Tuesday, 2 December 2014

November wrap up- Eating, drinking and gigging

Once again I have neglected my blogger duties because I was just having too much fun.

So November, where do I start. It's been a busy one exploring and enjoying the best that Cardiff has to offer.

Eating and drinking
If you didn't already know, the amazing Wahaca opening in Cardiff earlier this month. This warranted a day off work to head on down there. I first tried their Mexican street food style food in Covent Garden and absolutely loved it. The Cardiff restaurant is amazing, very cool decor and exceptionally yummy food. To make things even better, we got free tequila cocktails (slightly lethal).  As Wahaca say, if you need lemon and salt with your tequila, you're drinking the wrong tequila. Go. Try. Eat. Drink. You'll love it. Seriously, our friends who have not yet been are sick of us going on about how good it is.
Free cocktails

Last week, late to the party as usual, a few of us went down to the Depot's Street Food Cardiff event. Wow. The atmosphere they created in an urban warehouse was pretty incredible. And the food, oh the food. There was so much choice but eventually I decided to have a hot dog from Haut dogs (with popping candy on it because I'm such a darn hipster). 
hipster hotdog

Then, being surrounded by so much choice, I wanted more food.  I very rarely get to go to Bangkok Cafe so I went for the Thai Green Curry. Amaze. By this point my stomacch was too full for anything else but I tried a bite of Hywel's crème brulée and can attest to it's deliciousness. All this while drinking Prosecco. Oh yes. One piece of advice, be prepared to queue.
Me being a hotdog
Wave Pictures at the Moon Club, Boy and Bear at Clwb Ifor Bach and the Welsh Music Prize nominees also at Clwb. I saw both the Wave Pictures and Boy and Bear at festivals over the summer but it is always nice to see a band in a smaller venue (and you can't get much smaller than the Moon Club). These bands are fantastic and I loved them. I wish that Cate le Bon had played the Welsh Music Prize gig, and Gruff, and the Manics, and future of the Left, but getting to see The Gentle Good is always lovely.

I also went to my best friend's wedding this month and pratted around in the dressing up box.

That's How for Now folks.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Running like a girl

My life in exercise

First school: aged 4-8
Always last on sports day. I was once carried to the end of the running race by the head teacher. Out of pity probably.
Always chosen to do the demonstration in swimming lessons.

Middle school: aged 9-12
Belonged to, and later Vice Captain of, Mellstock, one of the 4 houses of the school. This house was renowned for its athletic ineptitude and never ever won a sports cup. APART FROM in the swimming gala. We always cleaned up there.
Was once forced to do a gymnastic display in assembly. Nailed the handstand-forward roll I had been practicing.
Played tennis on weekends.

High School: aged 13:15
Still hated sports, apart from swimming. PE and games were feared.

Sixth form: aged 16 and 17
Bunked off all PE classes instead choosing to stay in the common room and talk to boys about music or talk to girls about boys.

Shunned all forms of physical exercise in favour of drinking tea and watching Friends 50 times a day. Swam sporadically.

Year abroad
Took dance lessons as a good way to learn French and sound cool.
Swimming pools were grossly busy and full of men in Speedos. I naturally avoided.

After University
Took up Pilates, and then yoga. Discovered I love yoga, especially the hot yoga classes at Yoga Fever.
Flirted with spin classes, Zumba and circuits but no true love match was made.

It is fair to say I never had that competitive nature so required for most team sports. I preferred to keep myself to myself and participate in solo activities such as gymnastics and swimming. Because of this I always had the mentality that I "wasn't a runner". Back in 2010 my lovely, sporty, energetic mother signed me up for the Cardiff Half Marathon. I reluctantly got training and gradually realised I could run an hour on the treadmill without much of a problem. It appealed to all the things I liked about swimming, yoga etc. I could do it alone, it cleared my head but it had an added bonus of providing a sense of achievement.

