Mum-to-be massage at Ener-chi, Radyr

I’ve recently had my second baby, a lovely baby girl. Hooray! Pass me the coffee. 

Life with a newborn is already inspiring a number of baby-related posts, but before I get there, I need to post about a couple of pregnancy-related activities I enjoyed or found useful in the last nine months or so.
Now, if you’ve ever had a baby, or know someone who has, you’ll be aware that pregnancy can take a real toll on your body. I’m talking swollen ankles, bad back and numerous other ailments too horrible to mention. Based on my previous pregnancy I knew I’d be tired and achy as I approached my due date, so when I was asked what I’d like for my birthday earlier this year, I asked for a ‘mum-to-be massage’.

During my first pregnancy with my son I had a massage at the Laguna Spa at the Park Plaza which was blissful and made me feel lovely and pampered. But this time I was given a voucher for the Mum-to-be treatment at Ener-chi in Radyr.  

The mum-to-be massage is an hour long treatment, which Enerchi says will be tailored to your individual needs.

The therapist sat me down and asked details about my pregnancy and how I was feeling. I explained that I had some pain in my left hip (I didn’t know that this was the start of PGP – pelvic girdle pain – more on that later!). The therapist explained that she wouldn’t be comfortable putting too much pressure  on my hips but that she would do some reflexology on the area of my foot relating to my hips, which felt lovely and did seem to ease the pain. 

The therapist also explained that most of the massage would take place with me lying on my left side (it’s not safe for pregnant women to spend a long time on their back). In this position she was able to massage my back, neck, shoulders, arms and head, before she moved me onto my back, propping my legs up with a cushion and massaged my legs before moving on to the reflexology. All in all it was a blissful experience and I practically floated out of there! In fact, I was so relaxed I immediately went home and slept for an hour.

 

I must have gone on about how lovely this massage was quite a bit, as my work colleagues purchased me another one as my leaving gift. So two days before being admitted to hospital to be induced, I went back! The therapist was different this time, as was the treatment, but no less relaxing. My hip pain had gone by this point (thanks to a wonderful physiotherapist- details later) so I simply asked for a nice relaxing massage. This time I spent the whole massage on my left side, again being massaged on my back, shoulders and arms. I did ask not to have a head massage this time as I was going out afterwards so didn’t want oily hair! The therapist also used hot stones this time, which I really love and made a nice change from the previous massage. 

As I mentioned, it’s worth noting that around the 30 week mark of my pregnancy, I started to experience a lot of pain in my hips and was diagnosed with PGP. This gradually got worse, to the point where even driving the car was agony and I needed a trained physiotherapist, rather than a treatment massage. I was referred to the NHS but warned there would be a long wait. Thanks to a recommendation on Twitter, I booked an appointment with Nicola Ruth, a qualified physiotherapist based on Cathedral Road. This was a serious solution to a medical problem and NOT the relaxing experience found at Ener-chi, in fact the massage bought tears to my eyes, but Nicola worked right into my painful hips (at one point using her elbow- eek!) Making a huge difference to the condition. I walked out smiling, rather than wincing and hobbling and would really recommend visiting Nicola if you’re suffering from more serious pregnancy-related pain. 

So there we are, a tale of two very different pregnancy massages, both of which made a real difference to me and I wholeheartedly recommend. 

Mum to be massage, £40, Enerchi Radyr

ener-chi.co.uk

Pregnancy massage, £40, Nicola Ruth Pregnancy and postnatal massage

Nicruth.co.uk

All treatments were paid for in full and neither Enerchi or Nicola Ruth knew I’d be blogging about them. 

Review; Dinner at Laguna, Park Plaza

I was very excited to be invited to try the new a la carte menu at the Laguna Kitchen & Bar in Park Plaza this week.

Having eaten there before, I knew the food and service would be of a very high standard and I was assured that there would be plenty of vegetarian/pescetarian dishes for my non-meat-eating husband.

We arrived at the hotel at 7.30pm, so it was dark when we got there, making the hotel lobby with its huge log fire seem really inviting. The restaurant kept the same theme, with low-lighting and flickering candles making for a cosy, welcoming atmosphere. It also meant my pictures are a bit dark, so apologies in advance for this! 

To start we were offered bread from the bread basket – both of us opting for the delicious tomato bread – with a dish of olive oil and balsamic for dipping, yum.

