Tag Archives: made in roath

The Actual History Museum of Roath

Every single suburb of Cardiff offers something different. But there’s something about Roath … Ellie Philpotts went along to investigate one project that certainly makes the area special.

actual museum roath

As readers of We Are Cardiff, you probably know just how vibrant this city is. Every day brings something new, while no resident has the same experience of living here. Plus, each suburb has its own cultural quirks. Where better to demonstrate this than Roath?

As a relative newbie to Cardiff, since moving here in 2014 to start English Lit and Journalism at Cardiff Uni, I’ve only ever lived in Cathays. Despite this, my favourite district has always been Roath. The place has it all – more international cuisine than you realised you could ever squeeze into a road (City Road, I’m looking at you); a beautiful lake, park and botanical garden; a tangible community spirit, with events such as the annual Made in Roath and Made in Spring festival; and now, of course, the Actual History Museum of Roath.

I’ve got to confess – I didn’t know much about this project, until We Are Cardiff’s wonderful founder, Helia, asked me pop along to do a piece on it. After as much research as I could do without ruining the suspense, I went along to the museum itself, and here’s what went down…

After getting kind of lost on the way (slightly embarrassing considering how close I live), I arrive at the address on Werfa Street, pretty soaked by that common thing called Cardiff rain, but excited to find out more. I’m offered a very warm welcome by the main curators, Dr Glen Roy and Sir Alfred Street, and before long we’re chatting away over a brew.

The first thing I want to know, from the horse’s mouth, is what it specifically is that the Actual History Museum of Roath represents? I’m told, ‘we bring knowledge to the ignorant, and open people’s eyes to the wonders of Roath. A lot of people know the aesthetics, of things like cafes, but they don’t think of the history much.’

Well now I’m intrigued. The Actual History Museum of Roath is a local project redefining Roath in a witty and unique way – leave your definitions of ‘truth’ firmly at the gate. The museum itself is in a garden shed at the Werfa Street home, featuring an interesting range of trinkets and artefacts which collectively form the north-eastern district’s rich history.

There are murals asking ‘what became of the Lake Roath Monster?’, plus maps, cave paintings and some rather amusing songbird rivalries with Splott…

The famous Roath vs Splott song goes as follows:

‘More beer landlord,
I’m a happy fella,
When I’m drinking in the Roath Bierkeller,
When I was young I travelled far,
I once went to Llanedeyrn,
The people there smelled funny,
And really did my head in,

(Repeat chorus)

Oh Roath it is a lovely place,
The pies are always hot,
Unlike those bits of gristle,
That they call pies in Splott,

(Repeat Chorus)

Oh landlord bring a flagon and we will make an oath,
To the greatest of all countries,
The place that we call Roath.’

 

This little hideaway and its connections play a vital role in Made in Roath, seeing visitors frequently flock to find out more about the true history of the place. The team behind the Actual History Museum of Roath all go by very Roathian names – there’s Dame Shirley Road; Dr Glen Roy and Professor Sir Alfred Street – and are keen to make Roath be considered independent. There’s no question about it – they certainly think it’s the pride of the capital, but this is taken to new heights with ideas such as their ‘Roatherendum’. 400 voted, with only eight preferring to stay dependent within Cardiff. Independence now!

A photgraph from the Museum's collection: Sir Lancalot Werfa, ever the Explorer of Roath, was already planning his next adventure with Sir Donald Street's grandfather Sir " Jimmy" Quality Street. This adventure never took place, due to his failure to successfully return from his Roath Recreation Park Crossing (1908, permission Actual History Museum Roath).
A photograph from the Museum’s collection: Sir Lancalot Werfa, ever the Explorer of Roath, was already planning his next adventure with Sir Donald Street’s grandfather Sir ” Jimmy” Quality Street. This adventure never took place, due to his failure to successfully return from his Roath Recreation Park Crossing (1908, permission Actual History Museum Roath).

