Tag Archives: we are cardiff

We Are Cardiff: our most popular posts of 2016

Hey you guys. So I meant to do this post an actual month ago, but the last six months have just taken it all out of me. Let’s not dwell on crazy world events that we have seemingly no control over though, right? Have a flick through this lovely list for some of our favourite stories of 2016.

Things an English person learns on moving to Wales

The wonderful Ellie Philpotts ruminates on rugby, lushness, the warm Welsh welcome, and why we gotta stick a dragon on everything.

welsh dragon

The history of Tyndall Street – and the lost community of Newtown, Little Ireland

Newtown (or “Little Ireland”) sprung up in the early 1830s to house the multitudes of Irish immigrants who had come over to work on the docks. When the estate was demolished in the 1970s, the inhabitants were scattered across the city.

newtown_old

Should I move to Cardiff?

Yes. Yes you should.

Big wheel in Cardiff Bay

The winner of Cardiff’s worst cycle path …

It has since been resurfaced! A tiny win, in the face of global doom.

fitzhammon_embankment_cycle_path

Running real fast … Cardiff Half Marathon 2016

A photo-essay on the best costumes of this year’s race.

cardiff_half_marathon_chloe_jackson_nott-15

Attention cheese lovers … Penylan Pantry to open Cheese Pantry

The Pantry opens its second location, turning Cardiff Indoor Market into a foodie destination.

penylan_pantry_cheese_2

Wales: a good place for tribes to thrive

Talking music, entrepreneurship and everything in between with local legend Lucy Squire.

lucy_squire_web

Exploring Cardiff’s Printhaus

Ben Newman heads down to Cardiff’s Printhaus to explore the alternative arts scene.

Printhaus

A guide to Creative Cardiff

We joined forces with I Loves The Diff to put together a city guide for the lovely Creative Cardiff project. Co-working, education, coffee shops, architecture – we cover it all!

printhaus_benjamin_newman-05

 

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We Are … Changing!

We Are Cardiff is five years old. Can you believe it?? In that time, we’ve published over 400 articles, racked up nearly 300,000 views and we have 30,000 followers on social media.

The Guardian chose us as one of the best city blogs in the world. We won the People’s Choice Award at the Wales Blog Awards. We made a film. We made a radio documentary. We’ve had exhibitions and a stage at Swn festival. We even have an official sister site in We Are Chester.

Now, we are changing …

We’ve already mentioned that we’ll soon be launching a small press called We Are Cardiff Press. Based on that, we thought we’d try and refine what we’re doing a bit. So here’s what we’ve decided!

The We Are Cardiff site will be split into four brand new, easy to see categories:

  • The People: featuring the personal stories that we’ve been documenting for five years;
  • The City: historical and documentary posts about the city, and local campaigns;
  • The Arts: reviews, interviews and all the news on music, art, photography, performance and film: and
  • What’s On: ever-popular events listings and previews of upcoming awesome things.

The site will continue to feature factual, ‘people-powered’ blog posts with minimal editorial oversight. We will aim to commission more work, but focused around these four categories. Helia will pretty much be in charge of all of this stuff, and Hana will still be running the Twitter feed.

The We Are Cardiff Press will publish beautiful, collectable books to showcase new creative work from Cardiff, which could be literature, art, photography or personal storytelling. It will have a stronger editorial influence to ensure that the quality of the physical end product is incredibly high. Content from the books will not be available online, only in the limited edition books, bought online or in selected retailers in the city. Hana is running the Press, which will be announcing its first publication very, very soon…

We are so excited about the future, and looking for MORE writers, photographers, historians, artists, campaigners, citizens, musicians, businesses, performers, experts and EVERYONE ELSE to feature on the site or in our books, films and everything! If you want to be featured on the website, get in touch on wearecardiff@gmail.com, and if you have any questions about the Press, contact hello@wearecardiffpress.co.uk.

We can’t wait to fill the next five years with Cardiff stories.

