Tag Archives: cardiff literature

Cardiff Book Festival 2016 – our picks, full line up and ticket information

cardiff_book_festivalThe Cardiff Book Festival programme has been announced! A weekend of bookish delights and literary indulgence await, featuring literary heroes like Miranda Sawyer and Deborah Moggach. Whoop!

The festival takes place over the last weekend of October (from Friday 28 to Sunday 30 October) in various venues across Cardiff – more details at the bottom of this post.

Read on for our picks of the weekend and details about tickets!

We Are Cardiff’s festival picks!

Improve your Writing: Poetry, Short Story and Novel Writing workshops

28.10.16 – 9.30am to 12.30pm, Cardiff Central Library, Meeting Room 4

A unique opportunity to write with and learn from some of the most exciting names in Welsh fiction. Let our authors guide you through the finer points of fiction, poetry and short story writing, whether you’re just starting out or have been in the world of words for year. Poetry will be taught by prize-winning Jonathan Edwards, whose work has been widely published in magazines such as Poetry Review. Dan Tyte is an acclaimed novelist and writer- he will guide you through getting your novel into shape. The brilliant, award-winning Rachel Trezise burst onto the literary scene at the age of 22 becoming one of the most original writers of her generation. She’ll teach you the art of the short story. Join us for a one-off event that any aspiring author will not want to miss.

Workshops: Getting Published

28.10.16 – 1pm to 4pm, Cardiff Central Library, Meeting Room 4

Need help navigating the often complex process of publishing your work? The Getting Published masterclass covers everything you need to know to get into print. From exploring self-publishing options, how to find an agent and a publisher, building an author profile and platform, tips on how to get your book to sell and much more. With advice from industry experts including Hazel Cushion, the founder and managing director of Accent Press and Richard Davies, director of Parthian, this masterclass is a one stop shop for all your publishing needs.

Owen Sheers: On Life, In Words

28.10.16, 6pm. Yr Hen Lyfrgell

From Zimbabwe (The Dust Diaries), to the war torn fields of Pink Mist, or the rugby pitch in his non-fiction work, Calon, wherever his writing takes him, Owen Sheers\u2019 heart is still in Wales. His latest novel, I Saw a Man, is a gripping and stylish novel and he’s now renowned as one of the best contemporary writers. Owen’s novels, poetry and screenwriting are known all across the world. Chaired by Felicity Evans.

The Debuts, Laura Powell and Dan Tyte

29.10.16 – 10am–11am Cardiff Central Library, 5th Floor Creative Suite

They say everyone has one good book in them. Few ever get round to writing it, far less getting it published. Telegraph journalist, Laura Powell, traded fact for fiction with her debut novel, The Unforgotten, a thriller featuring forbidden love and a serial killer. Dan Tyte’s debut, Half Plus Seven, sees a jaded PR man in search of some sort of meaning in a book described as “a coming of age novel snorting with energy.

Roald Dahl Tour

29.10.16 – 11am, The City Cross at Cathedral Green, Llandaff

A hunt for what remains of one of the finest writers Wales has produced with author and poet Peter Finch. Dahl was born here in 1916 and left for boarding school when he was 10. In that time he managed to live in three different houses and to move around Cardiff enough for the city to seep into his creative consciousness. We visit his birthplace and take in other places of historical significance. This two-hour walk is aimed at adults but children are welcome.”

Miranda Sawyer – Mid-Life Moments

29.10.16 – 4.30pm, The Angel Hotel

What exactly is a mid-life crisis, and what happens when one arrives? The respected journalist and broadcaster Miranda Sawyer tackles this most challenging of times with humour and candid insight in her book Out of Time. For Sawyer, her mid-life crisis made its presence felt when she was 44. Here she discusses how our tastes and our bodies change as we get older; and the unexpected new pleasures the second half of life can offer.

Elliw Gwawr –  Living the Sweet Life (Welsh language event)

30.10.16 – 11.30am, Yr Hen Lyfrgell

BBC Cymru Wales’ Westminster Correspondent Elliw Gwawr swaps politics for puddings as she discusses her passion for baking. Gwawr has enjoyed cooking since she was a child, and following the success of ‘Paned a Chacen’ the first ever Welsh language baking blog, has gone on to publish two hugely popular books ‘Paned a Chacen’ and ‘Pobi.’ Filled with her favourite recipes for puddings, cakes and biscuits, Gwawr’s books are enough to satisfy any sweet tooth.

Jasmine Donahaye– Memoir and Memory

30.10.16 Yr Hen Lyfrgell

Poet and author Jasmine Donahaye discusses the life-changing events that became her award-winning memoir Losing Israel. In 2007, after a chance conversation with her mother, a kibbutznik, Donahaye stumbled upon the collusion of her family in the displacement of Palestinians in 1948. When she set out to learn the story of what happened, what she discovered challenged everything she thought she knew about the country and her family, and transformed her understanding of the place, and of herself. Winner of the 2016 Wales Book of the Year Creative Non-Fiction Award, Losing Israel is a moving and candid work, which spans travel writing, nature writing and memoir.

