Cardiff Christmas Shopping Guide 2018

Happy Monday!  It’s that time of year again!  The tree went up over the weekend, I’m on first name terms with the Amazon delivery guy and I’ve even got my first Christmas party later on this week.  It feels like Christmas is going to pounce on us any second now, which means the annual “What the hecky-peck am I going to get my Mother-in-law!?” freak-out has officially begun.  But – have no fear – if you’re Cardiff-bound on your hunt for the perfect Christmas present this year then I’ve got you covered with my 2018 Christmas Shopping Guide, full of the best stops (and pit-stops 😉) to get you all sorted for the big day.

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Homeware & Gifts

☆ Flying Tiger (St Davids Centre)

Perfect for: Quirky homeware, stationary and stocking fillers.  Tiger is one of my favourite places to hit if I’m having people over because they’ve always got the best (and cheapest!) party supplies and decs.  When it comes to banners, cake decorations, candles, napkins and nick-nacks, Tiger is the place to go.

☆ Illustrate (Morgan Arcade and the Christmas Market)

Perfect for: Unique graphic prints, t-shirts and accessories.  Sunny and I absolutely love Illustrate’s geometric animal prints – we’ve got a whole gallery of them!  Definitely worth checking out.

☆ Scribbler (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Quirky cards and stocking fillers!  They’ve currently got a 3 for 2 offer on packs of Christmas Cards ;-).

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☆ The Joke Shop (Duke Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Fancy Dress Costumes and practical jokes.  My brother and I used to love hitting up the joke shop when we were kids – it’s perfect if you’re planning a fancy dress night out at Christmas, or you’ve got pranks planned around the Christmas dinner table, or for fun stocking fillers.

☆ Cardiff Outdoor Christmas Market (The Hayes)

Perfect for: You can’t miss the Christmas Market! Running from the 15th of November to the 23rd of December, it’s the best place to find unique handmade gifts, artwork and food.  If there’s someone on your gift list that’s impossible to buy for and you’re tearing your hair out over them then a stroll around the stalls should do the trick.  You can find a directory of all this year’s stalls here.

☆ Cardiff Indoor (Central) Market (St Mary Street)

Perfect for: Cardiff’s indoor market is over a hundred years old and still going strong.  It’s a great place to hit up if you need home hardware, specialist foodie gifts, pet supplies, sewing and crafty gifts and vinyl records.  It’s absolutely criminal to come away without buying a bag of ten Welsh Cakes from Bakestones. 😉

☆ Forbidden Planet (Duke Street)

Perfect for: Comic books, cult action figures and collectibles.  If you’ve got a Sheldon Cooper to buy for then you’ll already know about Forbidden Planet and are probably a frequent visitor. 🙂

☆ Oliver Bonas (St David’s 2 – The Hayes)

Perfect for: I recently told my mother that I would happily live in an Oliver Bonas store.  Bright and colourful shop offering quirky homeware, books and gifts – also fashion and accessories.  I wrote a whole post about the shop here.

☆ The Pen & Paper (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Pens and Paper!  The best place to go for ink, card, pens, notebooks, art supplies and diaries.

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Kitchens Cookshop (High Street – castle end of St Mary Street)

Perfect for: Everything kitchen, cooking and baking related.  Guaranteed if I get a strange utensil or quirky cooking-related item from my Mum at Christmas time (and I always do!) then this is the shop it’s most likely come from.

☆ Rules of Play (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: If your annual Cards Against Humanity Marathon is starting to lose its novelty (we played for hours last year) and you’re on the hunt for a new board game or card game to play once Christmas dinner’s digested, then Rules of Play has got you covered.

☆ Castle Emporium (Womanby Street)

Perfect for: Market full of independent retailers selling clothing, jewellery, second hand books, artwork and skateboarding equipment.  On Saturday the 1st of December they’ve got a pop up Christmas Market from 12-5pm.

Outside the City Centre…

☆ Nest (Heol-y-Deri, Rhiwbina)

Perfect for: Not in the city centre, but definitely worth popping in if you’ve got a car.  Beautiful cosy homeware and gifts. 🙂

☆ Home byKirsty (Glenroy St, Roath)

Perfect for: Scandi-style homeware and stationary.  Awarded best new business in the 2015 Cardiff Life Awards, Home byKirsty showcases statement pieces like lights, cushions, mugs and other accessories for the home.  Definitely worth a look if you’re looking to buy a present for someone who’s just moved house!

