5 Things I've Been Loving Lately

…because we all need a bit of positivi-tea right now…
5 Things I've Been Loving Lately - The Cardiff Cwtch - IngenuiTEA Teapot Review

(Don’t worry, that God awful pun will become clear in a mo…) How are you? No really, how are you? Because in between all the terrifying news updates, social isolation and uncertainty about what the next few months are going to bring, we really need to keep checking in with each other and helping out whenever and in whatever way we can. If you’re like me then you’re probably feeling absolutely fine one minute and plodding along like nothing’s changed, and then staring into space for twenty minutes after tuning into the news for two minutes. I’m feeling angry, sad and overwhelmed all at once sometimes – and helpless; I mean, how the hell am I supposed to walk the dog, do the shopping, see my favourite people, take my car in for a service and MOT (grrr, why is that ALWAYS due at the worst possible moment?!)… I feel robbed of all the things I usually enjoy doing this time of year with my family, and all the daily things I do that I suppose I normally take for-granted.

But, like everyone else, I’m also trying to spot the silver linings in all of this – and they are there if you look for them. My husband’s lucky, he gets to work from home from time to time anyway and so we’ve kind of set up a co-working space in our tiny home office (we’ve NEVER worked together before, so it’ll either be a disaster or a dream…) – and Bungle is always on hand to cheer us both up when we need it (plus, he needs a walk every day – so we’re never short for fresh air). I’m also used to being stuck indoors for long stints as I’m home most of the time anyway – in fact, I LOVE it; I rarely get stir crazy, and so being given the go-ahead to be antisocial and binge on boxsets for a few months is a-ok with me!

Keeping well in every sense of the word is going to be absolutely key to getting through the next few months; not just in protecting ourselves and others against Covid-19, but also when it comes to Mental Health. Not being allowed to go about your usual routine and do the things that you normally love to do is going to be tough-going for a while – so finding small pick-me ups where you can and things to enjoy around this altered (and alien) state will help to keep things in balance when the world seems like it’s flipped completely upside down.

Anyway, here are all my recent pick-me-ups…

5 Things I've Been Loving Lately - The Cardiff Cwtch - Golden Retriever Beach

Finding new ways to get out and about

The week before last Sunny and I enjoyed what was to be our last day out before we dove into full-on isolation last Monday (surreal). We took Bungle down to Jackson Bay for a swim in the sea (he absolutely loves swimming!) and then walked around the clifftops to Whitmore Bay for a portion of chips each from O’Sheas. Obviously we had absolutely no idea how much everything was about to change – but I’m so glad we got out and enjoyed ourselves before getting sick ourselves and having to stay indoors (we both developed a nasty cough a couple of days later – still have no idea whether it was actually Coronavirus, but if it was, it was a relatively mild strain).

Obviously, once our isolation is over we’ll be out and about again – but definitely in a more mindful way. I couldn’t believe the pictures from Snowdon and Pen-y-Fan over the weekend of people out and about enjoying the sunny weather in big groups, as well as caravaners and second-homers opting to leave their homes and self-isolate in rural Wales. It’s not okay, and if either you or a member of your family is in the “at risk” category then I’m sure you were as similarly horrified as I was.  I really hope people start taking the rules on social distancing seriously.

(All I need is for someone to explain what “social distancing” means to my over-friendly floof-ball…)

5 Things I've Been Loving Lately - The Cardiff Cwtch - Barry Island5 Things I've Been Loving Lately - The Cardiff Cwtch - O'Sheas Barry5 Things I've Been Loving Lately - The Cardiff Cwtch - Adagio Tea Giveaway

Loose Leaf Tea

It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of a good ol’ cuppa, and in times like these there’s really nothing better than a steaming cup of the good stuff to pull you through. Until recently, I was all for the ease of a plucking a tea bag out of the jar and popping it into a mug first thing in the morning – but when push comes to shove, I actually tend to prefer the taste of loose leaf tea. The problem is, it’s usually a bit of a faff; I find infusers (you know, reusable tea bags) don’t allow enough space for the tea leaves to brew properly, and loose leaf teapots I’ve tried in the past are either too big (so the second cup is cold by the time you get around to drinking it), or too difficult to clean.

