Tag Archives: Grangetown

Cardiff in the Eighties – by Nick Sarebi

I recently spent a few hours lost in the internet when I came across Nick Sarebi’s wonderful photographs of Cardiff in the 1980s. I messaged Nick who kindly agreed to let us publish them, and even did a mini interview with me, which I present, here, for you. Do enjoy this wonderful dip into the archives, back into Cardiff in the late 1980s and very early 1990s. Over to Nick …

Nick: I originally came from London. I lived in between Grangetown 1988 – 95, although I was still working in London for much of that time. I always thought Cardiff was a lovely city.

I was doing a City and Guilds photography project at the time. I loved the sense of history that the Docks had, and obviously it was just on the cusp of change. I wish I took more photos back then, but it was before digital.

I lived in Pentrebane Street in Grangetown. I remember my neighbour saying that she knew Shirley Bassey and went on a works outing with her, where she sang, but then again everyone claimed to know her at that time! I think there were still close-knit families in Grangetown then, which was changing at that time. The neighbours were all very friendly. The house was covered inside with Artex when I bought it. It took ages to scrape off, I must have been mad!

The Docks

Cardiff docks, taken around 1990
Imperial House, which disappeared sometime in the 1990s
The dry dock, photographed in the 1980s. The dry dock is still there, but the shed has long since been demolished.
Cardiff Docks, taken in 1990

 

Nick: I loved wandering round the Docks at that time, before it was all developed. It was pretty much deserted at the time. I also remember visiting the Sea Lock and some other Docks pubs. I wanted to go into the clubs down there but was a bit wary as an outsider. The Sea Lock was definitely stepping into the past. The main bar was closed and they only had a tiny bar left open. They frowned on women going in there alone! It was demolished soon after, I think. The publicans were really friendly. I recommend Trezza Azzarardi’s The Hiding Place – it’s a brilliant take on Tiger Bay. It conjures up Tiger Bay so well for me I had to go back and take another look. It was criminal how the knocked the place down. It can still be seen in the classic film Tiger Bay, which you should watch if you haven’t seen already.

There’s a nice interview with Neil Sinclair here, talking about the story of the place that inspired the Tiger Bay musical that was out year  …

I remember meeting Neil Sinclair, who is at the start of Tiger Bay talking with Hayley Mills. We met at a nice pub which was on the Bay front and was very isolated, out on the way to Penarth. This was before they built that flyover. I forget its name, I think it must have gone now.

Butetown, Cardiff 1991. This building is now home to Octavo’s bookshop and cafe
The Dockland Mini-Market – which can still be seen on James Street today
This building was preserved in the Docks redevelopment – you can now see it as the entrance to the Waterguard pub
The famous clock from the famous Coal Exchange – which, after years in disrepair, is now the Exchange Hotel
The infamous Casablanca Club, long since demolished
Cardiff docks … taken in 1991
The Norwegian Church, 1990
Windsor Esplanade, early 1990s
Cardiff Bay redevelopment, early 1990s

Cardiff – the city

Nick: Why did I move to Cardiff in the first place? That’s a good question. I wanted to move out of London, as it was expensive to buy a house there (even then!) and it was so big. Of course, no one could imagine that house prices would rise to the crazy levels they are now…

I couldn’t decide on Bristol or Cardiff. My girlfriend at the time lived in Bristol, but we split up just before I moved, so I chose Cardiff. In retrospect, what was mad was not looking for work in Cardiff. So I just travelled thousands of miles up and down the M4!

Eventually after Cardiff I moved to Bristol and I worked there for a couple of years, but was offered a part-time job in London, which went from two to four days, so I started commuting again, from 1997 right through to 2013.

I now look back and wonder why I did that! I spent seven years in Cardiff, but somehow it doesn’t feel that long – it flew by. I arrived in Cardiff only a few months after Lynette White was murdered. Someone wrote a book on it called Bloody Valentine, but it had to be pulped for libel reasons.

Tremorfa, around 1991
Seriously – whatever happened to Mr Sandwich?

Nick: It was a bit ridiculous travelling backwards and forwards to London for all those years I lived in Cardiff. Cardiff was all changing at that time. I studied at the Arts Centre – I can’t remember what it was called now.