Since then I run regularly, sometime with massive breaks in between. And often I will hit mental blocks where I convince myself I cannot do it. Running is a mental battle for me as much as a physical one. I have to get over more the 20 years of telling myself I am not sporty enough to do this. So when I read Alexandra Heminsley's book "Running like a girl", I could really relate. Being a runner does not have to mean you are the most sporty person in the world. It just means you like to run. Time and distance are not important. I just do what feels right for me and set my own goals.

Friday, 24 October 2014

I am not going to buy any new make up in November. No I'm not. I'm not

Boots and I have a ongoing love affair. I go in only needing ibuprofen and come out £50 lighter justifying it with all the Advantage card points I am amassing even though I lost my card a year ago. Hywel and I are currently trying to sell our house so last night I had a little sort out. Just look at all the make-up I have. I only have one face! And this is after I chucked loads away.

So, no more make-up. For a month. I'm hoping the money I save will allow me to buy those books on my wishlist which I think are just a little too expensive (but still less than that lipstick I impulse bought in Boots last week).

Seriously, who needs 15 eye-liners?

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Power down

Yesterday at work there was a power cut which meant, once our laptops had run out of charge, we couldn't do much work. I decided to take the afternoon off. It's quite strange having an unplanned afternoon off on a weekday. My husband and my friends were in work so it was just me on my own with some free hours to kill. To begin with I did some boring things I've been meaning to do for a while (had my fringe trimmed, booked a dentist appointment) then I though I should actively do something otherwise I might waste my newly acquired free time playing Bejeweled Blitz and watching How I Met Your Mother repeats (not funny but always on TV).

After watching Sunday's Downton Abbey I remembered that I had started making the Margot pyjama bottoms from Tilly and the Buttons' pattern book. My beloved sewing machine broke before I was able to finish these but I now have my mother in law's much better sewing machine, which is actually made for grown ups. I think I might just keep it a bit longer.

I have sewed many a garment before but always with the knowledge that my infinitely talented mum could help me out if (haha IF) I made a mistake. Not so this time. I was on my own. Tilly's book is so helpful and clear to follow though which really helped. I will confess to making a few slip ups along the way (that piece of lace is not a sexy garter but covering up where I accidentally cut the leg in two) but I am very happy with the outcome. The pyjamas even survived a night of sleeping in them and were extremely comfortable. I hope they also fare ok in the washing machine.
The finished product!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Bunking off work (kind of)

On Friday Hywel and I took a cheeky half-day off work to go to town, shop, eat and go to the cinema. There is something about walking around town on a weekday that always makes me feel like I'm bunking off (mitching, skiving, whatever you want to call it). I used to love it when I had a doctor or dentist appointment or something and mum would take me around the shops for a bit before driving me back to school. 
Sophie's on High Street Arcade

First stop on our bunk was Sophie's Crêperie in the high Street Arcade for what turned out to be the perfect lunch. We have tried other crêperies in Cardiff before (naming no names) which have been disappointing but Sophie's was amazing. Hywel has cheese and ham while I went for the complete which is basically cheese and ham with an egg. They were really filling and très délicieuses.  Go there!

After shopping some serious bargains we went to see Gone Girl at the cinema. I loved this book and was a bit worried the film would be a let down but I really enjoyed it. I think Rosamund Pike in particular was extremely well cast as Amy. Even though I knew what was coming, the suspense was just right.

Today I am massively aching as I power marched the Cardiff half yesterday with my mum. We smashed our predicted time with the help of sheer determination and free doughnuts (serious thanks to all supporters, especially ones with free baked goods). With my aching comes an insatiable hunger. Send food please.
My well deserved medal

Tuesday, 30 September 2014


So just like that September is over....and what a busy month I have had. Despite some low points (being ill and cancelling our trip to Brighton), I have had a pretty good time. One of the highlights being going to see First Aid Kit at Colston Hall in Bristol. What a great band! What a great venue! I has only previously been to the O2 Academy in Bristol so the Colston Hall seemed very civilised in comparison. The First Aid girls put on a great show, very different and more intimate than seeing them at Green Man fest.