A couple of weeks ago all my tea dreams came true when Adagio Tea sent me a box full of loose leaf tea to try, along with their IngenuiTea Teapot – which I have to say has been an absolute game-changer for me first thing in the morning! It’s very, very clever. Not only is it dishwasher and microwave safe (no more faffing around trying to unhinge stubborn tea leaves, or “ugh, my tea’s gone cold” face), but the brewed tea is released through the base – you just pop it on top of your favourite mug and – thanks to the nifty base mechanism – the tea flows straight down into it. Not a stray tea leaf in sight – and NO LEAKS.

Not only is the teapot an absolutely genius bit of kit for tea lovers, but Adagio Tea’s loose leaf blends are gorgeous too. From their dreamy Moonlight Earl Grey to their delicate and sweet Butterscotch Flavour (my favourite by far!) they’ve got a lovely selection of black teas – which are my go to every day – but they’ve also got a selection of special ImmuniTEA Booster blends like Turmeric Bliss and Chamomile.

5 Things I've Been Loving Lately - The Cardiff Cwtch - Adagio Tea Butterscotch

Boxsets

Thank God for Boxsets, amiright? I mean, I’m boxset mad at the best of times so I don’t need to be sold on the idea of staying in and binge-watching my way through all seven seasons of Mad Men – which I totally did a couple of weeks ago (it’s brilliant, by the way – absolutely well worth a watch). Other box sets I’d recommend are Succession, Billions and The Newsroom if you’re looking for smart and snappy dialogue (let’s add Madmen to that pile too) The Witcher, True Blood (…even though it loses the plot somewhere around Season 5) and Penny Dreadful if you’re looking for monsters and magic. And, Outlander, Vikings, Peaky Blinders and The Crown if you’re a history nerd like me. Oh, and if you’re looking for a fresh take on Superheroes, then I can’t recommend The Boys more – seriously good.

I’m also making my way through some of my favourite comedies, from The Office (Micheal Scott never fails to make me smile during “OH MY GOD IT’S HAPPENING” moments) and Parks and Rec, as well as old Britcom faves like The It Crowd, Blackadder and The Vicar of Dibley (which is coming to Netflix – rejoice!).

Beating Boredom with Creativity

I doubt anyone’s missed the memes going around over on Twitter and Instagram about how Shakespeare wrote King Lear when he was holed up during The Plague etc. And while – yeah – not everyone’s about to be handed a free pass to pen a masterpiece, and no one should feel pressured to emerge from self isolation with something to show for all that time spent indoors, there is something to be said for killing boredom with bouts of creativity. If you’re a creative like me then it’s likely to be your modus operandi during times of stress and anxiety anyway – but for everyone else who’s never had to stay indoors for long stretches of time, then creativity can be great for keeping your mental health in check.

Me? I’m going to be writing a lot and baking a lot. If you’ve ever fancied trying your hand at writing a book and communicating with other writers, then I can’t recommend Camp Nanowrimo enough. If you’ve ever wanted to write a book then you’ve probably heard about National Novel Writing Month – where writers pledge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days during the month of November. Well, there’s also Camp Nanowrimo, which happens a couple of times through the spring and summer where writers pledge a month of non-specific writing related work – whether that’s editing, rewriting or starting something from scratch! You can do as much or as little as you want, but the best thing about it is that you’re in it with other writers who you can communicate with through the website – which makes social isolation a little more social and a little less isolating. 🙂

I’ll be signing up and trying to write a 70,000+ word historical novel from April 1st (nope, not an April Fool’s Joke, I really am going to do this) – so if you’re interested in joining me or hearing more about my slow descent into madness – then let me know.

Crafty Cupboard Meals

I don’t know about you, but my kitchen cupboards have been begging for this moment for years. They’re stuffed with so many tins and ingredients that almost never get used, and all because I’m one of those “ooh, I’ll use that at some point” shoppers – you know, a curry jar here and a tin of chopped tomatoes and peach halves there. If there ever was a time to use up what I’ve already got, then it’s now – and actually, that might be kind of fun.

Take care everyone – and have a lovely week, whether you’re self-isolating or going about business as usual. Let me know what you’re doing to beat the boredom as well as your favourite boxsets and pick-me-ups in the comments below…

*This post contains gifted items, to find out more about what means – click here.

