What I Did Last Weekend: Christmas Shopping and Country Walks

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Last weekend started off a little earlier than usual because Sunny’s little sister came to stay with us.  On Friday I took her into Cardiff for some Christmas Shopping, which started off with breakfast at my favourite cosy nook, Barker Tea House.  Tina had a massive bowl dog dish of porridge, and I went for their blueberry and bacon pancake stack. 🙂



Here’s one of the weirdest things I did last weekend; I had my face turned into chocolate!  I mean, I have chocolate on my face all the time, so when Candy Mechanics asked if I wanted to be temporarily immortalised as chocolate lollipop – it was just too weird an opportunity to pass up!  They’ve set up shop outside Debenhams in St David’s until the 23rd of December, and for £7 you can create a chocolate selfie!  A perfect stocking filler, don’t ya think?



You can also create your own Chocolate Christmas Cards to send to your favourite people… or you, know, just to scoff yourself 🙂

I think almost everyone put their decorations up last weekend, us included!  Sunny hates doing it (apparently I’m really fussy about it!  Pfft!), so he very kindly enlisted Tina to help out instead.  We got the tree and all the other bits up in record time; what took longest was convincing Bungle that the tinsel, fir and fairy light invaders weren’t scary.  He barked at the wreath on the door all afternoon and still won’t go near the tree.  What a wimp!


On Sunday, I took a couple of birthday presents out for a spin (The Oliver Bonas Jumper is hands down the cosiest, fluffiest jumper I’ve ever owned) and went out for a wintery walk.


We parked up in the tiny village of Michaelston-Le-Pit and picked up the Salmon Leap Trail, which follows Wrinstone Brook and is apparently full of Salmon in the spring.  It’s amazing how many lovely walks there are out in the Vale; now that Bungle’s able to walk a bit further it’ll fun to go exploring next year 🙂








Have a lovely week everyone! x

Cardiff Christmas Shopping Guide

Happy December 1st!  It finally feels like Christmas is on its way, and I LOVE Cardiff at Christmas.  I popped in last week for my first bit of festive shopping and now I’m all excited for Christmas – bring on the Mince Pies, Queen’s Speech and Brussell Sprouts please!  It’s hands down my favourite time of year to potter around town (even if you’ve got to be up at the crack of dawn to have any hope of getting a parking space… pfft!).  The arcades suddenly look like something out of Harry Potter and the smell of bratwurst burning can only ever be a wonderful thing.  I put together a little Christmas Shopping Guide like this full of my favourite places in Cardiff to prowl for gifts last year, but here’s the new and improved edition! 🙂

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.  When it comes to banners, cake decorations, candles, napkins and nick nacks Tiger is the place to go, and at the moment they’ve got some great Christmas themed decorations and party bits and bobs.

Illustrate (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Graphic prints, T Shirts and artwork.  Sunny and I absolutely love Illustrate’s geometric animal prints – we’ve got a whole gallery of them!

Miss Patisserie (7, High Street Arcade)

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.

The Joke Shop (24, High 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.

Home byKirsty (16, Castle Arcade)

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!

Cardiff Outdoor Christmas Market (The Hayes)

Perfect for: 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.  I took my friend Missy there the other day and she bought a lovely clock made from a melted down bottle of Bombay Sapphire (GiftGlass), and then Sunny and I treated ourselves to a few prints we liked for the house from Illustrate.  You can find a directory of all this year’s stalls here.

Cardiff Indoor (Central) Market (St Mary Street)

Perfect for: Foodie gifts (welshcakes!) and vegetables for Christmas dinner, homeware, sewing and crafty gifts, vinyl records.

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: Bright and colourful shop offering quirky homeware and gifts – also fashion and accesories.  I wrote a whole post about it here.

The Pen & Paper (Morgan Arcade)

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

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: Board games, Role Playing Games etc.

Castle Emporium (Womanby Street)

Perfect for: Market full of independent retailers.

Fashion & Jewellery

Coast (St David’s 2 – downstairs)

Perfect for: Jewellery, accessories and Christmas Party outfits.  Remember, Coast are currently offering all my readers 20% off – just mention “The Cardiff Cwtch” at the checkout!

Hobos (High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Vintage and secondhand fashion.

Two Seasons (Queens Arcade)

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

Food & Drink

Wally’s Delicatessen (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Foodie gifts.  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.

Wally’s Drinks (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Wines, drinks and spirits.  I was strolling through Castle Arcade the other day and stumbled across this new (new to me anyway!) branch of Wally’s.  Perfect if you’re looking to gift some quirky drinks or liquors, or stock up for New Year’s Eve!

Bean Freaks (St Mary’s Street)

Perfect for: Natural foods, remedies and beauty products.

Madame Fromage (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Cheesy gifts, literally!  Specialty cheeses and hampers.

Books & Music

Spillers (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: 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.

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.  They’ve also got some beautiful tree ornaments and decorations at the moment.

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.

Pitstops

Because all that Christmas Shopping is nackering!  It’s nice to have somewhere to go for coffee and a snack!

Barker Tea House (High Street Arcade)

Crumb’s (Morgan Arcade)

The Plan (Morgan Arcade)

Llaeth a Siwgr (Yr Hen Llyfrgell)

Uncommon Ground (Morgan Arcade)

The New York Deli (High Street Arcade)

 

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

Oliver Bonas, Cardiff

You know your local high street’s made it to the big leagues shopping-wise when Oliver Bonas comes to town.  I’ve got a little list of shops that I’d quite like to see set up in Cardiff, and when I got an email just over a month ago with the news that Oliver Bonas was opening up on The Hayes just in time for Christmas (…and my birthday *hint hint*), I was very excited to tick it off my list. 🙂

The only way I can describe Oliver Bonas to those of you who are unfamiliar is that it’s a great big colourful gift box.  If you’re looking for Birthday, Christmas, Anniversary, House-Warming, Wedding gifts… then you need Olly on your radar.

