Friday, 28 March 2014

Duke Street Arcade & Duke Street, Cardiff

Duke Street Arcade opened in 1902, as an extension to the High Street Arcade (1885). It connects the slightly older arcade to Duke Street, which runs alongside part of Cardiff Castle’s walls. On this walking tour of Cardiff, we enter Duke Street Arcade from where it branches off the High Street Arcade. Heading north to Duke Street, on your left:

4 Duke St Arcade CF10 1AZ (2066 6914)
Garlands Eatery and Coffee House is a small independent café specialising in breakfasts, brunch, goat’s cheese salads and thick sandwiches for lunches, and Welsh dishes (e.g. cawl, rarebit) made using local ingredients; not forgetting the good-looking home-made cakes. It has been in this location for thirty-odd years. The current management has been here for around a year-and-a-half, however, doing the tweaks and upgrades needed to keep it a fresh and thriving concern. I had one of their all-day breakfasts for lunch today, going for the meaty one rather than the Glamorgan sausage vegetarian one. There were two rashers of bacon, a fine pork sausage, a fried tomato, mushrooms, two eggs (of ideal runniness), baked beans and, best of all, rosemary fried potatoes. Mine came with a plate of thick toast and butter, and my order of a large pot of tea. There’s a little bit of Italy in the décor (with a violin and a picture of a violin on the wall) and on the menu, which features their homemade tagliatelle. In addition to the wonderful array of home-made cakes, the pancakes and coffee are said to be very good. It’s an intimate-sized, relaxed and friendly place, with nine tables inside, a few more in the arcade itself, and with the kitchen where the pasta and cakes are freshly-made downstairs (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. June 2013).

The Duke Street Arcade has some interesting and eccentric shops, including Catapult Records, the Joke Shop, Eccentrix Shoes, a hairdresser, bridal shop and gift shop.

Exit the arcade onto Duke Street. Turning left, there is an odd assortment of shops for a location that is across the road from Cardiff Castle: a closed unit (formerly Calders), Forbidden Planet (sale on), Shop Rugby, Joke Shop, Mountain Warehouse (the closing down sale has finished and its back to normal) and a travel agent. Between the comics and the rugby:

Caffè Nero
6-7 Duke Street CF10 1AY (2023 6660)
Italian coffee shop chain, one of four branches in Cardiff (all within a few blocks of each other), offering breakfast and lunches; porridge, paninis and sandwiches, pastries, muffins, cakes, and espresso (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. May 2011).

Go back past the entrance to Duke Street Arcade, until you get to the old pub:

The Rummer Tavern
14 Duke Street CF10 1AY (2023 5091)
The Rummer Tavern dates from 1713 and is reckoned to be Cardiff’s oldest surviving pub. It retains an atmosphere appropriate to its 300 years. This is greatly helped by it being an independent inn that is strictly an over-18s venue (the regulars are certainly older than this). Food is served from midday to around 7pm during the week; earlier at weekends. The menu is classic pub food (fish and chips, sausages and mash, steak and other grills, pie, chilli, Sunday roast); supplemented by burgers, jacket potatoes and some vegetarian options (e.g. vegetable curry). I usually go for one of the specials, of which there have been three on recently, fish cakes was my choice last week. Around five cask ales usually on tap, with Hancock’s HB and Wye Valley HPA as resident ales, accompanied by guest beers. My most recent pint there was Double Dragon, from the Felinfoel Brewery of Llanelli. They do take good care of their beer. In a public poll of the Best Pubs in Wales last week, The Runner Tavern was in the Top 30 (in at No. 29). I would probably have put it higher, though the Top 10 mainly had views of the sea rather than castle walls (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Nov 2012).

15 Duke Street CF10 1AY (2066 8123)
This Subway is one of the more-prominent of the 13-odd Subway outlets in Cardiff. According to Food Republic, the part-baked bread-like aroma you get when walking past a Subway is due to a caramelisation smell deriving from the sugar in the bread being cooked from frozen – the bread mix is proprietary accounting for its unique smell. The company claim it is not deliberately pumped out, but where you put your vents is a key factor so you can make up your own mind on that. As a baking aroma its low down on my personal list of favourites, but given Subway’s success it obviously draws them in (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2013).

On the corner is a large Burger King (12-14 St John’s Street), which we encountered previously. Turn right down St John Street and head back down to St John Church. This tour is now heading for the Queens Arcade and Working Street. See you there next time.

Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:

High Street Arcade

Church Street and St John’s Street

Cardiff Market

Wharton Street and Trinity Street

Morgan Arcade

Royal Arcade

The Hayes

The Old Brewery Quarter

Caroline Street

Mill Lane and Wyndham Arcade

St Mary Street

High Street

Castle Arcade and Castle Street

Womanby Street and Quay Street

Westgate Street


Cathedral Road

Pontcanna 2

Pontcanna 1

North Canton

Cowbridge Road East 3

Cowbridge Road East 2

Cowbridge Road East 1

Bute Park

Cathays Park

Cathays Terrace

Salisbury Road

Woodville Road

Crwys Road

Wellfield Road

Albany Road

City Road

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Nectar Point Networks 2

In a previous post (15 Jan 2014), I introduced the concept of a Nectar Point Network (NPN). The driving force for the establishment of NPN hubs in the Cardiff area is Professor Denis Bellamy, who is the Chairman of the Conservation Management System Consortium (CMSC) and a former head of the Zoology Department at University College Cardiff. He has put together an informative website on NPNs (see link below). The Cardiff NPN is taking shape through a ‘bottom up’ approach. In an email in February, Prof Bellamy explained that, “it is envisaged that each hub organises itself as a self-sustaining community nectar point with its own action plan and local funding”.

The Nightingale Community Garden in Dinas Powys was established last year, a process I outlined in a series of posts (see links below).  At the start of this year, I registered the Community Garden as a potential Nectar Point Network hub. As a first step into making this happen, I applied for and got an award (£100 of garden vouchers) from Keep Wales Tidy’s Wild Weekend Voucher Application, which this year aims to improve food sources for pollinators and is aimed at community groups. One stipulation is that plants purchased should be on the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Perfect for Pollinators Plant List.

I spent the voucher on two bee nesting boxes; five large pots; four bags of peat-free organic compost; a bee-friendly Escallonia ‘Apple blossom’ bush; and packets of nectar-rich plant seed, including lavender, foxglove, borage, cornflower, marigold, marjoram and 'wild flower honey bee mix'.  I intend to add a winter-flowering honeysuckle at a later date, along with  some surplus rosemary, primrose and heather from my garden. The idea is to establish a border of nectar-rich plants at one end of Nightingale Community Garden, with five pots of bee-friendly flowers in other areas of the garden. This will be our starting point, from which other activities will flow.

There are numerous nectar-rich plants that can be grown for pollinating insects. The consensus is that variety is more important than focusing on any one plant species. This is for several reasons. A range of different species can be grown that produce nectar at different times of the year, for instance, to feed pollinating insects active in different seasons. Furthermore, different pollinators are adapted to different flower structures, for example, long-faced bumblebees with long feeding parts (e.g. Bombus hortorum) are specialised to get the nectar from flowers with long corolla, such as foxgloves. Another factor is flower colour, with different pollinating insects homing in on different colours (e.g. Bombus  lapidarius has a fondness for yellow flowers); so the more colourful the pollinator border the better!

A recent study, conducted by Mikhail Garbuzov and Francis Ratnieks at the University of Sussex with 32 popular summer flowering plants over a two-year period, identified which were the most attractive to insect pollinators. Borage (Borago officinalis), lavender (Lavandula) and marjoram (Origanum majorana) scored highly. However, not all lavenders were attractive to bees, only the wild types, with highly-bred ones such as those with novel colours not proving very attractive. Borage flowers were the most attractive to honey bees. Perennial lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina) was the most popular plant with more unusual bees, such as the solitary wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum).  The authors concluded that choosing the plants you grow carefully can make a big difference to pollinators. The least attractive plant in this study was the widely-planted pelargonium.

A previous study, conducted at the University of Cambridge in 1999, of 24 plant species (not the same plants as in the Sussex study) also revealed large differences in terms of insect pollinator visits. The most visited plants by honey bees in this study were Malva moschata, Salvia pratensis, Malva sylvestris, Scabiosa columbaria, Centaurea pratensis, Knautia arvensis, Trifolium repens, Salvia verbenaca, Lythrum salicaria and Saponaria officinalis.   The bumblebee most recorded was Bombus pascuorum, which preferred Trifolium pratense, Salvia pratense, Trifolium repens, Laminium album and Stachys sylvatica.

The references to both these papers are below. They provide a good entry point into the scientific literature on this subject.

I will post more on NPNs and pollinating insects later in the spring, along with an update on progress in the Nightingale Community Garden as it enters its second year.

Nectar Point Network website:

Previous post on Nectar Point Networks:

Previous posts on Nightingale Community Garden:
Sept 2013
June 2013
April 2013
March 2013
Feb 2013
Jan 2013
Oct 2012
Aug 2012
Feb 2012
Jan 2012

Livio Comba, Sarah A. Corbet, Lynn Hunt & Ben Warren (1999), Flowers, nectar and insect visits: Evaluating British plant species for pollinator-friendly gardens’, Annals of Botany 83: 369-383. Online:

Mikhail Garbuzov & Francis L.W. Ratnieks (2013), Quantifying variation among garden plants in attractiveness to bees and other  flower-visiting insects’, Functional Ecology (Oct 2013):