Tag Archives: cardiff

Oxfam Boutique

Everyone loves buying new clothes and instead of donning your reliable little black dress, or trusty checked shirt, why not head down to Cardiff’s Oxfam Boutique on St Mary Street for something a bit different.

Your outfit can give away a lot about your personality and it’s crucial to get it right. If you’re looking for the perfect day time outfit it’s wise to go for a casual look suitable for any occasion, like this racing green vintage Valentino blazer.

Or if you’re being swept off to a black tie event, this swish ensemble would be perfect.

These gold shoes were donated by Sienna Millar to the boutique and are among some of the designer treasures available.

When heading to the Oxfam Boutique, don’t expect your usual charity shop bargains. The whole point of this store is to sell high-end fashion ranges to create much needed revenue for the charity.

Becky Mann, 26, the shop manager, said: “Charity shops have cottoned on to the potential to make a huge amount from these donations and the idea behind the boutique is to promote sustainable fashion. Many companies give us their unwanted or damaged stock, like Marks and Spencers and our unpaid volunteers are able to fix the clothes so we can sell them.”

The majority of the clothes are from local donations but several major names also regularly donate to the shop, including Jimmy Choo and Whistles. This store was the first boutique created out of London and has been very popular with locals in the past four months since opening.

Miss Mann said: “We are challenging the stereotype of what people think of charity shops. All the clothes are high end, good quality designers and people seem to be really happy with the idea.”
The Oxfam Boutique is packed full of vintage clothes for any occasion and the staff in the shop are more than happy to help you pick out your perfect outfit.

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Milkwood Fashion Market

Vintage is everywhere right now, even Kate Moss is visiting her local Oxfam for a classic 1980s leather jacket, and Cardiff is embracing this fashion phenomenon with open arms.

Walking along Albany Road in Cardiff there isn’t much variation between charity shops and takeaways. Look beyond the tired shop fronts and take a stroll down to the end of Angus Road where you can tap into one of Cardiff’s best-kept secrets. The hidden treasure trove of the Milkwood Gallery, opened last October, is somewhere everyone should visit.

The art studio can be found in the heart of Roath and stepping through the doors into a room flooded with light you enter an ever-changing space celebrating art, music, fashion, and antique collections.

Milkwood Gallery caters for your entire artisan needs and while it holds an ongoing art exhibition, there are also regular events like the flea market and art swapping nights.

Last Saturday this Aladdin’s cave was filled with antique dresses, broaches, badges and every possible treasure imaginable. There were men and women’s vintage clothes and accessories, collectors fashion magazines, hand crafted jewellery and a random selection of other beautifully designed items, some vintage and some new – all at pretty reasonable prices.

If it’s a 1950s halterneck polkadot dress, a 1920s flapper outfit or an outfit to impersonate your favourite punk rock band from the 1970s, Milkwood had everything on offer to fulfil your vintage needs.

Highlights of the stallholders were Love Vintage, which featured homemade badges, scarves and broaches made with recycled vintage fabrics and materials.  Natalie Dias’ collection of beautifully handcrafted ceramic pieces were also a delight.

After all the shopping exhaustion, handmade cakes and tea were availble, served of course on beautifully vintage bone china. The market saw a steady stream of shoppers throughout the day and most of the stallholders regularly attend vintage markets in and around Cardiff.

The flea market is a chance to find a unique, reasonably priced item and at the same time promote sustainable living. Gail Howard, one of Milkwood’s co-owners, is keen to set up a regular flea market at Milkwood on the last Saturday of every month – a definite date to keep in your style diaries.

Dressing in your Granny’s old prom dress with a pair of killer heels thrown in is the look you want now, so before heading to the generic high street chains, do some research and visit one of these markets held all over the city throughout the year.

Buffalo and Milgi bars hold monthly vintage markets and in April there will be a big fair at Wenvoe Community Centre in Cardiff.

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A high-spirited Christmas

Everyone enjoys a drink at Christmas but when your last mulled wine leads to a stay in hospital or a black eye, who is to blame? Was it the pub’s fault for selling you cheap drinks, did the council make an error licensing said pub, or are the emergency services not policing the streets well enough? Cardiff has a well-known reputation for alcohol fuelled revelling but is it really any worse than other cites in the UK and can it cope with the mass influx of high-spirited people over the festive season?

Cheap drinks on offer in a club on St Mary Street

Nearly every article written about the capital refers to high levels of  alcohol consumption and last summer it hit the headlines described as being in danger of becoming the binge drinking capital of the UK.

Dr Tony Jewell, Wales’s Chief Medical Officer, released his annual health report on Wednesday.

A Wordle picture of Dr Jewell’s report, the words in the largest text are words he has used the most.