Although of course unofficial and unrecognised by the government, the polls became quite the talking point around the close-knit community, and it seems even further afield – making it onto Radio Wales and Wales Online.

The Museum embodies the wacky charm that would surely only work on the good people of Cardiff. Engaging everyone by bringing a very new slant on what it means to be a Roath resident, I don’t think I’m alone in hoping the team keep up their open days; quirky Youtube videos and Made in Roath starring role for years to come. I’m just not sure their old rivals in Splott would agree…

PS – They’re expecting you to perhaps be a bit confused at first.

The actual history museum of Roath Facebook page

The actual history museum of Roath YouTube

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Ellie Philpotts

Ellie Philpotts is our writer on the ground in central Cardiff. Telling it like it is!

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It’s time to have a clear out – Exchange in Roath is BACK!

If you need to refresh your wardrobe, fill your bookshelves with new material or just fancy getting yourself some new furniture, you can do it all for free at Exchange In Roath (EiR) Green City Events’s giant swap shop!

Last year’s Exchange In Roath saw over 1.5 tonnes of clothes, books, DVDs, CDs and records, furniture, electronics, toys, kitchenware and even bikes donated. This year Green City are bringing the event back to Cardiff as part of the Made In Roath festival.

“We were really surprised at the quality (and quantity) of the items donated – in the mix last year were some lovely designer clothes and beautiful vintage items! One of the best parts was hearing so many people say ‘ohhhh I was just about to go out and buy one of those so you’ve saved me loads of money!’” – Becca Clark, founder of Green City Events

As a completely free event attendees will be given five free ‘points’ (which can be exchange for items) just for turning up. If you want to walk away with more, however, you can gain more points by donating your own unwanted things.

From Monday 12thto Friday 16th October there will be a yarn-bombed shipping container on Keppoch Street, right next to the Gate Arts Centre, ready and willing to take donations. Look how cool it is:

That is a well and truly yarn-bombed shipping container!
That is a well and truly yarn-bombed shipping container!

On the day itself screen-printing arts collective Printhaus and skill-sharers Trade School Cardiff will be on hand to run up-cycling stations and offer workshops centred on creatively repairing unwanted objects. So, as well as swapping items, people can learn how to give their old items a new lease of life.

The Trade School Cardiff classes are limited capacity so you need to book these in advance – and you’ll need to bring something to exchange with the teacher (in exchange for learning, that’s the ‘Trade’ part). More on the TSC website.

You’ll be able to screenprint the winning designs from the Swap It! design competition (below) onto your old tshirts and tote bags!

Alyn's design
Alyn’s design
Lauren's design
Lauren’s design
Rosie's design
Rosie’s design

You can drop off donations  THIS WEEK! 

Drop-off Donations: Monday 12th-Friday 16th October, 5pm-7pm
Exchange In Roath: Saturday 17th October, 12noon-4pm
Location
: The Gate Arts Centre, Keppoch St, Roath, Cardiff, CF24 3JW

More about Exchange in Roath….

How many people attend Exchange In Roath?

Last year between 800-1000 people attended Exchange In Roath and, within four hours, 1.3 tonnes of donations had been rehomed.

“A real mixture of people attend this event but it’s very important to us that’s it’s accessible to all. One of my strongest memories from last year was of a family that came in. We gave all the kids five free points each and when they came out they had huge grins on their faces and arms full of toys! They were clearly not a wealthy family and this had made their day, maybe even their year. We told them to come back at the end as we make it take-what-you-want for the last hour. They came back and picked up lots of things they really needed like kids clothes and kitchenware.” – Becca Clark, Green City Events

 

What is the atmosphere like at Exchange In Roath?
“I really love this event, the atmosphere was exciting and there was anticipation building up in the form of a large queue outside the Gate before we opened the doors!” – Becca Clark, Green City Events


How does the point system work?