Big love

Helia and Hana xx

Photo by Simon Ayre
The We Are Cardiff joy monkeys, photographed by the wonderful Simon Ayre

Ode to Ely – Cath

Hoody

Ode to Ely

Hot summer days over Ely,

Smokin skunk getting touchy, touchy feely,

Cortina on bricks in the garden,

Wiv all my mates and their dogs,

Real ard ones.

Wha appen bruv, I godda rush to probation.

My officer got no fuckin patience,

We’es all ganged up outside,

Wiv our hands down our strides,

Til our names get called

We just fiddle wiv our balls,

They keep us waitin on the street

So we stroke our bits of meat finding comfort short and sweet,

I got aggro phobia see, anxiety and depression

I’m not allowed to work in case I kick the boss’s ed in

So now Ive been to my appointment and said Ive done no wrong,

I godda rush back to Ely to fix the fucking bong

Laters Bruv…safe.

 

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Cath – according to her friend, Lynne Hughes:
“My reclusive mate Cath is a very private person and far too modest to write about herself so (being her opposite!) I’m doing it for her. Cath lives in ‘New Butetown’ as the Old Butetown residents like to call it. New Butetown residents tend to call it Cardiff Bay (or just The Bay) but me and the Post Office still reckon it’s Butetown if you’re on the Police Station side of Clarence Bridge.

“Cath is a lady of paradoxes. Reclusive but an Alabama 3 groupie, private but very much engaged with the world and her family and friends. She has a sense of fairness which would probably make her deeply depressed if she didn’t have such a broad sense of humour (as her little poem demonstrates!).

“As she is my neighbour as well as my friend I get to share public and private moments with her and she’s a great conversationalist. Last weekend I got invited to help demolish a load of leftovers from a little soiree she’d had the night before – yom yom. We managed to discuss racism, sexism, suicide, homicide, psychopathology, gynaecology, oenology and haute cuisine and didn’t fall out once.

“Oh and she’s a really good amateur photographer too, which, allied to a healthy sense of curiosity, produces some amazing photos. Last year she spent a month alone driving around the furthest reaches of Scotland (personally I can’t think of a worse way of spending a holiday) and her digital photo record of the trip is wonderful.

“Cath is a Llantwit girl originally and still has deep roots there but she loves living in Cardiff and being close to good transport links and surrounded by entertainment, culture and events (not to mention fascinating neighbours like me……).

“She also dogsits for friends. The lovely Rita is a Scottish Terrier bitch and a bit like Cath really – reclusive, a bit private and a mind of her own. In fact, Rita is the reason Cath & I met. A few years ago I dogshared a Parson Jack Russell and Cath and I met in Hamadryad Park when walking the dogs. We exchanged admiring comments about the animals (as you do) and discovered we were neighbours. Dogs, like kids, are a great way to meet friends. And the rest is history.

“Cath loves that from Butetown she can walk to City Centre shops and events in one direction and around the Bay in the other direction and she is only 5 minutes walk from Mermaid Quay and Hamadryad Park.

“As Cath is a 9-5 working girl and I’m a retired 9-5 playing girl our encounters tend to be at weekends and Cath does like the occasional early doors drink in Mischief our local CafeBar, long walks around the barrage and a glass or two on Mermaid Quay in the summer. She will also confess to drinking far too much Prosecco with me one afternoon when we went to WMC to catch a poetry gig on the Tesco stage.

“I can’t say much more because she’s going to edit this and she’ll only cross out the most revealing and interesting bits but she’s a great mate and she looked after my cat once when I was away so I daren’t offend her! And she’s dead against any pics of herself so I’ve just put in pics of the animals..

