Tag Archives: riverside

Cardiff A–Z: T is for the Taff Trail

Katie Hamer continues her A–Z series of Cardiff with an exploration of the Taff Trail. Here’s what she discovered…


The Taff Trail forms a  pilgrimage in reverse, starting with Cardiff Bay barrage and winding upwards to its source in the Brecon Beacons. As it does so, the landscape gradually transforms from dockland to city centre to parklands and eventually to the craggy slopes that make up South Wales’ highest peaks.

This guided path which covers 55 miles of urban landscape and countryside has only been made possible by the co-operation of local councils. It’s strange to think a unified path didn’t exist until the Trail launched in 1988.

Well sign-posted, the path is easy to follow although, as I was on foot, I decided not to tackle it all in one go! So I decided to make a relatively short trip, from the Bay to Llandaff.


I started my journey by locating the Celtic Ring. Shaped like a lucky horse shoe it points upwards into the Roald Dahl Plass and marks the start of the Trail. Commissioned by the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation in 1993 its engravings are a celebration of the industrial history of Cardiff Docks. Hidden within the Ring is what looks like a key which perhaps represents to all visitors their unique freedom to roam the Trail in its entirety.




There are a couple of alternative routes from the Bay leading to the banks of the Taff. By trial and error I discovered my preferred route, which takes you south past the Techniquest building, past the Docklands and into the Cardiff Wetlands for a short while. The Cardiff Wetlands boasts a huge variety of bird life, most of which must have been hiding in shady corners on what proved to be one of the hottest days of the year so far.




As well as being a haven for wildlife, the Wetlands also have a more quirky aspect to them. I discovered this bench/bottle sculpture. This is ‘Ship in a Bottle’ by Melissa Gibbs (2004). It is just one example of how artists have made their statements upon the once industrial landscape of Wales.





I soon discovered that artists have reclaimed the industrial landscape in other ways, too. Hidden underneath the Grangetown Link is the Hamadryad Park Mural. Commissioned by the Council in 2009 the ‘graffiti’ mural is the result of a collaboration between local artists and schoolchildren. Full of vibrant colour and youthful energy it is also a celebration of Cardiff’s industrial and coastal heritage.




After the Cardiff Wetlands, The Trail winds its way past the Embankment, characterised by row after row of Victorian terraced townhouses and tree-lined avenues. While it is possible to walk/cycle/run along this stretch there is also the Water Bus, which provides an alternative form of transport from City centre to Bay.




Following the Trail, I soon arrived outside the Millennium Stadium. Here, I found an assembly of food-inspired sculptures to feast my eyes upon. Made to represent various seed pods they are the result of a collaboration between residents and local artists as commissioned by the Council in 2006. Discovering them on my Trail was a pleasant surprise. I couldn’t help noticing that on an unseasonably hot day, they lent an almost Mediterranean feel to the City.







From past the Millennium Stadium, you are in the heart of the City centre. From there, you have the choice of a walk through Bute Park, which takes you temporarily away from the banks of the Taff, or you can remain on the official path, which takes you to Sophia Gardens and the cricket grounds.






The route through Bute Park is possibly the more scenic of the two with a wealth of flowers in bloom at this time of year. I had to stop and take a photo of the above sculpture, which, as Cardiff runners will know, marks the ‘turnaround’ point of the parkrun route. I also spotted one of the elusive sculptures I’d missed while investigating the sculpture trail for B is for Bute Park last summer!

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From there, the next landmark is the pedestrian bridge at Blackweir which wobbles underfoot alarmingly over rushing water!



I next encountered the A48 underpass and discovered more murals, this time in celebration of the City’s architecture through the ages.


