A couple of weeks ago I was walking down St Mary’s Street for the first time in a long time – actually looking around instead of at my feet for a change! – and I couldn’t believe how many ice cream places have popped up.  Back in the day, my mates and I only had the unlimited ice cream bowl from Pizza Hut to tickle our taste-buds if we fancied something cool and sweet to finish our weekly trips into town.  Oh, how times have changed!  How come places like Creams didn’t exist back then?!  Can you imagine if they had?

So you can imagine how excited this lady was when Creams got in touch and asked if I fancied coming along to get the scoop on their new summer menu (…see what I did there 😉 ).

As well as their usual mix of sundaes, crepes and waffles is their new Bubble Waffle range – which is basically a sundae wrapped in a hot waffle.  Sunny – who didn’t need much convincing to come along and join me for a cheeky ice cream lunch – couldn’t believe the size of it when it landed on our table, but easily managed to polish it off.  Due to their shape and texture, Bubbles Waffles are much less filling than their traditional counterparts, but just as good!

I went for their After Eight Sundae (I’m a huge fan of mint chocolate chip ice cream) and loved every bite.

Have you ever been to Creams?  What’s your favourite ice cream flavour? 🙂

Dear Graduate

Last week my brother’s girlfriend graduated from Cardiff University after three years of placements, practicals and poring over ol’ Grey’s Anatomy (…I meant the book, but I know she’s a fan of the show too! 🙂 ). I promised to take some pictures of her once she’d emerged from the ceremony in St David’s Hall, and as she posed in her gown and we snapped a boomerang of her throwing her cap up into the air I couldn’t help think back to my own graduation a whopping 10 whole years ago and the difficult year that followed it.

Because for me, what was supposed to be the happy climax and payoff of four years of hard work turned into one of the worst years of my life. Unfortunately, the timing of my graduation couldn’t have been worse; that year, thousands of graduates threw up their caps and then watched them fall synchronously with the world’s markets. It was the year that Lehman Brothers went bust and sparked the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

No one was hiring.

Applying for jobs – whilst exciting at first – became steadily more depressing. I must have sent out hundreds and hundreds of applications, cover letters and CVs proudly boasting my new qualifications, only to never hear back. I signed up to every job website I could find and scoured them for new listings every day (Annoyingly, I still get emails from some of them!). I went back and forth to the job centre, whose ‘sign this then sod off’ regime didn’t help either my job prospects or my confidence.

I felt completely alone. My carefree little University Life bubble had burst and all the people I’d spent 24 hours with every day for the past 4 years – my best friends, my boyfriend – had scattered across the country and life was suddenly very quiet and very lonely. Without the safety and structure of full time education and without any money, job prospects or friends, I quickly began to lose all that fresh, graduate optimism – you know – that world is your oyster sense of hope and excitement. Sure, I tried to take it all on the chin, but after months and months of no success I boiled everything down to the fact that there must be something wrong with me. I felt like all that hard work (and debt!) had been for nothing and quickly became very depressed.

I’m not trying to cast a cloud over those of you who’ve just graduated, believe me. The truth is that the majority of graduates will leave University and be lucky enough to stroll right into their dream job (or at the very least get their foot up on that first rung of the ladder that will get them their dream job in a couple of years time). But with more and more graduates leaving University than ever before, and a record number leaving with firsts, there will be some fresh graduates out there who have a tough year full of tough decisions ahead of them.

If that’s you, graduate, then believe me, I know it sucks and I’m sorry.  I’m sorry you feel like all that hard work was for nothing, and that all those doors that were supposed to open for you remain firmly shut – locking you in limbo.  It might take some time but believe me, things will get better and sooner or later you’ll find your place and purpose.  But until then, here are ten things to remember:

1. Rome wasn’t built in a day

These days, a University degree doesn’t automatically guarantee a dream graduate job or an entry level position in a chosen career. Perhaps it used to, but these days – with more graduates than ever before – competition is fierce. A real life Hunger Games. Nothing’s impossible though, it just means you’ll need to go that extra mile to tip those odds in your favour – and that can take time.

2. “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum” – Don’t let the bastards grind you down!

Get ready for a whole load of rejection. Be prepared to spend hours and hours tweaking you CV, filling out endless application forms and writing hundreds of tailor-made cover letters only to never hear a single word back. And be prepared to be grilled by strangers during interviews. I had an interview with a Media Agency in London where the manager smirked and nodded along to all my carefully thought out answers to his questions only to shrug his lips at the end of the interview and tell me that I hadn’t believed a word I’d said and not to expect a call any time soon. Yeah, he was a total dick. Nowadays I laugh when I think about it, but back then I was mortified and it knocked my confidence at a time when it was pretty much as low as it could go.

3. Try everything and anything once

Keep and open mind as to which route you’re going to take next and don’t make the mistake of thinking that there’s only one way to go. Now’s the perfect time to try new things and put yourself out there in as many different ways as possible. Seriously, for your own sanity! Take up a new hobby or start a side hustle, intern, temp, volunteer. If your CV is looking a bit spare, now’s the time to bulk it out.

