Super Saturday in Splott: the reason I love this community (editorial rant!)

For some reason, Splott gets a bad rap, as does Adamsdown and Tremorfa.  Yes, we have issues, but no so more than other places in Cardiff and it really bugs me when I hear people talking down about this part of the city because, actually, there’s a hell of a lot going for Splott and today proved it with purple flags, community spirit, Welsh and English language speakers getting on like houses on fire and ending with two small boys from the Ivory Coast lifting my heart with their joyful playfulness and plentiful friendship.

The day started with an invite to attend Ysgol Glan Morfa’s community fair.  To paraphrase the invite, it went a bit like this: ‘Hia, I’m representing the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) of Glan Morfa and we’d love you to come and be at our community fair to tell people about Inksplott because we read it a lot and it would be great if you could come and meet some of our visitors.  It doesn’t matter if you speak Welsh (I do, by the way), it’s open to all.” Result!  Louise and I went along and had the bestest time talking to people about the amazing things happening at the school and in the local area, made loads of new contacts and collected dozens of ideas for stories for Inksplott.  We also raised over £40 for Keep Splott Tidy towards our fund for CCTV on Swansea Street, a flytipping hotspot in Splott.  Louise, who doesn’t speak Welsh, was a bit nervous to start with, but that quickly diminished when she spoke to the Headmaster Mr. Tomos and some of the organisers and realised that it didn’t matter a jot – Glan Morfa is a Welsh language school but plenty of the parents who send their children there don’t speak Welsh and the event was open and welcoming to everyone.

After the fair, feeling quite sleepy (it was WARM!), Louise and I went back to Inksplott basecamp (my house) and uploaded all the photos to Facebook and Twitter, which the lovely people of Splott immediately reacted positively to by liking and sharing the photos.  The really cool thing, however, is that Louise lives across the street from me and we pop into each other’s houses all the time, like I do with loads of my neighbours.  We share keys and cat-feeding duties quite regularly.  We have impromptu barbecues and drinks around each other’s houses.  We know that if we are ever a bit scared, we can run right to our neighbours and seek solace.  The hardest thing would be deciding which one to pick because they are so many to choose.

Louise rocking the peg look

Before living in Splott, I lived in Windsor Quay for almost eight years, which I (stupidly) used to call ‘The Bay’ (it’s freaking Grangetown!  Which is also an awesome community and I wish I’d lived in the heart of it instead).  Tragically, I can only name you one neighbour I met in all the time I lived there and my car was broken into TWICE!  Say no more.  Anyways, to cut a long story short, I moved to Splott, got myself a local pub and started making friends.

To say I didn’t look back would be the understatement of all understatements.

Since moving to Splott, I’ve made so many friends I would need to be an octopus with fingers on each tentacle to count them (yes, I do count using my fingers!).  Things keep getting better and better.  Launching Inksplott started it, Keep Splott Tidy accelerated things and attending community events like today’s school fair just cements the knowledge that this is a great community that we live in.

Then, just when I thought things couldn’t get better, after drinkies back at Chez Kevin (aka Inksplott central), I was waving Louise off, and we both saw some chalk drawings on the floor.  While I was busy taking photos, Louise noticed two shy faces peeking out at us from behind a net curtain over the road. ‘Is this yours?’ she mouthed.  The answering nods were encouraging so we knocked on the door.  Two absolutely smashing little boys came out, with their mother’s permission, and explained what was going on.

Initially worried that they were in trouble, Louise and I assured them that it was anything but; we were just fascinated by what was going on in the street.  Turns out that David and Joseph had drawn lanes in chalk on the street so that they and their friends could race.  They were landed to have their photo taken, and again with permission from their mother, posed at the starting line, ready for a race.  Now, foolishly, I offered to race them, thinking ‘their only small, go easy.’ Yeah, let’s just say that one didn’t work out!

First place to David, second to Joseph and third to me!  I showed them how to upload stuff to Facebook and Twitter and they were so excited to see people liking their artwork. It really made my day!

I gave them an Inksplott leaflet and walked them across the street to their home where I had a lovely chat with their mother and made yet another friend in Splott.

So, to anyone who would say that this is the ‘bad bit’of Cardiff, that we don’t have anything going on and that it’s crime ridden, I say this:

Fools.  Absolute fools.