A Weekend Break: Cardiff

On Friday 21st September, it was Shaun’s birthday and I had a surprise planned. It was a double celebration as Shaun had just completed his first week in his new job so I thought I needed to do something extra special. Inside his birthday card, I had stuck train tickets, we were going to Cardiff for the weekend! 

The week before (yes, I am Miss Lastminute.com) I arranged the spontaneous weekend getaway. I searched my trusty friend Google for Short Breaks UK and Cardiff seemed like an ideal location for a change of scene. On Saturday morning, we woke up EARLY and hopped onto the 8:21 train from Romsey to Cardiff Central. It was raining but that wasn’t about to dampen our Welsh adventures…

Okay, it was raining a lot, so as soon as we arrived in Cardiff Central we quickly made an essential purchase and bought emergency umbrellas. As I had no clue where the hotel was at this point, I thought at least being lost with an umbrella would be our most preferable option.

Here is Shaun looking pleased with his new birthday brolly. 

Give me coffee and cake over walking around shops any day. Our first stop was Coffee #1 for a Cappuccino Cake and latte. It would have been nice if we ate cake then conveniently arrived at our hotel, but of course nothing is ever that straight forward, ha ha. In actual fact, it took us nearly 2 hours to find the hotel as for some reason I thought I had booked a hotel in Cardiff Bay (a 45 minute walk from the centre, in the rain).

The caption of this photo is: “I’m stressed, but want to take a photo of that seagull”. When we finally arrived at Cardiff Bay, I checked Google Maps (WHY didn’t I do this before whilst in the warm coffee shop) to only then discover the hotel was actually back in the centre of town (45 minutes away, in the rain).

I guess when you have spent hours walking around Cardiff, finally arriving at the hotel is a very happy moment. I had booked the Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel & Spa which is conveniently located in the heart of the town (ha ha). On the positive, we had explored much more of Cardiff than we had anticipated, got a seagull pic and discovered that the bay had some nice looking restaurants for our evening meal.

The hotel was so warm and cosy and we were even offered a free drink at the bar on arrival.

For one night in the hotel, I paid £133 which is pretty reasonable considering the location, it was a Saturday night and you get full access to their spa (sauna, steam, Jacuzzi and pool).

Feeling relieved we had found our hotel and could relax!

Pretty sure we had walked past all the major attractions already.

You know it’s going to be a relaxing stay when your hotel bathroom has an actual bath.

It’s not a birthday without a few balloons, banners, cards and birthday confetti, right?

Feeling refreshed after visiting the spa and ready to brave the rain again for our evening meal…

Back at Cardiff Bay (we got the Queen Street – Cardiff Bay train this time which was only 4 minutes, yay) we picked Bill’s for our evening meal. All the earlier walking had made us absolutely STARVING so we were feeling ready for a big meal with ALL the courses. For starters: I chose crumbed halloumi sticks with lime aioli and Shaun ordered chicken skewers with spicy barbeque glaze, spring onion, lime and tzatziki.

We seemed to stick with the halloumi/chicken theme for our main course too. Mine: Halloumi Burger with tomato hummus, sweet chilli sauce, roasted red peppers, pea shoots, red onion, lime aioli, sesame bun and fries (sweet potato, of course). Shaun’s: Chicken Burger with creamy coleslaw, chipotle mayonnaise, sesame bun and fries.

Fun fact: On our first date Shaun pretended he liked sweet potato fries (because I had them listed as an interest on my dating profile, lol) and only confessed a couple of months later he actually didn’t like them. Thankfully I got over it and we are still together two years later.

Let me introduce you to the Melting Chocolate Bombe. Under it’s chocolate dome hat you have: brownie chunks, chocolate sauce, vanilla and chocolate ice cream, honeycomb and hot salted caramel sauce. YUM!

After our rather filling meal we had a little walk around Cardiff Bay at night all lit up with pretty lights.

Wales Millennium Centre – I was curious what the inscription meant and a quick search tells me: It’s a bilingual inscription in Welsh and English meaning “Creating Truth Like Glass From Inspiration’s Furnace”. There you go, this post isn’t all burgers and brollies ya know.

The next day, we went back to Cardiff Bay to get the Aqua Bus to the seaside town of Penarth.

It’s a small peaceful town by the sea and quite a contrast from the busy Cardiff centre.

You gotta have ice cream when you are by the sea, it’s the rules. After a while chilling by the seaside (in both ways, it was cold but relaxing), we hopped on the train at Penarth to Cardiff Central then switched to our Romsey train and got back in time for the X-Factor.

