8 reasons why West Wales should be your next holiday destination.

Travel, Wales

fullsizeoutput_3540fullsizeoutput_353c331AC4EB-E4EF-47A3-850E-636817F2504B

1.THE PUBS

New Quay is home to the Black Lion, reputably Dylan Thomas’ favourite haunt. Tresaith is home to The Ship Inn, my favourite haunt. Aberaeron is home to The Harbourmaster, reputably everyone’s favourite haunt. It has won countless awards after all. You could really spend your entire holiday going from pub to pub and why not!? From the beautifully modern Harbourmaster to the traditional stone and slate Pentre Arms (Another favourite of Dylan Thomas) there are so many lovely pubs to choose from so why choose at all?

2.THE BEACHES

From where we stay in Tresaith there are at least six or seven beaches within a short driving distance and each more beautiful than the last. My personal favourite is Mwnt, wind down the country roads and you’ll most certainly think you are lost but the view at the end is worth the journey. Sat on that beach, looking around at the crystal blue sea and the rock formations dipping into it you’d believe you were in a movie set. Oddly, it somewhat reminds me of that Raquel Welch beach scene in One Million Years B.C. A beach that is so beautiful it’s as though it is completely untouched, totally natural and almost prehistoric. How many other places can you say that about in this day and age?**

fullsizeoutput_3515fullsizeoutput_351afullsizeoutput_3526

3.THE WILDLIFE

Up until my first visit to West Wales I had the right hump about never having seen dolphins. I’ve been to countless Caribbean islands but not a single spotting… I drive two hours from Cardiff to New Quay and there are dozens of the buggers! It’s almost a challenge to not spot any wildlife on the Pembrokeshire and Cardigan coasts. Dolphin pods, Seals basking in the sun or popping up to be nosy, Crabs, Lobsters and sea life galore. Best of all? All in their natural habitat. For a great dolphin spotting location head to one of my favourite pubs in the world, The Ship Inn, Tresaith. Grab a cold drink and try to nab a bench overlooking the sea, there are dolphin spottings almost every day from that exact location.

4.THE FOOD

If there is one thing I love most about the seaside it’s the seafood and the West coast does it exceptionally well. Try The Lime Crab in New Quay for your old school fish and chips fix. In addition to cod and chips for you traditionalists, they also offer up a few different dishes such as salt & pepper squid, mackerel goujons or scallops for those who like their chippy tea with a twist. They also offer a great range of both gluten-free and vegan options. If you fancy a sit-down meal then you really can’t miss The Cliff, Cardigan or The Harbourmaster, Aberaeron. Both serve up a stunning array of freshly caught seafood. For a quick pub snack, The Harbourmaster crispy cockles with spicy vinegar are not to be missed! If you somehow aren’t full from the copious amounts of crab, cockles and other fresh fishies you simply cannot miss a visit to Crwst in Cardigan for a spot of brecwast. Try their pancakes served with Llaeth y Llan yogurt, homemade granola, mixed berries, and Cardigan honey and grab a few doughnuts to snack on for later. You’ll find space, trust me.

fullsizeoutput_3538fullsizeoutput_3533fullsizeoutput_3524fullsizeoutput_3522fullsizeoutput_3520fullsizeoutput_3337

5.THE HISTORY

Whether it’s famous poets or prehistoric settlements you are looking for, the West is a haven of historic tales for you to explore. Arthur’s Stone, Cefn Bryn is surrounded by myth and legend, the 25 tonne stone is actually a Neolithic tomb but in the land of the dragon, there is no harm in believing whichever legend you choose. Head into the town centre of Cardigan and to the castle that sits on the banks of the River Teifi to explore years and years of Welsh history, or, If beautiful views are the cheese to your toastie then don’t miss Pembroke Castle. It’s as if Disney plucked this castle right into each of their movies, it really is breathtaking. It’s also the birthplace of Henry VII!

