Bloggers write

"Write something worth reading or do something worth writing" A blog by Amy Willis, a multimedia journalist based in London

Hiking in the Wye Valley

Filed under: Activities, blog posts, Videos

In a dark dark hole… a visit to the Welsh showcaves

I am standing in a dark, echoing cave, carved by millions of years of rain water trickling through. The air grows cooler as you pass through the entrance. The underground labyrinth has begun.

I weave my way through the stalagmites and stalactites in the Dan-yr-Ogof cave brushing my fingers against the stone, wondering how many droplets of water it took to make it this smooth.

Water is dripping from the ceiling and I can hear what sounds like a waterfall in the background.

The rasher of bacon, by Rachel Slater- Flikr

The rasher of bacon, by Rachel Slater- Flikr

Round the dimly lit corner is a pillar of stone in a pool of water- a stalagmite and stalactite which have met each other on their quest upward and downward.

Cascading from the ceiling is a frozen waterfall of fingers hanging down.

And then… a rasher of bacon? A bizarre looking stone which unbelievably does look like a rasher of bacon.

This is followed by a group of stalagmites called the nuns and the angel.

At the far end is a real treat. The waterfall  I heard in the background from before. You have never seen a waterfall until you have seen an underground waterfall, truly spectacular. There is something about the sound of water falling onto rock that seems so peaceful.

As I reemerge from the cave, the humidity of the warm air outside (yes it is still Wales) comes as a bit of a pleasant surprise.

The sun is shining as I make my way up a very steep hill to the Cathedral cave.

Cathedral cave is huge. Water is flowing from the rock face above and there is a small river floating through to collect it. At the far end is a pulpit of flowers and a sign saying couples are able to get married in the cave- hence the name. Sounds like a pretty cool idea for an alternative wedding. But I leave pretty quickly as the area is already getting crowded.

Below is a video of the daytrip to the caves. Shot at the end is the water leaving the caves and forming the River Lynfell. You can take a virtual tour of the caves, which are in the Brecon Beacons in Wales with this link. More photos to come, so watch this space.

Filed under: Activities, blog posts, Cardiff sport, Videos, , , ,

An expenses choice

Revelations over MPs misusing the expenses system have severely undermined the political system.

Lavish claims for moats, helipads, and even as revealed today, a duck-hotel, has cast doubt as to the sincerity of even the most senior political figures.

Even the speaker of the house of commons is not immune. Only a few months after he had cause controversy by allowing Police to search Damien McBride’s office without a search warrant, an expense claim for his wife’s £4,000 worth of taxi rides was revealed.

To top it all off, in the expense debate he missed the point entirely. To him, finding the source of the leak was of greater importance than the revelation that MPs were ripping the public off.

His refusal to take a neutral stance on repaying expense claims was the final straw. He was forced to resign.

The resignation was a welcome move because his presence in the chamber was like an anchor holding the ship down as it was sinking.

Change is on the horizon. But there is still a problem and the ship in its present form won’t make it.

Despite the anchor being cut free, the old ship is so battered in its current state it will never reach the horizon.

The Government - a sinking ship?

The Government - a sinking ship?

The old problems still remain. And because of this the public will never have faith in this Government if it remains as it is without any kind of shake-up. It is time for change. Public faith in politicians is at an all-time low.

This Government have shown themselves to be happily dipping deep into taxpayers’ pockets without any guilt whatsoever. And it is difficult to forgive, let alone respect, theft.

The only way faith in the system can be restored is if Gordon Brown swallows his pride and orders a General Election. It is time to get rid of the rotten wood.

It is time to let the public have their say in the debate. And by refusing to do this and ignoring his nation he is not only tearing apart his own reputation but he is shattering the heart of democracy.

By voting out those who have abused the system, the nation can start rebuilding the battered ship with new wood rather than trying to patch it up with rotten bits that keep falling off.

This is the only way the Government can change. It is time to start rebuilding a Government everyone can trust.

