Tag Archives: cardiff bay

Cardiff Bay 10k … run Cardiff, run!

A photo essay of this year’s spring Cardiff Bay 10k. Well done to all you runners! All photos by photojournalist Kerry Elsworth.

Cardiff Bay, Wales. 2nd April 2017. Athletes take on the Cardiff Bay 10k run.

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Caught By The River – This is Rat Island

So, you guys. I’ve recently started a column for the wonderful Caught by the River website, based on my wanderings (and wonderings) around and about the lovely River Taff.

Read my first instalment here: Wandering the Taff: This is Rat Island

I know, can’t I write about anything other than Cardiff, amirite? Anyway, two weird things happened after the piece was published. Firstly, after living on the edge of south Cardiff on “Rat Island” for nearly seven years and having NEVER seen a rat down here, I saw TWO within the space of two days – one running across the car park in Morrisons and one scurrying around in the bushes on Dumballs Road.

Wait … there’s more … secondly, what I thought was just a little bit of basic desk research into what is essentially a fluff piece about the place I live got way more complex. It turned out to be the question that kept questioning, itself, other people, and me.

In the piece I wrote for Caught by the River, my conclusion was that no one really knows where Rat Island was exactly, but that we have a rough idea (based on all my research): it was the land that lay between the River Taff and the Glamorganshire Canal, to the south of where Clarence Road Bridge is now.

This is the conclusion I had come to from all the many things I’d read, personal accounts, articles on the BBC, Wales Online, modern history books, etc. Fine.

You can’t actually see Clarence Road Bridge in the map below – it hadn’t been built at this point (1879). But roughly halfway down the picture, you can see James Street on the right hand side – imagine that carrying on to the left (westwards) and going straight over the water into Grangetown. That’s the horizontal line we’re talking about, just above where it reads ‘Dumballs Marsh’.

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(Map: Glamorgan XLVII (includes: Cardiff; Penarth; St Andrews Major – surveyed: 1878 to 1879, published: 1885)

But no, not fine. Writer, poet, historian, all-round good guy Peter Finch has done all of the due diligence with respect to Cardiff history when researching for his Real Cardiff books (recommended reading, students), and he responded to an email I’d sent him asking if he knew where the spot was with this: the general area was right – it was between the Taff and the canal, but rather than being south of where Clarence Road would eventually be built, it was actually north (up towards where the centre of town is): in between that bridge and the timber ponds, on an actual island created by the Taff, oxbowing its way down to the Severn and the sea beyond.

Peter, wonderfully poetic even when answering inane questions from Cardiff bloggers, wrote me this:

The Taff has always moved about. Thrashed about perhaps, as it traverses its delta. Rat Island, as I understood it, was a section of Taff’s bank made an island by the river ox bowing itself. This was  upstream of Clarence Road Bridge near The Dumballs. It was formed, according to Mary Gillham, following one of the periodic floods that plagues the Taff. Gulls and other birds nested there. Rats invaded along a revealed at low tide causeway in order to steal their eggs. The land became rat infested. The name followed.

That was Peter’s first email. Isn’t he a gem? Being in a mad rush, as I always am, I misread the ‘upstream’ part and thought he meant downstream …

But there’s a reason for that. All of the folks I asked – people who used to live here, and had the story handed down from parents or grandparents – had heard the area was called Rat Island because of the rats that were disturbed either when the HMS Hamadryad first to the area (in 1866), or when she was finally dragged away to be destroyed in 1905.

Even once the initial piece was published, I had some tweets also corroborating this theory:

It makes sense, but the area being referred to is south of the Clarence Road Bridge: quite a lot further south … and adding to the confusion, I had read somewhere else the area was already called Rat Island, long before the ship came to Cardiff in 1866.

So how does it all fit together?

The discrepancy between the locations – north of the Clarence Road Bridge, versus south?

I raised the possibility of the name referring to an area north of the bridge with the Cardiff Docks Remembered Facebook (where people share memories of the area and discuss such matters) and it was pretty much universally poo-pooed. No way, said people who had grown up around here. Their truth was in the tales from their parents and grandparents, and they had been definitively told. Rat Island was south, the area next to the Sea Lock, that would eventually turn into Hamadryad Park.

