The last place you’d probably expect to find the International Tortoise Association is tucked away in someone’s back garden in the sleepy town of Sully, in the Vale of Glamorgan. And, yet, that’s exactly where it is. The Association and its sanctuary are run by Ann Ovenstone MBE (she is known to friends and associates as ‘the tortoise lady’), and she’s helped along by a team of dedicated volunteers.
A few weeks back, I went along to meet Ann and visit the sanctuary, to make a small documentary Ann the tortoise lady for the BBC (it was shared on BBC One!! I know, check us out!!). You can watch the final piece here, although it’s edited down from about an hour’s worth of chatting and wandering around the wonderful sanctuary…
But there was loads more we discovered on our chelonia tour (chelonia being the generic term for tortoise/turtle/terrapin) than I could fit in the short video, so I thought I would share the rest of the visit here.
The association started in a relatively organic way – Ann got her first tortoise aged around five (it cost six pence from the local market – and she still has it!), and then as she got older had some other friends who also had tortoises. The animals started laying eggs, but no one really knew how to look after them, so Ann started researching … and over fifty years later, has pretty much dedicated her whole life to the care of these weird reptiles.
She works with UK Border Force to help identify illegally smuggled species, which can be challenging and upsetting work – she says that some of the largest hauls can contain up to 300 animals, half of which are usually crushed to death in transit.
While a few smuggled animals can sometimes be saved, they can never be returned to their natural habitats, as there is too high a risk of introducing bacteria or germs they might have picked up here. Instead, these animals have to be tagged, and they must be returned by their new owners to be checked every six months, to make sure they havenot been sold on for profit. It’s complicated and time consuming business, but for Ann – who has spent a lifetime in the company of chelonia – it’s worth it.
The Association’s members work tirelessly to ensure the welfare of tortoises, including caring for the sick and injured, rehoming, events, breeding and hibernation programmes. All aspects of the tortoise life are undertaken at the sanctuary and the specialist expert knowledge of those involved ensures that all tortoises who are born, bred and live there receive the utmost in chelonian care.
Although Ann says tortoises are perhaps not the ideal pets (when compared to more interactive animals like cats or dogs), they are definitely full of personality – being in the sanctuary felt a little bit like walking amongst very small and quite nibbly dinosaurs. They especially like painted toenails, as Ann told me they think they’re tiny tomatoes (both of us made the mistake of wearing sandals on the day of filming …).
The sanctuary (aka Ann’s garden) is an overwhelming complex of small runs, sheds, ponds, industrial fridges (to help with hibernation) and warm indoor tanks (to help with incubating eggs). They hold open days throughout the year, and also provide services for members like taking in tortoises to hibernate in optimum temperatures, and incubating eggs to hatch. If you have a tortoise in your life, or are interested in having a weird, tiny, prehistoric looking reptile join your family, then head to one of their open days to find out more.
You’ve probably noticed that we’re big fans of writing over here at We Are Cardiff. We presume some of you are as well. You might even be writers, or just want time to spend on your writing. So … it’s not in Cardiff … but if you need an excuse to head into the incredible countryside of north west Wales, and want some time to focus on your writing, Ty Newydd is the perfect spot.
The creative writing centre is run by Literature Wales, and features a series of courses, workshops and retreats throughout the year. Ty Newydd is a pretty sweet place to focus on your work … and Criccieth isn’t bad, either!
The courses for this year cover everything from poetry, to non-fiction memoir, to young adult mythology. View all Ty Newydd’s courses on their site (or scroll to the bottom of this article to go through them all).
We Are Cardiff went along to a Yoga and Writing class that took place in 2017 – a three day course that combines two creative practices that energise one another: yoga, plus writing. There was also meditation, breathing, and movement with writing exercises, added to some Hindu mythology and free time to write in the blissful surroundings of Tŷ Newydd. It was ace to meet guest reader Vivienne Rickman-Poole, photographer, film maker and outdoor swimmer who lives in Snowdonia (we followed her #swimsnowdonia project for some time now – she even took us for an outdoor dip!)
If you love the idea of attending a course at Ty Newydd, but aren’t sure you can afford it, Ty Newydd also offer bursaries and financial support for people to attend. Find out more: Ty Newydd financial support
It was the sixteenth Green Man Festival this year. It remains a wonderful and immersive experience – free from blaring corporate sponsorships and steeped in the magical Welsh mountains. In our opinion, this was the best Green Man yet.
The Guardian and Telegraph have already given the festival 5/5 stars, which we’d agree with – read on for our comprehensive romp around one of the best blinking festivals we’ve ever been to!
The fact that Green Man sells out – year after year – should tell you something about what happens to people that come to this festival. This year was my eighth Green Man, and as far as I’m concerned, the best yet.
Even when not adorned with miles of bunting, walkabout performers and stages large and small offering up musical wonderments, the Glanusk Estate is a beautiful environment. The Mountain Stage sits at the bottom of a grassy amphitheatre, with stepped ledges allowing for maximum relaxing while you’re listening to music waft up the hill, while Crug Hywel (the Table Mountain for which the Table Top area is named) dominates the backdrop.
Add in 20,000 glittering, tie-dyed people of all ages, the option of a full week of activities through the Settlement camping beforehand, and a whole beer festival within the actual festival – and you’re getting closer to the spirit of Green Man. There’s no corporate sponsorship anywhere – no Carlsberg tent, or Volvo spa area. Pints of beer and cider – all independently produced – are reasonably priced. Considering some day festivals in London charge £80 a ticket and £6.50 for a can of Red Stripe, and you’re starting to wonder why people would bother when you can come here instead.
General camping opens to the public on Thursday morning at 10am, and so after a hearty Wetherspoons breakfast en route (don’t judge) we rolled into the campsite. As there were a few of us this year all squeezed into my tiny car, we opted for a pre-erected tent rather than hiring a bigger vehicle to hold all our tents. And I must say, if there’s a few of you, or if wrangling tents just isn’t your thing, the Tangerine Fields campsite is brilliantly located at Green Man – directly behind the Mountain Stage, meaning you still feel totally embedded in the action even when you’ve just popped back to get a jumper.