“For a private recluse Cath has a very gregarious and social side, but then she is Welsh and at the moment anyway, she is Cardiff …”

 

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“Cardiff will always be synonymous with friendships, good music, and unlimited fun” – Gwen

Today’s We Are Cardiff piece goes back in time … and visits a lively gal by the name of Gwen Love, who – in 1996 – is enjoying her 20s in the city of ‘cool Cymru’. Read on to find out what she’s been up to!

gwen love

 

I cannot imagine being anywhere more exciting than Cardiff in 1996. I am thrilled to be a part of this amazing city at such a buzzing time. Right now, Cardiff is at the heart of the Cool Cymru movement. It has been amazing to witness the explosion of the Welsh music scene before our very eyes – watching our home-grown talent become part of the Britpop brigade has made us all proud of our heritage and roots. I have been lucky enough to see Catatonia and Super Furry Animals morph from obscure Welsh language bands to being on Top of the Pops and playing with some of the biggest bands of our time. I love the fact that I have seen these bands live several times at venues around the city – and that they just get bigger and better.

I knew I wanted to study in Cardiff as soon as I set down my country-bumpkin-North-Walian feet in the bus station in 1993 – three years ago. An excited gaggle of us were here for the university open day and it was as though we had found utopia. Cool people, friendly bars, and live music. This was what I had yearned for throughout my awkward, frustrated teenage years. I’m ashamed to admit that I paid a lot less attention to the details of my course of study than I did to the events calendar.

It’s not just live music that Cardiff excels at either. The variety of night life is endless. As students we are spoiled with our fantastic Student’s Union and we have all enthusiastically taken part in Fun Factory, Jive Hive, or Cloud 9 at some point in time. The town centre offers everything from the sterility of Zeus (RIP Cocos) to the dirty, dingy yet delightful Metros. At the moment my favourite venue and night out is Clwb Ifor Bach’s newly opened Popscene. A fantastic indie club upstairs playing everything from Oasis to Puressence, where the DJ will kindly oblige to the musical whims of most indie kids. Then, downstairs, for a change of tempo is the Cheesy Club; funk, disco and cheese. It is impossible to dance without a smile. It’s the happiest dance floor in town.

Downtime, when I’m not studying hard, can be spent idling in the beautiful parks with friends after a magnificent breakfast from Ramones. What better way to cure a hangover than by watching the beautiful people play baseball, turning slowly pink in the sun amidst the sleepy floral scents.

When the student loan has been freshly deposited in my bank account my other method of relaxing is to shop, shop, shop. I love Cardiff for its independent shops. I love exploring the arcades to find an elusive vinyl, that perfect 70s shirt to emulate Jarvis, or some beautiful, hand crafted jewellery. It is so easy to buy retro in Cardiff and develop your own sense of style.

I hope to graduate this summer but have no plans to leave Cardiff just yet. I love this city and feel very proud to be studying and partying here. Whatever the future holds, whereever I will be in 20 years time, Cardiff will hold a very special place in my heart and will always be synonymous with friendships, good music and unlimited fun.

 

Having graduated from Cardiff University in 1996, Gwen Love then moved to Bristol and spent many years in marketing until she retrained as a primary school teacher. She has been teaching for 10 years and is a mother of two young children. Her retroblog came about through her love of music and through a selfish need to do something creative for herself. She always wanted to write and, as she was still in possession of her eventful diary from ’96, she was inspired to write a blog set in that year. During ’96 she left her long term boyfriend, reached the grand old age of 21, and graduated with a respectful drinker’s degree – all to a thoroughly researched Britpop soundtrack. Follow Gwen on Twitter @GwenLove3 and on her blog site www.gwenlove76.wordpress.com. She hopes to publish as a novel in the near future. During 1996 Gwen lived in Cathays. She currently lives in Canton.

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March in review on We Are Cardiff

Well, March was a pretty busy month on the blog, so I thought I’d do a quick round up to pull together some of the best stuff. Read on!