I have visited Cardiff a few times since I lived there, walking all round the barrage with my son, and have been to watch my team, Fulham, play Cardiff. It always brings back memories. I’m glad I lived there when I did, and saw the bay before it became “the Bay”.

***

Thank you so much Nick! He has a couple of really great albums of 1980s photography. We particularly love these albums:

Miners strike 1984 (photographs of mining families on holiday in London during the strike)

St Pancras Station 1980-1 (some great portraits of rail workers as well as general shots from around the station)

London Docks (images from the 1980s to now)

And of course, his Cardiff in the Eighties album in full.

To see more of his photography, visit Nick’s Flickr page.

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The history of Clarence Bridge and William Harpur

My latest post for Caught By The River was published recently, for my Wandering the River Taff column. In it, I explored the history of Clarence Bridge, which connects the wards of Butetown and Grangetown. I always end up doing about ten thousand percent more research than I can fit in the columns, so get ready for all the interesting extra bits I couldn’t cram in.

The basic history of the bridge is documented in the piece:

A wooden swing bridge went over the Taff, about a hundred or so metres south of where the bridge is today, joining ‘Lower Grangetown’ to the Docks. This bridge connected the areas from 1861 to 1890 – the period when the docks started booming. Increasing numbers of people started using the bridge to get to work from Grangetown, but the Taff Vale Railway Co leased the bridge privately, and started charging for its use.

(Map: Glamorgan XLVII, surveyed: 1878 to 1879. Published: 1885)

Towards the top right of the picture, you’ll see James Street running horizontally across (it’s where you’ll find the police station today). If you stretch that line out directly to the left, you’ll find the current location of Clarence Bridge.

I did quote from the wonderful Grangetown Cardiff’s history section in my column, but I didn’t manage to get all the details in. On the day they introduced the toll, local residents rioted and threw the bridge’s gate off its hinges and threw it in the river.

The Times reported that 1,000 men took part in the protests each day against the railway company. There had been “upmost good humour” for the most part, as 200 police stood by, but then there was direct action. “They rushed at the newly-erected toll gate and tore it from its hinges, throwing the structure in the river.” The first gate was replaced the following day, as well as a sentry box for the toll-keeper. The toll house was also damaged. The paper later publishes court reports of three men who were arrested for causing the damage, costing £5 – Cornelius Dacey, William Smith and William Webb, all under 23. Police were also after another man called William Drew, who was heard to shout “Go it boys, that’s right, pull it off!” The court was told of “200 armed navvies with iron bars up their sleeves.” The three were found guilty and the judge expressed sorrow at having to sentence them to a month’s hard labour.

Eventually the Cardiff Corporation relented to the chaos and built two proper public access bridges – Clarence Bridge, which spanned the River Taff, and the James Street Bridge, which spanned the Glamorganshire Canal. You can see both these bridges appearing in maps from 1898 onwards. Also note the original wooden swing bridge has disappeared – been dismantled by this point, leaving Hamadryad Road cut off abruptly by the Taff.

(Map:Sheet 263 – Cardiff (Outline) Published: 1898)

If you want to see the location of the original wooden bridge, head to Hamadryad Road on the Butetown side. You can’t reach the Taff directly as there’s a big fence up, but if you face the water, you’ll be standing roughly where that original bridge was – well over 100 years ago. It had cost £60,000 when it was originally built.

Grace’s Guide shows the original plans for the bridge, which was designed by William Harpur. I’d never heard of him before, but turns out he’s a fairly important figure in Cardiff’s modern history.

Some more lovely photos that were posted in the Cardiff – Now and Then Facebook Group by David Lawson:

Clarence Bridge construction, 1898

 

The original Clarence Bridge, mid swing

William Harpur, the bridge’s engineer, is not really a household name, but modern Cardiff has his fingerprints all over it. He was appointed Borough Surveyor in 1883, and as such had final and ultimate say over all proposed street layouts and individual buildings that were going up through the city’s boom years.

