Sunday, 20 March 2016

25 Lessons before 25

It's a year where the number 5 seems to be popping up everywhere. On the 25th of March I turn 25 and in the summer I will be celebrating my 5th anniversary of being self harm free. It's been quite a journey these last 25 years.

I'm actually very excited about turning 25. 

Largely I feel like I've turned a corner in my life, things that used to worry me longer occupy my mind. I've become more relaxed about certain things whilst I've got a brand new outlook on some other parts of life. I feel like a lot of my life has been leading up this this age. 

Below are some lessons I've learnt on this emotional, crazy and fun journey. It's also pieces of advice that I wish someone had given me, but then I don't think I would have always believed the advice. Often we have to make our own experiences but some little pieces of advice can't go amiss.

01) Don't let your self-worth be defined by others
02) Learn to cook something, invite your friends over and have a dinner party. It's more fun and rewarding than an expensive hazy alcohol night out
03) Your friends are your biggest fans
04) Work, work and work some more - hard work is always rewarded
05) Everyone makes mistakes, learn from them and do your best not to repeat them

06) The best relationship you can have is with yourself
07) Find a hobby - learn it/enjoy it/fall in love with it and make time for it
08) All black outfits make you feel powerful - so wear them and feel strong
09) Eat that burger, it's not the end of the world to enjoy those calories
10) Boys come and go, nice shoes and diamonds are forever

11) Find that perfect red lipstick to make you feel powerful and in charge, bulk buy it and make it your signature look
12) Going out for dinner by yourself is easier than you think it is
13) It's never too early to start getting into a nighttime skin care routine
14) Don't cry over boys, do your squats and love yourself
15) Your first year of university is fun but learn how to pace yourself with the alcohol

16) Cheap white wine is never the answer
17) Being alone is good for the soul
18) Don't be disheartened when things aren't going your way - sometimes you win and sometimes you lose
19) You don't need a million friends to have valuable connections, sometimes it just takes one person
20) If it were easy, everyone would be doing it

21) Exercise is better than any medication
22) Blasting Adele at full volume and having a good cry does fix some things sometimes
23) Tell people you love them as often as you can
24) Travelling is all well and good but feeling comfortable and happy at home is just as important
25) In the wise words of RuPaul: if you can't love yourself, how in the hell can you love someone else? Amen.

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Sunday, 13 March 2016

How To Be Alone - Part 1: Acceptance

We're fast approaching a new milestone in my life. August will mark my second year of being a sassy single lady.

I thought I was going to be dreading that anniversary but in reality I've found myself in a happy and content routine. What once frightened me now gives me joy.

My dating history consists of two long term relationships so since I was 18 I've barely spent any time alone. The closest I came was when I spent my year abroad in France whilst my boyfriend at the time was in Cardiff. It was incredibly liberating and reassuring, for the first time I felt like myself. But when I came back to Cardiff I once again became so wrapped up in that relationship I lost all focus on myself.

Since my last relationship with He Who Shall Not Be Named the II ended (see more here) I've been on some dates but a serious relationship is eluding me. At first it got me down but as time goes on I'm becoming more and more comfortable with being alone, although I'll admit it's not always easy. Not being in a relationship has meant that I'm forced to be alone. It sounds more drastic that it is because at the heart of it I'm not actually alone; I have my family and amazing friends, life doesn't revolve around being in a relationship.

As humans we actively seek that contact and those special bonds. I always thought that it was always about being in love with someone else and being in that committed relationship. It turns out that that's not necessarily the case.

What I'm actually discovering is that the most important relationship you can have is the one you have with yourself. By being alone I'm slowly but surely pushing the edges of my comfort zone and so far it's been incredibly rewarding.

Being alone doesn't mean I'm lonely, but likewise being alone doesn't mean that I don't get lonely. It's all about finding that balance. Some days are easier than others but so far I'm really enjoying this journey of singledom. Plus it means that I get to watch back to back episodes of The Bachelorette whilst stuffing my face with crumpets without judgement. Every could has a silver lining.
"The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself."  - Michel de Montaigne

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Saturday, 5 March 2016

Cardiff Eats

I often get asked where the best places to eat in Cardiff are, I'm always more than happy to give people recommendations as I spend most of my time eating out and trying new places.

I moved to Cardiff in 2009 and things were a little slow to pick up here, there weren't many independents and the chains that did exist were rather uninspiring.  

Trying to get a comprehensive list of recommendations together was tough because there was just so much choice! This list is by no means comprehensive (or in any order of 'best'), there's a fairly round mix of breakfast, lunch and dinner and price scales.