Once our minimalist camp was set up, most of Thursday was spent doing a lap of the site, and trying to find somewhere open early enough for us to get our first cider on. The ever-reliable Chai Wallahs opened earliest, with the Diplomats of Sound DJs serving funky beats and the bar serving whiskey coffees (a recommended mid-day pick me up). The rest of the day was spent puzzling over the popularity of Jimothy Lacoste (an old editor of mine once said if you’ve got nothing good to say about an artist, don’t say anything at all. So it’s best I say silent on this one, but I can at least convey some facts: 1 – he mimes, 2 – the kids seem to love it); enjoying a quick trip to the Cinedrome tent (which can provide a welcome respite from the weather and noise outside) for a screening of Anorac, Huw Stephens’ documentary film about the Welsh language music scene across the country (well worth catching if you can).
We then headed up to the Far Out stage for Thursday night’s closers. We enjoyed bouncy Scot The Pictish Trail, then ended the night with a rousing and spine-tingling Public Service Broadcasting show. Their last album Every Valley took listeners on a journey down the mineshafts of the South Wales valleys, and although the purpose of the record is to shine a light on the “disenfranchised working class in this age of turmoil”, there was something particularly haunting about hearing the music just a few miles from the heartlands of the Welsh coal mining industry. Also, they brought the Beaufort Male Voice choir onto the stage. No, you’re crying. Blep.
On Friday we were up early and back up to Table Top to catch the “official” druid opening of the festival. This year Archdruid of Glastonbury Rollo Maughfling performed the opening solo (some other Stonehenge druids were on their way but had got lost …). We wished for peace throughout the whole world, chanted a bit, and then having blessed the festival, gave a large round of applause and went about our day.
We lazed in the sunshine and enjoy the shiny pop of Amber Arcades followed by the spacious ditties of Eleanor Friedberger, before deciding to explore the festival a little more.
The Nature Nurture area is where to head to if you’re looking for something for your body, your mind, or a bit of both, with the area offering every massage you can imagine, nutrition from a vegan cafe, or even shamanic journeys or gong baths, if you’re so inclined. After wandering the area for a while, I decided on some inversion – being strapped to a board and hung upside down for ten minutes, which is supposed to reduce pressure on your back and neck, allowing it to stretch out and recover from all that sitting on hard ground and lying on lumpy camp beds. (I enjoyed it so much I went and did it again on Sunday).
For the rest of Friday, we enjoyed the psychedelic noodlings of Beak>, aka Geoff Barrow of Portishead, the weird rnb/indie pop of Dirty Projectors, and then it was back up to the Far Out Stage, where the programming was a bit skew-whiff. Firstly it was Floating Points live, which felt like a very Berlin style minimal set you’d expect at 4am in a weird dive bar down some hole in Alexanderplatz, followed by one of my festival highlights, Mount Kimbie. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen them – the last time was a very different kind of ‘live’ gig at Cardiff Arts Institute in 2010, which you can listen to here: Mount Kimbie Live at Cardiff Arts Institute 2010). This was full live band, with pounding intensity and great upbeat tunes. And then, what we were waiting for – the main event for After Dark – John Talabot. What we were expecting was techno – but what we got was some weird cheesey rnb disco. It wasn’t until some time later after we’d all left Far Out, somewhat confused, that someone in Chai Wallahs told us John Talabot had pulled out due to illness, and it was in fact a Floating Points DJ set.
I was very drunk and belligerent by this point (apparently all I said for an hour was “where’s the f***ing techno” until my second brandy chai, where I lost the ability to speak completely). We headed for the ferris wheel, which often has the most banging tunes of any venue on site – no jokes, you get on there and get whizzed up and down, and then see if you’re not screaming with glee while they play Whitney Houston’s ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ followed by DJ Zinc’s ‘Wile out’.
Luckily, the Walled Garden is on the way home from the top end of the site, meaning we got to stumble into the brilliant Heavenly Jukebox, where I’m pretty sure we stayed for about an hour, although the only song I can definitely remember was something by Lionel Ritchie? Anyway, big up to Jeff, Diva and the crew who mercifully I didn’t go and talk to, because I was beyond speech and no one except my nearest and dearest should ever had to deal with me in that state.
After such a heavy Friday night, I think it’s fair to say everyone in the tent cursed me at least five times when I woke them all up at 8.30am with the bright and breezy news that ‘WE’VE GOT A HOT TUB AT TEN AM GUYS!’. Bathing Under The Sky have been bringing their wood-fired hot tubs to Green Man since 2015, and although it might not seem like it, there’s nothing better for sorting out that hangover than slowly boiling in hot water, then submerging yourself in a freezing cold plunge pool, and repeating for two hours.
It’s a luxury that’s worth investing in, although one member of our party was so hungover all he managed was five minutes in the hot tub (he did also vom in one of the bins right in front of the Mountain Stage on the way back – yep, the bit where all the kids play – just as Sweet Baboo struck his first chords to open the stage on the Saturday). “GREEN MAN! YEAH!”
After depositing our worse-for-wear tent mate, we headed back out into the festival, feeling fully refreshed, where Westerman was playing in the Walled Garden, and we picked up our first cider of the day (my drink of choice throughout the whole festival was a nice half of the Mortimer’s Orchard English Berry cider. Mmmm).
After that, the afternoon was a haze of sax-lead jazz from Nubya Garcia and crunchy guitars and huge trousers from Bo Ningen.
After that, we waited around Far Our for another one of the other acts I’d been really excited about seeing – north Walian nu techno kween Kelly Lee Owens. Instead, some gal with a guitar took to the stage … again, with no announcement about the line up change, but we did find out from a steward she also had pulled out due to illness (techno flu must be going around). I wasn’t drunk enough to be livid this time, but did bemoan the lack of screen outside Far Out notifying people of line-up changes. The night still ended on a high as I had a spiritual experience to the magnificent John Grant (who is 50! Can you believe he’s 50??), followed by Simian Mobile Disco with the Deep Throat Choir playing their latest album, Murmurations.
