*Through the Keyhole: The Panache

Who else loves snooping around show homes?  When I was a kid my parents used to drag me and my brother around Cardiff on a Saturday to sniff out new developments.  At the time I didn’t get it; I spent most of my childhood convinced that we were about to up sticks and move at any second.  Now, I get it though.  In those days before Pinterest came along, that was how you got a little “home inspo”.  Well… that and the many, many back editions of House Beautiful stacked under the coffee table (Mum, you need to recognise that you have a problem…).

Anyway, these days I LOVE snooping around show homes, and whaddya know?  A couple of years ago Sunny and I actually ended up buying a new build ourselves when we moved back to Wales.  It’s funny because we’d always ruled them out as being bland and boxy, but there are some out there that break the mould and punch above the rest with something a little special.

Last week I was invited along to have a look at The Panache, Crest Nicholson’s newest addition to their colourful and quirky Penarth Heights development.  I’ve been watching the development grow ever since they knocked down the old Billybanks (a ramshackle, concrete council estate that boasted the best views in Wales), so I was excited to go along and have a good old snoop. 🙂

Built over three floors – from the garden, garage, open plan kitchen, lounge and dining room on the ground floor, to the huge roof terrace at the very top – The Panache has a kind of art deco feel to it, with its white, curved walls, metallics and picture windows that all look out onto Cardiff and the Bay.  A very different look and feel to other new builds.  With the views and the decor, it reminded me a little bit of Tracey Island (although, I don’t think Thunderbird 2 would fit on the driveway!).

The Master Suite on the first floor had all his and hers fittings, including a dressing area with a wardrobe each (happy couples all have separate things – I’d love to have a separate sink and wardrobe to Sunny).  Also, this cute little glasses rest – which I’m definitely going to have to track down for myself since I’m always forgetting where I put mine! 🙂

The best part though was the view, which really is the best in Cardiff.  From the roof terrace you can see the whole city, the Bay, and the Bristol Channel. And on a very clear day you can usually give Castle Coch a little wave and see up to Valleys beyond it.  Thankfully, last Thursday summer decided to put in a rare appearance so we could really enjoy the roof terrace, the views and the drinks – which had all been created with The Panache and its views in mind.

It’s definitely worth popping over to Penarth Heights for a look – especially if you’re into interiors or thinking about moving.  Couple it in with a walk over the barrage to Cardiff Bay if you’re feeling fit! 😉

Have a great week everyone!

Nash Point

When I lived in London, I lived in a flat overlooking the Thames near Dartford Bridge (believe me, not as glamorous as it sounds – although it did mean that when I sang along to London Calling by the Clash I could actually mean the words “I live by the river!”  Which I thought was stupidly cool).  Anyway, even though I loved watching the ships going up and down the Thames while I was doing the washing up, in winter – when the London fog arrived – it was a pain.  We’d be woken up in the middle of the night by the fog horn warning ships off the mud.  A sporadic – but annoyingly predictable – double honk every thirty seconds or so.

Anyway, when we went for a walk along the cliffs at Nash Point and came face to face with the fog horn it brought all those memories back.  Lucky for everyone sleeping nearby (the cottages around the lighthouse are available to rent), the fog horn isn’t in use anymore – and only sounds for tourists on the first Saturday and third Sunday of every month.  The Lighthouse itself at Trwyn yr As – or Nash Point – was actually the last manned lighthouse in Wales, but is still used to warn ships away from Nash Sands.

It’s a lovely place for a cup of coffee (there’s a small cafe opposite the car park) and a short walk over the cliffs, or – if you’re up for it – a long walk to Llantwit Major along the coast.  🙂

Isle of Fire 2017

After last year’s visit to Isle of Fire I had high expectations for this year’s event (it’s definitely become one of those must-see things on my Around Cardiff Calendar), and honestly?  I was a little unsure when we did our usual walk over the cliffs from Jackson Bay and found the promenade completely empty – as last year that seemed to be where all the fire sculptures and entertainment was.  This year it had all been moved up onto the gardens and around the old band stand, and even though the fire sculptures were just as cool as last year it wasn’t quite as magical.  The entertainment though, as always, was fantastic!

