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Issue 23


Rachel Trezise: Why my voice needs to be heard

HMS Llandaff

A world of adventures





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12 16 20 25

local business


short story

pets page

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your news


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Welcome Croeso Sitting down and writing the welcome section of the magazine is the last thing we actually write when it comes to creating another issue of Whitchurch and Llandaff Living. After the strains and stresses of getting all the adverts in, designed, proofed, invoiced and paid for, there’s the very important task of putting the editorial together. It is after all, what people enjoy about the magazines. So after six weeks or so of hard graft, when it comes to penning the welcome section, we’re usually exhausted and plain out of ideas. Fortunately, we’ve got plenty to talk about when we look at the content we’ve got for this issue. First up, we have an exclusive interview with highly-acclaimed writer, Rachel Trezise. Winner of the inaugural Dylan Thomas Prize back in 2006, Rachel has gone on to have her books translated into many languages, selling all over the world. Leela Dutt goes back to school on page 10 and explores Llandaff North’s Steiner School, while on page 16, we look at the maritime adventures of HMS Llandaff, so named after our city. Whitchurch novelist Rhys Thomas has penned a short story exclusively for Whitchurch and Llandaff Living on page 20 and we also hear from Lynette Blenkham on page 29, who reminisces about Llandaff North in days gone by. There’s plenty more to read and as always, we’d urge you to support our local advertisers who keep your magazines alive! Have a great summer. Patric and Danielle (editors)

A: 222 Pantbach Road, Rhiwbina, Cardiff CF14 6AG T: 07772 081775 / 07974 022920 E: W: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the contents, the publisher cannot accept any responsibility for errors or omissions, or for any matter in any way arising from the publication of this material. Every effort has been made to contact any copyright holders. Whitchurch and Llandaff Living is an independent, apolitical publication.

Advertising booking and copy deadline for Issue 24 Friday 28th June 2013. Issue 24 publication date - July 2013. Whitchurch and Llandaff Living is published 5 times a year. Cover by Lewis Fackrell

SONGS OF PRAISE ROW FOR LLANDAFF CATHEDRAL Choristers have been left shortchanged by the BBC after filming Songs of Praise and apparently only paying them less than half the going rate

RESIDENTS SHOW OF STRENGTH Hundreds of Cardiff North residents have signed petitions opposing a new development of 48 houses in Llandaff. London-based Nabatean Limited has applied to Cardiff Council for outline planning permission to build the homes on 2.14 hectares of land near Radyr Court Road. The area currently consists of ‘rough grazing on two fields, dense scrubland, woodland and scattered trees’. The plans have already been recommended for approval by officers, but planning documents show that hundreds of local residents are opposed to the plans. Among the concerns cited include a loss of open space, the potential impact on wildlife, and poor traffic infrastructure on Radyr Court Road. Residents living near the site claim that the development could cause ‘harm to bio-diversity, trees and wildlife habitat which is enjoyed by walkers, joggers and cyclists’. Traffic is another concern for the residents, who point out that Radyr Court Road would not cope with increased traffic, saying it is ‘too narrow and unsuitable’ for coping with more cars, as well as adding more traffic on nearby roads.

news LLANDAFF NORTH FESTIVAL Llandaff North residents have decided to renew their famous community spirit and will be hosting their first-ever Llandaff North Festival this June. Organisers are hoping to run a variety of events including a rugby tournament, live music, a pub quiz and a summer fete. Events kick off on Friday 28th. Here’s the list of events so far.

Friday 28th June

BINGO 15:00–17:00 Llandaff North Community Centre ART EXHIBITION 17:00–18:30 Christchurch Llandaff North United Reformed Church LIVE MUSIC In the pubs of Llandaff North

Saturday 29th June SUMMER FETE HAILEY PARK 11am–4pm DOG SHOW Hailey Park 12pm-3pm

ART EXHIBITION 11am–3pm Christchurch Llandaff North United Reformed Church LLANDAFF NORTH RUGBY CLUB CUP COMPETITION HAILEY PARK 2pm–4pm JACK SAVORETTI 7pm–10pm All Saints Church LIVE MUSIC In the pubs of Llandaff North

Sunday 30th June

Jack Savoretti

HERITAGE WALK Hailey Park, Llandaff North, Time TBC END OF FESTIVAL PUB QUIZ 8pm-10pm Railway Inn More details can be found at 3


The Insole Court Trust was recently successful in its application for £2.2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, to restore Insole Court and create a community hub in the stables. It is now hoped that work will begin on the community hub in the autumn but, in the meantime, there is fundraising to do. A substantial sum is needed to ensure that the project begins on time and all four of the Llandaff community associations - the Llandaff Society, Insole Court Trust, Friends of Insole Court and Insole Estate Residents’ Association - are working together with this aim. The Trust is asking Insole Court supporters to pledge just £10 per month for the two years of the renewal project and, therefore, become an Insole Court Benefactor. Insole Court benefactors will

help to secure the future of the house and gardens. They will be an important part of the project and be remembered in the history of Insole Court. Benefactors’ names will be placed in the ‘Benefactors’ Book’, to be displayed in the restored upstairs library and they will receive early information of events and project updates. The Insole Court Trust will be launching the Benefactors’ Bond in May 2013. If you would like to receive details, please contact The Trust is also looking forward to the Insole Court WWII Fundraising Event on Saturday 15th June. It’s still in the early planning stages at the moment, but they hope to have fire engines, ARP wardens, GIs, Home Guard, spam sandwiches, ration books and – best of all donkey rides!

CHANGES TO RADYR BUS ROUTES Buses 62 and 62A are now extended to Radyr. More details at Cardiff Bus website

Cathedral School Building on Success Acknowledged by The Times (1 Sept 2012) as the top coeducational school in Wales at GCSE, the Cathedral School is building on these strong foundations with the opening of its new infant school this term and the launch of its Sixth Form in September. With state of the art facilities, the Nursery children have been thoroughly enjoying their new surroundings in the Lodge, particularly the outdoor space and ICT equipment. They will be joined by Reception, Year 1 and 2 after half term. Work is underway on the new Sixth Form Centre, which will open in readiness for GCSE results day in August. The Cathedral School Sixth Form will offer very small classes, highly experienced staff with close university links and an ambitious and supportive culture in equal measure.