Thursday Through My Camera Roll

Fog, a Facial and Frank’s…
Golden Retriever - The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff Bloggers

Even though I absolutely love my old Nikon DSLR Camera (it’s almost ten years old and still going strong), sometimes you just can’t beat the off-the-cuff candids lurking on the ol’ mobile phone camera roll. That’s where real life happens, right? All the snaps that never make it onto Instagram, never fling back and forth via Whatsapp and just end up cluttering your camera roll for all eternity. So, I thought I’d unleash them and show you the kind of behind the scenes snaps that get saved into my camera roll on the daily. These are all from yesterday, which started off with a very foggy walk in the field with Bungle.

The light was kind of eerie up there, and whereas usually there’s a great view over Cardiff Bay, yesterday I could barely see a couple of feet in front of me. Bungle stayed close, got very muddy (as usual), and was happy to pose for a photo as the sun started burning through the fog.

Foggy Cardiff - The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff BloggersThe Hayes Cardiff - - The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff Bloggers

By the time I got dressed and headed into town (leaving Bungle fast asleep on the sofa…) the sun was out and it had turned into one of those perfect crisp and clear winter mornings. Every hometown looks stunning in the sunshine, but Cardiff especially 😉

I parked the car and headed off to Elemis for a facial. I’ve had some items gifted to me from Elemis in the past and have absolutely loved pretty much everything I’ve tried (especially their Peptide Thousand Flower Mask) – so my Mum and Dad booked me a facial for my birthday back in November. I saved it up, knowing I’d probably need it by the end of January and I was right! I had the Superfood Facial Treatment (with products from their Superfood and Pro-Collagen Range) and and it was absolutely lush. My skin felt glowy and glorious afterwards. 🙂

- The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff BloggersElemis Facial - The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff Bloggers

Fresh out of my facial I killed a bit of time in Oliver Bonas and quite fancied this book by Felicity Cloake about her culinary journey around France via bike. It’s going straight to the top of my reading list once I’ve finished the books I had for Christmas…

Cardiff Market - - The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff BloggersFranks Hotdogs - - The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff Bloggers

Next, I headed to Cardiff Market and met up with Sunny for a bit of lunch. We went to Franks for proper hotdogs. HOW is it possible that there’s been a hotdog joint in Cardiff for two months and I’m only now getting around to visiting it??? Everyone who knows me knows that I bloody love a hotdog – the filthier the better – and Franks was absolutely well worth the wait. Franks dogs are juicy, generous and downright delicious – and I should probably add that they’re only filthy in so far as that I added to my Elemis facial with a fresh layer of ketchup round my chops (yum yum) because they’re all made with outdoor-reared pork (they also have a vegan dog on the menu). Hands down, the best hotdog I’ve had in a loooooong time – and it’s really good to know that I can finally scratch that hotdog itch I get every week so often.

Bungle the Golden Retriever - - The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff Bloggers- The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff Bloggers

Waved goodbye to Sunny and then headed back home (via Bakestones) to take Bungle out for his lunchtime walk. We did another lap around his favourite field (in the sunshine this time!) and then came in for a cup of tea and a couple of lemon curd Welshcakes (soooo good!) from the Bakestones ladies in Cardiff Market.

- The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff Bloggers

My favourite tree on the evening dog walk is starting to blossom – finally! Feels like spring is just around the corner (even though it’s forecast to drizzle all weekend here in Cardiff – gross 😦). Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Finding Joy in January

Why the bad rap’s totally unjustified…
Finding Joy in January - The Cardiff Cwtch

Hey look at us; who would have thought? Not me! Because the fact of the matter is that anyone who knows me well knows that I’ve got a long history of ripping on January. Historically, I’ve hated it. I’ve called it the worst month of the year, the most depressing month of the year, and if there’d ever been a petition to bin January then my signature would have been right at the top. I mean, let’s be honest; at face value, there’s not a lot to like. It’s dark, it’s gloomy, there’s all that new year/new you pressure, all the Christmas fashion’s on the floor in the sale section, and – let’s be honest – the bank account’s always in a state of recovery this time of year.

So I was more than a little bit surprised when the other day (in the middle of cleaning my bathroom – that’s when all the big thinking in my life happens, clearly) that so far, I’ve actually really enjoyed January. Even though, I haven’t really done much. I haven’t booked any holidays, I haven’t eaten out (other than a massive fry up round the local garden centre cafe), I hadn’t even hit the Sales until last week. I’ve just been quietly doing the things I enjoy – like cooking, writing, walking – and since Sunny decided to relax the crazy hours he was working before Christmas, we’ve had more time to piss around on the PlayStation and goof around with Bungle. There have been zero plans made, zero events attended… and zero expectations.