Although I didn’t spend any time at the Green Man Rising Stage this year, the fact that Deep Throat Choir were headlining the Far Out stage is a testament to the stepping stone that Rising plays in the careers of so many acts – I first saw them on the Rising Stage in 2014. But there’s so much to do every year … it’s impossible to get around to doing everything …
So when Sunday rolled around, and I realised it was our last day (last day!), we rolled the picnic blanket out in front of Xylouris White and enjoyed some wonderful jazz by way of Crete and Australia, before I decided to go and hang myself upside down in the Nature Nurture field one last time, and then topped up the wellbeing with a half hour massage. Well worth the investment, you could have poured me out of that field back into the festival.
Another area of the festival I’ve not mentioned yet is the Back of Beyond – the performance area, with an aerial rig for trapeze, hoop and rope performances (right next to a flying trapeze you can have a go at if you’re feeling brave!). This year the hosts of the afternoon entertainment were the usually NSFW Mr and Mrs Clark, who brought much merriment and shenanigans to the stage.
And here’s Mrs Clark, leading the crowd in some festival yoga.
Other highlights of Sunday were the totally demented Nine-Inch-Nails-psych of Follakzoid, smooth r’n’b stylings of Curtis Harding, the huge lung capacity of Anna Calvi, and then the Mountain Stage finale – epic rock-n-roll from The War on Drugs, who I was expecting little from, but really enjoyed. It’s familiar and huge-sounding – much more engaging and demanding than the band are on record.
Once the headliners had finished we ambled up the hill to watch them burn the Green Man from the safety of the large safety perimeter fence. A lot of people use the burn as their festival watershed, but I felt revived after hanging upside down and getting pummelled earlier in the day, so wandered over to Far Out, where High Contrast challenged everyone to bring their best bass face and smashed out some incredibly dark drum and bass to finish the weekend off.
Stumbling around the site, I decided to do what I always do at the end of the festival, and do one final victory lap. The Deptford Northern Soul Club were still going strong in the walled garden, full of an energetic audience filled with plenty of cross-dressing (did anyone else notice that as a thing this year?), tie dye, and plenty of biodegradable glitter.
It’s impossible to round it up in a sentence, other than to say the bands were wonderful, the food was great, the weather held out – and it’s still, by a long way, one of my favourite festivals. The lack of corporate sponsorship and the beautiful setting makes for a special experience – where you really do feel like you’re immersed in a completely different, magical world. Long live Green Man – mark out the 15-18 August 2019 in your calendar, and make sure you follow Green Man on all their channels for early bird tickets.
I recently spent a few hours lost in the internet when I came across Nick Sarebi’s wonderful photographs of Cardiff in the 1980s. I messaged Nick who kindly agreed to let us publish them, and even did a mini interview with me, which I present, here, for you. Do enjoy this wonderful dip into the archives, back into Cardiff in the late 1980s and very early 1990s. Over to Nick …
Nick: I originally came from London. I lived in between Grangetown 1988 – 95, although I was still working in London for much of that time. I always thought Cardiff was a lovely city.
I was doing a City and Guilds photography project at the time. I loved the sense of history that the Docks had, and obviously it was just on the cusp of change. I wish I took more photos back then, but it was before digital.
I lived in Pentrebane Street in Grangetown. I remember my neighbour saying that she knew Shirley Bassey and went on a works outing with her, where she sang, but then again everyone claimed to know her at that time! I think there were still close-knit families in Grangetown then, which was changing at that time. The neighbours were all very friendly. The house was covered inside with Artex when I bought it. It took ages to scrape off, I must have been mad!
Nick: I loved wandering round the Docks at that time, before it was all developed. It was pretty much deserted at the time. I also remember visiting the Sea Lock and some other Docks pubs. I wanted to go into the clubs down there but was a bit wary as an outsider. The Sea Lock was definitely stepping into the past. The main bar was closed and they only had a tiny bar left open. They frowned on women going in there alone! It was demolished soon after, I think. The publicans were really friendly. I recommend Trezza Azzarardi’s The Hiding Place – it’s a brilliant take on Tiger Bay. It conjures up Tiger Bay so well for me I had to go back and take another look. It was criminal how the knocked the place down. It can still be seen in the classic film Tiger Bay, which you should watch if you haven’t seen already.
There’s a nice interview with Neil Sinclair here, talking about the story of the place that inspired the Tiger Bay musical that was out year …
I remember meeting Neil Sinclair, who is at the start of Tiger Bay talking with Hayley Mills. We met at a nice pub which was on the Bay front and was very isolated, out on the way to Penarth. This was before they built that flyover. I forget its name, I think it must have gone now.
Cardiff – the city
Nick: Why did I move to Cardiff in the first place? That’s a good question. I wanted to move out of London, as it was expensive to buy a house there (even then!) and it was so big. Of course, no one could imagine that house prices would rise to the crazy levels they are now…
I couldn’t decide on Bristol or Cardiff. My girlfriend at the time lived in Bristol, but we split up just before I moved, so I chose Cardiff. In retrospect, what was mad was not looking for work in Cardiff. So I just travelled thousands of miles up and down the M4!
Eventually after Cardiff I moved to Bristol and I worked there for a couple of years, but was offered a part-time job in London, which went from two to four days, so I started commuting again, from 1997 right through to 2013.
I now look back and wonder why I did that! I spent seven years in Cardiff, but somehow it doesn’t feel that long – it flew by. I arrived in Cardiff only a few months after Lynette White was murdered. Someone wrote a book on it called Bloody Valentine, but it had to be pulped for libel reasons.
Nick: It was a bit ridiculous travelling backwards and forwards to London for all those years I lived in Cardiff. Cardiff was all changing at that time. I studied at the Arts Centre – I can’t remember what it was called now.
I have visited Cardiff a few times since I lived there, walking all round the barrage with my son, and have been to watch my team, Fulham, play Cardiff. It always brings back memories. I’m glad I lived there when I did, and saw the bay before it became “the Bay”.