fullsizeoutput_3514fullsizeoutput_34a7

6.THE BEER

Dive into any one of the aforementioned pubs and you won’t struggle to find a pint of good, Welsh beer. The South may be the kings of brewing the beers with the likes of Tiny Rebel, Grey Tees and Pipes all residing there but the West know how to serve it up. For a real taste of the West then seek out a pint of the strong stuff brewed by Felinfoel or Gwaun Valley Breweries. Iechyd Da!*

7.THE VIEWS

Stand by the statue of St Crannog looking over Llangrannog bay. Near the Church of the Holy Cross in Mwnt. On the beach in Aberporth. Stand/Sit/Jump in any one of those spots and tell me that those views don’t rival some of the best in the world. Wales is a country of unparalleled beauty and the West coast showcases it beautifully with its picturesque seaside towns and coastal paths.

fullsizeoutput_3530fullsizeoutput_352cfullsizeoutput_3535fullsizeoutput_3545fullsizeoutput_3546fullsizeoutput_3549

8.THE RELAXATION

Joe and I are lucky enough that we go to the West Coast every summer with his family. When I started writing this piece I asked him what his favourite thing about Tresaith was (The small coastal village we stay in), “It’s a week of the year where I can just totally relax because it feels a million miles away but yet it still feels like home”. Well, I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s a home away from home, a small piece of Welsh paradise and the perfect remedy for those busy bees amongst you that just want a break away from city life.

41B8DA55-451C-40A1-B404-D6BFD9C2D16D

If you are officially head over heels and fancy booking your break to West Wales, check out Canopy and the Stars for some gorgeous accommodation options. Including a few dog-friendly ones so your pooch can also come for a mooch!

*Cheers! in Welsh.

**Be warned there are lots of steps to get down to the beach so make sure you have your supplies before you get down there, you don’t want to find your perfect spot and then realise you’ve forgotten your much needed Calippo.

Club Tropicana, Perms and Neon Scrunchies.

Cardiff, Lifestyle

JNCT2-10518

I may be a 90’s baby (just!) but you’re a fool if you think I’m not a sucker for an 80’s hit and a perm shoved into a Day-Glo scrunchie. This week, the outrageously camp and hilariously funny musical romantic-comedy, Club Tropicana is at the Wales Millenium Centre starring X Factor winner Joe McElderry and ex-Sugababe Amelle Berrabah. Joe McElderry plays Holiday Rep Gary who delivers each line unabashedly, hand on hip, with a cheeky wink and a fierce sashay.

JNCT-11585

Club Tropicana, not just a hit for Wham!, is a slightly shabby Spanish holiday resort vying for the highly coveted Best Hotel Award and what ensues is 2 hours of your favorites 80s tunes, outrageous perms and some very very cheeky humour. The star of the show was undoubtedly Kate Robbins, Mother of Britain’s sweetheart of the moment Emily Attack, with her Manuel from Fawlty Towers style performance in the character of Consuela the Spanish House Maid. Comedy clearly runs in the family because Kate had the entire audience belly-laughing with her deliberately tawdry Spanish accent and her rather rude ‘signs’. In a cute little nod to Cardiff, she dresses as Shirley Bassey in one scene, references Ely in another and leaves us all spluttering all over again.

JNCT-13074

This show will have you laughing until it hurts, dancing up out of your chair and singing ABC’s Look of Love for at least the next week but on top of all that, it also gave me a huge hankering for some major throwback material. So, inspired by the showstopping cast of Club Tropicana Musical and some showstopping outfits here are my top 4 fashions that I gladly welcome back into 2019 (by Delorian of course).

1. Blazer & high waisted jeans

This is an 80s trend I am more than happy to see the return of, made truly iconic by the late Princess Di. We may have left the huge shoulder pads firmly in the Dynasty loving days but a good structured blazer and a pair of high waisted jeans is a surefire combo. Go for a mom jean cut for that extra 80s flair.

2. Monochrome Power Suits

Wedding guest? Power suit. Work meeting? Power suit. Going out-out? Power suit. There is nothing this 80s trend cannot prepare you for. Go for a cute pastel or neon-bright to really rock this trend. Asos have some lovely options like this.