And that’s the trick to it, I think. Zero expectations.

The trouble with January is that there’s a huge amount of pressure to blast out the other side of Christmas and into the new year at a hundred miles an hour. It’s all about movement – about setting goals, making plans, booking holidays, and this year I just didn’t bother with any of that! Not intentionally, I might add; the truth is that it was a busy Christmas and I was absolutely knackered come January 1st. I needed a break – a couple of weeks just to breathe – to slip back into a routine. I didn’t want to throw myself at a hundred miles an hour into anything other than my baggiest jumper, the left over Christmas chocolates and season one of The Witcher. Normally I’d have slapped my own wrist after a couple of days and had a bit of a word with myself, but this year I decided to just allow that slight pause and not expect too much out of January – and I tell you what, it’s been the best thing I’ve done for myself in a while.

Finding Joy in January - The Cardiff CwtchFinding Joy in January - The Cardiff Cwtch

The only slightly “January” thing I have done is that I’ve started documenting on my phone – through my camera roll and in my notes – the little things that I’m grateful for every day. Small things, like late breakfasts on the weekend, frosty mornings walking Bungle in the field, a bargain Sezane shirt dupe for £5, home improvements and playing board games with my family. I knowwwwww – whenever I’ve seen people mention Gratitude Journals in the past my eyes have rolled so far back into my head that I could see my own brain. But after a heavy 2019 the only thing I’ve been craving for 2020 is more of the little things I enjoy – and writing them down and taking pictures of them just serves to remind me what those things are. That way I can make time for more of them – which is exactly what I’ve been doing so far this January. No big plans, no expectations, just small moments of gratitude for the things I love. 🙂

Finding Joy in January - The Cardiff CwtchFinding Joy in January - The Cardiff CwtchFinding Joy in January - The Cardiff CwtchFinding Joy in January - The Cardiff CwtchFinding Joy in January - The Cardiff CwtchFinding Joy in January - The Cardiff CwtchFinding Joy in January - The Cardiff Cwtch

Have a great weekend everyone! 🙂

Lessons from Women at the Top: My First Warrior Women Event

Brands, Bubbly and Some Bloody Brilliant Women…
Warrior Women Events - The Cardiff Cwtch

I’ve always wanted to think of myself as a “Warrior Woman”, but the truth is that any evidence in support of that is massively stacked to the contrary; most days I’m just a walking train-wreck in yoga pants and a messy bun. For example, the hot water tank and boiler in my house had an argument yesterday afternoon – which meant no central heating (and a small waterfall in the airing cupboard later that evening…). It’s almost December; it’s freezing. But instead of choosing to tackle that problem head on like an adult, I just rolled my eyes like a teenager, filled up my hot water bottle and sat at my desk buried under three layers of blankets and dressing gowns as I tried to find the perfect GIF on Twitter to sum up the situation (…Ryan Reynolds rolling his eyes if you’re wondering). The fact of the matter is that I’m a 34 year old woman who has absolutely no idea how to operate her own central heating. Warrior Woman, I am not. So, you can imagine how unsure I was about heading off to an event specifically for so-called Warrior Women.

Warrior Women Events have been up and running in Cardiff for a couple of years now, popping up in coffee shops and popular hang outs across the city centre with evenings of networking and talks by businesswomen and entrepreneurs at the top of their game. Strictly women only, each event aims to inspire and to celebrate the successes and journeys of the women who attend. And as is the case with most women’s networking events in Cardiff, Warrior Women Events are resoundingly popular; tickets tend to sell out within hours of being released. But, when I get an invite to pop along to the November Event – the theme of which is “Women at the Top” – I’m in all honesty, a little unsure. I imagine a room packed-full of seriously intimidating women, all successful, all smart, all confident and absolutely bossing it (and quite possibly all kitted out in suits with shoulder pads like Melanie Griffith in Working Girl). Would I comfortably fit into that room? Little old me? Would I come away feeling inspired, or…. deflated?