We aren’t debating the European Convention of Human Rights or anything here guys. I am well aware this is a long gone name for an area that bears no resemblance to the marshy hinterland that inspired it – but that doesn’t stop me wanting to know WHY, does it??

There is, I think, anyway, a solution to this, that includes all of these seemingly conflicting perspectives and accounts: an ultimate answer that I – Helia Phoenix, non-historian, non-expert, super-nosey local person – will put forward as the only conclusion to this burning issue … this imperative question … that literally no-one – apart from me – is asking …

Where was Rat Island?

Here’s my theory. The entire area that fringes the main urbanised docklands – from the Bute Ironworks all the way to the south and east, where you can see the HMS Hamadryad hospital ship – would have been a muddy, marshy wasteland at that time – its only purpose really to keep people with infectious diseases away from the overcrowded docks and Tiger Bay. There was very little of interest on any of that land – either north of the future Clarence Road Bridge, or south of it.

So … it’s possible that the one spot was originally named ‘Rat Island’ – the small island next to the Ironworks, as pointed to by Peter Finch – but the name spread down (or was re-used) in the south, once the HMS Hamadryad showed up (or was hauled away), spreading its ratty citizens across the undergrowth that is now Hamadryad Park.

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HMS Hamadryad Hospital Ship on “Rat Island”, Cardiff. Photo from People’s Collection Wales

I won’t hold out for my Nobel Prize. But I did feel like I might have actually sort of solved something that’s been bugging me for ages.

I emailed Peter asking if he thought this might be possible. He agreed – that there were two things that were getting confused here …

Rat Island, the geographic island, i.e. a piece of land with water on all sides is the place you’ve spotted on your map. This is the one Mary Gillham suggests had birds nesting on it whose eggs were stolen by rats. Then there’s the local name for the whole district. Bill Barrett who died in 2013 and who was writing his piece on Rat Island for the Cardiff Book #3 (Stewart Williams Publishers)  in 1977 suggests that all the land between the canal and the Taff was known as Rat Island. He suggests that this went as far north as the Timber Ponds. These were where the Iron Works are shown on your map … it does seem to be probable that the whole slab of land took on the name of the island. 

So, Bill Barrett (RIP) might have got there before me. I wasn’t able to find a copy of his book anywhere (I’m on the lookout – please tell me if anyone finds one), but I’m happy enough with the result.

I did a lot of research for the initial piece (though it might remain inconclusive…), so if you’re interested in further reading:

Canal Park and Sea Lock Pond (Stuart Herbert)

The Hamadryad Hospital Ship (BBC Wales History Blogs / Phil Carradice)

#towerlives: Rise of towers and fall of Tiger Bay (BBC)

The Cardiff Coal Boom: The Chronicle Radio show (featuring Ian Hill from Save the Coal Exchange, author / historian Neil Sinclair, Juliet Lewis – Senior Lecturer at the Welsh School of Architecture), broadcast February 2017

Not really relevant for this piece, but lovely to follow if you’re on Twitter: @OldCardiffPics

Big thanks also to Peter Finch for indulging me. His latest book, The Roots Of Rock From Cardiff To Mississippi And Back, is available from Seren now, priced £9.99. View Peter Finch’s archive.

Images in this piece: both taken on the section of the Taff that runs through the now disappeared Rat Island: Instagram malayabbasi and heatherpatterson.

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P1 Superstock and AquaX in Cardiff Bay

Surf’s up! Or a speed boating equivalent … we sent photojournalist Sam Padget along to Cardiff Bay last weekend to check out the high adrenaline water activity.

harbour in Cardiff Bay

P1 came to Cardiff Bay for its third consecutive year, bringing crowds from all over Wales to watch the high adrenaline showcase on the water. With five racing formulae and freestyle displays, the event entertained thousands around Mermaid Quay and on the Barrage.

