Tag Archives: splott

The Broadway Project – Luke Rice

“The thing about Broadway, they always welcome you with open arms” – Brooke Shields

Broadway

Luke Rice recently completed a photography project about Broadway, a long road filled with shops and houses that lies between Clifton Street and Newport Road in south east Cardiff. He tells us about the road, and about his photographs.

According to the Welsh Government, Adamsdown is one of the most deprived parts of Wales.

I grew up in Adamsdown in the 1990s, and currently live around 10 minutes walk away. My current commute means that I cycle down the road nearly every day.

On the surface Broadway looks a bit unloved, it is a road to pass through, to get from A – B, not really a road in which you would want to stop and explore. It is fair to say that it is slightly less glamorous than its famous cousin in New York.

Gym

“Broadway is really my life” – Vanessa Williams

Rude Boy

“I believe we have to bring Broadway a little Latino flair. We have to keep it alive” – Ricky Martin

Angels

Young Family

“My one ambition was to go to Broadway, and I never gave up on that dream” – David Hasselhoff

“A lot of people now don’t know I’ve been on Broadway” – Wesley Snipes

Second Hand

Big Brother

“It wasn’t until Broadway came along that I felt I had really made it” – Julie Andrews

Toys

Bad Ass

“The only reason anyone goes to Broadway is because they can’t get work in the movies” – Bette Davis

Yellow House

“Being on Broadway is the modern equivalent of being a monk. I sleep a lot, eat a lot, and rest a lot” – Hugh Jackman

After spending a few days walking up and down, taking photographs, I realised that there was some beauty to this beast. In addition, I noticed some positive signs that things are (slowly) starting to change for the better. Presumably attracted by cheap rents, recent migrants and artists are starting to open restaurants, cafes, yoga and art studios.

Green Door

Broadway is a strange and fascinating place, full of contrasts and colours. I feel that Broadway has a lot of potential to be a destination in its own right, not just a through road. Maybe we could look over the pond for inspiration … a theatre on Broadway perhaps?

Mattress

Fence

I currently work for a charity called SWEA. I am working on a community, programme called Cynefin which aims to bring together residents & relevant professionals to work towards shared sustainability projects. My work focuses on the wards of Adamsdown, Cathays and Roath. It is hard but very rewarding at times.

I have modest aspirations: I want to be healthy & happy, I want to experience new sounds, sights, tastes, adventures. I want to meet lots of interesting people from interesting places. I want to spend my life working on things that attempt to make the world a better place (even in a very very small way).

Luke Rice is 29 and a Cardiff native. He grew up in Roath and Adamsdown but has spent time in Bristol and Camden. He currently lives in Roath, very close to the Gate. He loves living in this area because of its vibrancy, multiculturalism, proximity to nice parks and the city centre, nice cafes/bars and the fact that it is a little rough round the edges. You can see the rest of his photography project about Broadway on his Flickr.

Coke

“Cardiff’s hockey community is rich and diverse” – Lucas

lucas-howell-web

When it comes to sports, there’s a great deal out there for a person to get involved with. But like so many boys that went to school in the city, a strict diet of rugby or football in the winter and cricket or baseball in the summer was the menu for my sporting education. That said, it’s far from a secret that I have never been (and never will be, for that fact) any good at football. I remember the success of the men’s field hockey team at the 1984 Olympics fired a desire to play that sport, but with no opportunity to try the sport at school, the interest soon faded. So as a much younger Cardiff boy, rugby was my sole sport. I enjoyed it, as it seemed to be ‘for me’. A sport with a good mix of competitiveness and ‘physicality’. And if it wasn’t for a ‘seminal incident’ (aged 16 outside a Llandaff pub – that left me with a fractured jaw and a couple of weeks of soft foods) that knocked my confidence in the national sport I probably would have stuck with it.

The sport held onto me, post playing, as I got rigged into coaching juniors for a while. But for me, rugby was fast becoming a spectator sport. For years, a void steadily opened in my life, creating a space for a new sporting challenge. And a challenge did indeed coming knocking on my door. A challenge that would not only require the use of a stick, but also to learn a skill, which had resulted in so many cuts, bruises and broken lips, courtesy of the childhood walls and pavements of Canton. I had to learn to skate. Hockey was beginning to sneak into my life.

