"He who can not draw on three thousand years is living hand to mouth"- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Saturday, 29 January 2011

A Guide to Aberstywyth

  1.  Feature Writing (500 words):  Aberstwyth is a seaside town a lot like my own home town of Weston-S-Mare, but it has the best of what Weston doesn’t have: a sea you can smell, a vibrant University atmosphere & deep seculsion.  It’s many miles from the next nearest town & it’s a journey to get to but there’s not much to miss if you like being cut off.  I chose to go to Aberstwyth because of its English Literature syllubus & because of the location of the place.  It’s in a beautiful area that deserves to be walked in & there’s enough horizon to look out on not to feel penned in & stifled. 
 The University buildings overlook the town & is at ease with it’s environment.  Lots of plantlife grows alongside the still concrete, which is always a good feature for any institutional building.  There are woodland pathways to explore & seafront walks to enjoy.  I particularly like the walk through the cemetary for a little peace in a busy day.  This really is a place for people who like to walk since going to town requires travelling down, & eventually back up, a hill.  Taking a walk to a little café for breakfast after a wretched night out has also given a soothing waking up.  Some may feel its too small but for me it doesn’t need it to be any larger.  There are plenty of societys to nourish whatever interest you have be it a continuation of your course, an adventerous activity or a lifelong hobby. 
  It has seen it’s fair share of floods & fires over the years. Including the specatcular destruction of the pier by storm in 1938 when it used to house an avriary filled with ornamental birds, & the mysterious fire destorying the Old College in 1885.  No-one can promise Aber will go undamaged in the next few years but the sea-walls are up to try to keep it in its place.  Of course there are a few idiots who look for fights on a few days but for the rest of the year it is calm to its core & the people are laid back. 
  It has the most higest ratio of pubs to the square mile in the UK, which works out at about one for every week of the year.  Exploring the variety of pubs has been a lot of fun & there’s still pleanty for me to drink in.  If you’re lucky like me than you may find a personal guide to take you through the highlights, the lesser known gems & the underrated.  Dressing up has become really popular so don’t be surprised to see fairies, smurfs & elves prancing around the streets at night.
  I’m very much looking forward to going back.   

  1.  Nightlife Section:
1)Rummers, classy Italian flavored drinking hole by the river.  Does have bands in from time to time but is small & fills up & gets crowded quickly.
Bridge Street
SY23 1QD
01970 625 177

 2)The Ship & Castle, popular pub with a good range of ales.  It has been refurbished within the last few years so it pleasingly doesn’t have the grotty polish as it used to.  It’s also won the CAMRA Real Ale Pub Of The Year Award this year, which makes it A Pub I Really Should Go To More.
1 High St,
SY23 1JG
08721 077 077

3)Scholars, a pub crawl starting place & weekday meeting place favourite.
Queen's Road
Aberystwyth, Dyfed,
SY23 2HH
01970 615 241

4)The Mill, the place for shots with my personal favorite ‘The Mill Boy’ containing baileys & advocardo.
Mill Street,
SY23 1HZ
08721 077 077

5)Salt, upmarket bar that encourages acoustic sets.  Good backdrop for some intelligent chat or classy flirting involving steady eye contact.  Bring polo neck jumper & discerning brow.
Portland Street,
SY23 2DX
01970 623318

6)Downies Vaults, the bar for ruby fans.  It can either be pared down to emptiness or bursting full of heavy drinkers.  Can be frightening when the locals start dancing on the seats next to you, but then you can just join in.
SY23 2AR 
01970 625 446

8)Angle Inn, another last stop in the pub crawl, which is either a full stop to the evening or a prelude to the nightclubbing.  Often has music events with DJ’s in the spacy, sometimes too spacy, back room.  Can be completely packed but it’s unlikely to stop you having one for the road.
57-59 Great Darkgate Street
Aberystwyth SY23 1DW
01970 617 878

9)Varsity, is a fantasic place to hold meetings as there is upstairs seating with good quality food.  Close to the sea-front sitting across from Salt.
Upper Portland Street
SY23 2DT
01970 615 234 

