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.

Pancakes and hairdryers


It just turned midnight on Shrove Tuesday which means that for most of us, we are stuffed all the way up to the tippy top with pancakes. Shrove Tuesday is paradoxical, it brings two things- an excuse to gorge on pancakes and an attempt at self-control. By the time Ash Wednesday rolls around, most of us have already broken our new year’s resolutions. In the last few weeks springtime has crept up on Cardiff, making my friends and I feeling a bit fresher and lighter. The feeling of new-ness turns our attention into thinking about all the great ambitions we had made in January. Even if you are not religious, lent is an opportunity to test yourself. It need not just be about restriction though, lent can provide an opportunity to take up a good habit.

You could try eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day or start exercising. If you’re a writer then lent is a really good motivation to start writing for 5 or 10 minutes a day. Or, maybe you could finally start that hobby you’ve been planning on.

When I was trying to think up ideas of what to give up for lent, I came across an ehow article which gave some good hints. If you’re stuck for ideas then try thinking about giving up an activity, maybe watching telly or checking Facebook. I know someone who gave up shopping for non-necessity things- that is a toughie. Or you could try swapping, so you could watch half an hour less of telly or using the internet and spend that time reading a novel.

Whatever you pick, do something which will actually challenge you. I tried to give up chocolate many times. One year I did finally manage to achieve what many had thought impossible- I have to say, I did feel pretty good. If you manage to stick to lent, then you do get a feeling of self-achievement. And, if you give up chocolate, you have a reason to eat lots of Easter eggs come Easter Sunday. This year I am going to give up all electrical hair stylers- my straightners, my hair dryer and my curling tongs, in the hope that my hair might actually recover a bit from years and years of daily being twisted, pulled and generally burnt.

What are you going to give up?

Home-made: CHOCOLATE FAIRTRADE PUDDINGS


A quick and easy Fairtrade pudding is chocolate fondu- melt some Fairtrade chocolate and dip bits of Fairtade food into it.

BAKED CHOCOLATE BANANAS

This recipe is a little more time consuming but will still only take a couple of minutes to prepare, and it’s part of your five-a-day!

All you need is:

One Fairtrade banana per person, preferably a bit more ripe than the ones I have here;

A bag of Fairtrade chocolate buttons, big or small, or can use squares of chocolate;

A tub of your favourite Fairtrade ice-cream (optional).

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 150C/ 300F/ Gas mark 2

2. Slide each banana open, do not peel the banana.

 

3. Push the chocolate as deep as possible into the banana.

4. Cover eat banana with foil and place on baking tray. Put in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the banana and chocolate seem gooey. Keep checking them though, you don’t want them to burn.

5. Remove the bananas from the oven and carefully scrap all of the inside of the banana into a bowl. Add a few scoops of ice cream and serve immediately.Enjoy!

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!