Whitchurch Festival Draws in Hundreds as the Sun Shines

The sun was shining for the annual Whitchurch Festival which was held on May Day Bank Holiday. Hundreds of residents turned up to sample the delights of bouncy castles, fairground rides, face painting and a multitude of stalls. Local resident Hannah Todman told Living Magazines: “We had a great time. The kids loved it and we all had a laugh at the Punch and Judy Show.” Entertainment was provided by local radio station, Big Time Radio. 4

If you’d like to get in touch, you can find our address on the inside front cover. Alternatively, you can email us at



Further to Jack Apperley’s letter in the last issue of Whitchurch and Llandaff Living, I would like to point out that since the ‘refurbishment’ of Llandaff High Street there are no longer ANY disabled parking spaces. There are also none in the car park - which I thought was mandatory in a public car park. Consequently a large number of people park on the double yellow lines making it a virtual one way road, causing frequent hold ups, particularly at busy times. I have recently moved from Llandaff to Whitchurch and here there are lots of disabled spaces everywhere. As a disabled badge holder it definitely makes me think twice before coming into Llandaff High Street. It was a nice idea to have seats along the High Street but I have yet to see anyone actually sitting there. SALLY PALMER, Email

THE PHILOG In regards to the letter “The Philog Revisited”, in your Dec/ Jan issue, it was very interesting. I lived in Cromwell Road, Birchgrove, from when I was 4 until I got married at the age of 20. But I spent lots of time after school in Whitchurch. I went to Whitchurch Youth Club on Manor Way. There was a gang of us, mostly girls and a few boys. In the photo that you published, the house by the Texaco sign is where my aunty and uncle lived - No.1 The Philog. His name was Tom Easterbrook and he used


Regarding the letter from Mr Owen in the most recent Whitchurch and Llandaff Living. As I live in Whitchurch and I have family living in FramptonOn-Severn the coincidence of the letter caught my eye. Mr Owen mentions that one of his ancestors had a house called Frampton House or Cottage, I wonder if he is aware that there is a house in Church Road called Frampton. ANDREW TURPY, Email

A LOVELY DAY OUT IN LLANDAFF Due to ill health, I rarely get out and about these days but several weeks ago, not long after the cold weather had finally moved off, a friend of mine took me to Llandaff for a day out. The sun was finally out and we had an absolutely delightful time visiting the boutiques and coffee shops. We headed down to the cathedral which was of great to work at Whitchurch Hospital Farm, near where the M4 now is. It was also known as Top Farm. When he retired, he used to do all the gardens and was well known in Whitchurch. But going back to the letter fish and chips for the GIs - yes I used to do that. I used to also visit the chip shop on Pantbach Road. I also used to visit the GIs on The Common. Just before D Day, I had my bike painted with black and white stripes by them as they were painting their vehicles in readiness for the landings. I also used to visit the Cook House which was at the side of

interest to me as my father used to be a choirboy there many years ago. From there, we headed to Pontcanna Fields where we took in the fresh air. We then headed back to Llandaff village for a last cup of coffee before heading home. It was here that I picked up a copy of your wonderful magazine, which kept me enthralled for a good while! The people of Llandaff must be very proud of their historical village and I very much look forward to visiting again sometime soon. D BROWN, Cowbridge the Ararat Church. I worked after school in the projection box of the Rialto Cinema my mother and aunty were usherettes. On top of all this, I was a member of the Melingriffith Brass Band when TJ Powell was conductor. I was a drummer. Anyone still around from the band of the 50s? The letter in your magazine brought back so may memories. My name is Anthony Bravery (Tony), aged 84 and went to Birchgrove School. ANTHONY BRAVERY Llanrumney 5

anyone for a cosmic latte?

Described by The Times as an ‘outstanding young writer’, Rachel Trezise in one of Wales’s finest home-grown talents. She speaks exclusively to Living Magazines about her work.

The first thing I remember wanting to be, at around ten year’s old, was a fashion designer, and that quickly graduated into an architect.” Winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2006, writer Rachel Trezise is reflecting on how her childhood has influenced her career path. “At around thirteen I developed an obsession with tattoos and decided I wanted to be a tattooist. I drew pages and pages of flash (tattoo designs) and used to go around knocking doors in the street asking people if they wanted me to draw them on their arms in felt tip. I left school and went to Art College but I was already reading the music press obsessively and started up my own music fanzine, thinking I’d be a journalist. After a while I got bored with the fanzines. By then I’d started A Level English


as a night class and was reading books properly for the first time in my life. I was sixteen when I started writing my first novel and never looked back.” It was while Rachel was at university that she was penning her first novel - the semiautobiographical In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl. The book attracted wide critical acclaim and won a place on the Orange Futures List in 2001. The book is studied in most Welsh Universities and is on the British Literature reading list at the University of Montreal. Her second book, a short story collection called Fresh Apples was published in 2005 and won the inaugural Dylan Thomas Prize in 2006. Andrew Davies, screenwriter and judge of the prize described the book as ‘easily compared to James Joyce’s Dubliners.’ Shortly after accepting the prize, Rachel

took up writer’s residence at the University of Texas and married her long time fiancé while in the States. But with success came pressure to produce consistently good work. “I don’t remember the pressure that I felt after winning the Dylan Thomas Prize very well. Up until I won the prize I was desperate for attention and acclaim and then when I got it, I felt vindicated and so shied away from it. “For the first time after eight years of writing I learned to enjoy the actual craft rather than just the publication and attention part. I could for once because the prize money enabled me to keep writing rather than going out to read my work constantly or write magazine pieces. I moved from a small independent publisher to a London major for the novel that followed but it had been four years in the making and the