 

 

FOUR WEEKS IN CARDIFF – STREET PHOTOGRAPHY BY RHIAN RICHARDS

March was the the start of our Instagram project, where we handed over our Instagram account to a Cardiff resident and got them to document their journeys through the city that month. Rhian Richards broke our Instagram project cherry (ooer!) and took some damn fine snaps in the process. In April, Elizabeth Watt will be taking over – follow her on our We Are Cardiff Instagram. If you fancy taking over the feed for a month this year, contact us on wearecardiff@gmail.com.

Tanya by Joe Singh

We featured someone who was truly, actually ‘kick-ass’ on the site – Muay Thai fighter TANYA MERRETT told us about how she got into the sport and explained a little about her background and her training schedule. Click the image or her name to read her story. Her next fight is on 6 April 2014 – good luck Tanya!

Penarth by Helia Phoenix

Excitingly for me (and I’m sure thousands of Cultural Criticism/English Literature students from Cardiff uni), one of my old lecturers NEIL BADMINGTON wrote up some of his memories of Cardiff from his youth and his favourite spots here now. Click his name or the picture of his hometown Penarth to read that feature.

We also featured our first story from a Cardiff ex-pat. Having come across the We Are Cardiff site a few years back, ex-Cardiffian-current-Londoner James Davies was inspired to write about his memories of living here. We’ve got an excerpt here or click over to James Davies’ website to read the whole thing.

Richard Shaffner by Joe Singh

Photography lecturer RICHARD stopped by to tell us why he’s starting to think of Cardiff rather than his native St Ives as home these days…

AND …. MOST IMPORTANTLY … we supported CEO Sleepout Cardiff, supporting Llamau, Cardiff Foodbank and Service Leavers Wales. 

March was quite the month. See you in April!

x

PS – @wearecardiff on Twitter, also on Facebook. Come join us there!

“It’s changed so much that parts don’t even resemble the old Cardiff” – Colin

colin-parsons-web

I don’t live in Cardiff, let me point that out firstly. I’m from Penrhiwfer, a small village near Tonypandy in the Rhondda Valley. But, I’ve worked in and around the city for years, and seen big changes. I used to deliver all over from the Ely link to St Mellons and so I knew all the short cuts and side roads. That was then, before it began developing into the trendy, cosmopolitan capital we see today. Now, it’s changed so much that parts don’t even resemble the old Cardiff. The Bay for instance, which depicted the docks, is so fresh and fashionable now. The beautiful cafés, clubs and restaurants, a far cry from the humdrum and drab existence it used to portray. Don’t get me wrong, we still need our history, but the world has to move forward too. I like the transition from old to new.

I was, as I said a delivery driver; delivering everything from TVs to furniture and everything in between. I drove through Fairwater, Roath, Grangetown, Ely and many other areas. But my life changed when I took the experiences and jotted them down on paper.

I got great ideas travelling through the various streets and that eventually gave me the setting for a book. I’m a full-time fiction author now. I have done lots of book-signing events at Waterstones in the Hayes, to Borders (now gone) and indie book shops. I wrote Crank Tech One: Destruction. This is a sci-fi novel with scenes that were eventually set in the middle of the city. At the time they were filming a lot of locations in Cardiff for Dr Who with David Tennant. This excited me to pen my novel here.

Places change and people move on too. I don’t deliver anymore, but have fond memories of the places and characters I met that depicted the Cardiff way of life.

Colin Parsons is a writer. Find out more about his work on his website www.colinrparsons.com.

Colin was photographed inside the Wales Millennium Centre by Helia Phoenix

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Two weeks in Cardiff – street photography by Rhian Richards

For the past two weeks the We Are Cardiff Instagram account has been in the hands of resident, Rhian Richards! Let’s see what she’s been up to, shall we?

Do you recognise where any of the below were taken…?

Did you spot any key locations?