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I reached Llandaff in the early afternoon where I witnessed duck imitating speed boats and the spectre of the Cathedral spires on the landscape. I decided to make this my final destination for now, although I may return…




“Unity Festival’s visiting acts always comment on how much they love coming to Cardiff” – Ben

Ben Pettitt-Wade photographed by Adam Chard

For the last nine months I have been planning and organising Hijinx Theatre’s annual Unity Festival – a two week event that sees a variety of award winning inclusive arts companies descend upon Cardiff. I have to say I’m exhausted! We’re a Cardiff-based inclusive arts company with a very small team. In reality we don’t have enough staff or resources to be doing this, thank goodness for volunteers! But every hour spent is worth it for Cardiff, the arts and the performers.

Having worked in Liverpool, London and Seville (albeit briefly) and Cardiff, I can honestly say that Cardiff is on a par with these cities in terms of the inclusive art scene and the work being produced, but it’s the audiences that differ. I’ve sat in packed 1,000 seat theatres in Seville watching a piece of inclusive dance, we wouldn’t get that in Cardiff, and that’s something we are trying to change through Unity Festival. We believe in the work we present and believe it should be enjoyed by everyone.

We started in 2008 with an audience of 1,500 people and year on year the festival has grown in both size and ambition to become one of the largest inclusive arts festivals in Europe, with more than 7,000 people enjoying performances in 2012. Last year will always be unforgettable. For the first time we received £100,000 of funding from the Arts Council of Wales which meant we could start thinking big and turn what were pipe dreams into a reality. We brought Back to Back Theatre from Australia over for the Festival; they performed for three days in the middle of Queen Street. It was incredible.

This year we’re lucky to have secured the same funding and as a direct result of the Paralympics we are welcoming more home grown acts than ever before. Our mission is to build on the Festival each year while staying true to its core – to provide a platform for the inclusive arts, offer more opportunities within the spotlight for disabled artists and expose their amazing talents.

For the first time, Cardiff audiences will be able to enjoy spectacles including modern fable The Iron Man (a colossal iron puppet the size of a double decker bus) from London-based Graeae Theatre Company, who can be credited with kicking off the whole movement in disability arts in the 1970s. As well as Three Acts of Play from Candoco Dance Company, UK pioneers of inclusive contemporary dance; it will twist your perceptions of who can dance and who enjoys it!

We are also showcasing international acts, Sevilliano flamenco Cia Jose Galan, back by popular demand following a near sell out last year and jaw-dropping acrobatics from French company Cirque Inextremiste. I saw this show in Marseille and I guarantee it will blow you away.

More than anything I love the feel good vibe that the Festival creates and can’t wait to experience it again. Our visiting acts always comment on how much they love coming to Cardiff, how friendly people are and the great reception they get. So, people of Cardiff, I’m asking you to come and see for yourself the brilliant theatre dance, music and comedy on offer and help make this year the best yet with the biggest audience!

Ben Pettitt-Wade was born in London, grew up in Carmarthenshire and has lived in Riverside for the last six years. Following completion of a drama degree, Ben’s acting career was cut short when he broke his ankle in rehearsals; he then joined Spare Tyre Theatre Company in London where he co-ordinated inc.Theatre, a training course for learning disabled actors. It was here that Ben discovered a passion for working inclusively and specifically in drama with learning disabled performers. Since then he has amassed over 10 years experience in this field, in Cardiff, London and Seville. Ben is responsible for the Hijinx Academy, the Hijinx Pods, the community projects,  forum theatre pieces, and the Unity Festival. He currently lives in Riverside.

Unity Festival runs from 12-22 June 2013, and offers both free and ticketed performances across the city at Wales Millennium Centre and Sherman Cymru. Visit www.hijinx.org.uk/unity for a full programme or see @HijinxTheatre on Twitter. 

Ben was photographed in Cardiff Bay by Adam Chard


“More and more Cardiff is less my city” – Lee


Cardiff looms large in my life. I slag it off, complain about all and sundry, move elsewhere and still end up coming back. It’s that baggy old mis-shapen t-shirt you would never wear outside but is the first thing you put on when you have the flu and feel crappy.

