Tag Archive for cardiff

Walking In The Winter Wonderland

After spending a year away in hot climates with some very non-Christmassy vibes,  I was excited to come home to Cardiff and start getting in the Christmas spirit as we neared the festive season.

Winter Wonderland

Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland has been a firm family favourite since its arrival in the city. People flock there every year to enjoy some time on the ice, cosy down with a mulled wine or have some fun on the wide selection of fairground rides.

Past years’ bad weather conditions (we are in Wales after all) has meant that many people have been left disappointed when when their skating sessions have been cancelled…cue the arrival of the new “all-weather” rink equipped with a clear roof. Only 10 years too late..

Having an ice-skate is always fun, whether you’re really good..or really bad. No one can be as bad as my Mum though, who, a few years ago managed to fall and be stretchered off. Never one for making a scene, my Mum. Whether you want to spend the time holding onto the sides and making your way slowly round, or if you’re feeling brave and want to show off your skills, it’s hard not to skate with a smile on your face. Even if there are those pesky school children getting in your way.

Winter Wonderland skating

Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland is the perfect Christmas tradition with the guarantee that everyone who attends is left feeling all things merry and all things festive. Open throughout the day and well into the evening, you can’t really not enjoy yourself. Live music  in the Alpine Village ensures that you are tapping your foot and singing along whilst munching on a bratwurst or a freshly made crepe and slugging on a toasty hot chocolate or mulled wine. Just don’t do a me and forget to bring some cash so you can’t indulge in the bratwurst sausage you’ve been smelling all afternoon. Sigh.

The funfair rides offer something for everyone. From the big wheel to the Santa train to the snow slide, all the family can be entertained and finish off their day with a giggle. Relatively cheap prices (if you’re not a family of four..), these are your typical fairground rides there for the simple purpose to get you smiling. The Big Wheel is a personal favourite as it takes you up and over the city, offering you some cracking views.

Winter Wonderland funfair

Cardiff Winter Wonderland Big Wheel

With the end of the Christmas period fast approaching, it’s probably about time you got your skates on and made a move to this festive Winter Wonderland before it’s no longer acceptable to eat your weight in chocolatey crepes and drown yourself in mulled wine. What am I saying, that’s acceptable any time of the year…..

Tickets – Adult – £9.50
              Child (3-7) – £6.50
              Youth (8-16) – £7.50
              Student – £8.00
              Family (2 adults, 2 children) – £30.00

(written alongside Laura Williams) 

Megan Carr

Some Wonders of Wales

Wales is a beautiful country and definitely one worth a visit. I’m being completely and utterly biased here of course having lived here my entire life, but honestly, Wales is stunning. When I went travelling the first time on a three month trip, I was so excited to leave Wales and explore some of the world, I was sure that I wouldn’t miss it at all. But I did; I missed the green countryside, the vast mountains, the humdrum of Cardiff. It was strange, but the place I spent the longest in, New Zealand, reminded me so much of home. Maybe that’s why I loved it so much, a home away from home on the opposite end of the world. Similar weather, similar vast, green spaces and of course, the sheep. Lots and lots of sheep.

Living in Cardiff, I have access to lots of great places. I’m a 20 minute drive away from Cardiff city centre and a 40 minute drive from the Brecon Beacons. Not too shabby really. From city to country, I pretty much have it all. I mean come on, there’s an actual Castell Coch literally right on my doorstep.

I’m going to share with you some of my favourite places in South Wales. Not sure if anyone will care that greatly but hey, I’m feeling the need to write something and this was the best I could come up with.

Exploring Southerndown

Number 1 is Southerndown beach. A typical Welsh beach situated in Ogmore, near Bridgend and about a 40 minute drive from where I live. A pebble beach with satin seas, surrounded by steep, jagged cliffs, this is a beautiful place for a walk. You can walk along the cliff tops, taking in the view and listen to the waves crashing against the shoreline (possibly one of my favourite sounds ever). There’s even the remains of a castle, Dunraven Castle, which you can explore – what a great location for a castle, someone chose wisely there. I’m not sure why I love it here so much, but everytime I go, I just feel slightly more relaxed, like I’m blowing the cobwebs away.

