A week in Caerdydd

Some thoughts on the move from a big city to a small one

Quintessential Cardiff photo

It’s actually been over a week, but it’s the first full week and the first week at work, so let’s roll with that.

I made the decision to move to Wales from London more on the gut feeling of ‘if I say no to this opportunity, I’ll never forgive myself’ than on the anticipation of the delights of the capital city. I’d never been to Wales before, and although I know lovely Welsh people, it’s not really somewhere I expected to ever bother visiting, let alone move to.

This is the exact face I pulled when the realisation I was actually moving to Wales sank in

So, how am I doing?

Well, I have learned a great many things on my adventure so far, and you’ll be pleased to know that I… don’t hate it. I kind of like it, actually.

For a start I feel like I need to tell you that the city’s official motto is “The red dragon will lead the way” — how badass is that??!

Follow the red dragon because he knows what he’s doing, ok?

What I really like about Cardiff is the variety here. It’s very multi-cultural, each neighbourhood has a different feel (ok, I have yet to visit anywhere west of the train station but still!) and there’s quite a lot of… stuff.

Any food you want, you can pretty much walk ten minutes down the road and find somewhere to your taste. Any shops you want to go to (*cough* Vivienne Westwood! *cough*) are also here, which feels a bit weird to me. It has elements of London, condensed into like a two-mile radius. There is a ‘secret’ bar here (which is great and cheap compared to London), all the chain restaurants you could want, and I have already found plenty of good independent coffee and breakfast/brunch places.

It’s very lively in the city centre, and in certain pockets of the city that are a bit further out. I like that — there’s a lot of life and vibrancy here.

These guys were playing Take On Me in the middle of the city and I just had to get a photo

I’ve already found my favourite sheep-related sign, which was next to the Cardiff version of an underground map (no, you can’t have an underground transport system, sorry) but it made me laugh because… Well :)

WRT my living situation, I am moving to a much nicer place in July (I’ll spare you the details, but I am house-sharing in a temporary arrangement, with the filthiest people in the country) and it’s in such a nice area that whenever I think of moving my heart sings a little bit. It’s all tree-lined with lovely Victorian houses and it’s opposite a park, and there’s actually parking spaces there. Whoa what!

This beautiful thing is down the road from my new place:

Lovely, lovely lake

The Welsh cakes are good but the only/best place to get them is at the Fabulous Welsh Cakes place in the Bay. I tried the ones at work and they were cold and dry and nope.

What else do I like about Cardiff… The hipster aspects of it make me laugh a little — there’s a coffee shop which randomly has half of a car and a row of old hairdressing stations in it. I don’t really understand what aesthetic or theme they’re going for, but…

I kind of like/am amused by the fact that the castle is so incongruent with the rest of that part of the city. There’s a newish shopping area, and then there is this (reasonably, but not quite as advertised) old castle just there, because, why wouldn’t you build a massive modern shopping centre right next to a castle? DUH.

All that said, there are also some weird things that I’m just not sure I’ll ever be on board with. I don’t particularly love that I genuinely struggle to understand people who talk slightly faster / have a Welsh accent. And I honestly thought people speaking Welsh were speaking in Arabic at first (I’m deaf and bad at accents, if that helps).

I’ve learned about the biggest lovespoon in the world, which is mildly interesting but feels slightly country bumpkin-y. We have big buildings and you have big … spoons? OK. (I really like the dragon though.)

I mean, it is pretty big for a spoon? I guess?

There aren’t enough vowels in anything. I just want to put this on record as a complaint. ;)

THE BUSES ARE BAD. On some level, the buses feel like they run in such a way specifically to annoy me — but the longer I’m here, the more relaxed I am about it (and also I can get into work whenever, so that’s a bonus). But the upside to this tragedy is I’ve learned the quiet joy of having a Greggs — which does a cheap and yet delicious breakfast roll, how convenient — in between my flat and the bus stop.

The fact that it rains so much here makes me really sad, as I found out when I was here for my interview and thought “I COULD get a bus to the Bay! But I could also walk!”

Must. Buy. Rain. Coat.

Reader: … It was not a great idea.

But again, an upside to this is… that’s what makes Cardiff so beautiful and green?

So far, I have mainly just picked a location and wandered around, and I’ve kept fairly close to home or the city centre. It’s been pretty surreal, like being on a holiday but by myself in a place I didn’t particularly care about visiting, and knowing it’s for at least several months. Add to that starting a new job and dealing with new people and I’ve just mostly felt a bit discombobulated.

I’m looking forward to doing the more touristy things that I have on my list — see a game at the Principality, see the castle, the museum, spend a whole day at the Bay. Further afield, I want to visit Barry pumphouse (not even joking, but I will probably have to drag my dad there), visit the pit thing, go to north Wales to do the quarry zipwire thing, go to the Brecon Beacons… That is perhaps too adventurous/difficult for now, but ONE DAY.

I apparently need to watch a game here

If you have any recommendations, let me know!