Thank you so much Nick! He has a couple of really great albums of 1980s photography. We particularly love these albums:
Miners strike 1984 (photographs of mining families on holiday in London during the strike)
How is it already time for Record Store Day again?? If you’re looking to go join the queues or catch some of your favourite musical heroes in town, we’ve got the skinny on all the events – from Lauren Laverne broadcasting her BBC 6Music show, to Gruff Rhys and Charlotte Church djing! Don’t forget to check the full list of RSD 2018 releases…
Get out and about and support your local independent music scene, this Saturday 21 April, 2018!
The annual celebration of independent record shops and all things vinyl is happening on Saturday the 21st of April – and alongside the armfuls of exclusive releases, Spillers will be hosting their usual range of DJs and live music to keep you entertained throughout the day – and this year, they’ve got SPECIAL GUEST Lauren Laverne broadcasting her BBC 6 Music show from the store! She’ll be joined by guests Gwenno and Gruff Rhys.
And Lauren’s excited about her visit to Cardiff! She says: “I love taking my show on the road for Record Store Day, but to be going to Spillers in Cardiff – the world’s oldest record store – this year is something really special. We’ll be chatting to the team there and will be joined by Gwenno and Gruff Rhys, with music from Haley. It’s going to be a fantastic show and I’m so looking forward to be heading to Wales’ capital city!”
Global Gardens, a wonderful Cardiff project that supports intercultural exchange through gardening, cooking and eating, is one of five Welsh projects in the running for a share of up to £150,000 of funding.
But they need your vote! Now in its 13th year, the Big Lottery Fund, ITV Wales and The National Lottery are teaming up to give the public a chance to decide how National Lottery funding should be put to good use in their local area.
The Global Gardens Project runs weekly garden sessions at the allotment site and monthly suppers at the Embassy Café in Cardiff. If successful, this funding will help Global Gardens Project to develop the gardening and cooking activities offered and facilities on site. This includes development of a small kitchen so that dishes from the garden can be cooked on site. Their aim is to make the site more welcoming and accessible to people.
The Garden also won funding from Grow Wild to to deliver a series of practical workshops and identification walks, with the aim of inspiring and educating a future generation of seed-savers and fungi enthusiasts.
The Seeds and Spores Projectwill start on 21 April (10.30am-4.30pm) at the Global Gardens site, with a workshop on outdoor fungi cultivation with fungi enthusiast Rich Wright.
In June, Annwen Jones (Rhizome Clinic) will be leading a workshop on a range of healing native plants found. They will also be hosting a seed-saving workshop with Green City.
There will also be opportunities to develop identification skills later this year-Rich Wright (Feed Bristol) will be leading a fungi identification walk, and Julian Woodman (Glamorgan Botanical Group) will lead a walk on native plants in the local area.
International fungi expert Prof Lynne Body will talk about the good, the bad and the ugly (in fungi terms).
The workshops and walks are free but places are limited so book a place to avoid disappointment.
Throughout the project they will be creating a zine and various artwork, and the project will culminate with an exhibition in the Global Gardens Greenhouse. So, if you are an artist who would like to get involved, they also want to hear from you!
Hold on to your pants, one of our favourite Cardiff bands (who played at our book launch back in 2015) are dropping their debut album this week as a Christmas gift to you all! Here’s Robin from the Jutes to take you through the album track by track, along with a video (made by our very own Jameso) and some gorgeous album art….
A scene-setter rather than a first song, really, this was an instrumental guitar piece I’d had knocking around for a while that we quickly jammed and recorded in the studio. We recorded all of the basic tracks for this EP in one hectic day in the Music Box this spring – live as bass, drums and guitar, and pretty much in the same sequence as the track-listing.
Sadly Dan – our bassist – couldn’t make it, so Adam deputised on bass as well engineering/producing with his brother Paul. Adam was a complete monster – playing all these songs for the first time on the day we recorded them. I imagined this as the soundtrack to a shot of a car driving towards the vanishing point in the American mid-west at sunset. Not sure that explains the frog noises.
Track 2: Light a match
An attempt at a punchy, crowd-pleasing first proper song, we tried to channel Yo La Tengo and the Lemonheads, with hopefully some Real Estate guitar on the chorus. It’s one of only two songs on the EP about anything – distracting yourself from existential boredom by chit-chat and getting drunk. I tried to go full J Mascis with the guitar solo, but perhaps mustered up a slightly virile Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub.
Track 3: Dear Susan
I really love Orange Juice (Edwyn Collin’s early-’80s fusion of the Byrds, Chic and fey Scottish teenagers with plastic sandals and fringes like Roger McGuinn) and this is intended as a straight-up homage.
The first line (“Evidently my dear Susan”) seemed like the sort of comically overblown thing Edwyn Collins would sing, though I couldn’t quite manage the voice – which Alexis Petridis described as like “a tipsy man launching into an after-dinner speech with his mouth still full of port and walnuts”. The lyrics are an aggressive take-down of religious extremism, which should hopefully sort a few things out.
Track 4: Gallic Way
When I formed the band I basically wanted us to be Pavement, but we could never manage their nonchalant slacker charm. Sounding like you don’t care and still being good is really hard! This is probably as close as we got. I think Neil nailed the drums, which sound like someone very drunk falling down the stairs holding a pint and somehow not spilling a drop.
The lyrics are fairly Malkmus-pastiching, but those are the sort of lyrics I like – a collection of (hopefully) striking images and phrases rather than a coherent narrative. No-one listens to lyrics beyond the first verse and the chorus anyway. The chorus refers to a traumatic haircut I once received where the hairdresser maintained eye-contact with me – in the mirror – throughout, seemingly never once looking at my hair/head, and relying on some sort of echo-location to avoid cutting my ears.
Track 5: Persian Regret
The name for this song is taken from the Jutes range of hard-wearing interior paints. The concept (for the song rather than the paint range), is that you (YOU) have just stepped out of a taxi in down-town Addis Ababa and into a club where this music is playing. Full disclosure: I’ve never been to Addis Ababa or listened to any Ethiopian music. Paul made some throat-noises, as this is what he presumes happens in Addis Ababian nightclubs.