“The exchange system is a very simple one. Our drop off container is run by volunteers and as a rough guide one bin bag or box full of stuff is worth between 5-10 points. We will not be able to go through the boxes to judge the value of items – we are judging all donations as equal with the assumption that these are things that people would like to get rid of.
On the day everything is worth just one point – this could mean one point for a coffee table or one point for a DVD. Everything is of equal value in the swap shop and it will be on a first come first served basis. There will be the option, however, for people to make a cash donation to the YMCA if they feel they would like to.
Everyone that walks through the door will be given 5 free points, whether they have donated or not. Those that have donated of course will have lots more points to spend.” – Becca Clark, Green City Events
What up-cycled events are taking place?
“This adds extra fun to the day and encourages people to re-use and re-love their items before throwing them away! We will have upcycling stations which will be running simple workshops to quickly revamp clothes and items you might throw away. Printhaus will be joining us to screen print designs on to your old clothes or tote bags and we have joined forces with Trade School Cardiff to offer skill share workshops in our shipping container.” – Becca Clark, Green City Events


What happens to the items that don’t get new owners?
“We work in partnership with the YMCA and anything left over goes to their warehouse to be sorted for their charity shop or donated to their residents.” – Becca Clark, Green City Events

 

We can’t WAIT!!

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Made in Roath 2015 – top picks!

Okay, we’re a little late to promoting this party (apologies, we’ve been busy publishing a book!), but the city’s premier arts festival, Made in Roath, is ON THIS YEAR (in fact, it’s on RIGHT NOW, for the rest of this week, and you need to know what’s going on!).

Helia has done a We Are Cardiff’s Made In Roath Top Picks list for you below – there are OODLES more things going on – for full listings, visit the Made In Roath website.

made in roath 2015

Thursday 15 October: ROATHBUD

The annual short film night returns to The Globe! As ever, there’ll be an eclectic mix of comedies, dramas, documentaries, music videos and gems from the archive, all from filmmakers who live in, have lived in, visited or heard of Roath. Or who might like it if they came.

Roathbud, The Globe, 20.30

Friday 16 October:Made in Roath: Skylark Review Launch and Open Mic

Join us in the friendly atmosphere of the tearooms to celebrate the publication of Skylark Review, a new Cardiff based literary magazine crammed full of great poetry and short fiction from across the globe. We will have readings from the magazine followed by an open mic.

Waterloo Tea House, 18.30 – 20.30

Friday 16 October: Made in Roath: An evening of Jazz and the Spoken Word

Kathy Davies a song stylist combining eclectic repertoire with a distinct jazz flavour, accompanied by hugely respected musicians Julian Martin on piano and Dave Moreau (saxaphone). The evening brings together published writers and performers Claire Syder, Terrance Edwards and Karen Sherrard, for an enjoyable night of jazz and the spoken word.

More details:
Claire Syder, Terrance Edwards & Karen Sherrard (Writers)
Kathy Davies, Julian Martin & Dave Moreau (Musicians)
The Coffi House, Wellfield Rd, CF24 3NZ
Friday, October 16th, 20.00 – 22.00

Saturday 17 October: Roath Swap Shop

Exchange in Roath is a giant swap shop event!

Following the success of last year’s event we are hosting it again, bigger and better! The event is split into two main parts: the GIVE element and the TAKE event.

You can GIVE your unwanted stuff by bringing it to our drop off shipping container which will be situated next to the Gate Arts Centre on Keppoch Street. It will be open Monday 12th – Friday 16th October between 5 – 7pm. People who bring stuff will be able to collect points (to exchange for items at the event) and might even get a piece of cake (bring and cake!).

Then for the super fun part – you can come and TAKE stuff on Saturday 17th October between 12 – 4pm inside the Gate Arts Centre. Join up-cycling & re-use workshops, print new designs on old clothes, check out some yarn bombing action or even join in a skill share workshop with Trade School Cardiff.

The types of things you can bring are: Books, CD’s/DVDs, Clothes, Toys, Tools, Garden Items, Plants, Small Electrical Items, Kitchenware, Small Furniture and Bikes. Please DON’T bring ‘white goods’, VHS tapes, broken items or rubbish.

