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 

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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! ūüĎŹūüŹĽ

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! 

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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New Year walk

It’s become a bit of a tradition that we go for a walk along Penarth Pier at Christmas/New Year. It’s a great place to blow away the cobwebs when you’ve been cooped up in the house, watching Christmas films and¬†eating your way through another cheeseboard.

Since the Pavilion on the Pier’s been refurbished, it looks better than ever and the regeneration of the front is starting to take shape with the addition of James Sommerin’s restaurant this year and¬†Shore, a lovely giftshop.

We spent a few hours watching the fishermen and reading the memorial plaques on the pier, before heading down to the beach to skim pebbles. It was also a good opportunity to try out our swanky new Christmas camera.

Afterwards¬†we headed home for hot chocolate and marshmallows, just incase we hadn’t eaten enough sugar this festive season….

Walking on Penarth PierPenarth PierSkimming pebbles in Penarth Throwing pebbles in Penarth

Happy New Year!

Stretch and Knead – yoga and baking

Chances are, if you live in Cardiff, you’ve heard of The One Mile Bakery. Brainchild of journalist-turned-baker Elisabeth Mahoney the bakery delivers homemade bread and seasonal soups to subscribers within a mile of her home. Elisabeth also runs hugely popular¬†baking classes from her own kitchen at weekends.

I’ve wanted to do a baking class with the One Mile Bakery for some time, after seeing people raving about it on Twitter (taking a class is even on my Cardiff Bucket List). When I saw that Elisabeth had teamed up with Bristol-based¬†yoga teacher¬†Tracey Johnson, to start running Stretch and Knead – yoga and baking day workshops and weekend retreats¬†–¬†it was right up my street! So I was¬†really¬†chuffed when Elisabeth contacted me to see if I wanted to go along to their inaugural session.

Saturday, 15 November saw seven of us arrive at the Steiner School in Llandaff North, to spend the day stretching our bodies and kneading loaves.

We were welcomed with a hot drink (extra points guys for having real coffee and not instant) before introducing ourselves to each other and talking about what we hoped to get out of the day. There was a real mix of ages and abilities on the course; in both the baking and the yoga. One lovely lady even told us how she’d tried, and failed, to make bread throughout her life – even giving herself an actual heart attack in the process.¬†But she was determined¬†that stretch and knead day would be the day she finally made a successful loaf.

Elisabeth talks us through the 'yoga loaf'
Elisabeth talks us through the ‘yoga loaf’

Then we were given our special stretch and knead aprons and it was time to start baking. Elisabeth talked us through¬†the ‘yoga loaf’ a bread¬†she’d devised especially for the day; made of wholemeal flour, oats, muesli, nuts, seeds, dried berries and other goodness. Elisabeth outlined¬†the basic principles of bread making, including which are the best ingredients to use and the tricks of kneading the dough (you MUST¬†do it for at least ten minutes).

Our yoga loaves prove under their shower caps
Our yoga loaves prove under their shower caps

Then it was time to pop shower caps over our loaf tins (yes, shower caps to help them prove), before starting the first yoga session.

Tracey took us through a fantastic vinyasa flow class, while working really hard to ensure that all levels of yoga were catered for. There were plenty of adjustments for those people with knee injuries and so on, while also giving advanced options to those of us who’ve being doing yoga for a while. Tracy kept weaving in the baking theme, even giving some of the poses special bread-related names. (The ‘touch-your-buns’ pose sticks in the mind – just use your imagination!)

After 90 minutes of invigorating yoga we were treated to a homemade green juice, consisting of pineapple, mint, lime and kale (delicious) and Elisabeth’s toasted yoga loaf with lashings of real butter. Yum.

After this fortifying snack, it was aprons back on and we made a basic¬†white loaf (more kneading, my wrists and shoulders were starting to ache at this point), which Elisabeth taught us how to plait and shape. I’ve tried to plait bread in the past and it just turned into a dense breadstick, but Elisabeth showed us the knack to keep the¬†bread’s shape and consistency. I’m already looking forward to attempting¬†a plaited garland loaf for Christmas.

