Archive for Days Out

A Night at the Theatre

When we first arrived in Melbourne, we started making a bucket list of things we wanted to do there before we left. Granted most of them included restaurants or cake shops or roof top bars, but the very first one was a trip to the theatre to see Matilda The Musical.

And last night, we finally got around to doing it.
Matilda the musical

We bought tickets a few weeks ago and at only 55$ they were quite a bargain. We were told they were on the ground floor close to the stage but had restricted seating. However, upon arrival we found that we had a pretty clear view.

There can’t be many people who don’t know the story of Matilda, and having grown up with Roald Dahl books myself, I was excited to see how they produced a play from a much loved children’s book.

Tucked up with our grapes and sweets (we’re really working this whole “balanced diet” thing), we eagerly waited for the lights to go down. And as the chatter halted and the lights started to dim, some shadows approached on the stage, the first note of a song, and Matilda had begun.

The show was full of laughter, music, and not a dull moment was had. Tim Minchin is a genius who can create a story out of a song and make it catchy, funny and memorable. The cast were all enthusiastic and you could just tell they were having a great time. Honestly though, it’s just unfair how talented these kids were – what happened to my talent? Why wasn’t I cast in an international play as a child?

Throughout the play, there was barely a minute to pause for breath. Each second was jam packed with music, movement and laughter. And it was great. I found myself staring at the stage, unable to tear my eyes away for fear I would miss a crucial moment. I love how even the sad parts of the book, the loneliness felt by both Matilda and Miss Honey were still prominent but dealt with in a light-hearted and comical way.

The characters were definitely brought to life throughout the play and you found yourself rooting for each and every one. Even Miss Trunchball who is cast as the evil enemy got one of the biggest cheers at the end of the play only reinforcing the fantastic way the story was adapted.

It’s always tricky turning a much loved book into a film or play but this performance just aced all my expectations. Children and adults alike were grinning from ear to ear throughout the night and the whole theatre echoed with cheers and laughter in every scene.

Seriously, leave your house right now and go see it. It’s amazing. And it’s only here in Melbourne for a few more weeks! Quick! Quick! You’ll only regret it…

Matilda the musical

 

Tea & Cake at Waterloo Tea

I love afternoon tea. After going out for dinner, it’s got to be one of my favourite hobbies.

So being a serial afternoon tea-er and having tired the majority of tea rooms in Cardiff, Waterloo Tea seemed the obvious place to head. With shops located around Cardiff, I headed to the ones in Roath. The shop itself is relaxed and spacey, and was brimming with people enjoying the sunny day and indulging in afternoon treats.

First, we chose our cake. Which was a really tough decision. Carrot cake, double chocolate, brownie, lemon and lime….choosing just one from this wide range of deliciously tempting slices is difficult. But a decision had to be made. I went for chocolate and salted caramel (I am currently obsessed with salted caramel, it is literal Heaven), my friend lemon and lime and then we were taken to a table where we were given a menu and told to choose what tea we wanted. All their teas have been carefully and specially chosen in order to ensure that it is the best that it could be. With lots to choose from, I went for the normal Waterloo Breakfast. Slightly boring but hey, I like what I like.

The tea arrives in adorable tea pots (which I really wanted to steal however I thought that that might be a bit frowned upon) and with a timer so that you can wait until the tea is perfectly brewed and ready to drink. And then, the food arrived. A three tier plated stack of finger sandwiches, our chosen cakes, massive scones with jam and cream and even little chocolate truffles. We basically inhaled it all within about fifteen minutes. Eyes were definitely bigger than our stomachs but it was definitely totally worth it.

Everything is home made which makes it all the more enjoyable and is relatively cheap at just £15 per head. They also do gift vouchers (which is what I used – thanks Dad – my family know me too well..) and you can even book out the shop for afternoon tea parties. Now that sounds like my kind of party.

Afternoon tea is so damn good. And Waterloo Tea is simply the best. Hats off to you, I’ll be seeing you every afternoon for the rest of my life.

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Sunday in Salisbury

Father’s Day was spent in the picture perfect English town of Salisbury. Full of charm, picturesque houses and sunny skies, this was the perfect place to spend time catching up with family and enjoying the day.

The day was beautiful – blue skies and warm sunshine ensured that we could enjoy a picnic in the park which was bustling with people and overlooked by the famous cathedral. Salisbury is one of those quaint English towns that makes you feel like you’re in another world, like you’re walking through a TV set where everything is perfect and beautiful. The cathedral looms over the city, its vastness making everything else seem miniature, as though you’re walking through a matchstick village with matchstick people.