10)The Cambrian, opposite Yr Hen Orsaf & beside Lord Beechings The Cambrian is the place to go for cocktails with the option of creating your own cocktail.  Cocktails are expensive drinks & some are more value for money than others but its perfect for alcholic exploration.  The biggest cocktail they have is the ‘Death Star’, which comes in a mighty two pints & is not for the faint of liver.
Alexandra Road,
SY23 1LG
(01970) 612446

11)The Fountain, a very small pub across the bridge from Rummers.  Not a bad place to go for a post-football match drink as its usually very quite with a small standard set of regulars.  I remember the toilets being very cold & the lock strange for a forgotten reason but that should hardly be a put off.
Aberystwyth, Dyfed,
SY23 1BE
01970 612 430

12)Camera Obsura, go up Constional Hill by the cable car for a romantic night overlooking Aberstwyth.  Great for Guyforks night & other seasonal events as they will often have a band playing there.  First time I went there was to see ‘The Silver Rocket Club’, which is a local heavliy space influenced rock band with an astounding front man servely off his head with non-sense lyrics.  Quite a memorable night.
Cliff Railway House,
Cliff Terrace,
SY23 2DN,
+44 (0)1970 617642

16)Cwrt Mawr Bar, the place of karaoke & watching sport headily placed at the centre of the Cwrt Mawr resisdences.  Does a good BBQ every summer during the exams making it good for beginning of summer celebrations.

17)Yr Hen Orsaf (The Old Station) aka Weatherspoons is a good place to start a heavy pub crawl ending in the clubs of night.  Deals on meals during the week including my favourite the curry club.  Has outdoor seating for poingiantly looking over the train station at night in the cold.
      Alexandra Road
SY23 1LN
01970 636080

18)Lord Beechings, contains something of a surprise if you sit in the right-hand corner & look up.  “Is that-?”, you will say & yes it is: a detail of the Sistein chaple where God & Adam nearly touch fingertips.  Other pubs are satisfied with the everyday appliances of the 18th centuary but this one has culture itself.  It is worth going in one night for a look at it.  A sound alternative for when The Cambrian is too crowded.
Alexandra Road,
SY23 1LE

19)Why Not?, well there are many good reasons why not but it’s hard to bring down snobbish opinions on a place that is purely for drinking & dancing.  Why you may go there does boil down to a) you want to dance b) you don’t want to go to Pier Pressure.  There was a legendary third nightclub in town that third years will nostalgically remember as ‘The Bay’ but that has now closed down.  Third years may even also denie the name of ‘Why Not?’ but will refer to it as ‘Yoko’s’, why?  Ask them yourselves. 
Pier Street / Great Darkgate,
SY23 2LJ
(01970) 623963

20)Pier Pressure, Inn on the Pier’s nightclub.  You’ll be here because a) you want to dance b) you don’t want to go to ‘Why Not?’.  Sticky floors but it does feel good to be dancing above the sea.  Music, with regret, will be the same tracks ‘Why Not?’ plays.  And, I ask, is there really no market for the Pier’s own ‘Punch & Judy’ show?  An experience to say at last.
Marine Terrace
SY23 2AZ
01970 636 100

21) Academy, this is the ambigious limbo of bars undeciding between being a pub & becoming a full on nightclub.  Although a grey area isn’t always a terrible place to be in, why it’s set in the same place where you can have the ‘Best of Both Worlds’…or the worst, depending on your taste.  Inside a church building with organ pipes behind the bottles of booze does undeniably give the place a unquie character, but if it’s in limbo does that make it agnostic?  Would Jesus approve?  He did turn water into wine I suppose.  Radical Vicars adside, loud music & no dancefloor makes for a delightfully puzzling, if theologically unsound, bar.  A great venue for getting in another round of drinks before hitting the nightclubs
Great Darkgate Street,
SY23 1DW
08721 077 077

22)The Union, the University’s nightclub on campus.  If you’re a fan of cheesey disco music than this will be the place for you every Wendseday night as they hold their ‘Re-Load’ event.  It’s the closest bar & nightclub to the campus, so you’ll need strong arguments not to go there.  I can’t say, now living in town, that I’ll miss it but it’s fun for those who really love to dance.  My highlights of it comes to the bizzare Silent Disco & the appreance of the legendary Dave Benson Phillips.  Shame he didn’t do a ‘Get Your Own Back’ re-mix
Aberystwyth University Guild of Students
SY23 3DX
01970 62 1700