If you fancy taking over our Instagram account for a month, get in touch! wearecardiff@gmail.com

“Cardiff – it’s where you’re between” – James

James

I recently stumbled across a website called We Are Cardiff. On the site people who live in Cardiff – either born and bred or those whose lives have somehow brought them there  – document their experience of life in city, whether positive or negative, but usually positive. Most of the stories are from people who have gravitated towards Cardiff, ranging from small Welsh towns a few miles away or from the other side of the world. There is a common thread amongst these. Specifically, Cardiff offers a chance to live in a vibrant, affordable, manageable city, providing a mix of culture, music, bars, friends, shopping, diversity, creativity and opportunity, yet with the tranquillity that larger cities can’t always offer – a chance to escape the city life whilst still being within a city.

I was born in Cardiff and lived there till I was 16, which is (just) over half of my life. I was in the same class as one of the people who has written a piece for We Are Cardiff. Growing up in Cardiff in the 1980s had almost no emotion attached to it. No pride but no shame either, just another place on a map. In the 1980s the Cardiff I lived in didn’t feel Welsh, it felt English. We weren’t like the valley towns, who had seriously suffered in the miner’s strikes. The valleys seemed like a different planet. We had other industries, not just coal. We could adapt. We didn’t have Welsh accents, which gave words a lyricism and a poetry, we had Cardiff accents, which were hard and sharp and had more in common with accents from England. Though I went to see Cardiff City, I always supported Liverpool (I still do), my friends were the same, supporting Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal, anyone but Cardiff City. All my friends wanted England to win the 1990 World Cup. I rooted for Ireland. (Our own national football team never amounted to anything, despite always having at least one of the greatest players in the world in it. Unfortunately the rest of the squad made pub teams look like world-beaters.)

One thing that sticks in my mind now is how our TV aerials pointed towards Bristol, and not Cardiff, so we could get Channel 4 instead of the Welsh language channel S4C. This was a time when there were only four TV channels in Britain and nobody in Cardiff wanted S4C as nobody spoke Welsh. It also meant that all the local news reports on BBC and ITV were about places like Bristol, Bath, Weston-super-Mare and Swindon, and not South Wales. It seems crazy to think that people would rather sit through news that has no relevance to their lives and miss out on the news that does affect them for the sake of one channel. I’m convinced that this played a part in a huge apathy that was felt by South Wales towards itself. Growing up I knew more about Bristol, where I had never even been, than I did about my own town.

To carry on reading James’ story, click on over to his website: James Davies : It’s where you’re between

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Note from Helia: this is a sort of non-We-Are-Cardiff piece, in that it was written by someone who hasn’t lived in Cardiff in years, but grew up here – came across this site, and then wrote his own We Are Cardiff story. And the title is a Super Furries lyric! I’ve included the first part of it above – you should click on over to his blog to read the rest. I think James is a photographer – the pictures on his website and his Flickr are pretty great too. Go check them out!

Cardiff's skyline these days, by Amy Taylor on Flickr

Cardiff’s skyline these days…
Photograph of the Cardiff skyline by Amy Taylor on Flickr

“I train and fight a style called Muay Thai. It is known as the art of eight limbs” – Tanya

tanya_8192_web

I grew up in Cogan and Penarth. As a child I was very shy, quiet and worked hard in school. I was always sporty in primary school. I was on the school football team and also lacrosse team which won the under 12s British championships. In secondary school I used to play hockey and enjoyed cross country running and swimming. In secondary school I was bullied really badly, both physically and mentally. I was different, and that never goes down well in a school full of sheep. My dad wanted to find a way to give me more confidence and to help look after myself. He found classes in a local hall in Penarth. My twin sister was doing Aikido and wouldn’t let me join her, so the next class on was Muay Thai and that’s how I fell into the sport.

Ater I left university and took up the sport again I realised that I wanted to pursue it seriously. My fitness improved and my technique progressed, I decided I needed to learn more, which meant flying over to Thailand and training in a camp out there. It was there I was offered my first fight, and I accepted. I wanted to see if I really was any good at this sport.

