SIMPLE PLEASURES: a good cup of coffee


There is nothing quite like the first sip of a good cup of coffee. Tea drinkers have no idea what they’re missing. I have gotten quite fussy with coffee and I’m not fond of instant, I hate that taste it leaves in your mouth, and that it never has the full coffee flavour. The best way to make coffee is definitely in a percolator but I will settle for a caffetiere. Most of the time I drink instant because it’s so easy but if I had a choice, I’d always make proper coffee. That’s why I got pretty excited when Kenco claimed they had made a ‘whole bean instant’ that was just as good as proper coffee. ‘Milicano’ has been a big let down for me, sadly, I have been taken in by advertising again. Sigh. It is just another bog standard instant “coffee” (they use that term loosely). The only instant coffee I have tried which comes close to the wonderful flavour of real coffee is Starbuck’s ‘Via’. It’s very pricey though so I only have it on special occasions.

Source: Google images

As a creature of habit, when I find a good coffee shop, I stick to it like glue. At the moment, my favourite coffee is No.1 Coffee’s Guatemalan blend. Maybe someday I’ll have a wonderful machine like Cato’s in The Green Hornet which can make me an amazing cup of coffee to wake up to…

What’s your favourite coffee? Are you as fussy about coffee as me, or just think I’m snobby?

Side thought: I love that scene in Elf when Buddy goes into the coffee shop to congratulate them because they have a sign saying ‘America’s no.1 coffee’ or something.

My staycation update: becoming a tourist on the streets I walk (or wheel) everyday


In July I wrote a post about making the most of your summer (read it here if you missed it) and another about my staycation in Pembrokeshire with friends– now, as promised, I going to update you on how Paul and I have become tourists in the city we have already lived in for two years. We began, as I always do, with a list, a very long list, firstly, to get the old cogs turning we thought of all the places we have been once and said we should definitely go again, and then of all the places and things we have wanted to do but have never go around it. It is a very big list (and Cardiff isn’t even a big city) so I won’t tell you all about it in one post. I’ll tell you first about one of my biggest passions….FOOD

Part one: Fashionable BBQs, takeaway picnic and A LOT of ice cream on the side

Hunting for our Central Perk

You may have noticed from the name of this blog that I like coffee (LOVE coffee), and that I also really like coffee shops. I am really picky when it comes to coffee though, in fact whenever we go over to someone’s house Paul always tells people not to bother making coffee for me because I won’t drink it, my daddy is the same so it must be in my DNA. Finding a favourite coffee shop has been a bit…impossible, and we usually go out for coffee with friends, all of whom have different tastes so we haven’t become a “regular” anywhere. I knew if I was going to get through my studies and writing this summer, I’d need to find somewhere that just visiting would excite me and feel like a treat. So out the notebook and pen came and we made another list (list 2) of all the places we have been for coffee and rated them and then all the places we haven’t been and then we began going through the list in search the best. Off we went in week 1, trying this place first, then that place, and then- well… actually place number 2 stuck- ironically it’s called No.1 Coffee. I already have a summer drink and flapjack that I am literally addicted to and I love their coffee (I buy their coffee beans too) so when winter comes around I won’t jump ship. Like most writers, I’m really sentimental about going out for coffee, I like a place with nice big comfy sofas, antique bookshelves with old books for you to peruse and far enough away from the centre that it’s not plagued by families and teenagers but close enough to my house that it’s only a few minutes walk- this place ticks all the boxes, plus it has lovely places to sit outside and big open bay windows for the breeze and sunlight to come in. That was pretty easy for an “impossible” task.

The Great outdoors

Men love taking over the BBQ

Next up picnics and BBQs which I absolutely love but living in Wales (where it always rains) you don’t get many opportunities and need to take them when you can. This evening Paul and I packed up our lovely new picnic set (and fashionable) and matching blanket we bought on sale, our little BBQ and headed over to the huge park in the city centre- Bute. We went in far enough so that we wouldn’t be shaded by the trees and couldn’t hear the traffic and made an absolute feast. The thing about visiting parks, even the same ones over and over again, is that they’re different every time you go there because the seasons change whatever lives and grows inside them. I have to say, Bute Park is pretty damn brilliant as far as city parks go though. It was owned by the Bute family who also owned the castle and so the grounds literally stretch for miles and miles and miles, whenever I go there I discover new pathways, rivers, and even once a cafe. I haven’t even come across the boat dock yet.