We went hoping to see the light drummers from last year but this year’s headline act was Mr Wilson’s Second Liners – an ecclectic New Orleans Jazz Band dressed like Sergeant Pepper who played all the old 90s Club Classics like Rhythm is Dancer.  They were awesome, and definitely sax-ed up this Isle of Fire.  😉

Did you see this year’s Isle of Fire?  What did you think?

Dog Days

Dog-ja-vu!  I know.  How many times is she going to blog about Barry Island and Jackson’s Bay?  Honestly?  Ten times more, at least.  It’s one of favourite places to spend a sunny afternoon, and it’s definitely becoming one of Bungle’s favourite spots too.  🙂

If you’re up for a walk, park up above Jackson’s Bay and walk around the cliffs to Whitmore Bay (Barry Island) – but make sure you don’t go at high tide!

(*Also, don’t miss a trip down to the beach this weekend (22nd July – 23rd July) because Isle of Fire is returning!)

“Without Women it’s not possible the revolution (sic)”

After our walk, we stopped in at K9 Plus 1 for lunch – a Dog themed and Dog friendly cafe on the promenade on Barry Island (right next to the funfair).  With beds, bowls of water and a little bowl of chopped sausages, Bungle absolutely loved it…

…But still fancied a bit of my banana milkshake. 🙂

Have a great week everyone!

Cardiff and the Vale’s 10 Best Summer Spots

Hot town, summer in the city! We’ve had a teaser of some banging summer weather recently, but, trouble is that it never lasts long enough! You know the Welsh weather just loves to keep us guessing, and that’s why you’ve got to have an action plan ready and waiting for when the hot weather strikes!  Where to go, what to do? So here are my top ten spots in and around Cardiff to soak up the most of the sun (…when it puts in an appearance!) 🙂


1. Cardiff Bay

Where better to start this list than with Cardiff Bay? It’s hands down one of the best places to go when summer graces the city with its presence. If you’re up for a walk, park up near the Custom House in Penarth and walk across the barrage into the Bay, or take the bus or train from the city centre right into the heart of The Bay. There are plenty of places to grab a coffee or an ice cream or dine al fresco (I like Coffee Mania, The Deck and Signor Valentinos), and there’s always something going on during the summer – like the International Food and Drink Festival and the Cardiff Bay Beach.

There’s plenty to do down there in between ice-creams; there’s the Millenium Centre, The Red Dragon Centre (for movies and bowling), The Doctor Who Experience (although not for much longer!) and you can also take a speed boat out into the channel.

2. Roath Park

You can’t officially call yourself a Cardiff resident until you’ve taken a rowboat out onto Roath Park Lake and got the oars tangled in weeds and/or been chased around it by mental bread-hungry geese. As well as the walk around the lake, Roath Park’s mix of gardens and fields stretch all the way to Wellfield Road where you can find some of the best restaurants in Cardiff (Joe’s Ice Cream is a MUST when on Wellfield, and I love Chaiholics for Indian Street Food). Around the lake there’s also an ice cream stand as well as Terra Nova. Make sure you visit the stick insects and turtles inside the greenhouse while you’re there 🙂

3. The City Centre

When I lived in London I used to find summers in the city downright uncomfortable. Crowded parks, hot bricks and public transport… If you’ve ever been on a Southeastern train in July during rush hour then you’ll get it. But Cardiff city centre is actually a pretty pleasant place to be during the summer.  The shopping is mostly outside along Queen Street or in the space and air conditioned St David’s Centre, and there are also sheltered arcades to explore off The Hayes (be sure to check out Science Cream in Castle Arcade for liquid nitrogen ice cream creations!). The best spots for summer dining are all along Mill Lane and the Brewery Quarter (including some of the best bars) or you can always buy a picnic and eat it on the green outside Cardiff Castle or on the green outside City Hall (or in Bute Park – see below) 🙂

