Friday, 30 May 2014

10 Reasons to Love The Diff | Reason 1: Cardiff Castle

I very nearly didn't end up moving to Cardiff when I made my university choices.  Originally I wanted to go to Newcastle but my mum worried about it being too far up north and too cold, and then I arrived in Cardiff for my university open day and I fell in love instantly.  This September will mark my fifth year in Cardiff and so I thought I would commemorate this special anniversary by launching my new blog series highlighting my top 10 reasons to love 'The Diff'.  

With this series I just want to show you some sides to Cardiff that you might not necessarily know about and to give you a tour of my adopted hometown which I really do love with all my heart.  Cardiff may be small compared to other cities but it packs a big punch. 

Some background notes: Cardiff is the largest city in Wales, and the tenth largest in the United Kingdom.  Cardiff's motto is "Y ddraig goch ddyry cychwyn" (The red dragon will lead the way) and it is fiercely proud to be a capital.  Cardiff is also home to my first reason to love Cardiff:

Cardiff Castle

Smack bang in the middle of the city centre is the magnificent Cardiff Castle, supposedly commissioned by William the Conqueror or Robert Fitzhamon.  It started being built in the 11th century by the Normans and during World War II air raid shelters were built in the castle walls that were able to hold up to 1,800 people.  The actual castle is on a little hill surrounded by a moat.  It's well worth the climb because you get some stunning views of Cardiff from it.  Within the castle grounds there is also a 'main range' which I'd say is a little manor house within the castle walls.  The manor is beautiful and includes the stunning Arab Room which is simply breath taking.

If you're live or work in Cardiff you can get your 'Castle Key' which is a card that allows you free access for three years to the castle and you can sometimes get discounts off events that are being held in the castle too.  It's free so I can wholeheartedly recommend it! Last September the castle was host to the Cardiff Country Fair and the Cheese Festival, both are now firm fixtures in my diary! Tom Jones and the Stereophonics have played concerts here before so there's a lot going on.

I hope you're as excited about this series as I am, I hope I can open your eyes to the amazing things Cardiff has to offer and I hope you make a trip sometime soon! I'm going to also have a very special friend of mine helping me out with these posts, you won't want to miss it!

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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Things Nina Did - Art Car Bootique at Chapter

The Art Car Bootique at Chapter Arts Centre on Sunday promised music, food and vintage stalls so of course I was game.  

Chapter Arts Centre is a Cardiff institution which has been around for 40 years.  Nestled into the Canton area Chapter is a cinema, a theatre venue and also boats a pretty good food menu! Chapter show films you won't necessarily find in your standard cinema and also host theatre.  I saw a spectacular Cardiff University performance of The Crucible here a few years ago.

Chapter hosted the Art Car Bootique on Sunday which is basically a car boot sale with vintage finds and art projects on the go. Very different to anything I'd ever been to!

My boyfriend and I had a browse around the stalls and managed to pick up sone amazing vintage bargains.  I bought a two jumpers and a shirt for £9, expect outfit pictures soon! I could have left with a lot more but I really need to curb my vintage jumper habit it's becoming a serious problem.

The best thing about the Art Car Bootique was hands down the food.  We'd checked before we arrived what kind of food stalls there were going to be and already knew that we had to get our hands on a 'haute dog' from the guys who run Haute Dogs.  

There was already a queue when we arrived but it was worth the wait.  I went for 'The Hangover Cure' which had a bloody Mary vodka salsa, sea salt, black pepper, pickled celery matchsticks, tabasco sauce, creamed horseradish, coriander micro shoots plus a lemon wedge piled on a sausage.  It was hands down the best hot dog I have ever eaten and I inhaled mine. My boyfriend's hot dog of choice included cola onions, hot sauce, mustard and popping candy. We both ate in silence so I think that goes to show how tasty it was.  We washed our food down with a very strong margarita and went about our browsing very content.

It was a shame the day had started out so grim but it was fantastic seeing how many people came.  By the time we'd left the place was still heaving and it's great seeing people support artists and sellers.

I hope there's another Art Car Bootique next year because I will most certainly be there!

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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Blue jeans, hawaiian shirt

Shirt: flea market find in Montpellier
Jeans: H&M (ancient)
Shoes: Birkenstock Madrid
Necklace: Primark
Bag: Lola and Me
Nails: Essie Watermelon
Lips: MAC True Love's Kiss 
Sunglasses: Les Specs*

I don't do summer wear well.  Everyone has spent this weekend running around in maxi dresses, bum cheek baring high-waisted shorts and sporting sunburns.  I prefer baggy shirts and rolled up trousers.  This Hawaiian number is one from my year abroad times where I went to the flea market every Sunday.  It's ugly but amazing all at once I think.  Clashing bright prints is become my new favourite thing and I'm still more than in love with my Sofia clutch bag from Lola and Me. Dreamy isn't she?

This outfit is also an ode to the Birkenstock.  My German family and I are baffled by the fashion world's sudden interest in Birkenstocks.  I have worn Birkenstock all my life and have lived with the taunting stereotype that all Germans wear sandals (and socks).  But they are so comfortable and as my shirt shows you, I have an affinity for ugly clothes.  I do feel a sense of pride at how much interest Birkenstocks are getting especially as this is a German brand that has been going from strength to strength since 1774.  

If you're considering jumping on the Birkenstock bandwagon can I please urge you to buy the original Birkenstocks and not knock offs? These are orthopaedic so are excellent for your feet, made in Germany and they will last you years! I have yet to wear out or break a pair.  

I'm in the middle of exam season which I can't wait to be over, I just want to get stuck into my dissertation and actually enjoy some summer weather.

Hope you enjoyed a sunny weekend!

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