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Pen Y Fan, Brecon Beacons

A second favourite of mine is Pen Y Fan. Situated in the Brecon Beacons, it is one of Wales’ highest peaks. The drive alone, is incredible. With panoramic views and winding roads, it’s definitely a sight to remember. The walk up Pen Y Fan is pretty memorable as well and it is always teeming with happy walkers and joggers. Hikers are very happy people who always smile and say “hello”; I always think that if everyone treated each other the way hikers treat each other, the world would be a much nicer place. The views from this mountain are stunning and stretch for miles. Never ending greenery, rolling hills and fresh water lakes, it’s just amazing when/if you get to the top and are able to take it all in.

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pen y fan, brecon, wales

The Garth, Gwaelod-y-Garth

The Garth is a firm favourite of mine. A mountain, about ten minutes from where I live which overlooks the whole of Cardiff – from Cardiff Bay to the Millenium Stadium and even a cheeky spot of Flat Holme and Steep Holme. Whilst these views might not be quite as magnificent as from Pen y Fan, the Garth is a place which I love to go. It’s a relatively gentle mountain and not too steep a climb and there’s plenty of points along the way where you can sit down and appreciate the view. Located just outside of Cardiff, near Pentrych and Gwaelod-y-Garth, this is the perfect place to come for an outer city experience.

Sidenote: this mountain also played a lead role in a film starring Hugh Grant!

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Wales, the land of castles

Now, Wales is known for its castles. Its glorious and grand castles, full of vibrant history and interesting stories. I mean, there’s even one in Cardiff City Centre, standing grand amongst the modern shops and busy commuters.

Whilst Wales is full of beautiful castles, one of my favourites has got to be Castell Coch. A castle which is conveniently located on my doorstep. Okay, so not quite on my doorstep but I’m pretty sure I can see it from my house. Hiding amongst the trees, peeping out over the village of Tongwynlais and very much visable from the majority of surrounding roads, this is a 19th century castle with a rich history. Now an interesting tourist destination, you can wander around the inside and learn about its former occupants.

There’s also some great walks to be had around this area – beautiful woods and even a small tea rooms to reward yourself with afterwards.

So there you have it. A few of my favourite places in my home country. This of course, is only a small part of what’s on offer – there is so much more going on in the rest of Wales. Snowdonia, in North Wales, is definitely a place I would like to explore. Having been there once on a Geography school trip which consisted of studying rocks and then getting drunk in the accommodation, I didn’t see or appreciate as much as I would’ve liked. There’s all sorts up there now – even a zipwire – the longest in Europe – soaring across the mountain, I’m sure offering some pretty surreal views. Now that’s one for the bucket list…

Whilst the world is huge and there’s a lot to explore, sometimes taking a look around your home country is a good substitute for curing that travel bug. What’s your favourite places in your home city?

Lady Jane’s Emporium & Tea Rooms

It’s no secret that I love a good tea rooms. Therefore it seemed like the only logical decision to go off and explore another local tea room on my day off.

So my mum and I drove on over to Pentyrch – a village around a ten minute drive from where I live – and headed to Lady Jane’s Emporium & Tea Rooms, a small tea shop that my mum had heard about through Facebook (ah Facebook, it is good for some things after all. You know, aside from the casual stalking and inane posts that people post about their lives that others really just don’t care about).

Inside Lady Jane’s, was delightful. Small and cute and with only one other group in there, we had the place to ourselves. After placing our order (carrot cake for me and caramel for the mum), we headed on upstairs to explore some more. With an old fashioned vibe and soft music floating up from downstairs, we looked through the different knick knacks that were on sale. Cards, Roald Dahl books and pillows, Welsh signs, paintings…all made by local people and all extremely tempting to buy.

There’s so much more on offer as well – there’s breakfast bits like bacon sarnies and tea cakes, there’s lunch time sandwiches and of course, there’s the delicious home made cakes.

Lady Jane’s is definitely a place that I am going to visit again. It’s the perfect place if you want somewhere cute, cosy and cost effective that’s not in Cardiff Centre and is the place to be for a catch up over something light with friends.

I may have to control my tea and cake habits. It’s getting serious. With this place being right on my door step, I’m actually concerned for my self. Can you be addicted to afternoon tea? Is there like a group I can join or something?