Track 6: Borderline
This starts as a charming tale of love thriving in the tedium of low-level espionage, but quickly resolves into gibberish. Quite an unorthodox pronunciation of “archipelago”, but I’m sure Mick Jagger has done worse. After a straight-up American 90s college-rock first half we tried to seamlessly weld a 70s psych-rock outro onto the back like a backstreet mechanic. I enjoyed trying to play guitar like Neil Young, anyway.
Track 7: Plane
Another contender for most-Pavementy-song (an attempt to channel Here from Slanted and Enchanted), this was the first song we wrote as a band, and the last one we recorded. Despite playing it for over two years, 6 songs into the session I experienced some sort of studio-induced dementia and had to do star-jumps in the car park until I could remember how to play it again. Paul (producer and long-time friend and collaborator) reminds me that this is the second time I’ve used the line “sold up and moved to Tibet” in a song, which could tell you something (I’ll plagiarise anything: including myself).
I’m glad there’s some funny guitar halfway through. For me, the worst thing that’s happened in music in the last 20 years is the dominance of self-obsessed earnestness – in indie music and X-factor pop. When people talk to each other, they constantly use irony and humour, but when they pick up a guitar or a microphone they so often rely on po-faced seriousness. Whatever happened to Chuck Berry singing about his ding-a-ling?
The Jutes are:
Robin Wilkinson: guitars, vocals, songs, arrangements Neil Williams: drums, arrangements Adam Rustidge: bass, keys, percussion, production, engineering, mixing Dan Holloway: bass inspiration, arrangements Paul Rustidge: production, engineering, mixing, head of logistics
Recorded at Music Box, Cardiff
Mastered by Charlie Francis at Synergy Mastering
How exciting is this! The brand new Welsh Cheese Company (run by a founding member of the awesome Barry Horns) is launching on Monday! They’ll be selling the very best artisan Welsh cheeses online through their website, working directly with 12 cheese producers, and stocking over 50 cheeses. They’re also doing a subscription service called Clwb Caws and a range of hampers and gift boxes – just in time for Christmas!
Cardiff-based musician Tom Pinder – who plays the sousaphone in Welsh Supporters’ band The Barry Horns and the trombone for world famous performers such as Paolo Nutini – is about to embark on a new adventure after founding The Welsh Cheese Company, an online retailer selling the very best Welsh cheeses. You can check out the produce at www.welshcheesecompany.co.uk, or on Twitter @welshcheeseco.
WHY CHEESE, TOM?
Tom decided to create the company when he realised Welsh cheese doesn’t always get the attention it deserves:
“Over recent years I’ve been getting more and more interested in the sourcing and the quality of the food I eat, and as a non meat-eater I’ve been particularly interested in the dairy side of my diet.
I’ve been eating a wide range of amazing Welsh cheeses from the delis in Cardiff, and local farmers’ markets, but I was frustrated that I couldn’t get all of the Welsh cheeses I’d come to love from one supplier, so I thought I’d do something about that and start a business that would bring together cheese from my 11 or 12 favourite Welsh cheese producers in one place.”
Since founding The Welsh Cheese Company, Tom has enjoyed getting to know the producers behind his favourite varieties. He is now keen to introduce more people all over the UK to these cheeses.
“The producers are so passionate about the cheeses they make, but Welsh cheese often seems to be a bit overlooked somehow. Some of the English cheesemakers are great at publicising themselves, and promoting themselves online, but some in Wales don’t seem to be as well known, despite often being even more critically acclaimed than their English counterparts.”
One of the most important parts of The Welsh Cheese Company’s mission is to tell people the story behind the cheeses it is selling. The website will have lots of information about all of its cheesemakers, and the farms that each cheese comes from:
“We’re working directly with producers, and buying direct from the farm, so we’ll be able to get cheese to the customers in the best possible condition.”
Tom isn’t stopping at cheeses, either: The Welsh Cheese Company will offer a glorious selection of other Welsh produce to compliment its cheeses:
“We’ll be offering a range of hampers and gift boxes, all full over the very best Welsh artisan food and drinks, to suit every budget. From gin to chutney, and from beer to chocolate, there will be something for everyone!”
Meet Tom Pinder, he’s great
The Welsh Cheese Company’s founder Tom Pinder is well known in Wales as a founding member of the Welsh football team’s official supporters’ band, The Barry Horns, but his career in music has taken him on many other adventures, including travelling the world with acclaimed Scottish singer-songwriter Paolo Nutini.
“It’s taken me all around the world,” he says. “The tour of the last Paolo album took us to New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, the USA several times, and most countries in Europe. Our last tour was to South America just a few months ago.” He plans to continue performing with Paolo as much as possible, as well as continuing to play with the Barry Horns at Welsh international football matches too.
“The Barry Horns has been a big part of my life over the past 7 or so years. When we started the band it was just a small group of close friends who had played in Cardiff bands together for years, but it’s grown and grown and been an amazing experience. The Euro finals in France last year were absolutely incredible.”
Tom has been working primarily as a musician ever since finishing his music degree at Cardiff University in 2002.
“During university I was in a couple of bands, and when I graduated I moved into a two bed house with the six other members of one of the bands, and we toured round Europe and the UK for a few years. In 2006 that band came to and end, and I decided I should try to get a proper job. I worked briefly in public affairs in the Bay, and then more music opportunities came along, so I started touring with Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, and then with Paolo Nutini, and that’s been my main job since then really.”
Alongside the touring, Tom also set up a music rehearsal studios business in Cardiff around six years ago, called the Cardiff Arches. That’s still going strong and has been his main preoccupation when he’s not touring. With the new cheese business taking off he will be handing over the running over the studios to colleagues.
“I’m very excited about The Welsh Cheese Company and it’s refreshing to be doing something outside of music – although I remain as passionate about music as ever, and will always continue to play in bands,” he says.