Progress was slow at first. Not least as I had to save for kit (no mean feat, when you’re a twenty something, with an almost religious attendance at the Philly!). First came the stick. A second hand lumber. But it meant I could join in, running around like a mad man, whilst my mates glided almost effortlessly around our training ground (read: the car park attached to a Llanishen office building).

Slowly, but surely, stick was joined by skates and then came my first pair of hockey gloves – a second hand pair of red leather gloves, that were far too big, seemingly manufactured for the Hulk.

The summer was good that year and a nightly pilgrimage to our ‘training ground’ was followed by a return trip, with bloodied knees from over-ambitious skating, or the odd errant stick. It was a tough apprenticeship, but one that was to lead to some great experiences and also some great friendships. Like many other sports, hockey isn’t just about the time on the court, but it’s more about the community. And Cardiff’s hockey community is rich and diverse.

In time, the guys playing in the car park moved indoors, as roller hockey started to experience a renaissance during the late 1990s and informal training sessions, lead to the formation of my first team. Around the same time, a team mate who had been playing on the ice, virtually since the old Welsh National Ice Rink had been opened, suggested that I might enjoy stepping on the ice. I never found the transition was a complete success, but as training sessions were generally followed (and sometimes preceded) by a couple of beers in Kiwis, I stuck with it!

And I’m glad I did. Playing both roller and ice hockey, I’ve been lucky enough to be stood on the blue line and hear Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau played at internationals in Deeside and also at the home of the New York Islanders, in the US.

After a few years, study and career somehow distracted my enjoyment of the sport I loved and I gave up ice hockey, followed soon after by roller hockey. Years passed. I got married, became a dad and the rink was knocked down for the mighty St David’s 2. Despite previous passion, I was blissfully unaware of the building that was to become affectionately known as the Big Blue Tent, being built as a temporary replacement home for the City’s ice sports. During physio for a slipped disc in my back, I was offered tickets to see a Devils game at the Big Blue Tent. Curiously, I accepted.

I hadn’t watched a match for years. The Cardiff greats of Lawless, Hope, McEwan & the Cooper brothers long gone. It was a new barn and it was Elite League hockey. It was all strangely different. But what surprised me, was that it also felt oh so familiar. It felt like home and an unexpected, long dormant feeling stirred in me, urging me to strap on my skates and get out on the ice pad of this unfinished looking building. An old, but familiar face suggested the urge could be fed, by getting touch with a guy who’s known as ‘Big’.

A trawl through the friend’s Facebook friends located the aforementioned ‘Big’ and with the niggling thought of ‘why do they call him Big’, I made it down to a Monday night training session. The 6ft7inch guy I met welcomed me to the team and over the coming weeks, the passion was well and truly re-born.

I can’t even hazard a guess at how long I’ve been back playing – is it four years, five years? Who knows!? – because it feels like I’ve never been away. Sure, I’m older, no doubt much slower (maybe a little wiser!?), and less skilful, but hockey is still my passion. It’s my release from every day stresses. It’s the place I go to be ribbed. It’s the place I go to rib others. It’s my sport.

And what makes ice hockey special is that I play for the Cardiff Ice Hounds. Sure there are other teams playing out of the Big Blue Tent – some bigger, some more established, more successful – but at the end of the day, we play a sport that forces us out of our own city, to play away matches, pulling on our jerseys, representing our home City.

I play for the team, I’ve captained the team, I’ve coached the team and I’ve helped run the club at committee level. We’ve tried to establish the team to offer so much more than just a place for people to get involved in playing competitive ice hockey, but to also provide an opportunity for people to get involved in hockey as a spectator sport – for free. We’ve worked to put Cardiff’s amateur ice hockey on the map.

The City is the home to the sport that we love. We are the Cardiff Ice Hounds and Cardiff is us. And in return, at home and on the road, we are Cardiff.

Lucas Howell currently plays for the Cardiff Ice Hounds as one of their ‘veteran’ defencemen. As far as the old grey matter will allow, he’s been playing hockey (ice and roller), on and off for about 15 years and in that time he’s toured to New York with the Cardiff Titans, represented Wales in roller hockey, captained the Bridgend Bullfrogs & Cardiff Ice Hounds and coached just about every age group in roller hockey, from tiny kids, through to adults. He still misses his two front teeth – lost to hockey. Whilst now living in Splott, his ‘official’ roots make him a passionate Canton boy.