I hope you enjoyed reading about our Wales adventures. Have you been to Cardiff? Does your boyfriend pretend to like sweet potato fries? Where is your favourite place to go in the UK for a short break? I’d love to hear your recommendations for next time!

*This is a sponsored post which means I received a product/payment in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own. 

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Kiss And Bake Up: Brownies Made With Love

As soon as these mouth watering brownies arrived from Kiss And Bake Up, I knew I needed to take photos immediately as they wouldn’t be around for long. At the time of writing this post, nine out of nine brownies have now been eaten and spoiler alert: they were delicious. Okay so I didn’t eat them all myself, I 100% could have, but my family were lucky enough to sample some of these tasty treats too.

Kiss And Bake Up make gourmet chocolate brownies baked fresh to order in Warwickshire. Each brownie gift is delivered in a box with a handwritten note (which you can add your own personalized message at the time of ordering). There are currently nine delicious flavours to choose from (turkish delight, cherry, salted caramel, orange, malteser, peanut butter, mint, oreo and original) so there is really something for everyone.

I received a selection box of nine chocolate brownies which included original, oreo, peanut butter and malteser flavour. A cuppa tea and a brownie is my idea of heaven so I was keen to take the pics and put the kettle on. They were all neatly arranged with pretty polka dot packaging which made them extra special.

The brownies cost £20 for 16 which includes free first class delivery. It’s the perfect gift to send to that special someone for a birthday, celebration or just to let them know you are thinking of them. I know I was especially thrilled to have this little box of tasty treats arrive on my doormat.

Kiss And Bake Up can make gluten free brownies if requested by e-mail prior to your order.

The brownies are made fresh to order: for orders received by 1pm, the brownies will be posted the next working day. Emma kindly e-mailed me on Monday last week to say they were on their way and by Tuesday at 9 am the brownies were here! I was so impressed at the friendly and speedy service. 

My favourite was the Oreo cookie brownie, it’s like two of my favourite things rolled into one. Every bite was so rich, chocolately and heavenly and the crunchy oreo pieces made it even more delightful.

My family all gave positive feedback saying they were really fresh, gooey and simply scrumptious.

If you want to send a box to a friend as a gift or maybe even treat yourself to a self-present, why not check out Kiss And Bake Up and select your dream flavour. Each brownie slab measures approximately 20cm x 20cm, or they can cut it into 16 squares of approximately 5cm x 5cm. Wow, a huge SLAB of delicious freshly baked flavorsome brownie, can you even imagine the pure happiness of receiving that.

Thank you so much to Emma for inviting me to try these tempting treats. It’s a yes from me, in fact it’s all the yeses! Do you like chocolate brownies? Which flavour would you choose? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you. You can also follow Kiss And Bake Up on Facebook and Twitter to add some yumminess to your social media feeds.

*This is a sponsored post which means I received a product/payment in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own. 

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September Treatbox

It’s that time of the month again where I share with you the latest box of happiness that has landed on my doormat. Even though this is my third TreatBox, the excitement never fades when a new box of goodies arrive for me. You can read my previous reviews of the July & August treats too.

TreatBox is a monthly subscription box which contains a mix of surprises; anything from inspirational quotes, stationary, home accessories, jewellery, edible treats, beauty products, exclusive products designed by TreatBox and so much more! The idea was started by Zoe back in 2016 and it has since grown into a team who are passionate about creating boxes filled with love and awesome products.

Inside the September box: 2 x Womankind teabags by Pukka, Stay Cosy Pillowcase, Take A Deep Breath print (exclusive to TreatBox), Aromatic Wax Melt, Magic Makeup Remover by AfterSpa Beauty, Apple & Mint Foot Mask, Popcorn Shed Pop ‘n’ Choc.

In every box, TreatBox design and create an exclusive and beautiful print which encompasses the theme. This month’s theme is looking after yourself, self-care and being all cosy. September is the perfect time to take a deep breath and let out all the stress. It’s a simple sentiment but important too. I really love the illustration, it reminds me of my sister so I have decided to give this print to her as a little gift.

As I spend the majority of my time with a cuppa tea at my desk, a couple of extra teabags were always going to be a welcome treat. I received two Womankind bags by Pukka. This tea is a mix of herbs designed to help women balance and bloom. It’s naturally caffeine-free and ethically sourced with 100% organically grown ingredients including chamomile flower, licorice root, hibiscus flower, marigold flower, beetroot, orange peel, cranberry and vanilla. It’s the perfect blend to help calm, soothe and restore. 