For starters I went for the Trio of Butternut squash (£4.95); squash purée surrounded by cubes of roasted butternut squash and topped with a pearl las blue cheese mousse and butternut squash crisps. 

  
I was a little surprised that this was a cold starter, for some reason I expected it to be warm, but it was still delicious. The sweet squash was perfectly complemented by the cheese mousse, which was the best part of the dish. The squash crisps gave a nice bit of texture too.

Gavin went for the Thai fish cakes (£7.95), which he enjoyed.  

 
For main course I chose the Roast Monkfish Tail (£16.45); monkfish tail served on a bed of creamy saffron risotto, with Cornish crab, spring onions and tempura samphire.

  
The waitress said I’d made the right choice, as this was her favourite dish on the new menu and it didn’t disappoint. The monkfish was meaty with a very delicate flavour and the tempura samphire and spring onions added a lovely bite to the creamy risotto. 

Gavin went for one of the excellent choice of vegetarian dishes; Risotto with beetroot, cavolo nero and grilled halloumi (£13.95). 

  
He said it was delicious, although the creamy risotto was very rich indeed. This dish is also available as a starter for £7.45, which might have been a better way to eat it, as it was so rich.

The dessert menu looked amazing with dishes such as Turkish delight and vanilla creme brûlée, banana tart tatin, and warm Bakewell tart with cherries soaked in kirsch (all £5.95). In the event though, we were both so full that we could only manage the trio of ice creams (Gavin) and sorbets (me) each. When I said I was ordering sorbet for dessert, the waiter was really kind and enquired if I was lactose-intolerant, in which case he would recommend a dessert for me. I explained that no, I just like sorbet, but it was good to see they cater for allergies and intolerances. 

  
I went for two scoops of lemon and one of raspberry (£4.95) which came served with a chocolate and mini meringue and was lovely and refreshing.

We both finished with a peppermint tea, which is provided by Cardiff favourite Waterloo Gardens and a good way to finish a rich and satisfying meal. Overall we really enjoyed it and would recommend Laguna at Park Plaza, particularly for a special meal or event.

We were invited to try the new a la carte menu at Laguna, Park Plaza for free, in exchange for an honest review. 

Www.parkplazacardiff.com

The Park Plaza is also featured in my post; The Best Places for afternoon tea in Cardiff. 

Great Scott! Outdoor cinema at Cardiff Castle

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll probably know that I’m a huge fan of outdoor cinema. There’s something magical about watching one of your favourite movies as the sun sets, surrounded by other people who also love the film – and laugh, cheer and cry in the right places.

  

Back to the Future is one of my all-time top films. My first crush was Michael J Fox (that opening scene when he blows the guitar speaker, while wearing reflective aviator shades?! Lush) and during the 80s my sisters and I probably wore out our taped-off-the-TV version, watching it at least once a month – in an ongoing rotation with Grease, The Goonies and Annie. 

When I heard that Luna Cinema would be showing Back the the Future at Cardiff Castle I was so excited to go. The date also coincided with my Mother-in-Law’s birthday, so as long as the weather was on our side, we knew we were in for a fun family night out. 

I’ve been to other outdoor evening events at Cardiff Castle so I also knew the setting would be really special; watching the sun set behind The Keep while the city buzzes outside the castle walls is lovely. 

  We weren’t disappointed. The huge screen and sound system was great so there was no problem seeing the film, despite the hundreds of people there. Food was on offer from some of Cardiff’s favourite street food vendors, including Dusty Knuckle pizza, but we took our own picnic, as well camping chairs and blankets. We were lucky with the weather though, and the fact that the castle grounds are fairly sheltered meant we didn’t even need the blankets.

  I saw some criticism on social media about the cost of the event – £12 a ticket to see a film that is regularly repeated on TV – but this event is as much about the atmosphere as it is the film and I think it was worth the money.

  

Luna cinema won’t be back at Cardiff Castle until next summer, but it’s worth keeping an eye on their website for next year. Cardiff Castle is also planning more cinema events in the near future, for Halloween. There’s more information on their website. 

We paid in full for our tickets to see Back to the Future and neither Luna Cinema or Cardiff Castle knew I’d be blogging about them. 