The cathedral entrance provided a few minutes (read twenty..) of entertainment due to the hanging lights which drop from the ceiling which change colours when sensing movement. Slightly random feature to pop into a cathedral, I must admit, but then again, just makes it all the memorable. Of course, the inside is beautiful – the afternoon sunshine streamed through the elegant stain glass windows and the large, airy interior enforced a sense of peacefulness to the place. After spending some time wandering around the cathedral, we headed to the cafe for a drink – the cafe is located in a lovely position, we were able to sit outside in the cool archways away from the sun but with a wonderful view of the cathedral gardens.

So if you’re after a day trip to a beautiful city with bags of charm, Salisbury is the place to head too. A day spent here is a day well spent and definitely worth the 2 hour drive and queues at the toll bridge. Oh, it’s such a burden living in Wales and having to pay to go over a bridge….

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Yorkin’ It

York is a beautiful city – full of half-timbered charm and cobbled-street character.

And it’s even more beautiful in the sunshine. In which we basked during our weekend May Bank Holiday family get together. Bliss.

With family in York, it is the perfect place to stage a reunion – relatively central for everyone to get there (eventually. Sheesh, it’s a fair long ride that) – the Cardiff clan, the Aberdeen clan, the Southampton clan and the London clan.

The weekend was spent enjoying the sunshine – slurping drinks in the evening sunshine, taking long (long) walks with the dog and ambling around central York, appreciating what it has to offer. And of course, as always, lots of questions. Yes, I’m graduating this year, and no I don’t have a “proper” job yet. And no, I don’t have any idea what to do with my life. Please, just let me drink my wine and wallow in my indecisiveness. However, I am going to Australia, so there’s that. Take that.

The city of York is that perfect mixture of modern and old – timber buildings and cobbled pavements taking over the crowd logged streets. And then of course, there’s York Minster. It’s vastness remarkably different from the narrow cobbled streets – a beautifully intricate building and one of York’s most important and beloved historical aspects. And as my Dad proudly points out every time – the huge doors which he once helped to paint. Every. Single. Time.

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So with another family get together over for another year, it was time to head back to the bright lights of Cardiff. And to planning a trip to Australia. Looks like that’s happening now I’ve told the whole family. Wish me luck!

Cardiff’s Street Food Circus

Nestled amongst Cardiff’s ever growing food and drink culture is pop up market, Street Food Circus. Open throughout May and June and in walking distance from the city centre, this is the place to be if you’re after some great food and lively atmosphere.

2015-05-16 09.30.30I headed there after a long week of work, eager to spend some down time with good food and good company. Walking into the market is almost like walking into another city. So separate from Cardiff’s usual hustle and bustle of urbanisation, this offers something different, something exciting. A big circus tent filled with tables, and most importantly, a bar (it had been a long week, okay?), makes up the middle of the grounds, surrounded by twinkling lights and food trucks offering all kinds of delicious street food from Greek to Indian, from fish to steak.

After settling our stomachs with (incredibly messy to eat, yet lip smackingly tasty) souvlaki (Meat and Greek) followed by Dirty Fried Chicken, we headed on over to the crème brûlée truck and tucked into a beautifully satisfying sticky toffee one topped with salted caramel. Of course, with our eyes bigger than out stomachs we did not stop there. With our naughty little fingers we grabbed at the chance of indulging in churros with chocolate sauce. And my, was it worth it. Sod the diet. I choose churros and chocolate over bikini body any day of the week.

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Street Food Circus, hiding under the bridge of the rail line is the perfect blend of lively chatter, sparkling lights and delicious foods. And with Summer fast approaching, this is the place to head if you’re a devoted foodie. It’s a literal foodie Heaven. Enjoy!

Spring In Your Step

A sunny spring day means only one thing: a gentle amble around some local beauty spots and a spot of tea in the afternoon sunshine.

It’s always exciting when the sun comes out in Britain. I mean, it doesn’t happen often does it? So when it does, everyone goes a little crazy. Shorts come on, sunglasses get out, beer gardens open up and everyone just seems a little bit merrier with a little bit more of a spring in their step.

And I am no different.

