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?  🙂

 

Banana Crumble Cake

We had another helping of snow over the weekend, and I don’t about you but I’d already kind of had my fill of it from last time.  In fact there was still a bit of snow left on the ground last week which my Mum very ominously explained was “hanging around for more.”  Ugh.  I groaned and rolled my eyes when I ripped open the curtains on Sunday morning, but the truth is that a heavy helping of snow is a great excuse to:

  1. Trudge to the local newsagent to buy “supplies” (Alllllll the chocolate).
  2. Eat said supplies whilst binge-watching something (Sunny and I discovered Suits a couple of weeks ago and WE. ARE. OBSESSED.).
  3. Bake some banging banana bread.

I probably wouldn’t have bothered had it not been for the snow, but I had a few manky-looking bananas sitting in the fruit bowl looking sorry for themselves and kind of needed a break from Suits (because the theme tune was ringing in my ears and I was punctuating every sentence with “God Damn it!”).  I didn’t fancy making bog-standard banana bread though, so I decided to experiment, and – sweet jesus – the end result was perhaps the best banana bake I’ve ever made.  Seriously.  Fluffy cake, crunchy crumble topping and a sweet and sticky  cinnamon drizzle.  I won’t bother making banana bread again, this will be my go to.  So I guess I can thank the surprise snow for that!




Banana Crumble Cake (with Cinnamon Drizzle)

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 250g Self Raising Flour
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Ripe Bananas
  • 100g Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 100ml Milk

For the Crumble:

  • 50g Butter (Cold!)
  • 100g Flour (plain or self raising, doesn’t matter)
  • 50g Demerara Sugar
  • 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 75g Roughly Chopped Walnuts

For the Drizzle:

  • 100g Icing Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Water
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  1. Line a deep, rectangular baking dish/tray and set the oven to 180.  To make the cake, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder in one bowl then set aside.  In another bowl, roughly mash the bananas and then mix in the butter, sugar and eggs.  Next, gradually add the flour and milk – alternating between the two.  Pour the mixture into the baking tray, then set aside while you make the crumble.
  2. Now for the messy bit!  In a bowl rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until the mixture looks a little bit like fine breadcrumbs.  Stir in the sugar, cinnamon and chopped walnuts.
  3. Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over your cake batter, then bake in the oven for about 50 to 60 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean).
  4. While the cake is cooling, make the drizzle.  Stir the ingredients together to make a runny icing – adding a little more water or icing sugar until you reach the right consistency. 
  5. Once the cake is cool, drizzle the icing over the top and then cut into squares.  Serve warm! 🙂

Spring’s taking its sweet time this year!  Can’t wait for some warm, sunny weather! 🙂

When the Beast from the East met the Dragon from the West

The last time Cardiff saw real snow was five years ago – and I missed it! I’d just moved down to London.  We hardly ever see snow here in South Wales  – which is weird because we’re known for our year round drizzle!  But the simple fact of the matter is, it never gets cold enough!  There has to be some kind of unseasonable weather fluke before we see any of the white stuff.

Cue, the Beast from the East!  On Thursday morning – St David’s Day – our trademark Welsh drizzle turned into blizzle and it didn’t stop coming down until Saturday afternoon.  Sunny was in London and almost got stranded when Paddington Station shut down before noon because of a slippery platform (*eyeroll*).  Like I said, we see snow so rarely that all it takes is a few flakes for the whole country to throw up its hands and shout “Nope!”  I mean sure, we had to survive on soup and freezer food for a couple of days, but it was totally worth it to see Bungle playing around in the snow for the first time and trying to race every sledge down the hill.  🙂 Plus, it almost felt like we made up for those five years of no snow.  In some places the drifts were thigh-deep; we couldn’t open our back door and no one went down our road that first snow-day.




Some serious Snowball-Fight Ammo…






Did you see any snow over the weekend?  It’s all pretty much melted here now – and I’ve gotta say, I’m not sorry!  Now I’ve had my fill of Winter, I’m ready and raring for Spring to come. How ’bout you? 🙂

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

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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! 🙂