Still, I’m definitely curious and I’ve heard there’s going to be cake and prosecco, so I head to Tramshed Tech on a very drizzly Thursday evening to see what all the fuss is about. After briefly stumbling into a Cuban Brothers Concert in THE Tramshed down the street, I make it… and instantly breathe a sigh of relief. (If you’re a freelancer or a creative and you’ve never been to Tramshed Tech then you need to check it out; it’s a gorgeously modern co-working space on the edge of the city centre – beautifully kitted out as a social working environment with benches, booths and comfortable seating, as well as a shared kitchen. Not too shabby a spot to pitch up with your laptop and run an empire from!) Well, it’s certainly a room – although much, much cosier than I imagined – and yep, it’s full of women… but definitely not the intimidating crowd I pictured in my head (and not a shoulder pad in sight!). There are young women and there are older women. 9-5 mums on a night off, as well as single mums and working mums. There are women who are starting over, and some who are still studying. There are women who are building their business and hoping to take it to the next level, and there are women who are thinking of starting a business or have got a bit of a side hustle going on and wonder whether it could become something more. And, then there are the women who’ve popped in just because they fancied meeting some new faces, and wanted to have a drink and chinwag. They’re women who are all on very different journeys, and – more importantly – at different stages of that journey. All smiling, all chatting away.

And there’s cake! 🙂

Cardiff Events - Warrior Women Events - The Cardiff Cwtch

“It’s only when you start using your voice that you realise what you have to say is important.”

– Sophie Howe

I grab a welcome drink, find a seat to ditch my bag and coat, and then get stuck in (to eating the beautiful cakes and bakes from The Tidy Kitchen Company, mostly). The thing about blogging is that I can go a whole day – a whole week sometimes – without actually using my voice. You know, my actual voice; not just the jumbled thoughts that make it into this space. So it’s really nice to use it when I bump into a few familiar faces, including Kacie (The Rare Welsh Bit). We take a seat and catch up on all things blogging and life in general – and have a chat about what we’ve got in the pipeline heading up to Christmas. Kacie tells me all about how she’s trying to improve her public speaking, and I tell her all about the speech that I gave a couple of months ago – which I was completely dreading, but somehow managed to pull out of the bag. It’s a weird moment as I remember that I actually did do that; I did get up in a room full of people and talk about creating The Cardiff Cwtch. As I said, sometimes I completely forget that I have a voice.

Warrior Women Events - The Cardiff Cwtch - Events for Women in CardiffWarrior Women Events - The Cardiff Cwtch - Welsh Women's Networking EventsWarrior Women Events - The Cardiff Cwtch - Women's Networking Events in Cardiff

“You’ve got to back yourself.”

– Louise Harris

Before the first speaker takes to the mic, there’s just enough time to check out some of the local brands that have pitched up for the night. They’ve all been created by some amazing local women, and among them, there’s Claire of Claire Hill Designs and her beautiful range of jewellery (I instantly fall in love with her gorgeous stackable necklaces), and Abigail with her stunning range of handmade lingerie, and then there’s Meg (AKA Megan Fflur) who’s a local social media rock star. As well as running her own fashion and style-based Instagram account, she created local lifestyle brand Pethau just this year selling clothing, homeware and gifts, and has already pulled in over ten thousand followers. I’m totally inspired, not only by the women behind the brands that are there on the night, but by all the other women attending who’ve been brave enough to back themselves – be their own biggest cheerleader – and bring their ideas to life.

Warrior Women Events - The Cardiff Cwtch - Pethau - Cardiff Brands by WomenWarrior Women Events - The Cardiff Cwtch - Women's Fashion Brands Cardiff - Abigail

“When one door closes, another one opens – but you’ve GOT to be in the room.”

– Sophie Howe

Someone beats their glass of prosecco with a spoon and suddenly it’s time for the main event: the guest speakers, followed by a Q&A. First up is Louise Harris who’s the co-founder of the beautiful building we’re all sitting in, as well as the director of The Big Learning Company. She takes the mic and tells us all about her incredible career, from teaching Drama in Stanwell School in Penarth, to creating a company that supports schools and teachers in bringing technology into the classroom – and making the most of it. I can totally relate; I used to work in a Secondary School when I lived in London and saw first hand how important technology is becoming in getting kids to engage with a subject – whether that’s Maths (gross), English or even Drama. The whole room’s riveted as Louise tells us all about some of her career highs, including a story about how a mysterious email invite led to a one on one surprise meeting and 15 minute pitch with Theresa May!