Before the gig we found a hipster heaven bar where we indulged in a couple of drinks and delicious burgers. If you're ever Bristol way you could do far worse than going to Start the Bus. 
Hipster drinks at Start the Bus
From a purely materialistic point of view, my gorgeous birthday present from Hywel arrived. I had been looking for a leather satchel for ages and Zatchels delivered! I love, love it.
My gorgeous Zatchel satchel
From there we headed down to Dorset for a good old fashioned barn dance at my grandparent's farm. Plenty of dosey-doeing, cider and checked shirts.

Last weekend I went to my wonderful friend Meg's hen do. Ever done a yoga/ stretch glass after downing 2 glasses of Prosecco? I highly recommend it. The instructor was Lou from Stretchii in Swansea and was a wonderful way to start the day's activities.
Mats ready for hungover/ tipsy Stretchii class

This week I am super excited to go see the "Gone Girl" film adaptation. I read the book about a year ago and loved it. It really is not the normal genre I go for (I'm more an historical fiction kinda girl than dark thrillers) but would highly recommend it. Oh yeah and I'll be walking the Cardiff half marathon on Sunday with my mum. I'm hoping for good weather as I walk around this wonderful city.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Festivals and summer fun

Sorry it's been a while since my last post. August always seems to be a really busy time for me with festivals to go to and birthdays to enjoy. This year I also had the added bonus of attending one of my best friend's weddings.

Green Man Festival

I love Green Man so much. There is such a chilled and relaxed vibe there along with great music and beautiful scenery. I always discover a great new band or artist. This year we spent the majority of the time at the mountain stage as the line up was just fantastic. This was also the first year our gorgeous 11 month old Godson joined us. He seriously knows how to rock a pair of ear defenders. To mix things up a bit, my friends and I, for the first time, ventured into the Nature Nurture area for a spa experience on the Sunday morning (when we seriously needed a wash). We had prosecco on arrival, and then constant top up, clean towels, warm showers, hot tub and the only sauna/tent I have ever seen. It was just perfect.


First Aid Kit (obvs)
Nick Mulvey
Boy and Bear
Georgia Ruth
Outside Spa (and prosecco!)
Burning of the Green Man

We have already bought our tickets for next year's festival where I will be celebrating a rather scary birthday!

My Birthday

I love my birthday and always make sure I take the day off work. This year, despite the grey skies, Hywel and I went for a swim in the sea in Dunraven Bay. It was such a nice beach and, due to the weather, not very busy. The sea was choppy but fairly warm considering. We then discovered a secret garden where we drank our hot chocolates. In the evening we went to the delightful Shot in the Dark for drinks then curled up at home to watch Amelie. Wonderful.

End Of The Road

My mum and I always try to go to a festival together. In the past we have been to Glastonbury numerous times and Camp Bestival. This was the first year I went to End Of the Road but I already can't wait to go next year. The festival site is such a good size (you can walk between all the stages in 5 minutes meaning fewer band clash dilemmas) but you still get some of the quirky areas such as the forest disco where my mum, aunt and cousins and I danced the night away.


Sweet Baboo
The Wave Pictures
Gruff Rhys
Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit
Cate Le Bon
9 Bach

And seeing as Hywel and I can't quite get our selves back into normal life, we had dinner last night at the excellent Got Beef.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

40 before 40

The weather in Cardiff has taken a turn for the worse (not totally unwelcome as the garden is thirsty) which has got me day dreaming of packing my bags, heading off to T5 (my terminal of choice) and boarding a plane.
Pre-flight drinks and my amazing Panama hat

