Loads of fun snowdog-hunting (get the app here) / gorgeous food from Masterchef contestant Imran Nathoo at Lost Lands outdoor cinema, (check his upcoming events here) / getting sweaty at hotpod’s new studio in Canton / addicted to Milgi Market’s salad bowls – find them inside Cardiff Market / sad to see trees down everywhere along the Taff Trail in the wind / ran our first ever family race at the Cardiff Half Marathon festival of running
Kids are back in school this week, mornings are feeling crisp and Starbucks has emailed to say it’s doing Pumpkin Spice Lattes – Autumn has arrived.
The summer whizzed by in a mish-mash of juggling childcare (shout-out to Mum, couldn’t have survived without you) but we did managed to snatch a week away camping in one of our favourite places; St David’s, Pembrokeshire.
We’ve spent our summer breaks here for the last three years and it’s beautiful. It’s also becoming quite the foodie destination. Here are my top tips if you’re planning a trip West.
Dusty Knuckle Pizza
Yes! The same Dusty Knuckle as the one in Canton! They’ve also set up shop in a courtyard off the main street in St Davids, which was really picturesque. They’re open most days from 5pm. We stopped by on a really sunny evening and loved the rustic group-table eating. It made for a lovely chilled atmosphere. There’s also a little bar next door selling local beers and ciders. Winning.
Em & Nicks Bakehouse
Also in the aforementioned courtyard is Em & Nicks. They’re open during the day for breakfast, brunch, lunch and cakes. They also have copious vegan/vegetarian and gluten-free options. The picture below is of my lunch; grilled halloumi and olive tapenade on a corn bread roll. And a STRONG black Americano. The chocolate and coconut welsh cake was also immense. (Sounded so wrong, tasted so right).
If you’re staying in St Davids you must take a trip to the nearby fishing village of Porthgain. It’s got some amazing walks around the cliffs and loads about the history of the area. It used to be an industrial port and ruins of the quarries and buildings are still there for exploring. We were only there for the food though! We made a reservation at The Shed for the first night of our trip, knowing we couldn’t wait.
The decor is ‘rustic’ at best, but the food is the star of the show at The Shed. Fish and chips always taste better when on the coast but these are the best fish and chips I’ve had, ever. Top tip; make sure you get the curry sauce and mushy peas on the side.
Oh and make a reservation, it gets very busy!
Also in Porthgain is The Sloop, a pub dating back to to the early twentieth century. Expect traditional pub grub with loads of fresh fish, including Porthgain crab.
Formerly Gianni’s, the ice cream parlour in the centre of St David’s has recently had a makeover, but don’t worry, it still serves about 50 flavours of delicious, creamy, locally produced ice cream. It also does dairy-free ice cream AND ice cream for dogs (seriously).
No trip to St Davids is complete without a trip to Whitesands. Gorgeous cliff-top walks, surf and sand. It has a truck selling delicious local ice creams at the bottom of the car park and the cafe at the top does very good coffee (important).
The city of St Davids is a must-visit, obviously. Have a walk around the cathedral, grab some fudge at the cathedral chocolate shop and buy a quarter of rhubarb and custards at Y Siop Loshin. Oh and the fresh pasties and sausage rolls at the St Davids Deli are immense. There’s also a small market every Thursday which is worth a visit. Stock up on more fudge, locally-made honey, vegan cakes, homemade quiches and knitted sheep. Yes, it’s eclectic!
We stayed at Lleithyr Meadow caravan park in St David’s. This is an honest review of our trip. Everything was paid for by us and none of the places I’ve mentioned were aware we’d be blogging about them.
Watching the sheep racing at Green Meadow Farm in Cwmbran / Afternoon tea at Pettigrew Tearooms / Getting a lunchtime delivery from Uber Eats / Yoga and hiking up The Garth with Little Yoga Hut / drinks and lessons in brewing at Tiny Rebel / beautiful bank holiday weather in Cardiff
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It’s been a while since I’ve done an afternoon tea post, probably because I’ve tried most places in Cardiff now. But judging by the searches that lead people to visit my blog (‘afternoon tea Cardiff’ is consistently the most-searched term) afternoon tea is still as popular as ever.