Deborah Moggach: The Best Exotic Writer in Wales – stories from the Marigold Hotel

30.10.16, Yr Hen Lyfrgell

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a smash when it hit the silver screen, cementing Deborah Moggach’s place at the top of the writing tree – it was her book, These Foolish Things, that the film was based on. Now living and writing in Wales, she is the author of sixteen other books – including best seller Tulip Fever – and several screenplays, such as the blockbuster Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley. She joins us to read from and discuss her new novel Something to Hide, which she’s adapting for the BBC. Spanning continents, it follows characters as they uncover secrets. “It turns out that no matter where you are in the world, everyone has something to hide.”

Neil Sinclair on Butetown: Tiger Bay Remembered

30.10.16, Yr Hen Lyfrgell

Afro-Celtic author and Cardiff historian Neil M. C. Sinclair is a native of Tiger Bay, the oldest multi-ethnic community in Wales. He has written extensively on the history of his unique hometown, providing an insider’s view of life in old Tiger Bay. Drawing on personal memories, family history and a lifetime’s worth of connections within the community, Sinclair’s humorous and thought-provoking journey through the old streets of Tiger Bay and Cardiff Docks in their heyday delves into the real heart of one of Cardiff’s most celebrated communities.”


Cardiff Book Festival: full programme


28.10,16 – 8am – Business breakfast debate- business leaders discuss what 2016 was like and what’s ahead in 2017.

28.10.16 – 9.30am to 12.30pm – Improve your Writing: Poetry, Short Story and Novel Writing workshops

28.10.16 – 1pm to 4pm – Workshops: Getting Published

28.10.16 – 10am Oodles of Doodles with Huw Aaron

28.10.16 – 6pm – Owen Sheers

28.10.16 – 7.30pm – After Euro 2016


29.10.16 – 10am – The Debuts

29.10.16 – 11am – Roald Dahl Tour

29.10.16 – 11.15am – Caryl Lewis and Catrin Beard WELSH LANGUAGE EVENT

29.10.16 – 12.30 – Rachel Trezise and Thomas Morris

29.10.16 – 13.30 – Roald Dahl Tour

29.10.16 – 1.45pm –  Ifor ap Glyn and Clare Potter WELSH LANGUAGE EVENT

29.10.16 – 2pm – Patrick McGuinness and Holly Muller

29.10.16 – 3.15pm – Iolo Williams

29.10.16 – 4.30pm – Miranda Sawyer

29.10.16 -7pm – Martin Williams

29.10.16 – 8.30pm – Sophie Hannah

29.10.16 – late – Swn Festival at CBF


30.10.16 – 10am – Poetry – Belonging: A Sense of Place. The immigration Handbook (Caroline Smith) and Jonathan Edwards.

30.10.16 – 11.00 – Elliw Gwawr –  Living the Sweet Life WELSH LANGUAGE

30.10.16 – noon – Jasmine Donahaye– Memoir and Memory

30.10.16 – 2pm – Deborah Moggach – stories from the Marigold Hotel

30.10.16 – 3.15pm – Cynan Jones and Tom Bullough

30.10.16 – 4.30pm – Neil Sinclair on Butetown

30.10.16 – 6pm – Debate – Feminism in 2016 with Felicity Evans


More information:

Cardiff Book Festival
Fri 28 Oct – Sun 30 Oct 2016, various venues across Cardiff

Cardiff Book Festival website

Cardiff Book Festival tickets

Cardiff Book Festival Twitter


Old Books - photo by Walt Jabsco

Old Books – photo by Walt Jabsco on Flickr


“Good times in Cardiff: rugby, journalism, and the novel I wrote about it all” – Nick

Author Nick Rippington recalls the jailer of Cardiff nick, ‘arf and ‘arf curries and hobnobbing with the famous in Kiwis.

Nick Rippington 

I handed over my £9 rent money for the week and Cliffy grasped it gratefully. “Come on then,” he said. “As it’s pay day we should go out and celebrate.”

I’d been in Cardiff for just a few days, a new recruit on the journalism training course at the further education college in Colchester Avenue, and was lodging with Cliffy and his family in a terraced house in Penylan.

I had the downstairs front room in a home that always seemed to be full. A constant stream of foster kids were in and out of the Simmonds house, mingling with their own offspring, two boys and a girl.

Forgive me if I can’t remember all the names, but we are talking 1978 – almost 40 years ago now. It was my first introduction to the ’Diff and the first steps in a love affair.

