Tag Archives: rhiwbina

Reflections on Rhiwbina – Brian

Brian Dodd

Set below a picturesque back drop of the rolling hills of the Wenallt, with its patchwork of fields and woods, lies this pretty yet busy northern suburb of Cardiff. It still retains much of its original charm and the unspoilt nature of a bygone era. Furthermore, it’s my home, albeit my adopted home!

Approached from the south, the main road arches over the brow of the hill , underneath which passes the single line railway track that connects directly to the city centre. On first seeing the village ahead you might wonder where on earth you’d arrived. The ‘Gateway to India’ no less, stands invitingly on the first corner, the name of the oriental takeaway. Further along and opposite is the celebrated Juboraj restaurant with its varied and sumptuous curries all authentically and carefully prepared.

The ‘green house’, or more strictly the green-roofed bungalow, stands on the same site as the once well-loved and oft frequented newspaper and sweet shop, which also had a green painted roof. It was a favourite destination for school kids on the way home and wanting a cheap fix of confectionery. Its replacement is a chiropractice, and next to that an aromatherapy clinic for ‘treats’ of a different sort but very much in keeping with our modern holistic lifestyle.

At the crossroads with Pen-y-Dre you are greeted by the rather incongruous looking life-sized figures of Laurel and Hardy with animal models close by. You would be forgiven for thinking that they were advertising some sort of waxworks or museum. In fact, they stand outside the Virtual Service Centre for cars. Does that mean there really isn’t a garage there? Well yes and no! There is no garage on the premises. If your car needs servicing or repair it is collected, taken away, fixed and duly returned afterwards. How civilised!

On the corner of the increasingly busy junction with Beulah Road, stands Beulah United Reform Church dating back to 1890 and opposite that Beulah Assembly Rooms a popular venue for clubs, meetings and concerts. It would be easy to hasten past and hardly notice the secret garden to the rear, a quiet place to just sit and think or simply contemplate, just yards from the general buzz of village life.

There are plenty of places to browse, including trendy craft shops such as Cwtsh Bach with its handmade Bespoke curiosities, Cariad with all things Welsh and the Victoria Fearn Gallery with its array of interesting objects such fun pencils with character tops, pottery, artwork and wooden instruments. If you have a sweet tooth and keen eye you’ll soon come across the aptly named Sugar Mouse, with a selection of sweets and chocolates that have names more familiar to children of yesteryear but still able to entice children and their all too gullible and more than willing parents.

As we know shopping can be thirsty, tiring work so where better to stop for coffee or light lunch than the Olive Branch, the church run cafe with its recent makeover and where there’s always a welcome, and a chance to buy books, cards and gifts. There are other places to eat and buy refreshments such as the Whittaker Lounge or on Beualah Road, Snails Delicatessan serving soups, coffees, cakes and ice creams. At the far end of the village is the one charity shop, Tenovus, though at first glance you might think it a niche high class clothing shop which befits its surroundings.

Take a small detour from the main street through a narrow side lane and you are suddenly transported to the original early 20th century Garden Village with its quaint array of white-bricked semis arranged as a square around a spacious lawned centrepiece. Built in the 1920s, as a more pleasant and healthy residence for the working class it retains the timeless quality, if not its purpose, that its founding fathers intended all those years ago.

Wander around, stroll along the Welsh named streets , walk by the gentle stream that meanders through or relax in the green open spaces and soon you will discover many more fascinating facts, facets and delightful nooks that attracts one to this enchanting, inspiring part of a beautiful city.

 

Brian Dodd is a retired primary school teacher having taught in Cardiff for almost 40 years. He moved from Bristol to Cardiff in 1973 and loves the city. He has lived in Rhiwbina with his wife and family for 17 years. His favourite spots in the village are the old buildings, the stream and the parks away from the main streets. He says the village from the railway bridge with the Wenallt backdrop is lovely anytime of the year, but more so in the spring …

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“Rhiwbina is a great place to see what community spirit is really like” – Beth

bethan-rees-web

You always realise how much you miss home when you leave. When you come back, you realise that home is the thing that’s been missing. When I left for university six years ago, I was relieved to leave home at home and get on with living somewhere else. However, coming back to Cardiff has been the best move I could have made. When you live here you don’t realise how great you really have it; with the fantastic range of things to do, mixture of places to visit and the friendliness of Welsh people. But there’s one place in Cardiff I class as ‘Home Sweet Home’.

If you’re looking for somewhere friendly, cute and a little bit different, I’m going to big Rhiwbina up to you.

Yes, it is thought of as being a slightly older person’s hang-out and yes, it may not be your first destination choice on a Saturday morning but there is a lot going on. Dr Who was filmed here, nostalgic festivals are held here and community spirit is second to none so why wouldn’t you want to visit?