accolade of the prize was almost forgotten. The book went largely unnoticed, hardly reviewed outside Wales so that took any remaining pressure away, wiping the slate clean.” For many professional writers, self-motivation is a key to success. For Rachel, it comes down to basics: “Two things. The first is the determination to make my idea look as good on the page as it does in my head. Not an easy feat. The best thing about writing is the first spark of inspiration, the idea that this sliver of dialogue or start or end to a story that’s appeared in my mind could really be something special. The rest is just hard graft. But trying to transfer that initial rush of excitement onto a reader is a compulsion that won’t be ignored. “The second is the knowledge that my voice, that of a Welsh working class woman, is rare in literary fiction and so needs to be utilised in order to help balance the largely male and middle class world of publishing. “I’m a night person but I find it hard to write if there are people around so I have to keep to my husband’s hours. I start at 7am and finish at 4pm. I force myself to do that even if the writing isn’t flowing. Creativity comes in bursts and I have to try to eek them out for as long as I can but I don’t consider the actual creativity, the formation of the ideas, part of the job. They can come at any time so I have to keep a notepad, more recently my phone, near and note them down when they appear. “I read my notes now and again, letting the ideas develop slowly in my head. It’ll be weeks, maybe even years before they hit the page because I’ll still be working on whatever I’m working on presently. The idea is the creativity and the writing is the craft. But that’s a good way to weed out bad ideas. If they’re good they’ll stick and they’ll still be there when you sit down to write them months later.” But why write? What satisfaction is there from finishing a book?


“For other writers it may be different but the most satisfying thing for me is removing the file from the computer because it exists now in the real world instead. An analogy of that could be pregnancy – you’re harbouring something inside you, and then when it’s developed enough it goes out into the world, except books take longer, usually, than nine months. There’s no guarantee that the book will be read or reviewed; loved or hated. All of that depends on outside forces so you just have to say to yourself: Well done, you worked really hard on that. You did your best and now it’s time to move on.” In late 2010, Rachel was commissioned to write her first play for the stage by the National Theatre of Wales. “The great thing about the Dylan Thomas Prize is that it brought quite a few offers to work on drama, which was completely new to me. I wrote a radio play ‘Lemon Meringue Pie,’ which was broadcast on Radio 4 in 2008. Shortly afterwards National Theatre Wales asked me to write my first stage play, ‘Tonypandemonium’, which will be staged at the Park & Dare in October this year as part of the National Theatre Wales residency there. It’s to celebrate the building’s centenary. I’ll also be working on an English/Welsh bilingual stage play to be staged by Cwmni’r Fran Wen in 2015. Aside from that I’m writing a screenplay with Cardiff director Justin Kerrigan. But I’m also

working on a novel and a third collection of short stories.” Rachel’s latest book, Cosmic Latte is her second collection of short stories. “The title is the name assigned to the average colour of the universe. While some of the stories in my book are based in Wales, I’ve also based some of them in America, Europe and Ireland. “I’ve been working on them since the last collection was published about six years now,” she says. While the plaudits keep on coming, Rachel continues to touch upon serious themes that affect many throughout the world, not just in Wales. “The theme of Cosmic Latte is immigration, as well as people moving from different countries - even if they’re just going on a holiday.” You can buy Rachel’s books from her website at


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steiner Leela Dutt goes back to school in Llandaff North to find out more about the largest and fastest-growing independent school system in the world Cardiff Steiner School has moved to Llandaff North! Currently taking children of primary age, the school will grow year on year to offer education up to sixteen. The local community can also hire rooms. So what’s it like to be a young child in the kindergarten? There’s a secure atmosphere, with two classes of up to sixteen children aged between three and six. Days begin with time outside, often in Hailey Park. Indoors there’s singing, craft and painting. I watched story time: the children sat spellbound on the floor while the teacher told a story illustrated with attractive puppets. There’s a homely feel to the kindergarten. Bread is baked by the teachers, assisted by the children. Meals are vegetarian, with organic food when possible. There is no reading or writing in kindergarten because Rudolf Steiner believed that children are not ready for this until seven. Instead there is free play, which gives the opportunity for children to develop their imagination and co-operate with others. Some kindergarten children who had seen trebuchet engines at Caerphilly Castle decided to make one out of wood. Instead of lead cannon balls they fired woollen balls, which I imagine were made during craft time. One thing that particularly caught my attention during the last Open Day: there was a conflict between two children who both wanted to play with the same item, and a kindergarten-aged girl took it upon herself to intervene between them, achieving a compromise. I asked if the children are taught conflict resolution so young, but no – it seems they just learn this by copying their teachers. For example if 10

on a rare occasion a child should happen to hit another child, the ever-watchful teacher will not shout “don’t hit people!” but rather she’ll say calmly, “oh dear, did you forget that hands are not for hitting?” There are two combined classes older than kindergarten, going up to eleven. The same teacher will follow the children through from six to fourteen. I watched them at work; one class was in a circle enthusiastically learning a round with actions, while in the other the children were sat at a desk or lying on their stomachs on the floor looking up, all totally absorbed in listening to the teacher and in writing in their Main Lesson book which records their year’s work. The ethos of discipline is easy to see throughout the school. They follow an established Steiner curriculum,


with a rich range of subjects based on the stages of child development that Rudolf Steiner identified: including farming, botany and astronomy but also the subjects of the national curriculum. Subjects are

taken in rotating blocks called Main Lessons, each of which lasts three or four weeks. The emphasis is on the experience of learning, rather than packing facts into young brains. If this sounds worth finding

out about, there is another Open Day on Saturday 18th May from 11am to 4pm, so why not drop in and see what’s going on? Leela Dutt

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Gimme Shelter

The Case for Hedges in Town and Country

by Kevin Revell In 1958, HMS Llandaff began her Royal Navy duties that took her around the world. Here is her story. In the years following the Second World War, the realistic threat of nuclear war cast a shadow across the world. The British Navy decided that any future frigates would need to adaptable to various different tasks - anti submarine warfare (ASW), aircraft direction (AD) and antiaircraft (AA). A common hull was to be prefabricated, allowing for quick assembly, and for specific roles duties to be decided and acted upon according to need. Hence this design was both flexible and cost effective. The aircraft direction variant, known as the Type 61, was designed to counter hostile aircraft by sailing ahead of a fleet or convoy and giving early warning of an aircraft attack. They would then direct carrier or shore based aircraft towards the hostile target or engage the target themselves. Equipped with radar and a range of electronic weaponry and communications, the Type 61 was 16

able to provide limited and closerange air defence. HMS Llandaff, one of four in the so-called Salisbury class bearing the name of British cathedral cities, began her story in 1953 when her hull was laid down at Hawthorn Leslie and Company at Hebburn on the River Tyne. She was launched in 1955 and completed in 1958. No appropriate steam plant was available when this socalled Salisbury class was under development and it was feared this type of propulsion could be unsuitable in a crisis or conflict situation. As speed was not as essential as it was with the anti submarine variant, it was decided to use a diesel plant instead. These were designed by the Admiralty and built by Chatham Dockyard. Thus, the Type 61 frigates became the first major Royal Navy warships to be powered exclusively by diesels. The Type 61 frigates were designed with a displacement of