Local traders provided food along the waterside and the Norwegian Church pumped out music to entertain the crowds.

The weather was on our side too, with a mostly sunny weekend and temperatures in the high twenties. The family-friendly day out was a huge success.

Cardiff Bay harbour view Big wheel and Pierhead building, Cardiff Bay Big wheel in Cardiff Bay

In the AquaX JetSki Enduro Race, Phil Pope (#200) continued his dominance of the 300 class Enduro with three wins out of three over the weekend leaving him sitting comfortably on top of the Championship Table. With one more meeting to go, he’s set to win the 300 Championships for the third year running.

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Sonnie Bean wowed the crowds with his Hydroflight alongside elite jetski freestylers Lee Stone and Jason Bleasdale.

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The main event was the P1 Superstock Welsh Grand Prix of the Seas. Team Visit Wales were present but didn’t qualify for the final.
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Eventual winners were Team Quantum Racing with driver Kevin Burdock and navigator John Donnelly at the helm.
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More information about the event: www.p1superstock.co.uk and p1aquax.co.uk.

You can find more from Sam Padget on Twitter @samuelbayphoto and Instagram @samuelbayphoto.

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Senedd family fun weekend!

How many other countries have Parliament buildings you can have family fun weekends in? I don’t know many. But we have one!

Wales’ National Assembly is based in one of the most beautiful buildings in Cardiff Bay, the Richard Rogers-designed Senedd (Welsh for ‘parliament’), which is open to the public for tours, has a viewing gallery where you can see ACTUAL LAWS being passed, and has a very pleasant cafe.

Details: Senedd Summer Fun Weekend! (Facebook event)
27-29 August 2016
10:30-16:30
Free!!

Address: National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, CF99 1NA

Here’s more about the family fun weekend – a continuation of the Senedd’s tenth birthday celebrations!

Senedd Family fun weekend

The Senedd is the home of National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff Bay. Open to the public seven days a week, its distinctive design and incredible architecture attract visitors from all over the world, and in 2015 the building was awarded a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.

The weekend will be full of games and activities for all ages, including a soft play area, Lego building, carnival games, arts and crafts and face painting. There will also be a special Senedd treasure hunt, with prizes to be won.

There will be musical performances  each day with a local choir or vocal group entertaining the visitors while they enjoy a drink in our Oriel Café with a free Welsh cake! The café boasts some incredible views over Cardiff Bay and is a beautiful space to relax and enjoy your day.

Free guided tours of the building will be running every 30 minutes, where you can learn about the building’s fascinating history, architecture and sustainability. You could also find out who your Assembly Members are and how they represent your interests in the Senedd’s debating chamber.

A special, one off exhibition has been created especially for this weekend titled ‘My Welsh Life’. It was created by Craft of Hearts Community Craft Centre to celebrate Welsh culture, history and heritage. Craft of Hearts will also be in the Senedd over the weekend providing crafting workshops and demonstrations.

Travel information: The bendy bus leaves from Cardiff Queen Street Station and Cardiff Central station every 10 minutes. Train services are every 12 minutes from Cardiff Queen Street Station to Cardiff Bay Station. The station is a few minutes’ walk from the Senedd. Leave the M4 at junction 33, follow the A4232 to Cardiff bay and follow signposts to National Assembly for Wales. By Bike/foot, the Taff Trail from Brecon through Cardiff city centre to Cardiff bay ends at the oval basin outside the Senedd.

For more information about the event, please contact the Senedd on 0300 200 6565 or email contact@assembly.wales

If you can’t make this weekend, the Senedd is open seven days a week (including weekends and bank holidays).

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Cardiff Bay, the docks, the barrage, through a vintage lens…

Hi. Helia here. So here’s the thing. I’ve got a Nikon D3100 DSLR, for which I am roundly (and loudly) mocked by all my pals who are into photography. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert enough to even know the difference between this and any other DSLR, so I’ve never been bothered about upgrading.

red brick toothy fish, cardiff bay

Stuff upgrading. In fact I’m downgrading … I’ve abandoned the original auto-focus lens that came with the camera in favour of this old Nikkor 28 lens that I found for pretty cheap on ebay (other ecommerce sites are available).

