Saturday, 13 May 2017

Things I Miss About Country Living


It is coming up to three years that I have lived in Cardiff and I'd be lying if I said I'm still as in love with this city as I first was. The trouble is, I'm a village girl through and through. I grew up living in small villages in Somerset and Devon. As much as the buzz of the city is fun, it can become a bit tiresome. Sometimes you just want to be away from the cars and people. I have a friend who tells me the smell of silage makes her feel nostalgic - I'm starting to understand this. So, I decided to put together everything I miss about village life into one post so any other country bumpkins can reminisce with me.

The hour walk to the village shop
OK, the shop wasn't an hour away - it was probably about 15 mins at most - but you met so many people you knew on the way that it took that long to get there. Everyone knows each other in a village and they're always interested in how you're doing (or maybe they just want to gossip...).

Summer fetes
The village fete is something that you just can't recreate in a city. The home-made jams, the chocolate tombola, the cakes, the raffle.

Farmers markets held by actual farmers
Before it was hipster and cool, village people got their veg from farmers markets. And they didn't even need to have man buns and ironic slogan t-shirts to do so.

Foraging for fruit
It sounds like something out of an Enid Blyton book but a sunny day spent picking blackberries is the best. I always feel annoyed having to pay £2 in Tesco for a punnet. Also pick your own farms are the actual best ever.

Parties in fields
Sipping Sheppys cider around a bonfire in your friend's field beats clubbing hands down.

Country pubs
Lazy Sundays in the pub drinking cider in the beer garden or munching through a huge roast. Who doesn't want that?

The shopping trip to the big city
You gather your girls together. You all travel to the city. Maybe you have a party coming up or a big date. You make a day out of finding an outfit.

The quiet
I love the buzz of the city but sometimes you just want to go and walk down a little lane beside a stream and only be able to hear the stream and some birds singing.

Everyone knows everyone
Dating someone new? Guaranteed your friend's sister dated his brother and has the low-down on everything about him, his parents, his grandparents, and the pedigree of their dog. The city is scary - these are actual strangers. The closest thing there is to a stranger in a village is when a rival ice-cream van man pitches up in the summer.

Are you a country bumpkin or a city slicker? Which do you prefer?

Disclaimer: don't own this picture.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

A Very Long Walk To Castell Coch


If you're not from Cardiff then you may not aware that walking from Cardiff to Castell Coch is equivalent to running a marathon or swimming the channel. We walked for two hours there then two hours back. I am writing this a day on and my feet still ache. But we did it! I'm shocked that I even managed it in all honesty.

I can hear you asking 'what would inspire such craziness to spend a beautiful day walking for miles and miles?'. The answer: I had just handed in my final ever uni assignments and I wanted to do something to celebrate. Any normal person would, at this point, suggest going out for drinks or having a night of takeaway pizza and rewatching Orange Is The New Black. Not us. We decided this was the perfect opportunity to get out in the sun and explore our surroundings. And explore we did. Ok, the walk was pretty unspectacular. We walked beside the motorway for about 80% of the journey but it did become the perfect opportunity to introduce my husband to the game 'yellow car'. For anyone who doesn't know this game, you punch whoever you're with anytime you see a yellow car. It is basically an excuse to thump your husband as hard as possible without getting into trouble or being given a restraining order. Perfect, right?





Armed with just a bag of Doritos, Google Maps, and a wealth of 'coch' jokes (I was originally going to entitled this post 'The Biggest Coch In Wales'), we made it. It was like we had reached the Pearly Gates when we finally saw the sign for the castle. The only problem: we arrived at 4:50pm and they shut at 5pm. Oops. So, we didn't get to see inside but the outside was lovely enough. It had mega Hogwarts vibes. I would love to go back with a picnic and see inside though. Maybe I'll get the bus there next time.




There was some lovely woodland around and the flowers were all blooming. I just wanted to lie in them Snow White style but I had to control myself.




We then headed on to the pub we had seen in the village because we had really worked up big appetites. I kinda wanted to just order giant sundae but my husband talked me into getting something a little more substantial. So, in true West Country style, I got the Cornish pasty with chips, peas, and gravy. Gravy and chips, yum! My husband went for sausage and mash. It was 2 for 1 one on selected meals so, including our drinks, it came to just £10. Could you believe it?! I got a mocktail which was just cranberry and orange juice with a slice of lime - it really worked well though!

I would highly recommend taking a little trip to Castell Coch if you're ever in the area. But just don't walk it. Don't do that to yourself.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Pink To Make The Boys Wink


 
I have not been very active in the blogosphere for a couple of weeks. I'd like to give some awesome excuse here like I had adopted a bunch of orphan kittens and I was preoccupied with bottle feeding them. But no, I was busy lazing around watching daytime TV and eating chocolate. But the kitten thing would have been much better - PR request maybe? Please?
 
