Dino Babies at the National Museum, Cardiff

When we’re looking for a rainy day activity for the kids, the National Museum is always one of the first on the list. There’s always something new to see, it’s free and it’s easy to get there, with a train station or plenty of parking nearby. Perfect. 

We usually head straight to the Clore room to play with the bones and insects under the microscopes, or see what activities they’ve got going on. One school holiday they had a fab treasure hunt which took you around the museum and gallery, to parts of it I’ve never seen, to find different treasures, models and pieces of art.

Then, we tend to follow the Evolution of Wales circuit, taking in the dinosaurs, woolly mammoths etc. 

If my eldest is feeling particularly cultured (and I can bribe him with the promise of sweets later) we’ll sometimes head upstairs for a quick peek at the art in the National Gallery. If I’m honest, he just likes laughing at the statues’ bare bottoms. Six-year-old boys, who’d have them?!

Giant dinosaur footprints at the National Museum, Cardiff

However, at the weekend we headed to the museum especially for the Dinosaur Babies exhibition. 

The excitement started before we even got inside, thanks to the giant Dino footsteps on the front lawn, which the kids loved playing in before and after our visit. 

It then gets even more exciting as you enter the exhibit, with a moving, roaring, motion-sensored dinosaur. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen my video. My one-year-old wasn’t sure what to make of that and made me carry her past! But she spent the rest of the visit running around and roaring at the Dino skeletons, so it didn’t seem to bother her too much.

Dinosaur Babies at the National Museum, Cardiff

The Dinosaur Babies hall focuses at looking at Dino eggs (I had no idea that different breeds of dinosaurs laid completely unique eggs) and Dino babies. There are lots of interactive exhibitions and information about the fossilised eggs that have been discovered, comparisons with different bird’s eggs, a huge replica dinosaur nest and loads more. 

Baby Louie model

At the end of the hall the activities include Dino dress-up, play excavation sites, drawing and colouring and a magnetic puzzle board, which the one-year-old played with for ages while her elder brother played in the archeological dig.

Theropod skeleton at the dinosaur babies exhibit

As ever, we spent a huge amount of time in the gift shop *eye roll* but there are actually some good gifts available there and some small toys that won’t break the bank, including a pick and mix of 40p Dino figures. 

Six-year-old J spent his saved-up pocket money on a hatching egg (£6) which is currently sat in a bowl of water, while we wait on tenterhooks to see which type of dinosaur emerges. 

The exhibition as a whole has plenty to entertain all ages. Running after a toddler and a six-year-old meant I didn’t have much time for reading the displays though! 

The Dinosaur Babies exhibition is on until November 2017. It costs £7 for adults, £3 for children and it’s free for children aged 3 and under. 

While we were at the museum I heard a few parents grumbling about the cost and I’ve got to agree that £7 per adult does seem a bit steep. I don’t mind paying at all but I never understand why you have to pay so much more for grown-ups than kids, when really you’re just stood around watching them! I also think it’s prohibitive for families who perhaps can’t afford it. Surely those children should be able to access these resources too? Anyway that’s my rant over. Just make sure you’re aware that there’s an extra cost to see the exhibit. But it’s worth visiting and we had lots of fun.

We paid in full to enter the exhibition and the museum was not aware I’d be blogging about it. 

https://museum.wales/cardiff/whatson/9487/Dinosaur-Babies/ 

May Instagram highlights

(Top row L-R) Delicious salad from Milgi Market / wild garlic on the Taff Trail / admiring the Lego inspired artwork at Bricks at Home

(Middle row L-R) Manning my marshalling spot at Cardiff Parkrun / pretty cocktails at the Revolution Bar reopening / barriers everywhere for the Champions League in Cardiff

(Bottom row L-R) Getting very sweaty at hot pod yoga / enjoying the sun at Barry Island (aka Barrybados) / delicious birthday meal at Cafe Citta 

Follow me on Instagram @CardiffGirlBlog 

Review – Cafe Citta, Cardiff

Cafe Citta doesn’t look like much, it’s a tiny restaurant seating around 30 people located on Church Street, next to the old Berlins nightclub (remember the drinks roulette? More Barcardi Breezers than you could shake a stick at!). 

I’ve eaten there a couple of times but G never has. I expect he was sick of hearing me go on about it, so we booked a table for my birthday meal last Saturday. 

For starters we shared the Polenta Con Dolcelatte (£5) – slabs of corn maize topped with melted dolcelatte cheese.

Polenta and dolcelatte at Cafe Citta, Cardiff

For the main course I went for my favourite Linguine alla puttanesca with prawns (which I think was around £11) while G had the ricotta pizza (Again it was around the £10 mark) made fresh in their wood fired pizza at the open kitchen at the back of the restaurant. 