There is a plethora of information for DSLR photographers wanting to use old lenses on newer cameras … the only bummer is that there is nothing automated about this process (more advanced camera than mine will do some automated processes), but that’s meant speedy learning about aperture sizes, shutter speeds, and ISO. So MATHS …

Anyway, despite all the difficulties, I am sold on this lens! Things look lovely through it. Here’s a peak of Cardiff Bay on wintery days in November (there was no editing of these photos after I’d taken – apart from straightening some of them up, because apparently I am living perpetually on the diagonal).

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Royal Hamadryad General and Seaman's Hospital sign

Women chatting, Hamadryad Park

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Cardiff Bay Trail sign

One of the old docks, Cardiff Bay

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Telescope, view over Cardiff Bay water

One of the old docks, Cardiff Bay

Crane in One of the old docks, Cardiff Bay

Over exposed, Havannah Street Butetown

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Victorian lamp post, Cardiff Bay

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Over exposed crane in One of the old docks, Cardiff Bay

More of my vintage photography journey to come! And if you’re an avid photographer who’d like to share some of your pictures with us, please get in touch –  wearecardiff@gmail.com

Til next time …

Peas!

Helia x

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Cardiff A–Z: Y is for Y Senedd

Katie Hamer continues her A–Z series with an investigation into the heart of Welsh politics. Here’s what she discovered…

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And so I reach my penultimate article. For this one, I chose a landmark with a distinctive Welsh name: Y Senedd. And my reason for this choice? Well if there’s anything that puts Wales on the map, it’s the shifting face of politics, and Y Senedd (Welsh Assembly Building) places Cardiff firmly on the political map of the United Kingdom.

Also, disclaimer – I realise that the ‘Y’ in Y Senedd means ‘the’ in English … but I wanted to get the Senedd in somewhere, and had already done a post for S…

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You could argue that, as I’m born English, how could I possibly understand the unique political situation required by a country like Wales? Indeed, this would be a valid question to ask, as, before I moved to Wales two decades ago, I had little or no understanding of what it is to be Welsh.

However, upon moving to Wales in 1995 to study in Swansea, it didn’t take me long to realize that central governing from Westminster made little sense here. I am a supporter of the steps devolution that commenced in 1997, as I can see how it benefits Wales.

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It’s this devolution that has ultimately led to the creation of this Welsh home of politics, which became fully functional in 2006. The building, with its fully-glazed façade, is designed with full political transparency in mind.

The political debates take place in full-view of the general public thus re-enforcing the all-inclusive nature of Welsh politics. It is possible to watch the Assembly in motion from the Plenary (Public Gallery). You can also go on a guided tour of the public areas of the building. The guided tours and access to the Plenary are both free of charge, and available to the public for most of the year. Advanced booking may be required, and it’s worth getting in touch with the reception before visiting to avoid disappointment.

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I’d been lucky enough to get in touch with Gareth, the Tours Manager, prior to visiting the Senedd. He very generously provided me with a one-to-one tour of the areas open to the public, and I learned some fascinating facts.

Proportional Representation

The Assembly has 60 members. Forty of these represent the 40 constituency areas. The remaining 20 represent the five regions of Wales (four Members are elected within each region). The Regional Assembly Members are elected by semi-proportional representation; this process re-addresses the imbalances of power that often result from first-past-the-post politics. Each person in Wales is thus represented by five Assembly Members, who make laws and ensure that the government is run efficiently.

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Environmental Sustainability

Like the Millennium Centre, the Senedd is built from sustainable materials, which are sourced locally wherever possible. Welsh oak and slate are used throughout the building, although the roof and the funnel are constructed from Western Red Cedarwood sourced from Canada. This was chosen because its natural oils mean that it is low-maintenance, as well as being a stunning feature. The structure is designed to last for 100 years, from the date the building became fully functional.