4. Barry Island

In terms of beaches, you can’t go wrong with Barry Island. It’s had a bit of a makeover recently, and these days I’m down there most weekends when the sun is shining. The main beach is on Whitmore Bay, but if you’ve got dog be aware that they’re not allowed on the beach itself during the summer months (dogs are allowed on the beach at Jackson’s Bay, which is a short walk around the corner). Other than swimming and sunbathing, there’s the pleasure park (and the big wheel) and plenty of arcades to shed your coppers for prizes. There’s Marcos and Bay Five for coffees and light lunches, O’Sheas for Fish and Chips, and just off the Island is the amazing Hangfire Southern Kitchen.

5. Victoria Park

Between Canton, Llandaff and Ely there’s Victoria Park and Thompson Park, both lovely green spaces with ponds and children’s playgrounds. Victoria Park has a bowling green as well as Basketball and Tennis Courts, and during the summer Victoria Park opens up its Splashpad, a paddling pool for kids with jets and sprays and tunnels – the perfect place for a water fight!

Around the Park there are plenty of places to eat or buy picnic food, like L’Creperie DeClaudie, The Park Deli and Pettigrew Bakeries.

6. Penarth

Just around the corner from Cardiff Bay is Penarth, which used to be called the “Garden by the Sea” by Victorian tourist boffins, which is pretty accurate actually. As well as the old pier and promenade, there’s a lovely walk through Alexandra Park to the town centre, or through Windsor Gardens (which always has a lovely display of wild flowers in the summer) where you can join the Wales Coastal Path. In the summer, boat tours run daily from the end of the pier to North Devon.

There are plenty of places to eat and drink; on the pier there’s the Pier Cafe (for coffee, sandwiches and the biggest toasted tea cakes in Cardiff) and kiosks selling sweets and ice cream, and in Penarth town Centre there’s Waterloo Tea as well as the dog friendly Blue Pelican Cafe upstairs in The Hamptons.

7. Porthkerry Park

Porthkerry Park’s a new favourite of mine; tucked away off of a residential street and Barry is a huge park of fields and forests that stretches all the way down to the sea. As well as golf, there’s a cafe and a rocky beach and plenty of room to explore. The perfect place for a barbecue or picnic. 🙂

8. Bute Park & Pontcanna Fields

Wedged between Cardiff Castle and the River Taff, Bute Park is the largest green space in the city centre combined with Cooper’s Field. It’s what Hyde Park is to London and what Central Park is to New York. 🙂 From the park you can get a great view of the Victorian apartments in Cardiff Castle, join the Taff Trail (see below), take a boat to Cardiff Bay, hear the students at the Welsh College of Music and Drama practicing and follow a Woodland Explorer Trail from the Education Centre. If you follow the paths north you can cross the Taff at Blackweir and cross into Pontcanna Fields.

There are plenty of places to eat and drink nearby; in the park itself there’s the Summer House as well as Pettigrew Tea Rooms, but it’s also only a short walk to the pubs littered along Cathedral Road and the cool cafes and restaurants in Pontcanna.

9. Cosmeston

Not far from Penarth is Cosmeston; another sprawling park with lakes, fields and woodland walks. Great for dog walkers and duck feeders! And just down the road there’s Swanbridge and Sully Island, which can only be reached when the tide is out! The Captain’s Wife is dog friendly and does a great Sunday Roast. 🙂

10. The Taff Trail

The Taff Trail is a cycle path that stretches for 55 miles, following the River Taff all the way to Brecon – not that you’d want to do the whole thing (phew!) but you can join it at various points in Cardiff. Following the Trail from the City Centre to the Bay is a popular route, as well as the route from Hailey Park near Whitchurch north to Castle Coch. You can find a trail map here.

Which are your favourite sunny spots in Cardiff?