3. Polka dots

If you haven’t seen THAT Zara dress yet then where have you been!? If you are hot for the spot then you know this trend is well and truly back. Combine this print trend with another big 80s trend, puff sleeve blouses and you are on to a winner. This polka dot shirt does the job for you and combines the two in one sheer stunner.

4. Graphic tees

The uniform of any eighties supermodel worth her salt. Understated, cool and punching a message to the people, this trend really hit the headlines with British designer Katherine Hamnet’s 1983 campaign.

Some of you may not be familiar with the political “58% DONT WANT PERSHING” slogan tee but you certainly will be with her ‘CHOOSE LIFE’ design that Wham! famously donned. Graphic tee’s may be a little less political nowadays but In The Style are leading the way with their fab Pride and female empowerment tees. 

giphy

If you too want a large, cheesy dose of eighties nostalgia then Club Tropicana Musical is at the Wales Millenium Centre August 13th-17th. Tickets can be purchased from their website or the box office. Use promocode: CLUBFAN to get your tickets for just £20.

I was invited to watch Club Tropicana by the Wales Millenium Centre however all thoughts and reviews of the show are my own. 

5 reasons why we just ‘love to love’ Love Island

Opinion

With the final episode approaching this evening, we will all soon be plunged into that Love Island-less pool. Distraught. What do we talk about now? What do I do with my evenings?

I read an article by The Guardian a while back that had a fantastic line in it describing our favourite reality show of the moment as “chess with tits”. Fantastic isn’t it because like it or not, that is exactly what it is but yet we absolutely love it. The show is so iconic it has even featured in the newest series of OITNB.

The premiere episode this year brought in a whopping 3.7 million of us, all tuning in to watch a beautiful parade of twenty-somethings in their latest quest for love, or 50k, you decide. But what exactly is it about Love Island that has a nation transfixed? Here are my 5 reasons why we love to love Love Island.

giphy (1)

1.The Office Chat FOMO

I only started watching Game of Thrones because I got so sick of not being able to join in on the coffee break analysis of last nights episode every time a new series was aired. Now imagine that FOMO daily! “No Karen, I didn’t see Malin make a surprise return to the villa and who the f*** is Terry?”. Now I’m a sheep, I know how Molly Mae ties her hair bun, I know Jordan’s middle name. I will never miss out on a weekday office Love Island debrief ever again.

giphy (3)

2. They are like us, but pretty.

“Omg Amber is me, that’s sooo relatable”

Except she’s spilling out of her DD cup bikini like a Sports Illustrated model and I’m a proud gold member of the Itty Bitty Tittie Committee. What is more watchable though than watching Amy confess her love for Curtis when he’s shacking up with someone else back in the villa? Or Molly Mae having a breakdown shouting ”she’s a ring girl!” as Maura comes in the villa, eyes set on Tommy? I’ll tell you what’s better. Watching it and getting that smug little feeling of ”Thank God I am not the only absolute nutter that has behaved like this over a boy”. We’ve all had our moments, haven’t we? Watching Love Island is basically self-validation therapy. We are all exactly the same!! Except these people are basically chiseled from stone and live on diets of kale and Joe’s Juices. I’m sat on my sofa in a dressing gown with hobnob crumbs down my self.

3. We are all romantics at heart.

We love love. It’s a fact. Whether we like to admit it or not, we have all had a bit of a blub over Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts at the end of Notting Hill and if you watch First Dates, don’t you wait for the end with the small, heart-filled hope in your eyes that one of the couples have found their perfect match? We love to have an “Aww” moment. Its that little glimmer of feels in this big, bad world.

giphy (2)

4. “It’s the drama Mick, I just love it”

Zara losing her Miss GB crown. Terry and Malin falling out over toastie gate. That feminism row between Jonny and Camilla. If there is one thing Love Island isn’t short of, its the drama and we simply cannot get enough. We all know we zone out when the producers spend too long showing the dates or the heart to heart chats. Give me the tweet challenge or a love triangle any day.

