How I Kept It Welsh

For so long it was my dream to move to Cardiff and 2 years ago I achieved that dream and made the move from Reading to start my new job here. It’s been the best couple of years of my whole life and I have made the most amazing friends who I am going to be very sad to say goodbye to when I start my new job in Reading in a couple of weeks.

When I started looking back at the things I’ve had the chance to do since living here it made me realise just how lucky I have been to have so many opportunities to get involved in exciting things.

So these are the highlights of my time in Cardiff…this is how I spent my time… Keeping It Welsh!

Welsh Flag

Welsh Varsity is a grudge match of epic proportions. Cardiff vs Swansea it’s all or nothing!

Varsity 2013 was the night I met the beautiful Ieva! On a night out a couple of months after I moved to Cardiff, Ieva was bartending at what used to be Pica Pica. I stayed until closing and she came out partying with me for the rest of the night. We ended up in Live Lounge and I acquired a Varsity t-shirt from a random man in the street!

This year Sarah and I actually went to watch the match at the Millennium Stadium. There was such an electrifying atmosphere with all the rivalry banter and drunken shouting. As it’s typically a student event we thought we would feel a bit out of place but there were plenty of other ‘gatecrashers’ and we drank so much cider that we just made friends with everyone there.

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Cardiff Retail Awards 2013 was the professional highlight of my career. With the awards ceremony taking place on my birthday I was excited to say the least and knew there was some really stiff competition in our category. We had a champagne reception and a beautifully cooked dinner and then as the awards came around it was my turn to go on stage and find out my fate. Beating out several other retailers including John Lewis; they announced that my store had won Best Customer Service in Cardiff which was an absolute dream come true and was so rewarding after all the hard work myself and my team had put in.

Retail Awards

St David’s Shopping Centre put a call out for entries for their new blogging team in early 2013 and having just started up my own blog properly I jumped at the chance to get involved. I sent off a mock post to them and got an email the following week saying I had been chosen to be their resident Food & Drinks Blogger. I’ve been to so many amazing restaurants and met some outstanding people including some of my fellow resident bloggers Steph, Joshwa and Eve.

Blog Events

Photography was always something I’d been interested in but always felt unless I really knew what I was doing and had a top-notch camera that I had no business trying to showcase my photos. Over the last year however I have posted many of them on Twitter and had so much positive feedback that it’s really encouraged me to keep going.

Photography

In May this year I was given the massive responsibility of holding the ‘keys’ to Cardiff on the ‘Cardiff Is Yours’ Twitter account. I spent a week tweeting about where I liked going and what I was doing and essentially shared ‘My Cardiff’ with everyone. It was a pleasure to have the chance to get to know so many people through it and I was able to write a blog post for the masterminds behind ‘Cardiff Is Yours’  and also one for Citysocializer.

The one and only Jamie Laing…

Back in October last year I attended the Student Lock-In where I interviewed the one and only Jamie Laing from Made In Chelsea. As a die-hard fan of the show I was pretty much incapable of shaking while I was talking to him but he put me at ease and answered the questions I had for him. We didn’t talk for very long as he had a queue of people waiting to meet him but it was still amazing fun and he’s such a great guy!

Jamie

When I first moved to Cardiff I was finding it difficult to meet people outside of work so I joined Citysocializer which is essentially a local social networking group. Throughout my time with them I became a Community Host and helped to build up the Cardiff base to a team of almost 15 hosts with on average 4 socials every day. Some of the highlights for me were hosting the Halloween party last year, Mexican Night at the flat which I share with my flatmate (who I met through CS) & the Valentines Mingle at Vodka Revs which saw over 30 single Citysocializers descend for cocktails.

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I’ve been to some amazing gigs since living in Cardiff but my favourites have to be Our Last Night (Clwb Ifor Bach), Daytona Lights (Buffalo Bar) & Young Kato (Clwb Ifor Bach). They are both great venues and I had the chance to mix with all of the bands once they had finished. I ended up doing shots with the lead guitarist from Daytona Lights…Total hottie!

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I have made some of the most exceptional people living in Cardiff and have friends for life in them! Whether it’s a been a fellow blogger, people I’ve dated or my flatmate they have each contributed to making me the person I am today.

I have to say though, the biggest achievement for me has been this… my own blog. Something I started as more of a journal when I first moved here has now become an outlet for my passions. A place for people to read what’s hot and what’s not and actually want to know my opinion. It’s amazing to have such an influence and I have been presented with exceptional opportunities to attend events which has helped me grow my blog and develop my writing style. What began as a humble WordPress page is now a fully fledged ‘.com’ and my reviews can be found on sites all over the internet which I never thought would happen.