1,738 tons but this increased to 2,170 tons whilst they were under construction due to modifications and alterations. They measured 340ft in length, 40ft in beam and over 15ft in draught. Armament consisted of two 4.5 inch guns, two 40mm anti-aircraft guns and squid anti-submarine mortars. They had a speed of 24 knots and their complement varied in size between 207 and 237. The four ships of the Salisbury Class served world wide participating in the Beira Patrol, ‘Cod Wars’ and as guard ships at Hong Kong and Gibraltar.


For those who worked on her, there were many adventures in various parts of the world. One sailor recalls: “I joined the Daff in Chatham on the 22nd May 1972. Over the next couple of months we were in and out of Chatham on exercise and trials. We called at places that you can only dream about, such as Harwich, Sheerness, Dover, Pompey and best of all Margate! My hometown. For those who don’t know Margate, it has a harbour. The problem is, it dries out at low water, so the plan was to lie at anchor at the end of the jetty for two days. In this time the local mayor and his cronies would visit and the families of the local crew members could come on board. This would be carried out using the ship’s boats - one whaler and one cutter. At this point I should point out that I had been in the mob for five years and no member of my family had been on a RN ship or seen me in uniform. The day after anchoring, with the Daff looking pristine after a session of paint it or dump it, we are ready for the ship’s boats to collect visitors. But no, a hooley blew up, ships boats re-called and all visits cancelled! All was not lost as shore leave was granted to locals later in the day.” Another sailor, sailing back in the sixties remembering joining the ship in Singapore. “New members of the ship’s company had been arriving in Singapore where they were flown in to land at Paya Lebar Airport. This was to be the last frigates crew to re-commission and work up in the Far East. It took just two days for everyone to arrive and a further two days for the last of the previous commission to leave. “The commissioning ceremony was held alongside the ship as she lay in the Stores Basin of

Sembawang Naval Base, by which time everyone had been kitted out in white uniforms. “Three Padres officiated and the ship was dedicated and blessed. Everyone had a piece of commissioning cake and were then given a ‘Make and Mend’. “The Christmas period was the traditional round of sporting activities and parties, the former crew were against the Welch Regiment for the prize of the ‘Llandaff Leek’ which was won by the CO of the regiment. Some of the regiment were treated to a day at sea on the 19th, and the ship landed two shore parties at a remote village called Rocky Harbour to repair an electricity generator, and the other to land the Squadron Doctor and the ship’s POMA to give out pills, potions, injections and nutty. “A party was laid on for orphans before the ship left on a ‘Show the Flag’ trip. The ship circumnavigated the island and called at Sheck Kwu Chau where there was a drugs rehabilitation centre, which was visited by the Captain and Operations Officer.” The following summer, HMS Llandaff was back in the UK. Weapons training began on Monday 21st April in the Portland area, working with HMS Grampian as well as Shackleton and Gannet aircraft. At the end of the first week the ship paid a visit to Dartmouth for a few days before resuming training which was to last until 30th May, and included in the training was a trip to Guernsey where the ship picked up Vice

Admiral Mills, his family and dog; he was taking up the position of Lieutenant Governor. From the 2nd June, the ship entered a two week maintenance period interspersed with athletics events and a trip to sea with Long Cause school students onboard. The ship arrived in Cardiff docks on Thursday 4th July in company with HMY Britannia and HMS Glamorgan. During the visit the ship’s company lined the streets for Prince Charles as he visited Cardiff Castle and visits were made to social and sports clubs as well as the Llandaff Cathedral whose badge the ship carried. Although Lincoln and Salisbury were fitted with Seacat in the late 1960s, in later years the class became obsolete. Firstly, they were too slow to keep up with the aircraft carriers and other frigates. Whilst the Salisbury Class could only reach 24 knots, the Leander Class could travel at 30 knots as could the aircraft carriers Eagle and Ark Royal. Secondly their principle weaponry of anti-aircraft guns compared unfavourably with newer frigates and destroyers entering service with more sophisticated armaments, notably guided missiles. Consequently, after relatively short career was sold to the Bangladeshi Navy in 1976.






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Gwrach -yRhibyn A short story by Whitchurch novelist Rhys Thomas The Taff Trail in spring. Between Whitchurch and Radyr, where Cardiff begins, it runs straight, clear and slow. Men in waders cast for trout, children cycle the path and skim stones, trees lean over and reflect their green over the surface of the water, and old men take dawn walks in search of conversation. The river turns and runs, past the old mill, past old Hailey Park, to the place where man straightened its course, under the eye of the cathedral; where men in row boats beat fast lines on the edge of the weir. A green lizard with a red stripe up its back scuttles up an oak tree. “They buried a hundred children just over there.” The man indicated past the early bird rowers to the thick hedgerow. The morning sun turned the spire of the cathedral gold, the weir tumbled a hundred thousands gallons over its lip. We stood in the shade of a tall, old sycamore, helicopter seeds swirling around us. Overhead the last stars faded. Up on the trail, a man passed with his dog, a jogger panted, a cyclist rang her bell. None of them


saw us. “Cholera outbreak. There were too many for the graveyard so they put them in the field and nobody said anything to no-one.” I turned to him. He was a slender man, elderly but with a strangely upright gait. A navy pinstripe suit, a blood red tie with matching pocket handkerchief, and a twinkle in his eye. “Do you ever think of the past, my friend? How we occupy the same space but with such different stories? Wales is an ancient place. Its great mountains ran to the sea aeons ago. The land was formed and reformed. So many things have happened here and yet we know nothing of them. They hanged a man from this tree once.” I looked up into the eaves and watched the seeds drop all around me. When I looked back, the man was two steps closer. “Back before the rocks that made that thing were taken from the ground-” he nodded to the cathedral beyond the greening trees “- there was a creature that wandered these paths; a man but not quite