Hot Water Bottle – £24

One of the things I love most about Oliver Bonas is how colourful and quirky all their patterns and graphics are – a style that runs right across the store, from scarves and blouses to their collection of of homeware and soft furnishings. They don’t follow the herd when it comes to trends, and very much march to the beat of their very colourful drum. Every piece is made to last and designed to make you smile – which is why they make perfect gifts!




I’ve had my eye on Oliver Bonas’ fashion for a while as they seem to favour the patterned silk shirts I live for.  *Sigh* I need to add this gorgeous “wink wink” Blouse of Dreams to my growing collection of weird and wonderful patterned shirts.  It’s so pretty!


So if anyone’s keep track, here’s my Please Come to Cardiff! Shop list:

  • Oliver Bonas ✓
  • Anthropologie
  • & Other Stories
  • Monki

Have a great weekend everyone! 🙂

*DIY Insta Heart Collage

I first got into photography back in University.  Only back then I didn’t call it “photography”, it was just something I did.  Taking photographs to capture moments was something that – for whatever reason – I felt was important. Long before I had a fancy DSLR and was obsessed with Instagram (it didn’t even exist back then!), I lugged around disposable cameras on drunken nights out, drunken nights in, adventures away and trips down the beach (Swansea University is literally right on the beach).  It was a point, click, fingers-crossed world where you never knew how the photographs were going to turn out until you popped down to Boots to get them developed, and then laughed at them with housemates as you stuck them up on the wall with all the others. Photographs really were – as Angela Carter once wrote – chunks of time you could hold in your hands.  Good times!  And that’s probably the last time I actually got a proper film of photographs developed.

Nowadays I’m taking more photographs than I ever have in my life – and yet they remain in digital suspense on Instagram, my blog and on Facebook.  They can be seen by the entire world and yet I only get to see them if I log in and scroll!  What happened to those walls covered in photographs? So when Printiki got in touch with me recently and asked if I’d like to try their photo printing service, I said, yes please!

You can order prints, posters and albums of your favourite grams straight to your front door in varying sizes and shapes (matte or glossy), from retro Polaroid-style photographs to the square ones I chose.  You can even add text to them in their easy to use editor.  Choosing which photographs to print was the hardest part, and once I’d ordered them they dropped onto my doormat barely three days later! 🙂  I was really impressed with the colour and quality – and you guys know how much I love colourful things!

There’s a very boring bare wall above my sofa at the moment that Sunny and I have been having arguments over what to put up there, so I took a tip from my university days and decided to brighten it up with a heart shaped collage made with my new prints!


What do you think?  ♥  Do you ever print your photographs?  What do you do with them?

The Non-Gift Gift Guide

Everyone keeps telling me this year that I’m difficult to buy for, which – to be honest – came as a bit of shock because I’d always thought of myself as someone who’s easily pleased. At first I was insulted (You don’t know me at all!!!) and then when I thought about it a little bit more I realised that they’re probably right. I think it’s because the older I get the less interested I become in “stuff”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to sound ungrateful here; of course I love presents, I’d happily rip open a new handbag or a bottle of this stuff on Christmas Day just like anyone else.  And (hint hint) if I find this sitting under my tree I will be a very happy bunny.  But I don’t need any of those things, and I’d hate for my friends and family to feel like they have to buy me anything at all let alone stress over what that should be. Sometimes the best things in life really are free, and a thoughtful gesture is far better than expensive clutter or “stuff” bought down the gift aisle under pressure.

So if you’ve got someone who’s difficult to buy for, or you’ve scrolled through enough expensive wish lists to make your eyes water (or you’ve left your Christmas Shopping a bit too late!  Oops!) then have I got the gift guide for you. 🙂

Favourite Place

If you’ve got someone who’s awkward to buy for, why not skip all those “that’ll do” gifts and surprise them with a trip to their favourite place.  It could be something as extravagant as a trip to their favourite city, a mini break, or even just an afternoon at their favourite local haunt.  Take them somewhere that you know makes them happy and that they’ll appreciate.

Kick the Habit

If you’ve got a bad habit that’s been annoying one of your nearest and dearest for a long time, then what more could they want for Christmas than a promise to kick it for good.  It could be something huge like vowing to give up smoking, or something a lot smaller like promising not to dump your clothes in a pile at the end of the bed every night!  Just don’t make it an empty promise, you’ve got to make good on it no matter what!

Together

Some people would rather make memories with their favourite people than receive gifts.  So why not give the gift of a promise to do more things together in the year ahead?  Maybe it’s a promise to join the gym together, or take a class together, or to go away somewhere together.  Surprise your favourite people with plans for spending time together in the new year – so much better than cheap perfume, right?

Go with your Gut

I never turn my nose up at gifts that involve food, and what better gift than to treat someone to a lazy brunch at their favourite spot?  Of course, it doesn’t have to be brunch; it could be a fancy dinner, or lunch, or even just dessert!  Is there somewhere they’ve always wanted to go for dinner?  Why not cook a special meal for them?  It also doesn’t have to be a one off – you could start a new tradition for the year ahead and spoil them once a week. 🙂

Chores & DIY

Are there a few things around the house you’ve been putting off?  Why not get off your bum and get them done as a gift to the person who’s been nagging you about them!  Or, why not take over someone’s chores while they put their feet up?

What non-gift would you love to get this Christmas? 🙂