☆ Beti Biggs (Albany Road, Roath)

Perfect for: “Vintage furniture, unusual gifts and homewares from around the world.”

*If Online Shopping’s your gig, check out these fab Welsh Makers and Brands with online stores.

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*Boots can be found in St David’s Centre, while most major brands can be tracked down in Debenhams and John Lewis (St David’s).

☆ Miss Patisserie (7, High Street Arcade) Available Online (and in most Boots stores)

Perfect for: Handmade Cosmetics, Bath Bombs, Candles. Tucked away in one of the Victorian Arcades (just off St John Street) Miss Patisserie is my go-to if I’ve got a pamper session planned – their bath balls are the bomb-diggity (much slower to fizzle out than, y’know, that *other* highstreet handmade cosmetics brand, and they create beautiful tie-dye swirls in the tub).  All their products are handmade, vegan and cruelty free and downright gorgeous.

☆ Neal’s Yard Remedies (Morgan Quarter)

Perfect for: Natural Remedies; I think you’d be hard pressed to find a Mama who isn’t a big fan of their soothing hand lotions.

☆ Jo Malone (St David’s 2 – Hayes side)

Perfect for: Personalised high-end perfume and beauty.

☆ L’Occitane (St David’s 2)

Perfect for: Provencial Beauty products and gift sets.

☆ Kiehl’s (St David’s 2)

Perfect for: Cult skincare products for men and women (I can’t rave more about their Midnight Recovery Oil).

Fashion & Jewellery

*Most of the big stores can be found dotted between Queen Street and The Hayes, with the majority of big names in St David’s 2.  For independents, check The Arcades.

☆ Hobos (High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Hobos has been around since I was a kid!  One of the best spots in Cardiff for vintage and secondhand fashion and accessories.

☆ Two Seasons (Queens Arcade)

Perfect for: Ski, skate and surf shop selling main brands of clothing and equipment for adults and kids.

☆ Urban Outfitters (The Hayes)

Perfect for: Quirky fashion with a vintage feel, but their homeware and gift section is where you want to be this time of year… 😉

☆ Blue Banana (Queen Street)

Perfect for: Alternative fashion and jewellery (my one stop shop circa 2004 when I had pink hair…).

Outside the City Centre…

☆ Kiti Cymru (Pontcanna Mews, King’s Road)

Perfect for: Fashion boutique in Pontcanna with carefully curated fashion from brands such as Lily & Lionel, Tatty Devine and Traffic People.

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Food & Drink

☆ Wally’s Delicatessen (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Foodie gift central.  Wally’s has its own unique aroma, you’ll smell the spices and cured meat long before you step inside.  It’s definitely the place to go if you’re looking for things to go into a Christmas hamper, as well as hot sauces, biscuits, chocolates, cheeses, pannettone and Christmas pudding.  They’ve also got a coffee shop on the second floor.

☆ Wally’s Drinks (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Wines, drinks and spirits.  Perfect if you’re looking to gift some quirky drinks or liquors – including Welsh-brewed products – or stock up for New Year’s Eve!

☆ Vom Fass (High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Specialist Oils and Spirits.

☆ Bean Freaks (St Mary’s Street)

Perfect for: Natural foods, remedies and beauty products.

☆ Simply V (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Vegan groceries, toiletries and clothing.

☆ Madame Fromage (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Cheesy gifts, literally!  Specialty cheeses and hampers.  They also offer Cheese and Wine Tasting evenings from £25 a head which my Dad would be all over. 🙂

Outside the City Centre…

☆ Pontcanna Market (King’s Road Yard, Pontcanna)

Perfect for: Worth venturing out of the city centre for their Saturday Farmer’s Market (9.30am – 2pm), and on the first three Sundays in December they’re hosting a Christmas Craft Fair (9am – 3pm).

Books & Music

☆ Spillers (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: LEGENDARY.  CDs and Vinyl.  The world’s oldest record shop and a Cardiff institution.  ‘Nuff said.

☆ Cranes (High Street – castle end of St Mary Street)

Perfect for: Gifts for musicians.  Cranes is the Mecca for Cardiff Musicians and the place to go to buy instruments and accessories.

☆ Troutmark Books (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Lovely secondhand book store tucked away in Castle Arcade.

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Welsh-themed Gifts

☆ Bodlon (Yr Hen Lyfrgell, The Hayes – and also 12 Park Road, Whitchurch)

Perfect for: Welsh-themed gifts.  Beautiful homeware, welsh language books, prints and stationary by welsh artists, toys and locally produced chocolates and alcohol.