Last week’s blue skies allowed for a lovely walk around local beauty spot Castell Coch. Castell Coch – a beautiful fairy tale castle peeping out amongst the trees, a mere 10 minutes from my house – is the perfect place to spend a morning walking. Surrounded by an enchanting forest, myself and a friend enjoyed a pleasant amble which ended at some tea rooms where we indulged in toasted sandwiches and a spot o’ tea. Perfect.

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With the sun still shining brightly (and hotly…good job I’m always prepared with the factor 50. Curse my pale skin), a quick trip to the beach was in order. A short 40 minute drive away from where I live, Rest Bay is a beautiful beach and a surfer paradise (if only I could surf…)

So, with our shoes off, we ambled across the sand and dipped our feet in the (freezing) sea and explored the rocky platforms before heading back to Cardiff for some well deserved cocktails in the sun.

Oh Spring, you’re being far too kind.

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A Scottish New Year

A nine hour car journey was all that separated us from spending the last days of 2014 in my sister’s home in Aberdeen for a Scottish New Year.

Nine, long hours. Nine, long hours in a cramped car with the half the family. Hmm…now I love my family, don’t get me wrong. But nine hours in one confined place? It was going to be tough.

We emerged nine hours later, bleary eyed, numb-bummed, dead legged and wondering if we would ever be able to walk again without looking like the second man on the evolution chart. By this time, it was nearly 5pm, so resisting the urge to have a quick power nap, we headed to my sister’s flat and settled down for the evening, munching on cheese and crackers and a steaming bowl of delicious pasta.

New Year’s Eve was spent preparing for the evening, relaxing and eating, and eating some more. Myself, my sisters and my Mum headed to a blissful little place called Almondine, a family run cafe selling a rainbow array of handmade macarons. We indulged in the most exquisite hot chocolate which was quite simply perfection. And I realise I say that a lot about hot chocolate. But it really was amazing.

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The evening was spent dining on homemade pulled pork with homemade brioche and chicken marinated in different types of delicious spicy sauces. My sister is literally everything I want to be when I grow up. Homemade brioches? Homemade pulled pork? For Christmas she even made me homemade Nutella. And homemade bodyscrubs for other members of the family! She can do everything I swear. Setting impossibly high daughter standards since 1989 that girl…

After drinking copious amounts of wine, champagne and Mojitos, we headed out to see the Midnight fireworks which were pretty spectacular. Beautiful colours filling the sky marked a fitting end to a pretty great year – full of travel, family, friends and amazing memories. And uni work. And uni stress. And uni panic. Moving on…

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So 2014 is over; a fabulous last few days of the year spending time with family before heading back to Portsmouth for my last few months in university before I graduate. Whilst that is a daunting and slightly terrifying thought, it only makes me all the more excited for 2015 to get under way! Here’s to 2015 and all the memories, good times, and most probably mistakes that come with it!

Happy New Year everybody!

London Shenanigans

Before heading back to Cardiff for the weekend to see my oldest sister who was back from Scotland for the night, my other sister and I, decided to journey into London for the day. We had a marvellous plan for the day and were excited to get some Christmas shopping done and dusted before settling down for a cocktail or two before our bus trip to Cardiff. It didn’t work out that way though, of course. We were naively optimistic about our day – planning our route and where we wanted to go. We didn’t really take into consideration the whole travelling around part, which you know, probably would have been a good thing to think about. London is massive. Seriously massive. I did not realise it took so long to get to one place to another. Pretty sure we spent most of the day on packed, smelly tubes rather than enjoying our London day out. Got to love the packed, smelly tubes. So much fun.

We began our day by making our way to Oxford Street, where we were intent on looking around the shops and getting some presents out the way. However, after a quick look around Selfridges, equipped with a tourist photo by the sign (no shame), we had already had enough of the Christmas crowds and decided to head over to our next stop. We made our way to Covent Garden where we stopped for a bite to eat and a drink. We ate at a cute little pub, called Punch and Judy where the food was good and a much needed cider was in order.

After a brief stop to look at a street performer who was putting a balloon down his throat (yes, really), we made our way (eventually) to Southbank in order to check out the Christmas market. It was all very Christmassy and very festive and very, very expensive. So after rejecting the idea of a mulled wine after we realised it would probably push us into bankruptcy, we decided we’d much rather go into bankruptcy in style, so made our final journey of the day to Chelsea.