If you’ve walked down Castle Street, visited Cardiff Indoor Market, or been to Roath or Victoria Parks, you’ll have first hand experience of his work. There’s also the civic centre at Cathays Park, the widening of the Hayes and Working Street. He built the city’s first municipal hospital (the Hospital for Infectious Diseases – later Landsdowne Hospital) and also the Pumping Station – now an antiques market.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BUEye7jlz2A/?taken-at=1034659895

Harpur was also engineer to the tramways department, and carried out the construction of the track for the electric cars. As his obituary so delicately puts it, his mark is left on the lay-out of every inch of modern Cardiff: all the plans of new roads, buildings, bridges etc having had to receive his approval.

William Harpur – 1853-1917, Cardiff city engineer and surveyor

Bit of a hero, William Harpur. Good beard too.

Read all of my entries about the Taff in my Caught By The River column

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

stephen-web

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.

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“there are so many great green spaces in Cardiff” – Patches

patches_web

I may well have been born in Cardiff but my first real home began in Spring 2010 in Grangetown. They picked me up from the re-homing centre in Aberdare and I was a bit nervous when they first bought me indoors, took my lead off and told me I was home. I remember settling in fairly quickly though and enjoyed jumping all over the leather furniture and sitting in the window. It wasn’t long before I’d assumed the role of park warden for the park opposite our house. So many dogs coming and going but no one else seemed to be keeping an eye on them.

They really love me, the folks. They say I’ve made them into a little family. The three of us together. We cuddle up a lot and they throw my toys. I often call them The Ball-throwers. I really love my toys and I play with them all the time. They say I smile when I’m playing with them and it’s true.

I will never forget my first visit to Bute Park. It is huge! (Although a large dog did try and rugby tackle me which was scary). I loved the time they took me there for a picnic to meet a few of their friends not long after I moved in with them. I got a lot of attention. Lots of people in Cardiff know me. Apparently the first thing most people say to them now is ‘How’s Patches?’.

There are so many great places to go walkies in Cardiff. One of my other favourites is the Barrage. I like to try and go in the water but they don’t let me. I like walking around the museum, Roath Park, Sevenoaks Park, Thompson Park, Victoria Park … there are so many great green spaces in Cardiff.

It may surprise you to know that I am the Executive Director of a business in Cardiff called Patches & Co. It’s a website that sells bits and bobs….it’s all very cute. We like doing it and there’s a drawing of me in the logo, which was designed by The Boy (theboytattoo.com) who works over at Alpha Omega on St Mary St.

I don’t get on very well with other boy dogs. But I do have two good friends who are female and they live by me. They are called Ruth and Tamsin. Ruth gives me a lot of attention but Tamsin snaps.

Beyond Cardiff my favourite places are Criccieth and Tenby. I also often go for a ramble in the Vale of Glamorgan. In fact, take me pretty much anywhere outdoors and you can’t go far wrong.

Patches is a Parson Russell Terrier and has lived in Cardiff for two years. He is the executive director of Patches and Co (patchesandco.com) where he sells cute bits and bobs with the help of his doting humans Julie and Kai Jones. He is a very active citizen of Cardiff and loves the amount of green spaces on offer.

Patches was photographed in Alexandra Gardens, Cathays Park, by Doug Nicholls

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“Cardiff – I wouldn’t change you for the world” – Adam

adam-rees-web

Dear Cardiff,

We see each other every day, but after a lifetime of acquaintance and a decade of cohabiting I thought it was time I told you what you mean to me. I’d like to think we had something special, but I know that I am but one of many for you. While you have played a truly exceptional role in the way I grew as a child and developed as a man, I often ask myself if I have had any influence on you.

I don’t remember the first time we met, but growing up on the other side of the M4, you were a neighbour that we would often visit and who would offer me exciting peeks at a different world. My earliest memories of you are summer afternoons in Roath Park, Christmas breakfasts with Santa in the restaurant in Howells and the metallic and sea salty tang of fresh fish in the indoor market.

As my teenage years progressed and village life became claustrophobic, your friendly neighbour became a Mrs Robinson figure, offering new and more mature experiences for me. I couldn’t wait to learn to drive so that I could spend as much time as possible in your shadow, and a weekend cinema job and new friends provided even more excuses to spend time away from home. Even when I chose to study at the University of Glamorgan, you were only a train ride away.