THE POINTS SYSTEM:
The exchange system is a very simple one. We advise people to only donate things that are unwanted rather than items they would like to have a certain value (in cash or items) in return for.

Our drop off container is run by volunteers and as a rough guide one bin bag or box full of stuff is worth between 5-10 points. We will not be able to go through the boxes to judge the value of items – we are judging all donations as equal with the assumption that these are things that people would like to get rid of.

On the event day everything is worth just one point – this could mean 1 point for a coffee table or 1 point for a DVD. Everything is of equal value in the swap shop and it will be on a first come first served basis. There will be the option however for people to make a cash donation to the YMCA if they feel they would like to.

Everyone that walks through the door will be given 5 free points, whether they have donated or not. Those that have donated of course will have lots more points to spend.

Swap Shop, The Gate, Roath, 12.00 – 16.00

Saturday 17 October: Blas – Roath

We are excited to let you know that we will be launching Blas as part of Made in Roath Festival in Roath on Saturday 17th October.

Blas is the new food events side of RCMA Social Enterprise, the people behind Riverside, Roath and Rhiwbina Farmers’ Markets. Frustrated by turning away brilliant hot food producers from Cardiff’s Farmers’ Markets Blas began its journey as Riverside Winter Street Food in December 2014. Popping up again in Riverside and in Roath we have seen many fantastic street food traders making appearances in our tents leading us to plan a year of appetising events as Blas.

Blas means taste, something that we are all about. We want to bring Cardiff a taste of the foods that are quickly helping put the city on the foodie map. With so many local traders making delicious and locally sourced food we wouldn’t be following our commitment to fresh delicious local food if we didn’t bring at least some of them to your plates.

Mackintosh Sports and Social Club, 16.30 – 21.30

 

Saturday / Sunday 17-18 October: Open Houses and Studios

From the very first Made in Roath festival, local people have been opening the doors to their houses and studios to show an eclectic mix of the creativity that goes on in our fair neighbourhood, and this year is no exception! Over the final weekend of Made in Roath there will be plenty of art to see and plenty of people to meet, so make sure you pop into some houses near you.

For a full list of the times and addresses of all the open houses and studios visit the Made in Roath: open house

Saturday / Sunday 17-18 October: Made in Roath Clitoris Lucky Dip

Hosted by DinahVagina: “I am thrilled to be part of Made in Roath 2015. You are cordially invited to join me at this years art festival where I’ll be running a Lucky Dip with a clitoris theme of course … come along, put your hand in and have a feel …. everyone’s a winner! ‪#‎getcliterate”

The Lucky Dip will be available from 12.00 to 16.00 on Sat 17th Oct and Sun 18th October.‬

All looks great, huh? Download this year’s Made In Roath Brochure and get over there!

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Skillshare! Roath Feast’s PICKLING – 22 July 2015, 2 – 6pm

Our friends over at Made In Roath have got an exciting new project to announe … the Roath Feast! Here’s what they’ve got to say about it…

roath_feast

Welcome to Roath Feast, a new project from madeinroath. We’ll be working until the 20 June next year (the Summer Solstice) on a series of skill sharing events, based around food. Think baking, pickling, canning, juicing! Whatever the produce and people of Roath want to throw at us.

There will be 10 monthly skill sharing events, where we learn from each other about creating and sharing food, as well as creating the crockery, linens, and decorations. At the end of the year we’ll have a big communal meal, to celebrate the community and creativity of Roath. With each skill share we will build a larder for the feast, and a bank of skills in the community.

Our next event is PICKLING, and will be held at g39 gallery, which is behind the Earnest Willows pub, just off city road, on the 22 July, 2 – 6pm. We are looking forward to learning from local pickler Julie, but we’re also hoping to find some more local pickle fanatics who will come and share a recipe! Do you have a knack for pickling eggs? Could you teach us how to preserve a lemon? Get in touch and let us know!