Gorgeous Dubrovnik
What perfect timing then to talk about our "40 before 40" challenge. I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to travel quiet a bit both for fun and for work, even living in Lyon, France in my 3rd year at uni. There is still so much of the world to see though, and I intend to see it. As a wedding gift, Hywel and received a "scratch map" where you, as the name suggests, scratch off on the map the countries you have visited. This led us to come up with the 40 before 40 challenge. Quickly counting up the countries we had already visited (at present me; 23, Hywel; 28), we realised we can quite easily visit 40 counties each before we hit the big 4-0. All we need is a bit of imagination, an Easy Jet flight map and suggestions from friends. My travel wish list is so long but topping it are Istanbul, more Asia, Patagonia (once my Spanish, Welsh and bank balance are up to it). We'll probably try and see more of Europe first as there are loads of short, cheapish flights to various places from Cardiff, Bristol and London The only downside is, for the moment, Paris and San Fransisco are on hold as we have been to France and USA many times.
Our scratch map

In an insanely ideal world we would up sticks, buy an awesome camper van and see where the wind takes us but you know, the house, the cat, work, money, *yawn*....

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Planning a wedding your own way

Great news, three of my closest friends are engaged! One of the weddings is next week, I am so excited, not only as I am super happy for my friend, but also because I get to wear my gorgeous 50s style dress that I MADE (will post pictures in due course).

So anyway, it got me thinking and reminiscing about my own wedding last year and what lessons I learned... read on if you're interested...

1. What sort of wedding do you want?
I wasn't the kind of girl who grew up picturing her wedding so I knew I didn't want a big day. Once we established that, the rest kind of fell into place by process of elimination...Where is close to the registry office? Pettigrew's!... Beautiful building in the bay? Norwegian church!....Easy way to transport people there?....Boat!
Tea cup and saucer at Pettigrew Tea Room

2. Call in favours from talented (willing!) friends and family
I am lucky to have a very skilled professional wedding photographer as a step-father and an amazingly talented baker as a close friend. This meant we didn't have to spend money on these. Of course a gesture of thanks will go a long way and you don't want your guests to feel like staff. More often than not, however, you'll find people want to help. I myself have been called up to crochet various things for a hen do in September and am thrilled to be able to help!

Our delicious wedding cake
3. Accept you don't know everything
I gave our florist completely free reign to do what she wanted as my knowledge of flowers is shamefully lacking. I gave her the vases we were using and muttered something along the lines of "wild flowers, purplish" and left her to it. The finished product was just perfect.

4. The internet is a wonderful thing!
Etsy and Not on the High Street were some of my most frequented sites in the run up to the wedding. Such cute, personalised items can be bought for very little money.
The Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay- our evening venue

5. Relax!
It is so easy to get caught up in the whole thing but when I told myself it was just a day in a new dress, with the people I love the most I tended to calm down.

6. Things will go wrong- embrace it
My ride (an awesome vintage VW camper) didn't turn up to take me and my friends to the wedding. It was a bit of a hairy moment but we eventually called a taxi. Instead of it being a complete disaster it is one of my favourite memories as the driver plugged in my friend's Ipod and played the Beach Boys at full volume, us singing along merrily!
Arriving in style- albeit not the planned way

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Learning Cymraeg

This September will mark 10 years of me living in Wales. Way back in 2002 when filling out my dreaded UCAS form I must admit I had very little knowledge of the Welsh language, Dorset girl that I am, and how important it is. But it is important; language and culture make up so much of a person's identity and expression.  Last year I married a Welshman who uses the Welsh language a lot both professionally and socially. Consequently our group of friends includes many a proud native Welsh speaker. Sometimes, in fact, I am the only non Welsh speaker in the room, not that anyone has ever made me feel excluded. However, I have felt for a while that I should make an attempt to learn. I once tried to learn when in my final year. A patronising teacher, slow class and the fact that I was in my final year made me give up after only a few lessons (I also seem to remember some guys from Rhyl trying to teach us Welsh at Glastonbury festival 2003 but needless to stay it didn't stick).

Tafwyl at Cardiff Castle
Recently, a few friends and I went to see American Interior, the film that accompanies The Gruff Rhys album of the same name. In the film, Gruff follows the trail of one of his ancestors on the quest for a mythical Welsh speaking tribe in America. Check it out btw, it's great. The Welsh language is prominent throughout and at one point Gruff states that there are only 1 millions speakers.