 
 

 But, since the weather has brightened up and I have finished lectures now forever (yaaas!), I have been leaving the house occasionally. Although I've been told going into the garden to take outfit pics doesn't really count - um, what?
 
So, in the spirit of all things spring, I have donned a lot of pink instead of my usual full black outfits and it feels very summery and fun (and a little weird). I have even been playing around with accessories! I love silver jewellery and when Jewellery Box got in touch with me, I fell deeply in love with this mother of pearl necklace. It is such a great length and a great price - what more could you ask for?
 
 
Shirt - Topshop (old)
Jeans - New Look (here)
Shoes - New Look (old)
Necklace - Jewellery Box (here)*



 
Jewellery Box have a tonne of awesome jewellery to choose from and it is all super pretty. I'm not biased here, their selection is massive but I was shook by the prices. They have dinosaur style necklaces too! Seriously, check them out!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Cheesy Linguine With Heck Paprika Sausages*


There are two food groups that every meal should fall into: fattening and delicious. This meal fits both of those criteria. As my doughy thighs will tell you, there is nothing I love more than a bit of comfort food. If it contains cheese and carbs, it is going in my mouth. No questions asked.

The company Heck very kindly sent me a massive package full of their products. In all honesty, I got rather excited and called my flatmates to peer at the giant meat box. My husband's eyes went like saucers when he saw all the different varieties of sausages. And with the realisation that this means I actually will be cooking rather than leaving him to cook for us both.

One thing that I really like about Heck's products is the high meat percentage. I am haunted by those horror stories about what goes into low meat percentage sausages. But these are so flavoursome and you can rest assured that they are full of goodness and deliciousness.

They also have a range of vegetarian meatballs for all you veggies out there!



Recipe:

1. Boil a handful of linguine with a little bit of salt.
2. Melt a knob of butter in a saucepan
3. Mix in plain flour until is turns slightly lumpy
4. Slowly add milk a small amount at a time whilst stirring on a low heat
5. Once it has formed the required consistency, add a teaspoon of nutmeg and a teaspoon of English mustard and season with salt and pepper
6. Add a couple of handfuls of grated cheese and stir. Then put to the side
7. Fry sausages on a low heat in a frying pan
8. Remove sausages and let them cool
9. Once linguine is cooked through and is soft, drain
10. Slice sausages into small chunks
11. Combine everything in a saucepan on a low heat
12. Serve with fresh tomatoes

Have you ever tried Heck products?

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Burgundy Is For Life, Not Just For Christmas

 
If anyone tells you that burgundy isn't a spring colour, cut them off. You don't need that kinda negativity in your life. Burgundy and black are my two go-to colours all year round. Lately, I have been living in this black heart print shirt that I got in the New Look sale for just £8 (who could resist such a bargain?). But I wanted to jazz up my usual uniform of this shirt, black jeans, boots, and a leather jacket by adding a dash of burgundy into the mix. That's when I found this gilet in the back of my wardrobe from last autumn and I was delighted. I also found these old peep-toe Primark heeled mules I bought last spring - I actually wore these to my wedding reception and they made my feet bleed (what woman doesn't want to spend her wedding day putting plasters on her toes??). They weren't quite as painful as before but the memories still haunt me every time I put these shoes on.


 
It may be clear to see that I am still searching for a good place to take outfit pictures in Cardiff. And I am also still searching for the confidence to not spend the whole time awkwardly laughing as my husband shouts 'do a sexy face!!' at me in our garden. The fact that one of our housemates were watching out the window didn't make it any easier. My face has two moods - either overexcited pre-teen or disgusted. As is evident from these pictures.

 

Shirt - New Look (old)
Gilet - Primark (old)
Jeans - Primark
Shoes - Primark (old)
 
I promise I will feature something new one day (but maybe don't hold your breath).

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Brunch at Waterloo Tea, Cardiff



A fact that few people actually know is that Newton theorised a fourth law of motion. It goes something like this: two young women will remain at rest unless acted upon with the promises of avocado based brunch.

This is what led my good friend Becky and I to Waterloo Tea in Cardiff on Sunday. The promise of avocado based cuisine hung thick in the air as we hurried through the cold, grey streets to our destination of choice. Well, admittedly, we had opted for Bill's initially but their breakfast menu finished at 1pm (which is 9am in student terms). So, we had a little trek around and found this cute teashop.



I had never actually had smashed avocado on toast before this experience but now I understand the hype. And the endless instagram pictures. It came with feta cheese and chilli oil (hot daym) and was on sourdough bread. My gosh, it was delicious. And oh so photogenic. Becky remarked after watching me take at least 10 pictures from every possible angle that she felt like we were acting like basic instagram white girls. It made me chuckle because I have no shame about taking 50 pictures before eating something. Oh, and choosing to sit outside because of the good lighting (anything for good lighting).