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Get Me To The Greek

It was Sunday night and a catch up with the best friend was very much overdue. With the obvious choice of catching up over a bottle of wine or two being off the cards due to it being a school night, we decided to indulge in our second favourite thing: food.

We headed to The Hellenic Eatery – a small Greek Restaurant on Crwys Road, Cathays. From the outside, it looks like a nothing special restaurant but don’t let that deter you. It’s definitely worth a gander. A diamond among the rough if you will.

We ordered a lot of food – pitta bread and tzatziki, pitta bread and halloumi, pork skewers, chicken skewers….extra chips. Even the waitress raised an eyebrow at that one – “more chips?” she said “there are some already in the souvalki?” 

“yes” we said “we know.” NOW GIVE US CHIPS.

We love our carbs and ain’t afraid to admit it.

So as we inhaled our food, we began to regret our carb overload. Not enough to not demolish it all though. It was pretty impressive really.

So, The Hellenic Eatery: a perfect little restaurant if you want deliciously authentic Greek food, if you want huge amounts at really good prices and if you want friendly, happy to help staff. Who don’t judge you when you order every carb under the sun.

So head on down to one of Cardiff’s best kept secrets, you really won’t regret it.

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100 Crwys Road, Cardiff, CF24 4NQ
02921321600

 

Cardiff’s Wok & Go

I headed straight to Wok & Go after a tiring shift at work, my stomach grumbling in anticipation as I pushed my way through the busy Cardiff streets. I made it in one piece and browsed the menu, trying to decide what I wanted to indulge in. Wok & Go is definitely the place to go if you’re after some authentic Asian dishes at great prices. With huge amounts on the menu  – with everything from rice and noodle boxes to soups, to salads, to ice-cream –  it’s difficult to decide what tickles your fancy. Staff are happy to help and aromatic dishes sizzle in the background as your chosen dish is freshly cooked directly in front of you.  I opted for a Pad Thai box- a dish I knew I loved after spending time in Thailand during my gap year and practically living off it. I placed my order, throwing in a side of chicken spring rolls (because why not) and waited excitedly, so hungry by now that I was tempted to hop over the counter and dive head first into the cooking dishes.

With woks simmering on the stove and an amazing combination of smells wafting through the store, I was so ready to tuck in, it was unreal. The wait was unbearable. Those quick ten minutes that my dish was cooked was the longest ten minutes of my life. But then, it was ready, and boy was I ready to Wok and Go. My order was placed in my hands, warm and toasty, nice and noodly and all perfectly succulent chicken, crispy broccoli and toasted peanuts. Portion sizes are mammoth (didn’t faze me of course, I aim to take on everything) and placed in handy takeaway boxes equipped with chopsticks or for all the less chopstick abled people out there, a plastic knife and fork (side note: I have never been so proud to eat a whole meal using just chopsticks – Thailand taught me well). Perfect. Now all I had to do was brave the busy Saturday night train out of Cardiff City Centre before I could finally tuck in.

I swear if I could eat Pad Thai and only Pad Thai for the rest of my life, I totally would.

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029 2022 4317

 

Pottering at The Pot Cafe

Oh, how I only just discovered The Pot Cafe, I’ll never know. Honestly, I thought I ate a lot – but I actually ate so much food here, I worked myself into a food coma and had to lay down on the floor for a good fifteen minutes before I could even contemplate going on with my day. Boy was it worth it though.

I had never heard of The Pot before but upon recommendation, me and a friend decided to head on over and see what all the fuss was about. A small place, brimming and bustling with people, The Pot offers everything from American style breakfast to steak frites. After a tauntingly difficult decision, I decided on having a good ol’ mug of the soup of the day for starters followed by pea and asparagus risotto. The soup was perfect – a mug of pure joy which warmed my insides and served with warm freshly made bread.

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Despite our full tums, the menu was still calling out to us, teasing and taunting us to order more food. And who were we to refuse? That would just be rude.

We opted to share (I know, share? Share? What is this strange phenomenon?) a peanut butter and chocolate slice which was served in all its glory – nice and big and full of all the tasty stuff. Of course, with my eyes bigger than my stomach, I thought it a great idea to wash it down with a real white hot chocolate with all the trimmings.