Dr Jewell said: “About 45,000 hospital admissions and 1,000 deaths every year in Wales can be described as alcohol-attributable.” Christmas is a time when people tend to drink more, but these figures suggest underlying alcohol problems in Wales are bleak.

The plan proposed to tackle this is to introduce more education schemes, starting at  secondary school level. When someone is admitted to hospital they will also be given advice on alcohol to try and change their drinking habits.

Jenny Wilmott,MP, believes the real problem is a lack of overall government funding.

She said: “Ultimately, we need to tackle the growing levels of alcoholism across the whole country, not just in Cardiff, and this includes substantially increasing the level of funding for alcohol treatment programmes and centres.”

A major issue is supermarkets charging low alcohol prices. Recently both Tescos and Sainsburys stores, in St Mary Street, were denied an alcohol licence. The licensing committee refused these because they felt it would only fuel the drunken antics of the public in this area.

St Mary Street has been designated a saturation zone because of its high number of problems with alcohol related crime and disorder. This means the licensing committee will automatically deny licenses in the area to bars and clubs, and the police have greater controls to confiscate alcohol.

Councillor Ed Bridges, head of the licensing committee, talks about his thoughts on Cardiff and his role within the committee.

The police ask people they find intoxicated which bars and clubs they have been to and if a club is named repeatedly for encouraging binge drinking steps are put in place to remove its license.

A Designated Public Place Order Act was introduced in October which gives police more power to take alcohol away from those who are being violent or anti-social.

The council and the emergency services work closely together and Councillor Simon Wakefield believes it is best to leave the policing to the police because they know the beat and the reality on the ground better.

Police Inspector Tony Bishop believes Cardiff is not any worse than other UK cities and it has gained a bad reputation because it has an international stadium and several busy streets in such a compact area.

Insp Bishop discusses why Cardiff is such a unique city


During Christmas and the New Year the Millennium Stadium is used as a temporary hospital for minor injuries while the more serious are sent to University Hospital of Wales, Heath, Cardiff.

The Street Pastor team spend most of their weekends dealing with people who have had too much to drink. Ruth Samways, a member of the team said: “We are in direct contact with the emergency services and are able to administer basic first aid, hand out flip flops to replace high heels, or sit with people who are lost, distressed or disorientated – due to too alcohol intoxication. This frees up the police and ambulance crews to deal with the most severe cases.”

St Mary Street

Cardiff is a thriving city and it seems everyone, from students, Cardiff natives and visitors from the rest of Wales and England love to party here. It is easy and cheap to travel to the Welsh capital and when you’re here – the night entertainment is compacted in a very succinct area making it easy for the media to portray the city as a zoo at night.

The truth is the council and emergency services work closely to stop areas like St Mary Street being over-run with clubs and bars and they are well-equipped to deal with arrival of people over the festive season.

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What the CAR?

As far as online journalism goes, twitter and blogs are about all I seem to manage at the moment –  both I was highly dubious of three months ago and both I have come to love like a family member.

CAR is a totally different dimension in cyber confusion. Computer Assisted Reporting(CAR) is an established part of journalism across the pond but is relatively new in the UK. It is basically a tool of journalism using computer data to analyse statistics and find accurate information for successful articles.

Any government statistics about public buildings and services are available to the public – it is your right to know this information and http://www.data.gov.uk is a good place to start. Using the basic search tools you can find information on anything you need to know, be it your local MP’s expenses or the health and safety of your favourite fish and chip shop – the information can be found and downloaded using excel, or a free online programme like google spreadsheets – making it clearer and easier to analyse.

Journalists are known for not being great mathematicians and generally shying away from anything maths related – and this is a great weakness for example when being given facts by politicians, if you are unable to understand them then how can you ever produce an objective article?

Stephen Quinn from Queensland University said: “The techniques are how you use the tools to improve the breadth, depth and quality of your reporting.”

The basic four points of CAR are:

– Learning how to find information correctly and accurately.

– Evaluating and analysing this information.

– Communicating the data to your audience in an effective and interesting format.

– Using the right amount of precision in your data.

An example of using CAR in every day journalism is freedom of information requests. If you are investigating for example, the health and safety of a restaurant – it is much better to be given a range of statistics for restaurants throughout a city and analyse these, rather than being given the individual restaurant’s results.

Heather Brooke is an american journalist who spent two years challenging the MP expenses until these were finally released, and taken over by the Daily Telegraph. Brooke campaigned for this data to be released and was the first journalist to uncover this scandal. In Brook’s book, Your right to Know, and her blog of the same title, she provides an in-depth, informative guide to using CAR for FOI requests.

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Is the end of print newspapers inevitable?