It’s my first kiss, closed eyes and disbelief on my bedroom floor in Fairwater. It’s my first betrayal, my first break-up, The Cure in my headphones and tears down my face. It’s playing my first gig, 17 years old, downstairs in Clwb Ifor Bach, the stage lights making sweat run down my face, over in a blur, my hands shaking like mad till I fretted that first chord and muscle memory took over propelling me through the set, a bundle of teenage nerves and elation.

I was born in East Glamorgan hospital, and lived the first years of my life in Llantwit Fadre, my family moved us to Cardiff when I was two years old, determined for me and my brother to have the best opportunities for school and work, and partly to make sure I didn’t end up with a Welsh accent, something that my family have always hated. I always got corrected, and as such have ended up with a bizarre posh half accent that doesn’t really belong anywhere. I get everything from Australian to Bristolian thrown at me. “No, I’m Welsh” is always my response.

Cardiff has changed massively in my time here. Growing up as a teenager I was introduced to a warren of crazy small shops in the city’s beautiful indoor Victorian arcades, which seemed to sustain a colony of weird and fascinating shops like a coral reef. Places like Emporium, which was more like 50 small shops all crammed into one big one, reeking of incense, dope smoke and musty second hand clothes, you could buy anything from a seven inch record to a world war 2 mortar shell and everything in between. Shops like Partizan, all long hippy skirts and moon and star paraphenalia, that pretty much defined the early 90s for me. Tie dye and candle holders, incense and adhesive stars on bedroom ceilings, first cigarettes, band posters, red wine in the park, falling in and out of love.

The building of the Millennium Stadium was the death knell of a lot of these shops, as rents doubled overnight, many of the shops and stalls folding immediately. It’s only got worse since, and it’s been terrible to watch, as shop by shop has vanished to be replaced by another identikit franchise that you could find in any city, and the heart of Cardiff died. Spillers Records, Troutmark books and Wally’s Deli are the only survivors from those days, and they took casualties on the way.

I never understood the logic of putting a stadium slap bang in the middle of a city which struggles with its infrastructure at the best of times. For a capital city, Cardiff has one of the smallest city centres I have ever encountered. Everything is on top of everything else. You could probably throw a stone across town if you tried hard enough. Come 5pm there are queues in and out of the centre, long before the rugby dumped 70,000 people on top of that to create bedlam and bring the city to a standstill.

Full disclosure. I hate rugby. Yes I know, I should be banned from Wales just for that, but there we are. Why the stadium couldn’t be outside the city, like the Cardiff City stadium, with its own rail station and transport links I will never understand. Then maybe we could have kept the bits of the city that I liked the most.

Similarly the arrival of the hulking behemoth that is the St. David’s 2 centre ground out a few more of the independents, and put Starbucks and the Apple Centre in their place. Attack of the Clones.

More and more Cardiff is less my city, and more a place that I wouldn’t want to go, and I don’t feel I belong in.

It will always be the place I grew up, it will always be my first kiss, it will always be my first cider in Llandaff Cathedral graveyard, but it might not be my home any more.

Still, Bristol is just over the bridge eh?

Lee Marshall is a freelance music producer, dj, remixer and sound designer,as well as recording albums under the name “Underpass”. His new album “Submergence” is released on the 21st November by Mutate Records. He makes a mean veggie spag bol and is obsessed with camouflage. Visit the Underpass website, Lee is also on twitter, @leeunderpass. You can listen to his work on Soundcloud. Lee currently lives in Riverside.

Lee was photographed in the Castle Arcade by Amy Davies – you can also see more shots from Lee’s photoshoot on Amy’s blog


“Riverside? Why do you wanna live round there?” – John


Clare Place doesn’t exist.