C9O1Yg6XoAM6sHc

5. The Lingo.

Chivey. It is what it is. Messaggeeee. Dead Ting. Drop me out. Loyal. The list goes on. It may sound like a foreign language to many but not to you. You know the ins and outs of the Love Island catchphrase book and you aren’t afraid to use it. What would we do without Olivia introducing us to the concept of ‘Dicksand’ or Maura bringing the word ‘Fanny flutters’ back? Well, I can tell you one thing for sure, that’s not a world I want to be in.  Sorry though Lucie, Bevvy just isn’t going to work.

And with that, I bid you goodbye. Enjoy the finale. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried & we have looked on in absolute horror but it’s been a hoot. Now to go and find where I left my social life…

giphy (4)

When did the word ‘Influencer’ get so dirty?

Opinion
influence
/ˈɪnflʊəns/
noun
1.
the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.
 
It’s a word that makes some of us cringe more than hearing the word ‘moist’ or ‘mulch’ said out loud. It’s certainly become a dirty word in the blogging and journalist community in recent years but what exactly is the stigma behind this 21st-century business model for marketing?
 
Hands up if you are someone that skips past an official ad on social media…
Keep your hands up if you still find yourself following Instagram accounts that post ads or recommendations for products…
 
giphy (1)
 
 
We all consider ourselves super ‘woke’ when it comes to the big green monster that is corporate advertising, a small percentage of us even use ad-blockers or incognito mode in order to keep our cookies firmly in the jar and out of targeted ad campaigns grasp but yet psychologically we do not have the same aversion to a post by Selena Gomez holding a glass bottle of coke or Zoe Sugg using her KitchenAid mixer to make a pancake recipe from her own book. One huge difference, these are posts on their personal Instagram accounts, they are “real”, or at least they feel real. So, the kings of manipulation changed their tactic and the influencer was born. Big or small, it doesn’t really matter, this is advertising and it’s delivered directly to a concentrated market.
 
The demise of the Influencer bubble seems to have started with the widely publicised Fyre Festival fiasco which tarnished the name of many a high profile celeb and brought Influencer marketing into the spotlight for questioning. I’m not sure that the wave of ‘Influencer hate’ is thrown at the likes of multi-millionaires Kendall Jenner or Emily Ratajkowski though. Whilst they certainly have influence they are not Influencers, they are models, actors or performers. Let’s be perfectly honest here when we talk about Influencers what we really mean is that circle of Instagram where Bootea is a food group and cheap, fast fashion is king (I’m looking at you Pretty Little Thing).
 
Vacuous beautiful people posting beautiful photographs of beautiful things. Did I hit the nail on the head? I can’t begin to pretend that some ‘Influencers’ aren’t just that, looking for the next quick buck off an easy upload of a protein shake that will most certainly rot your insides. In a world where we are obsessed with removing labels, we are all too happy to label bloggers, Instagrammers and social media fanatics with the Influencer label along with all of the negative connations it carries. 
 
Just researching this piece I found comments like “Influencer scum”, “freeloaders”, “one of the vainest, inefficient, unreliable jobs ever”. Do a quick Twitter search of ‘blogger’ and it’s not all too dissimilar. Yet, some of the comments I found about Influencers are written by bloggers. Oh, the irony. The main grievance seems to be the concept of Influencer marketing, not so much with brands reaching out to bloggers/influencers for collaboration but rather the other way around. Sadly there are all too many examples on social media of restaurants/brands publicly shaming people for reaching out to do a collab, many are rude and hurtful, many stories like the one in the press recently about charging Influencers double drum up hateful and often insidious comments and surely that is the real horror behind it all.
 
For generations Creatives have been asked for free work for ‘exposure’ or ‘experience’, Some of the best internships in the world are still unpaid but this power shift toward Influencers and Influencer marketing is really rubbing people up the wrong way. Again, I digress. I’m not writing this to have a Question time debate on the ‘blaggers, not bloggers’ scandal. I’m here to understand when the word Influencer got so dirty.
 
 
giphy (3)
 
 
Scan back to the top and read the dictionary meaning again. It’s neither a positive or negative word, stick an -r on the end though and you’re in a whole new world. Bloggers shake in their boots at anyone daring to call them by the I word, they balk at the mere mention of the word and hasten to stick it on others in big red letters. I’m taking the word back. It’s fetch and it’s going to happen.
 