I train and fight a style called Muay Thai. It is known as the art of eight limbs. You strike with kicks, punches, elbows and knees. It is very aggressive and highly technical. It requires you to be fast thinking, sharp, controlled and skillful in order to out maneuver your opponent and score points.

tanya_8231_web

I’m currently training for a fight, so will train around 10-14 times per week, work commitments permitting. This means on the days off from work that I have, I’ll train twice – sometimes three times a day. When I am not training for a fight, I still train every day to keep my fitness in check. I train between two gyms, doing my strength and conditioning at Dave’s Gym in Roath and I do my fight training and pads at Eagles in UFC gym in Roath Cardiff. I also run most days, between seven to 13 kilometres.

I have lived in Cardiff on and off since I was 20. I have been in Roath now for the past four years. One of the main reasons I decided to settle in Roath is because its close to both my gyms, near to town, easy for me to commute to work. I have the best of everything. Cardiff really is a brilliant place to live, it’s big enough to have everything you want and small enough that your now overwhelmed like it can be in places like London etc. Roath is the best place for me, it has a young vibe and some cool places to hang out in.

My advice for people interested in fighting would be to try out an interclub first. If you have been training a while and want to see if you can put what you have learnt into practice, participate in an interclub. This is a controlled environment where novices fight (with shin pads and big gloves) in a ring to a time. This will give you a taste of what a real fight will feel like, and how you control your nerves and perform against an unknown opponent. It’s also a really fun day as lots of gyms get together and everyone has a laugh and watches some potential shine through with the new up and coming fighters.

My favourite Cardiff places – if I had some friends visiting me for the weekend, I would have to take them around the parks we have. I run around Roath Park every day, and I love it there. I’d also have to take them for tea and cake, as well as heading into town and showing them round the castle, stopping off for a drink or two (if I am not fighting of course!)

Tanya Merrett is 30 years young and has been training Muay Thai for nine years, fighting professionally for two and a half years. She fights out of Eagles Gym in Cardiff. Her ambition is to become a world champion and take her fighting up to the very highest level, and fight the best out there. Her next scheduled fight is against Christi Brereton A Class on 6 April 2014 in Manchester – for more details, visit her Facebook page: Tanya Merrett.

Tanya was photographed at her gym by Joe Singh.

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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

“I’ve spent the last two Christmases with my flood bag packed in the car, on standby!” – Jen

jen_04_web

I joined Penarth lifeboat station as a trainee crew member in July 2008. I had recently moved to the area and wanted to get involved in the community somehow. A colleague who was already a helmsman at the lifeboat station suggested I became a crew member. I was told when I visited the lifeboat station that if I wanted to join it would be a serious hobby I was taking on and that I needed to give as much time as possible to the training. The appeal for me was the challenge of learning a new skill (actually a huge set of new skills!) and meeting and getting to know people in the area. I also had a draw to learn the skills as my aunt had sadly drowned whilst out on a yacht back in 1960, and I wanted to be part of a team who had the ability to go out and help people like her who get into difficulties.

Within two years I became a fully trained crew member and I am now training to be a helm myself. The excitement and discipline of a shout is immense. Putting into action the training you have been doing. In the first year when the pagers went off I’d find by the time I got in the water to launch the boat I’d have shaky legs and thought, god I’ve got to get fitter! But I soon realised it was the adrenaline giving me shaky legs! I’ve learnt to channel the adrenaline now to better use. It’s especially helpful using it to help wake me up properly before getting on the boat when we have our shouts in the middle of the night.

I joined the Flood Rescue team, West Division in 2012; learning how to stay safe in fast flowing water and how to execute different rescue scenarios.

I’ve spent the last two Christmases with my flood bag packed in the car, on standby! It’s like having a shout that you know is coming, you just don’t know when and you’re continually making adjustments in your life just in case the call comes in and you have to go. My family and boyfriend are extremely understanding and so is my work, which I am extremely grateful for. In fact some of my presents this year were items for my flood bag! Waterproof mobile phone holder and gadgets that will charge my mobile phone without a plug point.