Picnic in the park, brought to you by Nandos

Tucking into some strawberries and cream

We took our fashionable little picnic set and blanket to the castle a few days earlier but being wheat intolerant it’s not very easy to pack a picnic so we threw in some bits and bobs and planned to get food to take-away from somewhere. We had our Nandos loyalty card all filled up so we got some yummy chicken and had ourselves a picnic inside the castle walls. All of my nature-loving, out-doorsy friends would be horrified that I did this but I know all of you who hate soggy salad and sandwiches with extra sand will think it’s a brilliant idea. There are so many chains that will do takeaways if you collect now so why not go and eat it in the sun with a chilled drink instead of sitting inside or on some uncomfortable furniture out on the street (practically)? I always feel like I can’t read at the table in restaurants and I definitely can’t sunbathe.

NB: please pick your rubbish up though, it’s just not cool leaving litter in nice grassy areas.

“I’ll have two ice cream sundaes please, what are you having Paul?”

Last bit, another of our favourite new routines is Cadwalders’ ice cream sundaes. I am a coupon girl, there are loads of discount and voucher websites and apps to use, one of my favourites is VoucherCloud. It picks up your location and lets you see all the offers you can get in the area, you can store your favourites in ‘my wallet’ so it’s easy to find the code to show the cashier. At the moment they have 2 for 1 on ice cream with this welsh company who have parlours all over Cardiff. We’re big lovers of ice cream, and with 2 for 1 it’s a cheap treat. One of the most impressive ones we’ve had so far is Tutti Frutti- check it out in the picture!

Cadwalders tutti frutti sundae

It is definitely well worth visiting new foody places or places you’ve been before and finding your favourite so you enjoy every single visit, most places have a loyalty card or you might be lucky like me and find it has an offer on almost permanently.

Hope this post has inspired you to dig deep in your local area and make the most of your summer by finding a place you just love to visit over and over again. Not to mention that it helps support the economy in your local area (which let’s be honest it really needs at the moment).

What have you been doing with your summer? Do you have a favourite picnic spot or are you a regular at a coffee shop? I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to over the summer and any great ideas you have for tourist-ing in your own city.

Let’s go bananas!


If you’ve ever been a waitress then you know you’ve hated your boss for paying you minimum wage to run around all night. You hate anyone who doesn’t tip fairly, even when you were extra nice because you needed some extra cash. It just doesn’t seem fair. Imagine how much cotton pickers and coffee farmers feel when you pick up Nescafe at Tesco instead of one of the many Fairtrade coffees now available, just because you didn’t want to pay the extra couple of pence or even as much as £1. We have all been frustrated to tears many times in our lives because we feel that we have been treated unfairly. Think about the mothers in poor countries, doing back-breaking work all day every day and are still unable to feed their malnourished children.  Or the child now without a mother because their family did not have access to safe water. I’ve noticed that people are quick to jump on the bandwagon moaning about all the people who unfairly claim benefits with the tax payer’s money, so annoyed that someone is gaining on the taxes they pay. This is an injustice they care passionately about. When you bend someone’s ear about shopping more ethically, they quickly wave you off because they can’t afford it. I questioned posting this blog because I have been trailing out this argument many, many times in the last few years and the response is always silence, or a roll of the eyes- here she goes again. I couldn’t not use my blog as a soundboard for Fairtrade Fortnight though.

Fairtrade Fortnight begins tomorrow and runs until the 13th March. I’ll be writing some specially themed posts throughout the fortnight but I’ll start off by listing some of everyday products, found in all supermarkets (including Lidl), and some smaller shops too, which you can switch to Fairtrade today!

Chocolate: Cadbury’s Dairymilk or Bournville, most of Green and Black’s chocolate bars are Fairtrade, and organic too, and the lesser well known, Divine (aptly named).

Tea and coffee– there are tons of different Fairtrade coffees (instant and ground) and tea bags now

Wine– red, white, and rose

Fruit and fruit juice- Bananas, mangoes and more

Rice- I’ve only seen this is Sainsbury’s so far

SugarTate and Lyle

Hot chocolate

Spreads and sauces- Honey, peanut butter, mango chutney, etc

Ice cream- lots and lots but most famously Ben and Jerry’s

Snack barsKitkat, cereal bars, flapjacks, brownies, biscuits, nuts, etc

and there’s lots more too!