On all correspondence, my address reads Clare Street. None of the walls of my house are on Clare Street. My front door leads out to Clare Place. My back door leads out to my back yard, my back yard leads out onto Clare Place. When I applied for a residents’ parking permit, Cardiff City Council’s highway department offered me a permit for Clare Street. I told them I lived off Clare Street, on Clare Place.  If I leave my bins outside the front of my house, on the pavement of Clare Place, they do not get collected, they only pick up from Clare Street. I have become the main food supply to seagulls that – as a result of the non-bin collection – have nested on my bedroom windowsill.

I discovered seagulls don’t sleep. One seagull swooped down, flapped his wings in my face, and snatched a bacon sandwich from my hand as I was closing the front door behind me.  Now I take the bins to Clare Street.

When I book a taxi, I tell them, 37b Clare Place. “Do you have a postcode?” CF12 6CE, I tell them. “OK, a taxi will be with you in ten minutes”. Thirty minutes later I ring Capital Cabs asking them where my taxi is. The taxi driver had waited outside 37b Clare Street for fifteen minutes, and then left.

My council tax bill is addressed to Jackson David, 37b Clare Place.

When a native picks up on my Valleys’ accent, they think I commute. “Long way to travel isn’t it. Haven’t you got any hospitals in the Valleys?” I tell them that there are plenty of hospitals in the Valleys; I also tell them that I have lived in Riverside for seven years. “Bit rough round there innit” followed by “lots of ethnics” and finally “why do you wanna live round there?”

I tell them the rent is cheap, there is a great community spirit, it’s a five minute walk to the city centre, train and bus station and – just for fun – it’s the new Shoreditch.

Riverside is a triangle; the base, Fitzhammon Embankment, running parallel with the River Taff and overlooked by the Millennium Stadium. On Sundays the embankment is transformed. You can buy ostrich burgers farmed in Tenby, organic potatoes from Llanrumney, and oysters from Tonypandy at the Riverside Real Farmers Market. It is a great place to catch the  First Minister of the National Assembly mingling with his voters who have cycled down Cathedral Road from Pontcanna. Every other day of the week, you can hang out on the embankment with the destitute, prostitutes and seagulls at drunk corner.

Two roads, Tudor Road and Cowbridge Road East, then lead off opposite ends of the embankment and come together and join at Riverside Primary school. A mural on the school wall depicts children from various nations holding hands in and the words, “We all live together in Riverside.”

The first time I switched the television set on in Clare Place the screen showed blue skies, then a plane smashed into one of the twin towers. I thought it was a movie. One week later I was awoken at three am by screams. I pulled back my coverless duvet, opened the curtains and witnessed fourteen Cardiff hoodies being chased by the restaurant staff of the Riverside Cantonese who were waving machetes. I thought they were shooting a film.

“So where exactly in Riverside do you live boy?” I try my best to explain to the patient as I wash his balls. Does he know the mad house? “Nope”.

In 1984, Gerald Tobin became so frustrated with a dispute he had with Cardiff Council that he started to put banners up outside his house. He then barricaded himself in. The house was mentioned in Matthew Collins’ Blimey as a piece of outsider art, Tobin had depicted a picture of Munch’s Scream on one of his boards. My favourite board has the slogan “Nightmare on Clare Street”. His house is now totally covered in boards. You sometimes forget that there is someone living there. From my bedroom window I get to see what he has written on the flat roof of his kitchen. “Tony Blair You are the Devil’s Spawn” is a treat only few of us Riverside residents get to see. I feel special every morning when I open my curtains, until a seagull pecks at the window and stares blankly at my bloodshot eye. So I asked him why, why here? He replies, “It’s the new Shoreditch”.

Do you know Backpackers? “Nope, but my back needs a good scratch.” I look at his moles and his psoriasis, and reach for the latex gloves. I double up. What about Club Rumours?

On the weekend, the seagulls are quiet. It is peaceful until five am, when drunks leave Club Rumours. Glass bottles smash on the pavements, arguments between lovers are muffled by my pillows, friends singing Abba medleys and the slurp of tongues diving into another’s throat flow through my not-very double glazing. I realise why the seagulls are quiet on the weekend. They go to sea.

