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

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Grangemoor Parkrun, Cardiff Bay

After running/hobbling the Cardiff Half last month, I was determined to continue running, at least once a week. I’ve fallen into a routine of one hot yoga class a week (this is my current favourite) and Parkrun every Saturday. I should probably be doing more exercise than this, but with two young children, a job and loads of Netflix to watch, this works for me at the moment. 

You probably know that Parkrun is a free, weekly, timed 5k/3mile run at 9am on a Saturday, in various parks around the world. It’s operated by volunteers and is a great way to give you the motivation to get out of bed and go for a run, particularly on those chilly winter mornings! 

I usually do the Cardiff/Blackweir Parkrun (you can read my post about it here), which is a beautiful route starting on the Taff Trail, just off Western Avenue and moving along the River Taff. But my running buddy suggested we try Grangemoor in the Bay for a change this week. 

We parked at the drive-through Starbucks and had a brisk walk down to the start, which is located in Grangemoor Park, under the A4232 and next to the marina.

Luckily the weather was beautiful, very sunny and crisp, which always makes running a pleasure. 

The volunteers at Grangemoor were great and really took the time to explain the course to any newcomers. 

Grangemoor Parkrun race director giving us all the info at the start line

The course itself is flat and tarmac all the way. It’s a ‘Y’ shape, with two out and back sections, which you do two laps of. The course itself is pretty uninspiring, with a few power stations and the backs of industrial units forming the main view along the route, with some nice views of the River Ely on the other side. I’m not a massive fan of two lap courses. It’s always a battle with myself to actually do a second lap and not just stop after one! However the Marshals on this course were fantastic and really kept the runners smiling. 

At the start – beautiful morning for it

If you’re looking to improve your time, Grangemoor is a good option. There are less runners than Blackweir (130 at Grangemoor compared to the 764 that ran Blackweir yesterday!), which means you can get off to a good start and really push your time. Also the path at Grangemoor was very quiet, so you don’t have to worry about other runners, dog walkers and cyclists, unlike Blackweir (“BIIIIKE!”). 

This is my ‘Im-not-wearing-makeup-please-dont-take-my-picture face’

I did do a PB at Grangemoor too – 31.50. Until recently I was languishing around the 34 minute mark, so I’m pretty chuffed with that. Now that the Cardiff Half is out of the way, I can concentrate on my speed, rather than distance. 

Massive thanks to all the volunteers that give up their Saturday mornings to keep us running at Parkrun! 👏🏻

Parkrun is a free event and the organisers were not aware I’d be blogging about it. 

Follow my new CardiffGirlBlog account on Instagram for regular Cardiff-related witterings! 

I ran the Cardiff Half!

What a day yesterday was! Along with around 20,000 other nutters I went for a 13.1 mile jog around Cardiff.

This time last year I was 38 weeks pregnant and could barely walk from my car to the office, thanks to a delightful pregnancy condition called Pelvic Girdle Pain. (Google it, its when the joints of your pelvis actually move apart. Ouch) But I watched the Cardiff Half marathon and said, “I’m going to do that next year!” My main motivation was to get fit after having the baby, but I also wanted to raise money for the fab charity I work for, Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, which supports people in Wales who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus. 

As ready as I’d ever be….

So yesterday morning at 8am we dropped the kids off at my Mums and made our way down to Cardiff Castle. 

The weather was stunning – blue skies without a cloud to be seen. Perfect for spectators, maybe not so good for the runners though – despite all the water stops I was very dehydrated after and quite sunburnt too. 

Beautiful skies above the start line

The route took us from Cardiff Castle, along Penarth Road, into Penarth, across the Barrage (the views were absolutely stunning here) through the Bay, to Roath, around Roath Park lake and back into town for the finish line at the Civic Centre. 

The route was full of amazing volunteers cheering us on and the support was fantastic – especially in Roath where there were lovely people handing out sweeties, offering high fives and loads of singers and brass bands dotting the route. Shout out to the awesome vicar at Albany Road church, offering to pour water over anyone that needed it. What a star.

The crowds were definitely needed by me, as my knee (which had been playing me up through my training recently) decided to have a major spasm between mile 9 and 10. I was in agony for the last few miles, but the amazing support got me round. 

I finished with a chip time of 2.53, which included a stop to queue for one of the many portaloos along the route. My Strava time (which I paused for said toilet break) was 2.43. My main aim was not to stop, which I didn’t, so I was happy. 

I’m still wearing this medal

If you live in Cardiff this is one of those things you must do at least once. It’s a great way to see an alternative view of the city and the supporters were just fantastic. However, I can safely say that I’ll never do it again! I’ll stick to 5k at ParkRun from now on. 

If you want to sponsor me, visit my JustGiving page. Thank you! Now I’m off to ice my poor knee….. 

I paid in full for my entry to the Cardiff Half and organisers were not aware I’d be blogging about the event. 

Hot pod yoga

Yoga is my favourite type of exercise and we’re really spoilt for choice in Cardiff. There are so many different yoga classes on offer, you’re bound to find something you like. Saying that, I’ve yet to see an aerial yoga class in the area, please do let me know if you see one as I reeeeeally want to try it. 

Anyway! My current favourite form of yoga is hot yoga. The first hot yoga studio opened in Cardiff a few years ago and since then, more and more have popped up, proving just how popular it is among Cardiff yogis.

The newest offering is Hot Pod Yoga. 

