Tag Archives: tongwynlais

Meet Jack – the man behind Tongwynlais.com

Today we get the lowdown on one of Cardiff’s many hyperlocal websites, from Jack Davies – the man who set up Tongwynlais.com.

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My name’s Jack Davies and I run a hyperlocal website for Tongwynlais, a small village in north Cardiff. I’m a software developer, occasional runner, lapsed gamer and technology enthusiast.

I was born and grew up in the East Midlands but moved to Cardiff nearly 20 years ago. I’ve always worked in Cardiff but moved around a bit. I lived in Gabalfa and Cathays before relocating to Barry for a while. I eventually moved back to Cardiff four years ago when I settled in Tongwynlais.

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There haven’t been any major changes in the village since I moved here. The hotel as you leave the village onto Coryton roundabout is now a Holiday Inn and the long standing owners of the Phoenix Fish Bar have retired. The Old Ton Inn, a popular old pub, has been converted into housing.

There are some great community developments happening though: A proposal to develop land in the centre of the village spurred the formation of a new community group, who are working really hard to improve the village. The group launched a Time Credits scheme earlier this year that encourages residents to get involved and volunteer their time for the community. They’ve successfully applied for grants to run events and activities in the village and have plans for many more.

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There have been so many changes in Cardiff over the last 20 years. It makes me feel old when I think about how the city centre and bay used to look. There’s definitely a feeling of excitement and confidence in the city these days. I love the fact that Cardiff is big enough to attract some world class events but small enough to get around easily. I’ve recently discovered a taste for ale so I’m really excited by the craft beer scene in Cardiff.

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My favourite part of Cardiff is the Taff Trail. We’re very lucky in Tongwynlais to be able to cycle into the city centre and out to the countryside. I’ve written a lot about Castell Coch over the years and I have a real soft spot for this unique building. It inspires and amazes so many people. For Cardiffians, it’s the sign that they’re home.

I have to admit that 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you where Tongwynlais was. When I moved here I realised this was quite common. I wanted to put Tongwynlais on the map and create site that showcased the village. The project developed and soon I’d created a hyperlocal, before I even knew what this was. It’s a great way to meet people in the village and learn about its history. I’ve been involved in loads of community events and hopefully inspired others to get out there and get involved too.

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The website recently celebrated its third birthday and I’ve taken a break to think about its future and revamp the website. I want to get out from behind my keyboard and encourage the community to help generate content. There are some creative projects that I’d like to get off the ground and I’d like to make the site generate some money for local projects. Cardiff has some great hyperlocal sites and I’d love to encourage more people to create a website and showcase the great community work happening in the city.

Thanks Jack! Why not check out Tongwynlais.com … the definitive source of information about that part of north Cardiff!

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A fairytale castle in a magical city – a first timer’s visit to Castle Coch

Temi Odurinde got in touch recently with a guest piece about a first trip to the wonderful Castle Coch. Have you been there? If not, you should really check it out. Magical indeed! Helia x

A Fairytale Castle in a Magical City

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Castles were always these grand buildings I dreamed about as a child and that were brought to awe-inspiring life when I went to the cinemas; never had I seen one in person. Instead of beautiful countryside and magical castles growing up, I was surrounded by reflective skyscrapers, dull grey buildings, and new build homes. Now, I come from a place that my fiancé likes to call “Yankee doodle land”, so on top of a bit of culture shock upon arrival in the UK, I had this silly notion that there would be a few castles here and there throughout the England and Wales (of which I was eager to plan my assault to visit them all). I never realised that there were over eight hundred visible castles across the UK. My mind was boggled by the sheer number, but I made it my mission to travel to the most prominent castles as soon as I could.

My first stop was Edinburgh Castle – a gorgeous and regal building with absolutely stunning grounds. My trip up in Scotland was very enlightening, especially since most general US knowledge about the Scottish comes from the movie Braveheart. Next, I headed down to the heart of the Lake District and enjoyed a day at Muncaster Castle. The castle was nice, but lacked many of those spires and Hogwarts-esque features that I so longed for (though the owl exhibit and show on the grounds really made up for it!).My next visit was to Wales – beautiful Cardiff to be exact.

My sole purpose in Cardiff was to visit Castle Coch because I heard of how beautiful it was. Upon arrival though, I admit I truly fell in love with this stunning and historical city more so than I had anywhere else on my journey. I expected constant rain (something I was getting used to in the UK already), and names of places that I couldn’t possibly attempt to pronounce. Well, I wasn’t completely off – it did sprinkle a bit the first day, and it became a game between my fiancé and I as I tried (failing miserably) to pronounce the names on signs; however the locals were absolutely lovely people and the city itself had such beautiful buildings and an intriguing history attached to almost everything!

The trip to Cardiff, for my fiancé and I, was absolutely magical. We visited the port in the evenings where we were delighted to see all of the store lights were reflecting off the water – making for a truly picture perfect scene. On the second day in Cardiff we got to explore around the City Hall and that was an incredibly regal building with a stunning dome atop the main entrance, and a plethora of windows adding to its architectural beauty. We also stopped by for a visit in the Natural History Museum at St. Fagans where we got to learn more about the history of Wales, the city, and see some excellent exhibits in a stunning building.

Overall, though, the best part of our trip was Castle Coch. The castle stands proud in the northern part of the city and its tall spires make it look like the quintessential, dreamy fairytale castle. Once we stood outside its entrance (which has a marvellous medieval type bridge leading you into a large arched door), you can’t help but marvel at this 19th century revival. Its size is definitely impressive when you look at it from head on, but an aerial view of the castle and a visit throughout its corridors, reveals that it’s a lot bigger than you might have first thought!

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As a person who absolutely loves castles, I admit I filled up an entire memory card for the trip to Cardiff, most of which was taken during the tour through Castle Coch. My favourite spots of the castle, and parts that I recommend every visitor see during their tour, include:

  • The great hall – a stunning room with an abundance of old paintings and an absolutely fabulous ceiling that immediately captures your interest. The fireplace also bears a large statue above it that is a must see.
  • Drawing room – another section of the castle that is, if possible, even more stunning than the great hall. This room features a very black and tan style of décor but it also boasts a fantastic chandelier and the famous Three Fates chimney-piece I had been longing to see for some time!
  • The courtyard – while there is no main feature in the courtyard, except maybe just the fact that it’s the courtyard of the Castle Coch, it does give you an absolutely priceless moment to look up at the magnificent walls of the castle around you. Definitely a surreal feeling to be standing in a castle courtyard!

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Overall, the visit to Cardiff, and especially Castle Coch, was absolutely magical. The city itself is filled with a fantastic combination of history, stunning architecture, and modern conveniences while the castle allows you to take a step back straight into the medieval times of Wales. For any visitor heading to Wales, take even a few hours to stop by and visit Cardiff and you’re sure to fall in love with this marvellous and wondrous city like my fiancé and I did.

 

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Temi Odurinde lives in the Wye Valley, that lovely region where parts of Wales meet part of England. He blogs about Welsh & rural issues, dating and relationships for Singles Dating Wales. You can contact him via the website or Google+.

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