At the weekend, Hywel and I went to Tafwyl festival at Cardiff Castle. It was so interesting to see, and hear, Welsh being spoken by so many people and to listen to musicians singing in Welsh. It made me jealous. I want to speak Welsh! One person shown in Gruff's film mention the website "Say Something in Welsh" so I decided to check it out. It is a series of online Welsh lessons which can be downloaded and listened to as and when you want. Each lesson is only about 35 minutes long so it is easy to fit one in. I honestly cannot praise it enough. I have only done 5 lessons so far and already I can say loads! It teaches you to construct sentences rather than learning by rote. The only slight downside is that it requires a lot of speaking on the learner's part so I cannot really do it at work but then speaking is the only real way to learn! I can even do my crochet at the same time. Win.

Sorry quite a wordy one

Friday, 11 July 2014

R.I.P sewing machine

This post was originally supposed to be me boasting about my amazing sewing skills making Tilly and the buttons' pyjama trousers from her book, "Love at First Stitch". BUT my sewing machine broke half way through making them so now I have 2 unattached pyjama legs which will have to be hand stitched (not happening) or will have to wait until I can borrow my mum's spare machine. Quel dommage.

Instead, let's look at the amazing things I have made with my pretty, but not so durable, machine. Farewell old friend.....

My most favourite skirt. It also matches my friends' curtains and I made a matching cushion. Good old Cath Kidston Ikea fabric. Super cheap and super lovely. 

Flower print and pockets! Magnifique

Matching cushion

I loved the skirt so much I made in two more fabrics, polka dot and Brighton Pavilion. Both bought from the Aladdin's cave of fabrics, Hanson's in Sturminster Newton.  

The most difficult garment I have made to date was this dress. It is a beautiful ditsy print and really fun to wear but it wasn't half fiddly. My mum has made a few more in the same style but I need to gather a bit more confidence before I tackle it again. 
It did alright my little machine but now I need a more sturdy model for future projects. I don't suppose anyone want to sell me a cheapish sewing machine??

Monday, 7 July 2014

My First Blog

How exciting. Welcome to my little world. I have been meaning to start a blog for a while mainly to document what I get up to be it gigs, craft, day trips or new purchases. Let's begin. This weekend was one of those lovely sunny Cardiff weekends where we float from place to place in a happy cloud. On Saturday my husband Hywel and I went for a walk at Forest Farm and firmly cemented our desire to move from Splott to Whitchurch. We could have spent longer there as it was so peaceful and full of nature. We even saw a heron.

The beautiful river at Forest Farm
 Being in the outdoorsy mood put me in the frame of mind to sort the garden out. We took 2 car loads of ivy to the dump and planted some lavender, roses and herbs. Hopefully they will flourish.

New plants in my garden

 Later that evening a friend and I went to local favourite Chapter to watch Casse-Tete Chinois (Chinese puzzles), the 3rd film in the Auberge Espagnole triology. I highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in French cinema. It was funny and witty and the French is easy to follow (it does have subtitles for non French speakers). It made me want to move to Paris. But that happens on a weekly basis.

G&Ts with basil, lemon and strawberry
Sunday saw the first Pop Up Boutique on Womanby Street. Although I was hoping for more stalls, the amazing food and drink made up for it. Hywel and I have been Hang Fire Smoke house enthusiasts since our fist bite of pulled pork back in the Canadian so we were sure to be first in the queue for their street food style menu on Sunday. Man, it was good! I had the pulled pork bap and Hywel had the ribs. Their homemade sauces are truly mouthwatering. I can't wait to find out where their next venue will be.

The just perfect Hang Fire smokehouse pulled pork baps
 The day and weekend was rounded off by an ice cream from Pettigrew Tea room (we couldn't get a table for cake- curse their popularity!) and a wander through Bute Park. Perfect