Influence, as long as it is positive, is such a wonderful thing to have on a person. One post of a coffee and cake can bring tens, even hundreds of people to a local business they would have never discovered before, sharing a cool eco-friendly product can influence people to be more responsible with their shopping and a mental health post can influence someone to go and have a chat. Influence is a powerful thing, for both the good and the bad. If you are able to make an impact or influence a decision toward something good then go you!!! Social media is so often tarnished in a bad light and maybe I’m just annoyingly positive but isn’t there something very pure about a platform that gives so many people of all different opinions, creeds, races the opportunity to share their opinion? Isn’t it sad when that is torn down simply because someone doesn’t agree?
 
Please don’t sell Bootea though, use your powers for good, share things you love, rant about plastic pollution and veganism, promote lovely little independent businesses. Just don’t tear others down. You aren’t perfect, I’m not perfect, but we can all influence each other to be a little bit more so.
 
See what I did there…
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Always the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride

Lifestyle

You know the film. Katherine Heigl shamelessly piling bridesmaid dresses back into her wardrobe after the cynical Wedding column journalist stumbles upon them. Each dress is more of a monstrosity than the last but it’s ok! Don’t panic! She finally gets to be a Bride in the end. Praise the Lord. Hallelujah.

I have been a bridesmaid seven times. Five of those have occurred as a woman in my twenties. It’s not quite twenty-seven times but it certainly feels that way sometimes. I have heard “Always the bridesmaid…” precisely one billion times, in a close second is “When do you think it’s your turn?”. Well, I have taken some time to consider these statements and I would like to address them once and for all:

I just really love pretty dresses and free food.

Vince.gif

Glad I’ve addressed this. No, all joking aside, what is wrong with being a bridesmaid!? It is one of the best life experiences ever. You get to spend 6-18 months (depending on how crazy/organised your friends are) to help them plan one of the most important days of their life, you usually get to look really bloody fancy for the day AND you get to unashamedly use a willy straw or wear something super tacky on a hen do. Most importantly, you get to do all of that, without the insane stress of being the bride. I am not ready to have an anxiety attack over whether my foundation contains SPF or not, or whether the ribbon on my place cards is one shade darker than the ribbon on my chairs. I am not ready for that level of stress. I am the girl that agonises over the organisation of a works Christmas party, imagine adding in a wedding-sized budget, 150 of your nearest and dearest and a huge, legally binding commitment into that.

*laughs nervously*

“When will it be my turn?” –  When I want it to be. I’m not sure I am a big believer in needing to be engaged to be married. I’m really fortunate to be surrounded by so many happy, healthy couples, both married and not. I remember as a little girl I used to think it was so odd that my Aunt & Uncle in Guernsey had been together all their lives but never married. They owned a house, even bought a ring but never actually ‘tied the knot’. the older I’ve got the more I’ve respected that decision. Committing a life to each other with no actual commitment at all. A conscientious choice to spend that life together. As a twenty-something woman, there is this constant flashing sign above my head that says ‘Not yet engaged’ in big neon letters, it shines brighter with each year that passes. Eventually, I imagine it getting so large that I turn into some kind of female version of Atlas, carrying my neon sign above my back, numerous cats perched on top of course, my back hunched and my hair grey from many years as a spinster.

Oh and by the way, I’ll just leave this here:

Spinster –

  • spin. ster.
    • An unmarried woman regarded as beyond the age of marriage.