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The building’s sustainability also factors in environmental concerns. Steel pipes at the front of the roof harvest rainwater to be recycled in the building’s public conveniences. The windows, another environmental feature, are made from reinforced and insulated glass. They open and close automatically, providing a consistent temperature and humidity throughout the building.

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Structural symbolism

In the centre of the Siambr, (debating chamber) is a beautiful glass sculpture. Entitled ‘The Heart of Wales’, it has been created by Swansea-based artist Alexander Beleschenko, and is made from painted glass up-lit by fibre optics. Apparently:

‘The dots symbolise ideas flowing outward from the Assembly and feeding in from the people of Wales.’*

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The funnel, which is the central feature of the Oriel (or Gallery), is meant to symbolise the tree of life. It clearly represents a well-established tree, with roots that delve deep into Welsh traditions and culture. One of my information booklets states:

‘The tree-like shape of the funnel is intended to encourage visitors to meet here and share ideas.’**

It also filters natural lighting into the Siambr through a glass lantern situated at the top of the funnel, another conservation feature.

The Welsh Language

I also discovered that Gareth, my tour guide, is a very committed Welsh-speaker. He enthused to me about the promotion of the Welsh language and the future of devolution in Wales. The information he  provided me with would have been enough to fill five articles. So Diolch, Gareth! I’d say it’s well worth going on one of these guided tours. I certainly learned a lot.

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Refreshments are also provided for visitors, and they have a lovely coffee shop with a good selection of food and beverages. You can also sit on one of the Swan chairs within the Oriel and watch the world go by in the Bay.

Other places of interest

There is a place for art exhibitions within the Neuadd (front-of-house reception area). Exhibitions are free to view and often reflect local themes.

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You can find more information on the Senedd and the surrounding community here:

Senedd Community FB page

Senedd website

I hope you enjoyed reading my article. Until next time!

and ** are taken from the ‘Explore the Assembly’ booklet, which is freely available to visitors.

W is for the Wales Millennium Centre

Katie Hamer continues her A–Z exploration of Cardiff with an excursion to the capital’s flagship arts building. Here’s what she discovered…

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Who in Wales wouldn’t instantly recognize this show-stopping landmark? Surrounded as it is in Cardiff Bay by other iconic buildings, it still holds its own as a bold design statement. Yet could such a well-known building still yield secrets? This is what I set out to explore.

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Like many others, I have queued up to watch performances on the Centre’s main Donald Gordon stage. I’ve seen everything Carmen the opera to Cats the musical on tour. I’ve seen the stage transform from an ornate palace to a desolate litter-blighted street scene and wondered if it could even be the same theatre.

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Every time I visit I’ve been impressed by how smoothly they run the scene and costume changes and how efficiently they process visitors through the building. But I knew hardly anything about the place that has brought pleasure to so many people both nationally and internationally. So I jumped at the chance to go on a guided tour of the Centre, tours of which take place twice daily nearly every day of the year.

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I won’t reveal all the secrets I uncovered, but I will let you know a few things which should be common knowledge, but surprisingly, they’re not.

For instance, I’ve often looked up at the copper-coloured exterior of the main building perplexed at the split between the Welsh language on the left and the English language on the right. Could they be a literal translation? Wrong as it turns out. The Welsh means something entirely different.

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The English, In These Stones Horizons Sing acts as a conversational response to the Welsh rather than an echo. The Welsh, Creu Gwir fel gwydr o ffwrnais awen actually translates as Creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration. This is particularly apt, as the glass that makes up this eye-catching calligraphy comes straight from the furnaces of Swansea Institute. Indeed, much of the construction material has been sourced within Wales, making the Centre truly routed within its heritage.

And did you know that they used different shades of glass throughout this installation? Neither did I. So I was fascinated, upon this discovery, to see how the various colours change in intensity depending on the time of day and weather conditions.

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Sitting in the main theatre and seeing the backstage areas including one of the main dressing rooms is another perk of the tour, although photography in these areas strictly prohibited for copyright reasons. I stood in the backstage surrounded by the easily three-storey tall walls and heard the orchestra rehearsal reverberating around the whole space. Then I realized that it wasn’t the whole orchestra, but just a few musicians, making it even more incredible. That’s the advantage of a purpose-built theatre designed to create the best acoustic technology around.