23) The Castle Hotel, not to be mistaken for the ‘Ship & Castle’.  This really is the last stop on what has turned out to be an adventerous pub crawl.  Slightly distant from the main circuit it’s actually is rewarding to get there.  It’s technically a sports bar because you can play darts & get discounts depending on which socieites you join.  It’s the only pub that stays open to two in the morning, which is fantastic if you want to make a proper night of it while avoiding the nightclubs.
South Road
Aberystwyth, Ceredigion
SY23 1JW
01970 612 188

NOTE: if you want a more in depth review of the Aber pubs I would highly recommend a visit to my personal guide Sir Quinno at http://aberpubs.blogspot.com/, who has compiled an excellent comprehenisve guide full of information & ale-centric opinion.

CAFES/ RESTAURANTS:  1)Inn on the Pier, Pier Pressure’s pub that serves fairly good pizzas & sandwiches at the back.  Has a pleasant view of the sea-front & Constitional Hill to look at while having a slow drink in the afternoon.  On some days if you have a shot here first then you can get a discount on the enterance to Pier Pressure
Marine Terrace
SY23 2AZ
01970 636 100

 2)National Milkbar, I love its grand name & if it is the standard to judge other, if they exist elsewhere, milkbars then why not?  To clarify the milkbar isn’t a nightclub for the sober but a café for the hungover.  It is ultra family friendly & the closest café to the sea.  It is the café you see in postcards, it is the post-war American diner when rock ‘n’ roll was rhythm ‘n’ blues & it’s here in Wales fullfilling its stereotypical duty.  I like it.  It’s a café that knows how to be a café.  It is slightly naff & tacky & maybe too clinically clean that is horrifically reminscent of McDonalds.  If you want a simple lunch with solid food than this serves up good, but don’t expect any philosophers. 
3)MGs, a coffee shop that liscened to sell alcohol.  Great for pre-afternoon football drinks;
4)The Upper Limit, a highly recommendable café to treat yourself with lunch with.  The salad meals are large & tasty alongside some free magazines to read as you wait.  It is quite small & compact so it’s not a place to hide in the corner.  One of my faveourites;
5)Cariad Expresso Bar, some may be as surprised as I was to find that Aberstwyth has an Expresso bar (they’ll be more surprised that it has a shop dedicated to coffee & related objects when they see the Mecca) but there it is.  If I use the word ‘small’ to describe it then please don’t think it’s only the size of the living room, think it’s only the size of a larder.  Like other things in Aber the word ‘small’ easily changes into ‘cosy’ & that’s not as bad.  It’s a lovely place to have a sandwich, read a newspaper & scauld yourself with an expresso while it rains & storms outside. 
6)Arts Centre Café, the university café that continuely surprises with good food deals.  Sits below & above an art gallery & opposite the cinema & theatre.  The place to eat to feel surrounded by culture.  Does fill up with parents with little children at times, & small groups of dancers.  Sweet if you like children but irritating if you can’t stand small people.;
9)Wasabi, the Japanese restaurant.  I really enjoy sushi so this is one of my favourite places, although I could skip the saki next time.  A small place so not really one for a big society Christmas meal but really suites eating out with flatmates & course friends.  Some meals, like the Bento, come in wooden boxes with compartments & some alcoholic drinks come hot.  A place to stretch your taste buds;
10)Treehouse, café that sells organic food.  I’ve never been inside but it is on my list of places I’ve been meaning to go to for a while as it looks very nice & appetizing.
11)Light of Asia, a nicely decorated curryhouse serving great asian beers & big plates of the hot stuff;
13)Olive Branch, a greek restaurant that I have heard many good things about; 14)Ultracomida Delicatessen, your first port of call for specialised cheese & meats.  It has a very posh café at the back serving good wine.  For those who wish to feel a little more cultured about eating but no regular place to go to on a student budget.
15)Hollywood Pizza, the place to go for post-nightclub munches.  They serve big pizzas so a small will be just as filling as a large because you won’t finish a large; 16)Hot Dumplings, standard chinese take away.  They deliver to the door so it’s a good choice for a stay indoors takeaway party.;
17)Marco’s, for first years living in the campus it’s the very last stop for late night food.  However it doesn’t stay open as late as you might think.  And it doesn’t sell margarita pizza, no, it sells, wait for it, marcorita pizza- yes that is what you have to ask for or you won’t be served.  Well, I like a man who stands up for his puns;
