What I Did: New Kicks and Cocktails at the Celtic Manor


Happy Friday everyone!  Here’s another What I Did post, this time all about what I got up to yesterday.  It was a long one, which all started with Bungle barking at 5.30am.  I’ve got no idea why he’s waking up so early at the moment, but it’s driving me nuts!  Apparently a Golden Retriever in Australia holds the world record for the loudest bark and I can bloody believe it.  Once Bungle’s awake he barks and barks and barks until one of us crawls out of bed and goes downstairs to see him – and at the moment, that’s happening most mornings at the arse crack of dawn.  *sigh*  He’s such a brat!

Look at that innocent face.  Ugh!  🙂

After breakfast (and Bungle’s morning walk), I got dressed.  I put on my cosiest jumper (it’s been absolutely freezing in Cardiff this week!) and decided to give Benefit’s *Bad Gal Bang a road test.  The verdict?  Well, I applied it at 9am, absolutely loved the lift and volume that it gave my stubby little lashes and was amazed that they stayed in place right through until 11pm when I took my makeup off (Apparently it’s capable of lasting 36 hours, but honestly who on earth wears mascara for 36 hours?!).  I was able to avoid clumpy, tarantula eyes because the wand is easy to manouvre; so big tick on that one.

Now, it claims to be smudge proof, but alas I was panda’d up as usual by the afternoon, and I did have quite a bit of smudging by the end of the night under and above my lashes – so wah-wah on that one.  Buuuut, the lift and volume you get is pretty epic.

I popped into town to run a few errands… aaaaaand – like a Magpie with a one track mind – ended up in Skinny Dip looking at all the shiny, pretty things, and then H&M, where I bagged a new pair of trainers for £9 in the sale.

In the afternoon I worked on my book (fuelled by some fresh Welsh Cakes that I picked up from Bakestones in Cardiff Market), and then after dinner, Sunny and I drove up to the Celtic Manor.  I’ve passed by it so many times in the car on the way to and from London  – you can’t miss it towering over the M4 on the hillside near junction 24 – and I’ve always wanted to visit.  So I was very excited when I was invited along to the launch of its brand new cocktail lounge; The Mulberry.

Decorated with gold paint, dark marble and plenty of velvet, it was like stepping between the pages of The Great Gatsby, and the cocktails didn’t disappoint either.  Far from a bit of ice, fruit juice and gin shaken together, The Mulberry‘s cocktails are like a performance in a glass.  For example, their champagne cocktail, the Candy Floss Royal comes straight up with a cloud of pink candy floss in a martini glass, which melts when you pour over the muscat and champagne mix. And their Tom Collins?  They aerate it at the table with Laughing Gas.  Actual Laughing Gas, you guys.

I took my brand new Skinny Dip clutch out for a spin, which looked very much at home in the glitzy surroundings 🙂

Time to check in with Bungle.  My Mum and Dad bought us one of those Pet Cams for Christmas and it’s seriously amazing!  We’ve got it set up in the kitchen so every time we go out we can check in on Bungle and see whether he’s sleeping (unlikely…) or getting up to mischief (more likely!).  Last night he spent most of the time lying on his bed looking sorry for himself, poor guy. 😦  It’s nice to be able to check in with him and see whether we need to hurry back to him or can stay out a bit longer – plus, we can actually talk to him through it if we want to (…which he hates!  It really confuses him!).

Hooray for the weekend! Have a good one, whatever you’re up to! 🙂

What I Did: Principality Stadium Tour


The Six Nations kicks off tomorrow!  Ahead of the big opener on Saturday – I went for a little snoop around the Principality Stadium (I have to be honest, I’m not liking our chances this year – we’ve got so many injuries – but you never know!).  I booked it back in November as a Christmas present for my Dad and thought now be the perfect time to take a tour and see the pitch and stadium in tip top condition.  🙂

I still feel a bit weird calling it the Principality Stadium; I mean, to me it’ll always be the Millennium Stadium.  I remember when it opened back in 1999, swamping the old Arms Park.  I think the first time I went there was to see Robbie Williams play – and it can’t have been that long after it opened – I mean, we’re talking Robbie Williams back in his Rock DJ days (oh man, I’m old!).  But anyway, it was interesting to have a snoop in the cloisters of the so-called Cathedral of Welsh Rugby and hear some old stories and facts about the stadium over the years.