4. Nothing worth doing was ever easy

Job hunting is practically a full time job in itself. Each application or query – if done properly – takes a lot of time. It’s not easy, but put in the extra effort and eventually it’ll all pay off.

5. Keep your friends close

It’s tough moving back home after three years plus of living independently with your mates. There are going to be times when you’ll miss those Two for Tuesday Dominos Pizza nights and being able to just knock on the door of the bedroom next to yours and rant and laugh and spill your guts out to someone who gets you and gets what you’re going through. Don’t let the sudden distance stop you from making plans. You need your mates now more than ever.

6. Make the most out of being in limbo

Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making the most out of being unemployed! It’s probably the most time off with the least amount of responsibility that you’re going to get until you RETIRE. How scary is that? So if you can – go travelling, take a year off and enjoy your freedom for a little longer.

7. Learn when to compromise

So you can’t get the dream job right now. Eventually, you have to make the decision to move on and open up your options. Sometimes taking a job in a career or field you never considered can lead to amazing opportunities. A lot of graduates end up in jobs that are completely unrelated to their degrees. Don’t ever settle, but don’t be fussy either.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you’re struggling – whether that’s with the job hunting process or your mental health – don’t be afraid to talk to someone. Visit your local careers advisor (yep, that’s not just a school thing!), ask for feedback when you get rejected so you can learn from your mistakes, and tell your friends and family if you’re feeling low.

9. Be kind to yourself

Give yourself a break once in a while, and remember that there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s hard applying for hundreds of jobs and getting nowhere, but keep your chin up and try to remember that you only need ONE person to see your potential and say yes.

10. Don’t give up hope

After months of getting nowhere it’s easy to suddenly feel like it’s just not worth the effort and throw in the towel. Don’t! You got this.

Isle of Fire 2017

After last year’s visit to Isle of Fire I had high expectations for this year’s event (it’s definitely become one of those must-see things on my Around Cardiff Calendar), and honestly?  I was a little unsure when we did our usual walk over the cliffs from Jackson Bay and found the promenade completely empty – as last year that seemed to be where all the fire sculptures and entertainment was.  This year it had all been moved up onto the gardens and around the old band stand, and even though the fire sculptures were just as cool as last year it wasn’t quite as magical.  The entertainment though, as always, was fantastic!

We went hoping to see the light drummers from last year but this year’s headline act was Mr Wilson’s Second Liners – an ecclectic New Orleans Jazz Band dressed like Sergeant Pepper who played all the old 90s Club Classics like Rhythm is Dancer.  They were awesome, and definitely sax-ed up this Isle of Fire.  😉

Did you see this year’s Isle of Fire?  What did you think?

Dog Days

Dog-ja-vu!  I know.  How many times is she going to blog about Barry Island and Jackson’s Bay?  Honestly?  Ten times more, at least.  It’s one of favourite places to spend a sunny afternoon, and it’s definitely becoming one of Bungle’s favourite spots too.  🙂

If you’re up for a walk, park up above Jackson’s Bay and walk around the cliffs to Whitmore Bay (Barry Island) – but make sure you don’t go at high tide!

(*Also, don’t miss a trip down to the beach this weekend (22nd July – 23rd July) because Isle of Fire is returning!)

“Without Women it’s not possible the revolution (sic)”

After our walk, we stopped in at K9 Plus 1 for lunch – a Dog themed and Dog friendly cafe on the promenade on Barry Island (right next to the funfair).  With beds, bowls of water and a little bowl of chopped sausages, Bungle absolutely loved it…

…But still fancied a bit of my banana milkshake. 🙂

Have a great week everyone!

Jammie Dodger Cheesecake

Did you hear about the gang who stole £20,000 worth of Jammie Dodgers?  No, this isn’t the opening of some joke, this is something that actually happened in South Wales a couple of years ago.  Basically a gang from Liverpool travelled down to the Burton’s Food Factory in Torfaen and stole a trailer containing £20,000 worth of biscuits.  The not so artful dodgers (…see what I did there?) were eventually caught and the trailer found.  But the biscuits?  Scoffed – I’m assuming – because they were never found.  Perhaps the funniest part of this story though is the fact that one of the thieves – whilst being led from the dock to start his eighteen month jail sentence – chirped up and said, “Anyone want a biscuit?”

Anyway.  It was my Mum’s birthday last week, which we celebrated quietly with a takeaway curry from our local and a game of Cards Against Humanity.  I adapted my old Mallow Cake recipe and made this Jammie Dodger Cheesecake using digestive biscuits for the base, and plenty of jam, whipped cream and Jammie Dodgers for the topping.

I have to say I’ve never been a huge fan of Jammie Dodgers (I’m more of a Hob Nob/Custard Cream kinda girl), but they worked really well in a cheesecake!  Yum! 🙂

Happy Birthday, Mum!