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 

Celebrating our anniversary…..part one

I’ve briefly mentioned that last month was our wedding anniversary. Ten years we’ve been married. That makes me sound quite old…..But we were only 16 when we got married. (Not really).

Anyway, ten years seems like a good reason to celebrate and my Mum kindly offered to take the kids so we could have a night away. Hurrah! 

After a bit of searching we found a great deal at the Celtic Manor; £180 for bed, breakfast, a three-course meal for two in any of the resorts four restaurants and use of the gym, spa and pool. 

After a delicious brunch at the Early Bird, we took the short trip down the M4, arriving at the Celtic Manor late morning. 

We spent a few hours in the gym, pool, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi etc, before heading up to our room. We were staying in the Manor House, the original part of the resort, where Cen restaurant is located – where we’d booked a table for dinner. 

The room was modern and spacious with fluffy dressing gowns and slippers (the sign of a good hotel in my book) and the perfect place to chill-out before heading down to dinner.

Salt and Chilli Calamari at Cen, Celtic Manor
Cen is the Celtic Manor’s Asian restaurant, headed up by Larkin Cen, MasterChef finalist and previous owner of the much-missed Hokkei Box. 

The food was absolutely wonderful and staff were so attentive. 

I started with delicious Salt and Chilli Squid (£9) before moving on to the Miso Cured Black Cod (£26), which was the flakiest, most delicately flavoured cod I’d ever had. 

Miso cured black cod

For dessert I went for Coffee and Coconut (£7) – coconut ice cream, almond dacquoise, coffee gel and Thai basil. Yum

Dessert at Cen, coffee and coconut
The staff generously gave us a couple of complimentary glasses of bubbles as they knew it was our anniversary, which was a really lovely way to round off a delicious meal. 

Anniversary bubbles!
The final bill came to almost £100 but, because the food was included in our hotel stay, we only had to pay for our drinks. It really was a fantastic deal. 

I would definitely recommend Cen for a special occasion, the food was fantastic and staff wonderful. Thanks for a lovely night! 

We paid in full for our stay at the Celtic Manor and the hotel and Cen restaurant were not aware I’d be blogging about them. 

February Instagram highlights 

Lots of food and not much else last month……


Greek dips at the Hellenic Eatery / Hulk Smash! at the Early Bird / Anniversary meal at Cen at the Celtic Manor / Vanilla Pannacotta at our anniversary lunch at Porro, Llandaff / A couple of locally-produced beers from Pipes and the Roath Brewery and / Blas y Mor pizza at Dusty Knuckle / nurturing yoga at the hot pod / Lightning on a grey day in Cardiff / Veggie Hula burger at The Grazing Shed

Follow me on Instagram @cardiffgirlblog

Late nights at Waterloo Tea, Wyndham Arcade

We had a babysitter on Saturday night (whoop!) so decided to get the train into town for dinner, something we haven’t done, just the two of us, in a loooong time. 

Cardiff City Centre can be crazy this time of year. Groups of blokes wearing cheap Christmas jumpers, girls with flimsy dresses and no coats (not hating, been there myself, I’m just old now) and not-always-friendly door staff mean we usually avoid parts of town such as Mill Lane and St Mary’s Street. But on Saturday we found a gorgeous little safe-haven at Waterloo Tea in Wyndham Arcade.  

The night started off with a less than successful trip to The Depot (I had a good moan about it on Twitter if you want to see). We decided to head back into town to grab a warming drink before getting the train home. I’d seen on Twitter that Wyndham Tea would be open so we popped in.

I’m sure you know about Waterloo Tea – the independent tea room has venues in Wyndham Arcade and Penylan in Cardiff and at Washington Tea in Penarth. I’ve written before about how much I love their cakes and afternoon teas.

Their new Saturday night pop-ups are being run in conjunction with The Dead Canary, the secret bar at the end of Barrack Lane (although it’s not so secret any more, last time I went it was PACKED). Waterloo tea’s own staff are providing the food while The Dead Canary works its magic on the cocktails. 

Sample menu for late nights at Wyndham Tea

We had already eaten, so we just went for drinks. G had a good American IPA while I went for a ‘winter’ cocktail; Penderyn whisky, Vermouth and bitters. It was lovely, definitely a winter warmer and not one to have if you’re driving! 

