Tag Archives: living in roath

The elastic band effect – in conversation with Meryl Cubley

In this week’s person to person, we sit down for a chat with Meryl Cubley, Cardiff-based journalist and writer.


Cardiff is my home – despite not being born here. I’m originally from a very small village located on the Staffordshire Moorlands (very Heathcliffe) but I spent much of my childhood growing up on the coast of west Wales.

You could say that that particular part of the Welsh coastline is intrinsic to who I am – it certainly makes up a good 70 per cent of my childhood memories. It was a very special time for me and the friends who I grew up alongside in west Wales: mainly Welsh, though two or three of us were English. These were dark political times – significant tension existed between the local Welsh and the English interlopers who had holiday homes – but never used them: basically pricing locals out of their own areas of birth because they could no longer afford the house prices.

It was also a time of miners strikes, huge unemployment and a change in the cultural landscape of Britain that we have never recovered from. Yet despite these difficult times, tucked away in a tiny part of the world seven coves long, we enjoyed a halcyon childhood that many will never experience. I know that I feel incredibly lucky to have such amazing and special memories of that west Wales coast; and whenever I go back now, I immediately feel all the stresses and strains of everyday life disappear as soon as I smell the sea air, or look at the different play of light there, or look up to see a canopy full of stars. It is a very special place – and I simply wouldn’t have those memories if it weren’t for Cymru – the people and the place.

Being a country girl at heart brought up pretty much on horseback; I knew I’d have to move to ‘the big smoke’ if I wanted to live the exciting kind of life I dreamed of and read about in the countless novels and biographies I often had my head stuck in. So I left home at a very young age; and over the years lived in London, Manchester and Bristol among others; and leaned my street smarts the hard way. Each city had its charms, its time ‘on the map’. There’s no question that they have influenced my passion and love of arts and culture, music and society. There were incredible music scenes, new political ideas, a change in style, culture and fashion: we’re talking about in particular the scenes in Manchester and Bristol here – London always seemed like a rat trap to me.

But Cardiff had me hooked from the start. I was living in Australia, pretending to be a surfer chick, on a gap year before they were called a gap year; after a particularly nasty accident left me in a wheelchair for eight months. I got a phone call from my Mum at home in west Wales, to say I’d had an unconditional offer from Cardiff’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies – one of the top rated institutions in the UK for media training. I think it’s significant to note that I was seriously considering studying in Sydney at the time – but I knew immediately that I wanted to study and live in Cardiff.

After three years of hard graft and like many students, I decided to stay and work in Cardiff after I had graduated. I’ve worked for all of the Welsh media institutions at one time and another – and learned a lot – and had a lot of fun doing so.

When I did leave in 2003, to edit a graffiti publication in Bristol; I honestly didn’t think I’d be back – but lo and behold – nine years ago I did come back to live and work in Cardiff once more. It seems I just can’t stay away!

Since coming back I love the range of things on offer here. If I had friends visiting for the weekend, this would be our weekend itinerary:
  • Friday night – local drinks – which ranges from the Albany pub to Milgi to all the choices on Wellfield Road.
  • Saturday – brunch at Porro or Cameo – or one of the greasy spoon cafes if it was a really good night! Then follow that by a walk around Roath Park Lake or Bute Park. In the summer it’s great fun hopping on the little boat docked near the Bute Park entrance; and zipping down to Cardiff Bay. A walk across the barrage to Penarth is a must, blows away the night before, feels like a million miles away – and is an awesome spot for collecting marine fossils. Grab the train back to Cardiff, have a brief siesta; then the fun starts all over again! Dinner at Il Pastifico, Potted Pig or Cafe Citta, followed by cocktails at Dead Canary; and dancing over at Gwdihw. Then on to an after party wherever that happens to be …
  • Sunday involves, bed, cat, papers and ordering in!


Meryl Cubley is an Editor, Journalist and Writing Consultant. You can see more of her work at merylcubley.com or follow her @merylcubley. She currently lives in Roath.

Meryl was photographed by Lorna Cabble at Cameo Club on Wellfield Road.

“It’s a genuine community” – Zoe


I came to Cardiff in 2005 – I’d lived in Newport since 2003, being at university there. True to its name as the little capitol city, the first house I lived in was the same one that Dirty Sanchez used to film their first series in. One night we all went into the basement to find their names burnt into the floor beams surrounded by pentagons. But that’s just one of the many crazy Cardiff stories that you’ll find all Cardiffians have, about the famous people and places we encounter on a daily basis.

For me Cardiff is a place where you can be who you really are, no judgement, no fear. It’s a massive pleasure to see Cardiff bloom creatively, to see what has always been a small but diverse community, now recognised further afield for the potential it has, and it’s down to this zeitgeist Cardiff offers artists.