Becky opted for this ciabata with chicken, avocado, and other stuff in it (I admittedly have no idea what else was in there). It came on a fancy chopping board - very hipster - and was apparently very delicious.


Drinkswise, we were wanting juice. Lately, I have been crazy for trying all different juices and smoothies. I just opted for orange as you can't go wrong with orange. Becky had Luscombe Sicilian Lemonade (Devon, representtt) and I tried some - it was scrumptious.
They had lots of fancy teas and even matcha lattes on offer (I felt like 1pm was too early to drink something so unusual as bright green coffee). They also had a range of fancy herbal cakes but they seemed like too much bother at the time. I will definitely return to try those things when I am feeling more experimental though.

We then headed on to watch Hidden Figures at the cinema. I cannot recommend this film enough. I'm so taken by it that I'm even considering doing a separate post about it. Seriously, get to the cinema and watch this. You won't regret it.

Have you ever been to Waterloo Tea? Know any great food places in Cardiff? Love avocado? The last one is a trick question.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Life Lately


New jeans, who dis?
You know that moment when you see something from the other side of the shop and instantly fall in love? That was me and these jeans. Love at first sight. Despite being a bit tight on the ankles (have I started storing fat on my ankles?!?), they are otherwise perfect. You can get them from New Look here.


Living with my man
As you may have seen on my insta (*plugplugplug*), my man recently moved in with me. So, we took a lot of photos to mark the occasion. Naturally, I look like the witch of Wookey in all of them but I liked this one because of my little cheery face. And notice my man's 'made in Uganda' top - my mum bought him that.
Is it insulting that I mentioned the jeans before my man moving in? Oops!


Pancakes
Need I say more? I've been eating lots of scotch pancakes with red berries and honey. Don't tell my diet. I mean, it has fruit on it, right?

My dad is Jewish?!
You would have thought all the jewfros in my family would have given it away but no! My dad recently did a DNA test since he wanted to discover his ancestry and found out that his maternal line is all European Jew. Exciting, eh?


International Women's Day
A belated happy Women's Day to you all! I spent the day donning red lipstick (and worrying about whether it is on my teeth or if I have smudged it) and debating with my husband about gender roles. Being a blogger puts me in the path of many brilliant women who inspire me. I have read so many blog posts yesterday addressing the problems we, as a gender, still face. And I am happy to see more people focus on intersectional feminism as we need to fight for women of all classes, races, nationalities, and ages. Not just the privileged few.
This picture was made by my amazing friend Becky who is super talented and you should all check her out. She's a good egg. You can find her insta here.


Tymbark Drinks & Other Polish Goodies
A new Polish shop opened near me in Cardiff and everything is delicious. This drink is outrageously good and their gingerbread cakes and their breadsticks. Lord knows all my paycheck is gonna go straight to their pocket.


Ors Curls Unleashed
My curls are singing the praises of this hair smoothie. It smells yummy and you get a huge tub for your money. And it actually works! Would highly recommend for all curl types. You can get it in Boots or on their website.

How have you been spending your time lately?

Monday, 6 March 2017

What To Expect From An English Literature Degree


I am coming to the end of my BA in English Literature and it has been a real journey. In a few months, I will no longer be a student (unless I mess up and have to retake a year). So, I thought I would share with you my experiences of studying a degree in English.

Contact hours so low they may as well be wearing apple bottom jeans and boots with the fur
Sometimes it feels like a bit of a scam that you are paying £9000 a year for about 10 hours a week of classes. But it is also nice to have the time to watch reruns of Big Bang Theory on E4 - oh, I mean to use the time productively for studying... *guiltily looks up at TV which is playing Big Bang at 3pm*

So many women
Women are actually the best. We are innovative and imaginative and intelligent. But when we bring out the big gun topics like gender issues, you kinda wish more guys were there to be informed on our opinions.

Jane Eyre
Is it just my uni or are all English departments obsessed with this novel? I mean, I love it but I read it when I was in primary for fun (cool kid) then at GCSE then at A Level and at least 3 times as part of my degree. There is only so much analysis you can do of a book you have read 10 times.

The reading
Ok, you kind of expect a lot of reading from an English degree but the sheer volume of novels I have in my room now is astonishing. I could probably create my own house using books as bricks. Expect about 3 novels a week as primary reading.

Authors from across the globe
I gotta hand it to English department at my uni, they have really introduced me to a range of authors that I wouldn't have otherwise come across. My favourite so far has been The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and anything by Toni Morrison.

