All writers have experienced that dearth of inspiration; the time when we scrabble through articles in newspapers, sift through old diaries and scour every object that surrounds us to find something, anything, that might spark some much craved creativity.
In those trying times when nothing seems to mean anything and you are left staring at a shampoo bottle on your knees and losing the ability to make sense of words, a step outside into the fresh air may reinvigorate your imagination.
We had a brainstorm and a walk and came up with five places in Cardiff that could help to get those writer-ly juices flowing again.
This is the busiest street in Cardiff and although the idea of being surrounded by hundreds of shoppers and tourists quickly bustling along may not seem the most inspiring, there’s always a lot of intriguing interactions going on. There are buskers, people collecting for charity, preachers, sometimes a magician, attractions for children, bizarre half-caught conversations and many stories in the individuals that walk past. Also, if you peer above all the retail outlets, there is some terrific old architecture where history seems to have been pushed up onto the second floor. It’s a grand trip out for people watching and all you need to do is sit back on one of the many benches and watch real life go by.
Considering the nature of a cemetery, these sites are actually brimming with life. All the names and dates and relatives etched into each personal stone keep a wealth of stories buried under the thick earth. There is a change of atmosphere which you experience as soon you step through the iron gates. The air is denser and even though it is surrounded by car crammed roads, it is very peaceful. The cemetery is also quite vast and full of nature and wildlife; you can easily get lost in thought thinking about all the history around you or by creating your own narrative.
Jacobs Vintage Market
This is quite the gem in Cardiff. It has three floors teeming with an extraordinarily eclectic selection of antique and vintage items. From comics to war memorabilia, grandfather clocks to taxidermy, there are lots to dazzle the eye, and the mind. One can spend hours beholding the rich array of objects from various moments in time. It only takes a single cabbage face mug with an enigmatic smile and an idea is born. Also, the rooftop is open to the public where you can look over the central railway station or have a sneaky peek into the rooms of the hotel opposite.
The Hayes Garden
Although this is a rather small garden is certainly isn’t lacking in character. People can sit amongst the flowers, trees and sometimes ducks, during their lunch breaks from work or shop breaks from shopping. It’s another good spot for people watching and you are likely to have a strange and curious encounter. For instance, there is a woman who is recognised by the resident pigeons, they flock to her as she enters through the gate with some torn up pieces of loaf, and an old man who’s always singing with a mesmerising voice. Also, you can strike up a conversation with the person at the other end of the bench and learn about the deadly spiders being brought in ships that are taking over Britain. (they aren’t actually fatal but still have a nasty bite)
Llanishen and Lisvane Reservoirs
If you fancy a walk to really clear your mind then the Nant Fawr trail is a refreshing change from city life. It goes around Llanishen and Lisvane reservoirs and feels like you have quickly stepped into the country. The Llanishen Reservoir is mostly fenced off and empty of water as it was drained in 2010 while the Lisvane reservoir still has water, both are worth seeing. You can experience the tranquility of a large and calm body of water and also the cut-off wasteland left after the draining, evoking an almost apocalyptic scene. If you can, try to get there for dawn, it’s quite captivating.
Let us know the places you choose to go to when you need a kick of creativity.