Upon arriving in Chelsea and with the help of the trusty Google map app, we walked over (or in my sisters case, hobbled over – new shoes, you see) to the only place we knew off, Bluebird cafe and restaurant. The Bluebird is quite a nice little place and the staff all wore Christmas jumpers which was pretty cute. We sat in the “Christmas” section of the restaurant – which was pretty much just a tent with some Christmas trees in – and settled down for a quick glass of wine. And I say quick lightly. We literally downed it due to the fact that we were already running late for our bus to Cardiff. Fab. So after a moment of disappointment that I hadn’t run into Andy Jordan, of Made in Chelsea (again, don’t judge, I have no shame), we left Chelsea at quite a pace in order to catch a tube to Victoria. God, it was tense. We left our dignity behind and ran like the clappers. With my sister hobbling behind me, practically in tears over her broken feet, telling me to go on without her, and with five minutes to spare, the end was in sight. And Victoria Station was close. However, of course, I had no idea where to go from there, so had to wait for my sister at the finish line so she could lead the way. And she did. And I applaud her. Hobbling through the station, she led us to our destination and oh the joys, we made it. Maybe not in one piece, but we made it. Hallelujah!

Of course, however, after making it to the bus and sitting in out seats panting and applauding ourselves, the bus proceeded to sit there for a further 20 minutes before it even left, so all that for nothing. It was a good feeling. We finally took off, settled in against our seats and looked out into the darkened streets of London, enjoying the Christmas lights and festivities. Which was pretty easy to do, seeing as we were going at around 3mph and stopping every five seconds. Oh London, it’s always a pleasure. Here’s to never going Christmas shopping in London again!

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Jaunty up Pen y Fan

Swanning around Europe for three weeks made me want to get out of my city and experience more of Wales’ beauty. So me and my fellow interrailer hit the road and headed for the Brecon Beacons, a mountain range just outside of Cardiff in order to walk up Pen y Fan. Driving along, we were able to preview some of the incredible views – rolling mountains and fresh greenery stretching out in front of us broken up by gorgeous reservoirs tucked in amongst the hills. Upon arrival, we parked up, packed our bags with water and snacks (of course) and made our way over to the mountain in front of us.

Feeling confident and prepared, we began our ascent. However, as we made our way up, we began to doubt our hasty decision to start climbing up the first mountain we came across. We stopped, turned around, and saw on the opposite side of the road, Pen y Fan and a very easily accessible walkers path which ran in a massive circle around the mountain. Okay. Smooth. We trudged back down the random hill we had just climbed, shook ourselves off, pretended it didn’t happen, and started again. I honestly don’t know how we made it around Europe in one piece.

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Okay. This is going okay. I can do this. I puffed as the path began to spiral into a gentle slope up the mountain. Okay. Yeah. This is fine. I huffed as the gentle slope turned into a steep ascent. Okay. Maybe it’s time for a quick break. I stood and surveyed my surroundings, spotting the delicate reservoirs in the distance and the expanse of mountain range around me. Pretty impressive.

The path dipped down into a small lake and it was at this point where my ankle started to burn with the familiar pain of a blister. I took of my walking boot, shoved a couple plasters on it and picked up what I thought were the rements of the plaster packaging but was in fact sheep poo. Yep. I just picked up poop. Life can only get better. I dipped my fingers into the nearby water and shook myself off again. And then subsequently stepped into a muddy marsh, my boot oozed down with squelchy mud. Great. I am not a country girl, obviously.2014-09-09 16.20.42

My friend strode on ahead, leaving me lagging behind with burning thighs, streaming nose and dangerously close to passing out. I really should invest more in this whole exercise thing. I stopped again in order to get a few snaps of the landscape and to you know, learn to breathe normally again, and took in the world around me.  Simply breathtaking – being a city girl and being mid-way up a mountain with only fresh land, blue skies and rolling hills around me. I was basically alone by now, my friend was so far ahead she was just a small dot on the horizon. I tried to catch up, I honestly did but my legs are not equipped for that kind of strenuous exercise. And then a jogger ran past me, casually jogging like he hadn’t a care in the world, smiling at me and saying “hey”. Seriously?  Jogging? Up a mountain? No.

Limping on my blistered feet and breathing heavily, the summit was in sight. My friend sitting there all smug and happy and eating some snacks. I was nearly there! Too bad there was still a massive steep rocky ascent for me to get up.

It’s worth it once you get to the top! Passer-bys laughed as they leisurely walked past me as they made their way down. Shut up.