Cardiff…you have been amazing!

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My Cardiff

As many of you know I have landed myself an amazing new job, however it’s in Reading which means I will be leaving Cardiff in a couple of weeks time.

Cardiff has introduced me to so many hidden gems so I thought it only fair to share my absolute favourites with you all and a few photo memories from my adventures in these wonderful places!

Breakfast

Cafe Pure is by far the best place to grab a healthy and super yummy breakfast.  They have lots of options to choose from and has fantastic views overlooking Cardiff Bay. They pride themselves on their ‘clean-eating’ options and make the most amazing healthy, fruity and fizzy drinks in the summer.

Cafe Pure

Lunch

The Deck is my Cardiff Bay haven! Tucked away down a small road opposite Cardiff Bay Police Station they serve up meals that taste ‘just like mum makes it’. Everything from comforting lasagne to the Mother Omelette stacked with various toppings. I always popped in for their famous bacon & brie baguette with cranberry sauce. They are also the best place in Cardiff to get cupcakes and brownies, with different flavours every day.

NY Deli is my guilty pleasure for a day when I just don’t feel like being healthy. This small cafe nestled in High Street Arcade offers up the most amazing selection with everything from bagels to hoagies. My favourite is the Richie Parks Special; mountains of salt beef and pastrami stacked on top of a layer of sweet gherkins with lashings of French mustard…mmm!

NYDELI

Richie Park’s Special at NY Deli

Dinner

Gourmet Burger Kitchen was a place I had never heard of before I moved to Cardiff… I’m so glad I discovered it though as it has everything that I look for in a brilliant restaurant. Superb staff, banging tunes, delicious food and of course great value for money too. GBK make the most refreshing Strawberry milkshakes and of course you can get grilled halloumi as a side dish so naturally this was going to be a winner for me.

GBK

Cocktails

Cosy Club is my favourite place to drink in all of Cardiff! The prices are a little on the steep side but when you try the concoctions on offer you will be pleased with every penny spent. My two signature favourites have always been the Lemon Drizzle Cake and the Cherry Bakewell… No these aren’t cakes, they are drinks, but my oh my they taste like alcoholic, liquidised cake…Mr Kipling would be proud!

Cosy Cocktails

Salt is another place I love drinking in as it’s so close to my flat in the bay and the flavour combinations in their cocktails are just crazy. From their espresso martinis to the candy-tasting Jolly Rancher there is something for everyone here. They have spectacular views of Cardiff Bay from their rooftop terrace which is a lush setting to sit and eat dinner in the summer. It’s also a great place if there’s a large group of you, with the option to reserve an area upstairs. They have brilliant live music nights too, be sure to catch ‘Salvation’ playing there.

Salt

Sarah and I on New Year’s Eve

Nightlife

Peppermint is the place to be on Mill Lane! With cool decor, cheap drinks deals and varied music across two floors, it’s always the best bar on a Friday or Saturday night. It can get very busy in here but that just adds to the atmosphere. Their outside seating area is beautiful to enjoy in the summer and they always put on great entertainment throughout the year and on key dates such as the Six Nations.

Brewhouse is the best place for live music in Cardiff in my opinion. Spread across a large venue on multiple levels it’s a lovely place to grab something to eat and listen to chilled musicians during the day, but by night it turns into a hive of energy with the dance floor full every night. Check their website before you go as they always have great deals on food and drink that you can take advantage of.

Live Lounge had to be mentioned! Simply because it’s a rite of passage to go there at least once during your time in Cardiff and it’s the place to end your night. Open until 4am, people pour into this venue already completely intoxicated but that’s why it makes for such a great venue. Everyone is in such a good mood from their night out that everyone is just really friendly to each other. There is nothing pretentious about Live Lounge, quite the opposite actually; but the music and atmosphere can’t be beaten on a night out in Cardiff.

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Ieva & I at Live Lounge after Varsity 2013

Reality Without You…

I should have seen it from the start,
A fake love disguised as what I wanted in my heart
It was convincing enough, it was so easy to trust
Oh, I just couldn’t resist, it was the look in your eyes and the grace of your lips
You looked so different in the light that I’d been shining on you

You gave me heaven then you took it away
You let me in but you said I couldn’t stay
Now my feet are back on the ground
And I’m stuck in a reality without you