18)Efe’s Kebab (pronounced effy), is kebab shop opposite Academy & round the corner from Why Not.  It’s not excellent & it’s the only kebab shop I’ve ever seen employing a bouncer for the busy weekend (who will tell you not to eat chips inside, which I’m still sore about- it’s a chip shop for crying out loud, what do you expect them to do?  Ahem…) but it serves food late at night.   It’s a place for finishing off your night before the long walk back up the hill.
19) Little Italy cosy little two-floor restaurant works hard to give a rustic italian feel to the place & mostly it works because the atmosphere is warm, personal & overall romantic.  Although do real italian restaurants paste their ceilings with newspaper?
20) Agra bold colours adorn this mock imperial bedroom restaurant with silk cloths softens the hard walls giving a sense of warm cosy comfort.  Expensive, yes, but it is a fine expense to pay for such wonderful silken food & large beers.  Service here is equally top quality being personal without being intrusive.  A perfect small piece of an ideal India like the ideal Italy in Little Italy but underplays the tackiness involved in invoking such an ideal.
  1.  Student Accomodation: PJM, the student village, the place I am most qualified to talk about.  Why I chose to live in the village was because I didn’t like the look of the omnious flats & I prefered a kitchen with table & chairs.  I found it to be much quieter than I had expected, but I’m not sure why I thought it would be any louder than it is.  It sits on the edge of the woods & has convient pathways through them that takes you down into town; Cwrt Mawr;  these are some of the better flats in the area.  The rooms are large enough & there is table & chairs in the kitchen.  Each flat holds nine to eleven students.  The Cwrt Mawr (pronounced Court Mao) buildings cluster conivently around the Cwrt Mawr bar, for some it will be literatlly on your doorstep.  Rosser, a lot like Cwrt Mawr except without a doorbell or intercom, so for those visiting make sure you have a mobile phone.  Treflyone, flats are smaller than Cwrt Mawr & Rosser housing seven students in each.  Alexandra Hall, this is a sea-front resisdence that is more like the halls of Cwrt Mawr than houses.  Was opened in 1896 by the Princess Alexandra of Wales.  However it’s decorated indoor quality depends on which part of the Hall you get put in.  I had friends who lived there under spacious & smartly furnished conditions while others complained of cramp & damp.  This is because the resisdence is split between standard rooms & superior rooms.  One gets en-suite facilities with sea views the other gets to share bathrooms.   On the whole I believe it to be a good accomdation by the sea.  Depending on your view of the Halls they can be alternativly called either ‘The Hostel’ or ‘The Doves Nest’   ; The Sea-Front Resisdences are houses on the sea front & are the more atmosphereic of the accomodations.  Always beening bufferted by the wind & always facing the sea makes these resisdences good for sunset dinners; Claredon House; an en-suite sea-front resisdence similar but smaller to the Alexandra Halls. Brynderw, I didn’t know this even existed until researching accomodation but from what I can tell it’s about the same size as Trefloyne & I expect it to be of a similar quality.  Penbryn, an accomodation in which I do not envy the studetns living there.  I don’t think this place is erternally unbearably since basically there is nothing wrong with it.  But this is a strictly no-frills building.  It has a very instiutional look of bare white walls, small rooms & a questionable kitchen for sharing.  It is one of the two catered resisdences that includes a fixed charge for meals within the Accomodation Fees.  It sits above the restaurant TaMed Da, which is a very pleasant place to meet up with friends & have lunch.  Pantycelyn, the welsh only accomodation that holds more non-welsh speakers then you would think.  It is the only accomodation that has security on the door at night.  I have never been inside this place but I’ve never heard any horror stories from it so I suppose it will be much like the Alexandier Halls minus nearby waving water.  If you don’t speak welsh & you find yourself inside this building then you will feel instantly isolated & intimidated, but remember that you will not be the only one so seek out others to form a small non-welsh group within it.  This is the second of the catered resisdences that has a restaurant built inside.  NOTE:  this is only a guide to the buildings & so what may sound horrifying here may actually be brightened by the wonderful people you meet inside them.  And, sadly, visa versa.  If you’re not getting on well with the accomodation you are in then there is always an option to change early in the term.  For more spefic information go to http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/undergrad/accommodation/   