Linguine Puttanesca and ricotta pizza at Cafe Citta, Cardiff

It would’ve been a travesty not to go for dessert; a Tiramisu for me and an Affogato for G.  

Tiramisu and affogato at Cafe Citta, Cardiff

Cafe Citta is a proper family-run Italian. Don’t expect any airs or graces; staff are lovely and friendly, food absolutely delicious, decor cluttered and if you want to use the loo, you’ve got to go outside to the office next door! But this all adds to its charm. 

For three courses each, a large glass of wine and a beer the bill was still only £45. Bargain. 

cafecitta.com

We paid in full for our meals and drinks at Cafe Citta and the restaurant was not aware I would be blogging about them. 

Volunteering at Cardiff Parkrun

I’ve been a regular Parkrun runner on and off for around eight years, with Cardiff Parkrun at Blackweir being my usual Saturday morning 5k.

 A lot of people might not realise that the events are completely volunteer-run; the people marshalling the course are all unpaid and doing it for no other reason than to support the event to take place. 

It was so simple to become a Parkrun volunteer. 

I knew I wanted to lend a hand at some point so ages ago signed up for the Cardiff helpers emails, through the website. There are also details on the Facebook page.

Then, when I had a Saturday free I let them know I was available by emailing my name and barcode number.

It was really that simple to arrange, the organiser emailed me back with my role for the next day (I was to be a marshal along the route at Bute Park) and I just had to turn up at 8.30, don a hi-vis jacket and go to my appointed spot. 

The other volunteers were really helpful and I got chatting to some of them as we walked to our stations, they were a mix of first time volunteers like me and people who give their time to help out almost weekly. 

There are plenty of roles available, mostly course marshals like I was, also flying marshals who run along with the pack, people scanning your tag at the end and organising the finishing funnel. I really didn’t want to do this, it looks so hectic! Luckily I was given a much easier job.

So I wandered down to my place in Bute Park and waited. 

Waiting for the runners at Parkrun

The spot I was supervising was quite an important one, the route is a loop so the front runners start coming back when the slower end of the pack (this is usually where I am!) are still heading up. So there’s a lot of reminding people to keep right so they don’t crash with another runner (the front ones are so fast!).

Apart from reminding the runners to keep right I found it a bit awkward to know what to do or say. I really don’t like aggressive shouting from the volunteers when I’m doing the run, (“COME ON! YOUR PB IS IN SIGHT! STEP IT UP!” – this is the kind of thing I HATE) but I know some find it a good motivator. 

Many of the runners were calling ‘thank you marshal!’ as they went past, which was really nice, so I took to saying “good morning” back and generally trying to be happy! 

As the end of the pack started coming back along the route there was a lot more humour and camaraderie, lots of people joking to me about how slow they were, but obviously enjoying themselves and not taking it too seriously. 

Volunteering really made me appreciate the role of the marshals, and when I next ran the route I was sure to thank them all! 

Being a marshal isn’t the easiest of jobs, ensuring that the runners stay safe and that non-runners can still enjoy the park is tricky at times. But I really enjoyed seeing it from the other side and had a lovely warm glow for the rest of the day.

Some of the regular volunteers go for coffee afterwards, but there’s no pressure to join them, and I really appreciated the fact you could give as much or as little time as you wanted. 

If you’re a regular Parkrunner you should definitely give volunteering a go. 

Parkrun organisers were not aware I’d be writing this blog post. 

www.parkrun.org.uk/cardiff


Independent shopping in Cardiff 

We’re so lucky when it comes to shopping in Cardiff. We have an amazing city centre with a mix of almost all the best-loved high street brands (I still get a bit of a thrill when I walk into John Lewis. Seriously) but if you know where to look, you can find some wonderful independent shops too, which set us aside from every other city centre in the UK. 

Most of these independents can be found in Cardiff’s beautiful Arcades or tucked away in places like Cardiff Market. Although it’s great to wander around Cardiff’s nooks and crannies, sometimes I am a lazy shopper. I need to get in, grab what I need and get out!  Actually that’s being an effective shopper rather than lazy, isn’t it? So that’s why it’s great to see more independent shops popping up in St Davids Arcade, alongside the bigger chains.

J admiring the Lego art at Bricks at Home, Cardiff

I was invited by St David’s to visit two of their independent pop-ups, Bricks at Home and Ushi’s.

Andy Warhol-inspired artwork at Bricks at Home, Cardiff

I first visited Bricks at Home last Christmas, when they were holding a pop-up at a different location in Cardiff. I loved their mix of Lego-inspired artworks and homewares. 

Bricks at Home is the brain child of Andy Morris, a financier-turned-artist. He creates quirky Lego-themed artworks, inspired by artists like Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol. Perfect for the kids and big kids in your life. 