The tetraplegic in the bed opposite shouts through the curtains, “You know, Bill, the parachute club, guaranteed to get a jump.”  Bill laughs and coughs up black mucus. “Pass me one of them sputum pots, they wants to take a sample”. I wonder what for. Bill has cancer of the brain, lungs, heart, lymph nodes and lower intestine. I have no idea why they need to do any more tests. Then my foot kicks over a sputum pot under the bed that he has been collecting, and so I wipe the spit off my Vans (all the other nurses wear Crocs, but I wear Vans) with the soiled sheets that I have just removed from underneath his nakedness.

Well, have you seen the ambulance that’s permanently parked in-between a hearse and an old British Telecom’s van, complete with the fading image of Busby the bird on the side? “Nope”. Well. That’s where I live.

I fall asleep listening to the seagulls having a quiet conversation about the sub-standard food waste. “Riverside is changing for the worse”. Then lights dance around the bedroom, a real ambulance pulls up outside the old ambulance. Out jumps a prostitute, screaming “e’s fuckin dying, he’s ‘aving an overdose, do something!” I climb out of my bed, my feet are freezing on the trendy wooden floorboards, I make a mental note, again, to buy a nice Persian rug from Grangetown Ikea. The floorboards creek underneath my feet, and the gulls turn around and stare. I tip toe to the window, open it, an articulated lorry rumble-shakes the picture of Johnny Cash on wall above the dresser that was left by the prior tenant,  and shout at the prostitute who now has blood sprouting from her ears to SHUT THE FUCK UP.

“E’s dying man, for fuck sake e’s dying.” Then the boyfriend / pimp walks out of the ambulance holding their crackhead dog (that has frightened my cat into living in the airing cupboard). “It’s too late, e’s gone.”

The real ambulance back doors slam hard. The Johnny Cash picture gives in and jumps from the wall. The paramedics stare up at me, shaking their heads. The prostitute stares at me, the pimp stares at me; all shaking their heads, the gulls stare at me. Problem? I shout, and slam the window, close the pink curtains, and catch a glimpse of my naked body in the long wardrobe mirror.

“You know the ‘ouse of taboo, Bill,” slurs the five day old stroke victim from the cubicle. “Aye,” says Bill. “Well he lives next door to the ‘ouse of taboo.” Bill turns onto his back, looks down at his clean crotch, “I have that licked a few times in the ‘ouse of taboo.” I hear a buzzer from the other four bedder and throw Bill a gown, get dressed I better get that. “Oy don’t leave me here all alone and cold.”  I open the curtains, the tetraplegic stares at me, “Better get the buzzer boyo, hurry along.”

The automatic doors don’t automatically open. I slide them apart. Pull out a cigarette and borrow a light from a patient sheltering from the rain. Thanks, I say to him. He puts his pointing finger over the hole of his tracheotomy, “No problems”. I walk away from the University Hospital and head to my house in a street that doesn’t exist, while not contemplating any other professions.

John Davies has moved to Cardiff three times – in 1999, 2001, and 2010 (the last two times, he’s moved back to the same house in Riverside). John performs under the name John Mouse, and is a self employed music promoter. He is married with two young children and supports Swansea City.

John was photographed in Riverside by Adam Chard


“Cardiff was a big neon sign pointing towards adventure” – Bethan


“We took the Porsche down to Tiger Bay,
Drank the pubs dry where bands used to play in their heyday.
Cardiff in the Sun”

– Super Furry Animals

We must’ve been skinny, because there were five of us squashed into a mini metro. We’re driving around Fishguard, recklessly, in Dan’s car. Blaring on the stereo are the Stone Roses. “Send me home like an Elephant Stone, to smash my dream of love, Dreaming till the sun goes down, and night turns into day!” Life is great! I’m a fresh faced minister’s daughter from the mountains of mid Wales and family friend, Daniel Evans, is introducing me to life in the fast lane, and adopting me to the Glantaf gang. Life was about to change. From one weekend out West to hauling life and future from North to South.