A ‘Winter’ cocktail from The Dead Canary at Wyndham Tea

There was a gorgeously chilled jazz duo providing live background music and the quiet arcade (It’s entry for Waterloo Tea customers only, via the gates on Mill Lane) made it feel as though we were in a real haven from the hustle and bustle of the city centre at this time of year. 

We’ll be back for food next time! 

We paid in full for our drinks at Waterloo Tea in Wyndham arcade and the staff were not told I’d be blogging about them. 

I’m on Instagram! Hop over and give me a follow for more Cardiff-related shenanigans. 


Burger and Lobster

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard that Burger and Lobster Cardiff launched their new menu last week. Most of Cardiff seems to have been invited to try the new additions. As G said; “I’m surprised there’s any lobster left in the sea” – insert laughing emoji here. 

Burger & Lobster Cardiff has been open a while but until last week we’d never been. I think the limited menu (a burger, a half lobster or a lobster roll was originally all they had available) put me off. Added to this, G is a vegetarian who eats fish (the proper name for this is pescetarian, but I just say ‘picky’) and although he does eat fish, he’d never tried lobster. So it would’ve been quite a gamble to visit. 

Luckily the new menu helps with our quandary. They’ve kept their original menu items but added a few more including various lobster and brisket rolls, smaller ‘chick’ lobsters and a larger selection of burgers, including a kids burger. 


We started off with a few drinks – cwtch beer for G and a ‘velour tracksuit’ for me – which went down easily but was very sweet. One of those was more than enough! 

The Velour Tracksuit cocktail at Burger & Lobster, Cardiff

G decided to go the whole hog and ordered the half lobster (£24 – comes with fries and salad) while I went for the smack brisket brioche roll (£8) and side of lobster mac & cheese (£5). The server told me that the brisket was the best thing on the menu – high praise indeed. 

Half a lobster at Burger & Lobster, Cardiff
Brisket brioche roll and lobster mac & cheese
Both my main and my side were delicious, but the mac & cheese was weirdly really sweet. Teamed with the brioche bun of the brisket and the very sweet cocktail I’d just drunk, everything  was a bit too much on the sweet side for me. 

The lobster was definitely the stand-out dish of the evening. It was delicious. It’s a little daunting to crack the shells etc if you’ve never eaten lobster before and I’m sure there’s a ‘right’ way of doing so, but we just went for it! 


We also had a side of Crazy Blooming Onion (£4), a kind of take on onion rings. The way it was cooked meant the outside of it was lovely, but the inside was almost raw onion. If definitely cut through the sweetness of my meal though.


I was too full for dessert, but G ordered the chocolate brownie sundae (£3), which we only realised was a kids dessert when the bill arrived (!) He said it was really nice with large chunks of gooey chocolate brownies – the perfect size after our mains. 

Overall I enjoyed Burger & Lobster. The restaurant had a lively atmosphere and the DJ and cocktail menu make it a good place to start a night out or celebrate a birthday.

We were invited to try the food at Burger & Lobster for free, in exchange for an honest review. We paid in full for our drinks. 

What we’ve been up to this week….

This week didn’t start off too well, I was struck down with the horrible 24hour sickness bug going around. Luckily the little ones didn’t catch it, but it meant all plans for the start of the week went out the window. 

My Waterloo Tea explorer card. Bring on the free cake!

When I was fully recovered Baby F and I ventured over to Penarth for lunch with my Mum in Washington Tea. It’s important to build your strength up with cake after being ill, isn’t it? I’ve now filled my Waterloo Tea explorers card so there’s a free slice of cake with my name on it next time. Who says maternity leave isn’t productive?!

Welsh rarebit macaroni cheese at The Pickled Radish, Llandaff

We went for lunch at the new Pickled Radish in Llandaff on Friday. I’m still dreaming about the Welsh rarebit macaroni cheese with Pembrokeshire ham and a brioche crumb. Delicious. The decor and service were great too. Looking forward to going back for an evening meal next week. 

Great view from our table at The Dock, Cardiff Bay

Friday night we had a babysitter so went for a quick bite to eat at The Dock in Cardiff Bay, the old Terra Nova pub. The refurb looks great, it’s light and airy and makes the most of the fantastic views of the bay. 
 

A mediocre salad at The Dock
 

We both ordered the superfood salad, which was pretty disappointing, I wouldn’t order that again. There are so many other lovely places to eat in the Bay. I’d go back to The Dock for drinks though, especially on a warm summer evening. Then we went over to the Odeon to watch the new Captain America film in the IMAX, it was awesome!