Lucas was photographed in the Big Blue Tent in Cardiff Bay by Doug Nicholls

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You are invited to: ‘We Are Cardiff: a Roath state of mind’ exhibition, 29 May – 2 July, Waterloo Teahouse

Friends, Cardiffians – it is our pleasure to invite you to our first localised exhibition, which is taking place in the heartland of Roath.

The boundaries of Roath spread further and run deeper than the thin lines on the map that separate it from surrounding Penylan, Cathays, Adamsdown, or even Splott. Roath is more than a place – it’s a state of mind, and we invite you to celebrate that with our first localised exhibition, featuring stories and photography of local residents who have been featured in the We Are Cardiff project.

You are invited to the launch party, on 1 June 2012. Come have a peek at the exhibition, and learn more about the film that we’re currently making about our fair city of Cardiff.

‘We Are Cardiff: a Roath state of mind’ exhibition
Waterloo Gardens Teahouse
Launch party: Friday 1 June 2012, from 6.15pm-8pm
Exhibition 29 May – 2 July 2012

www.wearecardiff.co.uk
www.waterlootea.com

RAFFLE PRIZES – UPDATE

A four-ball round of golf at St Pierre Golf Club in Chepstow (donated by Acorn Recruitment and Training

A speedboat trip for two around Cardiff Bay (donated by CAVRA)

A meal for two from the set menu at Ffresh (donated by Ffresh)

A luxury haircut (donated by the Constantinou salon)

A pair of trapeze taster session tickets (donated by NoFitState circus)

A meal for two in the Gallery Restaurant at the Grosvenor G Cardiff (donated by the Grosvenor G Casino)

A Fairtrade chocolate hamper (donated by Fairtrade Wales)

A print of Roath Park artwork (donated by Gayle Rogers)

A hand crocheted blanket (donated by Andrew Williams)

A framed print (donated by Jo Whitby)

A screenprinted t shirt (donated by Droneboy Laundry)

A bottle of champagne (donated by EstatesDirect Cardiff)

A screenprinted Shewolf t-shirt (donated by Spike Dennis)

A limited edition We Are Cardiff t-shirt

We’d like to say a very large thank you to ALL the sponsors who have donated prizes for this draw – you’re helping us out with a worthwhile project and we really appreciate your support.

So … more info on our lovely sponsors…

FFRESH. With stunning views of Cardiff Bay, a stylish and contemporary feel, and a wonderful seasonal menu showcasing the best of Welsh produce, ffresh Bar and Restaurant is catered to enhance your culinary dining experience.Excellent quality food and service is led by Executive Chef Kurt Fleming, along with consultancy expertise from Shaun Hill, Executive Chef at The Walnut Tree Inn at Abergavenny. The ffresh team have a great deal of experience to help you choose a menu that suits tastes and budget. All our menus have wonderful vegetarian options, and our Chefs are more than happy to cater for any special dietary requirements…
ffresh Restaurant is open Tuesday-Saturday 12 noon- 2.30pm; 5-9.30pm and Sundays 12 noon – 4pm. Please note that on Mondays, ffresh Restaurant is only open for pre-show dining. Whether you are visiting Cardiff bay for an afternoon, seeing a production at the Centre, or looking for a special evening dining experience book your table at the restaurant on 029 2063 6465 or ffresh@wmc.org.uk.

FAIRTRADE WALES. Did you know Wales is a fair trade country and Cardiff was the world’s first Fairtrade capital city? Fair trade is about creating opportunities for producers in the developing world to receive a fair price for their goods and to work their way out of poverty. Put simply, it is an opportunity for them to improve their lives and the lives of their families, and is as simple as the choices you make on your weekly shop.

ESTATES DIRECT – the 0% Commission Agent. At EstatesDirect we charge a fair fixed fee to sell or let your property.  To see how much you could save and find out more please visit our website. EstatesDirect Cardiff is owned and run by Paul and Helen Walters. We pride ourselves on offering excellent customer service throughout your property sale or let, from the initial FREE valuation, through to viewings and finally the sale or let of your property. We are local to Cardiff, and will offer expert advice on marketing your property to its greatest potential and to as many targeted buyers and tenants as possible.

JO WHITBY. Jo Whitby is an all-round creative type who likes to cram her days with as much arty/music/culture stuff as possible. I Know Jojo is where she freelances as an illustrator and artist doing all sorts of works from depicting classic Welsh myths to crowd surfing a Smart Car. You can also find Jo making music as Laurence Made Me Cry and sporadically updating a music and culture blog called Cat On The Wall.