Filed under: blog posts, Politics, , ,

Rugby heroes take bronze in tan battle

Apr 27 2009 by Amy Willis, South Wales Echo

WELSH rugby players Andy Powell and Mike Phillips stripped off to get spray tans in Cardiff as part of a skin cancer awareness campaign.

The sporting stars, who are preparing for the Lions 2009 tour to South Africa, took time out of their training programme to get sprayed in the Tiger Tiger bar in Greyfriars Road, to raise awareness of Safe Tan Summer.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

Record crowd for ‘absolutely fabulous’ flower show

Apr 20 2009 by Amy Willis, South Wales Echo

RECORD numbers turned out in the sunshine for the final day of the Royal Horticultural Show in Cardiff yesterday.

More than 7,000 people flocked to Bute Park – the highest number of visitors on any one day since the show started five years ago.

Families enjoying the colourful blooms and intricate gardens described the event as “absolutely fabulous”.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

Are there too many celebrity statues?

Apr 20 2009 by Amy Willis, Western Mail

THE growing fashion for celebrity statues has come under fire, amid claims they are becoming all too common.

Every week new bronzes seem to spring up in another town to celebrate a famous face with local links.

In Wales comedian Tommy Cooper is one of the most recent additions to the list of statues which also includes a bronze of “matchstick-man” boxer Johnny Owen, and former rugby scrum-half Gareth Edwards.

The statue of Cooper, which was officially unveiled by Sir Anthony Hopkins, has a prominent position just across from the town’s famous castle.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

He left school with no GCSEs, but he’s back as a trainee teacher

Apr 14 2009 by Amy Willis, South Wales Echo

A VALLEYS student who left education with no qualifications or prospects when he was 16 has returned to his old school – to train to be a teacher.

Lyndon Powell, 37, of Clare Street, Merthyr Tydfil, left Cyfarthfa High School after failing his GCSEs because he didn’t go to any of the exams.

“I was a bit of rebel when I was younger,” said Mr Powell, who now has two young children of his own – Thomas, eight, and Ffion, five – with wife Karen, 39.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

Wales outshines the Med as visitors flock to our beaches

Apr 13 2009 by Amy Willis and Owain Bury, Western Mail

WALES left much of the Mediterranean in the shade over the weekend, giving the country’s tourist trade a welcome Easter boost.

The better-than-expected temperatures helped many attractions enjoy a bumper Bank Holiday.

With Wales experiencing largely unbroken sunshine and temperatures up to 16C – much higher than large parts of the Med – the national parks welcomed thousands of visitors over the weekend.

The Brecon Beacons National Park Visitor Centre at Libanus, near Brecon, reported around 1,500 visitors on Saturday alone. Previous Saturdays had half that amount with an annual visitor number of around the 160,000 mark.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

Danielle Bux bans WAGs from her wedding to Gary Lineker

Apr 13 2009 by Amy Willis, Western Mail

WELSH model Danielle Bux has banned footballers’ wives and girlfriends from her wedding.

The 29-year-old lingerie model, who will appear on reality TV show Hell’s Kitchen tonight, is set to marry former footballer Gary Lineker in Italy, this year.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

Sports Council for Wales backs gardening for helping us stay healthy

Apr 13 2009 by Amy Willis, Western Mail

GARDENING is set to become the latest health-boosting exercise as thousands of families head outdoors.

Research has suggested that one to two hours of gardening a day can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.

And the Sports Council for Wales has recommended gardening as an ideal daily cardiovascular workout.

The health benefits of gardening have been revealed ahead of the start of the RHS Show Cardiff, this weekend.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

Pop princess Duffy laments the single life

Apr 11 2009 By Amy Willis, Western Mail

SOUL singer Duffy may be a bestseller in the charts but time spent winning music awards has put a strain on her love life.

The Grammy-winning songstress has admitted that she has not had enough time to find a boyfriend.