Warrior Women Events - The Cardiff Cwtch - Louise HarrisWarrior Women Events - The Cardiff Cwtch - Women's Networking Events in Wales

“Behind every great women, there’s a team of even greater women.”

– Sophie Howe

Next up is Sophie Howe, who’s had an absolutely fascinating career in local politics which all began with a stint working for local MP (at the time) Julie Morgan. Fresh out of University, she fought a tough election campaign whilst pregnant to become Wales’ youngest ever Councillor at 21, became the first Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Wales – fighting hard to tackle violence against women – and is now the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales. Oh, and she’s a Mum of five. Wow. Her journey is one of guts and determination, and there’s an audible gulp in the room when she tells us how her achievements as Councillor were downplayed in a newspaper article where the writer instead chose to focus on her appearance and describe her as “a little bit foxy”. There’s laughter too when she tells us a story about having to change her daughter’s nappy in the middle of a Radio interview. I think it’s safe to say that we’re all in awe; when she tells us that while she looks like she has everything together, she reminds us that it’s only because of the amazing team of women she’s got working hard behind the scenes.

And that’s the main takeaway from my first Warrior Women Event, I think. Women don’t become Warrior Women on their own – the truth is that they need an army of other women behind them cheering them on. Whether that’s pouring them a massive glass of gin when they need it most, backing them when they forget to back themselves and supporting their ideas and helping them bring them to life. And after three hours at Tramshed Tech listening to some incredible stories about the highs and lows of other women’s journeys, I come away feeling energized and inspired about my own again – having had the boost from my local girl gang that I really needed. And, if you’re in need of a bit of that in your life – or just fancy adding some new faces to your ranks of supportive female friends, then make sure you bag a ticket to the next Warrior Women Event – they sell out quick!

Warrior Women Events - The Cardiff Cwtch - Sophie Howe

Keep up to date with all the latest from Warrior Women Events here. Their next event is on the 12th of December, with the theme “Eat, Drink and Be Merry”, with talks by some inspirational local ladies involved in the food industry. Buy your tickets here. 🙂

Cardiff Christmas Shopping Guide 2019

It’s beginning to look a lot like…
Cardiff Christmas Shopping Guide 2019 - The Cardiff Cwtch

Happy Monday!  Halloween and Bonfire Night are done and dusted, Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland opened up last week and Morgan’s Arcade is kitted out like Diagon Alley again, which can only mean one thing.  The C word (…no, not that one – behave, you!).  Dare I say it?  Christmas… is coming.  And before you panic and hurl your phone at me, let me just tell you; I’m nowhere near ready.  I promise.  My tree is still firmly tucked away in its box in the garage, I’ve yet to hear Mariah Carey wailing away over my car radio and it’s waaaaay too soon to go scrolling through the Christmas category on Netflix (for me, anyway…). But, the one Christmassy thing that is in full swing  over on my end is Christmas Shopping.  I mean, I’d love to be that person who has a brainwave in March and starts picking up presents as and when she sees them, but nope, the panic sets in at the end of October and sees me right through until the last present has been ticked off the list.

That being said, I do love shopping for presents – and Christmas Shopping is the one time that I’ll actually head out and do it rather than slob on the sofa and Amazon Prime it – just because, I absolutely adore Cardiff at Christmas time.  I love trotting up and down the high street to the tune of the Salvation Army and I love pottering around in the Arcades for those quirky, one off gifts that I simply can’t find online or elsewhere.  So, once a year I put up a Cardiff Christmas Shopping Guide to shine a light on the amazing shopping Cardiff has to offer, but also the best pit-stops for a coffee (or a gin, let’s be honest) along the way.

This year, my guide’s going live just in time to tell you all about City of Arcades Day – which is happening on Saturday the 16th of November.  There’ll be lots going on in the seven arcades dotted across Cardiff City Centre, including live music and plenty of offers in store. If one of the shops on my list has something special going on, then I’ve jotted it down in red. 🙂

Home & Gifts

Illustrate (Morgan Quarter)

Perfect for: Unique graphic prints, t-shirts and accessories.  My husband and I have a whole zoo-ful of Tobias’ Zentangle Animal Prints on our walls at home! Definitely worth checking out. Check out the online store here.

Oliver Bonas (The Hayes)

Perfect for: I think I’d quite happily set up camp and squat in any Oliver Bonas Store! It’s a trove-full of quirky homeware, books and gifts – but also beautiful fashion and accessories.