a man. A little taller, a little stranger.” I took a bite from my apple. It is difficult to fear the old. “The story of this thing was a matter of faith.” He flashed a smile at me and reached into his pocket to retrieve a churchwarden pipe and tobacco pouch. “The world was a different place back then. There were tall men who remembered ancient things.” I became suddenly aware of this man’s own height. He was much taller than me. “They found play in more… spiritual matters. Ah, forgive me.” Here his whole body became animated. His age seemed to slip from his shoulders. “I’m talking about souls of course! There were some that would wander these lonely paths and find unsuspecting travellers. A conversation would be initiated wherein the creature would discern the strength of its victim’s faith. If strong, the traveller would be spared and continue on his way. But if weak… well.” He eyed my apple. “Much like that thing there: Gobble gobble gobble!” He leaned in and lowered his

head. I could smell his breath. “Eating the human soul! Why do you think they made the cathedral so big?” “I heard that story,” I said. “But the version I heard it was a woman, not a man. A banshee.” “It’s nice, is it not?” he said. “Having a conversation here?” I finished my apple and tossed it in the river. “You would know it was abound when you heard three death moans in the distance. That was her call.” The man took the kerchief from its pocket and dabbed it on his upper lip. “It’s so lovely for this time of year.” A colony of gulls lifted from beneath the weir. The roar of the river seemed to enter you at a bone level. “So many stories to tell.’ He came another step closer. ‘Do you have faith?” he said. “Not a lot. We try to follow

our paths as if there is some design but eventually you realise… you’re on your own.” He sniffed the dawn air. “Pretty little girls should be more careful when visiting old places.” I turned to him just as he lunged. He was quick on his feet, younger than his face suggested, but he would never catch something like me. I sprang up into the tree’s canopy and smiled down on him. The seeds made a whirring sound as they died around me. “What makes you think I’m pretty?” I said. I flicked my long hair to reveal my true face and watched with glee his reaction. I will never tire of their reactions. He tried to turn but I leapt from my perch on to his back and sent him tumbling towards the water’s edge. “What about you?” I whispered into his ear. “How’s your faith, old man? I’m not sensing much.” I

short story

opened my senses to him and felt no belief. And I was ever so hungry. The heads of the rowers snapped in our direction, the circle of their oar-strokes faded, they craned their necks to see past the deep shade of the wizened old sycamore, as I made the first of my beautiful calls.



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The Oldest Band in Wales The City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) Band can justifiably claim to be the oldest band in Wales. Its history stretches back to 1798. This is the remarkable story of the North Cardiff group. There aren’t many bands in the Wales that can claim to have Napoleonic roots. Yet the City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) Band can traces its beginnings to a Drum and Fife Band, that was formed in Whitchurch in 1798 to assist the recruitment of a Company of Volunteers. The volunteers were needed to fight the French, who were threatening to invade Britain at the time. By 1850, the band had become a Brass Band with the support of the 13th Glamorgan Rifle Volunteers Corporation. TW Booker of Melingriffith was the Commandant and the band took up headquarters in New Houses - a row of workers cottages in the Melingriffith Tin Plate Works. It was frequently referred to as ‘Booker’s Band’ in the 1860s and 1870s and played at Club Feasts and semi-public occasions. Sadly, the Booker leadership appears to have failed and connection with the Works was lost. Not one to give up easily, the Band continued to function and, for a time, there were three different combinations running simultaneously - The Volunteer Band, The Temperance Band and The Drum and Fife Band. The first these two combined to form a village band known as The Whitchurch Brass Band. Whitchurch Brass Band was incorporated with the Melingriffith Cadet Corps in 1913 through the influence of Mr. Hubert Spence-Thomas, Managing Director of the Melingriffith Tin Plate Works. In 1919, it was reorganised and renamed as ‘The Melingriffith Volunteer and Cadet Corps

Band’ under Mr. Frank Morgan. Mr TJ Powell was appointed as conductor in 1920.‘TJ’ as he became affectionately known throughout the Brass Band world, was a former Salvation Army Bandsman who had graduated as a Bandmaster in the Royal Marines, serving at HMS Nelson, in Portsmouth. It ushered in a new era for the band. TJ’s breadth of knowledge, experience and enthusiasm were an inspiration to the bandsmen. In turn, they responded to his coaching and went on to rise from Class ‘C’ to Class ‘A’ (Championship) status in 1932. At this time, the Band’s headquarters was a tiny hall at the end of Velindre Road. It was situated just above the Melingriffith Works but in 1937, the building was condemned and the Band moved to a building on company land between the River Taff and the Glamorganshire Canal. In 1941, the Band changed its name to ‘The Melingriffith Works Band’. Still under the guidance of TJ Powell, these days were marked with militarystyle tunics with high collars and brass buttons. TJ’s Royal Marines influence was apparent. Discipline was the order of the day and he didn’t take any prisoners. TJ composed many original works and arrangements for brass band. He was often referred to as ‘The Welsh Sousa’ and is probably best-known for his series of marches named after the Castles of Wales - Castell Caerdydd, Caerphilly Castle, Caernarfon Castle and Castell

Coch – which he dedicated to ‘The Melingriffith Works Band’. It is still the Band’s signature tune and is played regularly. In 1957, the very existence of the Band was thrown into jeopardy when it was announced that the Works was going to close. The community itself reeled in shock and it took a while for the Band to adjust to being a civilian organisation, rather than a semi-sponsored Works Band. However, The Steel Company of Wales stepped in to help and provided rehearsal facilities at the former Melingriffith Drill Hall. Tragedy struck on Friday 29th January 1965. The Band was competing in the BBC Radio series ‘Challenging Brass’ with opponents Luton Band in a London Studio. TJ was guest conductor for The Cory Band and was drawn to play first. As he sprang to his feet ready to accept the challenge, he was taken with what transpired to be a fatal heart attack and collapsed in front of the Band. True to tradition, and just as he would have wanted, a Solo Cornet player left the bench, took up the baton and conducted the Band’s performance. TJ never heard the result, that Luton had won – he died in the studio as the Band was playing. Today, the band still thrives. With four separate sections, including a new Melingriffith Youth Band, the sound of North Cardiff ’s famous brass band is set to continue for generations to come. More details at www. 23