Bachelor

  • bach.e.lor
    • A man who is not married

How did we get spinster!? Bachelor conjures up images of gorgeous, greying Clooney. Spinster conjures up images of that witch in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Warts and all.

giphy-1

I digress. Engagements are lovely, please don’t get me wrong, I fawn and I swoon each time I see one of those picture-perfect engagements, the loved up selfie, hand to the camera, showing off the rock with that huge love drunk grin. It really is gorgeous and I will inevitably be counting the days until I can stalk your wedding photos. An engagement always seems to feel eternally impending. It’s the flashing light hanging above our heads until it finally happens of course and the light fades to grey but instead reads ‘Have you set a date yet?’

It’s no surprise that women proposing to men is on the up, Vogue reported last year that there had been a 336% increase, I’d say at least half of those are probably done by women sick of being asked ‘When is it going to happen?’. Ok, no that is cynical of me but it does get old doesn’t it? Being a bridesmaid, on the other hand, never gets old. I get to drink copious amounts of free champagne, organise insanely fun hen parties and get to wear a really pretty dress for the day. Oh, and what do we all know about bridesmaid dresses? You can just shorten them and wear them again.

No wait, that’s a total fucking lie because who has the energy to take a dress to the tailors/can still sow. It is 2019. Lets just Depop it and move on.

giphy

The Coconut Tree – Cardiff

Cardiff, Cardiff Eats, Food

d76a7c96-4f54-4dbb-824d-ea64f3010125

Mill Lane is the hub of Cardiff for me. When the sun shines each bar and restaurant is awash with crowds. Cold glasses of white wine and lager lining the tables, Hoards of people gathered into Peppermints outdoor seating area until it’s standing room only, couples and friends sat on the patio tables lining Wyndham Arcade enjoying colourful dishes from Bills or Ask. In the Winter you won’t find much difference. We are Welsh, after all, there is nothing that a jumper and an outdoor heater won’t solve. It doesn’t matter what time of year you walk this avenue, Mill Lane is always awash with Cardiff life.

In comes, The Coconut Tree, a Sri Lankan bar and restaurant started up by a group of friends that met just outside Colombo. They specialise in serving up Sri Lankan Street Food, but not only that, they also specialise in bringing the Sri Lankan ethos and zest for life to their restaurants.

7617634051037593950_IMG_0558

The Coconut Tree sits between the infamous 10 Mill Lane bar and the equally infamous and mysteriously named, Private Shop. I guess you could say they are in good company. Inside you would be mistaken to think you were in a cool bar in Colombo or Seminyak. Dim lighting, bright exposed street art, those low wooden tables with the tiny chairs that make you feel like you are at a children’s party, patterned cushions that remind me of *those* trousers that your friend comes back with from their “Gap Yarr” in Thailand and Bali, along with their new found love for yoga and a nasty case of VD. The ceiling is papered with assorted pages from Sri Lankan newspapers, great if you are a cricket fan, it doesn’t take long to find a few stories featuring their national team. My favourite part? The bar. Two pence pieces lined up perfectly and set in place with a glittery resin. If I could pull this off in my kitchen, I would. The barware is an assortment of copper cocktail accessories and brightly coloured ceramic glasses, including the beautiful elephant, Ruby.

9b59244d-d2ca-4bed-acd3-20fa3c829e68

The venue isn’t designed to be your quiet, romantic, secluded spot for date night. It’s loud, the music is masterpiece after masterpiece, the dishes are made to be shared and you are meant to get your hands dirty. They haven’t put rolls of kitchen paper on the tables for you to get precious about cutting your chicken wings with knives and forks.