My lovely Auntie bought me a voucher for afternoon tea for two at Pettigrew Tea Rooms for my birthday, so we took advantage of it earlier this month, when we had a rare free Saturday. (No kids parties to attend – whoopee!)
Pettigrew Tearooms in Bute Park opened in 2012 and has been popular ever since. Set inside the West Lodge in the Castle Walls, at the entrance to Bute Park, it’s a unique and beautiful setting.
The interior is cute and quirky, with authentic tiling on the floor, copious amounts of bunting and dainty mismatched vintage china.
We pre-booked for afternoon tea and the place was rammed, including a hen do. Afternoon tea definitely seems to have become a pre-bridal staple activity.
The afternoon tea is £15.45 per person, which includes finger sandwiches (you choose your fillings on the day and there are plenty of vegetarian options), scones (again you can choose plain or fruit) and a slice of cake of your choice. I went for the banana and passion fruit cake, which was recommended by our waitress and it was yummy! Decadent yet light. I could eat another slice of that right now…..
The afternoon tea is also accompanied by a pot of tea of your choice. I really wanted the lavender Earl Grey but they don’t do it any more *sad face* so I went for the regular Earl Grey, which was delicious.
Both six-year-old J and F who’s almost two came along for tea and both enjoyed the experience too, the staff were really welcoming.
My only tiny gripe is that the manager was rather rude when I said I only had my gift voucher displayed on my phone and hadn’t actually printed it out (hello, it’s 2017). So word of warning, take your voucher with you if you have one!
If afternoon tea is your thing, read my post on the best places for afternoon tea in Cardiff.
I was given my afternoon tea for two as a birthday gift. We paid in full for all additional extras and the staff at Pettigrew were not aware I’d be blogging about them.
Shortly before the summer holidays, six-year-old J had an inset day off from school, so we were looking for something to do. One-year-old F was going to be in nursery all day, which meant swimming was a good idea (there’s no way I can manage two non-swimmers on my own!) I’d recently seen Cardiff Mummy’s review of the newly-renovated Lido in Pontypridd, so one week beforehand I went online and booked our places.
At that point I had no idea what the weather would be like. However, the pool is free for children and only £1 for adults. Such a bloomin’ bargain! At that price it was no great loss if we needed to ditch the idea. Luckily as the day arrived it was dry, if a little overcast.
The Lido is situated in YnysAngharad Park, in Pontypridd town centre. It’s just off the A470 and there are loads of reasonably priced car parks in the area.
We parked at Gas Road, which was £2.50 for 4 hours. I heard someone moaning that it was really expensive. They’ve obviously never parked at the NCP on Westgate Street!
We wandered through town to get to the Lido and had fun checking out some of the history beforehand.
The Lido has recently been restored thanks to a £6.3million investment from the local council and charitable funds.
The history of the building is reflected in the upgrade, with restoration of the 1920s turnstiles and wind-up machines outside which feature locals talking about their memories of the outdoor pools.
The Lido has three heated swimming pools, but as it was mid-week only two were open on the day we went; a lane pool (with space for non-serious swimmers) and the toddler splash pool.
We changed in one of the outdoor wooden cubicles, which was a novelty in itself, and stored our belongings in a locker; there are plenty available. There are also loads of sunloungers for you to leave your stuff if you want and we left our towels here for quick post-swim warm ups.
The pools were heated which meant we stayed in for ages and when our session was up we changed in the indoor facilities to keep warm.
When we left the Lido J spent some time at Lido Play, the fab outdoor adventure play area, while I set up our picnic nearby. All in all it was a great, and very cheap, day out!
It’s worth checking the Lido website for opening times and activities, as these change at weekends and in school holidays. And definitely book in advance if you can, although there are tickets kept aside for sale on the day.
We paid in full for our entry to The Lido and the staff at venue were not aware I’d be blogging about it.
Summery walks along the Taff Trail / Veggie brunch at Porro, Llandaff / Pinã Colada milkshake at Kaspas, St Mary’s Street / Walking in Dinosaur footsteps at the National Museum, Cardiff / Dinner at Thé Pot Bistro / Having a blast at Lido Ponty
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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?!
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.
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.
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.
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.