Last week I took on the Shop Cardiff challenge.
It was a really fun week and looking at my Twitter stream, lots of people were getting involved. Here are some of my highlights;
I’m not currently a member of a gym, when I exercise I use council-run leisure centres or independent yoga studios. So hot yoga at Elite Fitness in Fairwater on Monday and another class at Yoga Fever on Saturday wasn’t that unusual for me. However, I hadn’t been to the former since their studio relocated from the city centre to Splott a few months ago and I’d forgotten how good Sharon’s classes really were.
This is where Shop Cardiff really came into its own. On Thursday I met up with a friend for dinner. This friend and I meet up quite regularly, so to keep costs down we usually hunt out a 2-for-1 deal or some other voucher, mostly in chain restaurants. But I suggested that on this occasion we meet at the Smoke House in Pontcanna, a new restaurant which I’d already heard good things about. I’m so glad we did. The food was perfect (see the pulled pork above – yum), the staff incredibly friendly and it wasn’t even that expensive – under £15 a head for a main course and a beer was much better than a chain deal, when you consider the service and quality of the food.
I also ventured back to Pontcanna on the Saturday night with my husband, for dinner at Fish at 85. Again the quality of the food and the service was a cut above what you’d expect in a chain. This meal was more pricey, but we were celebrating my new job and his birthday so it was what we’d expect to pay for a special night out.
This is where I fell down. Being a full-time working Mum means I stuck to my once-weekly supermarket shop, which I get delivered to the house. For convenience and price it is one thing that really helps me juggle my time.
However I made the effort to head over to Wally’s Deli for Easter chocolate treats after work one evening (my boss sent us home early on the Thursday before bank holiday – whoo hoo – otherwise it would have been closed by the time I’d got out of the office and walked there.)
I also needed to buy some birthday balloons so rather than heading to a supermarket I popped into the party supplies shop in Llandaff North at the weekend. I’ve used it before and it’s great, they’ve got loads of party stuff and its easy to park.
During the week I also visited Salon Nia in Radyr for eyebrow threading and we took our little boy to Gelynis Farm for the Easter Egg Hunt, which was really fun and only £3 per child. You can see a pic of the bunny doing her thing below. Although these are both things I would have done despite it being Shop Cardiff week.
Overall I was surprised at how much it wasn’t actually that much of a challenge for me, as I regularly use independents. However where I failed during the week (supermarket shopping and two Brains pub lunches) it was purely down to convenience – particularly as I don’t work in the city centre.
What struck me is that what you get with independents is personality and customer service. When chains expand they seem to employ larger amounts of low-paid staff, who don’t really buy into the ethos of the company.
Perhaps next year I’d organise my time better and stock up on fruit, veg and food for the week at one of the Riverside markets rather than using a supermarket.
I hope Shop Cardiff continues to build on its success. I’m looking forward to #ShopCardiff2014 already.