Travels with Roo postcard available from Bricks at Home, Cardiff

Bricks at Home also sell smaller, more affordable home wares such as prints, cushions and knick-knacks like Lego-shaped jewellery boxes, key rings and pencils. Much of it sourced from independent Cardiff-based designers. 

The Bricks at home shop will shortly be moving from its current location in St Davids but is planning more pop ups in the future. And in the meantime you can buy on their website www.bricksathome.com

Ushi’s pop-up, St David’s, Cardiff

Next up was a visit to Ushi’s. I was already familiar with Ushi’s in Cowbridge and Wellfield Road and love their quirky gifts and homewares. I especially enjoy visiting at Christmas time to stock up on some unique festive decorations.

Ushi’s in St Davids is stocking slightly different products, mainly clothes and accessories, alongside a small home decor offering. 

The clothes are mostly independent designers you can’t get on the high street and they’re definitely capitalising on their spot opposite The White Company and Coast. 

I’ll be honest that the clothes aren’t exactly my style but I spotted a few summer pieces that my Mum and Auntie would love and a gorgeous summer hat that I’m going to go back and have another look at. 

Perfect summer hat at Ushi’s, St David’s, Cardiff

Ushi’s pop up in St Davids will stay open until at least the summer. 

If you love independent shops here are some of my other favourites around Cardiff

  • Wally’s Deli, Royal Arcade (A Cardiff Institution; stocking food from Europe and America and a deli counter featuring the best olives ever)
  • Milgi Market, Cardiff Indoor Market (Veggie salad bowls and treats)
  • Wellfield Books, Wellfield Road (A lovely little book emporium to get lost in)
  • Nest Vintage Living, Rhiwbina (Homewares and toys)
  • Bant a la Cart, Pontcanna (Amazing Welsh food. Try their ready-made pies and quiches)
  • Enerchi, Radyr (Beauty salon; stocking L’Occitane, Caudalie, Pukka teas and boutique beauty products)

Which is your favourite independent Cardiff shop? Leave your comments below! 

This post was written in collaboration with St Davids Arcade, who gifted me a voucher in return. This is an honest review, featuring my own opinions. 

April Instagram highlights 

Amazing vegan burger at the Grazing Shed / the best sushi in Cardiff at Sushi Life / breakfast calzone at Porro, Wellfield Road / People watching from Benugo Cafe at John Lewis / another amazing brunch at Porro, this time Eggs Royale at their Llandaff branch / getting pampered at Enerchi in Radyr / loving Coffi in Cardiff Bay / running the Cardiff 5k in Whitchurch / lazy pigs at Cefn Mably Farm / amazing breakfast from Brod in Pontcanna. 

Follow me on Instagram at @CardiffGirlBlog

Junior Parkrun and Cardiff 5k

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that we had an active Sunday over the bank holiday weekend. I ran the Cardiff 5k in Whitchurch on Sunday night and in the morning, my eldest ran Junior Parkrun. 

I’m a huge fan of the Parkrun concept, weekly volunteer-run 5k runs that are free to enter. And for younger runners there’s Junior Parkrun, every Sunday 9.30am at Llandaff Fields.

Junior Parkrun is a 2k course for 4-14 year olds, and adults can run along with them (no buggies allowed though). 

My eldest (who’s just turned six) has been taking part for a few months now and he absolutely loves it. As with the adult Parkrun it’s free to join, but you do need to register and print off a bar code beforehand. Here’s my Instagram story from the day;

I’m not always the spectator though, on Sunday night it was my chance to get active by taking part in the Cardiff 5k in Whitchurch. 

This is the second year the race has taken place and I definitely noticed an increase in both runner and spectator numbers.

The atmosphere in the village was brilliant and really made up for the horrible drizzle. 


The route took us from Whitchurch village, around Heol Don, into Llandaff North, past the library, over the horrible railway hill (known as Crown Hill to us locals in honour  of the old Crown Pub) and back to the village via the common. 

The end of the route was pure evil; even though you are in touching distance of the finish line it takes you around the corner for another couple of hundred yards, before heading back to the finish. I remembered this from last year so was prepared but there were a few runners around me who were fooled into thinking it was almost over! 

The start line of the Cardiff 5k in Whitchurch

I grew up in Whitchurch so loved running around my old stomping ground. There were plenty of familiar faces along the route and having my Mum and Dad cheering me on at separate points along the route was brilliant. 

I finished in 31 mins and was happy with that. I’m not speedy!

There was a great party atmosphere at the finish, with a live band, food and drink stalls and plenty of food and drink options open in the village to celebrate. A great way to spend a rainy bank holiday Sunday. 

I paid the full £15 for my entry to the Cardiff 5k and neither they or Parkrun Junior were aware I’d be blogging about them.