We had a look in the press room and then went into the boys’ changing room, The Dragon’s Lair (which was having a bit of spot work to fix the showers ahead of Saturday’s game!).  I totally forgot to have a sneak peek at the back of the shirt to see who’s seat I was sitting in!

All important deliveries ready for match day… 😉

Without a doubt one of the best bits of the tour was being able to walk from the changing rooms out through the tunnel and onto the pitch.  Our tour guide flicked a switch near the doorway that played a recording of what the stadium sounds like at full capacity (74,000), so we could really imagine what it’s like to walk out on match day. 🙂

The pitch looked in tip top condition, mostly due to the huge lights that are lit year round to help keep the grass healthy.

We went up to the top tiers for the view and also to have a sneak peek inside the “presidential box” where the seats are all cushioned and covered to to protect not against the rain (there’s a roof for that, obviously), but against beer downpours!

One of the most interesting facts was how much it costs to open and close the roof.  How much d’you reckon?  Give me your best guess in the comments! 😉

Best of luck to the boys tomorrow – I’ve a feeling Scotland’s got game this year! If you’re interested in taking a tour of the Principality Stadium, you can find everything you need to know to book here.

What I Did: Barista School at 200 Degrees


If you’d just happened to pass by the Swansea branch of Marks and Spencer in circa 2005 and popped in for a coffee, then it might just have been served up by yours truly!  Yep, every Saturday I did a five hour stint behind the bar and during that time must have made at least seventy cups of coffee with the clunky old barista machine, barely coming up for air (I mean, some nights I’d pour coffee in my sleep!).  But, I’m a tea-drinker through and though, and despite calling myself a Barista at the time, the truth is that I knew very little about coffee or the process I went through every time I ground the beans, whacked in the filter and steamed up some milk.  So, when 200 Degrees invited me along to try out their three hour Basic Barista Course, I was curious to put my Barista skills to the test… 🙂

Before the metaphorical bell for Barista School rang, I cwtched up in the corner of 200 Degrees with a hot cup of tea (sorry!), some breakfast (a lemon meringue donut… oh sweet lord, my two favourite desserts all rolled into one…!) and a book.  There are so many coffee shops around the Capitol end of Queen Street now, but 200 Degrees definitely takes the award for the cosiest.  It’s roomy, but homely – and reminds me a little bit of an old French bar, with its blue velvet, pin-tucked benches, dark wood and swirling calligraphy.

Then at nine o’clock, school was in session; Joe collected me and my classmates from downstairs, and took us upstairs to the Barista School.  200 Degrees run four different courses altogether, but – with more and more people buying Barista Machines for their homes – the Basic Barista is aimed at coffee enthusiasts who want to boost their knowledge and skills when it comes to brewing up the perfect cup (…and also for tea drinkers who know nothing, like me!).

We started off by looking at the different cups of coffee – clearing up the differences between the Americano and the Cortado, and Espressos and Macciatos, and the rules that go into making each – and then we learned some facts about the origins of coffee, where it’s grown and its place in the world today – like, did you know that 1.6 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide every day?

…Yep, I’m a nerd. I love taking notes! 😉

Next we learned about how coffee cherries are grown, the different types of bean, and the process that takes them from tree to cup!  I had absolutely no idea about how much affects the taste of the different coffee beans – from the altitude at which they’re grown (high altitude coffee is stronger due to the lack of oxygen), and the other plants growing around them, to the process by which they’re picked and then dried (cherries that are hand picked and naturally dried have a much sweeter, better taste than cherries that are harvested by machine and washed).  So much hard work goes into making good coffee; by both the people who grow it, and the baristas who serve it.  There are so many stages along the chain where the flavour can change.

