What I did: Gin and Juice and Christmas Shopping

I got up early yesterday and got into my little car determined to finish off my Christmas Shopping once and for all.  Four hours later I drove home completely and utterly  broken.  In between the crowds, The Pogues playing over and over again, the fact that I had to walk eight flights of stairs to get back to the car (to find that the eighth floor ticket machine was broken, ugh!) AND the fact that I came home empty handed (except for the GIANT bag of Tim Horton’s goodies that rode shotgun all the way home), I left down but not defeated!

I don’t know what happened this year; I’ve never left the Christmas Shopping this late!


I got a little bit distracted by the massive sale going on in Warehouse and was kind of tempted by this star-print wrap dress that’s a bit of a dupe for the hilarious expensive Realisation Par one.  But then I totally fell in love with this cherry print shirt dress which is definitely going on my January Sales wishlist.


When my feet started to feel like they were going to drop off I stopped in at Barker’s cosy new offering – Gin and Juice – for a mid-shop slurp.  (The gin and cocktail menu looked amazing, but – dammit – I couldn’t indulge because I was driving 😦 )


Walked back through Cardiff Market to scout out some Christmas veg and drool over the Christmas Tree shaped Welsh Cakes at Bakestones (might have to make up a batch myself tomorrow if I’ve got time!).  Then I headed home (after having a small meltdown in the car park) to wrap some presents 🙂



That’s me out!  Have a lovely Christmas everyone – Nadolig Llawen! 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!

Scribbler (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Quirky cards and stocking fillers!

Nest (Heol-y-Deri, Rhiwbina)

Perfect for: Beautiful cosy homeware and gifts. 🙂

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: I recently told my mother that I would happily live in an Oliver Bonas store.  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.

Pad Deco (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for:Beautiful and quirky handmade interiors and homeware.

Rules of Play (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Board games, Role Playing Games etc.

Castle Emporium (Womanby Street)

Perfect for: Market full of independent retailers.

*If Online Shopping’s your gig, check out these fab Welsh Makers and Brands with online stores.

Beauty

*Boots can be found in St David’s Centre, while most major brands can be tracked down in Debenhams and John Lewis (St David’s).

Miss Patisserie (7, High Street Arcade) Available Online (and in most Boots stores)

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.

Jo Malone (St David’s 2 – Hayes side)

Perfect for: Personalised high-end perfume and beauty.

L’Occitane (St David’s 2)

Perfect for: Provencial Beauty products and gift sets.

Kiehl’s (St David’s 2)

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

Fashion & Jewellery

*Most of the big stores can be found dotted between Queen Street and The Hayes, with the majority of big names in St David’s 2.  For independents, check The Arcades.

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.

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… 😉

Blue Banana (Queen Street)

Perfect for: Alternative fashion and jewellery (my one stop shop circa 2004 when I had pink hair…).

Blue Honey Vintage (High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: One of a kind vintage pieces.

Kiti Cymru (Pontcanna Mews, King’s Road)

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

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!

Vom Fass (High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Specialist Oils and Spirits.

Bean Freaks (St Mary’s Street)

Perfect for: Natural foods, remedies and beauty products.

Simply V (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Vegan groceries, toiletries and clothing.

Madame Fromage (Castle Arcade)

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

Pontcanna Market (King’s Road Yard, Pontcanna)

Perfect for: Worth venturing out of the city centre for their Saturday Farmer’s Market (9.30am – 2pm), and on the first three Sundays in December they’re hosting a Christmas Craft Fair (9am – 3pm).

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.

Shop Rugby (Duke Street)

Perfect for: Rugby Shirts and Kit as well as Welsh themed gifts.

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)

Nata & Co (Castle Arcade)

Gin & Juice (Castle Arcade) – for something stronger… 😉

Crumb’s (Morgan Arcade)

Nine Yards (Duke Street Arcade)

The Plan (Morgan Arcade)

Hard Lines (Cardiff Indoor Market and Castle Emporium)

Llaeth a Siwgr (Yr Hen Llyfrgell)

Uncommon Ground (Morgan Arcade)

Big Moose Coffee (Frederick Street) tucked away between Boots and Primark 😉

The New York Deli (High Street Arcade)

The Grazing Shed Burgers (Morgan Quarter)

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! 🙂

What I did Last Weekend: The First Day of Autumn

Last Friday was the Autumn Equinox, officially the first day of Autumn – which is exactly what I told the bloke in the lift on the ride up from the car park in John Lewis when he mentioned how lovely the weather was (I totally looked like I knew my stuff, but the truth is I was as oblivious as he was until I saw people tweeting about it over breakfast).  It really was nice out – and having been stuck inside all week feeling a bit ill, I’d decided earlier that morning to get out, enjoy it and feel a bit more like myself again. 🙂

Every day (…and not just the lovely sunny days) starts off with a walk in the field with Bungle.   We’ve had some off-lead trust issues until recently, when he snapped his fifth lead in as many months.  He’s getting too strong for me to walk him!  What used to be a tug-of-war around the field every morning has become so much nicer now that I can trust him to come back!


I left Bungle snoozing in the kitchen and drove into Cardiff, which was looking stunning in the sunshine.  At the moment there are lots of big painted dogs – “Snow Dogs” – guarding various spots across the city.  Each one is different and you can download a trail map to find them all and raise money for  Tŷ Hafan in the process!  I found this very Autumny one outside the library on The Hayes.  It’s such a lovely idea and reminds me of something similar I saw in Berlin, but with bears instead.

(Look Missy, I found a Mustard jumper for £8.99!)

Popped into my fave, H&M, to visit the clothes.  I love Autumnal Fashion, and came away with a couple of jumpers to replace some shrunken, moth-eaten ones hanging around at the back of my cupboard.


Headed to Barker Tea House in the arcade for a pit stop.  I can’t rave about Barker enough, everything about it is cosy – from the candles, blankets and wing back chairs, to the food and drink.  I snuggled up with a book, a brownie and a coconut hot chocolate with cream, marshmallows and a flake (although the flake had drowned by the time I sat down…).


Sang along to Paramore’s new album all the way home to see this guy (…and the present he’d left for me on the kitchen floor…).


Had a lazy afternoon catching up with some housework (and Youtube…) until Sunny came home, then I cooked up a red pepper risotto for us for dinner.  It’s not Sunny’s favourite, it has to be said, but I love eating risotto this time of year – it’s warm and gloopy and satisfying.


What did you get up to last weekend?  ♡

Cardiff Christmas Shopping Guide

I LOVE Cardiff at Christmas.  It’s hands down my favourite time of year to potter around the centre (even if you’ve got to be up at the crack of dawn to have any hope of getting a parking space… pfft!).  The lights go on, the arcades suddenly look like something out of Harry Potter and the smell of bratwurst burning can only ever be a wonderful thing.  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!  So – now that I’m feeling all festive – I’ve put together a little Shopping Guide full of my favourite places in Cardiff (other than the main haunts) to prowl for gifts  🙂



Bodlon (Yr Hen Lyfrgell, The Hayes)

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.

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.


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.

Rossiters (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Stocking fillers, Christmas Ornaments and Decorations, Secret Santa Gifts.  Hands-down one of my favourite shops in Cardiff and the place to shop for gifts all year round.  They’ve got stunning tree ornaments, homeware, jewellery, books and stationary.

Wally’s (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.

Spillers (Morgan Arcade)

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

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.

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.

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. 🙂

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.

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