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IF YOU HAVE ANY PET-RELATED QUESTIONS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE CHRIS TO ANSWER, PLEASE EMAIL US AT EDITOR@LIVINGMAGS.CO.UK AND WE’LL PASS THEM ON. We have a small dog and about a month ago, we noticed some black, freckle-like spots on his belly. They are smooth to the touch and don’t seem to be causing him any bother. Should I be worried about them? There are several possible explanations for these marks. They are most likely normal pigment deposits, possibly associated with sun exposure (especially in white-coated breeds) – although there hasn’t been much of that around lately! However, we also see blackening of the skin as a result of chronic inflammation, although you may not even have noticed him itching or scratching. Sometimes, small patches of pigment appear when pustules heal up. You could also be seeing comedones, which are like little blackheads, and can be due to a hormone problem. Lastly, melanomas are uncommon in dogs, but should be considered. On the whole, it’s probably best to get him checked now, or at least ask the vet to have a look the next time he’s in for a check-up.

My 14 year old cat doesn’t seem to be as agile as she used to be. While slowing down can be associated with growing old, is there a chance that my cat could be suffering from some of the human conditions that we are familiar with – problems such as arthritis or dementia? It sounds a silly question but I am intrigued. It’s not at all a silly question! Our pets are living longer as we understand better how to keep them healthy, and as a consequence we are now seeing more of the agerelated problems we are familiar with in ourselves – as you say, like arthritis and dementia. Many old cats are less active and less agile because they have discomfort in their joints, as a result of wear-and-tear arthritis. Obvious lameness is not common, but there are many subtle symptoms. Many choose to watch the world rather than joining in; some are stiff or slow going Page is sponsored by Heath Vets 02920 621511

down (or up) the stairs, and sometimes they stop using the litter box. Fortunately, we now have some excellent drugs to alleviate the discomfort, so don’t delay – make an appointment for your cat to have a check-up. You also mentioned dementia; this too is common in elderly cats, but is more associated with confusion, crying (yowling) for no reason, and alterations in behaviour, rather than ‘slowing down’, so I don’t think you need worry about it.

We have a small puppy who we are trying to toilet train but sometimes when he gets too excited, he can’t stop himself from peeing. Is this normal!? Yes! Toilet training can be a frustrating time, but patience and persistence pays off, and you will get there in the end. Even dogs who have mastered it will sometimes have accidents if they are very excited or stressed when their bladders are full, so if you know something exciting is going to happen (a visitor, for example), make sure the puppy has been out and had a wee before. To toilet train your puppy, you must give him every opportunity to toilet in the correct place, and then reward him immediately. So at times when he is likely to want to go, like as soon as he wakes up and after meals, you should put in where you want him to toilet, and watch him. As soon as he goes, praise him and reward him. It’s no good doing this 30 seconds later, it has to be immediate or it won’t work. Similarly, if he does have an accident, you can tell him off, but only if it is straight away. However, if your puppy is urinating involuntarily because he is excited, telling him off will not help because he probably was not aware of doing it.

Aron McMahon of Watkins and Gunn Solicitors considers the effect of the Government’s plans to freeze the IHT Allowance. The Government has recently unveiled plans to place another freeze on the inheritance tax (IHT) allowance available to individuals for a further six years. The allowance, currently £325,000, was initially frozen in 2010 and this latest change means that this limit will remain unchanged until at least 2019. IHT is payable on death at a rate of 40% on the balance of an individual’s estate above £325,000, or £650,000 if you are a couple. The best way to reduce the amount of IHT payable on death is to make gifts: • You are able to give away up to £3,000 every year free of IHT. • You can gift an unlimited amount of cash or a valuable asset away and, provided you survive the gift by seven years, this will be free of IHT. • Gifts from surplus income can escape IHT regardless of the amounts involved and the frequency with which they are given. • Gifts to charities are also exempt from IHT. You can also use trusts to avoid paying IHT. If you are considering making gifts to reduce IHT and / or setting up a trust for someone else’s benefit then you should always seek the advice of a solicitor who specialises in these areas. Aron McMahon is a solicitor at Watkins & Gunn Solicitors in Llandaff, specialising in wills, trusts, powers of attorney and inheritance tax planning.

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Exceeding Expectations...

Local News

News in the Community Written by Living Magazine readers NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH With Bill Farnham Our first “on the road” General Meeting at The Church Centre, Thornhill last month was very successful with a very good attendance from members of various Watch Groups around the city. Several PCs and PCSOs from South Wales Police who were able to answer questions from the audience. The speaker’s subject related to Home Security and was very well received with lots of questions asked. Also last month I addressed the Healthy, Wealthy and Wise club in Ely which was very well received with again, quite a few questions from the audience. We will have to wait and see whether this leads to any more Watch Groups being set up in that area. On the subject of new Watch Groups, a new one has now been launched which covers Kelston Place/Cambourne Avenue, Whitchurch and the launch meeting was very well attended indeed. I have been in contact with two possible Co-ordinators for new Watch Groups, one in Whitchurch and one in Lisvane so I now await further information from them. There are further possibilities in the pipeline so I will keep you informed of developments. I have recently attended two sessions at Severn Road Adult Learning Centre, Canton together with PCSOs from South Wales Police. We promoted Neighbourhood Watch and had quite a lot of interest shown by people from various parts of the