SPIKE DENNIS. Spike is  a maker, an imaginator, a unicorn farmer & a Romanticist with a burning desire to understand that which lies beyond the stars but you can call him an artist for want of a better word. He has lived in Cardiff for five years and recently launched ProjectCardiff with co-conspirator Lann Niziblian. Spike will be exhibiting some collaborative work inspired by the Brothers Grimm fairy tales at St Donats Art Centre in the Vale of Glamorgan throughout June this year (full details available shortly)
More info at: www.spikeworld.co.uk / www.unicorn-porn.com

ANDREW WILLIAMS. Andy is a knitwear designer that has been knitting since 2004 and crocheting since 2009. He has free patterns available on his blog and Ravelry page, and some of his patterns are available to buy from Calon Yarns on Cowbridge Road East. Making blankets is an obsession he has. Blankets of all shapes, sizes and colours. “I’ve loved blankets since I was little. They make me feel safe and warm. A handmade blanket is even better, because not only are you getting a lovely handmade thing, you’re getting someone’s time – that’s a really precious thing to give. The blanket I’m making for We Are Cardiff is a giant granny square, which I will embellish with some appliquéd bits and bobs. It’s super colourful, hope someone colourful wins it!” See also: Ravelry

NOFITSTATE CIRCUS. No Fit State was founded in 1986 by five friends. During a politically charged time, in a recession, and as a creative reaction to the world around them, the circus was born. Twenty-five years later NoFit State still believes that the total outweighs the sum of the parts. The company lives together, works together, eats together, laughs and cries together – travelling in trucks, trailers and caravans and loving and breathing as one community. This is what creates the spirit that is NoFit State and gives the work its heart and soul. Contemporary circus combines live music, dance, stage design, text, and film with traditional circus skills. It is rooted in the travelling community who turn up, pitch a tent, drum up an audience, and then leave with only flattened grass and a memory to show they were ever there. The circus are the strangers who live amongst us – and if we run away to join them we are throwing off our inhibitions, our conventions, the rules of settled society. We are taking to the road knowing that there is no destination – only a journey.
Today, NoFit State is the UK’s leading large-scale contemporary circus company, producing professional touring productions and a wide variety of community, training, and education projects for people of all ages.

“If you can’t beat them…” – Lola

lola-coaster-web

My name is Lola and I have a problem. In fact my name isn’t even Lola, it’s Laura, and that’s testament to my problem. By which I mean addiction. By which I mean love.

In 2005 I moved to Cardiff from Swansea; a quiet, scrawny (not naturally) blonde girl who kept her head down in Uni and went back to Swansea every weekend to go back to the familiar; the comfortable. Seven years later I’m a confident, outgoing (not loud) person who has grown to love my abnormally-large-for-such-a-slim-girl thighs. And why the change in confidence and self-esteem? Roller derby, that’s why! (Oh, and living in Splott, where sometimes you have to be brave).

In early 2010 I was talked/cajoled/bullied into trying roller derby by a friend after watching Whip It. Now, I don’t know if you’ve seen Whip It, but it depicts roller derby as a sport played by scantily-clad girls who punch each other in the face and stab each other in the back. So no, I wasn’t overly enthralled by the idea of joining a new Cardiff league – the Tiger Bay Brawlers – to give it a try. But because then I was easily led and scared that I’d lose friends if I didn’t do as I was told, I tagged along.

I’m so glad that my weak-willed personality allowed me to go. I now find it laughable that I believed the Hollywood version – stupid, huh? (For the record, we’re all lovely, highly ambitious athletes with a huge dedication to furthering our sport. Yes, it’s full contact, but no; punching, kicking, biting are not allowed)!

Channel View leisure centre, Sunday 25 April 2010, was where I found roller derby (or where roller derby found me, because I feel like I’ve been waiting for something like this for a very long time). That first session was scary; not because I was walking into a room full of strangers (yes, over 50 of them!) but because suddenly, at the age of 23, I was strapping eight wheels to my feet and throwing myself on the floor and now, further down the line, at other skaters.

Almost two years later I have passed my obligatory minimum skate-skills test, bouted as a member of the Tiger Bay Brawlers A Team a number of times and am an active member of the team management committee. I’ve also Co-captained the B Team and one of our intra-league teams, the Merchants of Menace (the other team is the Bruise Birds)!

