Volunteering at Cardiff Parkrun

I’ve been a regular Parkrun runner on and off for around eight years, with Cardiff Parkrun at Blackweir being my usual Saturday morning 5k.

 A lot of people might not realise that the events are completely volunteer-run; the people marshalling the course are all unpaid and doing it for no other reason than to support the event to take place. 

It was so simple to become a Parkrun volunteer. 

I knew I wanted to lend a hand at some point so ages ago signed up for the Cardiff helpers emails, through the website. There are also details on the Facebook page.

Then, when I had a Saturday free I let them know I was available by emailing my name and barcode number.

It was really that simple to arrange, the organiser emailed me back with my role for the next day (I was to be a marshal along the route at Bute Park) and I just had to turn up at 8.30, don a hi-vis jacket and go to my appointed spot. 

The other volunteers were really helpful and I got chatting to some of them as we walked to our stations, they were a mix of first time volunteers like me and people who give their time to help out almost weekly. 

There are plenty of roles available, mostly course marshals like I was, also flying marshals who run along with the pack, people scanning your tag at the end and organising the finishing funnel. I really didn’t want to do this, it looks so hectic! Luckily I was given a much easier job.

So I wandered down to my place in Bute Park and waited. 

Waiting for the runners at Parkrun

The spot I was supervising was quite an important one, the route is a loop so the front runners start coming back when the slower end of the pack (this is usually where I am!) are still heading up. So there’s a lot of reminding people to keep right so they don’t crash with another runner (the front ones are so fast!).

Apart from reminding the runners to keep right I found it a bit awkward to know what to do or say. I really don’t like aggressive shouting from the volunteers when I’m doing the run, (“COME ON! YOUR PB IS IN SIGHT! STEP IT UP!” – this is the kind of thing I HATE) but I know some find it a good motivator. 

Many of the runners were calling ‘thank you marshal!’ as they went past, which was really nice, so I took to saying “good morning” back and generally trying to be happy! 

As the end of the pack started coming back along the route there was a lot more humour and camaraderie, lots of people joking to me about how slow they were, but obviously enjoying themselves and not taking it too seriously. 

Volunteering really made me appreciate the role of the marshals, and when I next ran the route I was sure to thank them all! 

Being a marshal isn’t the easiest of jobs, ensuring that the runners stay safe and that non-runners can still enjoy the park is tricky at times. But I really enjoyed seeing it from the other side and had a lovely warm glow for the rest of the day.

Some of the regular volunteers go for coffee afterwards, but there’s no pressure to join them, and I really appreciated the fact you could give as much or as little time as you wanted. 

If you’re a regular Parkrunner you should definitely give volunteering a go. 

Parkrun organisers were not aware I’d be writing this blog post. 

www.parkrun.org.uk/cardiff


Independent shopping in Cardiff 

We’re so lucky when it comes to shopping in Cardiff. We have an amazing city centre with a mix of almost all the best-loved high street brands (I still get a bit of a thrill when I walk into John Lewis. Seriously) but if you know where to look, you can find some wonderful independent shops too, which set us aside from every other city centre in the UK. 

Most of these independents can be found in Cardiff’s beautiful Arcades or tucked away in places like Cardiff Market. Although it’s great to wander around Cardiff’s nooks and crannies, sometimes I am a lazy shopper. I need to get in, grab what I need and get out!  Actually that’s being an effective shopper rather than lazy, isn’t it? So that’s why it’s great to see more independent shops popping up in St Davids Arcade, alongside the bigger chains.

J admiring the Lego art at Bricks at Home, Cardiff

I was invited by St David’s to visit two of their independent pop-ups, Bricks at Home and Ushi’s.

Andy Warhol-inspired artwork at Bricks at Home, Cardiff

I first visited Bricks at Home last Christmas, when they were holding a pop-up at a different location in Cardiff. I loved their mix of Lego-inspired artworks and homewares. 

Bricks at Home is the brain child of Andy Morris, a financier-turned-artist. He creates quirky Lego-themed artworks, inspired by artists like Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol. Perfect for the kids and big kids in your life. 

Travels with Roo postcard available from Bricks at Home, Cardiff

Bricks at Home also sell smaller, more affordable home wares such as prints, cushions and knick-knacks like Lego-shaped jewellery boxes, key rings and pencils. Much of it sourced from independent Cardiff-based designers. 

The Bricks at home shop will shortly be moving from its current location in St Davids but is planning more pop ups in the future. And in the meantime you can buy on their website www.bricksathome.com

Ushi’s pop-up, St David’s, Cardiff

Next up was a visit to Ushi’s. I was already familiar with Ushi’s in Cowbridge and Wellfield Road and love their quirky gifts and homewares. I especially enjoy visiting at Christmas time to stock up on some unique festive decorations.

Ushi’s in St Davids is stocking slightly different products, mainly clothes and accessories, alongside a small home decor offering. 

The clothes are mostly independent designers you can’t get on the high street and they’re definitely capitalising on their spot opposite The White Company and Coast. 

I’ll be honest that the clothes aren’t exactly my style but I spotted a few summer pieces that my Mum and Auntie would love and a gorgeous summer hat that I’m going to go back and have another look at. 

Perfect summer hat at Ushi’s, St David’s, Cardiff

Ushi’s pop up in St Davids will stay open until at least the summer. 