We started with a few cocktails, sorry, I should say Cocotails, much like everything else on the menu they are extremely reasonably priced. When you consider that you are paying around the £13/£14 mark at the likes of The Alchemist these are an absolute delight at between £6-£8! There may be no sight of smoke or bubbles but these handcrafted cocktails are just as impressive and pack a punch.  We tried the Drunken Sri Lankan and the Sri-presso Martini to start us off. The first is a showstopper in appearance, taste, and concept. Ceylon Arrack – a traditional Sri Lankan spirit, Ginger Beer, Cointreau, Turmeric and Fresh Lime all served up in the cutest jade green ceramic glass in the shape of Ruby the Elephant. It’s very reminiscent of a Dark and Stormy but with a tiny hint of fire at the end from that added turmeric. If you’ve seen my Instagram post already about this cocktail then you already know why this drink is a winner in my eyes. Every drink that The Coconut Tree serves with Ceylon Arrack contributes to the care of real-life Ruby the Elephant and her band of buddies all being cared for by The Elephant Transit Home. The second, the Sri-presso Martini, which by the way is near impossible to say sober let alone after 2 or 3, is perhaps the best take on an Espresso Martini that I have ever had. Coffee-infused Arrack, Cardamom Syrup, and Coffee Liqueur. Creamy, fragrant, far too easy to drink, these are totally lethal because there is no way you will only have one. In fact, of all the Cocotails we tried, that statement is probably true of all of them, even ‘Ruby’s Mum’ which serves five. No judgment here. So let me just summarise:

Reasons why you should relocate your next cocktail hour to The Coconut Tree:

  1. They won’t break the bank. Cocktails start at £6 and even the sharing cocktails start at just £15. Your bank manager will thank you.
  2. They are going to look super cute on your Instagram feed. After all, if it’s not on Instagram, Did it even happen?
  3. Most of the cocktails contain some sort of spice or fresh fruit which we all know is good for you. Turmeric is a super food, coconut is good for your heart, Ceylon is packed of antioxidants, Mint even helps with stress. This isn’t a cocktail bar, it’s essentially a health retreat.
  4. Elephants are adorable, they also need a lot of looking after, Order a few ‘Ruby’s’ and sit back and daydream of her frolicking with all of her little elephant mates thanks to your kind contribution.

34c17924-a6a9-485e-9f47-3b820ee26268744af013-8c92-48eb-81ba-3804b87f06d3b2928a71-2781-4d67-b13f-0261c90eb1d5nAnAUMPBS6OLa78GwRHV6Q

Everything you order in The Coconut Tree follows a trend. It would be an insult to say it is ‘cheap and cheerful’ because whilst it is both those things, it is so much more. The food is designed to be luxury Sri Lankan street food. Reading the menu, it promises an explosion of colour and flavour and Boy… does it deliver just that.

I am a huge fan of spicy food. When Joe first met my parents the poor lad had never really eaten anything spicier than a tikka dish, then my mum serves up the infamous Jerk Pork that she makes with fresh scotch bonnet chilies. I didn’t know whether he was crying, sweating or a mixture of the two. Meanwhile, I’m sat there scrapping the marinade off the bottom of the pan with a piece of leftover bread. When I come across a restaurant in the UK like The Coconut Tree that promises to serve up cuisine notorious for spice and heat, on most occasions I’m left feeling a little disappointed. We were lucky enough to try quite a range of dishes, small dishes designed so that you can share them and try a bigger range. Once the first few dishes arrived my spice seeking cynicism took all of 2 seconds to dissipate. Each dish was punchier than the last. A side of chickpeas would normally sound like a bit of a take it or leave it dish, these were more like try it or regret it. Chickpeas stir-fried in coconut oil, onions, garlic, mustard seeds & chilies and topped with shredded coconut they were full of flavour and carried a good whack of heat, even for me.

5054381214579045454_IMG_0618

Cheesy Columbo – Fried cheese cubes in a sticky, sweet sauce – £5

An assortment of dishes quickly followed. Devilled chicken wings, Black Pork, Jaffna Goat Curry. All served up in white enamel bowls, all steaming hot, packed full of flavour and creating the most wonderful aroma in the air. The Kotthu, a fusion street food, is by no means a looker, it looks really like a pack of stir-fried veg you’ve just picked up from Tesco Express. Nope, this deserves more than a Tesco label, this deserves a sexy M&S Ad with that weirdly erotic voiceover. Shredded roti, mixed vegetables and eggs running through it, you can opt to add in chicken or cheese but this dish is perfect just as it is, incredibly moreish and yet again, full of flavour.