Locke and Remedy Cardiff
Locke and Remedy Cardiff
Locke and Remedy Cardiff

Locke and Remedy

Before Locke and Remedy moved into the old library building, the building went through a constant cycle of venues. It used to be a rock bar, then a sports bar and then it was empty until we were blessed with Locke and Remedy. The decor is cosy and the menu is concise - you either have an option of pizza or burgers but these are absolutely excellent, you also have a choice of chips - the parmesan fries are excellent  The cheese burger is probably up there in my top 5 and I hear amazing things about the portobello mushroom burger.

Also a shout out to their amazing drink choices and great service!

Little Man Coffee Cardiff
Little Man Coffee Cardiff

Little Man Coffee

Amongst the seemingly endless sea of Costa's and Starbucks Little Man Coffee is a breath of fresh air. Taking pride in serving excellent coffee you can really tell that this is their passion. There's also a short but excellent food menu, and there are always pastries and cakes on offer.

It's located slap bang in the middle of town so it's the perfect place to settle down with your laptop and crack on with work.

The Penylan Pantry Cardiff

Penylan Pantry

One of my locals and always a favourite to visit with friends. Penylan Pantry take pride in serving local sourced produce, it's also a deli where you can pick up all sorts of yummy things to stock your shelves at home with. There's a large selection of Welsh produce and they offer a vegetable box which gets delivered to your door.

If you're thinking of heading down on the weekend get here early, it's a small space and fills up quickly!

The New York Deli Cardiff
The New York Deli Cardiff
The New York Deli Cardiff

The New York Deli

Open since 1990 (so older than me!) The New York Deli is a Cardiff institution. If you want value for money and you're partial to a food induced post lunch nap then this is the place for you. You can either work your way through the extensive menu of bagels, hoagies and sandwiches or you can make your own. 

Great for a work lunch or hungover Saturday debrief with friends, just make sure you bring lots of napkins and don't wear white like I did.

Juno Lounge Cardiff
Juno Lounge Cardiff
Juno Lounge Cardiff

Juno Lounge

Juno Lounge forms part of my weekends pretty regularly. Juno Lounge comes under the 'Loungers' group which is run by Cosy Club, there are loads of different Lounges across the country so these will no doubt be familiar.

They're not going to win any prizes for innovative food but it's always yummy, well priced and the atmosphere is always super cosy and inviting. Friends and me love to come here for a glass of wine on the weekends (or midweek depending on how tough work gets!). There are always deals on during the week so worth checking if you have a Lounge near you.

Park Plaza Cardiff
Park Plaza Cardiff
Park Plaza Cardiff

Park Plaza Cardiff

The Park Plaza in Cardiff is more than just a hotel, it's firmly part of the Cardiff nightlife and restaurant scene. The KuKu Club is always popular and the restaurant offers everything from Afternoon Teas with a twist (Gentleman's Tea or Hendricks Afternoon Tea anyone?) to an outstanding Chef's Table Menu.

In hotels the menus sometimes come off as uninspired and bland, but that's not the case here. Chef Justin has cooked for Springsteen and the Queen so you know that it's going to be outstanding. I had the privilege of working my way through the Chef's Table Menue with some local food bloggers and when the pièce de résistance (the deconstructed beef wellington) came out we all just ate in silence which really says it all.

Pop in for a drink and soak up the lovely atmosphere and then see if any of the afternoon teas catch your eye.

Barker Tea House Cardiff
Barker Tea House Cardiff

Barker Tea House

Continuing on the course of afternoon teas, if you like vintage crockery, endless choices of tea and an excellent choice of cakes then Barker Tea House is for you. The sister of Coffee Barker (and soon the be joined by Barker Gelato) the owners have got to decor spot on. It's a cosy place to settle in for a break from shopping and to catch up with friends. Both sites are always rammed on the weekend but it's worth the wait. 

Barker Tea House serves up a more extensive breakfast menu than Coffee Barker, plus it's opposite one of my favourite shops in Cardiff - Miss Patisserie where you can stock up on all your pamper needs after your cake coma.

The Grazing Shed Cardiff
The Grazing Shed Cardiff

Grazing Shed

I dare you to find a better burger in Cardiff. If you think you've found a better burger I will fight you about it. Grazing Shed opened up in Cardiff about 2 years ago now and since then have gone from strength to strength opening a second branch on Cardiff's famous St Mary's Street where they now also serve breakfast.

The food is all locally sourced and encourages sustainable practice. They also do vegan and vegetarian burgers so there really is something for everyone. The Grazing Shed also have service and speed down. You just about have time to pay for your meal and get your drink before your piping hot burger is placed in front of you.