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The Wales Millennium Centre isn’t just a great place for theatrical and musical performances. It is also the home of arts organizations such as Literature Wales, The BBC National Orchestra for Wales, the Arts Council for Wales, and the Welsh National Opera, among others.

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There are bars and restaurants, and huge areas of the ground and first floor are open for the public to roam. Throughout the year, various artists use the public areas to show off their latest inspirations. For instance, upon my visit, I witnessed the Relics exhibition by Matt Wright, which runs from 20 June to 23 August. Relics is:

a multifaceted contemporary art project based around a series of short term, publicly accessible, site-specific art installations featuring a newly developed photographic medium known as the photosphere.’

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These photospheres capture images of other iconic buildings and places within Wales such as Tintern Abbey. Seeing these crumbling buildings and coastlines floating like air balloons within the altogether more modern and neutral environment of the Centre does lend to them a surreal quality that is worth exploring if you happen to be passing by. It’s great to see how many different ways the building can be utilised.

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And there are also free performances on occasion, on the ground floor Glanfa stage, around the building and outside, details of which can be found on the Centre’s website. Quite often these coincide with the main performances in the Donald Gordon Theatre and show how the Centre is always giving back most generously to it’s many visitors.

 

You can find more information on What’s On at the Millennium Centre here:

Wales Millennium Centre Website

Thanks for reading. See you next time.

 

A-Z of Cardiff – U is for Cardiff University

Katie Hamer continues her A–Z series of Cardiff by taking a walk along the corridors of learning. Here’s what she discovered!

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Mythical beasts emerge from the earth at Bute Park

They say that travel broadens the horizons. What is equally true is that learning a new skill can have a similar effect. This is the discovery I made when I signed up for a creative writing course through the Centre for Lifelong Learning just a few months ago.

What course did I sign up for? Well, it began with ‘Once upon a time’ and finished with ‘they all lived happily ever after’. Is that enough of a clue? I signed up for a ten-week workshop: an ‘Introduction to Writing Traditional and Modern-day Fairy Tales’.

What inspired me to take up such a course? As I am an enthusiastic scribbler of short stories and poems I’m constantly aware that there is more I can learn. And Cardiff is the kind of place to inspire a creative writer with magic and fairy tales.

In fact, while writing this A–Z series, I have had many experiences to fill me with wonder. I’ve experienced a Medieval castle, ghosts at Llandaff, and even time travel in a matter of minutes at St Fagans. All these experiences have filled me with a sense of wonder as well as a curiosity to see what’s around the next corner. It’s this magic that is at the heart of fairy tales and I couldn’t have chosen a better place to study the ancient art.

I met like-minded people who had all been touched by fairy mythology in some way. We all sensed the otherworldliness, the escapism and the feeling that anything could be made possible from these stories.

Each week we wrote a new installment of our own stories before reading them aloud to the class. I loved this part, as I believe stories should be read aloud and not left static on the page. I wish we could just switch of our televisions and computers from time to time in order to share the experiences that previous generations took for granted.

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Will this frog ever be a prince?

Each installment of the stories served a different purpose, for instance to introduce the main characters or send them on a quest, or present them with a different challenge or obstacle. It was a pleasure to hear each story develop towards its conclusion. Although we all chose from the same ‘dressing up box’ of characters and settings, typical to most fairy tales, our destinations couldn’t have been more contrasting.

As a result, I have my first completed fairy tale, although I intend to write more. Thanks to the corroboration of my fellow students, I also have a small anthology of stories to cherish for many years to come.

So, I’d like to thank Cardiff University for providing me with the opportunity to continue expanding my horizons through their prospectus of day and evening classes. I would also like to thank Briony Goffin, the course tutor, who has provided me with the motivation to delve into a deeper exploration of fairy tales and fairy tale writing.

You can find more information about courses available at Cardiff University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning here:
Their website

Thank you for reading my article. I hope you enjoy looking at my gallery of magical sights from around Cardiff!