city and beyond which was very encouraging. On the 24th April, I attended the All Wales Regional Development Meeting in Llandrindod Wells, Powys. We discussed a very full agenda which included input from representatives from Gwent, North Wales, Dyfed Powys as well as ourselves. National Neighbourhood Watch Week this year is from 15th to 23rd June and we have several activities lined up. On Saturday 15th June, I will be manning a stall at Whitchurch library between 10.00am and 12.00 noon and then in the afternoon I will be assisting South Wales Police at the Lisvane Festival from 2.00pm onwards. At this event we will be using the Neighbourhood Watch trailer which we are borrowing from The Vale of Glamorgan Neighbourhood Watch Association. On Friday 21st June I will be manning the trailer at Tesco Extra, Western Avenue between 10.00am and 4.00pm in the main car park so, if you are available to visit any of these events please come along and have a chat, you will be more than welcome. Our next General Meeting will be held on 28th May, 2013 and our guest speaker will be Mr Alan Michael, South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner. As I write this I am still awaiting confirmation regarding the venue of this meeting so I will arrange for posters and e-mails to be produces to give final details. If you are not a member of a Watch Group but are interested

in Neighbourhood Watch please come along as we would love to see you there. If you are interested in setting up a Neighbourhood Watch in your area please call our office on 02920 527310 and leave your details or send an e-mail to Alternatively, you can always contact your local neighbourhood policing team. Bill Farnham Chairman South Wales Neighbourhood Watch Association Cardiff WHITCHURCH RESIDENT GETS ON HIS BIKE FOR CHARITY Whitchurch resident Steve Strange is cycling from Cardiff to Dublin in July to raise money for Marie Curie. You can find out more about Steve’s epic journey, and to donate by visiting his Just Giving page at

Got news to tell? Email us at editor@ 27

Chiropractor Andrew Miles has moved. Our new premises can now offer a wide range of therapies tailored to the individual: CHIROPRACTIC ACUPUNCTURE SPORTS THERAPY MASSAGE


THE LLANDAFF CLINIC 39 Belle Vue Crescent Llandaff North Cardiff CF14 2FJ Tel: 029 20 55 22 99

There has been a Doctors surgery at 39 Belle Vue Crescent for over 50 years. Up until the mid-90’s, it was the main GP practice in Llandaff North before the new Llandaff North Medical Practice was built. It also was used as a location, as a GP practice in the S4C ‘soap’ Pobol y Cwm for several years especially noted for its ‘old-style’ reception and waiting room area. In 2010 the local health authority closed the practice doors and the building was put up for sale. The interior had deteriorated and required significant renovation. Many of the patients had already been relocated to other practices, but it was a shame that it was no longer to be used as a public health centre. Chiropractor Andrew Miles had been well established at the Llandaff Chiropractic Clinic, Station Road, Llandaff North since 1997 and had been looking for a suitable

building to expand into. The building did require extensive renovation and modernisation to provide healthcare once again but the name change to The Llandaff Clinic (TLC) reflected the wide range of treatment types now on offer. The building has now been adapted to allow access for disabled patients with large treatment rooms on the ground floor accommodating those with mobility problems. There is extensive parking immediately outside the building and on Station Road.

halcyon days

by Lynette Blenkharn (nee Richards) Both my mother and father’s family lived in Llandaff North for a couple of generations at least. My mother was Win Richards (nee Mahoney). I was born in 1950 at 77 Ty Mawr Road. This was located opposite the Royal Exchange next door to Harries’ shop where my mother would buy red jeans for me. I knew both the Harries boys, Ken and John and Chris Ball lived opposite our house. My brother was Clive Richards and played rugby for Llandaff North as did my father, Tom. We were, and still are, a large family and were well known in Llandaff North. Some of you probably remember my sisters, Eunice, Cynthia, Glenys and Joyce. My other brother, Colin, tragically drowned before I was born in the River Taff when only 10 years old. I attended Hawthorn Road East Infants, Hawthorn Road Juniors and Glan Taf. I have a vivid memory of when I was about 9 years old of the men going off for day trips from the Royal Exchange. All the kids used to stand expectantly in the small lower car park area and the men would crowd above us and throw

coins down - ‘scramble’ we called it – what fun! I hardly believe how long ago it was that we would play around the streets. Some of the kids I can recall playing with are Christine Thomas, Glenys Lodge, Elizabeth Morgan and her brother Alan; Ken and John Harries, Chris Ball, Leslie Bowns and Wayne Harris. We used to play relego, rat tat ginger and ball games. We girls used to throw two tennis balls up against a wall for hours on end chanting rhymes in time with throwing the balls (“PK penny packet, first you chew it then you crack it, then you stick it to your jacket, PK penny packet….”). The boys made ‘bogies’ out of old bits of wood and pram wheels and would race them around a rough track on the piece of waste land behind our houses called ‘yardies’ (anyone know where this name came from?) We also used to light small fires in the evenings and bake potatoes in the flames. The potatoes were always black on the outside and hard on the inside but we thought they were great! These things were just good fun but sometimes a bit dangerous. Can you imagine kids these day being allowed to spend

their time like that? It was always a tradition on Good Friday for all the kids in Llandaff North to trek to the Wenallt to camp out for the day. I would spend a sleepless night praying for fine weather after spending hours getting our gear together - Billycan, primus, baked beans, potatoes and anything else we could beg borrow or steal from mum’s pantry. At the time it seemed like a very long walk through the woods and up through top end of Whitchurch to the hill we called the Wenallt. I think it has now been developed with houses. Forest Farm was a working farm and we used to go and earn some pocket money picking beans and weeding. It was back-breaking work but a good way to earn a few coppers. I remember when the Tivoli cinema was the place to go, especially on Saturday morning. It was 6d to go in and we usually had 3d to spend. I remember watching old favourites like the Three Stooges, Lassie, and The Lone Ranger to name but a few. If anyone reads this and knows me I would love to hear from them. 29


f o g n i K l l i r G the BBQ Sticky Sausage Kebabs with Lemon Potatoes 300g new potatoes 6 pork sausages, cut in half 1 small red onion, cut into 12 pieces 1 red pepper, cut into 12 pieces 6 streaky bacon rashers, cut in half 6 rosemary sprigs (with all but the top leaves removed) Smoky barbecue marinade 1 tbsp olive oil A knob of butter The pared zest and juice of ½ lemon A handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped

1. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the new potatoes for 15 minutes until tender. 2. Meanwhile, thread the halves of the sausages, onion, pepper and bacon onto rosemary sprigs and brush with smoky barbecue marinade. 3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan (or light/ preheat the barbecue) and cook or barbecue for 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until the sausages are cooked through and the veg is chargrilled. 4. When the potatoes are cooked, drain and crush with a fork. Stir in butter, seasoning, the lemon zest and juice, and a handful of fresh parsley. Serve the kebabs with the lemon potatoes.

