clearly. I was nine years old, handing in my homework to my teacher, Mr. Basini, whilst my peers eagerly discussing what they’d written about. The assignment had been to write about your favourite place – some had picked holiday destinations (Disneyland being the clear winner in terms of “wow” factor), others had picked the home of their favourite football club. One of my friends was horse mad so her favourite place was a local stable where she was allowed to ride and groom the horses.

And me? I’d written about a small, rather unassuming shop located just over 30 miles from my home in Port Talbot. No toys were contained within its walls, no games and no fancy gadgets. Yet to my nine-year-old self, Wally’s Deli was heaven. I still feel like that today.

What you have to understand is I was no ordinary child, and this is no ordinary shop. Coming from an Italian family, my prime concern growing up was where my next meal was coming from. On the occasions when I was taken out for a meal, I would plan my pudding before I’d even eaten my starter. Like most children, Christmas was an amazing time of year. Unlike most children, I was more excited by a visit to Wally’s than the idea of a fat man arriving down my chimney. I’d watch my mother as she stood at the counter, pointing to strange cured sausages and pungent smelling cheeses, preparing for the feast.

The first thing that hits you, as you wander down the arcade, is the smell, that heady mix of spices that grabs you by your nostrils and forcibly pulls you into the shop. Once inside it’s a treasure trove of ingredients from all over the world – South Africa, Poland, Japan and Thailand, all considered very exotic to a child who’d not ventured further than the Mediterranean. It also highlighted Cardiff’s multicultural identity – a specialist shop for us immigrants at a time when pasta came in only a few principle shapes – noodles, bows, twists or tubes, and the only salami I had seen at a supermarket was of the bright pink Danish variety.

Over time the shop has grown, as have I. I took great delight in introducing my friends to the shop, especially those missing comforting tastes from curious lands across the sea. I still love shopping there, and can often be found just browsing the aisles and breathing in that heavy scent, feeling like I’m home.

Nicola Tudor is a Cardiff-based food blogger. She loves sushi, is slightly fanatical about felines and tweets far more than is necessary. For the past four years she has blogged under the name Cardiff Bites and has contributed to Your Cardiff and The Guardian. You can follow her on Twitter @cardiffbites. She currently lives in Canton.

Nicola was photographed in Wally’s Deli by Adam Chard.

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“all i needed was to come home” – ian

Ian England by Adam Chard

i had never truly seen cardiff before that christmas.

the ferris wheel was a beacon home.

plymouth’s lighthouse had warned ships not to come nearer, this now beckoned me into the crowds wearing knits and skating on a temporary fake frozen lake. i had spent four years away, i had changed my life; i didn’t expect to want to come back to cardiff.

cardiff had always been there, at the end of the train line, waiting to fill my bags with shopping. given my pocket money, i would ensure i would return with no change.

my parents would begin each new year by parking the car in frosty sophia gardens and walking my sister and i along the castle’s animal wall until we reached a restaurant to celebrate in.

as a teenager, cardiff was the place i went to see bands, smoking weed while leaning out of my friend’s bedroom window, drinking vodka and orange, my baggy jeans being stepped on and ripped in the mosh pits.

the lamplit streets became a blur, the crowds became my friends, i would wake up on my friend’s sofa and her mother would drive us to school.

i wasn’t comfortable living in the valleys, and enjoyed escaping into the crowds of cardiff.

when university came along, i couldn’t have been more excited, and relished a final farewell before a clean slate, surrounded by artists and country lanes. living in devon was a lovely way to spend four years, and i really should see more of the friends i made there. but uni finished and i remained recklessly independent.

it wasn’t until i was blinded by that massive neon ferris wheel that i realised that all i needed was to come home, where it was greener than i remembered, where i could walk the streets and find traces of my history converging with the places and things that were suddenly new, where my family were.

i find myself thinking of the ian that visited cardiff, before the move, as a different person from the ian i am now, living in cardiff, slightly settled, trying to surround myself with interesting people, and forcing myself to write a magic-realism story about curses and cockerels set in the pre-industrial welsh valleys.

i dream about moving again, finding another adventure and another lighthouse, and considering that now, i wonder whether i will return to cardiff yet again, to find another ian waiting to welcome me.

ian england (www.warmstrings.co.uk) lives in canton, cardiff, with his boyfriend and two neighbourhood cats he secretly feeds. he is a writer and a collector, and drinks vanilla lattes (remember that if you see him and fancy a chat).

ian was photographed in Thompson’s Park, Canton, by Adam Chard.

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