The prophecies of the analogue world


If you know me personally, then you know how ridiculously generous my boyfriend is. This year we agreed on a maximum amount to spend on Valentine and anniversary presents. For quite a few weeks now I have been drooling over a camera, a Diana F+ with flash by Lomography. I wasn’t casually mentioning this to Paul as a hint. As usual, he cheated and bought me the camera I wanted, even though it cost more than we had agreed. If you haven’t heard of Lomography you are in for a treat.

The Lomography society is all about the snapshot. They produce cheap, almost entirely plastic cameras, made to be taken everywhere by their snap happy owner. The point is to capture that exact moment and turn it into brightly coloured, moving art. The model I have is based on a camera from the sixties, now improved and re-produced. It is really weird going back to film, it completely changes taking photos. Unlike with my digital camera, I don’t take a million pictures per event but only take one or two and I have to rely on skill. I can’t just keep taking photos and get the camera to auto-focus, I have to do most of the work myself, even deciding on the shutter speed. This leaves so much room for experimentation. And, best of all, the subject cannot request seeing the photo, and then keep asking for re-takes until a perfect one comes along. I haven’t finished my film yet, I’m a bit nervous, I hope it doesn’t come back from the processors as blank. The excitement of collecting photos from the processor is back!

Anyway, the Lomography society is now producing a new campaign- The Ten Prophecies of Analogue. I’ve listed a shortened version below. Even if you don’t like taking photos, take the principles to heart and let them change how you see the world. I was having coffee with a new friend today, a lady who has the same illness as me. We talked about the burden, the frustration, the pain, but we also talked about the way this illness has changed us. We are different people than before our lives were smashed apart, but we are not worse people. We have to take pleasure in the simple things, and take life in the slow line. Our lives are not, and cannot, be high-pressured, running from one task to the next in a caffeine fueled mission. And this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Today, well maybe tomorrow because its late, stop and take time to smell the roses, enjoy life- definitely don’t sit on your laptop all day. The digital world is a great thing, I found my new friend on Twitter, but use it to share all the things you enjoy about life, don’t let it be your life. Don’t be a slave to the beeper, to your smart phone, to your Facebook status, and for goodness sake, do not post your every move on Twitter. Instead of tweeting every inch of your train ride, look out of the window and at the people inside your carriage. And then, by all means, like me, come and report back, use social sites to be social, read blogs, but also remember to talk to people, to see people, to touch, to feel, to smell. But read the ten prophecies below first. If you want to apply these ideas to photography, you don’t have to buy a Lomography camera, although they are pretty great, you can pull out your old camera which takes film or buy a disposable one. The full version of these prophecies is on the Lomography website, click on the link.

If you have been inspired to be apart of the Lomography revolution then a great place to start is the Sampler camera. And, believe it or not, there are actually still places processing film.

THE 10 PROPHECIES OF ANALOGUE:

1. Leave the digital grind behind

2. The return of luck, coincidence, contingency, chance, fortune and surprise

3. Expect the unexpected and the excitement of experiment

Trial and error is your policy. Action and reaction your strategy. Believe in yourself, never stop looking, never stop asking and never stop recording.

4. Lomography will bring back overtones, nuances, smells, shades, dirt and dust and real life beauty to us

Great art is not imitation but interpretation of the world.

5. Film and paper ensure originality, authenticity, and eternity

6. Look twice

Pictures that don’t grab your attention today might do tomorrow, the day after or in your next life. Rediscovering means rein-venting your: taste, style, habits and general understanding of the world. A true revolution. Look twice to find real beauty.

7. Let loose with Lomography

You are a boat, the world is an ocean and you are floating along wherever it might take you with the wind in your sails. Nothing else matters; you’re alright as long as you’re with your Lomo.

8. The avant-garde is analogue

Through the challenge of the new, the old re-invents itself and breaks free from all conventions. It finds styles, relations and languages that remain undiscovered within the mainstream. Therefore analogue is the most exciting form of expression nowadays; the avant-garde of the 21st century.

9. A bazillion fresh tunes await us

10. The analogue future is the home of a whole lot of love, joy, fun, sex and… paradise!

Disclaimer: I did not take any of the photos featured in this post. I got them from Google images, have a look, there are tons more.

It’s the little things: COFFEE


I’m having a few technical difficulties so posts for ‘It’s the little things’ will be posted here for the moment.

I am a big coffee fan. There is nothing like the simple pleasure of the first cup of coffee in the morning. The best coffee is made from freshly ground beans. At the moment there is an advert on TV that shows someone making a leaf pattern with the milk- I  would love to learn how to do it. While I was looking on for a picture for the post, I found some amazing pictures people have made inside their coffee mug.