Walking and cycling
From where I live, I can cycle into the centre of Cardiff on the Taff Trail. After following the riverside path through Bute Park, I can call in for breakfast at Pettigrew Tea Rooms in the old Victorian gatehouse.
There’s a lot that you take for granted in Cardiff. You can nip out of the shopping arcades and the next minute, you’re in green parkland. Not every city has that – and not every city has a massive castle in the middle of it, either. And being able to take a river taxi from the middle of the park to Cardiff Bay is incredible.
The afternoon is made for a stroll around town. I like looking around the museum and walking through the Civic Centre – one of the prettiest parts of the city – and the Bay is beautiful. Everywhere is within walking distance, and it’s a great way to clear your head.
One of the many great things about Cardiff is that you’re never far from a decent cup of coffee. There are plenty of great independent cafés, like Hard Lines and Little Man Coffee. I’m by no means a coffee aficionado, but I love the ambience of these places.
Hard Lines always has a good playlist, which gets you going as much as the coffee. It’s a favourite morning ritual to sit there, listening to the music and finding out the local gossip.
Now located in Morgan Arcade, Spillers Records is an essential stop. I always pop in there to see what’s on offer. Wherever you are in the world, the best way to get the vibe of what’s happening in the music scene is to spend some time browsing in a local record shop.
Spillers has been a constant since I was growing up in Cardiff, though I remember that the first album I bought was Bat Out of Hell II by Meat Loaf – on cassette, from a supermarket. That shows my age!
The other thing I like to do at least once a week is meander around Cardiff Market. As well as buying food there, I’ll go upstairs to Kellys Records – another Cardiff institution. It’s a treasure trove of vinyl, and you’ll often find some real rarities lurking in the record racks.
We’re also spoilt for choice when it comes to food and drink. Lunchtimes, you’ll often find me in Café Minuet or the Greasy Vegan in the Castle Arcade. I love the Grazing Shed for its burgers, and I’ll try to arrange meetings over lunch.
In the evening, dinner means somewhere like Pieminister: I’m a big fan of the humble pie. Cardiff has a good mix of quirky, independent eateries alongside its big restaurants. All bases are covered, from curries to cordon bleu, and there’s always something new popping up.
I love wandering around Cardiff’s Victorian arcades. They’re full of the independent shops that give the city its unique character, and I’ll always try to support them with my custom. They’re one thing that hasn’t changed since my childhood, however much the city has developed."
Bars and gigs
One of my favourite pre-gig pubs is The City Arms at the top of Womanby Street. It’s a traditional pub, and there’s always a great atmosphere in there. It has changed a bit over the years but it hasn’t lost any of its charm. Then there’s Tiny Rebel, just opposite, which is a buzzing place to hang out and try a locally brewed craft ale.
I love gigging in Cardiff. The Welsh music scene is one big community, and Clwb Ifor Bach is like its beating heart. I grew up at Clwb. It was my second home when I was 18 and started going to see live music in the city. I’ve seen so many brilliant gigs there over the years, and I don’t know what we’d do without it.
To finish the evening, there are some excellent late night bars like The Moon or Ten Feet Tall. I’ve also been known to end up at Charleston’s Steakhouse at the end of Caroline Street – or “chippy lane” as it’s known.
The fast-food joints on that road have fed me many times over the years. They say there are two types of Cardiff people, depending on whether you get your chips from Dorothy’s or Tony’s. I wouldn’t like to say which one I go to. They’re both Cardiff institutions!