Onto the science-y bit!  Joe taught us all about the art and science of the espresso; how to use the machine to extract the perfect espresso.  As someone who’s never drank a cup of espresso, the most interesting bit for me was when he made something called a Salami Shot.  One whole shot of espresso is brewed for 30 seconds in total – so what Joe did was to split that one cup into six cups of 5 seconds each, which we then tasted.  This is designed to show the different levels of extraction that go into one perfect shot, and how the taste changes for every five seconds of brew-time; from the first under-extracted cup (way too salty!), to the final, over-extracted cup (way too bitter!).  These six variations in flavour all fit in to one cup of espresso.


Next we learned all about steaming and texturing milk to create latte art, and found out the cold hard truth that latte art doesn’t make for the best-tasting cup of coffee, because having to drink through the “crema” (the foamy bit that sits on top of the shot) changes the flavour.  While it looks pretty, what you should do is stir (ruin the design!) before you drink for a creamier-tasting cup.

Finally we all had a go of making our own coffee and trying our hand at a bit of latte art, which I was absolutely terrible at!  (Thanks for the action shots Octopus Diaries! 😉 )

I had such a great time and found it all so, so interesting!  And I even have a little certificate to show that I’m a bonafide Barista.  I suppose the million dollar question is whether I’m now a coffee drinker instead of a tea drinker.  Well… alas, I’m still a confirmed old tea swigger, but I’m definitely more open to having a sip of the occasional good cup of coffee! 😉

If you’re interested in trying out Barista School then you can find more information here.  Definitely worth checking out if you’re a bean-freak – or even if you’re a tea drinker like me and want to learn a little bit more about what goes in to the perfect cup of coffee! ☕

What I Did: Hotel Indigo Launch Party

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Last night I was invited along to the launch party (as well as a little snoop around the rooms) of Hotel Indigo; a brand new boutique hotel that’s opened up right in the heart of city centre, just off Queen Street.  Not only was it fab night with live music and fancy grub (courtesy of the rooftop Marco Pierre White Steakhouse), but the hotel itself is stunning (it’s a blogger’s dream!), with little nods to Welsh culture, language and history are dotted throughout the reception area and the rooms.  Such a cool place to stay if you’re up for a weekend away in the Welsh Capital! 🙂

“The minute you walked in the joint… ba-damp!”

If you’re on Queen Street, it’s definitely worth taking a turn down old Dominions Arcade to see the new murals and pop into the cosy reception area of Hotel Indigo for a cup of coffee.  The walls are covered with Welsh iconography; from framed pictures of corgis, poetry by Dylan Thomas, daffodils, sheep… you name it, it’s up there (…except for a Love Spoon!  Get on that pronto tonto, Hotel Indigo! 😉 ).  There’s also a few hints at Wales’ past, with the caged canary and lit mining helmets behind the front desk a little tribute to King Coal.

I absolutely loved these quirky plates with Max Ernst-esque engravings and old Welsh sayings.  My Welsh is a little rusty guys, but I think this one means, “Every bird loves the sound of its own voice.”

The launch party moved up into Marco Pierre White’s Rooftop Bar and Steak Restaurant – including a terrace with views right across the city. 🙂

Couldn’t resist jumping into the photo booth with some fellow Welsh Bloggers: Leanne (The Globetrotter GP), Laura (Side Street Style), and Kacie (The Rare Welsh Bit). 🙂

Such a great night!  If you ever fancy coming to Cardiff for the weekend, then definitely check out Hotel Indigo for a taster session in Welsh Culture 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone! x

10 Female Welsh Bloggers to Watch in 2018

10 Female Welsh Bloggers to Watch in 2018 - The Cardiff Cwtch

If there’s one thing that I bloody love about the internet (…other than Spotify, Wikipedia and my ASOS wishlist) it’s the fact that it allows you connect with so many like-minded, creative peeps you’d have otherwise probably never met.  Before I started blogging there were times where I felt incredibly lonely when it came to my own creativity; taking pictures, cooking and throwing my thoughts down was something I did completely on my own and only shared with my family and friends.  Before I started blogging I had absolutely no idea how many soul sisters there were just around the corner.  There are loads of talented Welsh Bloggers out there – waaaay too many to cram into just one blog post – but here’s a handful of my favourite online ladies as well as a few recent discoveries to get you started. 🙂

1. Rachel of “Rachel the Hat

I first came across Rachel over on Instagram. I was initially drawn in by her colourful daily outfit posts but quickly became hooked on her fun and friendly Stories updates and her down to earth personality.  She’s also got a killer blog and YouTube Channel, hosts Blogger linkups and was recently chosen by Laura Ashley as their Style Crush for December.