Summer 2015

I’m finding it hard to believe that this summer is pretty much over. But the nights are definitely drawing in, there’s an Autumnal feel in the air, the little man starts school this week and I haven’t blogged about any of the things we did this summer. So here’s a quick round up of what I’ve been up to.   Cefn Mably Farm

We had a lovely day here at the start of the summer, visiting all the farm animals (the four-year-old was brave enough to hold and pet a guinea pig for the first time), having a picnic and being pushed around in this mini tractor. I spent most of the day washing my hands (pregnancy paranoia that I’d catch something from the animals!) but we had a great time, as always. 

www.cefnmablyfarmpark.com

 Dinner at Porro, Llandaff

I tried the new Welsh/Italian restaurant Porro in Llandaff this summer. The restaurant is run by the same people at The Potted Pig in town, which I love. Here’s my linguine vongole, with fresh Gower cockles. It was delicious. The place is lovely, but I did find it a little pricey for a neighbourhood restaurant.   

www.porrocardiff.com

The Gruffalo Trail at Mountain View ranch, Caerphilly 

Until I read this post from Cardiff Mummy, I had no idea of the amazing activities on offer at Caerphilly Mountain View Ranch. Embarrassingly I thought it was part of the snack bar at the top of the mountain! We had a lovely day doing the Gruffalo trail, looking for fairies in the fairy wood, picnicking at the Indian village and playing at the adventure playground. Can’t wait to go back again soon.

www.mountainviewranch.co.uk

  Cardiff Museum

Rainy summer days are the perfect opportunity to visit Cardiff Museum. The little man was all excited about seeing the dinosaurs, but when it came down to it he was too scared to go in and look at them! He’s been before so knew it would be dark and noisy. Still, we had plenty of fun looking at all the other exhibits, and doing some posing of course!

www.museumwales.ac.uk/cardiff/

 

Outdoor cinema at Motley Movies

We loved seeing The Goonies at Motley Movies last year and were even more excited about seeing one of our all time favourite films, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off this year. The food wasn’t as good as last time, which was disappointing (last time we were very spoiled by HangFire BBQ) but the weather stayed dry and we had an awesome night. We’re planning to go and see Back to the Future at the outdoor cinema in the castle next month, so fingers crossed for the weather!

http://motleymovies.fatsoma.com 

  

  

  

 

  A week in West Wales

We had a week in St David’s at the end of August where we visited Folly Farm (this place was amazing, we saw lions, giraffes, meerkats, zebras and loads more – can’t believe I’d never been before), spent a sunny day on Whitesands beach, mooched around St David’s (including eating ice cream at Giannis – amazing), visited the Dinosaur Park in Tenby, which at the same cost as Folly Farm we found a little overpriced, but the four-year-old has raved about ever since! We also visited a little village called Porthgain which has some stunning walks, a working harbour and a gorgeous pub called The Sloop Inn, where we ate fresh fish pie and awesome fish and chips. Yum. 

It’s been a great summer, hope yours was too! 

Lunch at Penylan Pantry

I visited the Penylan Pantry this week with my friend Niki and had what may be one of the best salads of my life; their seasonal salad bowl (couscous, tomatoes, cucumber, seeds, edible flowers, red cabbage and olives) with smoked salmon and avocado. Not a lettuce leaf in sight! 

 
It was also washed down by a deliciously strong Americano from the Welsh Coffee co. Two salads and coffees cost around £20. 

This was only my second visit to the Penylan Pantry, last time I had the stunning fish platter with the most amazing mackerel pâté, cured salmon, capers and more. It’s such a sweet neighbourhood cafe with some delicious deli treats from local providers for sale too. The staff are also lovely. Go there!  

Penylan Pantry, 72 Kimberley Road, Penylan, Cardiff.

Penylan Pantry on Facebook.

I paid in full for my food at Penylan Pantry and they did not know I’d be blogging about them.

Macarons from Bute Cakery

I was lucky enough to be sent a delicious box of macarons from the Bute Cakery this week. Yum! 

 
I tweeted this picture which led to lots of envious replies, including from people who’ve never tried a macaron before, but really want to. Not to be confused with macaroons (which are usually made from ground almonds and coconut) macarons are meringue-based biscuits sandwiched together with cream filling. 

 
Bute Cakery sent me a selection of raspberry and white chocolate, vanilla and pistachio and honey macarons. Bigger than the usual mini macarons I’ve had in the past, they were crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle with delicious sweet fillings. The raspberry and white chocolate were my favourite, they were delicious without being overly sweet. Mmmmm!

  
www.butecakery.co.uk

I was sent the box of macarons free of charge, but this is an honest review. 