Flying Tiger (St Davids)

Perfect for: Quirky stationary and stocking fillers.  Tiger also always has the best (and cheapest!) party supplies and decorations.  When it comes to banners, baking accessories, candles, napkins and nick-nacks, Tiger is the place to go.

Cardiff Christmas Shopping Guide 2019 - The Cardiff Cwtch
Creative Cardiff (The Capitol)

Perfect for: Shop full of products and gifts run by local artists and creatives.

The Joke Shop (Duke Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Fancy Dress Costumes, practical jokes and stocking fillers a plenty.  Perfect if you’re planning on dressing up as Santa, or you’ve got pranks planned around the Christmas dinner table.

Scribbler (Morgan Quarter)

Perfect for: Quirky Christmas cards, Secret Santa gifts and small stocking fillers.

Forbidden Planet (5, 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.

The Pen and Paper (Royal Arcade – Morgan Quarter)

Perfect for: Pens and Paper!  One of the best places in Cardiff to go for ink, card, pens, notebooks, art supplies, calendars and diaries.

*City of Arcades Day: Block Printing Demo with Sarah Walker from 11.30am – 3pm.

Rules of Play (Castle Quarter Arcades)

Perfect for: Christmas isn’t Christmas without some kind of board game, right? Whether you’re a Cards Against Humanity fan or prefer to rinse the relatives at Monopoly then Rules of Play has got you covered.

*City of Arcades Day: 10% Off Modern Classics including Catan and Pandemic.

Castle Emporium (Womanby Street)

Perfect for: Market full of independent retailers selling clothing, jewellery, second hand books, artwork and skateboarding equipment.

Camera Centre UK (Morgan Quarter)

Perfect for: Cameras, Lenses and Equipment for the budding photographer (or blogger) in your family.

*City of Arcades Day: Half price prints, exclusive deals on Sony Alpha cameras and lenses as well as free family portrait photography ALL DAY.

Buddug (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Beautiful Welsh themed gifts and jewellery.

*City of Arcades Day: Free Christmas Card and Mince Pie with every purchase.

Galactic Attic (High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Vintage and retro toys, comic books and collectibles!

*City of Arcades Day: 15% off purchases all day, and a free photo with a Stormtrooper between 12pm to 2pm.

Shop Wales (Queens Arcade)

Perfect for: Welsh-themed gifts.

*City of Arcades Day: Free special edition Wales Toblerone with every purchase over £25.

The Welsh Shop (Castle Quarter Arcades)

Perfect for: Welsh-themed gifts and traditional, hand-crafted Love Spoons.

Beauty & Toiletries

Miss Patisserie (online and in Boots, St Davids)

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.

*City of Arcades Day: Cuppa and a free 15-minute aromatherapy hand massage with free samples from the frankincense range.

Molton Brown (The Hayes)

Perfect for: Beautiful toiletries and perfumes (My Mum’s a massive fan – I don’t think she’d ever be caught dead with a plain ol’ Carex hand soap in her downstairs loo!).

*City of Arcades Day: Complimentary hand and arm massages, fragrance consultations and a free fragrance sample to take home.

Jo Malone (The Hayes)

Perfect for: Gorgeous high end candles, perfumes and toiletries.

L’Occitane (St Davids)

Perfect for: French toiletries – beautiful soaps, shower gels and hand creams.

Kiehls (St Davids)

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

Lush Shop and Spa (Queen Street)

Perfect for: Handmade cosmetics, bath bombs and toiletries. Definitely check out the upstairs spa (such a cosy space!) if you fancy treating your SO to a day of pampering!

Fashion

Most of the big names can be found dotted between Queen Street and The Hayes, with the majority tucked away in St David’s Arcade.

Hobos (High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: One of the oldest shops in Cardiff for vintage and second-hand clothing and accessories.

Shop Rugby (Duke Street)

Perfect for: Rugby Shirts, kits and accessories – as well as a few Welsh and Rugby-themed gifts.

*City of Arcades Day: Spin the wheel, win a prize all day.

Diba (Morgan Quarter)

Perfect for: Clothing and accessories made in Wales using only natural fabrics like silk, cotton, wool and banana leaf!

*City of Arcades Day: 10% off all day.

Jon Ian (Morgan Quarter)

Perfect for: Classic Cardiff Store selling designer shoes and handbags.