The skill sharing events are free and open to all. If you have some jars and any specialist ingredients that would be welcome! Otherwise just drop in and learn a new skill.

Email us at roathfeast@gmail.com with any questions! And check out the blog for recent happenings.

Also, if you were lucky enough to get a free plant at Made in Spring, send us your pictures so we can see how they are doing! And start weighing those potatoes, we’re sitting on some great prizes for you…

Check the Roath Feast – Pickling Facebook event

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Made In Spring! Made in Roath’s spring fling in review

Writer Ellie Philpotts headed over to Made In Roath’s Made in Spring, to check out all the artsy happenings. Here’s what occurred!

 Made in Roath bunting banner across a busy street

Ah, Spring. The time of joy; lambs; staggering around after too much Easter egg consumption; exams if you’re a student; battling hayfever (if you’re a hayfever-sufferer, otherwise known as Cardiff resident thanks to the blooms everywhere, pretty as they are) and blue skies (maybe not if you live in Cardiff, like most of us readers do). Have I missed anything? Oh yes… Also the time of Spring festivals!

Sadly, maybe Spring festivals didn’t jump to my mind straightaway because they’re a bit of a rarity. However, one compensated for the general lack of street showcases – and this was Made in Spring! I think Roath has to be the Cardiff suburb with the most going on, so I wasn’t too surprised to be instantly greeted with colour, life and vitality upon wandering down to Plasnewydd Road on Sunday 3 May. One thing that straightaway caught my eye was the washing line adorned with funky little-shirts, individually spelling out ‘Made in Roath.’ I’d already seen a similar snap as the event’s Facebook cover photo, but it looked even cuter in real life. Very Instagrammable, I must say!

teacups on the shelf of a food truck

 

bunting on the side of a school

The whole street had put real effort into the aesthetic content, but the stall-holders and fellow browsers were what brought the event to life. Through the medium of artistic creativity, the day appealed to everyone – young or old, native Cardiffian to newbie student. For example, there were super-cool easels to throw paint over (seriously, every street should boast one of these); purple sparkly trees (ok, human interaction may have played a role in making them so glittery); Roath Local History Society informing us through maps and books of the area’s heritage; a Hangover Tent, which I partially made my own despite having only drank Victorian lemonade the previous night, mainly because it was a private solace in which to inhale my very messy (but very good) falafel burger.

chairs in a food truck

One of my favourite elements was the mini mobile-home. Not only was it decked out in adorable vintage designs, but the task was to write your definition of ‘Home.’ Some were things like ‘Home is where the bra comes off’; ‘Home is laughter’; ‘Home is where the pets are.’ I’m starting to think my goal during my Creative Writing module next year should be to be more concise, because as usual I deviated from this trend, and wrote quite a long paragraph, which of course referenced that Cardiff is now my beloved home … being a newfound Cardiffian seems to be my selling-point lately! They were also giving away novels for free. Not many things are free these days, so I loved the idea of spreading the bibliophile love for very little cost!

a blackboard that says 'Roath draw the line' noticeboards for drawing on the side of a street

There were also hot dogs, a vintage tea and cake stall, a project called ‘Roath, it’s time to draw the line’ and a bubbling atmosphere. Events like Made in Spring are one of the reasons I’m such a fan of Cardiff. There’s a truly welcoming vibe – this was enhanced on the day due to the papers all splashing the day-old Royal Baby’s face – of course, this engages Britain and I’m so patriotic when it comes to all things regal – but the real sense of community came from Roath residents on May 3!

Made in Roath’s Facebook page

Made in Roath website

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Ellie PhilpottsEllie Philpotts is in her first year at Cardiff University studying English Literature, Journalism and Media. She is  a teenage-cancer survivor; is obsessed with travelling, and her favourite cities outside Cardiff are being Sydney, NYC, Nashville and Paris. Her ‘likes’ also include general Britishness, cups of tea, exploring, attempting to write songs, journalism, Italian food, finding new places, going out for dinner and taking photos – of everything. She is not a fan of maths, mashed potato, narrow minded people, her phone constantly running out of memory for photos, or people who are mean about Taylor Swift. Follow her blog or Instagram.