Then it was time for a well-deserved lunch. Elisabeth treated us to homemade bread, quinoa and winter vegetable soup and a selection of salads and vegetable side dishes. It was absolutely scrummy, I can see why there is such a long waiting list for one Mile Bakery Delivery slots. But one of the nicest things about lunch was the opportunity to chat to the other people on the workshop. They were such a mixed and lovely bunch and really made the day.

It was the first time Elisabeth had ever cooked in the venue and she told us there were some teething problems with the oven, but we barely noticed a thing.

Hearty quinoa and winter vegetable soup with fresh bread
Hearty quinoa and winter vegetable soup with fresh bread

After lunch it was time to shape both loaves ready for baking while Tracy took us through another 45 minute yoga session. This was much less dynamic than the morning session. Tracey concentrated on mainly sitting and lying poses, with a focus on exercises to stretch our wrists, shoulders and backs, all of which had been working hard kneading and shaping that dough. As we went through the session, the dark evening drew in and a fantastic smell of baking started to drift into the room, it was really atmospheric.

When we finished the session we came out to the reception area and I was delighted to see my two loaves sitting proudly there. I couldn’t have been more chuffed!

The day finished with a gin cocktail with roasted plums and vanilla sugar (a non alcoholic ‘mocktail’ version was also offered, which no-one wanted!) and we sat down for a final chat and a toast to Tracey and Elisabeth for a wonderful day.

Proudly displaying my Stretch and Knead yoga loaf!
Proudly displaying my Stretch and Knead yoga loaf!

The bread went down really well when I got home (the aching muscles from the yoga lasted longer than the bread!) The workshop has really boosted my confidence with bread-making and I can’t wait to try making the yoga loaf at home myself.

The next Stretch + Knead workshop will be held on December 13th, at The Steiner School, Cardiff.  The day, including all ingredients, food and drink, costs £125 per person. Aprons and all yoga equipment is provided.

Stretch + knead will also be running weekend retreats next year.

For more information visit stretchandknead.wordpress.com or email stretchandknead@gmail.com

I was lucky enough to be invited to try the Stretch + Knead workshop for free.

Taking your toddler to the cinema in Cardiff

When’s the best time for your toddler’s first visit to the cinema?

It’s a question myself and friends with kids discussed at lot. Too early and you could risk wasting¬†a lot of money as you and your toddler play in a cinema lobby, while your other half watches the latest princess/trains/animated rat adventure alone.

Luckily there are a couple of places in Cardiff that help make toddler’s first cinema trip an enjoyable experience, and won’t break the bank if it’s not for them.

Taking a toddler to the movies can be fun!
Taking a toddler to the movies can be fun!

For us, two¬†and a half was a good age. We went to see Planes, as my son was a huge fan of Cars already. Our first trip was to Chapter Arts Centre, their Family Features at weekends are all¬†packed with noisy children, so you don’t feel self conscious when yours shouts, “I need a poo!’ at a particularly quiet scene – yes we’ve all been there. Chapter is a lovely homely feeling cinema too – not as large and imposing as the multi-screens so probably not as intimidating for those that don’t like the dark or loud noises.

Chapter is a great¬†venue anyway, filled with families at weekends, they also do cafe-style meals and brunch and have a bar – useful if the cinema was a particularly stressful experience for you! Keep your eyes on Chapter’s Family Features section for upcoming showings.

Chapter’s Family Features run at 11am and 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Advance tickets are ¬£4 for adults and ¬£3 for children. For more details visit¬†www.chapter.org.