The Pot offers a range of delicious treats and is the perfect place to go if you want to head out of the main busy Cardiff city centre. Whether you want nibbles and drinks or to dine on a full course meal, the bistro type atmosphere means you can natter and catch up in comfortable style.

Oh, The Pot, you have defeated me. But you were totally worth the pain of rolling myself home. And the fifteen minutes spent laying on the floor wallowing in my own greed.

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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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Meet Emily Donnan Courtade

Not bragging or anything, but I have a friend who’s this close to becoming Miss Wales 2015. A beautiful friend. A beautiful, brainy friend. A beautiful, brainy and all round amazing person friend.

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So, Miss Emily Donnan Courtade; Cardiff born, Cardiff bred, the beautiful genes of a Spanish princess, the brains of a final year law student, motivated, generous, hard working and yeah, okay, she can be quite funny sometimes.

Wait, why am I friends with her again?

With her natural beauty, easy going personality and giving nature, it’s no wonder she’s powering her way through each stage of the competition. A dedicated law student, Emily uses as much time as she can partaking in charitable organisations, more recently running in the Cardiff Half Marathon where she was raising money for Raleigh International, a organisation she’s had experience with before. Last summer, Emily volunteered to travel to the heart of the Costa Rican Jungle with Raleigh and spent the summer building a school for the young children who lived there, describing it as one of the most incredible experiences ever. This eye-opening experience only propelled her to dedicate herself more and more to charitable organisations, designed to improve the lives of people everywhere, and is already planning her next trip, to Nepal as part of a Childreach programme.

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A hardworking Law and French student at Cardiff University, Emily spent a year studying in Toulouse, where she built on her knowledge of the French language as well as experiencing the wonder that is Law…in a foreign country. Crikey. I couldn’t even stand Law for the three weeks I studied it in England, let alone doing it in a foreign country.

Not only is she one of the best friends a girl could have – full of fun, laughter and jolly good times, she’s also a huge family girl, who loves to spend as much time as possible with the people she loves the most. With roots from El Salvador, she travels there as much as possible in order to spend time with her close knit relatives.

So there she is. Miss Wales Finalist 2015; Miss Emily Donnan Courtade. Full of happiness and giggles, kindness and aspirations – this is the girl who is taking Cardiff by storm, this is the girl I’m proud to call one of my closest friends, this is your Miss Wales Finalist, 2015.

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Brunching at Bill’s

With my sister home from spending the summer working in Malta, we decided that a reunion brunch was on the cards. So, after a moment of deliberation of where to go – one of our usual jaunts or something new, we decided to head to Bill’s, somewhere my Mum nor sister had ever been before. Located on the corner of Mill Lane, Bill’s offers a wide range of breakfast, lunch and dinner options as well as a lots of tasty drinks – from fancy wines to fruity smoothies and brownie milkshakes (seriously yum).

With my Mum’s murmers of “oo never been here before” and “oo I wonder what it’s like“, we we were led down the never ending restaurant right to the end before we were seated by a window seat overlooking the Hayes. I love Bill’s – with funky decor, topsy-turvy seating and a fresh outtake on popular foods, it makes for a warm and inviting atmosphere where you can leisurely scroll the menu in order to choose the perfect dish – whether you fancy something brunchy or something lunchy.

I chose the Homemade blueberry and buttermilk pancakes which were quite frankly the most delicious pancakes I’ve ever had, and I washed it down with freshly squeezed orange juice.

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Whilst my mum also went for the pancakes, my sister decided to go for a standard sausage bap, or as Bill’s call it, the cumberland sausage served in sliced white farmhouse bread. I hear that that too, was delicious but I can’t verify that completely as I was too bust wolfing down my pancakes to even try some when she offered. I didn’t even hear her offer to be honest. I was far too engrossed in my food.

Bill’s is average in price – maybe not the best place to go if on a student budget but for a casual catch up with the family it is definitely the place to be (especially if the mother is paying – yay, free food!) (sorry mum, thanks again). However, I can already tell you that once I am home for Christmas I am almost definitely going to head back there to test out the rest of the menu (what student budget?). With great service, friendly staff and amazing food, Bill’s is up there with one of my favourite brunching places in town (and I love a good brunch, me).

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