Despite my failing memory, though, I will never forget Cliffy. An enormous, larger-than-life character, he was jailer at Cardiff nick and in his spare time drove celebrities around in a Rolls Royce.

That first night he took me to the Albany Pub in Roath. It was long before the days of gastro-pubs, wine bars and new fangled phrases like “refurbishment”. This little backstreet boozer was a typical spit-and-sawdust Brains pub and locals greeted Cliff as if he was a long-lost friend, even though he’d seen them all the night before.

Immediately he dipped his hand in his pocket and shouted in the round, ordering without bothering to ask what my drink preference was. I was presented with a pint of Brains Mild (thank goodness it wasn’t SA) and as he chatted away to his mates about the latest Six Nations rugby tour he was organising I focussed on a small TV in the corner showing that evening’s episode of Coronation Street.

By the time the programme finished half an hour later I was staring rather forlornly at my fourth pint of mild. Cliffy, his pint-glass resembling an egg cup in his massive hands, was just getting into his rhythm. Not once had he asked me to put my hand in my pocket. When I offered he just said “It’s your money”, waving a few pound notes in front of me, the rent I had handed him just an hour earlier. I’ve no idea what his wife thought of his generosity with this extra cash but I had an idea from the raised voices I heard upstairs later.

On one such ‘rent night’, Cliff introduced me to the “best Chinese in Cardiff” – next to the student-friendly Claude pub in Albany Road – where an excitable Oriental man served me pancake roll and chips which he insisted had been made “very special for you”. Later I sampled the famous “Curry ‘arf and ‘arf”, rice and chips – a traditional Cardiff delicacy.

During those student days my classmates and I discovered a favourite haunt in the Philly, or Philarmonic to give it its full name, a lively nightclub on St Mary’s Street. The best gigs though were at the Student Uni. I recall fabulous nights there seeing the Jam and Graham Parker and the Rumour.

After that year in Cardiff alas I had to leave, taking up a job back on my local paper in Bristol. From there I travelled the country with my new profession, working in Stoke-on-Trent and Oswestry as a sports writer, before moving to Swansea in the mid 80s.

In 1989, I got my chance to return to Cardiff. The Western Mail and Echo were poised to launch their first Sunday newspaper and I landed the job as Chief Sports Sub-Editor. Establishing a completely new newspaper was a brilliant experience, and while many predicted Wales on Sunday wouldn’t last more than a couple of months it has just passed its 26th anniversary, so we must have done something right.

Wales on Sunday was the first “national” paper to contain a pullout sports section and gave blanket coverage to the Welsh football and rugby scenes, something locals were unable to get from the London-based media.

Eventually I moved in with a mate, Nick Lewis, who had bought a house in Cathays. Sadly, Nick is no longer with us but in those days we enjoyed everything Cardiff had to offer. On evenings off my housemate would rub his hands together with a twinkle in his eyes, and announce it was time for an “adventure”.

These “adventures” would take us down the docks to places like the Brown Windsor pub, where we could see brilliant Cardiff bands in action or enjoy a behind-closed-doors lock-in to watch televised coverage of the L’Arc de Triomphe.

Or, better still, we could go to Sam’s Bar on the corner of St Mary’s Street before winding our way down one of the arcades to a popular late night haunt called Kiwis. If we were really in the mood we might top it off with a Steak in the Taurus Steak bar.

On one such night we bumped into the actor Hywel Bennett and a pal who he was lodging with in Cardiff. Back in the days when I had hair people claimed I resembled him, so I recall going up to introduce myself with the immortal line: “People say I look like you”. It led to us spending a memorable night in his company, Nick and Hywel quoting Shakespeare at each other as the drink flowed (only the previous weekend we had published a story of how Hywel had kicked the booze!).

I was later promoted to sports editor and eventually left to try my luck on the Independent and, later, the Sunday Mirror in London. Five years later, though, Wales on Sunday came back to headhunt me and offer me the job of Assistant Editor. Many of my stories of that third time around in Cardiff, vaguely remembered, can be found on a blog I wrote called What I Cooked Last Night.

It was when I later took up the job of Welsh Sports Editor at the News of The World, only to lose it at 48 hours notice when Rupert Murdoch closed down the paper due to the phone hacking scandal, that I came up with the idea for my novel Crossing The Whitewash.

It draws heavily on my experiences in both Cardiff and London, and is set against the backdrop of the Rugby World Cup. It’s my debut novel and so far I’ve been very happy with some of the reviews I’ve been getting. Maybe when I make my first million I’ll return to Cardiff for good.

Nick Rippington currently lives in London with wife Liz and youngest daughter Olivia and works for the Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday. His novel Crossing the Whitewash is available from Amazon in paperback and for Kindle. It can also be found on iBooks, Kobo and at selected stories including The Wellfield Bookstore in Roath.

Crossing the Whitewash Nick Rippington


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