These were the kids that made me fall in love with Cardiff, the beautiful, cocky, fun, brazen, colourful, earthy, yes, even hippy, music-breathing kids from Ysgol Glantaf. Unlike anyone I knew back in my home school. At home it was small town clubbing and nosey neighbors (closest friends aside of course), here it was house parties, jamming till dawn, discussing the world, creating art, creating music and this breezy rush of freedom! It was idealistic, naïve, preposterous, yet it was new, it was youth, and it was an awakening.

With these naïve and wide-eyes I saw the city, and felt like I belonged. From boot sales in Splott, to Jacobs market’s spiraling treasure trove. From squeezing into Spillers and bacon butties in the Hayes, to the stretch of vinyl at Kellys – it was riding buses, walking railway tunnels, driving flyovers. It was dressing up retro, it was cherry tobacco, it was the Astoria’s all nighters, or Time Flies’ raves under chandeliers at the City Hall, it was dark and dangerous at The Hippo Club, it was the docks, it was the City Arms, Model Inn and Clwb Ifor Bach combined, it was Marcello from café minuet and the historic arcades. There were rituals and there were parties, oh, there were so many parties. From parties on Penarth beach to fires up the Wenallt, to student kitchens, to famous lock ins – it was a big neon sign pointing towards adventure.

Dan and anyone else from class of ’91, I’ll salute you for bringing me here, making me fall in love with the life you were living, just school kids on the brink of the future, and anything was possible.

My plans to have a gap year in France fell by the wayside as I fell in love with the city and the engrossing music scene. Every weekend was spent at Clwb Ifor Bach, till you knew every name in the building. Weeknights were full of big NME/Melody Maker bands on tour at the Uni like The Charlatans, Primal Scream, Pulp, St Etienne, Catatonia and erm Bjorn Again! I got a job, I was ‘saturday girl’, at Spillers Records. The Newport gigs were kicking off at TJs with 60 ft dolls, Disco, Gauge, Gorky’s and others. When you’re busy living in the moment you don’t quite realize the significance of all this. When venues later close, and legends start to disappear, you regret that photo you didn’t take or that chat you didn’t have, but you’re busy being young and being invincible.

I was in the busy heart of Cool Cymru (a term which we all hated), running around in the veins of the city, and would drive the length and breadth of the UK, to see live bands. A National Express to Sheffield to see Primal Scream and the Orb stadium tour, a club in the Valleys for the famous Splash tour where the Stereophonics supported The Big Leaves, college friend Denis Pasero’s 2cv shakily bombing down the M4 taking us to Y Cnapan festival, being gobsmacked at the SFA’s tank on the Eisteddfod field and the news crews in overdrive about what language they would sing in that night, and the band I stalked the most throughout this time were Gorkys Zygotic Mynci. Sadly, I can’t remember how many times I’ve seen them, but it’s awkward!

The music has changed unrecognizably from the few sweaty venues we used to frequent back in the 90s, but then as now we make our own fun here, it’s a small city with a big creative heart and a tight social community. My friends now, are an amazing crazy bunch of brilliantly talented people, and help me dream the same dream I had on coming here in the first place. Keep finding the adventures in the everyday, live with the wide eyed wonder towards the new, changing and evolving cityscape, and clap my thankful hands at the beautiful sounds* that keep emanating from this small city.


*Astoria = Venue on Queen’s Street where Oasis famously also played in 1994, supported by 60ft dolls. Used to be a massive club, not particularly nice, so this isn’t particularly nostalgic footnote!