Cardiff Book Festival started off as a fairly modest affair last year, but this year it’s bigger, brighter, and even has its own literary-themed disco! We’ve combed through the programme (the best value ticket is a weekend wristband for £30, btw) and found our picks for the weekend. So get your read on, and let’s go …
Friday 22 – Sunday 24 September, The Angel Hotel, Cardiff
Friday 22 September
Catherine Mayer – Attack of the 50 Ft. Women: How Gender Equality Can Save The World!
7.15 PM – DRAGON SUITE, THE ANGEL HOTEL
Not a single country anywhere in the world has achieved gender equality. In more than a few countries, progress for women has stalled or is reversing. If gender equality promises benefits not just to women, but to everyone, why aren’t we embracing it? And how can we speed the pace of change? In ‘Attack of the 50 Ft. Women’, journalist and co-founder of The Women’s Equality Party Catherine Mayer tackles those questions and many more, sharing inside views and experiences. In her insightful, revelatory, often hilarious, and hugely inspiring book, Catherine Mayer takes us to a place she calls Equalia. What is it like? Does gender equality make for a society that is more equal in other ways too? Who does the low-paid jobs? How does gender express itself in a place freed from gender programming? What’s the sex like? What’s on the telly? (£7 full price, £5 concessions)
Dylan Jones on David Bowie: A Life in conversation with Mike Williams sponsored by Capital Law
8.30PM – DRAGON SUITE, THE ANGEL HOTEL
Dylan Jones is the award-winning editor of GQ magazine, a position he has held since 1999, winning the British Society of Magazine Editors “Editor of the Year” award a record ten times. A former editor at i-D, The Face, Arena, the Observer and the Sunday Times, he is the author of New York Times best sellers on musical heroes including Jim Morrison and Elvis. His new book David Bowie- A Life is an engrossing, magisterial biography unlike any Bowie story ever written. It’s an epic, unforgettable cocktail-party conversation about a man whose enigmatic shapeshifting and irrepressible creativity produced one of the most sprawling, fascinating lives of our time. Drawn from over 180 interviews with friends, rivals, lovers, and collaborators, some of whom have never before spoken about their relationship with Bowie, this oral history weaves a hypnotic spell as it unfolds the story of a remarkable rise to stardom and an unparalleled artistic path. By turns insightful and deliciously gossipy, David Bowie- A Life is as intimate a portrait as may ever be drawn. It sparks with illuminating, never-before-seen material from Bowie himself, drawn from a series of Jones’s interviews with him across two decades. Dylan will be interviewed by Mike Williams, the editor-in-chief of NME, himself a winner of the British Society of Magazine Editors “Editor of the Year” award during his time at Kruger Magazine, which is where I also cut my journalistic teeth. RIP KRUGER. (£7 full price, £5 concessions)
Saturday 23 September
Scientists of Wales/Gwyddonwyr Cymru
1PM – PRINCE OF WALES SUITE, THE ANGEL HOTEL
The University of Wales’ series of books Scientists of Wales/Gwyddonwyr Cymru charts the lives, times and works of Welsh scientists, and of people active in science in Wales. This event will see lively discussion in Welsh and English about Wales’ place on science’s world map, taking in the stories of William Robert Grove, a pioneering researcher who anticipated the general theory of the conservation of energy, and was a pioneer of fuel cell technology and Evan James Williams, whose work included attempting to prove the existence of Hidiki Yukawa’s hypothetical pi mesonparticle, and working on the MDS (magnetic detection of submarines) system to tackle the U-boat menace of World War II. (£5/£3)
35 years of Fighting Fantasy with Ian Livingstone
2.30 PM – DRAGON SUITE, THE ANGEL HOTEL
Ian co-founded iconic games company Games Workshop with Steve Jackson in 1975, launching Dungeons & Dragons in Europe. In 1982, he co-authored The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, the first Fighting Fantasy gamebook in the series which has sold almost 20 million copies worldwide. His best-selling titles include City of Thieves, Forest of Doom and Deathtrap Dungeon, and his new book, The Port of Peril, marks the 35th anniversary of Fighting Fantasy. When serving as Executive Chairman at Eidos, he launched global video games blockbusters including Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Ian has a passionate belief in the power of play as a contextual hub for learning, and he is a leading advocate for the importance of having Computing on the National Curriculum. His book Hacking the Curriculum is an essential guide for teachers to promote creativity, computational thinking and problem solving in the classroom – meta skills for the digital age. He was awarded a BAFTA Special Award in 2002 and a CBE in 2013. Ian will share a reflection on his career before a Q & A session chaired by BBC Radio 1’s Steffan Powell. (£7/£5)
Sanctuary – Refugee writing in Wales
8.15PM – PRINCE OF WALES SUITE, THE ANGEL HOTEL
Eric Ngalle Charles is a poet, dramatist and novelist and a former Cameroon refugee. His first book ‘Asylum’ deals with what it means to be a refugee, caught between two worlds, destitute and unable to move forward with one’s life. He’s joined by others seeking asylum and refuge in Wales whose stories, poetry and essays about their journeys feature the extraordinary histories of the men, women and children who are seeking sanctuary in Wales. (£5/£3)
Sunday 24 September
Merthyr: the crucible of modern Wales? Sponsored by Modern Wales, Parthian
1PM – PRINCE OF WALES SUITE, THE ANGEL HOTEL
Dai Smith interrogates Joe England’s claim that Merthyr was the crucible in the development of Wales in the 19th Century and moving on a century asks why Huw Lewis’s moving memoir of growing up in Aberfan in the 1960s and 1970s, The Skylark’s Song, has so much to say about the past as a foreign country. (£5/3)
How Bullshit Conquered the World with James Ball
2.30 PM – DRAGON SUITE, THE ANGEL HOTEL
2016 marked the birth of the post-truth era. Sophistry and spin have coloured politics since the dawn of time, but two shock events – the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s elevation to US President – heralded a departure into murkier territory. This is the story of bullshit: what’s being spread, who’s spreading it, why it works – and what we can do to tackle it. This is bigger than fake news and bigger than social media. It’s about the slow rise of a political, media and online infrastructure that has devalued truth. The Pulitzer Prize-winning James Ball should know. He’s worked in political, data and investigative journalism in the US and the UK for BuzzFeed, The Guardian and the Washington Post in a career spanning TV, digital, print and alternative media. (£5/£3)
Neil M.C. Sinclair
6.30PM – DRAGON SUITE, THE ANGEL HOTEL
Afro-Celtic author and historian, Neil M.C. Sinclair is a native of Tiger Bay, the oldest multi-ethnic community in Wales. He has written extensively on the history of his unique hometown, a place which is now the subject of the new musical ‘Tiger Bay’, premiering in Cardiff this November. Sinclair’s insider’s view of the area draws on personal memories, family history and a lifetime’s worth of connections within one of Cardiff’s most celebrated communities. Supported by Wales Millennium Centre’s Tiger Bay the Musical, 13th-25th November 2017. (£5/£3)
I think you can take as a testament to quite how good this year’s Green Man was that it’s taken me over a week to get myself together enough to write this review.