The 24-year-old singer from Nefyn, in North Wales, is planning to take a few months off and is hoping to find love.

And she has said she is not ruling out using a dating agency.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

People forced to spend their holidays at home

Apr 6 2009 By Amy Willis, Western Mail

THE Easter getaway began this weekend with more people expected to stay in the UK this year than travel overseas due to the current economic climate.

A survey by insurance company Legal & General revealed almost three in five people are changing their holiday plans, with around 20% opting for a “staycation” at home. A further 21% plan to stay with friends and family, rather than face the expense of booking into a hotel. One in five people who took a holiday abroad last year intended to stay within the UK for their break this year with 18% saying they can not afford a holiday overseas due to the recession. Families with children were the most likely to change their plans and stay at home, according to the research.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

Left in the dark

As Britain moves closer to the rebirth of the nuclear power industry, a special investigation by Amy Willis reveals that schools – only a matter of miles away from British nuclear power stations – are without stockpiles of anti-radiation drugs and information about what to do in a nuclear emergency.

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Filed under: UK News

Mobile-media vox pop

WalesOnline’s Amy Willis went to Cardiff’s cafe quarter in Mill Lane to find out how building works are affecting the area. Click here to see the video

Filed under: blog posts, Portfolio, , , ,

Dispute over historic stone in Llandaff

Apr 2 2009 by Amy Willis, South Wales Echo

OLIVER Cromwell’s historic hitching post is at the centre of a Llandaff pub dispute.

The Llandaff Conservation Group has voiced concern that the plans for the Maltsters Pub could endanger a rock which plays a famous role in Cardiff’s history.

According to the group the 2ft high rock, which sits next to the corner of the pub, was used by Oliver Cromwell to tie up his horse as he passed through South Wales in 1648.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

Wales Air Ambulance’s new chopper whirls into action

Apr 2 2009 by Amy Willis, South Wales Echo

THE Wales Air Ambulance’s new helicopter landed in the grounds of Cardiff Castle yesterday for its official unveiling.

The helicopter replaces the old model, the Bolkow-105, which was based on a design from the 1950s.

The new helicopter, the EC-135, is specially designed as an air ambulance. It has a higher fuel capacity and will be able to carry more passengers, including specialist doctors.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , , ,

Customers delighted as shop reopens

Mar 30 2009 By Amy Willis, South Wales Echo

A FASHION tycoon has reopened one of Cardiff’s designer dress stores, raising hopes the city’s arcades can survive the recession.

Robert de Keyser has rehired most of the original staff who worked at the Emma Somerset shop in Morgan Arcade, which closed four months ago. The new store will trade under the name of De Keyser after its owner, who worked with Victoria Beckham on her Rock and Republic jeans range.

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Filed under: Portfolio

Grass arsonists strike Cardiff

By Amy Willis, Cardiff Evening News

FIRE engines were sent to 10 deliberate grass fires in Cardiff and more than 200 across South Wales over the weekend despite South Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s crackdown on grass arsonists.

The Cardiff blazes were in wildlife areas in Ely, St Mellons, Pentwyn, Llanrumney Penylan and Trowbridge. St Mellons was worst affected – three separate fires had to be extinguished in Hendre Lane, Matthysens Way and Pontprennau.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

Welsh Water warns against bogus callers

By Amy Willis, Cardiff Evening News

WELSH Water issued a warning today to its Cardiff customers after a number of incidents where thieves have posed as water metre inspectors.

Welsh Water’s Suzanne Evans said: “There have been several bogus caller incidents in the area recently so it’s important to remind customers of the dangers.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio

Bedbugs in Cardiff hotels

By Amy Willis, Cardiff Evening News

A CARDIFF hotel has an infestation of blood-sucking bedbugs, it emerged today.

Cardiff council have refused to name the hotel but a record of complaints in 2008 has confirmed one of Cardiff’s hotels has been hit been this irritating little pest.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio

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