You’ve witnessed my peaks and my troughs; you hold secrets that I have never shared with anyone else and through it all you have kept my glass half full. It is within your borders that I met my partner Yusuf and the people who have become my best friends.

I’ve seen you at your most extrovert, on match days when the city is a-buzz with scarves, inflatable daffodils and those bloody annoying horns. I’ve seen you at your most introvert when the clouds are low, the rain has driven everyone out of the streets and your eclectic beauty stands out the most. But without a doubt, my favourite times with you have been when nothing much happened at all. Sunny afternoons sitting in Bute Park watching the river run by on one side and the people on the other, or snuggled into any one of a number of your inns, drinking, talking, and laughing.

We may be quite different people now from those early days before you had all that work done (and may I say you are looking all the better for it!) and I was just a shy boy.  These days I see you more like an older sibling, that I may sometimes take for granted and regularly bitch about, but dare an outsider start to criticise you and I will defend you till the end.

We’ve been through our bad patches, indeed there was a time that I escaped every weekend I could, and when I couldn’t wait to “Get out of this job and out of this city!” But we worked things out and I wouldn’t change you for the world.

Adam Rees is a Communities First Officer for Cardiff’s Third Sector Council. His interests include Baking, books and crafts and blogs about it all at adam-rees@tumblr.com . He lives in Grangetown with his partner Yusuf and two dogs, Arthur and Edward.

Adam was photographed at his home by Adam Chard

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“I always knew I wanted to join the family business” – Dennis

dennis-dutch-web

When I was a child, I used to tell people my ambition was to open a Clark’s Pie shop at the top of Snowdon! I always knew I wanted to join the family business that had been established by my grandmother, Mary Clark, in 1913. It was a thriving company by the time I was born in 1930, and before leaving school at the age of 14, I was already working at my parents’ shop at 454 Cowbridge Road East, just around the corner from our family home at Victoria Park.

This was in 1945, and the end of the Second World War. Canton and Grangetown in particular had seen much damage and significant loss of life, especially during the Cardiff Blitz of January 1941. I clearly remember nights spent in the air raid shelter in our garden, and the bomb that dropped on Lansdowne Road, shattering windows in our shop. It was business as usual soon afterwards, but with food on ration, the number of pies we could produce on a daily basis was limited.

We had no fridge at our premises, so a local butcher used to store our meat for us. One of my jobs was to collect the meat at 7am before production began. Because of the rationing, customers would queue for hours before the shop was due to open. On Saturdays, families would often send their children along to buy pies, and they would begin queuing from as early as 6.30 in the morning. On days like these we would sell out of pies within 45 minutes.

But it wasn’t all about work. Canton was a wonderful place to grow up and I had plenty of friends in the area. I spent many hours playing tennis in Victoria Park, opposite my family home, and played football for the Victoria Vikings. Always a keen gardener, I had an allotment near Llandaff Cathedral from the age of 14, and I was a member of Wesleyan Methodist Church and an Officer in 9th Cardiff Boys Brigade.

Everything changed in 1948 when I was called up for National Service at the age of 18. I was stationed at RAF South Cerney near Cirencester. I was lucky enough to secure a much sought after job as a driver, but, despite this, I wasn’t happy about being away from family and friends in my beloved Cardiff. I came home every weekend and, because I was in church every Sunday, some of the congregation didn’t even know I’d been called up!

The Boys Brigade was an important part of my early life and one of my proudest memories is when 9th Cardiff Company reached the finals of the Cardiff Competition. The finalists were to parade in the Assembly Room at City Hall and I was at the front swinging the mace. We were all nervous and knew we would need to put on an outstanding performance to win. I took a last minute decision to throw the mace up in the air at the end, knowing there was a risk of hitting one of the chandeliers that hung from the ceiling. The risk paid off. I managed to catch the mace without dropping it, the chandeliers remained intact and we won the competition!

In May 1955 I opened my own Clark’s Pie shop and bakery at 23 Bromsgrove Street, Grangetown. As well as a small number of staff that I’d employed, my mother also helped out during the first week. Things were up and running in no time and the shop soon became established. We have seen some tough times over the years with the BSE crisis and economic recession, but in 2005 we celebrated the shop’s 50th anniversary with a surprise visit from Frank Hennessy who sang some of his songs for staff and well-wishers.