Suggested Posts: Not Keeping up with the Insta-Jones’ – Stopping the Constant Buying“, “Five Ways to Downsize Your Wardrobe

2. Christy of “Style Rarebit

I’m continually blown away by Christy’s daily fashion and beauty posts over on Instagram, as well as her clean and crisp looking blog.  And I can confirm that she’s just as stunning and as lovely in person as she is in her beautiful photographs 🙂

Suggested Posts: When am I going to ‘Make it’?“, “Flower Shopping

3. Gwennan of “Twenty Something Meltdown

If you’re into Bullet Journals and Stationary then you seriously need Gwennan on your blogroll.  As well as being a talented illustrator, she also blogs all things lifestyle over at Twenty Something Meltdown and was even nominated as Lifestyle Blogger of the Year at last year’s Blogosphere Awards.  You’ll LOVE her real and relatable Instagram posts.  (Also, I’m pretty sure we live right around the corner from each other – I have literally no idea how we haven’t bumped into each other down the supermarket yet)

Suggested Posts: Two Hearty Meals to Make in Winter“, “43 Things You Remember if you grew up in Wales

4. Naomi of “Teatime with Naomi

I’ve always wanted to go to Japan and so lived vicariously through Naomi’s blog posts and Instagram back when she was teaching in Nagasaki.  Now she’s back in the UK and studying for an MA in Creative Writing in Bath, her cosy blog is still just as addictive with posts about feminism, mental health and writing 🙂

Suggested Posts: You Are Enough“, “Why I Just Can’t Go for a Walk

5. Lottie of “This Girl Is

Lottie’s only been blogging since October but I love her style and her Instagram is absolutely banging.  Definitely go follow her if you’re not already 🙂

Suggested Posts: Coffee Table Stylin’“, “This Girl Is

6. Annie of “Annie Bishop

I absolutely LOVE Annie’s photography over on Instagram and her style carries right on over to her blog where she writes about music (she’s freelanced writing gig and album reviews) and her travels (definitely check out her “Cities Stories” if you’re planning a Eurotrip any time soon!).

Suggested Posts: Embracing a Settled Life“, “A Beginner’s Guide to Cardiff

7. Charlee of Rose above the Thorns

Charlee recently lopped off 12 inches of her lovely long hair to give to the Little Princess Trust, raising £500 to boot, which is amazing!  Based in Swansea, she also blogs budget fashion, beauty and lifestyle over at Rose above the Thorns and also helps run the Welsh Bloggers Twitter Account (also, her pup Beau is so cute!).

Suggested Posts: “Sustainable Fashion: What is it, and how can we make it more accessible?“, “How to Feel Pretty in a World Full of ‘Perfect’ Social Media

8. Charlie of “Charlie’s Chapter

Fellow Cardiff foodie Charlie blogs all things food and lifestyle over at Charlie’s Chapter, and I love seeing snaps of what she’s recently cooked up over on her Instagram.  Definitely one to watch if fresh and healthy cooking is one of your top priorities for 2018!

Suggested Posts: Cardiff’s Top 5 Breakfast Spots“, “Meal Prep Top Tips: Charlie’s Cheats

9. Leanne of Be Your Natural Self

I first started following Leanne over on Instagram as I totally admire her no nonsense approach to fully embracing life, caring less about “perfect” and being yourself.  As well as blogging beauty and lifestyle, she also sings and supports the Alzheimer’s Society.

Suggested Posts: “Why Instagram Perpetuates my Feeble Obsession with Acceptance“, “When I’m Skinny I’ll be Hayley Williams

10. Lucy of Lucy Mary

Lucy has only been blogging for a year, but you’d never know it!  It’s clear she’s put in so much work to her lifestyle blog Lucy Mary, where she writes about everything from Wellbeing and living with Cystic Fibrosis, to Fashion and Personal Growth.

Suggested Posts: We’re all Different, but Equal“, “80 Acts of Kindness

Have a fab weekend everyone! X