Roller derby has had a positive influence on me in far more ways than you’d think ‘just a sport’ would. It’s a huge aspect of my life now. Any spare time I have (or had) is spent doing derby; skating, watching, writing press releases, blog posts, just talking about it. It’s not something I begrudge doing because I get so much out of it. Not only have I met some of my best friends, but I’ve also become a much more confident person; my self-esteem has increased and I have become an ambitious athlete, concerned about what I’m eating, what I’m doing, how much fitness I’m squeezing in and how far I can push myself.

The Tiger Bay Brawlers are the longest-established and (though I may be biased) most successful roller derby league in Wales. We formed in April 2010 and have gone from strength to strength, playing ten public bouts in our debut year (we won seven of those), being accepted as members of the UK Roller Derby Association (UKRDA) and securing features on S4C, The Guardian and BBC Sport Wales to name but a few. We’re currently hoping to secure their own training and bouting venue this year, and we’re on the lookout for empty warehouses and suitable units – if you know anywhere, let us know!

We’ve also implemented a rolling recruitment programme comprising of a recreational league and freshmeat sessions, as well as working with Sport Wales and Cardiff Council to start junior roller derby sessions! AND we’ve just kick-started our second year of bouting and are bringing roller derby home again when we bout the London Rockin’ Rollers Rising Stars in Talybont on Saturday 31 March 2012.

Roller derby is taking the UK sport scene by storm at the moment, and we intend to be part of that emergence. You can be part of it too! If you want to come and see us play, then please do. If you want to connect with us then you can on our website, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook, and if you want to join us then don’t be scared. Strap on your skates and come to rec league. If that’s not your thing then join us in an off-skate capacity. It’s a really inclusive sport and there are numerous ways to get involved so don’t let anything put you off. I promise you won’t regret it.

Roller derby isn’t going anywhere soon, and neither are the Tiger Bay Brawlers. And you know what they say? If you can’t beat them….

Laura ‘Lola Coaster’ Joyce has been skating with the Tiger Bay Brawlers since April 2010. She is an active member of the league skating with both the A and B teams and, offskate, undertaking the league’s PR and Marketing. Lola plays as both a blocker and a jammer and is known for her pre-bout routine, including taking days off work and eating copious amounts of cherry tomatoes. She currently lives in Splott.

Lola was photographed at a Brawlers bout by Adam Chard

 

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“Metropolis and nature; memory and future; big and little” – Alice

alice-paetel-web

Having been born in Birmingham I’ve always felt very protective of my Cardiffian status. I moved here when I was two so I think that I’ve lived here long enough to consider it home. It’s an energetic, sleepy city that has history and vibrancy all at the same time. ‘Big Little City’ seems a perfect description for a place where you can always encounter a new experience and still bump into someone who knows someone, who knows someone you knew.

When I’m away from Cardiff I realise how much I love it, and feel proud to say that it’s my home. It seems that with distance you truly appreciate what matters. There is a possibility that I might move away, but Cardiff seems to have a hold on me. My childhood memories of life and death situations at the ‘big slide’ in the rec are ones that I hope to relive through my own children (one day!). The nature that surrounds the city so tightly is reassuring, and nothing is more calming than being next to the sea. Whilst it’s great to visit other cities and countries, Cardiff always seems to be the benchmark for the perfect city of contrasts. Metropolis and nature; memory and future; big and little.

Alice Paetel is in her third year studying English and Popular Culture at Cardiff Metropolitan University (Previously UWIC). She hopes to go on to become a Secondary English Teacher and have a siamese cat. She currently lives in Splott with her husband and pooch.

Alice was photographed in her garden in Splott by Adam Chard

Do you enjoy the We Are Cardiff website? Want to help us turn this project into a documentary film? Please donate any amount to our fundraising campaign and join the Facebook group

 

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

andrew small

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew was photographed by Amy Davies outside Metros

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“Laser, smoke machine, and two spinning turntables” – Doug

doug_nicholls_web

It finally dawned on me one day last summer that I think of Cardiff as home and have done for quite a while. It seems obvious now but it took a rare visit to the village that I grew up in to make me realise quite how much of an impact this city’s made on me.

I was back in England for a friend’s wedding and felt detached from the once-familiar surroundings. The accents didn’t sound right. Road signs were monolingual. I was a long way from the coast. People weren’t wearing pyjamas in supermarkets.