*Sounds of Cardiff now. Do check out…
Cate Le Bon, H Hawkline, Sweet Baboo, Islet, Future of the Left, Strange News From Another Star, Samoans, Gruff Rhys, Euros Childs, Jonny, Richard James, The Gentle Good, Hail! the Planes, Le B, Jemma Roper, Saturday’s Kids, Harbour, Hunters, Truckers of Husk, Man Without Country, Houdini Dax, The Method, The Keys, Friends Electric and many many more.

Bethan Elfyn has been broadcasting and reporting across Welsh radio and TV since the late 90s. She started with BBC Radio Cymru in North Wales, working across the board from politics to music; interviewing millionaires, farmers, millionaire farmers, lots of musicians, comedians, drama ‘lovies’, and the highlight of the whole lot a record breaking “human mole”. In 1999, she was chosen to front BBC Radio One’s exclusive new music show for Wales, the Session in Wales, presenting the late night show on BBC Radio One till 2010. The decade was spent firmly ensconed in the UK’s music scene, hosting main stages at festivals across the land from Reading to Greenman, and DJing clubs, student balls, festivals and fashion events. She’s been TV host to The Pop Factory on BBC Wales, Popcorn and Dechrau Canu on S4C, and currently presents on BBC Radio Wales every Saturday night from 5 till 8pm – a show which has seen the cream of the Welsh music crop come in to co-host, from Sir Tom Jones, to James Dean Bradfield, to Cerys Matthews. She currently lives in Riverside.

Bethan was photographed at Kelly’s Records by Adam Chard


“Riverside farmers’ market began with a dozen stalls, once a month” – Steve


I was born in Wrexham in 1950, so I am one of the ‘sixties generation’ and still shares its values.

I’ve always loved markets, and after living in different parts of Europe and Canada, I came back to Wales in 1993 to work at Community Music Wales in Cardiff, carrying in the back of my mind the idea of setting up a farmers’ market here.

I spent a year at the School of Social Entrepreneurs set up by Michael Young who also set up the Consumers’ Association and Open University. The idea of the course was to learn to be “business-like but for social benefits”. At the end of that course I was ready to put my dream of running a farmers market into motion.

I set up Riverside farmers’ market in 1998, pipped to the post by a couple of months by Bath farmers’ market to being the first in Britain.

It began with around a dozen stalls appearing once a month, then went weekly, and eight years ago moved to its present site on the Taff embankment opposite the Millennium Stadium.

The idea of setting up a market really inspired me because it has an economic dimension, a social justice dimension, environmental and cultural dimensions. The social and personal sides of the market are just as important to me as the fact you can buy good food there..

I am disappointed that farmers’ markets are still perceived as being for a limited number of people, the affluent or those with high level of education.

But I think that the food landscape is about to change massively.

Food production and distribution is highly dependent on oil, and as oil becomes scarcer, the intensively farmed and imported food we buy through supermarkets will become more expensive and the alternatives relatively cheaper. Local food markets are going to slowly but surely become a much more important part of the food supply for everybody. In the meantime we’re trying to make sure there’s enough of a small scale agricultural economy in Wales while the bigger picture is changing.

Much of the food on sale at the farmers’ market is competitive with supermarket prices anyway, but we have been hypnotised in this country to think when it comes to food that cheap is good in a way the rest of Europe has not. My experience of France, for example, is that people are not buying sliced bread, they’re buying a fresh baguette and some nice cheese.

They may be spending a bit more of their income on that but we’re talking about quality of life here. It’s what you choose to do with your money. Health, quality of life, being part of a community are as important as anything else. If people spent a little more of their household income on food, as they do in many continental countries, they might value food more.

In this country between 20% and 30% of what people buy gets thrown away. If you buy vegetables you can have fantastic food really cheaply if you make it yourself, and it’s a pleasure to cook if you know how to. And it’s healthy for you and your kids to eat stuff that’s been made from fresh.

If I go down to the Riverside market I can never spend less than two hours there because I have to chat with all the stallholders. They’re really interesting characters because they’re all individualists.

Other activities, which have been part of Riverside’s work since the early days, include work with local schools, taking schoolchildren to farms, and running cooking sessions in the local community.