If you’re in a rush and just want the headline: Best Green Man yet!
For more: read on!
If you’re not in the Settlers camping, general admission starts at 10am on Thursday. In Green Men past, I’ve always liked to be one of the first people in on a Thursday (gotta make the most of it, right? Also means you get to camp near Orange parking, which makes the get-in and get-out easier) but we were delayed a bit this year, meaning we ended up fenced out of our normal spot, and instead deeper into the camping areas – pretty much right behind the Mountain Stage. Which made our tent-festival-tent commute a staggering five minutes. YAS!
We put the tent up (we indulged in a trolley this year to assist us), had a tent cider, then wandered into the festival. We headed straight for Nature Nurture with swimming cossies, just in case there were any spaces in the hot tubs. And guess what … there totally were! So we splurged the £25, had a lovely shower, and then spent two hours intermittently boiling in hot water and then dunking in the cold plunge pool.
Thursday night was finished off with a viewing of the Ben Wheatley film Free Fire in the Cinedrome (which, judging by the number of napping adults in the tent, also doubles as a grown person creche).
On Friday morning we scrambled out of bed in time to see the Druids of Stonehenge open the festival. This year it was Rollo Maughfling on his todd, and he opened the festival with the traditional series of blessings and group chantings and wishes for peace throughout the world. He did also hope for good weather, but as if by magic, the heavens opened and it poured down during the ceremony.
The rest of Friday was mostly spent pootling around between the Mountain Stage and the Back of Beyond, a relatively new stage for the performing arts. Like many of the people at Green Man, we were with people who had kids in tow. But luckily for all of them, it’s a festival that’s built with families in mind.
You’ll see various families pulling these trolleys around the festival: they’re the same trolleys you can use to help drag all your camping crap in during the set up. You can also rent one out for £25 a day, complete with cushions inside and roof to protect your little ones from the weather.
They were an absolute godsend – like mini pillow forts on wheels. The kids slept, ate, and played in and around them all day – and more importantly, they weren’t as tired and crabby as if they’d been walked around.
Frankly, I was a little jealous that no one was pulling me around in one.
We managed to catch quite a bit of music on Friday. The weather was holding steady, which meant sitting on the floor (or rolling around if you needed to) were still possibilities. On the Mountain Stage we caught Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit (who we’d seen at Green Man a couple of times before – and has never disappointed), and the grungey, slow-roasted rock of US band Lift to Experience, who had on stage with them the biggest Texan flag I have ever seen.
We also enjoyed British Sea Power (who turned the stage into an arboretum for their powerful set).
For the big finale of the night, it was a toss up between Future Islands and Kate Tempest, which split our group. Personally I was in favour of staying in Round the Twist, which was busting out some 80s classics (and had handed out inflatable guitars to everyone for some serious moshing), but plumped instead to head to see Kate Tempest.
And my word, am I glad I did. I’ve never seen her live before, and she performed Let Them Eat Chaos, all the way through. Despite some ill-timed whooping from hammered ravers whenever she mentioned drugs, it was one of the most effective performances I’ve ever seen. I’ve listened to the album before, but there was something incredibly special – raw – vital – about her voice, about the words, about experiencing it live.
When she finished, I was so overwhelmed by it that I couldn’t even clap. We staggered out of the tent and headed to Chai Wallah’s to get a drink.
We headed back for Roni Size – I was hoping that listening to New Forms all the way through might help ease the tension, but the first 20 minutes was some straight jump-up, which I just didn’t have the energy for. We rambled back down the hill and to bed at 2am – a relatively early night – to get ready for Saturday.
Slightly bruised by our late night politics, we spent much of Saturday moving slowly from stage to stage, absorbing music, talks, djing, and many, many pints of Growler, which has now become the festival’s ‘house pint’.
We caught a couple of bands in between moving very slowly, many children in tow between stages: the excellent H.Grimace, who played on the Green Man Rising stage (and very kindly let us use one of their tracks for our video above – thank you Hannah!), folk veteran Shirley Collins, old school rnb revivalist Michael Kiwanuka, experimental disco-punkers Liars (although they were a bit loud for the kids, so we hung outside with Bloody Marys for their set), sludgy garage-rockers Thee Oh Sees.
There was also plenty of food explorations on Saturday – and although the jury’s still out, here are the best eats at Green Man (sorry there are no pics, we ate everything before we had a chance to take photos!):
the Vietnamese place up by Fairy Power (I ate here three times can’t remember the name …!). They had the MOST AMAZING sweet and sour broth, stuffed full of veggies and noodles with pork balls on top … for £8 …
the Roaming Rotisserie chicken place. Half a chicken, stuffing and potatoes for £8.
Strumpets with Crumpets. Just do the blue cheese, jam and bacon one when you’re pissed and on your way back to your tent – and don’t even trip, dog.
So anyway, back to the festival, I guess …
My highlight for the weekend was always the Saturday night … Jon Hopkins into Daniel Avery (be still, my beating techno loop).
And it was, predictably, absolutely amazing. I’ve been a Hopkins fan for years now, and Daniel Avery’s Drone Logic is one of the best dance albums released over the past ten years. Hands down.