The print industry is in a rapid decline, online news is more popular than ever, and Rupert Murdoch is proposing making people pay for his online papers from next year.

Are we just waiting around for ink to dry up – or will Murdoch’s plan actually push people who are unwilling to pay for online news back to their newspaper?

Online news is growing rapidly but in a lecture with journalist Rob Andrew, editor of Paid Content.co.uk, it became clear that at the moment people are unwilling to pay for it. A yearly subscription to The Guardian can cost around £350 but in a recent PCUK/Harris Poll, it was found that only 5% of people asked were willing to pay to read news online.

Newspapers rely on advertising but unlike online adverts – there is no guaranteed return – and more and more advertising companies are moving away from print for this reason.

Rob, worringly but accurately, describes newspapers as being in a perilous state and compares this to the music industry.

Music is now accessible free online and the only way to make money from it is through live performances – as the experience of watching live music can’t be replicated online.  The industry tried to introduce copy protection to stop music being shared online but abandoned this after sites like Spotify and We7 have made music instantly available for free.

Newspapers are looking for a short-term answer to this crisis to appease shareholders but what they should be doing is finding a long-term solution.

Specialist papers like the Financial Times and European Wall Street Journal currently charge a subscription. The FT has 128,000 subscribers paying approximately £90 a year. I find it highly unlikely people will pay for The Sun, News of the World or even The Times – but Mighty Murdoch is dead set on introducing these charges and if they are no longer available in print form the only option may be to buy online.

Surely if one paper charges online, people will just go to a free newspaper’s site instead? It would be impossible to implement a pay wall system unless all the papers agreed to do this. People do not want to pay for online news and most public opinion polls go directly against Murdoch’s plans.

The Guardian has a different ownership model to papers in the Murdoch News International empire and this allows it to put more into being innovative and exploring and developing it’s online version.

The future of print is very uncertain – if Murdoch does introduce charges will other paper’s follow? or will this backfire completely and will people just go somewhere else for their news?


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How to handle charity shops

Many shoppers shudder at the thought of entering a charity shop. The dingy light, mouldy smell, and stacks of rejected clothes in no order can be off-putting – not to mention the annoyingly over friendly volunteers who run these treasure troves.


The disorder can be alarming but look a little harder and those Chanel sunglasses hiding under a pile of Primark’s finest can be yours. Charity shopping is hard work and you have to be prepared to rummage but the thrill of finding that Dior dress amongst the tat is priceless.

Many a celebrity has stepped out in a charity shop number. From Jarvis Cocker’s brown tweed Glastonbury suit to Kate Nash’s chiffon dress in the video for Foundations celebs love the combination of being both charitable and fashionable.

Recently Mary Porter’s BBC programme, Mary Queen of Charity Shops, saw the retail guru transform an Orpington Save the Children shop into a high-end fashion boutique. With endorsements from the likes of Peaches Geldof (ugh), profits soared and scenesters migrated to the small shop in Kent to find their very own second-hand beauties.


Charity shops do not need to be reworked. The reason they are great for finding one-off treasures is because they are not high street shops. Mary’s mission to sex up these shops has alienated the staff and charity shop lovers alike who have treasured and cultivated these Aladdin’s Caves over the years.

When I lived in San Francisco I would regularly visit the thrift stores. Unlike charity shops in the UK, thrift stores will either let you swap your unwanted clothes for something in the store or they will pay you for them. This ensures that the quality of the clothes is high but the prices are still dirt cheap.

My advice for charity shopping is go alone. If your best friend spots every gem before you – clothing envy will ensue.  Secondly try it on, don’t buy it just because it’s cheap as it will only sit unloved in your wardrobe for the next 10 years. Always check the jewellery cabinets, amongst the fake gold you can usually find glinting trinkets and always, always, always check the fabric – wade through the polyester and you will find silk (if you look hard enough).

In my early Cardiff days I have discovered many lovely charity shops, laden with delights waiting to be found and loved. Whitchurch high street and Albany Road have proved most successful but the city centre shops are also worth a quick browse.



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City Style


Hugh’s deathly style is sleek and well balanced, managing to mix costume flair with a trendy boutique look.

Fur Coat: Oxfam, Leeds festival

Shirt: Next

Waist-coat: Topman

Striped, drain pipe jeans: boutique in Brighton

Tie: borrowed from his Dad

Boots: Office


Hugh describes his style as a mod/emo blend.  He occasionally reads fashion magazines like Esquire but makes his own style and doesn’t really like to follow trends, preferring to shop in vintage boutiques rather than on the high street.


Placebo singer-songwriter Brian Molko is a big inspiration to Hugh’s fashion as well as well dressed bands and djs.

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