Finally, what felt like seven hours later, I made it to the summit. And it was amazing. You could see for miles, miles and miles of open land and fresh air, making the passer-bys right. It is definitely worth it. 2014-09-09 15.24.54 2014-09-09 16.04.56 2014-09-09 16.03.17

 

We ate our picnic, enjoying the view and appreciating Wales’ beauty. As we made our descent back down Pen y Fan, we realised that going down was definitely a lot more boring. As a guy bounded down the hill, running without a care in the world, jumping over rocks, flinging himself down the mountain and generally looking like he was having a damn good time, I was tempted to join in and get down faster but then I realised that I would almost definitely face plant the ground. So I didn’t.

I hit the bottom, sweaty, thirsty, red-faced, hobbling on blistered feet and with sheep poo rements on my hands but I still felt rather victorious. Never again though, mind.

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Pen y Fan and the Brecon Beacons are worth a visit, showcasing Wales’ best qualities – stunning panoramics, rolling mountains, fresh, green land and lots and lots of sheep. And sheep poop. Do not. Pick up. The poop.

 

 

London’s Calling

So, despite our upcoming three week Europe trip, my friend and I thought it was a marvellous idea to head to London for the weekend and spend all the money we don’t have. And what better way to start the trip than going out for “a few drinks” before our 6AM bus from Cardiff? Yeah…that wasn’t the brightest idea we’ve ever had. Cut to 9AM and we’re waking up in London, sleep deprived and blurry eyed and in desperate need of a bacon sandwich.

Anyway, despite the shaky (literally) start to our trip, we had a lot to be excited about. A tour bus ride around London, a night out on the town and more importantly; was this our chance to finally meet Prince Harry?! He would definitely love us.

For me, London has always been like a parallel universe. It kind of terrifies me (mainly due to the large volume of pigeons) but also excites me – it’s massive and the people are fast moving but there’s always something happening, always something around the corner. From China town to Leicester Square, to Camden Town and Southbank, there is literally something for everybody.

After a hearty hangover brunch in China town, we checked into our hotel and then headed to central London in order to catch a ride on a tour bus. The beautiful weather allowed us to sit on the open top deck…and hopefully not get sunburnt. The Original Red Route Tour took us ALL around London, showing us all the typical tourist attractions and telling us lots of information about each place. It was pretty interesting  for someone who has been to London 3-4 times before but never actually learnt anything about it! My personal favourite snippet of information was the fact that whilst the Queen is away, Buckingham Palace is open to the public.Yes! My quest for Prince Harry’s heart can be continued…
However, I was slightly disturbed to find that a one bedroom house in Eton Square costs £1 million….1 MILLION POUNDS!! I mean, do people actually HAVE that much money to spend on a 1 BEDROOM HOUSE?! Do they not have more interesting things to spend it on, such as, I don’t know, an island in the Bahamas? (This is possible. I googled. There’s actually one for less than  £1,000,000. You can buy an actual island in the middle of Bahamas for LESS THAN A ONE BEDROOM FLAT IN LONDON! Mental).

Anyway, I am getting greatly off topic.

After our informative trip around London and a burger at a burger restaurant where people actually queued around the corner to get into, we made our way back to the hotel in order to get ready and head out (and by that I mean have a nap whilst watching Come Dine With Me).

Our Great London Night Out didn’t start off too well. We went to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, and believe it or not, it wasn’t the most exciting place on earth. The main highlight for me was sitting on a massive chair and pretending I was a hobbit, and then getting lost in the Mirror Maze. So after that mighty disappoint, we weren’t quite sure what to do with ourselves. Being two Cardiff girls in the middle of London, we just kind of stood there feeling like two lost sheep wondering if someone would take pity on us and tell us where to go. Of course, there were promoters for bars and clubs everywhere, so pretty soon we were on our way to a bar where we were promised “cheap drinks” and “free entry”. We were allowed free entry, but drinks were not cheap. They were not cheap at all. My bank account is still weeping.

The next morning, we decided the best place to go for shopping was Camden Market. And I loved it. After a bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice, we squeezed our way through the hustle and bustle of Camden market life, pouring over beautiful jewelry, cool trinkets and amazing (yet slightly bizarre) clothing.

So, despite the slightly frazzled start and the extortionate housing prices (I don’t know how people live in London and still have money to live) my weekend in London was pretty damn fun…and a pretty awesome way to start a trip around Europe. Leaving tomorrow..wish me luck!