Picture this…

It’s a miserable Saturday morning (let’s face it, the Welsh weather has been somewhat of a letdown) and you don’t fancy a venture into central Cardiff battling the crowds. Instead, you decide to take a trip to Rhiwbina to the north of the hustle and bustle. With the choice of Coco’s Hairdressers for a quick snip, Aquarius Revived for a nice beauty treatment and Fragrant 227 for a relaxing massage, you find you’re already feeling refreshed.

But all that spoiling and relaxation is hungry work … which is where the Olive Branch Cafe and Bookshop comes in. Friendly staff, a comfortable atmosphere and delicious Carrot Cake awaits you. This is always a first choice stop off for a bite to eat and a quirky Maltesar–based milkshake!

After you’ve had your fill of tasty homemade food and attractive lattes, take a stroll to Rhiwbina library to browse the display of books, have a walk around Caedelyn Park or why not see what vintage home shop The Nest has in stock? If, however, you’ve decided your day so far has been thirsty work, visit one of the many pubs in Rhiwbina like the Butcher’s Arms (where there’s a farmer’s market every Friday morning), The Deri Inn, The Mason’s Arms and The Nine Giants.

With excellent links to the city centre and only 10 minutes by foot to Whitchurch village (with its selection of nice eateries and shops), Rhiwbina is somewhere to spend more than an hour of your time and a great way to see what community spirit is really like.

Beth Rees is a keen writer, poet and film lover with a very sociable side. She loves meeting with friends, going to Zumba and sitting in her pyjamas with a big slice of cake after a hard day’s slog. She writes a poetry blog (http://shakespeares-sister.tumblr.com/) and would love to write her own book someday. Beth lives in Rhiwbina.

Beth was photographed at the Olive Branch in Rhiwbina by Kayleigh Ancrum

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“Thirty years on, I’m still here, and my identity has changed as much as the city itself” – Dave

The Cardiff I moved to in 1980 was a very different city to the one we know today: no Cardiff Bay, no Millennium Stadium, no St. David’s Centre (1 or 2) etc. etc. My job had relocated from London and, having no Welsh roots or connections, initially I felt like an outsider. But four employers and thirty years on, I’m still here, and my identity has changed as much as the city itself – I now can’t envisage ever living anywhere other than Cardiff, and I feel far more Welsh than English.

It would have been possible to live and work in Cardiff, to bring up a family here, and yet continue to identify with my country (or county) of birth. I know contemporaries who have done just that, whether by choice or by chance. The catalyst for me, though, was sport – football to be precise.

During the eighties, not content with being only a long-distance supporter of my home team (though I will never abandon them), I started visiting some of the local clubs in south Wales. It was the era of the ‘fanzine’, the publishing boom of those pre-internet days, and I contributed the odd article on Welsh clubs to various publications; in time I became a Welsh correspondent for a couple of titles, now long-defunct. Travelling around Wales every Saturday, visiting places and meeting people I would otherwise never have come across, I developed a sense of belonging in Wales.

Twenty years ago, just as Wales was re-asserting its national identity in many walks of life, I was persuaded that Wales needed its own football magazine. Little realising how much of my spare time the project would consume, I was also persuaded to get involved. With our own funds, a few of us launched a modest little publication called Welsh Football in 1991, and 143 issues later it’s still going, a niche, not-for-profit publication admittedly, but our national football magazine nonetheless. It’s just a shame that, nineteen years on, it’s still so hard to raise its profile amidst the blanket coverage of English football here – new readers regularly tell me “I never knew it existed”. And even worse, since Borders bookshop closed, we don’t currently have a retail outlet stocking the mag in the capital city !

As Welsh Football’s unpaid editor, feature writer, photographer and many other things, I still travel around Wales on a regular basis, meeting friends old and new. Though I put in a lot of time (and sometimes money too) what I get out far outweighs it: not just enjoyment of the games, but appreciation of the variety and beauty of Wales, and above all a sense of identity: yes, after spending more than half my life here, I definitely consider myself Welsh now (and I think I’m widely accepted as such by my native Welsh friends and acquaintances, too). And I even pass the acid test: when Wales play England, there is no way I can cheer for the ‘three lions’!

Dave Collins is an IT consultant. He also publishes Welsh Football magazine (‘the National Football Magazine of Wales’), a not-for-profit magazine written by, and for, lovers of football in Wales and published eight times per season. The magazine is available by subscription – see http://www.welsh-football.net or email welshfootball@lineone.net for details. He currently lives in Rhiwbina.

Dave was photographed by Simon Ayre