☆ Castle Welsh Crafts (Castle Street – opposite Cardiff Castle)

Perfect for: Welsh themed gifts, love spoons, slate and souvenirs.  Castle Crafts has been around for donkey’s years and it’s no wonder because it’s the best place to go for all things Wales – especially love spoons.

☆ Shop Rugby (Duke Street)

Perfect for: Rugby Shirts and Kit as well as a few Welsh themed gifts.

Pitstops

Because all that Christmas Shopping is nackering!  It’s nice to have somewhere to go for coffee and a snack!  Here are some of my faves.

Barker Tea House (High Street Arcade)

Nata & Co (Castle Arcade)

Gin & Juice (Castle Arcade) – for something stronger… 😉

Crumb’s (Morgan Arcade)

Nine Yards (Duke Street Arcade)

The Plan (Morgan Arcade)

Hard Lines (Cardiff Indoor Market and Castle Emporium)

Llaeth a Siwgr (Yr Hen Llyfrgell)

Uncommon Ground (Morgan Arcade)

Big Moose Coffee (Frederick Street) tucked away between Boots and Primark and worth dropping in on to check out their Brownie of the Week 😉

The New York Deli (High Street Arcade)

The Grazing Shed Burgers (Morgan Quarter)

If you’ve got any Cardiff Christmas Shopping suggestions then I’d love to hear them – I’m always discovering new favourites! 🙂

What I Did: Sunday Lunch at Llanerch Vineyard

It was my Mum’s birthday a few weeks ago.  We’d just got back from Canada and struggled to quickly come up with a plan of where to take her on a Sunday for a chilled but fancy afternoon meal out that wasn’t going to be just a bog standard Roast.  It was also hot, like – even my knees are sweating – blazing hot, so the chance to sit outside instead of crammed into some dark and muggy corner of a restaurant would be a bonus.  And so, we booked a table at beautiful Llanerch Vineyard 🙂

Any other year it would seem absolutely ridiculous that there’s fully functional vineyard just outside of Cardiff, but apparently the usually mild and drizzly weather we (usually!) get around here is perfect for making the French and German hybrid wine (labelled “Cariad”) that Llanerch produces.  Apparently they fill up to 10,000 bottles of the stuff every year, so there you go!  Anyway, as well as offering up vineyard tours and wine tasting classes, it’s a lovely place to go for dinner or afternoon tea – especially on a Sunday when the Cariad Bistro offers up an Al Fresco Sunday lunch.



The way it works is that you can choose from either a two or three course meal with various options for starter, main and dessert.  We went for the two course option, forgoing the starters in favour of dessert (obviously!).  I went for a good old roast chicken with all the trimmings, which included fresh, seasonal vegetables, with plenty of extra ones on the side, lots of thick gravy and cauliflower cheese.  It was yum!



For dessert I went for the coconut panna cotta with mango sorbet, which was gorgeous – and perfect because I was about ready to melt by then, it was so hot outside!  But, it was a really lovely afternoon sitting out in the sunshine looking out over the vines – you could almost pretend you were in the South of France or the middle of Tuscany 🙂

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Have a great week everyone! 🙂

What I Did: Cardiff Bay Beach

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And so the heatwave blazes on here in Cardiff (it’s set to get up to 27° again later on this week – phew!) which is great because it means there’s plenty of chance to get out and enjoy all the summery things on offer in the city in the weather they were actually intended for!  Case and point: The Cardiff Bay Beach Festival, which runs every year from July to early September.  It’s moved from its usual spot on Plas Roald Dahl right in the heart of The Bay to a bigger, breezier spot up by The Barrage – a genius decision as it means there’s plenty more to see, do and eat!  I popped down on Saturday evening for a drink and stroll around the funfair, and thanks to the beautiful weather and even more beautiful sunset it really felt like I was on holiday somewhere far away.  Hello Cardiffornia! 🙂


If I hadn’t stuffed my face at Vegetarian Food Studio earlier that day then I’d have absolutely filled up on the Milkshakes, Halloumi Fries, Candifloss and Churros on offer – but I was full, so I had a sunset slushie instead 🙂








Have a great week! 🙂

What I Did: The Volvo Ocean Race Cardiff Stopover

I’ve got to be honest, I’m not that bothered about boats.  I’ve manned a boat maybe three times in my life, and none of those voyages were particularly successful.  Two of them involved getting tangled in some pretty thick pond weed under a willow on Roath Park Lake, and the other time was on honeymoon when Sunny decided that he wanted to try a two-man kayak.  Honestly?  I was absolutely knackered from rowing before we’d even made it out of the dock and whinged the whole way round (“Can we pleeeeease go back to the beach now?”).

