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Growing up in Cardiff

Updated on September 9, 2014

Did you live in Cardiff, S. Wales, during the 1970s?

A nostalgic look back at the things that made up my life when I was growing up in Cardiff.

School, food, leisure time and teenage infatuations... those were the days. Part of me misses them and part of me is glad they are gone forever!

I'd love to hear your memories of Cardiff - you don't have to be a member of Squidoo to leave a comment.

© This page was created by TheRaggedEdge. All rights reserved.

Cardiff Trolley Bus Photos by DJ Norton.

Social Life

Dancing to Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep in Llanrumney Youth Club Thursday night disco. Wearing velvet dresses and crinkly "wet-look" boots with low, flared heels.

Refreshment consisted of frozen (or sometimes not) raspberry tip-tops. Other favourite dance-tunes were "Ride A White Swan", "Montego Bay", "In the Summertime" and "Spirit in the Sky". They were played over and over and over.

Later we progressed to Top Rank, Motown and half-pints of cider in plastic glasses. Being tapped on the shoulder... result! Illicit drinking in the Lighthouse at St Brides when we were only 14. Is it still there? Carpenter's Arms. Learning to smoke at 13 outside the Ton Stores in St Mellons (it never worked for me).

The Lighthouse public house at St Brides, Wentloog. Photo courtesy of Chris Downer

Wheels

Trolley buses. When we first moved to Canton from the West Country these weird modes of transportation fascinated me. It was great when their antennae came off the wires and all the traffic came to a standstill.

Proper roller skates. You slipped your shod foot into them and adjusted them by a wing-nut on the bottom. And we’d share them with our best mate. One each – not easy. Whizzing down the hill in Thompson’s Park. Chopper bikes – fantastic! My bike was a Moulton Mini – horrible thing.

Later boys with motor-bikes – the smell of two-stroke and leather. Watching out for boyfriend’s bike coming along Ball Road an hour late, as usual.

Food

Chips made by your mother. Real potatoes cooked in reheated lard or beef dripping (they were the best). Later it became fashionable to use Spry Crisp & Dry.

Other favoured foods were Supermousse, instant mash, Findus Crispy Pancakes and Birds Eye burgers. Sunday dinner, no vegetables. We never got fat.

Later the Curry Centre in Riverside - I'll never forget my first chicken and mushroom biriani.

Sweets: Walnut Whips with 'inside' walnuts, Aztec bars and Sherbert-dip (the lolly sort, not the liquorice, please). Mum worked in The Lollipop Shop in Cowbridge Road for a while - chocolate coated coconut-ice; heaven. "Apple-pies" and "pineapple chunks" - boiled sweets which would make your mouth bleed if you ate too many.

After we moved to Llanrumney she worked in Snak-Pak, bottom of Rumney Hill... remember the smell of roasting peanuts as you passed on the bus? She could buy 1lb bags of great big, sometimes still warm peanuts. I still never got fat.

>How To Make The Perfect Chip

Shortages - we loved 'em

Water shortages, electricity shortages, coal shortages and sugar shortages. As kids we loved the power-cuts and more especially, the water-cuts during the hot, hot summer of '76.

More memories of the UK 70s

Fashion

Maxi skirts and Crombie coats. Swishy skirts, clumpy shoes. "Diamond" brooches in the shapes of stars and crescent moons. Box handbags that could deliver quite a thump to an over amorous boyfriend.

Oxford bags and French cut trousers with turn-ups that flapped and whacked the opposite leg when you inadvertently got into synch with them. Boys wore Ben Sherman shirts and pretended they were school uniform. Girls rolled up their waistbands to get their skirts shorter.

White socks that slipped down to your ankles because the 'lastic had gone after three wearings. Navy knickers. Platforms. Wedges. Top Shop and Chelsea Girl were the height of sophistication. Borrowing clothes off your best friend cos hers were better. Temporarily stealing clothes from your best friend's older sister because they were even better (she had a Saturday job).

Freedom

Being able to go where you liked. Just the odd warning to be careful and we used to roam all over the countryside. From 7.30am until darkness fell. Riding other people's ponies because they were the only ones we could afford. Morgies fields, throwing sticks for our dogs into the Rumney River. Rope swings. Snogging in the long grass. No M4; no Pentwyn then.

Spending four hours at a time in the Empire Pool. Saturday afternoons in the National Museum trying to find the rudest pictures and pretending not to look at the statues' twiddly bits.