On Saturday my usual hot yoga class wasn’t on so I went across town to Yoga Fever. Mark’s classes are always really strong and I felt great afterwards. 

Cardiff 5k start line in Whitchurch village

Yesterday I did the Race for Victory Cardiff 5k run in Whitchurch, along with 799 other people. I was quite nervous about it! Even though I’ve been jogging with the buggy, this was the last time I actually ran 5k. I really enjoyed it though and completed it in 35 minutes, which I was pretty happy with. The race was brilliantly organised and it was great to run around my old stomping ground of Whitchurch. It also meant that there were loads of familiar faces cheering me on along the route. In fact the crowd and atmosphere was awesome, despite the rain!  

My only criticism is that we didn’t get a medal. I wanted a medal selfie! But the T-shirts are pretty nice, so that’s a great momento. 

Hope you’re having a relaxing bank holiday. Keeping everything crossed that the weather warms up a bit this week as the forecast is promising. 

Don’t forget you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Getting in my comfort zone at Mecure Holland House

Last week I had the best facial of my life. My skin was glowing for days! I was invited to try the new Comfort Zone treatments at the Spa at Mecure Holland House Hotel on Newport Road. 

Comfort Zone is a European brand and Holland House is the first place in Cardiff to offer their treatments and products. 

The brand promises a ‘complete system of care for the skin, body and soul’. The lady from Comfort Zone analysed my skin  while telling me about the brand’s scientific approach to skincare. They even have a neurologist studying the way changes in our brains are evidenced on the skin – intelligent stuff! Of course, I watch a lot of Greys Anatomy so I knew *exactly* what she meant……ha ha.

The brand also promotes healthy and sustainable lifestyles; for example using natural products on the skin, eating healthily and exercising. A very holistic approach to skincare. 

So after a glass of Prosecco (whoops there goes the healthy eating part) and skin analysis (apparently I’m more wrinkly on the left side my face than the right, possibly because I sleep on my left side) it was on to the treatments.

  

We started off with a Himalayan Salt Massage (55mins £60). I lay face down on the (heated) bed, and the wonderful therapist, Liga, started off massaging me with warm Himalayan salt stones, before exfoliating me with a salt scrub. This does not sound relaxing, but it really was. I nodded off, which I’m told is the ultimate compliment to a beauty therapist (!).

Liga then wrapped me in a cocoon of blankets where I was left to relax while the oils sunk in, before all the salt was buffed off.

The salt scrub is said to completely detoxify the body and while I’m not sure whether it did that, my skin felt lovely and soft for days afterwards, especially on my back. I kept thinking that this would be a perfect pre-holiday or pre-event treatment to get your skin looking fab. 

Next it was on to the Comfort Zone Skin Regimen facial (30 minutes £45) Here comes the science; ‘Supreme Nutricosmeceutical System targets primary causes of accelerated cellular ageing reflected in the skin – inflammation, glycation, oxidation and methylation.’ Got it? What you need to know is that it promises an intensive anti-aging treatment with visible results in just half the time of a traditional facial.

The facial starts in the usual way with cleansing, toning etc. Then Liga applied an acid peel to my face (I kept thinking of that scene in Sex and the City when Samantha has a chemical peel, luckily it was nothing like that), my skin was tingling like mad, I could really feel it doing something.

The treatment also used the Kabat massage technique which involved moving my arms around in certain ways and at one point being told to push my hand against Liga’s hand. It was supposed to align my mind and body but felt a little strange – like doing a bit of yoga mid-facial. Not necessarily a bad thing, just different.

I love facials but often come out feeling a bit disappointed that you can’t see visible results, apart from slightly oily skin. Not this time!  

I hate taking selfies but how amazing does my skin look?!? I had no makeup on in this pic, apart from a bit of staining on my lips from the red lippy I had been wearing earlier. 

Holland House would never have been my first port of call when looking for a city centre spa. But with 13 lovely-sized treatment rooms and the most gorgeous relaxation area – I’ve been missing out. 

 

After our treatments we were treated to wine tasting, canapés and an evening meal in the newly refurbished upstairs bar and restaurant. It’s been well done out, creating a modern, relaxed space – a far cry from how it looked before and perfect for people watching over Newport Road. 

The Comfort Zone treatments will be available mid-May. I’ll definitely be going back! 

I was invited to try the new treatments at Mecure Holland House for free, in return for an honest review.