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A Celtic Ring in Cardiff Bay
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A Tale of Three Geese in Roath Park
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A Mother Goose Tale
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A boat flying over the lighthouse at Roath Park
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Fire-breathing dragons on Queen Street
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The ghostly image of an owl at the National Museum
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A giant dragonfly at the National Museum
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Llandaff at night – a truly spooky experience on the Ghost Trail
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Even nature is skeletal in Llandaff during the winter
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Snarling creatures bare their fangs on the Animal Wall
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Under the watchful gaze of the Animal Wall
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East meets West
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Back to the 1980’s in St Fagans
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Then even further back in a matter of minutes
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The remains of St Mary’s Church from the Caerau Hill Fort
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An ancient flint at Caerau Hill Fort brings ancient battles to mind
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Time travel from the safety of my sofa!
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An ornate ceiling fills me with wonder at Cardiff Castle
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An archer’s view of Cardiff Castle
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A steep climb to the summit is avoided by some, including me!
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Birds, who are often messengers in fairy tales

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Your Cardiff photos on our Instagram: Doug Nichols

In January and February this year, Cardiff resident Doug Nichols has been providing some beautiful photos for our We Are Cardiff Instagram account.

Check out his pictures of Cardiff! Aren’t they lovely?

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When he’s not running, Doug Nicholls likes to take travel photos. Unfortunately he doesn’t travel as much as he’d like to. So this month he’s turning his lens on Cardiff, where he lives and works, to capture his perspective of the city for We Are Cardiff.

Check out Doug’s Flickr

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Cardiff A–Z: T is for the Taff Trail

Katie Hamer continues her A–Z series of Cardiff with an exploration of the Taff Trail. Here’s what she discovered…

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The Taff Trail forms a  pilgrimage in reverse, starting with Cardiff Bay barrage and winding upwards to its source in the Brecon Beacons. As it does so, the landscape gradually transforms from dockland to city centre to parklands and eventually to the craggy slopes that make up South Wales’ highest peaks.

This guided path which covers 55 miles of urban landscape and countryside has only been made possible by the co-operation of local councils. It’s strange to think a unified path didn’t exist until the Trail launched in 1988.

Well sign-posted, the path is easy to follow although, as I was on foot, I decided not to tackle it all in one go! So I decided to make a relatively short trip, from the Bay to Llandaff.

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I started my journey by locating the Celtic Ring. Shaped like a lucky horse shoe it points upwards into the Roald Dahl Plass and marks the start of the Trail. Commissioned by the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation in 1993 its engravings are a celebration of the industrial history of Cardiff Docks. Hidden within the Ring is what looks like a key which perhaps represents to all visitors their unique freedom to roam the Trail in its entirety.

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There are a couple of alternative routes from the Bay leading to the banks of the Taff. By trial and error I discovered my preferred route, which takes you south past the Techniquest building, past the Docklands and into the Cardiff Wetlands for a short while. The Cardiff Wetlands boasts a huge variety of bird life, most of which must have been hiding in shady corners on what proved to be one of the hottest days of the year so far.

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As well as being a haven for wildlife, the Wetlands also have a more quirky aspect to them. I discovered this bench/bottle sculpture. This is ‘Ship in a Bottle’ by Melissa Gibbs (2004). It is just one example of how artists have made their statements upon the once industrial landscape of Wales.

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I soon discovered that artists have reclaimed the industrial landscape in other ways, too. Hidden underneath the Grangetown Link is the Hamadryad Park Mural. Commissioned by the Council in 2009 the ‘graffiti’ mural is the result of a collaboration between local artists and schoolchildren. Full of vibrant colour and youthful energy it is also a celebration of Cardiff’s industrial and coastal heritage.

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After the Cardiff Wetlands, The Trail winds its way past the Embankment, characterised by row after row of Victorian terraced townhouses and tree-lined avenues. While it is possible to walk/cycle/run along this stretch there is also the Water Bus, which provides an alternative form of transport from City centre to Bay.