Education

Llanrumney High. Mitching (bunking) off school to go to friends' houses whose mothers were out at work all day. Eating tins of cold custard and watching toddlers' tv and the test card as that was what constituted daytime tv. Such a thrill walking out of school with an airy confidence. Teachers who were passionate about teaching. Teachers who scared you rigid with a look. Shiner - the best teacher in the world. Sitting "O" Levels with a rumbly stomach.

Swimming lessons in Guildford Crescent baths. They were Victorian but so clean and looked after. The instructors were dragon-ladies! Every day for weeks we would get on the bus and spend the morning swimming before being transported back to school for lunch. School attendance was always up during the swimming sessions.

My dog, Sandy, was allowed to sit in during Latin lessons. He didn't interrupt. After the lesson, I would just send him home and off he'd go up the hill.

Photo by John Thorn

School Dining

Eating sandwich lunches out of greaseproof paper in the science room conservatory, a special treat conferred upon a lucky few. There was a special earthy, sun-baked smell in the unused conservatory. Empty wooden crates, discarded pots and tools, long countertops where we would park our backsides and eat cheese sarnies where the cheese was just starting to wilt deliciously. Gazing down through the glass walls at the unchosen ones in the playground beating each other up with leather satchels.

Music

K-Tel records. All those compilations of pop songs but without the real pop stars singing them. Imitation Sweet, Slade, Donny Osmond and New Seekers - on my teeny mono record player that my mum bought me from the catalogue. Radio 1 on 247AM, finished at 7.30pm - quick switch it off before Radio 2 starts! DLT and Noel Edmunds when he was cool and gorgeous. Radio Luxembourg and Kid Jensen under the bedcovers. Later Genesis (before they got famous), Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield.

Mustn't forget Wizzard, David Essex, Lynsey de Paul, Wings, Queen and all the rest.

Take a look around Cardiff

Exercise

Early 70s Victoria Park. Summers splashing in the paddling pool. Winters also around the paddling pool when the 'parkies' would turn on the fountains for a short while so the pool gained a coating of invisible ice so we could 'skate'.

Swimming lessons in Guildford Crescent baths - wonderful place. Walking up Ball Road Hill (the grassy part - see pic of school above) twice a day. Walking four miles to ride ponies, help with hay-making, sheep-shearing and fence-mending and then walking home again. Walking everywhere. We never got fat.

Photo courtesy of Ricky Cosmos.

Cardiff Bay Redevelopment
Cardiff Bay Redevelopment

Places Long Gone

The Empire Pool, Cardiff Arms Park, Prince of Wales Theatre (good that it's gone!), Woolworths, Mackross, Pig and Whistle, Capitol Cinema, Guildford Crescent baths and Top Rank to name a few.

Thanks to Diawl Bach for the memories. There are lots more. Leave a comment with your suggestions...

Photo showing the massive redevelopment of Cardiff Bay, courtesy of nicksarebi under the Creative Commons license.

Cardiff's Capitol Cinema
Cardiff's Capitol Cinema

Cardiff nightlife in the 1970s/early 80s

Were you there... do you actually remember any of it?

By no means is this list complete - feel free to suggest more in the comments section.

Top Rank

Coco Savannahs

New Moon

Casablanca

Montys

Philharmonic

The Wine Press

Pig & Whistle

The Terminus

Smilies

The Beer Keller

Titos

The Cavern

Lexington

What were your favourite Cardiff hangouts?

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    • profile image

      ernie sacco 13 months ago

      i worked in sophia gardens and did live shows at the capitol ,spent a lot of my times at titoes as floor manager with Gino Rabittoe cardiff was the place to be ,after a long night a nice steak at Marios just before the bridge in newport road with best girl in the world

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      Elaine Claudia powell 13 months ago

      Wow reading these great memories ,I was a nurse in late 60s at St winifreds Romilly crescent ,loved going on a late night pass to the top rank ,dancing to motown ,going to Tito,African room,,seeing the pedlar's group ,bakers row ,having a steak at the homestead ,and my favorite was sausages at asteys cafe ,later years at bumpers nightclub loved Cardiff night life how I study for exams I never know ,met my ex hubby at top rank ,dancing to spirit in the sky ,in mini and white boots ,I thought I was the chick,then ha ha ,,,still love motown today ,any one remember dj Chris rodella in his tight white trousers at the rank ,think hairdresser by day ,,they were great days although always in trouble with harsh sisters on duty as always came back drunk and woke patients up

    • myraggededge profile image
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      myraggededge 2 years ago

      I bet lots of people remember your Dad's shop, Tim.

