Vendor City Guide: Cardiff

Interview by Steven MacKenzie, The Big Issue (UK)

Maurice Richards, 59, was born in Cardiff, and apart from some time working on fairgrounds, has lived there all his life. “Welsh people are very nice,” he says. “I’ve got regular customers and I love them.”

Why I like living in Cardiff

We’ve got Cardiff Castle as well as the Millennium [since 2016 officially called Principality] Stadium. You can go up to Bute Park, what a lovely park that is. The River Taff runs all the way through it. We’ve got the three white houses – better than America – the City Hall, the Crown Court and the National Museum, all in granite and built in the early 1900s.

The best part of town

The first migrants came into Cardiff on ships at Tiger Bay [as it was then known], one of the first places in the country, and there’s always been racial harmony. There are over 50 different nationalities down the Bay at the moment. I knew a man, he’s dead now, who came in as a cabin boy in 1942 and he stayed. He came from Malta during the war and he never went back.

Where to eat

There are loads of restaurants in the city. I love Pillars, I like Wetherspoon’s. There’s a cafe in the Central Market that has the best bacon and eggs in the world. If you eat the Ultimate then you don’t have to pay for it: three sausages, four bits of bacon, six eggs… Eat that and they give you a free meal. I’ve never managed it.

Big Issue vendor Maurice Richards in Cardiff, Wales. [Courtesy of The Big Issue (UK)]

Best time to visit

You can’t move in the city when there’s a big game on. Believe me, you can’t move. So many people come into town. All the pubs are full. The atmosphere is incredible at the Millennium Stadium. We’ll always call it the Millennium Stadium whether they change the name or not. Wales have done so well; they beat all the other teams in the Six Nations. What an awesome team.

Escape the city

You can go to Barry Island, which is a seaside resort. There’s a lovely big fairground. Sully Island has the old Triassic park. Some of the rocks fell down the other day and they found a dinosaur there. Porthcawl is the place to be seen, especially down the bay. If you’ve got bad weather, you can see the waves go over the lighthouse.

Must do

In April we’ve got the Cardiff Flower Show. It’s £12 to get in but it doesn’t matter. I love going, it’s unbelievable. That’s the best show in the world. By the market there’s a place called the alleyways – all graveyards around there. And there’s an orchid tree that flowers twice a year. The May blossoms came out early this year. It will flower again in September.

My favourite time of year

I have a snowball fight every year. Last year we had the deep freeze. Nothing was open, except the M&S [a supermarket and department store] where my pitch is, and I was just throwing snowballs at everybody. Going back to the Big Issue office I slipped and it took three people to help me up. It was so cold, it was unbelievable. But I took a lot of money so it was ok. It can snow, it can rain, whatever. I’ll still be out there.

Originally published in The Big Issue (UK)

Read more #VendorCityGuides here.