Personally, Cardiff has helped me evolve as an artist in innumerable ways. I knew I loved film and I knew I loved making clothes but I’d never put the two together until I moved to Cardiff. It was Cardiff that brought these things in my life together, like some mystical force – and I realised that I wanted to work on costumes in films. I’d see Doctor Who out on location, would recognise  various Cardiff locations on screen and like most people, it seemed magical that I could make the fictional world real. Working here for five years now, I’d say I’ve become part of the Cardiff independent filmmaking circuit.

I guess most people see costume as two things: superhero outfits and big period dresses with wigs and fans. It’s so much more than that and the industry in Cardiff definitely recognises that. I’ve met people here who believe in the same things as me: living here and working here. I work all over Cardiff and the surrounding areas, and take great pleasure in contributing to the creative output Cardiff is so well known for.

I’ve shot all over Cardiff – in an abandoned quarry in Fairwater for the digital short “Magpie”, in the carpark underneath the Coal Exchange for the Iris Prize film “Boys Village” and even in City Hall, in the upstairs marble hall with Rutger Hauer, over one night in May for “The Reverend”. Some cynics might say that most films made in Cardiff come from elsewhere: big companies with money looking to film somewhere cheaper than London. Those cynics are wrong. Yes, we welcome the big productions, they bring the chance for us to prove Wales has so much to offer. But I’ve also worked with some amazing local talent that want to make films about Wales, about their lives, and about Cardiff.

I’ve lived almost always in, or adjacent to Roath, and six years later, live around the corner from that first student house, affectionately titled “the dirty sanchez house”. It’s a wonderful area to be young, have children, or grow old. It’s the memory I often return to, of my first summer amble around Roath Park, to the boating lake with friends that made me realise this was the place for me.

I love Roath for Wellfield Road’s Christmas lights, for walking my dog in Waterloo Gardens, and watching him chase (or rather attempt to) squirrels, I love Roath for the fabric shops which in my line of business being a walkable distance away is impossibly helpful. I love Roath for the multicultural mix that never seems cliche, pretentious, or threatening: just open and welcoming. On City Road you can walk ten paces and go from Mexican to Lebanese to traditional or super modern interpretations of tandoori classics.

Testament to Cardiff’s “big little city” tag, you can shoot a city landscape, drive fifteen minutes and be in the rolling countryside – but, as I often need to pop off set to grab something, like a pair of socks, or a cup of coffee, its nice to know you’re not far from civilisation and in Roath’s case, about 100 paces from any given Tesco!

I read recently that Roath was the new Pontcanna. My friends from Pontcanna weren’t convinced, but thanks to Made In Roath, The Gate, and Milgi there’s a really strong creative cultural atmosphere beginning to settle here. There’s always been an artistic atmosphere, but little output for creatives to showcase their work. Now, with Milkwood and Sho galleries which are literally around the corner from many of its patrons, it feels like our art is on show. It’s a genuine community, and you walk into Milgi knowing you’re likely to see someone you know within five minutes. Made In Roath festival gives people the chance to visit locals and see their art in their houses: a new and inventive exhibition style. I urge anyone who hasn’t been to the open houses before, to come along this year and see for yourself what Roath has to offer.

As for the big screen – keep your eyes peeled, you’re more likely than ever to see a part of Cardiff you might recognise.

Zoe is a costume designer living and working in Cardiff. Originally from Yorkshire she came to Wales for university and stayed for love. Last year she worked with people from all walks of life –  from Jean Claude Van Damme to Denise Welch (you can watch this in “Loserville” – one of Zoe’s projects – very soon on BBC Wales). In her spare time, Zoe likes to pamper her dog, George, and runs a small dog clothing company called dogtailor.

Zoe was photographed on Albany Road in Roath by Simon Ayre



“The stranger arrives to a city, alone” – Wayne


The stranger arrives to a city, alone,
In search of himself, in search for a home,
He stands in the street, the buildings are tall,
The stranger is big, at that moment he’s small,
So many faces, go rushing by,
The stranger don’t know if he’ll smile or he’ll cry,
But filled with excitement the stranger persists,
And wonders if true happiness really exists,
As days turns to weeks, and months into years,
There’s moments of fun there’s moments of tears
But the stranger works hard and the stranger fits in
And to his surprise things start to begin
His friends and his work and a place to call home
The stranger’s content and never alone,
He socially climbs and reaches the top,
He’s busy enjoying the stranger don’t stop
His life’s been a journey a beautiful ride
To a wonderful place with great friends by his side
The stranger is happy the stranger feels free,
I’m ever so glad that stranger is me!

Originally from Pontarddulais in Swansea, where he worked as a gravedigger, Wayne Courtney moved to Cardiff in 2007 and is now a full-time nurse and part-time events organiser. Wayne now calls Roath his home, and he is a regular in the pubs, clubs and coffee houses there, where he has been christened Roath’s Premiere Socialite.

Wayne was photographed in the beer garden of The Albany pub by Adam Chard