I celebrated my 80th birthday in 2010 and, as a surprise, my family arranged for us all to see Cardiff City play. We had a meal beforehand in the corporate suite, met Craig Bellamy and I got to choose and award Man of the Match to Jay Bothroyd. Cardiff City won 4-0. The whole day was perfect and felt like a dream.

A year before I turned 80, I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I had been worried about my memory for some time and was referred to the Memory Clinic at Llandough Hospital. It was upsetting to receive the diagnosis but I am determined to be positive and live a full life. Two of my three daughters now run my Grangetown shop, but I am still actively involved in the business. My family give me a lot of support and I go out for social trips with two Care Workers from Crossroads Care (both called Janet!) during the week.

This means I can still do my own shopping, enjoy meals out and visit the garden centre. I have a good laugh with Janet and Janet and we often talk about our memories of Cardiff. Mine go back much further than theirs though!

Dennis Dutch was born in August 1930 to Arthur and Winifred Dutch, the third
of five children. The family lived at 23 Victoria Park Road West and Dennis
attended Lansdowne Road Primary then Cardiff High School. Dennis left
school at the age of 14 to work at the Victoria Park shop with his parents
before opening his own Clark’s Pies shop and bakery at 23 Bromsgrove
Street, Grangetown, in 1955.

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“On opening this letter, it will have been exactly three years since leaving London behind” – Kieran

kieran_web

Dear Kieran,

On a break from city hall and working on the impending return of the students I have escaped to a café near the station to enjoy my usual herbal tea. I thought it would be a good idea to remind you of why you are in Cardiff and what your thoughts were between turning 29 and 30.

So, on opening this letter it will have been exactly three years since leaving London behind. Yes Cardiff might not have as much going on, but remember that’s a good thing, instead of running around trying to do everything listed in Time Out – from theatre to gig, to art show to three clubs in one night, wake up and repeat. There is that feeling of anticipation in Cardiff and an enjoyment in and of the moment rather than constantly charging on to next, next, next.

In hindsight the move and career change from working for an art collector to student liaison officer – private to public, although an initial shock, has taken you out of the comfort zone you were in danger of falling into, coming to Cardiff to be a bit more selfish; write, study and work.

Yes, frustrations underline your work, but don’t forget the freedom the post has allowed; working from your own initiative. Working with the three universities and the council as the Student Liaison Officer is a unique position across the UK. The post has helped make the city and its students safer, cleaner, and hopefully greener, more socially aware and responsible. It’s helped people to invest in their communities and become enveloped within the city outside of the student bubble. The work empowers the community and changes perceptions. Follow-ups to the Buy Nothing Day and the first ever Speed Dating litter picks should have come about, work progressed towards ‘Get it Out For Cardiff’ charity collections throughout the year, and ‘cardifference’, Go Green and ‘Lock it. Hide it. Keep it’ campaigns launched, and added onto your website cardiffdigs.co.uk, a website for all student housing and living needs.

If when you open this letter funding has run out, then you know that forces outside your control took possession. You have taken the job as far as it could go, perhaps it is time for that move into the charity sector or maybe into social marketing as you’ve been mulling over in your thoughts.

I wonder if you are still living in Grangetown? Remember not to take the ability to walk everywhere for granted. And look up more – you must have brought a second hand bike by now for further explorations.

Do you remember that man on a night out casually taking a poo against a wall in full public view on a less than salubrious street like it was normal behaviour? In Cardiff you constantly need to keep digging deeper to avoid the shit on the streets. Finding uniqueness stops you giving up on humanity and retains your optimism for the city. Don’t get blinded by selfish attitudes, the consumerist city clone, our throw-away society, bad manners/litter or underlying cliques – it’s finding the off-the-cuff parts, seeking out interesting people and places that make this city remarkable.

If you still haven’t dedicated time to writing then it’s time to put pen to paper again. You will have graduated with a certificate in higher education, subjects in philosophy, psychology and social marketing, by the time you open this but that’s no excuse to not have continued learning. You had thoughts of sociology and such like up your sleeve so I hope as much time this past year has been spent holed up in various libraries.

