Tag Archives: living in adamsdown

“Adamsdown is my favourite” – Ellie

ellie-pilot-web

I went to Aberystwyth University and had a few friends that moved to Cardiff when they graduated. A few of us hung around Aber for a bit not knowing what we should do and then decided we would all just move to Cardiff. I’ve lived in Riverside then Roath and now settled in Adamsdown. Adamsdown is my favourite, because it’s cheap and most of my friends live in the surrounding streets. Though I have fond memories of Riverside and my housemates, and Roath because I met a lovely landlord and his family who became my adopted Cardiff family! Cardiff is just so friendly and welcoming which is why it rocks!

By day, I am a legal secretary for a Patent and Trade Mark firm. It’s a job I fell into but it’s pretty great. In my spare time I do the admin for the Mary Bijou Cabaret and Social Club. If you haven’t heard of us we are a Cardiff-based (so far!) cabaret night. We began in 2010, staging themed shows in our local community hall that featured circus performers, musicians, dancers and actors from Cardiff and around the world. Our shows are immersive and intimate, driven by playfulness and good fun; the audience is invited to become part of the cabaret family for the evening. By 2011 these nights were growing in popularity, and we were invited by the Wales Millennium Centre to perform as part of the 2011 Blysh festival. Since then, Mary Bijou has been going from strength to strength. We recently performed at our second Machynlleth Comedy Festival 2013, of which we were invited back to before our 2012 first year’s festival was even over! We provide the after-hours’ entertainment in the evenings as well as daytime circus workshops.

We’re going to be back at The Centre’s Blysh festival this July and August, bigger and better than ever, with a show called “Hitch” in the Spiegel tent which is ever so exciting. This year we get a four night run!

We’re confident that this summer’s show for the Centre will be our best yet. We’re already planning our shows for Machynlleth next May, and hope to include a daytime family-friendly “children’s’ cabaret”.

Some of my favourite things to do in the city are head to the hula hooping class at the Nofit State Circus HQ or at a spin class after work, or trawling junk shops for 1950s kitchens at the weekend, going to any number of the wonderful gigs and shows happening around town, electro-swing hopping with the Kitsch n Sync girls at their Tuesday class, drinking Waterloo tea in Porter’s and catching up with friends.

There are a whole load of fun things to recommend in this city – but obviously the first one would be to come and see our show in the spiegeltent this July 31st until 3 August 2013!

Ellie Pilott has collaborated with Mary Bijou since the first show in 2010. Nofit State circus inspired her to take up hula hoop but she is too shy to perform so she stays in the background and does a number of jobs filling in where appropriate but mainly the administration and marketing. She is a proficient tea drinker, junk shop trawler, hula hoop teacher and property finder. She makes Mary Bijou Go, Go, Go! Catch Mary Bijou on Facebook or Twitter @themarybijou or on their website. She currently lives in Adamsdown.

Mary Bijou’s show Hitch premieres in their purpose-built Spiegeltent in Cardiff Bay outside the Wales Millennium Centre between 31 July and 4 August 2013.

Ellie was photographed with her hula hoops at Porter’s by Adam Chard

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“Cardiff and its people have shaped who I am today” – Andrew

andrew small

I first lived in Cardiff when I was a student at University of Glamorgan. It was only a year and a half (I dropped out, you see, all the best people do) but it was a proper eye opener for a wide-eyed indie kid from West Wales.

I find it hard to describe what Cardiff means to me, it’s become such an important part of my life. I lost my virginity here, had my first poem published here (in The Yellow Crane); I’ve gigged, marched, lobbied and protested here; gigged, danced, sung, drank and fallen over here. I bought a house here last year. It’s my home.

I went to my first gay club in Cardiff. Nerys and I were both 18, and I went to Talybont Halls to get ready before going out. I cringe to think of what I was wearing. Skin-tight grey pinstripe trousers, a black shirt, knockoff Patrick Cox loafers and more eyeliner than Robert Smith. We drank vodka, pretended we were Poppy Z Brite vampires, kissed and got a taxi to Club X. I can’t remember much of the next six months, but I definitely can’t drink like that these days. Sadly, I think my bohemian vampire days are over. But shh, don’t tell anyone, I still like the eyeliner though.

I live in Splott, on a tiny street in a tiny block near Moorlands Park. When I had my offer accepted, I turned into a Time Team detective; spent hours on Ancestry.com and old-maps.co.uk. I discovered that in 1890 a lady called Ellen Rörstrum lived in my house, and was probably the first occupant. When my Dad and I removed the old suspended floor from under the stairs, we found a rusty old Victorian hatpin. Part of Ellen’s life was suddenly in my hands. I felt I knew her. I could see this woman bringing up the children who survived past infanthood, mourning the ones who didn’t. Many have remarked on the cheerful feeling in my house; I hope I’m making it as happy a home as Ellen.

