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: Paddling Pools and *Bistrot Pierre

High five for Friday!  Hope you’ve had a lovely week, whatever you’ve been up to.  Hands up who’s excited about tomorrow’s royal wedding?  Up, down, up, down?  I wasn’t bothered at all, but I got really into Suits early this year and now I’m kind of… interested.  “Interested” is probably the most excitement you’ll get out of me on this one, but the more I read about Meghan Markle, the more I really like her (…I’ve been trying so hard to separate her from Rachel Zane).  Have you seen the video of her speaking out against sexist advertising when she was just 11?  She also used to blog (aside from “The Tig“, she’s also rumoured to be behind “The Working Actress”) and side-hustled as a calligraphist, and – let’s get trivial, shall we? – she and I share the same first name… which we don’t go by.  It’s Rachel, in case you’re wondering. 😉

Anyway, I want to see the dress so I’ll be tuning in for a bit at least.  So, other than stalking the soon to be Duchess of Sussex, what have I been up to?

Earlier in the week I popped to Home Bargains for a few cupboard essentials and came away with a £2 paddling pool instead (*eyeroll* it’s always the way, right?).  The weather’s been so lovely that we’ve been out in the garden whenever we’ve had the chance, but – bless him – Bungle struggles a bit in the heat, y’know, due to the fact that he’s off the scale on the fluff-o-meter.  So I thought it’d be fun for him to have somewhere to cool off.  🙂  I kind of underestimated how bloody big he’s gotten though, I should have gotten a bigger one!



French restaurant chain, Bistrot Pierre, sent me an invite a few weeks ago to sample their new summer menu – so I met up with Sunny after work one evening and we hustled over to The Brewery Quarter (just off Caroline Street), excited to fill our empty stomachs with some lovely French Food and mon dieu, did we fill them alright. 🙂

For starter, I had Calamari with a lovely garlic aioli dip, while Sunny opted for deep-fried brie – which I kind of wish I’d ordered – not because the calamari wasn’t delicious, but because why would anyone pass up the opportunity for deep fried brie!?  It was stunning, especially coupled with the spiced pear chutney.  Yum!


I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to order an Orangina.  Sunny rolled his eyes and called it “Cheap French Tango” which honestly made me want to throw my wedding ring at him.  I used to drink gallons of the stuff when I went on holidays to France as a kid – and to this day I can’t see a bottle without having a lame Proustian Moment of some of my favourite summers. 🙂

For main I had the Burger Maison which was huge and delicious and came with a bucket of pomme frites (très bonne), whilst Sunny was very happy with his choice of the Médaillons de porc which came with plenty of vegetables on the side (…although he couldn’t help sneaking a few of my chips, grrr).




For afters Sunny bagged a winner again with the Gâteau au miel – a traditional Burgundian Honey cake – which, although it doesn’t look much on the plate, Sunny said was the best dessert he’d ever had and practically demanded that I learn how to make it.   I went for the classic Crème brûlée – I mean you’ve gotta, right? 😉

Huge thanks to Bistrot Pierre for the invite, we had a fantastique time and the food was absolutely banging.  I’d totally recommend if you’ve got a craving for some French fare – it made me desperately want to whizz down to Portsmouth and hop on a ferry to France 🙂  I’ve definitely got my eye on trying one of their gastronomy nights!  You can book a table at one of their many restaurants across the UK here.  I also have a code (LBP8X87H) which entitles each member of your booking group to a free drink with their meal (You can read the Terms and Conditions here). Nice!

Have a lovely weekend guys! 🙂

What I did: ¡April Feria!

Well, while the weather over the weekend was more murky than Mediterranean here in Cardiff (it was absolutely freezing when I went out to walk the dog this morning!), it didn’t stop us from at least pretending that we were in Spain.  On Saturday Sunny and I popped down to Tramshed for its annual Spanish Fiesta – April Feria – a whole day celebrating Spanish music, dancing, and – more importantly – foooooood.  I suppose it’s Cardiff’s nod to the famous Feria De Abril in Seville which lasts for six whole days every year around this time – six whole days of flamenco dancing, bullfighting and scoffing paella.  Well, April Feria only lasted the one day, so, the way I saw it, I had to cram six days worth of paella and churros scoffing into one.  Challenge accepted.