At the time you were listening to Steve Mason, Stevie Wonder, Laura Marling and the XX on repeat. This was the soundtrack to Cardiff.
You’d just finished reading Buy-ology, Master and Margarita and Wind In The Willows, and hope some headway was made on the stack of books by the bedside.

A weekend with the SWAT adventure group was impending – if you haven’t organised something this year, then why not? Remember how much fun things like the Llama trek, Go Ape, trips and walks to Snowdon and Brecon were.

Hopefully you’ve found an additional volunteer opportunity, been on another conservation holiday, got more involved in the Cardiff Rivers group, community radio and Radio Cardiff, and found a creative outlet.

The last week is fairly typical in that you’ve met up with close friends played squash, gone to the cinema, had a veggie dinner somewhere, gone for tea and cake, seen something random like Celtic wrestling, ice hockey, circus, theatre or gig and taken those dancing shoes for a good old shuffle around. You know who these people are that make this city into a bonanza, so pick up the phone now if it’s been more than a few weeks.

I leave you with this:
“At 30 a man should know himself like the palm of his hand, know the exact number of his defects and qualities, know how far he can go, foretell his failures – be what he is. And, above all, accept these things.” – Albert Camus

So yes you are still nauseatingly cheesy but happy birthday, from me (nearly 29) to me (30).

Kieran McCann is slightly addicted to chocolate soya milk, loves having breakfast for his tea, gets guilty pleasures from reading comics, has only walked through the new St David’s 2 once, can’t pass an open charity shop without going in and is still fending off having a personal profile on facebook. He is the founder of cardiffdigs.co.uk ; you can follow his work on the blog: http://cardiffdigs.blogspot.com/

Kieran was photographed near the Taf at Tudor Street by Adam Chard.

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“You’re never alone in Cardiff. It’s like Lost but with the warmth of Postman Pat” – Jonny

jonny_bull_web

On July 30th, 2008, at Estació de Sants in Barcelona, I got my heart broken. Shutting myself away from the world broken. Every song on my iPod relating to my failed relationship broken. Not getting dressed all weekend broken.

To get me through the trauma, I grew a beard. This proved utterly useless. After six months of moping alone, I moved to Grangetown.

Back home in the Merthyr valley, I was something of an outcast due to my aversion to drinking heavily and impregnating strangers. My parents were concerned at my choice of location. They live opposite a crack den. Their argument is invalid.

It wasn’t a snap decision. I wanted a change of scenery and to be within walking distance of work. Using High Fidelity’s ‘what really matters is what you like, not what you are like’ test, I scoured Gumtree and settled on one advert titled ‘Ace Room Seeks Good Person’.

My prospective housemates appeared to share my tastes and interests, but the clincher was the reason they gave for their other housemate leaving: ‘It’s because we like to stand outside the room at night dragging my nails down the door and whispering things like “Are you asleep?”, “I hate you”, “What are you doing?” and “Are you asleep now?”. Either that or because she got offered to move in with some of her bestest best friends ever.’

Reassuring though that was, packing up and moving to the big city is a pretty intimidating move.

Cardiff is not a big city.

In fact, I think Douglas Adams who once said “Cardiff is tiny. Really tiny. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly tiny it is. I mean you may think it’s a short way down the stairs to the kitchen, but that’s just peanuts to Cardiff.”

What might be claustrophobic is a disarming strength to living in Cardiff. Walks to town are frequently broken up with quick catch ups with passing friends. There are always familiar faces to be found at any event you choose to attend.

It’s like Lost but with the warmth of Postman Pat.

You’re never alone in Cardiff. And given my reasons for moving, it’s proved the perfect place to be. The beard continues to be utterly useless.

When not fixing computers for Cardiff University, Jonny Bull organises a Sunday afternoon kickabout for the unfit and untalented and co-runs a monthly quiz at Gwdihw. He curates the entire internet at http://dogscantlookup.com and documents his life in nauseating detail at http://twitter.com/jonnyathan. He believes ‘ear’, ‘here’ and ‘year’ are all pronounced the same and loathes compliments, photographs of his face and writing in the third person.

Jonny was photographed in Grangetown by Adam Chard

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