This Christmas the West flood team were all on standby but to different areas. Seeing the support the RNLI Flood Rescue Team gave to those people in both North Wales and Aberystwyth who were either completely stranded or flooded out of their homes makes me very proud to be part of the team. Being one of those people who can put a smile on someone’s face who really has got a lot on their plate is a great feeling.

Life in Cardiff is great as the adventure facilities continue to expand. The white water rafting centre has been great for a bit of fun on the water as well as training days for the Flood Rescue Team – we’ve even put cars in there to train with. Indoor surfing at the centre is my next challenge! I’m so lucky to have adventure races right on my doorstep with the Cardiff Burn running in Cardiff giving me a chance to get my bike, kayak and running legs out. With talk of a real-snow indoor ski slope coming to Cardiff too it really is an exciting place to live!

Jen Payne is a Cardiff local who volunteers as a crew member at Penarth RNLI lifeboat station.

The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea. The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its 24-hour rescue service. To find out more about the RNLI and how you can donate, click here: http://bit.ly/1f4Mlhd

Jen was photographed at Penarth lifeboat station by Ffion Matthews

If you’re interested in the history of the RNLI in Wales, Phil Carradice recently wrote an interesting piece on them for BBC Wales Blogs.

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“Cardiff happened to me totally by chance” – Biv

biv_1_web

Cardiff happened to me totally by chance. If it weren’t for my best mate from home not going to University and getting a job in Cardiff, I wouldn’t be writing this article today.

Born and brought up in Doha Qatar, I went to University of Warwick following school. At this point, my mate from home came to Cardiff University to pursue his undergrad. Hence, I’d been to Cardiff a few times and liked it straight away. It reminded me a lot of my hometown; though it was small, being a capital city, it had everything you’d want. Friendly people, lots of restaurant and café options, and a great vibrant night life. So when it came to applying for graduate jobs, I didn’t think twice before putting down Cardiff as my first choice for a graduate scheme with a national employer.

It’s been almost seven years since I moved to Cardiff with work; the city and its people have been very welcoming and I consider it as home. Though I’ve been approached with job roles in other parts of the UK, I can’t come to terms with leaving the city and my mates behind now. I’m in a comfort bubble but it’s one that I’m happy not to burst for the time being.

Having lived in Cathays, Cardiff Bay and now Roath, I probably love Roath the best. The neighbourhood cafes and local establishments, the park and lake, the Farmers market are just some of the things that make this a great neighbourhood to live in. Its proximity to town is also a bonus which means that it’s a reasonable distance to stagger back home after a cracking night out in town!

If I had to pick one place that I love the most and would be able to take with me wherever I went, that would be Milgi. The awesome ‘your living room’ feel, the friendly staff and the eclectic mix of clientele are desirable extras to the lush drinks (hot and cold) that they serve. However, not a big fan of the ‘only vegan’ turn that they have adopted over the last few years as that’s limited me to ordering only drinks. But hey ho, I’ve still got umpteen amazing local establishments to choose from to satisfy my palate.

Cardiff ticks all the boxes for me; like every city, it has its undesirable aspect / elements but it isn’t in your face and you have the option to stay clear of them. When one does that, don’t see why this city wouldn’t rank as one of the best to live in the nation.

Oh, those bloody seagulls!! Forgot about that…

Bivin Mathew is 29 years of age and still unsure what the fuss is about turning 30 – a sports loving foodie and movie buff who uses an accounting qualification to pay the bills. Biv has been living in Roath for the past three years and remains unconvinced about moving to other parts of the city. Spare time is spent trying to play squash and tennis, or knocking a football around in a cage, watching films (Cineworld Unlimited card should be given its own star on the Hollywood walk of fame!) and enjoying all the delicacies that the various restaurants and cafes that Cardiff has to offer. Follow Biv on Twitter @bivlar or by blog.

Biv was photographed in Waterloo Tea Rooms and in Waterloo Gardens by Tom Beardshaw

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