All photos by Ellie Philpotts

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Made In Spring, Roath arts festival: 2-3 May, 2015

Made_In_Roath

 

One of the city’s biggest and best art festivals, Made In Roath are BACK in May, with Made In Spring!

Made in Spring will be held from 2nd – 3rd May this year, giving artists, musicians, makers and performers an opportunity to be experimental in response to the season, May Day rituals, and the political annotation of International Workers Day.

Roath residents and visitors to Roath are treated to a Spring inspired street party on a closed section of Plasnewydd Road, featuring free workshops and participatory artist led activities, and all manner of stalls and pop up cafes both related to the Roath area and from further afield. As always, Made in Spring supports local and independent enterprise.

The Red Route will be the second march along the Taff Trail from Redhouse Cymru, Merthyr Tydfil to Plasnewydd Rd in Roath, this will run over two days from 2nd – 3rd May.

For more information about Made in Spring, make sure to keep an eye on the Made In Spring Facebook event.

Know Your Groceries is an open mic radio show that will be broadcasting live from Plasnewydd Rd on 3rd May for Made in Spring, and they are looking for performers to fill in slots!

Whether you are a musician, poet, (short) story teller or just have something to say. Know Your Groceries! Open Mic Radio show. Get in touch or come along and put your name down on the day. Ltd spaces so get in touch to confirm! Email electronic.music.wales@gmail.com or post on the event page: Know Your Groceries live broadcast Facebook page

Enjoy Made In Spring – we can’t wait!

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Made In Roath – Road Block, and a Kurdish protest – photo blog by Peppe Iovino

By photographer Peppe Iovino.

On Saturday 18 October, I went along to the Roath district of Cardiff for the ‘Road Block’ event, a series of arts events that took place through the day from the morning to the late afternoon. Alongside Albany Road and many of the neighbourhood streets there were live stages with local bands and young artists, painting and drawing workshops for families, literary exhibitions and forums in some pubs and schools, open art galleries, photography exhibitions and many other kind of events.

road block event, made in roath festival

road block event, made in roath festival

road block event, made in roath festival

road block event, made in roath festival

road block event, made in roath festival

road block event, made in roath festival

road block event, made in roath festival

road block event, made in roath festival

road block event, made in roath festival

road block event, made in roath festival

For a day the streets became a live museum, for many art tastes. It was a really well done experiment of urban arts, I think, and through art events they made the people feel the soul of the neighbourhood.

‘Road in Block’ was part of a bigger art festival called Made in Roath going on between the 15 to the 22 of October with a series of arts events all made by local artists to highlight Roath’s art scene.

road block event, made in roath festival

road block event, made in roath festival

road block event, made in roath festival

On the way to Roath’s Road Block, I passed a group of Kurdish migrant families who were demonstrating in Queen Street. Their protest was to make the public aware about the terrible situation going on in their country. Children were standing alongside their families in the protest. They were chanting, holding posters saying ‘save Kobane’, ‘save Kurdistan’, and ‘ISIS is making genocide while the world watches’.

Kurdish families demonstrating in queen street seeking help from Uk government to prevent the genocide of their people fighting against ISIS

Speaking with one of the fathers he told me that they are very afraid of a genocide because not so far from Kurdistan (in the Kobane border city) the ISIS terrorist group are are killing hundreds and hundreds of Kurdish people whose only crime is being in the area. “It is nothing to do with religious beliefs,” he told me, “they don’t have any religious purpose, they just want power, they are hungry for power.”

He told me he had spoken to his brother yesterday, who had told him that the situation was very serious there – that hundreds of their people are being killed daily without any humanity or religious purposes; he said that ISIS would stop at nothing and the Kurdish people were not well armed to fight them. He said that the Kurds needed help from Western governments. He said they just felt like cannon fodder with the terrorist group well-armed, making daily massacres while international armies just watch.

