Fashion Lab Wales – a charity shop, but not as you know it

I’m useless at charity shop shopping. I really envy those people that, when complimented on their outfit, say; “Oh this? It’s Whistles/Karen Millen/Reiss. Only £10 in the charity shop!”.

Don’t get me wrong I blinking love charity shops, I give lots of clothes to them and love picking up books for 99p. But no matter how much I rummage through the racks I can never find that elusive bargain outfit.

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So thank goodness for Fashion Lab Wales – a new boutique charity shop from Cancer Research Wales. I spotted loads of bargains at the opening including Karen Millen, TopShop,LK Bennet and Lipsy to name a few – and most items around the £10-£15 mark. They even stock a Herve Leger bandage dress, donated by Danielle Linkekar, admittedly a bit more pricey at £200, but not bad for something usually selling for the £1000 mark. And all for charity! Excellent.

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Fashion Lab Wales, Queen Street Arcade, Cardiff

http://www.cancerresearchwales.co.uk

I was invited to the opening of the shop as a guest.

Review – Hokkei, Cardiff

You’ve probably heard of Hokkei box. The Asian takeaway, brainchild of MasterChef finalists Dale and Larkin, opened with lots of hype at the end of 2014.

Their plan was to reinvent the takeaway, bringing authentic asian flavours to Cardiff, using the best ingredients. You’ll find no MSG here.

I’ve wanted to try it since it opened, so a family night in with a film (The Lego Movie – it was the little man’s choice) was a good opportunity.

The menu is lovely and simple, you can order a box (consisting of a main, side, an extra and some dim sum) or choose off the menu. I love this idea, as one of my favourite things about getting a takeaway is all the additional nibbles you get on the side.

Our Hokkei boxes
Our Hokkei boxes

We went for a Genie Box; Aubergine and Tofu coconut curry, egg fried rice, edamame and veggie spring rolls (£13.25) and a Tokyo box; chicken katsu curry, steamed rice, spicy asian slaw and triple cooked crispy beef (£13.45) and added extras such as Thai Crackers (£1.50), Chunky Chips (£2.50) and some salt and pepper tofu (£4.95). There were three of us sharing this after all!

We called to order but were dissapointed to find they don’t deliver as far as Radyr. Still, we had our hearts set on it, so one pleading look at Gavin and he was in the car faster than you could say ‘spicy asian slaw’.

The journey from Crwys Road to Radyr did mean that the food was slightly tepid when he got home, but a quick blast in the microwave and it was fine.
Hokkei chicken katsu curry, rice and triple cooked crispy beef
Hokkei chicken katsu curry, rice and triple cooked crispy beef
But there was so much food! The dim sum portions were huge, particularly the salt and pepper tofu and the crispy beef, they were almost as big as the main dishes and there was more than enough for all three of us. We were left with plenty of leftovers (tip, the triple cooked crispy beef tasted even better warmed up the next day….which I guess makes it quadruple cooked).
The flavours were so good. We’re fans of places like the Crispy Duck, Ichiban and Wagamama, so the authentic flavours weren’t hugely surprising, but all their meat is responsibly sourced and you could tell that the chicken was of a very high quality and not dry at all, as katsu often can be. If your regular chinese takeaway consists of deep fried chicken balls, MSG-laden curry sauce and stale tasting prawn crackers, this could be a real eye opener and I’m convinced the quality ingredients make it a healthier option.
Hokkei Asian slaw, edamame beans and thai crackers
Hokkei Asian slaw, edamame beans and thai crackers
The toddler loved the chicken katsu curry, the edamame and the rice. He wanted to like the Thai crackers and kept asking for more, but really he found them a bit too spicy (or ‘spiky’ as he said). I didn’t even try him on the beef as it had a real chilli hit, which I love, but a bit much for the little man. The chips were good – they had a real ‘chips from the chinese’ flavour too.
The entire order came to £35.85, which I thought was reasonable for the huge amount we ordered.
I just hope they start delivering to Radyr soon!
 Hokkei
92 Crwys Road, Cardiff CF24 4NP
029 2233 1400

http://hokkei.co.uk

We paid in full for our takeaway and Hokkei did not know I’d be blogging about them.

Valentines Day – getting romantic in Cardiff

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I’ve been thinking about the most romantic spots in Cardiff.