Another good cinema option is Cineworld in Cardiff city centre. Much cheaper, at only ¬£1.50 per ticket (for both adults and children), their Movies for Juniors run at around 10am on Sundays and in school holidays. Their website is difficult to navigate¬†so click here to see the Movies for Juniors section. Again, the screenings are full of kids, making lots of noise, but it doesn’t seem to ruin the film for the youngsters, in fact it makes it a much friendlier experience. And they sell coffee if, like me, 10am on a Sunday is too early for Postman Pat the Movie……

Cineworld’s Movies for Juniors run at various times and cost ¬£1.50 a ticket. For more information visit¬†www.cineworld.co.uk/whatson/category/junior

I have paid in full each time we’ve taken our toddler to the cinema and neither Chapter or Cineworld knew I’d be blogging about them.

The Cardiff Bucket List – Pop-Ty pop up restaurant

You’d be forgiven for not knowing about Pop-Ty in Pontcanna. The brainchild of teacher and aspiring chef Angharad Elias, Pop-Ty (which means bakehouse or oven in Welsh) operates on selected days at St Catherine’s Church Hall. I was recommended to try it by a friend, and the fact that Angharad only cooks¬†pescetarian meals (which means fish, but no meat) was a real draw.¬†(My husband¬†Gavin is also a pescetarian, which means he often misses out on having plenty of¬†choice when we eat out.)

So how does it work?¬†To book you need to like the¬†Pop-Ty Facebook page. When Angharad announces the next pop-up dates, it’s first come, first served. It might all sound a bit cloak and dagger, but this really adds to the exclusive ‘secret supper club’ feel.

Angharad then emails you closer to the time with a menu (three choices of dish for starter, main and dessert), you pay your ¬£20 deposit and choose what you’d like to eat a week beforehand.

On the night we were first to arrive at the church hall, which looked really beautiful. The attention to detail was fantastic, with candles, fairy lights, vintage china and bunting making the old hall look very special indeed. The attention to detail continued with the table settings, with an imaginative use of conkers for place settings and menu choices written on old fashioned flower cards. Even the toilets were beautified for Pop-Ty with a walkway of candles leading the way, candles and vintage mirrors in the loo itself, and even a game of solitaire laid out for the those who need something to do in there!

One long table was set up for 20 people and we were quite unsure at first about sitting with people we didn’t know. But it actually added to the atmosphere and everyone was chatting quite freely by the end of the night.

Hedydd, the waitress offered us a plum and apple spritzer cocktail on arrival, which went down very easily. Then we were on our own with the booze, we’d been told to bring our own drinks. We took a bottle of wine we had left from our recent trip to France, which was a lovely reminder of our recent trip.

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First¬†course was an amuse-bouche of beetroot ‘cappuccino’. A small espresso cup of beetroot soup, with hints of orange and a good chilli kick. This was a lovely surprise as I was expecting to go straight into the starter and it was my dish of the night too – I could’ve eaten bowls of it. The other diners seemed to agree, with lots of ‘Mmmm’ sounds going on!

To start, I’d chosen the Brazilian lime fish stew, a creamy stew with a perfectly cooked fillet of fish, it was really delicious.

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Then it was pallet cleanser time, with a good old lemon sorbet, before moving onto our scrummy beetroot risotto main. I overheard a couple of diners saying they felt their main portion was too small, but I thought the sizes were perfect, it just meant I had room for dessert. And I’m so glad I did; I’d chosen deep fried sticky rice balls with coconut and mango. They weren’t the kind of thing I’d usually choose as my dessert (and I did have food envy for Gavin’s white chocolate and raspberry tart) but I really enjoyed trying something different. The rice balls were also served with some sort of iced tea drink – it had a taste of what I think was matcha green tea and mango, which was really refreshing.

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Finally we were offered teas and coffees before Hedydd passed around the coffee jar for us to pay our remaining £15 per head.

By the time we’d left it was after 11, so we’d spent almost four hours enjoying a leisurely meal in lovely surroundings.

I very much enjoyed trying Pop-Ty and we’ll definitely be going again. This was the first thing I crossed off my Cardiff Bucket List and what a good start!

You can read more about Angharad and Pop-Ty in this article on Wales Online.

The meal at Pop-Ty cost ¬£35 per head and Angharad and the team did not know I’d be blogging about them.