Kurdish families demonstrating in queen street seeking help from Uk government to prevent the genocide of their people fighting against ISIS

Kurdish families demonstrating in queen street seeking help from Uk government to prevent the genocide of their people fighting against ISIS

He said that Ankara’s government was making their situation of Kurdish people worse by closing their borders. “We are very afraid of a genocide actually,” he said. “We don’t see any way out that’s better for our people, and if we do not receive help soon from international governments, we need some way to fight ISIS. That’s why we are here – there are many protests like this one in many other UK cities today to spread information about what is happening and ask for the UK government’s help.”

The man said it was not easy to explain to his sons why they were coming out today with pictures of dead bodies for the protest, but he said it was important that everyone needed to know who pays the price in these kinds of wars: on the front lines, it is always someone’s sons.

Kurdish families demonstrating in queen street seeking help from Uk government to prevent the genocide of their people fighting against ISIS

Kurdish families demonstrating in queen street seeking help from Uk government to prevent the genocide of their people fighting against ISIS

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About the photographer: Peppe Iovino is a Photojournalism student studying at the University of South Wales, based in Cardiff. He was born in Naples, Italy and is very passionate about the storytelling power of photography. He has lived in many different European cities, but now has come to Cardiff to commit to study in the field he loves. You can find Peppe’s other works on his Twitter @PeppePhotoJ_USW.

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Cardiff Alms – re-inventing the blue plaques writing workshop, Sunday 19 October 2014

A few months back, Jodie Ashdown wrote a piece for We Are Cardiff about some forgotten Cardiff places that she used to frequent. She picked out The Cabin, The Monaco, The Bandstand and Rhiwbina Infants as parts of Cardiff that contained personal pieces of history for her.

Read that piece here: Jodie Ashdown – Cardiff Alms

jodie_ashdown_1_web

This Sunday as part of Made In Roath festival, Jodie will be running a free creative writing workshop at the Poet’s Corner Pub on City Road, where you’re invited along to encourage you to think about lost city landmarks in a new way. Remember a pub which you used to frequent but is now a bank? Your childhood home knocked down for flats? Here is the place to put pen to paper and pay homage to Cardiff past. See you there, right?

Cardiff Alms Facebook event

“Malaysian – Cardiffian – a harmonious fusion between two cultures, two cities and two lifestyles” – Zainah

zainah11-web

I am sat at my cafe having a cuppa and reflecting on the last 10 years living in Cardiff. It has been eventful in many ways, yet calming at the same time.

My husband and I actually met in 1991 when we were both studying at Cardiff University. In 1995 we got married in Kuala Lumpur during his year out for his Architecture degree. We returned to Cardiff a happily married couple and stayed for another 12 months. He could have continued his degree at another university, but opted to stay in Cardiff instead. Looking back I think it was because we felt at home in Cardiff but didn’t quite realise it yet.

We left for Malaysia and lived there for another seven years. In the following years, we had two daughters and several jobs. In April 2003, we felt we needed a big change and my husband wanted to study an MsC in Environmental Design. We had the whole of the UK to choose from, but chose Cardiff again. We felt it was the right place to bring up two very young children. When we arrived in Cardiff on the 18 August 2003, it was like we never left. I even caught up with Eastenders within a week!

Cardiff was wonderful for us and our children. Unfortunately recession hit and my husband was made redundant from an architects firm in Cardiff. I was still working at a solicitors office on a part-time basis.

Unable to find a job after 12 months, we made a huge decision for my husband to go back to Kuala Lumpur to work. The plan was for me to try to sell our house and move to Kuala Lumpur with the children once the sale was completed. When the house was put up for sale I had an uneasy feeling. We were well rooted in our lovely Penylan/Roath community and it seemed a little scary moving back to Kuala Lumpur after eight years in Cardiff.