This place is hands down one of the best things to happen to Cardiff.

The Pot Cardiff

The Pot

The Pot has had a mini face lift in recent times. Moving away from being more than just a cafe it now serves up French inspired food and often hosts supper clubs or film screenings accompanied by excellent food. 

It's always an old favourite of mine to pop in for a hot drink, but be aware on the weekends you'll be hard pressed to get a table if you leave it too late. The Pot also serves up vegetarian and vegan breakfasts all for reasonable prices. 

Stag Coffee Cardiff
Stag Coffee Cardiff

Stag Coffee

Oh how I love you Stag Coffee, let me count the ways. Just a few doors down from The Pot is another one of my well loved haunts. Opened up by the old manager of the student favourite - The Woodville, Stag Coffee prides itself on it's massive breakfasts and cosy atmosphere.

My friends and I have spent hours here working through the drinks menu and loading up on carbs. It's the perfect spot for a Sunday brunch with a mild hangover. The staff are great and I've yet to have a bad experience here.

As with so many places on this list, get here early, it gets busy and the best seats by the window are always a favourite.

The Early Bird Cardiff Bakery

The Early Bird

I recently did a detailed post about my experience at The Early Bird but it deserves to be on this list regardless. The bread is excellent, the breakfasts tasty and different to the usual. The coffee is outstanding and Ceri and the team are wonderful, always taking time to stop for a quick chat no matter how busy they are.

Pop in and pick up some baked goods or settle in for some French toast and hot coffee, you won't regret it.

Tea and Cake Cardiff

Tea and Cake

This little shop is just a couple of streets over from my house and part of my regular visits. Not only do they do cute little cakes as well as bagels and paninis but they also have a little deli section for cheeses and chocolates. Their shop also sells gorgeous kitchenware and gifts.

Tea and Cake are part of the local Roath fabric and I can't imagine Roath without them. It's the perfect place to stop by before or after a long walk around Roath Park Lake. 

The Potted Pig
The Potted Pig

The Potted Pig

The Potted Pig is Cardiff's worst kept secret. Tucked away in an old bank vault underneath St Mary's Street, The Potted Pig serves up local produce executed brilliantly. The menu regularly changes to reflect the seasonal produce but certain staples such as the roasted pork belly always make an appearance in some shape or form. There are always excellent vegetarian options too so don't let the name of the restaurant put you off if you're a veggie! 

If that doesn't tempt you in then knowing that The Potted Pig has a four page gin menu. The coconut Hoxton gin comes highly recommended from yours truly. If you're not convinced and want to sample lunch first, The Potted Pig does a really good lunch time deal - 2 course for £12. 

Always make sure you get a booking sorted, this place is very popular!

I hope you've enjoyed this post, let me know if you'd be interested in more food recommendations, I haven't even coved a fraction of what Cardiff has to offer! 

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Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Cymru Am Byth

Jumpers - Welsh Girl Problems

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus! Happy St David's Day!

The moment I stepped foot in Wales I knew I was home. I instantly fell head over heels in love with Wales when I came to visit Cardiff University on a sunny day in March 2009, just a few months before I made my final university choices.

What I hadn't realised at the time was what a monumental decision I had just made. I had been a nomad all my life up until that point. I'd flitted between boarding school and whatever country my parents happened to live in, whether that be Oman, Qatar or Germany. I'd never had my own base and I craved that.

Since that visit in 2009 I've completed my undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Cardiff. I made the conscious choice to find a job in Cardiff and stay here. Wales is my home now and I feel like I've committed to that pretty thoroughly.

'Wales Forever' - Welsh Girl Problems

There's something about Wales that captures my heart constantly. I think that because I never felt like a 'real' German, being welcomed to the Welsh culture with open arms was so important to me.

I have English friends who keep asking me "I thought you were meant to be German?", but how can I not feel so lovingly adopted by such a beautiful country filled with such warm people?

I find myself becoming pretty passionate about all things Welsh, like getting carried away by the Wales rugby team (how can I not when there are so many beautiful men on the squad - George North, Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Biggar to mention just a few...). Sport brings people together and having that unite people is very moving. 

Wales is a small country but full of proud and passionate people, you can really feel that not only on a match day but in everyday interactions which make every day special.


The decision to stay in Wales was all mine, if I'd wanted to move away I could have done. I made the conscious decision to stay here and see what life here would bring. As it turns out I've never been happier. 

So shoutout to all my fellow Welshies! Hope you're all tucking into Welsh cakes and wearing your daffodils! Thank you for being my home for the past seven years and for making me so happy. 

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