Fair warning; there are photographs of me stuffing my face coming right up… 😉


Inside Tramshed, the main room was fiesta ready – with streamers and lanterns and red carnations, and there were Flamenco Dancing Workshops going on on the main stage.  There was live music and Spanish dancing all day, as well as an after party in the basement of Jacob’s Market.


By far the best thing on the menu though was the paella by Riceminster – three massive pans of vegan, chicken and rabbit (a traditional Valencian) paella.  I’ve tried making paella so many times at home by it always ends up a gloopy mess which I brush off by just calling it risotto instead (oh the shame!).  So it was nice to get schooled by the masters!  Traditionally you’re not supposed to season paella with chilli, just a squirt of lemon juice and I can confirm that the chicken paella was an absolute stunner. 👌

🙂 🙂 🙂


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Also, you can’t go to a fiesta and not have Churros.  Those are the rules!  If you don’t come away licking cinnamon sugar off your lips (or brushing it out of your beard if you’re anything like Sunny) then you’ve gone wrong.




If only the weather had joined in, but then this is Cardiff after all!  Have a fantástico week everyone! 😉

What I Did: Blossom Walk through Bute Park

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I knew it!  Warm weather in April (in Wales…) can never be trusted; I had a feeling I’d be back to wearing a jumper on Monday, and whaddya know?  Here I am bundled up and slurping hot chocolate like my life depends on it. Still, I packed in as much of summer as I could into last weekend.  I had my first Strawberry ‘Shake from McDonalds (yum), I actually squeezed my Daz white pins into some shorts (not so yum), and we had a barbecue (yum yum).  Although, just as the hot dogs finished cooking the black clouds burst and we ended up having to eat inside (not before I got soaked taking Bungle for his evening walk though…).  Oh well.

On Sunday, we braved the weather and went for a walk in Bute Park to see the blossom (and pet cute dogs…).  🙂


We parked up on Cathedral Road and then cut through Sophia Gardens, crossing the Taff (where Bungle met Bella the St Bernard) and heading into Bute Park right next to The Summer House.  We walked a loop alongside the Taff, turning just before we reached the Rugby fields and walking back down past the College of Music and Drama, the Castle and then back across the bridge.  Bute Park never feels that big – it doesn’t take long to walk around it  – but it’s not small either, and so never feels too busy.  The perfect place for a Spring walk. 🙂








Come back soon summer! 🙏

 

A Lingering Winter

It’s almost hard to believe it’s April; it seems like just yesterday that everyone was moaning about how January was dragging into its third millennium – and yet, here we are!  Although, the weather still doesn’t seem to have gotten the message and most days it feels a lot more like February.  Over Easter, I made the decision to step away from the computer for a bit and because Sunny had a week off we both got really excited about getting out and about together. But – surprise, surprise – it pretty much rained ALL WEEK.  In the end, we managed a trip to Costco (…fair play, their hot dogs are banging) and a run down to Penarth to take Bungle for a bath.  I mean, we also got some major adulting done around the house like washing curtains and painting skirting boards (…and also got very close to completing Assassin’s Creed Origins.  Priorities people, come on.).  But, that’s it.  We got rained off.  And although that’s kind of expected when you live in Wales, there are limits.

It’s funny.  I’ve always thought of myself as an autumn/winter kinda gal, but this year?   The endless darkness and the lingering cold and wet and not being able to get out has made me miserable.  I’ve really, honestly struggled.  It’s been hard being cooped up and old anxieties have at times really gotten the better of me.  I’ve felt tired constantly, haven’t been eating well and have found it really hard to feel inspired.  And while the weather always seems like an easy scapegoat when it comes to finding a reason for feeling blue, it’s contributed massively.

But!  Yesterday the sun came out and I actually put the air con on my car for all of ten minutes (…until my fingers froze and my eyeliner started to run down my face…), so I’ll take that!  Spring is on it’s way and there are loads of exciting things ahead, so onwards and upwards! 🙂


Anyway, it’s always great taking Bungle down to Penarth.  You might laugh about the whole bathing him in the sea thing, but actually it really works!  Salt water is great for his coat and because Penarth has a pebble beach, he doesn’t get any sand stuck in his fur.  Plus, he LOVES the sea and swimming.  Just look at his happy little face! 🙂





Once Bungle had shaken off and was rocking some beachy blonde waves, we went onto the pier and stopped in Waterloo Tea for a cuppa and a cake.  🙂

Have a great weekend everyone!  Hopefully the sunshine will finally make a comeback, eh?  🙂