Well, it’s 2013, and we are still here! We had to find a plan B and decided to open a Malaysian Cafe on Wellfield Road. It ‘s called called KL Canolog, named after KL Sentral – the main train station in Kuala Lumpur.

So, we are now in a perfect place. If I were to think back about what we remembered most about Cardiff is probably Roath Park. We used to imagine having a picnic there whilst our two young daughters ran about appreciating the fresh air, the lovely flowers and the friendly Welsh people. This still holds true to me but in the last few years I have had to face animosity for being foreign, for presumably overstaying, for taking what was not ours, basically negative press everyday. This seemed to be everywhere in the UK and not just Wales. We were able to overcome this as there was that Cardiff part in us and in our three children (oops I forgot to mention we adopted my son in 2006 from Malaysia). So we embraced the bad and good.

The 18 of August marks our 10th year in Cardiff (if you include our student days that’ll be 15 years). This is where we call home. We are supporters of the Welsh Rugby team and Cardiff City FC. We are very happy to share our Malaysian heritage with our community and feel that it is time we gave back to Cardiff what we have been enjoying for example Welsh cakes, barra brith, chips from Chippy Lane, to name a few.

I am also getting involved in several causes like the Depressed Cake Shop which has gone global from London to Cardiff, San Francisco and in Kuala Lumpur (organised by my sister living in Kuala Lumpur). This cause has also been mentioned on CNN and the LA Times. It is personal to me as I suffered a major breakdown before KL Canolog opened and have suffered with depression for most of my adult life. My father suffers from it too and it was difficult growing up with depression being such a taboo in the Far East. My daughters and I will be doing the Memory Walk on the 15 of September to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society. Sadly my mother-in-law is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. My life has changed from working in an office and being surround by four walls and the law. I am a lot happier and I feel working at KL Canolog has allowed me to meet so many wonderful people who are giving back to society and trying to make it a better place to live.

Made in Roath is also fabulous and I am blessed to have met Wayne Courtney and champion for everything good. I would also like to thank Miss Cakehead who is a genius! She has made it possible for me to be brave about my depression.

With everything we have been through, I have come to realise that you can’t take the Malaysian out of us but at the same time you can’t take the Cardiff out of us too. A harmonious fusion between two cultures, two cities and two lifestyles.

Zainah Ismail first came to Cardiff in 1990 to study Law at Cardiff University. After graduating with an LLB Degree, she worked as a banker in Kuala Lumpur. In 2004, Zainah started working at Geldards LLP before deciding to start a Malaysian cafe-deli called KL Canolog with her husband. Besides being involved with The Depressed Cake Shop Cymru and taking part in The Memory Walk, Zainah has recently involved herself with Free Cakes for Wales which provides cakes for adults and children who are unable to afford a birthday cake. Zainah currently lives with her husband, her two daughters and son in Penylan.

Zainah was photographed at KL Canalog by Jon Pountney

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We Are Cardiff: Portrait of a City film screening at Made In Roath festival!

Right then you horrible lot – you might remember that earlier on this year we had a couple of screenings of the documentary film we made about Cardiff based on the We Are Cardiff blog. The lovely folks at the Made In Roath festival are doing another screening of the film, so you get the chance to see it again!

Get this in your diaries:

We Are Cardiff: Portrait of a City documentary film screening
Made In Roath Festival
Wednesday 23rd October 2013
8:30pm (following the Roathbud shorts screening) at G39, Oxford Road, Roath

oh – and it’s TOTALLY FREE TO SEE! So get your butts down there, you hear?

visit the Made In Roath website
want to know more about the We Are Cardiff film? Read all about it on the We Are Cardiff: Portrait of a City project blog

We’ll post up another reminder nearer the time. Until then, as Jerry Springer would say … take care of yourselves, and each other.

Helia x

Check out the AMAZING print that Adam Chard aka Croatoan Design made for the film. BUY IT FROM HIS WEBSITE! Perfect for the Cardiff lover in your life

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