*City of Arcades Day: 10% off all day.

Sobeys Vintage (Morgan Quarter)

Perfect for: Vintage clothing and accessories.

*City of Arcades Day: 10% off all day.

White Stuff (The Hayes)

Perfect for: Cosy fashion (and a few homeware and gifts) – the perfect place to find a Christmas Jumper!

*City of Arcades Day: 15% off full price items.

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…

Kiti Cymru (Pontcanna Mews)

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

Dot Clothing (Royal Arcade)

Perfect for: Small, niche designer women’s clothing brands.

*City of Arcades Day: Entry into a free raffle with every purchase.

31 The Store (Morgan Quarter)

Perfect for: Independent menswear store in Cardiff with products exclusive to Wales.

Route One (Morgan Quarter)

Perfect for: Street wear and Action Sports clothing.

Two Seasons (Queens Arcade)

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

Christmas Markets

Cardiff Indoor Market

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. Also, they’ve got their Night Market this week on Thursday (14th) from 6 til late.

Cardiff Outdoor Christmas Market

Perfect for: Opening this week on the 14th of November and running all the way through until the 23rd of December, the Christmas Market is one of the best places to support independent Welsh Brands and pick up one of a kind gifts. Find a list of this year’s vendors here.

Cardiff Christmas Makers Market (Paget Rooms, Penarth)

Perfect for: (*16th and 17th of November only) Market packed full of stalls by local brands, crafters, makers and creatives. £1 entry – find out more information here.

Food & Drink

Wally’s Delicatessen and Kaffe Haus (Morgan Quarter)

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.

*City of Arcades Day: Buy an open sandwich or platter from the Kaffehaus and get one half price. Sample Hensol Castle Distillery’s range of Crawshay’s Gins and Gin Liqueurs. Buy One Gin, Get One Liqueur Free

Wally’s Liquor Cellar (Castle Arcade – next to Gin and Juice)

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!

*City of Arcades Day: 10% off all purchases of Cloven Hoof products.

Vom Fass (High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Specialist Oils and Spirits in aesthetically pleasing and quirky jars and bottles.

Bean Freaks (St Mary’s Street)

Perfect for: Natural foods, remedies and beauty products.

*City of Arcades Day: Free Goody Bag with every purchase.

Simply V (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Vegan groceries, toiletries and clothing.

City of Arcades Day: Get 10% off all purchases except non-food items.

Madame Fromage

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.

Bird and Blend (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for:  Quirky Loose Leaf Tea Blends and Mixology. It’s just moved in to the old spot next to Troutmark Books where the Harry Potter Store used to be; I popped in the other day to see what it was all about and was blown away by all the beautiful tea!

Fabulous Welshcakes (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for:  Beautifully made Welsh Cakes in lots of quirky flavours!

*City of Arcades Day: Limited edition salted caramel welsh cakes.

Books & Music

Spillers (Morgan Quarter)

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

*City of Arcades Day: Live music and DJ sets from 5pm until late.

Cranes (High Street/Lower End of St Mary’s 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. Great place to pick up a secondhand gem! 🙂

Coffee Shops & Pitstops

Barker Tea House (High Street Arcade)

*City of Arcades Day: Free mini Bakestones Welsh Cake with any Large, Hot Drink.

Nata & Co (Castle Arcade)

*City of Arcades Day: Get 15% off all flavours.

Crumbs (Morgan Quarter)
The Plan (Morgan Quarter)
Llaeth a Siwgr (Yr Hen Llyfrgell)
Big Moose Coffee (Frederick Street)
Science Cream (Castle Arcade)

*City of Arcades Day: 20% off Hot Drinks.

Arcade Vault Retro Gaming Cafe

*City of Arcades Day: Mario Kart 8 Charity Tournament.

Gin & Juice (Castle Arcade)

*City of Arcades Day: Special Show Case of Gins with recommended garnishes and tonics.

Uncommon Ground (Morgan Quarter)
Waterloo Tea (Wyndham Arcade)

*City of Arcades Day: Get 20% off gifted teapots and a free sample of loose-leaf tea with any tea that is bought to drink inside.

Hard Lines (Cardiff Indoor Market and Castle Emporium)
The New York Deli (High Street Arcade)
Coffee Barker (Castle Arcade)

*City of Arcades Day: Free mini Bakestones Welsh Cake with any Large, Hot Drink.

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