I’ve heard of a face mask, but a foot mask is a new one on me. This is the Apple & Mint Foot Mask by VITAMASQUES which is rich in Vitamin C, copper and essential minerals to reduce pigmentation and provide nourishment exactly for the kind of skin on and around the feet. The mask soothes the skin making it feel soft and refreshed and is inspired by Korean innovation and skin care technology. TreatBox has included either this one or the Peach & Honey Hand Mask, so it is a real lucky dip which is even more exciting.

This popcorn was soon eaten straight after this photo was taken and it was so good! It’s Pop ‘n’ Choc by Popcorn Shed, a double whammy of chocolate accompanied by a smooth cocoa-infused caramel base. This ticks all the boxes: its natural, gluten free, suitable for vegetarians, free of any nasty preservatives or additives and is less than 140 calories. It is incredibly moreish and I need to buy some more asap.

At first I thought this was a bar of soap, but it is actually an aromatic wax melt. It smells of all things cosy and Christmassy, the perfect way to welcome in the Autumnal season. Also, how beautiful are the leafy designs, they are so detailed and intricate it would almost be a shame to melt it.

In keeping with the theme, TreatBox has customized their very own Stay Cosy pillowcase, I love the simple design which would look good on any duvet or throw. Plus there is a bright pink AfterSpa Magic Make-up Remover so you can feel clean and refreshed all ready for your super cosy and chilled evening.

Each treat has been thoughtfully selected to help balance the mind and soothe the stresses away. September is the perfect time for getting all cosy and having those pamper evenings and TreatBox have got you covered. Personally, I think it’s great value for money: a one off box is £12.96 and you can save even more money by selecting a 3, 6 or 12 month package.

I really loved this box and it’s given me all the cosy Autumn evening vibes. Have you ordered a TreatBox? Let me know what you think of the September box in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

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Stationery Box Swap: A Collab With Bournemouth Girl

Last month, I saw a really sweet collab with Lisa from Lisa’s Notebook and Jordanne from Life Of A Glasgow Girl. They sent each other a box of thoughtful self-care treats with the theme ‘Me Time For Mums’. After reading their posts, I had the inspiration for an idea: I could do something similar but with stationery goodies! And, I had the perfect blogging friend in mind, the lovely Lauren from Bournemouth Girl.

Lauren & I share the same love of all things stationery and I’ve always wanted to collab together so this was the perfect opportunity. If you love bullet journalling, self-care tips, pretty stationery and fun days out like I do, then check out Lauren’s blog and Twitter. If you want colourful notebooks, washi tape, pens, doughnuts, cats and other nice things on your feed, I encourage you to check out Lauren’s Instagram too!

For our stationery box swap, we agreed to a budget of £20. Cool story: Lauren’s sister hand delivered me my box as she was visiting my local area one Sunday (thanks Holly!). I’m so excited to share with you my awesome box of goodies! Make sure you head over to Lauren’s blog to see what’s in her box too!

How gorgeously is everything wrapped up: Pink paper, hearts and unicorn chocolate all in a cute basket.

Wow! It was like Christmas had come early when I opened up all my beautifully wrapped gifts. There were colourful pens, pastel highlighters, stickers, pretty blank cards, colouring books and pencils, adorable paperclips, delicious unicorn chocolates, a cute notebook and a really sweet card!  What an awesome bundle, thanks so much Lauren!

Pastel highlighters: everything was so thoughtfully chosen and was perfect for me.

I love this. It’s pretty and motivational and you can never have too many notebooks, right?!

Yay, washi tape! I have a small (big) washi tape obsession and these fun and colourful designs are perfect for my collection. This is such an adorable set with cute frogs, donuts, hearts, flowers and pandas.

I love how everything is so bright, fun and colourful. This really is a box of happiness!

I never knew paperclips could be so much fun. These are the prettiest paperclips I’ve ever seen!

Lauren very kindly included two colouring books. Colouring in is one of my most favourite ways to chill, I can’t wait to get creative with these. Also, how awesome are those girl power stickers! 

Whenever I see sharp colouring pencils, I just want to colour things…

I knew it wouldn’t be long before I opened the colouring books.

I got carried away colouring in pretty pastel rainbows.

And I’ve already added washi tape and stickers to my notebook.

This is such a fantastic bundle of stationery goodies, I am so happy with everything! Thank you so much to Lauren for this thoughtful and awesome stationery box swap. This was such a fun collab to do and it felt like I had Christmas early in September. What is your favourite item in the box? I’m off now to do some more colouring and eat tasty unicorn chocolates…

Make sure you head over to Lauren’s blog to see what stationery goodies I’ve included in her box too!

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