Myself and the We Are Cardiff technical futurologist have a fun tradition of waiting until we are the drunkest we can possibly be, and then rugby tackling each other down the between the hill between Chai Wallah’s and the Nature Nurture area. This is us, by the way (during the daytime).
This year was no different, but unlike previous years, we were either not quite drunk enough for this escapade (or far too drunk). So upon waking, I was a bit worried to feel extreme pain all around my ribcage when I moved, or coughed, or just breathed.
We decided to take Sunday a little bit easier. hiding from the rain in alternate locations (mostly between Chai Wallah’s and Far Out), grabbing slices of pizza and pints of Wrexham lager when the weather allowed, and absorbing Actress, Sunflower Bean, Richard Dawson, and Manu Delago.
As Sunday night drew to a close, and the weather drew in, Mountain Stage headliner PJ Harvey took to the main stage. You can hear her performance here on the BBC, and I read a great review of her set (and actually of the festival as a whole in the Quietus) so why not head over there, show them some love, and so I can pull this thing to a close!
My camera always falls to pieces every year when I try and capture the burning of the Green Man, so this year I thought your photos would be better to try and represent the ritual. Earlier in the festival I would check the wishes that were written on tags and tied to the man and dragon combo. They ranged from the fairly standard (I wish I was a fairy, please can I have a pay rise) to more fatalistic (my favourite: everything is fucked).
And maybe it’s just me – but after such a wonderfully rich weekend, with good music, good people, and good booze – was burning all those thoughts that we are troubled with – some sort of opportunity for a new beginning?
Cardiff is slowly but surely becoming street food city, quite literally, and Feast Fest is one of our favourite ventures to be launched this year!
Feast Fest is launching a colourful outdoor ‘feastival’ on Womanby Street, with five weekends of street food, farmers market, music, vintage clothing, vinyl sales, skate competitions, DJs, craft beers, art exhibitions and much more.
The top street food traders in Wales, along with local food producers will be offering kerbside dining every Saturday and Sunday from July 29 to August 26.
Womanby Street is the city’s alternative heartland, just a two-minute stroll from the Castle and five minutes from the central train station. The street has some of the best loved music venues, bars, restaurants, indie shops, tap and ale houses in the city, and is often where we end up after a long night of hard drinking and fast dancing.
The bars and venues will be opening to provide daytime entertainment, craft beers, wines and much more. Award-winning street food chef Jamie O‘Leary of Jols Food Co, who is spearheading the event, said:
“As a chef I’ve grown to love the street food experience – the reward is seeing the customer’s face light up as they watch their meal cooked and handed to them moments later. With ‘Feast Fest’ I intend to put the street food experience back where it should be – on the street. And Womanby Street is such a rich, cultural and vibrant location in the capital – with the recent Save Womanby Street campaign it became apparent that this is a street that the citizens of Cardiff are proud of and therefore an ideal location for a summer-long food market.”
The market will be open at weekends between 12-7pm. Traders appearing on rotation at Feast Fest include Annand George Tuk Tuk, Jols Food Co, Rule of Tum Burgers, Dusty Knuckles Pizza Co, Mr Croquewich, Rackdogs, Shwarmarama, Ffwrnes Pizza, The Bearded Taco, Science Cream, Dixies Vintage Ice creams, The Pork Society, Mighty Soft shell Crab, Shelly’s, EL Chilango and Got Beef.
So I was in my trapeze class yesterday and my lovely teacher Olga said that a photo of me was on Facebook, and it was going to be in a photography book! Intrigued, I reactivated my Facebook account to check it out…
In the most Cardiff fashion ever, I was photographed riding my bike through a lovely park, past Bryce Davies’s (aka graffiti artist Peaceful Progress) van. In serendipitous style, Bryce had also recently done my tattoo (you can see it poking out of my right sleeve). If that’s not Cardiff, I’m not sure what is – cycling everywhere, parks, graffiti, everyone knowing everyone and a gorgeous photo of the whole thing.
Anyway, it turns out that the wonderful photographer Craig Kirkwood has gone and made a photography book about Cardiff! It features loads of incredible shots of lots of our friends. It looks really amazing, so we had a chat with him to find out more….
The Book of Cardiff is a hardcover bound portrait of the city told through around 300 stunning photographs taken over a 12-month period.
You can see some of the wonderful shots below, or on the book’s Facebook page.
Foreword to the 1st edition
The Welsh capital is fast becoming one of the great post-industrial cities of Britain. Full of optimism, open spaces, and renewed foreshores, it’s taking its place beside so many urban centres which have emerged, finally, from the collapse of industry, manufacturing and mining that so brutally shook the Kingdom in the 1980s and 90s. It’s also a city that’s changing quickly as the industrial spaces disappear to make way for new retail, commercial and residential projects.
“This book covers about a year in the life of the city. As an expatriate Australian, I don’t pretend to understand the history of Cardiff in any detail. Nor do I have the cultural ties that would give me an informed, insider’s perspective. But I do bring the eye of a resident tourist still delighted with just how pleasant it is to live in a city that can be covered largely by foot or bicycle.
At the time of writing, I’ve lived in Cardiff just over a year. It’s not such a long time really but to delay this book any further would be to miss the opportunity of seeing the town as a fresh outsider.
As a photographer, it’s important to grab that ‘new car feeling’ and breath it in before the sights that seem fascinating become commonplace.”
About the author
Craig Kirkwood is an Australian-born photographer, publisher and entrepreneur. He moved to Cardiff in 2015 and immediately set about documenting both the landscape and the cultural life of the city, taking over 20,000 photographs of hundreds of festivals, events, concerts and everyday life in the city.
Prior to moving to Wales, Craig was the CEO of high- profile creative media consultancy, Fearless Media, which he founded in 1999. At the time, Fearless was the largest organisation of its kind in Australia with offices and facilities throughout the country. He was also a regional manager of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School and founded the renowned Flickerfest International Film Festival on Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach which continues today in its 27th year.