BBQ Aubergines

3 large (about 1kg) aubergines About 100ml olive oil For the chermoula 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 2 tsp ground cumin 2 tsp ground coriander 1½ tsp sweet paprika Good pinch of saffron strands 2 tsp harissa paste 1 tbsp lemon juice 20g fresh coriander leaves, plus extra to garnish 20g fresh mint leaves 120ml extra-virgin olive oil

1. Cut the aubergines lengthways into 1cm-thick slices. Sprinkle with salt, layer in a colander and set aside to drain for 40 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, make the chermoula. Put the garlic, spices, harissa, lemon juice, herbs and 4 tablespoons of oil into a processor with a pinch of salt. Blend to a paste and stir in enough of the remaining oil to make a sauce. 3. Preheat the oven to 110°C/fan90°C/gas 1/4. Pat the aubergines dry with kitchen paper. In batches, brush with oil and barbecue over a medium heat for 5-6 minutes each side, until golden. Keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining slices. 4. Place the aubergine slices on a serving dish, drizzle with the chermoula and sprinkle with the coriander leaves to garnish. To barbecue Preheat your barbecue in the usual way until it reaches the correct temperature. Cook turning once, bearing in mind you may have to adjust the cooking time slightly depending on how hot your barbecue is or how near the heat source the food is placed.

Pimms Lollies

300ml/½ pint Pimms, or similar ‘fruit cup’ 850ml/1½ pints lemonade Handful fresh strawberries, hulled, halved Few sprigs fresh mint, leaves only 1 orange, zest only Mix the Pimms and lemonade together in a jug. Place a couple of strawberry halves, a few mint leaves and a little orange zest into each lolly mould. Pour the Pimm mixture into each ice lolly mould until three-quarters full. Insert the lolly stick and lid and freeze for 2-3 hours, or until frozen solid. Alternatively, you can use large shot glasses as moulds: place the strawberry, mint and orange zest into the glass and fill with the Pimms mixture. Freeze for one hour, or until the lollies are partially frozen, then insert the lolly sticks and continue to freeze until completely frozen. To remove the lollies, dip the moulds briefly in hot water and carefully remove the lollies.




’ve been driving now for nearly twenty years. Not continuously of course, but it was nearly two decades ago that I passed my driving test. I hated driving lessons as much as I did having to go to violin lessons several years earlier in school. I’d get that horrible pitin-my-stomach feeling a few days before I knew I had a driving lesson. And eventually the lesson would come around and I’d hang around the front of the house waiting for my instructor to arrive. My first instructor was a slight of a man. He was very neat. His car was very neat. His wispy ginger hair was swept across his small dome-like head and he wore brown brogue shoes that reminded me of the ones that Mr Men used to wear. He referred to the accelerator pedal as the ‘gas’ pedal, despite having a Welsh name and his gold-rimmed glasses sat neatly on the end of his red bulbous nose. He’d often moan about other drivers - not indicating, parking where they wanted and not saying thank you. I don’t remember much about my first set of lessons but I do remember the first time I failed my test. As an unconfident 18 year-old, I was very hesitant at a junction and was failed. My instructor seemed rather shocked and I always remember his eyes appearing the size of plates in his gold-rimmed glasses on hearing the news. I switched instructors not long after that attempt but the pressure was cranked up a little when my sister announced that she too was putting in for her driving test. She’d only just turned 17 and I didn’t want her beating me to it. As fate would have it, our

driving tests both cropped up on the same day, my sister pipping me to it by a matter of hours. My first car (which I still have in a garage) was a red Morris Minor. It was an old police car and even had a zip in the lining of the roof that was used to access the blue flashing light. It cost me £500 and belonged to a bus driver called Joyce. Naturally I called the car Joyce and I spent the hot summer of ‘94, driving around the Vale in the warm, smooth, endless evenings. Being a teenager that knew everything, I took the car apart. I was looking to hot-rod it. But like a typical man, I’ve left it in the garage for nearly 20 years to fix itself. I’ll get round to sorting it one day. When I get time. Fast forward to today and I still aspire to driving a nice car. Not necessarily an executive car. But something retro that reminds me of when driving was fun - when you’d get that musty hot leathery smell when you opened the door to an old car. When windows had to be wound down by hand and when dashboards were wooden. But the main thing that I remember about driving back then was that it all seemed to be less stressful. I’m not sure whether there is more traffic on the road, or whether drivers just seem to have got angrier. One of my biggest gripes is people who don’t indicate. These are the people who will tootle through the busiest of traffic, darting in and out, heading around roundabouts and heading up places you’d least expect them to. Naturally, they assume that we all know where they are heading, even if they change their mind at the last second.

Second on my list are more commonly known as ‘cashpoint cripples’. These are the folk who decide to park their car right outside the cashpoint - even if that means blocking a bus lane or a lane of traffic. Lastly, the ones that really make me growl are the ones that don’t thank me when I let them out. Oo. How rude. Heading into town through Llandaff as some of us will know, can be a teeth-grinding affair. At first, I was a very pleasant driver, letting people out of side roads, giving them a cheery smile to help them on their way and spreading a little happiness by being polite. Not any more. Those who don’t indicate got to me first. The times I’ve sat at a roundabout, waiting to go but waiting for a car to go past, only to find that they’ve come off at the junction before me. Grr. Then you’ve got those who park right outside Barclays Bank in Llandaff. You know - the one just by the bus stop, the pedestrian crossing and the cross-roads junction. To top it all off, I’ve stopped letting people out of side roads now. I feel bad as I’ve tarred everyone with the same brush and I’m sure there are some people who’d be polite and say thank you. But on the whole, a lot of people don’t say thank you any more. I’ve officially become my old driving instructor.



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                      

 



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     

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Whitchurch and Llandaff Living Issue 23 June/July 2013  

Issue 23 of the highly-popular 'freemium' North Cardiff magazine, Whitchurch and Llandaff Living. Features an exclusive interview with award...