It was late last century when I first drove a car-load of belongings over the Severn Bridge with no idea of whether it would be a temporary or permanent move. To put a historical perspective on it: it was around the time the National Assembly for Wales was established, the Rugby World Cup was about to come to Wales and Cardiff Bay was preparing to open for business. As with many things in my life it turned out alright, more by luck than judgement.

Things were happening here. The promptly-constructed Millennium Stadium brought FA Cup finals and other major events to Cardiff while an over-budget, delayed Wembley Stadium was under construction. Cardiff City developed from third division mediocrity to Premier League hopefuls. Just last year the Swalec stadium put the Wales back into England and Wales cricket as the Ashes came to town.

Things outside the sporting world were gathering momentum too with gigs, clubs and daily trips to the basement at Catapult Records to keep tabs on new releases. It wasn’t long before I was immersed in music in Cardiff and I loved it. One of the main things that struck me about the city then – and it still does today – if you want to get involved, you can. This is where a compact capital city has its advantages.

I found my own slice of Cardiff, promoting and playing records at one of its true gems, Clwb Ifor Bach. It was one of the first places that really defined Cardiff for me when I arrived here. I managed to get a foot in the door, helping out at the now-defunct Hustler Showcase events and ended up doing a five-year stint with monthly club night Sumo.

Those heady days may be behind me but I still love that place. Guest DJs loved it. I’m guessing a few other people did too because they kept coming back each month: laser, smoke machine, and two spinning turntables.

Meanwhile, back in 2011, things are still happening here.

You only have to look to autumn’s Swn festival to see how well things can work in this cosy, friendly city. If anyone ever suggests that the ‘biggest bands’ don’t come here, the chances are they probably already have – and delivered a memorable gig to 100 grateful people in a city pub.

Whether you’re into music, arts, sports or something else, there are a lot of talented, creative, hard-working people in Cardiff and that won’t change any time soon. There are also a lot of people who know how to enjoy themselves. Often they’re the same people and that’s one of many things that make this city great.

Ten years after graduating from a journalism degree in Cardiff, Doug is still here and these days can mainly be found at home in Splott, at work for the Welsh Assembly Government in Cardiff Bay or running around Cardiff training for some event or other. Online: @dougjnicholls on Twitter or D_J_Nicholls on Flickr.

Doug was photographed at the Imperial Cafe by Adam Chard

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“I’m definitely not English and I couldn’t claim to be Welsh, but I do think of myself as Cardiffian now” – Noreen

Noreen by Ffion Matthews

I ended up in Cardiff by chance, really. I grew up and studied in France, and after doing my MSc research project at Aberystwyth University, I stayed in the UK to work. Various jobs and secondments took me all over England and Wales, until I found myself in Cardiff, and liked it so much that I stayed. It’s the place where I have felt most at home and where I can see myself putting down roots. I guess I’ve started doing that already!

I’m a city girl and I couldn’t live happily somewhere without theatres, cafes, and shops that stay open after 5pm. Because Cardiff’s a capital city, it’s vibrant, and has gigs, exhibitions, shows, workshops… There’s always a variety of things to do. It’s got great places to hang out and chill too. And it’s got the parks! I love Bute Park, walking past the Animal Wall to get there, and hula hooping near the stones. They’re such an easy landmark to meet people at, and, well, they’re standing stones, which is cool. This is the capital of a country that had Eisteddfods and bards and song and poetry as national traditions and institutions – and it’s woven into the fabric of the city.

I’m half Chinese from Singapore and also French and I like that Cardiff is fairly multicultural; also that the population is young because of the Universities, even though it means Friday and Saturday nights in town are a nightmare of rowdy drunken students. But hey, that’s part of what makes this city what it is. Despite the usual high street shops that are the same everywhere (and although I mostly moan about them, sometimes they’re convenient because you know exactly where to get what), the centre has a nice distinctive feel. Cardiff’s got a bunch of independent shops and also the arcades. I spent my teenage years in Paris, which has a number of arcades right in the centre, and I love them. It’s a shame about all the empty shops there – I would like to see them more alive and better used.

I’m a sucker for architecture and nice buildings, and that’s another reason why Cardiff appeals to me so much – it’s not just the WMC and the Senedd down the Bay: there is a great mix of beautiful buildings in town, and I love wandering around early in the morning or late at night, when there are no crowds of shoppers to dodge, and walking “with my nose in the air” as the French say, checking out the facades and rooflines we ignore on a daily basis.