I do not know if there are terrible areas with a reputation of bad housing since areas in this small town easily overlap each other & the range of quality is different with each house.  When me & my friends wanted to get a place early last year we looked around several different places with different letting agencies.  On the whole what we looked at was not great.  Some of this was put down to the occupencies living there at that time who had a much higher dirt threshold then us but there were some where cleaniness only went so far to cover the awfulness of the house.  Even the house we thought was the best had a willy wonka corridor leading from the kitchen in the basement to a kneck-creakingly tiny shower with its cuboads hanging from the walls & blue pellets littered around the fridge to keep the slugs away.  You too will get this desperate.  Luckily we were too late to get that house & instead we found out through word-of-mouth a vastly supeior house with a very kind landlord who charges us no deposit.  Needless to say we feel very fortunate.  What I want to communicate is that getting a decent house at a good price will require some generous amount of luck.  There are houses you can only find out about by talking to people but ultimately you are in the hands of the landlords because in any given year there will only be a limited options of choice available for a limited amount of time.  However like my story don’t think that the first is best & even if you do leave house hunting a little late in the season you’ll still have a good chance at living somewhere.  Keywords for estate & letting agents: pro-activity, flexibilty. 

A list of the main estate & letting agents taken from http://www.email4property.co.uk/aberystwyth/estate-agents.htm
      121Move.co.uk, the Online Estate Agency, 0844 800 4990.
Aled Ellis & Co, 16 Terrace Road, Aberystwyth, Dyfed, SY23 1NP.
Alexanders, Cambrian Chambers, Terrace Road, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 1NY.
Homebuyer Centre, Summertown, South Parade, Oxford, OX2 7HT, 0800 822 3463.
Jim Raw Rees & Co, 1 Charlybeate Street, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 1HS.
John Francis, 5 Terrace Road, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 1NY.
Lloyd Herbert & Jones, 10 Charlybeate Street, Ceredigion, SY23 1HS.
Shearer & Morris, 23 Terrace Road, Aberystwyth, Dyfed, SY23 1NP.
Upad.co.uk, 104 Tennyson Road, London, NW6 7SB, 0845 680 1394.

  1.  Places of Interest: National Library of Wales, copywright library that holds a copy of every book ever published in the UK.  It is reading only & does not lend out any of its books.  You have to register if you want to use it but it’s painless & quick.  It does hold information about Aberystwyth & exhibitions on writers so it’s worth at least one visit in a term
The National Library of Wales
SY23 3BU
0800 0325 695

Tropical Glasshouse & Botanic Gardens, it’s the first I’ve heard about this although I did always wonder what those glasshouses were for & now I know.  So now knowing what it is & that its open to the public I’ll be making a visit in the new term

Camera Obsura & Cliff Railway on Constitutional Hill, the cliff railway was built in 1896 by the Aberystwyth Improvement Company.
Cliff Railway House,
Cliff Terrace,
SY23 2DN,
+44 (0)1970 617642

Bragdy Gwynant: The Smallest Brewey in the World & Tynllidiart Arms; based just outside Aberystwth in Capel Bangor, & said to be home to a local ghost, it’s a must see for Ale afenicardos.  Less than 5ft square it used to be an outside toilet before being converted to a more profitable use.  It brews a beer using a secret recipe before selling it on to its only customer the pub next door.  Very much off the beaten track but definitely should be visited if you have made a friend with a car.  Or if you’re a die-hard purist walking there should be no problem if you’re determined enough.
Capel Bangor,
SY23 3LR
08721 077 077

 Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre, if you go at about two ‘o’ clock then you will get see the feeding of the Red Kites where hundreds birds of prey rise up out from the trees & swoop down to the lake’s surface for fresh meat.  A stunning sight for birdwatches & zoologists alike. 
Bwlch Nant-yr-Arian Visitor Centre
SY23 3AD
01970 890453

Borth Animalarium, another place zoologist & animal observers will like.  Risiding in Borth it contains a small host of exotic animals such as wallabies, igunas & Ocelots.  It’s £9 to get in & from what I’ve heard it’s worth going there for an day out by the gorgeous pebble beach.
SY24 5NA
01970 871224

Devil’s Bridge, you pay a pound to get into a valley for either a 10 minute or a 45 minute walk.  A direct train from Aber station The Devil’s Bridge Falls is easy to get to.  It’s an inspiring landscape that’s filled with interesting plantlife & animals. There is the steep narrow steps of Jacob’s Ladder on the longer walk that will make you thank god for the invention of the banister railing.  Sitting opposite an old hotel it seems fit for the setting of a horror story. 
Devil's Bridge
SY23 3JW
(01970) 890233

Old College Buildings; opposite to Pier Pressure & Inn on the Pier.  I am unsure how much longer the old college will stay open to the public since its library had to be closed earlier this year.  While the opportunity is still there I would advise a least one visit to the place as its architecture speaks of the high values of culture & of the oddly put together nature of the world.  They used to be part of a hotel that went bancrukpt before being acquried by the University in 1867  Some corridors go on into distances, some staircases are tight & narrow while some are sweeping & wide, rooms seem to be everywhere & you should get lost in it on your first look.  It is wonderous, puzzling & also, more & more, historical.  The expression on the statue of T.C. Edwards, the first principle of the University College of Aberstwyth, outside is nice as it looks as if the scholar had hit upon some insight or seen the sun break through the clouds over the sea he looks at & it’s a fitting face of this educational establishment.
Old College
King Street
SY23 2AX
01970 623111

The Gorsedd Circle, located in the castle grounds in the corner of Aber by the sea is fifteen stones that represent the Welsh counties.  Put there in 1916 when the National Eisteddfod of Wales, a welsh arts festival, was held in the town.  Atmosphereic & beautifully lit up in the dark it is good location for a reflection on a history surrounded by sea.

  1.  Sports:
  2.  Generic Student Information:  Buy books from charity & second hand shops, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because you’re buying cheaper books you can buy more.  Even basic mathmatics should be fostered within a humanities degree; Stop buying albums use spotify & Itunes share; buy simple food bases like pasta & rice with vegtables & become good at adapting your meals & buy long term foods such as seasonings & sauces little but often.  Don’t buy cat food, no matter how desperate you become.  Pot noodle should be an occasional alternative not part of your regular diet, besides super noodle is better; take only cash with you on pub crawls; try not to get into dept.  Basic advice but keep an eye on it seriously, when dept gets out of hand it gets deeply red extremely quickly & it won’t wash out easily; when your parents come for a visit let them treat you to a meal of your choice; how did I register with the doctor?  I did not, I simply didn’t get ill, but really it’s very easy.  The forms you need are given to you when you first get there & all you need to do is fill it out & give it to your GP of choice.  Why didn’t I do if it was so easy?  I have knack at not doing things I need to do.   
  3.  Photography: for a great selection of Aber looking arty go to  http://www.flickr.com/groups/aberphotosoc/
  4.  Events: At National Library of Wales: an ExhibitionsUntil - 27 November 2010Writers of WalesAn exhibition celebrating the work of Brenda Chamberlain and Caradog Prichard. 16 October / April 2011 Small World - Travel in Wales and BeyondA major exhibition on the history of travel and exploration in Wales and beyond through images, journals, text and items from the Library's unique collections. 
At the Arts Centre: The Royal Photographic Society: international Print Exhibition (11 Sep – 6 Nov)The Box (20 Jul – 31 Oct).  The Rare One Club Nite 2nd Oct. 
  1.  Public Relations:  The Courier; Cambrian News; Glam TV South Wales Broadcasting Federation (SWCSBF)


  1. Cheers for the link matey, have reciprocated over on http://aberpubs.blogspot.com/

  2. Making an allowance for the purpose the piece of writing was written for, the text is just about great