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      Tim Gee 2 years ago

      My father "Jimmy Gee" used to sell a separate and a match for 2p... He used to have a shop in Wilson road ely

    • myraggededge profile image
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      myraggededge 2 years ago

      I've not heard of the Golf Range. I remember The Beverley in Cathedral Rd becoming popular later on (80s?). I went a couple of times but found it too packed. x

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      lesley brookman 2 years ago

      Titos was my first venture into nightclubs but my latter teenage years eere spent in the golf range in pontcanna , its where I met my ex husband , the cardiff night scene was amazing in the 70s and the steaks in san paulys were to die for ,

    • myraggededge profile image
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      myraggededge 2 years ago

      Hi Meg, yes getting around on the buses was like second nature to me. We also used to walk from Rumney to Canton - the entire length of the city. I remember doing that once, stopping at every record store looking for 'Rock On' by Davis Essex.

    • myraggededge profile image
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      myraggededge 2 years ago

      Aw... it was great, wasn't it? As far as talent goes all we had was Amen Corner and Shakin' Stevens.

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 2 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Hah! I wrote this on the Squidoo page!

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 2 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Cardiff was the big city for me, where you went once or twice a year with your parents, though I did go to the Empire pool for swimming lessons when I was about 12 years old. Allowed to go all the way on the bus there by myself! Yes, we had a lot more freedom in those days. I lived in the valleys and we used to wander up the cwm for hours on end.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 2 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      It is funny but this could have been almost anywhere in Britain at that time. We were never looked after as kids I was always out on my bike for hours on end and my parents never knew where! I was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Forest Hall and lived there until I was 6 the neighbours always left their doors open even when out and we could raid their fridges for food etc. and often did.

      We moved to Harpenden in Herfordshire then and that is where I did the rest of my growing up, but I do not have perfect memory of that time. We had Donovan, Elton John, The Zombies and Wishbone Ash as the local talent back then.

    • myraggededge profile image
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      myraggededge 2 years ago

      @patsy55: More great memories! Can't remember San Paulys though. Thanks, Patsy.

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      patsy55 2 years ago

      San Paulys restaurant, Titos nightclub, Wimpy Bar, The Rummer Tavern, The Philharmonic, The Spanish Bodega nightclub, The Homestead restaurant, to name a few!

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      myraggededge 3 years ago

      @dave-montanna-9: Oh yes... my mother used to go to the Ocean Club all the time. And what was the name of the one in Sophia Gardens?

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      dave-montanna-9 3 years ago

      OCEON CLUB AND GINO'S!

    • myraggededge profile image
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      myraggededge 3 years ago

      @Jadore1955: I went there, but I can't picture what it was like inside. I can remember many of the others and see myself dancing or trying to get drinks (I was 18 in 1977), but I can't remember being in Tito's.

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      Jadore1955 3 years ago

      Tito's in the 70's.. I'd hitchhike to and from Caerphilly every weekend to the best club in Cardiff and then got a live in job in the park hotel and would literally just have to walk around the corner to get there.. One of my favorite acts was the "North Stars" I have great memories about "Tito's nightclub" and even worked there for a while.

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      jackie-marshall-733 3 years ago

      Remember the pig and whistle memories of a few other places but cannot remember names and there was an arcade that had a soda shop in it. I also remember the 10cc pop festival was not going but me and friend walking past decided to have a look as they left gates open after ticket holder where in had such good time and stayed till the council cut the electric to venue :)

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      Jeffdavies750 3 years ago

      Thank you so much for the memories.. I must be older than you as I remember the 60´s better.. My first girlfriend (maralyn) came from Llanrumney and went to school there.We met at the Rank 66. so did my second girlfriend (Rita).We met when we both worked at Sakpak 67 to 70.. Would love to be able to talk to them again...Unlikely as I have lived in Marbella for the last 23 years..

      I was also lucky enough to have a part time job as a bouncer at the Capitol when they had the groups playing ..I got to see some great bands beachboys.stones, stevie Wonder. Roy Orbison and many more..AND got paid for it...great times..Please keep adding to this and I will look back .every week or so as now retired and have loads of time...If I think of anything interesting I will let you know...