So when Sunny suggested we pop down to Cardiff Bay to see the Volvo Ocean Race Stopover, I agreed to go on the proviso that we’d have our own stopover in Compass Coffee for breakfast Cronuts. 🙂

Sunny went for the Eggs Hebredian (Eggs Benedict with some added juicy black pudding), I had the Sticky Toffee and Custard Cronut and can confirm that it was 👌👌👌



After breakfast we walked over the Barrage towards The Boatyard.  I didn’t know much about the actual race before I got there, but it’s been running since the seventies.  Back in October, the boats weighed anchor in Alicante and set off on a nine month race around the world, with stopovers in just twelve cities.  And this year, Cardiff was picked as the stopping port after the tiring Atlantic leg.  Unfortunately, the boats hadn’t actually arrived when we were there on Sunday (they came in very early on Tuesday morning after being slowed down by some bad weather – welcome to Wales!), but there was more than enough to see and do (and eat!).  They’re docked in Cardiff until the 10th of June, when they’ll set off for Gothenburg.  While they’re here there’s plenty going on in and around The Bay, including workshops, demonstrations and a couple of races on Friday the 8th and Saturday the 9th of June (you can find out a bit more about what’s on here).


Despite being “not bothered about boats” the workshops and stalls were actually really interesting – particularly the Volvo Building; you can learn more about the race, the boats and how bloody hard the teams work during each leg.  You can also hop into a replica of one of the actual racing boats, and even attempt to dock one using a simulator.  Lots of cool stuff to do.  We got down there at about 11 in the morning and before we knew it, it was pushing 4!


As well as the stalls devoted to the race, there were also a few flying the flag for Wales (including some fab local food stalls), like Visit Wales, where you can try out a Virtual Reality version of some activities and experiences on offer around the country – like rocketing down the side of Snowdon on a Zip Line and diving with dolphins. 🙂





I’ll never complain about rowing around Roath Park again!  Definitely worth heading down to Cardiff Bay and checking out the Stopover while it’s in town – the boats are shipping off on the 10th of June.

Have a great weekend! 🙂

What I did: The Bank Holiday Edition

It’s the afternoon of #FakeMonday as I’m writing this, it’s grey outside and honestly?  I still can’t quite believe just how beautiful the Bank Holiday weekend was.  I can’t remember a Bank Holiday where it didn’t rain on at least one of the days, especially here in Wales, let alone a a whole three days without a single cloud in the sky.  I got my pasty, penne pasta legs out, ate barbecued(/burnt) hot dogs, dipped my feet in the freezing Bristol Channel, resembled a lobster after sitting in the sun for too long and it was bloody brilliant.  Well… except for the sunburn bit – slip, slop, slap everyone, always!

Anyway, I’m sad it’s over, but happy that I did pretty much manage to cram an entire summer into one weekend. 🙂




On Saturday we had a Barbecue in our back garden where we sat out in the sunshine, scoffed hot dogs and got through a handful of these very grown up ice lollies from Aldi which come in loads of different flavours from Gin and Tonic to Peach Bellini – definitely worth stocking up on ready for the next heatwave 😉


I also made these spicy potato chunks which are really easy and go really well with barbecue food.  All you need to do is cut the potatoes into chunks, boil them until tender, drain them and rough them up a bit in a colander, and then spread them out in a baking dish.  Add a knob of butter, some chopped chives and chilli jam (you can find my recipe here) and then bake for about 30 minutes at 180°.  Yum!



On Sunday we took Bungle to Porthkerry Park on the outskirts of Barry which is one of my favourite summery spots.  The main lawn was full of people having picnics and barbecues, and yet there’s so much space there that it never really feels busy.


We took Bungle for a bath in the sea and then went for an ice cream.  When it was time to leave, we packed Bungle into the boot of the car and took off his lead and just as we were shutting the boot he decided that he wasn’t ready to leave, jumped out and went running off on his own.  He went blasting off down the lawn and trampled three picnics while we tried to chase him down and wrangle him.  Oh the shame.



We finished off the weekend with a walk around Bute Park on Monday afternoon, and listened to some pretty hardcore music students practicing with the windows open at the Welsh College of Music and Drama.




Can’t wait for an encore at the end of the month!  Have a lovely weekend guys! ♡