If you love independent shops here are some of my other favourites around Cardiff

  • Wally’s Deli, Royal Arcade (A Cardiff Institution; stocking food from Europe and America and a deli counter featuring the best olives ever)
  • Milgi Market, Cardiff Indoor Market (Veggie salad bowls and treats)
  • Wellfield Books, Wellfield Road (A lovely little book emporium to get lost in)
  • Nest Vintage Living, Rhiwbina (Homewares and toys)
  • Bant a la Cart, Pontcanna (Amazing Welsh food. Try their ready-made pies and quiches)
  • Enerchi, Radyr (Beauty salon; stocking L’Occitane, Caudalie, Pukka teas and boutique beauty products)

Which is your favourite independent Cardiff shop? Leave your comments below! 

This post was written in collaboration with St Davids Arcade, who gifted me a voucher in return. This is an honest review, featuring my own opinions. 

April Instagram highlights 

Amazing vegan burger at the Grazing Shed / the best sushi in Cardiff at Sushi Life / breakfast calzone at Porro, Wellfield Road / People watching from Benugo Cafe at John Lewis / another amazing brunch at Porro, this time Eggs Royale at their Llandaff branch / getting pampered at Enerchi in Radyr / loving Coffi in Cardiff Bay / running the Cardiff 5k in Whitchurch / lazy pigs at Cefn Mably Farm / amazing breakfast from Brod in Pontcanna. 

Follow me on Instagram at @CardiffGirlBlog

Junior Parkrun and Cardiff 5k

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that we had an active Sunday over the bank holiday weekend. I ran the Cardiff 5k in Whitchurch on Sunday night and in the morning, my eldest ran Junior Parkrun. 

I’m a huge fan of the Parkrun concept, weekly volunteer-run 5k runs that are free to enter. And for younger runners there’s Junior Parkrun, every Sunday 9.30am at Llandaff Fields.

Junior Parkrun is a 2k course for 4-14 year olds, and adults can run along with them (no buggies allowed though). 

My eldest (who’s just turned six) has been taking part for a few months now and he absolutely loves it. As with the adult Parkrun it’s free to join, but you do need to register and print off a bar code beforehand. Here’s my Instagram story from the day;

I’m not always the spectator though, on Sunday night it was my chance to get active by taking part in the Cardiff 5k in Whitchurch. 

This is the second year the race has taken place and I definitely noticed an increase in both runner and spectator numbers.

The atmosphere in the village was brilliant and really made up for the horrible drizzle. 


The route took us from Whitchurch village, around Heol Don, into Llandaff North, past the library, over the horrible railway hill (known as Crown Hill to us locals in honour  of the old Crown Pub) and back to the village via the common. 

The end of the route was pure evil; even though you are in touching distance of the finish line it takes you around the corner for another couple of hundred yards, before heading back to the finish. I remembered this from last year so was prepared but there were a few runners around me who were fooled into thinking it was almost over! 

The start line of the Cardiff 5k in Whitchurch

I grew up in Whitchurch so loved running around my old stomping ground. There were plenty of familiar faces along the route and having my Mum and Dad cheering me on at separate points along the route was brilliant. 

I finished in 31 mins and was happy with that. I’m not speedy!

There was a great party atmosphere at the finish, with a live band, food and drink stalls and plenty of food and drink options open in the village to celebrate. A great way to spend a rainy bank holiday Sunday. 

I paid the full £15 for my entry to the Cardiff 5k and neither they or Parkrun Junior were aware I’d be blogging about them. 

Breakfast at Porro, Wellfield Road

I remember the first time I had pizza for breakfast. It was in Disney World, Florida. The thought of eating pizza! For breakfast! So decadent. Also on the breakfast menu that day was ice cream and M&Ms, which gives you an idea of the audience they were catering to. 

I’ve eaten pizza for breakfast since then, of course. Cold pizza that’s been curling in the box overnight probably isn’t the best hangover cure but it certainly saw me through a few Sunday mornings in my twenties. 

It’s never been something I really wanted to eat for breakfast though. Until now. Now I’ve tried the breakfast calzone at Porro, Wellfield Road. It’s opened up a whole new world of dough and cheese before midday. 

Americano at Porro, Wellfield Road, Cardiff
 

We both started with a very good strong Americano, and I ordered the vegetarian calzone (£6.95) with extra avocado, because who doesn’t love avo on their breakfast these days?! 

Breakfast calzone at Porro, Wellfield Road

G had eggs royale, with smoked salmon instead of the usual eggs benedict ham, (£6.95) and ordered extra avocado too.

Eggs Royale at Porro, Cardiff
The calzone was epic, absolutely huge and chock full of spinach, mozzarella, tomatoes and leeks. They also do a meaty version with Italian sausage. 

It was huge, but so delicious that I cleared my plate completely.


I really enjoyed having something a bit different for breakfast. G said his more traditional brunch dish of eggs royale was lovely too, and no sign of that cloying rubbery hollandaise you get in some places. 

Porro is well worth a visit.

We were invited for a free breakfast at Porro, in exchange for an honest review. 

www.porrocardiff.com 

If breakfast is your favourite meal of the day as well, you might also enjoy my other reviews here and here

March Instagram highlights


Happy St Davids Day from Arriva Trains Wales / Enjoyed a couple of post-work drinks at the lovely Octavo Bar and Bookshop in Cardiff Bay / Pretty (and tasty) bottle of Cava at Bar 44 / I’ve had some lovely sunny runs at Cardiff Parkrun this month / Walked down the barrage to see the Hungry Crocodile /Epic lunch delivery from the New York Deli / Bargain £1.50 breakfast at Ikea / Tiny Rebel burgers and beers / Spring has sprung in Cardiff 

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.