A birthday treat – afternoon tea at Restaurant James Sommerin, Penarth

A few weeks ago it was my birthday. Hooray! Being pregnant and having suffered awful sickness for the last few months I was definitely in need of a treat. Luckily, I’d booked for us to have afternoon tea at the new Restaurant James Sommerin in Penarth and couldn’t wait! 

I started the day off with a fabulous manicure and pedicure at Enerchi in Radyr, before heading over to Penarth.  

 

Penarth is lovely for a poke-around and I dragged my husband Gavin into copious gift shops before heading down to the sea front, where the restaurant is located, overlooking the gorgeous Penarth pier. 

For those who don’t know, James Sommerin is a renowned chef, who’s appeared on TV shows such as the Great British Menu and was well known for holding Wales’ only Michelin star for a time at the Crown at Whitebrook. His new restaurant in Penarth opened last year and offers daily tasting menus as well as afternoon tea. The champagne afternoon tea is usually £25pp but we had a really good deal through Travelzoo meaning it was £29 for two people. Bargain! As an aside I’d really recommend following the local deals on Travelzoo, I’ve taken advantage of some great offers including dinners at Chapel 1877 and a weekend away at The Corran in Laugharne. Unlike some voucher websites the Travelzoo offers seem to be genuine experiences of the restaurant/hotel, rather than special cheap menus that are specifically put on. 

So, we arrived at James Sommerin at 3pm and were shown to our table in the minimalist dining room. The restaurant was pretty busy with people still finishing their lunchtime tasting menus and others who’d arrived for afternoon tea. We were each given a cold glass of champagne before the sandwiches were brought to the table, in a really quirky picnic hamper. 

 
The sandwich selection was pretty standard; ham, smoked salmon, cheese and chutney and a very pretty cucumber sandwich. Each was chock-full of what certainly seemed like top-quality ingredients, the ham and salmon for example were really thick tasty slabs of filling. There was also a yummy homemade sausage roll. For Gavin, there was an excellent selection of vegetarian sandwiches including a goats cheese on filo cracker and a rather strange sweetcorn panna cotta, which wasn’t not nice, but unlike anything I’d ever tried before.

Teas and coffees were served with the cake tray, which I always prefer (who wants a cup of tea and a sandwich?! Much better with the cake!) but the ladies on the next table seemed most put-out to be told having their tea up front wasn’t the done thing in this particular restaurant! The tea selection was a little lacking (I think the selection was breakfast, earl grey or Assam; I would’ve liked some green tea or herbal options) but the earl grey was nice and strong. Gavin said his coffee wasn’t the best but it was fine. The strange thing was that they took the pot of tea and coffee away and we had to call the waiter to ask him to bring it back for a top up. It wasn’t a problem really but the ladies on the table next to us seemed quite frustrated at having to flag the waiter down each time. They were obviously huge tea drinkers! 

 
We soon forgot any tea issues with the arrival of the cakes. Wow. They were really something special. A rather dense scone with a much too-small portion of cream and jam was more than compensated for with the other sweet offerings; light and spicy carrot cakes, deliciously warm welsh cakes, praline eclairs, prune macarons,    decadent chocolate mousse and our highlights; the white chocolate and toasted coconut truffles and the bubblegum panna cottas (the latter is a real crowd-divider according to the waiter!)

  
When we’d finished our food we went for a lovely stroll along the pier, the perfect way to finish a nice treat. 

   
 

We even had time to pop into another gift shop, the lovely Shore, which is right next door to James Sommerin, where I picked up a gorgeous summery coconut candle. 

 
Overall I’d definitely recommend the afternoon tea at James Sommerin. Even without the deal we had, I think £25pp is good value for what is quite a special treat. It’s not a laid-back, informal experience but it’s definitely more interesting than your usual afternoon tea. Having visited James Sommerin I’m keen to go back. Next time I hope I’ll try the tasting menu!

James Sommerin Restaurant, The Esplanade, Penarth CF64 3AU

www.jamessommerinrestaurant.co.uk

We paid in full for the Travelzoo deal for afternoon tea and neither James Sommerin or Travelzoo knew I’d be blogging about them.