Despite being the capital of Wales, Cardiff is a small city. It’s small in size, so that I can walk or cycle most places – and it’s pretty flat! Cycling around Cardiff makes me very happy indeed. It’s also small in population (well… for a capital city anyway) and I have found here a real sense of community and friendliness. Cardiff is like a village where when you meet someone, you can be pretty sure they’ll know at least one other person you know. I like that. I think that’s what’s contributed to my feeling settled quicker than in other places I have lived, and building a strong network of friends in a couple of years after I arrived – and that’s why I feel so settled now!

I’m definitely not English and I couldn’t claim to be Welsh, but I do think of myself as Cardiffian now. It would take a big event indeed to prise me away!

Noreen Blanluet is a self-employed creative business consultant, helping entrepreneurs and freelancers to take their business and their life to the next level. You can find her at www.beamazingtoday.co.uk and on Twitter @beamazingtoday. She’s living in Splott at the moment and is pondering moving to Roath early next year. Longer-term, her aim is to move to the house of her dreams in Cathays.

Noreen was photographed on the swings at Roath recreation ground by Ffion Matthews

Noreen by Ffion Matthews

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“Penguin on a down slope” – Tim

Tim by Ffion Matthews

I am childish.

I have an early childhood memory that I can’t shake off. It is of a penguin racing game where the penguins go up some stairs and then slide serenely down the chute to the bottom and then start back up the stairs… again… once more… + 1… repeat…again.

At that young age, philosophically, my budding pea-brain didn’t consider those king penguins to be trapped in the Labours of King Sisyphus and neither did I consider them chipper-as-it-goes stoic penguins from the wildlife documentaries. Rather, I just liked them and thought of them as simple penguins getting on with life, with steady ups and exciting downs – enduring, definitely doing their thing as long as my batteries lasted.

Cardiff?

My thoughts about penguins date from when I lived in Kent the county you might know as the Garden of England and my penguin racing game was purchased at a garden centre on the outskirts of Maidstone called Notcutts.

It has been lost somewhere since…

What of Cardiff?

When I moved to Cardiff five years ago in my first week in the city I saw Gavin and Charlotte out (I would later see Gavin and Stacey) and in the shop down the road found Penguin Pile-Up (pictured). In actual fact I bought Penguin Pile-Up fully expecting it to be the penguin racing game – I was wrong. The penguins in Penguin Pile-Up shuffle on a shifting outcrop and risk toppling at any moment.

In 2005 there was a big march in London about climate change. I went up on the train.

Is London Cardiff?

Back in my Cardiff home the march and the news coverage changed the way I thought about my environment, so even more profoundly did the groups I joined and the Cardiff people I talked to about climate change…

Cardiff Transition Project is Cardiff.

I like Cardiff. I like it heading for a pub after work on a Friday, when I might get an occasional weightless feeling like it’s pushing back at me with less friction than normal.

Penguin on a down slope.

Tim Fisher is a community organiser for childrens’ rights charity Tros Gynnal. He also is a keen project planner for Cardiff Transition, having organised Octobers Feed Cardiff event and recently received nomination to the Wales Green list for work with Canton Carbon Cutters. Plus he is an amateur writer, blogger and furniture decoupage-ist … don’t you know. Tim currently lives in Splott.

Tim was photographed outside Shree Swaminarayan Temple on Mardy Street in Grangetown by Ffion Matthews

penguins on a down slopy by Ffion Matthews

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“Splott Road” – Darren Floyd

darren_floyd_web

Splott Road

It’s bad at night.

It gets quiet like.

You know, there’s – like- nothing happening. A few cars going by, but there’s not even anyone hanging round the Spar or the Christian Centre that used to be a Bingo Hall like. So you know it’s like boring you know. When I say it’s quiet, there is a noise – it’s like a fridge being on, there’s a… thing you know…a…what do you call it … a buzz. It’s never completely quiet like, but it’s dull, really dull. I don’t know why I’m telling you this or anything you can’t even bastard hear me can you? You can’t even bastard hear me.

I knows why I’m saying it really, it’s something to do isn’t it? Something to kill the seconds and hours and days and weeks. Though I don’t know just where any of it’s gone, do you? I mean, there’s like some clear stuff, like light and day and stuff- I’m not retarded – and like summer and winter. But like, do you know what month it is? It could be July or it could be September who knows? I don’t. I don’t think you do. Is it important? I don’t suppose it is, but – like – nothing’s important anymore, is it like?