No exams
This is one thing that I love about my course. We are set assignments of usually about 3000 words or less at the end of each term. Personally, I like not having the pressure of an exam but the lack of pressure does make me a little lazy and means I end up leaving the assignment until the night before more often than not. Admittedly, I only got two hours sleep last night because I had a mid term due in today. I am currently buzzing after I drank roughly a litre of coffee.

Creative response
You read a book. You get the option of writing a short story or poem based on what you have read as your assessment. Is this heaven? I would do this for fun.

No, I am not going to become a teacher
Whenever anyone asks me this, I respond with 'trouble is that I don't like children'. I am planning to throw a cackle and a disappearance into a cloud of smoke into the mix soon.

Are you at uni? What are you studying?

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Spring Has Sprung In Ambleside

Ok, maybe the weather hasn't quite caught on to the fact that it is meant to be Spring yet but that is not going to stop me. I am over jumpers and grey days and my hands turning purple every time I leave the house. I am so ready for longer days and pretty shirts and actual sunshine. So, like people doing a rain dance, I wore this outfit to the lake to try to entice the sun out.
Note: it didn't work and I grabbed my jacket back from my husband as soon as he took these pictures.


 
Top - Primark
Trousers - Topshop (similar)
Boots - New Look (old)
Necklace - asos (old)
 
Admittedly, we had spent most of the day watching Sherlock in front of the heater and eating fried rice (I love me some rice). But my husband had very kindly agreed to take these pictures for me and he stuck true to this word. We got a few sideway glances as we walked to the lakes with me dressed in anything other than the town's uniform of anoraks, thermals, and muddy walking boots but who cares?

 
 
This will possibly my last post coming to you from the Lake District though as my husband is moving down to Cardiff where I live during term time. It feels like the end of an era but I am excited to see what the future holds for us both. This place was our first home together and we will always treasure the memories we made here. But it is time to move forward and make memories somewhere new and exciting. Cardiff is just a stopgap. We have big plans and a whole world to explore.

 

Have you ever been to the Lake District? Because you should.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Lunch at Bella Italia, Exeter


Last week, I decided to go back to Devon for a couple of days to visit my family and, inevitably, we found ourselves on the bus heading towards Exeter for a big spend up. My eight year old sister had already browsed the Claire's Accessories website and selected a fair few sets of earrings which she wanted to buy. Having three younger siblings, I am used to shopping trips being centred around Claire's, Build A Bear, and Smiggle but we did manage to make it into Lush and a couple of clothes shops as well - thankfully as my sanity was slipping after the bright lights of Smiggle. We then headed to Bella Italia for lunch as we had heard that the kid's menu was great. I can uphold this - the kid's menu looked almost as good as the adult's menu.

The restaurant was dimly lit (as you may be able to tell from the picture quality) and felt very homely. There were little antiques and trickets all around and photographs and artwork adorning the walls. It was super busy on the day that we went but I think that is testimony to the popularity of this restaurant.


They had a large selection of cocktails and mocktails (finally something for the adults on this day out!). My auntie ordered meloncello - one of her favourites - but I decided against ordering alcohol as I am not too fussed on it in all honesty. So, I chose the peachberry mocktail which consisted of peach puree, cranberry juice, and soda water. It was pink and ombre and I could have drank about 5 of them.


My auntie and I decided to forgo starters (despite how tempted they sounded) but we nabbed a garlic bread strip each off of my sister's plate. She got about 5 garlic bread slices as a starter on her older kid's set menu and trust me when I say they were delicious. I love garlic bread anyway but this was so light and moreish. I had to hold myself back from grabbing the whole plate from her.




For my main course, I opted for the salmon with pesto, potatoes, and veg. The sauce that it came in what so delicious and the pesto with salmon was a combination I had never thought of before but I loved it. My auntie opted for the lasagne which was massive and so cheesy (just how it should be!). My sister got two mini burgers, a job lot of chips, and a salad skewer on her set menu. She spent most of the time smothering everything in tomato sauce before saying she was too full and giving me a plate of fries bathed in a pool of red - very horror movie-esque.




There was no way that I was going to ever say no to dessert. No matter how full I am, there is always space for dessert. And I was very happy to see that they had a dairy free chocolate cake with cherries on the top. Trust me, this was the most rich, chocolatey dessert I ever had. I couldn't even finish it because I felt like Augustus Gloop falling into a chocolate river. Or Bruce Bogtrotter. Or both. Definitely the way to go for dairy free people though who sometimes have to forgo that chocolate cake fix. My auntie went for the limencello meringue pie which I was also so tempted by. And my sister got mini donuts in chocolate sauce.

Overall, we had a delicious meal and the total bill for the three meals was under £40 which, I think, is quite good. I would definitely go back again as I have my eye on a mushroom burger that they have. Also that limoncello meringue pie - I need it!

Disclaimer: food was paid for in full and the restaurant did not know I would be blogging about them