Whether it’s a hand-in-hand stroll around the Bay at sunset, a champagne picnic in the grounds of Cardiff Castle or curling up by the log fire at The Maltsters in Llandaff, there are plenty of places to get amorous.

If you’re looking for ideas this Valentine’s Day, I’ve asked some of Cardiff’s best bloggers for inspiration.

Cardiff Heart picture from www.ilovesthediff.com
Cardiff Heart picture from http://www.ilovesthediff.com

Cathryn, author of CardiffMummySays.com,

“One of my favourite romantic spots in Cardiff is half way up Caerphilly Mountain, looking down across the whole of Cardiff. We got married at the New House Hotel, on the mountain, almost eight years ago, and prior to that, we’d had a few big walks around the area and I always loved the view across the whole of our city as we sat and ate our picnics. We parked up in the New House car park when I was in labour with my first baby (nothing had been happening for hours and hours) and sat looking out, drinking hot chocolate and getting excited about our future. We’ve taken our children there to watch the fireworks too as you can see them going off all over Cardiff without the noise of the bangs, which scares my children. It’s such a beautiful view that always leaves me in awe and it’s a really special place to us. It always reminds me how lucky I am.”

Jaye, from Cardiff in a Teacup blog,

“My most romantic spot in Cardiff would have to be Roath Park lake. In the summer it’s the perfect place to enjoy a picnic before walking around the lake with an ice cream and then renting out a boat. It’s just as lovely to visit in the colder months on a crisp morning wrapped up warm with a huge thermos of tea.”

Jane, from Hungry City Hippy,

“For me, either roath park lake for a romantic stroll and row boat on a sunny day, or Cafe Citta for an intimate, authentic Italian meal. Or both if you’re making a day of it!”

Where do you think is the most romantic spot in Cardiff?

If you like the Cardiff Heart hanging in my living room, visit I Loves the Diff to see more.

Cardiff Parkrun – a guest blog for Crandon Runs

Parkrun is an amazingly simple concept; Weekly, free, timed 5k runs around parks across the UK. Perfect for people who want to beat their PB, are looking for a social run with like-minded people or just need a reason to get out of bed and get their trainers on at the weekend.
Parkrun is a not for profit event, run by fantastic volunteers and it’s completely free to take part, just register online. Print off a barcode (you have to print it, they can’t scan smart phones) and they’ll log your time and email it to you. Simple.
Cardiff Parkrun takes place every Saturday at 9am, starting on the Taff Trail at Blackweir (next to the giant Tesco on Western Avenue) and running along the River Taff, looping back through Bute Park.
After eating my homemade energy ball and downing a smoothie, I turned up ready to race alone with a podcast to keep me company. But while standing at the start line, trying my best to keep warm, I bumped into two of my old work colleagues, Nicola and Beth and Beth’s sister.
Hooray! It meant that my solo run became a lot more sociable and we jogged round the course in 34 mins, while managing to catch up on a good bit of gossip. And that’s really what Park Run is about. Not gossiping (unless that helps motivate you, in which case gossip away) But Parkrun is about taking on a challenge with other runners, feeling that comraderie, with perhaps a dash of competitiveness thrown in. It would’ve been a huge mistake to do it alone with my iPod!
So to the course itself. The Taff Trail is absolutely beautiful anyway so to run around there is always lovely, no matter the weather. With more than 650 runners taking part, the path is a bit tight at the start, but it soon opens up with plenty of room for all speeds and levels. I do think there’s an opportunity here for another park run in Cardiff though – further along the Taff Trail at Forest Farm or around Pontcanna and Llandaff for example. The demand is certainly there.
I didn’t record a PB at this weeks race, but I wasn’t far off and a surprise catch up with friends while enjoying a scenic run made for a lovely morning.
The timing of Parkrun meant I was home by 10am, plenty of time to enjoy a well-deserved breakfast of spinach, avocado and poached eggs on toast with an Americano. Heaven!
You can find out more about Cardiff Parkrun on their website.
From 8 February, Cardiff Parkrun will also be holding a weekly junior event for 4-14 year olds.
This post first appeared as a guest post on the Crandon Runs blog, which is definitely worth a follow if you’re interested in running!