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Following the Trail, I soon arrived outside the Millennium Stadium. Here, I found an assembly of food-inspired sculptures to feast my eyes upon. Made to represent various seed pods they are the result of a collaboration between residents and local artists as commissioned by the Council in 2006. Discovering them on my Trail was a pleasant surprise. I couldn’t help noticing that on an unseasonably hot day, they lent an almost Mediterranean feel to the City.

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From past the Millennium Stadium, you are in the heart of the City centre. From there, you have the choice of a walk through Bute Park, which takes you temporarily away from the banks of the Taff, or you can remain on the official path, which takes you to Sophia Gardens and the cricket grounds.

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The route through Bute Park is possibly the more scenic of the two with a wealth of flowers in bloom at this time of year. I had to stop and take a photo of the above sculpture, which, as Cardiff runners will know, marks the ‘turnaround’ point of the parkrun route. I also spotted one of the elusive sculptures I’d missed while investigating the sculpture trail for B is for Bute Park last summer!

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From there, the next landmark is the pedestrian bridge at Blackweir which wobbles underfoot alarmingly over rushing water!

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I next encountered the A48 underpass and discovered more murals, this time in celebration of the City’s architecture through the ages.

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I reached Llandaff in the early afternoon where I witnessed duck imitating speed boats and the spectre of the Cathedral spires on the landscape. I decided to make this my final destination for now, although I may return…

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Cardiff est Charlie, Sunday 11 January 2014

Photojournalist Peppe Iovino went along to an event held in front of the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on Sunday, where Cardiffians gathered to show solidarity with the French community after the terrible events taking place in Paris last week.

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From Peppe: “Cardiff people took to the Senedd square, united with the Welsh French community to demonstrate their solidarity after the terrorist French attack against the Charlie Hebdo satire magazine newsroom and the following 17 deaths. A square made by many different nationalities, religion beliefs, political ideals, social backgrounds and ages, families and students all together under one flag, one colour, the peace one, one silent shout to say We are Charlie, united global human tears under one flag, the peace: one.”

Cardiff est Charlie Peppe Iovino

Cardiff est Charlie Peppe Iovino

Cardiff est Charlie Peppe Iovino

Cardiff est Charlie Peppe Iovino

Cardiff est Charlie Peppe Iovino

Cardiff est Charlie Peppe Iovino

Cardiff est Charlie Peppe Iovino

Cardiff est Charlie Peppe Iovino

Cardiff est Charlie Peppe Iovino

Cardiff est Charlie Peppe Iovino

Cardiff est Charlie Peppe Iovino

Cardiff est Charlie Peppe Iovino

Cardiff est Charlie Peppe Iovino

Cardiff est Charlie Peppe Iovino

Cardiff est Charlie Peppe Iovino

Cardiff est Charlie Peppe Iovino

WATCH: Cardiff, a stroll through Tiger Bay

Gotta love these old films!

Published by Cardiffians on YouTube: ‘Author of the Tiger Bay Story and The Cardiff Bay Experience, Neil Sinclair brings to the screen his very popular seafront history walk. Now in the pleasure of your easy chair you can venture down the old Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian streets of Tiger Bay and The Docks as they were.

‘Hear also interesting anecdotes of the larger than life characters who once walked those no longer existent streets and see how Cardiff, a mere village with less than 2,000 dwellers, grew into the city we recognise today.

‘Neil, who also does lectures, presentations, exhibitions and bus tours for the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation, is a well known personality in the Bay where he still lives. In collaboration with Director Fran Boyer of Moaning Minnie Productions and underscored with original music composed by local musician and artist John Lenney, Neil has produced a most exciting and interesting video.

‘Contrasting wonderful views of Cardiff’s newly transformed seafront with historical film footage and archive photographs, this video revives the historic beginnings of Cardiff’s turn of the century rise from obscurity, inspired by the foresight and auspices of the Second Marquis of Bute, to become the world’s most famous seaport.’

Cardiff docks, image from urban75.org
Cardiff docks, image from urban75.org