We also run a community allotment garden in Cardiff and have rented some land in Cowbridge to create an organic horticulture business that will be growing and selling food locally and training people to grow their own.

I think that good businesses of the future will be need to be more environmentally sound and based on collaboration than competition. It’s a change of culture. That makes me happy because that change of culture is precisely what the ‘60’s generation always wanted to achieve.

Steve Garrett oversees Riverside Community Market Association (RCMA) and its associated activities, including setting up three other farmers markets in Cardiff; education and outreach activities (including the Riverside Community Allotment) and the RCMA Market Garden project, a new social enterprise, which will provide training in horticulture for local people and help create a sustainable food chain in Cardiff. He sits on panels and committees that advise local and national government on food policy, and hopes to contribute to a more sustainable and future-oriented food system in Wales. In the little spare time he has, Steve plays guitar and gigs under the name of Stainless Steve. He is proud father to an eight-year old son who keeps him on his toes, and he is governor at Severn Primary school. He currently lives in Riverside.

Steve was photographed at Riverside Farmers’ Market by Adam Chard


“I Heart Bute Park” – Lisa


I’m very lucky to have my favourite place in Cardiff so close by. Living in a flat means I don’t have any green space to officially call my own, but Bute Park provides all the leafiness I need just feet from my front door.

I lived in Hirwaun, a little valley village, until eight months ago when I made the move to Cardiff. Back there, I had a little garden complete with mountain views, and whilst I often cursed its inclination to grow wild and unruly within seconds of my secateur attacks, it was a place of solitude, a tiny slice of grassy-ness where I could read, drink a cup of tea or glass of wine, or even just watch from the shelter of the house as rain hammered down or snow softly fell.

I’ve always spent lots of time in Cardiff. I spent years driving back and forth to and from Hirwaun for gigs, films, friends and the like before deciding to take the plunge and move. It has made my social life much easier!

As much as I now love being amidst music venues and coffee shops and cinemas and pubs, I feel a shot of nature is needed to stay sane, some natural surroundings necessary to counterbalance the city silhouette.

Bute Park provides exactly that.

Early morning runs become more pleasurable when exercised within its environs, the foliage and flowers and the glistening River Taff providing stunning distractions. The same features soothe and calm on a summer’s day when a blanket can be spread on the grass, under a tree, or river side and the day spent with wine, words, chocolate and conversation. When the rain falls or the wind blows, the park’s beauty becomes slightly rougher, trees bend under the blustery breeze; rain is glugged greedily by the Taff. After a snowfall it transforms into a real life winter wonderland, a sparkling white layer spread all around. The park illustrates the seasons in an impressive natural artwork, something rarely revealed within a city.

Bute Park is a place for activity or introspection, a place to go with friends or family, a place to walk your dog or stroll solo. It’s a place of history, home to Cardiff Castle, the Gorsedd stones and the Animal Wall.

Initially developed in 1873, the park was later presented to the council in 1947. Hundreds of thousands of people have passed through it over the years. It’s a place where the energies and histories and souls of the Cardiffians gone by can be felt, as well as the stories and passions and secrets and longings and evils and regrets of the contemporaries.

It’s a place that inspires me to write, which provides a platform for my fitness attempts, which allows me to think, and gives me that shot of nature needed to stay sane. I feel very lucky indeed to have Bute Park on my doorstep.

Lisa Derrick is a Development Officer for a community arts project in Merthyr Tydfil. Lisa won runner up place for best writing on a blog at the Welsh Blog Awards in 2010, you can read The Chocolate Takeaway here and find her on Twitter @lisajderrick. She also writes for Plugged In Magazine and has published articles on the Guardian Cardiff site. She is currently studying part time for an MA in English and Creative Writing at UWIC and has novel shaped hopes for the future. She currently lives in Riverside.

Lisa was photographed in Bute Park by Adam Chard