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      susan-fitzgerald-5011 3 years ago

      @anonymous: I used to go to the Cavern bar every weekend and occasionally Tito's. Great times :)

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      myraggededge 3 years ago

      @Rusty_Spanner: It certainly was a different world to the one my kids are experiencing today. There's a book... 'Where did it all go right?' based on a chap's recollection of growing up in suburbia in the 70s. Old now, but worth a read if you can find a copy.

      Very nice to meet you and I'm glad I got you digging out those memories. Of course you have me wondering whether you were in class with me!

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      Rusty_Spanner 3 years ago

      Still around?, I'm glad, hope he had some good times, he got given a hard time at Ball road.

      I'll never forget his passion for teaching.

      Oh and thanks for sparking the memories, I seldom look back, but what a different world it was.

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      myraggededge 3 years ago

      @Rusty_Spanner: He was, RS, wasn't he? He was 100% committed to his pupils - we gave him a nervous breakdown at one point, poor bloke. One of my regrets is that I didn't take advantage of the opportunities I was given to learn more with him. I have heard he's still around and doing well.

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      Rusty_Spanner 3 years ago

      I'm quite choked up, someone else realised Shiner was the best teacher in the world, I thought It was just me

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      negativepitch 3 years ago

      I used to live on rumney hill in the 70's 6th/7th house up from the pottery on the right hand side as you go up the hill 616, looks pretty tatty now.

      remember skate boarding, roller skating down the knap in barry, the skateboard shop in town.

      being snowed in and nothing moving on rumney hill. sliding down the hill on bits of cardboard over the quarryâ¦great memoriesâ¦Rumney hill school (cae castell when I was there) not so great days.

      being first in the que to see Star Wars in town.

      Bumpers and Lloyds in town.

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      anonymous 3 years ago

      went to the sting coffee shop and had cheesecake remember the lexiton burgers

    • myraggededge profile image
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      myraggededge 4 years ago

      @anonymous: What years were you there, Linda?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      i grew up in llanrumney off mount pleasant avenue went to llanrumney high and good god i remember shiner he used to put the fear of god into me x going to blazes disco on a saturday was brill

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I was amazed to see that The Prince Of Wales and The Empire have gone

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I remember Foster menswear on Queens street and pillars restaurant what a great place is it still there

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Sirs Nightclub was a great place to dance the night away as was the Terminus pub as well as the old show biz club

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi is there anyone who would no the name of the skinhead shop in cardiff it was for punks and mods clothing I thought it was paradise garage but thinking it was not call that

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @myraggededge: U r write it was the only one thank u very much

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      myraggededge 4 years ago

      @anonymous: It might have been Paradise Garage in St Mary Street. It was run by a guy called Alan Jones (ex Amen Corner) and there was another branch in Bristol. Hope that helps :) Can't say it rings any bells with me, but perhaps someone else will confirm.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @myraggededge: Ok thank u I desperately need to find out

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      myraggededge 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I'll do my best, Graham. I'm not in Cardiff till the weekend. Pop back to this page next week.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @myraggededge: I think it was buy the buss station it sold skinhead clothes punk and mod I have been trying to find it for a long time can u ask around please thank u

    • myraggededge profile image
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      myraggededge 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I don't, Graham, but perhaps someone else will. Where was it, d'you know? These people might be able to help: http://www.fourletterword.org.uk/artcore.html

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Does any one no the name of the punk shop in cardiff I have been pulling my hair out late 1970 to the 80 s

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      myraggededge 4 years ago

      @anonymous: C&A "Coats and 'Ats'! Me too. It was cheap and cheerful. Mind you I reckon Primark is cheaper nowadays! Marments - wow, I'd forgotten that one. That was a bit more up-market, wasn't it? And Alders used to be Mackross.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I loved The pig and whistle and the Lexington, although i should have been in school really! I agree a lot of character has been lost along with a lot of shops, Marments, Alders, Chelsea Girl, C&A - got loads of trendy clothes in there! haha!