The Pod, picture from hotpodyoga.com

The pod is basically a cocoon-like portable heated yoga studio, this one is situated at Cardiff Central Sports and Community Centre off Ocean Way (the old Virgin Gym).
The pod fits around 20 people, is heated to 37 degrees and promises an intense workout.
Picture from @hotpodyoga_cardiff on Instagram
Hot yoga is always going to be an intense workout, the constant 37 degree heat means your muscles are warmer, giving you more flexibility and enabling you to push yourself much harder than usual. You sweat loads too, which is said to rid toxins from your body. I don’t know if this is true but I always feel great and sleep really well after a hot yoga class.
Our teacher, Adell, was good – giving us a challenging flow with lots of variations and different postures thrown in. The class is said to be suitable for beginners, but I think someone completely new to yoga would’ve struggled a bit. 

What I really liked about Hot Pod Yoga was the pod itself. It was heated without feeling ‘sweaty’ – there was none of that moisture dripping down the walls that you often get in a hot yoga studio. And I noticed that the pod didn’t smell of stale sweat either – a definite plus! Because the  pod is dimly lit I felt I could really focus on my own practice without getting distracted by the other people. The purple lighting also made the pod feel calm and relaxed. 

Hot Pod Yoga also offers a ‘nurturing flow’ restorative class on Wednesday evenings, which I’d love to try next. 

You can read an older post about more of my favourite places to do hot yoga in Cardiff here

Hotpodyoga.com

I was invited to try a class at hot pod yoga for free, in exchange for an honest review. 

Race for Life 10k

I ran the Race for Life 10k in Cardiff yesterday – go me! I was really chuffed that I ran the whole race without stopping, but my little sister Sarah only bloomin’ went and came first! She’s a proper runner type, mind. She wears running socks and everything. You can read her blog post here.

Thousands of ladies waiting to run the Race for Life, Cardiff

If you’re looking for a running challenge The Race for Life is a good place to start. It’s more of a fun run than a race – you’re not timed with a chip, in fact people are actively encouraged to walk it.  The route loops around Blackweir, Coopers Field and Bute Park, which means it includes some of Cardiff’s best landmarks; Cardiff Castle, The Millennium Stadium, Sophia Gardens and the Taff Trail. But if you are a regular runner you’d probably be disappointed by the terrain of the route (very uneven and lots of running on grass) and the sheer amount of women taking part meant it was almost impossible to run at any speed in certain sections. It definitely thinned out when the 10k route split away from the 5k one though and I found that more enjoyable. 

Many people run the race in honour of loved ones or to show solidarity with those affected by cancer. So the atmosphere was really supportive and reading people’s signs and t-shirts got me quite emotional at times.

We finished!

I finished it in one hour and 15 mins. Next stop, Cardiff Half. Eeeek! 

Raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org 

We paid in full for our entry to the Race for Life

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. 

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What we’ve been up to this week

There’s a bit of a change to the blog this week. As you probably know, I’ve recently had a baby girl. Life with a baby and a four-year-old is busy! As I’m on maternity leave, baby F and I have been getting out and about in Cardiff most days, but I’m too knackered to properly blog about what we’ve been doing. 

So instead I’m going to start doing weekly roundups, with quick snippets of what we’ve been up to. I’m also planning to make the blog a bit more personal. Please let me know what you think. Here goes….

  
I met up with a friend who’s also on maternity leave this week and we took our babies for lunch at Wyndham Tea in town. Pictured above is my sticky Asian chicken salad. Yum! Their lunches are always healthy and delicious.  I’m also loving Waterloo Tea’s loyalty cards – do pick one up if you’re in any of their shops. I’m one visit away from a free slice of cake. Result! 

  
Baby F and I have been going to Rhymetime at Radyr Library in Tuesdays from 2.15pm.  The free class starts with a story, then songs and rhymes and there’s always a craft and toys for older children. Most of Cardiff’s local libraries run Rhymetime classes. I’d definitely recommend going along if you have a pre-school child.

My lovely Mum looked after F for a few hours so I could sort myself out and get my eyebrows and hair done at Salon Nia. You can read more about their HD brows treatments here. I’m too embarrassed to do a before/after selfie. But believe me, there’s a huge improvement!

I’ve been trying to get back into fitness after giving birth. I’m *thinking* of running the Cardiff Half in October, but time will tell if I’m really up to it! Luckily the weather was good enough on Friday morning to take the buggy for a gentle jog along the Taff Trail after the school run. I always stop at the bridge at Gelynis Fruit Farm to take in one of my favourite views of Castell Coch. 

  
I’ve also been going back to Hot Yoga at Elite Fitness in Fairwater. I’m loving Diana’s classes on a Saturday morning. 

The four-year-old has been a bit poorly this week but he was well enough on Saturday afternoon to take a trip to Caerphilly Castle to see The Dragon/Y Ddraig. You can see a video of The Dragon here. Please do click the link as we couldn’t get close enough to take a decent picture. The queue to get up-close was ridiculous. Look at it!

  
The Dragon moves inside the castle this week and will be there until the summer so we’re planning to go back in the Easter holidays for a proper look.

It was my sister’s birthday this week so on Saturday night we went for a family meal at the Happy Gathering Cantonese restaurant in Canton. I’ve been going there for around 20 Years. I don’t think the decor or menu have changed at all during that time. The service certainly leaves a lot to be desired but the food was great as usual and the place was packed with families. The children’s menu is really reasonable and J enjoyed his first ever BBQ spare ribs!  

So today is Mothers Day. G joined 1,500 other people to run the Newport half marathon this morning and got a pretty stunning medal for his efforts, but the little ones and I stayed home and had a relaxing morning with coffee, croissants and cuddles. 

  
Have a great week, whatever you have in store…..