I’ve written quite a lot about Cardiff, you can’t seem to help it, if you live here. Most of my main characters live in Cardiff for a while, and even though they all leave, they always return. I had a short story selected for publication in Peter Finch’s Big Book of Cardiff in 2005. Nothing much happens in the story, two friends say goodbye as one leaves to live in Australia; but I wrote is as if the city was a character. That’s pretty much how I actually see Cardiff. Every landmark, whether they are famous and well known, or (in)famous to me personally, is a facet of the City’s character; every person, every shopper, every landlord, waitress or singer is a thought that flits through the City’s mind. I have the same relationship to Cardiff as I do with the people I love. Sometimes they get on my nerves, sometimes they don’t; sometimes we argue, sometimes we kiss and make up; but I love and accept them, warts and all.

Cardiff and its people have shaped who I am today. I wasn’t the confident, shouty, positive person I am today back then when I moved here ten years ago. I had an awful job back then, working for a black-hearted financial institution that tried to ruin my life by keeping me back. When I turned thirty in 2007, I decided I wanted a whole change of career. I now work for RNIB Cymru, Wales’ main charity offering support and advice to blind and partially sighted people. Part of my job is to go out to schools and deliver assemblies on the importance of regular eye health checks, how to keep your eyes healthy, and how to guide a blind or partially sighted person. After working for various terrible employers for more than fifteen years, I now genuinely love my job. No two days are the same; I might be training Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, one day, and running a focus group in Rhondda Cynon Taf the next. We campaign for the rights of blind and partially sighted people across Wales, and I am lucky enough to work closely with Cardiff, Vales and Valleys, (formerly Cardiff Institute for the Blind), a fantastic member organisation that supports, motivates and exists for the blind and partially sighted people of Cardiff and the Vale. Not content with that, CVV also operates in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr.

I learned to knit in 2004. It started as a little hobby, and has turned into an obsession. I curated an art exhibition as part of Queer Cymru in 2005, and the entrance to my section of the exhibition space was hung with knitted jellyfish, that visitors had to duck under to access. The risk of being stung was minimal. I’m now busy designing four knitting and crochet patterns that will be on sale in a lovely new knitting shop in Canton called Calon Yarns. Lynne, the owner, not only has an amazing shop, she really wants to be part of the community. Calon Yarns runs workshops and events and all sorts of great community projects. Best of all, Lynne introduced me to a crowd of people as a ‘knitwear designer’.

Cardiff also holds another first for me. This is where I grew up. This is where I’ll stay.

Andrew Craig Williams was born in 1977 and is from Ammanford in Carmarthenshire. He has lived in Cardiff for ten years, where he is a writer, artist and music maker. His website is andrewcraigwilliams.com, where you can download his music, read some of his work and get his free knitting patterns. He suggest you also check out rnib.org.uk/cymru, cardiffinstitutefortheblind.org and calonyarns.co.uk. Andrew currently lives in Splott.

Andrew was photographed by Amy Davies outside Metros

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“I’m proud to say that I’m in love with the city” – Tom

Tom Wentworth

I’m having an affair. I know what you must be thinking – but now I want to shout it from the very top of Capital Tower.

I have been indulging in my love affair with Cardiff since September last year. It began with an exclamation of recognition that you get when you meet an old friend, hurtling past the University of Glamorgan’s Cardiff campus the Atrium in Adamsdown, as I arrived on the train. After open days and visits to get my bearings, this was it. I was moving to Cardiff.

The Atrium building simply screams ‘buzzword’, with its glass frontage and the way it appears to rise from the ground. It symbolises my view of Cardiff – modern, fresh and exciting. The Atrium has become the centre of my personal map of the city. That map is growing all the time, adding in the restaurants, cafes and coffee houses where I guiltily eat chocolate cake and listen to city gossip. I hear candid reviews of the best places to eat; the new art collections at the National Museum and where to find peace in the city’s green spaces. I want to know who else I’m sharing my city with, so I drink in the chatter with my latte and head out to explore.

While I’m alone during these exquisite explorations I’m still surrounded by people who are not above waving or saying a cheery ‘Good morning!’. Of course, I’m never really on my own – the city is more than happy to act as the perfect guide, as I experience the new and old together; taking enjoyment from returning to familiar places, just as much as finding new ones.

Like in any relationship though, there are some days when one needs space. Then I head to Shropshire – the original focus of my affections – but I’m always pulled back, often to find that a new building or development has been erected in the time I was away. The city is ever changing and embraces so many cultures but it can sometimes seem rather apologetic of its status as the Welsh capital. However, its pull appears to remain unchallenged as students often seem to stay long after they’ve graduated.

In many ways I feel that I am writing my version of the city; the boulevards and streets have become places where an important part of my life is being played out. I feel a strong sense of ownership with a place I feel increasingly passionate about. I dread the day when I may have to break my bond with this place and relocate but it hasn’t happened yet.

So, I shall continue my love affair with Cardiff but it’s no longer a secret, and I’m proud to say that I’m in love with the city.

Tom Wentworth is a freelance writer and a student at the University of Glamorgan where he is studying Radio (BA Hons.) He openly admits to spending too much time in the cities cafes in the name of research when he should be writing or studying. Follow him on Twitter – @tomthetwit. He currently lives in Adamsdown.

Tom was photographed outside Atrium by Adam Chard

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