It’d like to know what month it is, cause like if it is September that would mean that my birthday would be coming up, but I suppose it would be bad to know that wouldn’t it? Would be a killer to know that you should be going on the lash, but that all you can do is to is to stand in the doorway of a rubbish church, that smells of piss and has broken windows, no one comes here, ever. Terrible.

I knows you talks, cause I can see your lips move, do you thinks you can hear me? Do you pretend? I don’t bastard knows, who knows?

Do you remember that time we tried to make up our own talks like? Remember? It was soon after, you know, when … just after … we gave up … just … gave up. Didn’t seem much point did it? I mean if we had managed to sort something out, it would have been shit wouldn’t it? I remember you when you were alive and you weren’t exactly Peter bastard Kay then were you? Dull to be honest. The only thing I can ever remember you getting excited about were the cheap breakfasts they do in McDonalds on a Friday morning. So it would have been dull like – boring – like everything else.

There is something I’d like to know from you mind. I’d like to know if you can see them. Can you see the others? I can see two of them, dressed like something from the TV, or from a game you know, old stuff. One of them is dressed like out of the Hitler war, I can see him clearly, but he doesn’t do much anymore, and there’s another one, I can just about see him. He’s down by the Co-op on Splott road and I don’t know what he’s dressed like, but he’s always jumping up and down and doing stuff, gets on my tits a bit if I’m honest, but what else is there?

I lied. There is something else I’d like to know.

Do you think that any of the living can see you? I’ve seen you make a start, like you’ve sat on a spike or something. I think … I think someone saw me once. There was this jacked up Subaru coming round the corner like what we did. They got the speed wrong and skidded, and I saw this kid in the passenger seat, and I saw that he was shitting himself like. I knows that. I was shitting myself when we went in for the skid. Then I saw this look on his face, a shock and it jolted me, like the time I touched that dodgy plug like.

He saw me.

I swear on my mother’s life, he saw me. It was like just a second, it was there, and gone. The driver was sharper than ours and got control and shot on down the road, I saw him laughing, but honestly the kid in the passenger seat saw me.

I don’t know why, but I was thinking about that for ages like. Sometimes it made me feel good, it was the first time I can remember anyone seeing me, it was like – I don’t know – like there had been something to me other than this, what’s now. It was over so quickly but I haven’t stopped thinking about it, and how long ago was that?

There’s other times when I think about it and it makes me feel bad, terrible like worse than most of the time, you know what I mean?

Look at the flowers. Look at them, there’s nothing there anymore, even the dead bits have blown away, I don’t remember when. All that’s left is the elastic band, and that’ll be gone soon. I don’t know why but that…that scares me, no, you know, freaks me out. I remember when the elastic band…when it was new and red, now look at it, grey and just hanging on, like my Nan.

I looks over at there at them lot going into the Christian Centre that used to be a Bingo Hall like and I look at the piss heads going in and out of the Old Illtydian R.F.C Social Club and coming out for a fag and I can’t make up my mind which building is a bigger waste of time. I mean what’s the point like? You know? What’s the point? You can’t even bastard hear me. Look at you now, look at you, flapping your lips, and that’s not even the worse of it. I’ve seen you looking out like one of those Zombies like out of a game or something, doing nothing for ages with your mouth open and just looking like, then it’s like you wake up or something. The bad thing is that I knows that I does it too. Sometimes I’ll be looking out and the next thing I knows it’s like night or something and I don’t knows what happened. That should be good like, you knows, time going like that. It should be good. It should be good. Still it’s better than thinking about – you know – how this like, all happened, how we got here. You knows, I don’t want to think about it, but I can’t helps it. One minute I was in the car, and then … and then … I was watching, it was like something out of a game, no one told me why or like how, that made me mad at the start it’s like really unfair, you knows? I mean why? Why you knows? I want to know when will it end?

Darren Floyd is a writer/artist who lives and works in Cardiff. His novel “Match Day” was published recently, and is available from Spillers and online here. He will be doing a reading in the Wellfield Bookshop tomorrow (Saturday the 16th of October) at 12 noon as part of the Made in Roath festival. Some of his paintings and random mutterings can be seen here. He currently lives in Splott.

Darren was photographed on Splott Road by Adam Chard

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