And so the heatwave blazes on here in Cardiff (it’s set to get up to 27° again later on this week – phew!) which is great because it means there’s plenty of chance to get out and enjoy all the summery things on offer in the city in the weather they were actually intended for! Case and point: The Cardiff Bay Beach Festival, which runs every year from July to early September. It’s moved from its usual spot on Plas Roald Dahl right in the heart of The Bay to a bigger, breezier spot up by The Barrage – a genius decision as it means there’s plenty more to see, do and eat! I popped down on Saturday evening for a drink and stroll around the funfair, and thanks to the beautiful weather and even more beautiful sunset it really felt like I was on holiday somewhere far away. Hello Cardiffornia! 🙂
If I hadn’t stuffed my face at Vegetarian Food Studio earlier that day then I’d have absolutely filled up on the Milkshakes, Halloumi Fries, Candifloss and Churros on offer – but I was full, so I had a sunset slushie instead 🙂
I’ve got to be honest, I’m not that bothered about boats. I’ve manned a boat maybe three times in my life, and none of those voyages were particularly successful. Two of them involved getting tangled in some pretty thick pond weed under a willow on Roath Park Lake, and the other time was on honeymoon when Sunny decided that he wanted to try a two-man kayak. Honestly? I was absolutely knackered from rowing before we’d even made it out of the dock and whinged the whole way round (“Can we pleeeeease go back to the beach now?”).
After breakfast we walked over the Barrage towards The Boatyard. I didn’t know much about the actual race before I got there, but it’s been running since the seventies. Back in October, the boats weighed anchor in Alicante and set off on a nine month race around the world, with stopovers in just twelve cities. And this year, Cardiff was picked as the stopping port after the tiring Atlantic leg. Unfortunately, the boats hadn’t actually arrived when we were there on Sunday (they came in very early on Tuesday morning after being slowed down by some bad weather – welcome to Wales!), but there was more than enough to see and do (and eat!). They’re docked in Cardiff until the 10th of June, when they’ll set off for Gothenburg. While they’re here there’s plenty going on in and around The Bay, including workshops, demonstrations and a couple of races on Friday the 8th and Saturday the 9th of June (you can find out a bit more about what’s on here).
Despite being “not bothered about boats” the workshops and stalls were actually really interesting – particularly the Volvo Building; you can learn more about the race, the boats and how bloody hard the teams work during each leg. You can also hop into a replica of one of the actual racing boats, and even attempt to dock one using a simulator. Lots of cool stuff to do. We got down there at about 11 in the morning and before we knew it, it was pushing 4!
As well as the stalls devoted to the race, there were also a few flying the flag for Wales (including some fab local food stalls), like Visit Wales, where you can try out a Virtual Reality version of some activities and experiences on offer around the country – like rocketing down the side of Snowdon on a Zip Line and diving with dolphins. 🙂
I’ll never complain about rowing around Roath Park again! Definitely worth heading down to Cardiff Bay and checking out the Stopover while it’s in town – the boats are shipping off on the 10th of June.
Well, while the weather over the weekend was more murky than Mediterranean here in Cardiff (it was absolutely freezing when I went out to walk the dog this morning!), it didn’t stop us from at least pretending that we were in Spain. On Saturday Sunny and I popped down to Tramshed for its annual Spanish Fiesta – April Feria – a whole day celebrating Spanish music, dancing, and – more importantly – foooooood. I suppose it’s Cardiff’s nod to the famous Feria De Abril in Seville which lasts for six whole days every year around this time – six whole days of flamenco dancing, bullfighting and scoffing paella. Well, April Feria only lasted the one day, so, the way I saw it, I had to cram six days worth of paella and churros scoffing into one. Challenge accepted.
Fair warning; there are photographs of me stuffing my face coming right up… 😉
Inside Tramshed, the main room was fiesta ready – with streamers and lanterns and red carnations, and there were Flamenco Dancing Workshops going on on the main stage. There was live music and Spanish dancing all day, as well as an after party in the basement of Jacob’s Market.
By far the best thing on the menu though was the paella by Riceminster – three massive pans of vegan, chicken and rabbit (a traditional Valencian) paella. I’ve tried making paella so many times at home by it always ends up a gloopy mess which I brush off by just calling it risotto instead (oh the shame!). So it was nice to get schooled by the masters! Traditionally you’re not supposed to season paella with chilli, just a squirt of lemon juice and I can confirm that the chicken paella was an absolute stunner. 👌
Also, you can’t go to a fiesta and not have Churros. Those are the rules! If you don’t come away licking cinnamon sugar off your lips (or brushing it out of your beard if you’re anything like Sunny) then you’ve gone wrong.
If only the weather had joined in, but then this is Cardiff after all! Have a fantástico week everyone! 😉
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! 🙂
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.
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?