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      bonniville 4 years ago

      @anonymous: i remember dot, i was a biker she was really nice as long as you didn't get on the wrng side of her. i started going there when i wa fifteen i was picked on once by two older bikers . and dot was there to sort them out very nice lady

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I was a skating Marshall at the top rank roller disco on a Sunday, and used to play roller hockey for the tiger bay rollers.grat memories

    • myraggededge profile image
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      myraggededge 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Oh you have reminded me of so many places I'd forgotten! Boots - yes, it's where the date began (or not, if I got stood up)! Cardiff has lost a lot of character, don't you think? All cities in the UK are just carbon copies of each other. And who would want to go into the city centre on a Friday or Saturday night these days?!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I grew up in the 70's I used to go to The Resurection (The Res) dances and also Trelai Youth Club dances then progressed to Top Rank, Titos and The Cavan Bar also went the Golf Range. Had some good times. Cardiff had some great clubs years ago mostly privately owned not like the the ones we have now (the same in every town you go to). I also used to go to Flagstones, Bumpers, Pig and Whistle. Loved the Lexington I think this was the only place you could get a mexican burger. Plenty of cinemas to go to as well and they showed 2 films and you could stay in the pictures all day. Also saw some great groups at The Capital. Remember when everyone would meet their mates outside Boots in Queen Street.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: my grandparents Dot and Bill owned the Gollywog Cafe, heard so many stories, if you could add to them would be fab :) xx

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      myraggededge 4 years ago

      @bardofely lm: I've seen your name around and I did wonder where it came from. I don't remember the Sarsaparilla Bar but the name sounds familiar. Oh the Lexington! I'd forgotten that one. Glad you enjoyed the trip down memory lane!

    • bardofely lm profile image

      bardofely lm 4 years ago

      I am originally from Cardiff and lived 25 years of life in Ely, hence my title! I can remember a lot of what you have described and also the Sarsaparilla Bar in the Morgan Arcade or was that earlier still? I remember the Top Rank and Tamla Motown. I used to go to the Pig and Whistle and the Lexington. I have liked this and shared at Facebook! A brilliant nostalgic lens!

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      myraggededge 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Oh, I remember getting frisked going into the Buccaneer (now the Owain Glyndwr). My friend liked it so much she would go out of a different door and come round for a second go! She also used to go ballroom dancing at Victor Sylvester's. The Pig & Whistle was fantastic - sad day when they decided to knock those buildings down.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I was born in Splott I movede away 30 yrs ago still miss Cardiff great city to spend your youth. I remember waiting in a long line to get into the Top Rank, loved it. We would go dancing at Victor Sylvesters under the Capitol Cinema. My mother always cooked us chips on a Friday, we had a chip shop just around the corner but there was nothing like homemade. I remember splott open air baths. The pub we called our local in town was The Buccaneer, St Johns Square, we also spent a lot of time in The Pig and Whistle and The Beer Keller. Loved the museum although we used to go on a Sunday, if weather permitted we would get train to Barry Island, wonderful memories.

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      RecipePublishing 5 years ago

      Thanks for the trip.

    • OrganicMom247 profile image

      OrganicMom247 6 years ago

      Real chips made from real potatoes, made by your mum, now that made it all perfect!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      What great recall you have! I could picture much of it though by the 70s I was already in college in the States. Blessed by a passing Squid Angel.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great reading your memories of Cardiff in the 70's,, i remember as a kid (late 60's early 70's) swimming at Guilford baths , as well as climbing over the walls of Pontcanna pool after it closed for a spot of skinny dipping,

      I also remember going to the ABC minors club, the Capitol Theatre or the Top Rank on a Saturday morning to chat up girls, and then going to the joke shop in Wyndham arcade where the owner would show us the latest tricks he had.

      If your boyfriend had a motor bike he/you probably went to The Gollywog cafe (AKA, Dots) opposite Queen street railway station, drank in the Pig and Whistle and the Park lane bar,, and partied after the pubs in the revolution or blue moon clubs, then towards the end of the 70's the Old Terminus and Smileys,,

      Brilliant decade, even though i don't remember much ;^)) DB

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      javr 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      My town was pretty tiny. No McDonald's until 1980. It's quite a busy place now. Tons of cars going nowhere fast.

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      Qualitee 7 years ago

      London in the 70's..........skates, Osmonds, Sweet and Sherbet with the liquorice!

      Buying one cigarette for 2d and smoking upstairs at the back of the bus on the way home from school, age 12!!!!!!!!!! (Don't tell the kids though)

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      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      This was so interesting. I read about a lot of things that I have never heard of so it was an education.

    • myraggededge profile image
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      myraggededge 7 years ago

      [in reply to CDT] It's terrible - they just have the one half-walnut on the top. The nice little one that nestled at the bottom under the creme has disappeared.

    • LouiseKirkpatrick profile image

      LouiseKirkpatrick 7 years ago from Berkshire, United Kingdom

      I didn't know that Walnut Whips no longer have walnuts inside them...that's soooooo wrong :(

      My ex-husband is from Cardiff...will send him a link :)

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