5689863336679858140_IMG_0602

Devilled Chicken Wings – £5

Other standouts? Hot Battered Spicy Cuttlefish, covered in a stocky, spicy glaze, piping hot and wonderfully crisp and the tradiitional Hopper, a bowl-shaped coconut milk pancake served with a runny fried egg, coconut sambal, caramelised onions with a hint of cinnamon & Sri Lankan salsa. Mix up the filling and then roll this into a pancake to enjoy. This definitely had a taste reminiscent of Caribbean jerk seasoning, lots of herbs, spices, and a slightly smokey finish.

fullsizeoutput_2d2f

Hot Battered Spicy Cuttlefish – £7

This is going to sound so unbelievably corny but The Coconut Tree feels like so much more than a restaurant and bar. It feels authentic, the focus isn’t on creating Sri Lankan inspired dishes with a hefty price tag and suited to a more Western palette, the focus is on serving real Sri Lankan dishes and flavours just like you would find them on the island. The staff are warm and many of them themselves hail from Sri Lanka, they’ve even brought over some of their Grandma’s in order to get inspiration on the menu, it doesn’t get more authentic than that does it!?

e00da227-baf3-446c-9c9a-a4b941ce1c76

Egg Hopper – Coconut milk pancake, coconut sambal, seeni sambal & lunu miris – £3.50

83332f3c-7cb0-4e29-abda-d309336d348b

(L to R) Kotthu, Hot Battered Spicy Cuttlefish, Chickpeas

31f45aa3-aa21-41f5-b8d8-ce89e6c7a30b

Kotthu – Shredded roti stirfried with vegetables and egg – £5

72ecd78f-2964-4721-a9a5-fbd3bb8096b031038d31-0b6d-4d8c-b13a-8d8b8825a2409b59244d-d2ca-4bed-acd3-20fa3c829e68-2932699464559545012_IMG_0595

 

Where? 10 Mill Lane, Cardiff

Price? Cheap!! Dishes range between £2.50-£8.

*I was invited to the opening of The Coconut Tree and all dishes were complimentary, however, thoughts are all my own and there was no obligation to post.

Nike’s Latest Campaign, Body Positivity and Dreaming Crazier.

Lifestyle

A few days ago in my usual pre-bedtime Instagram browse, I saw a story that blogger Callie Thorpe had posted – It showed a ”plus-size” mannequin in the Nike store wearing a sports bra and some fitted leggings. Nike continuously amazes me with its latest ads and campaigns. Their ”Dream Crazier” ad last year brought me to tears. The press had twisted and turned Serena Williams outburst at an umpire and headlines everywhere were painted with the words ”unstable” ”hormonal” ”erratic”. I am a huge sports fan, almost every game I watch a male player shout at the ref or an opposition player, but that’s passion right? No headline here.

“If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic. If we want to play against men, we’re nuts. And if we dream of equal opportunity, we’re delusional. When we stand for something, we’re unhinged. When we’re too good, there’s something wrong with us. And if we get angry, we’re hysterical, irrational, or just being crazy…So if they want to call you crazy, fine. Show them what crazy can do.”

It got me. Serena Williams, Simone Biles, Alex Morgan… iconic sports stars all saying a big fuck you to a slew of double standards and all through the medium of what was yet another fantastic Nike campaign. So, when I looked at that photograph of the mannequin my first thought was *clap, clap, clap* Nike does it again.

Now here I am, just over 48 hours later reading an article published by The Telegraph entitled “Obese mannequins are selling women a dangerous lie” by journalist Tanya Gold.

“An immense, gargantuan, vast. She heaves with fat. She is, in every measure, obese, and she is not readying herself for a run in her shiny Nike gear. She is, more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement.”

Read that. Read it again because I can guarantee if you were annoyed reading it the first time, you’ll be outraged after reading it the second time around.

Let me first make myself very clear. I am a UK size 10. Sometimes I love my figure and sometimes I hate it. I play sport, I love sport, I live for it in fact. Do you know what is the worst part of participating in sport or fitness for me? The clothes. The activewear that I only ever see on a minuscule model or mannequin. I pull that Lycra up over my sizeable arse and to put it frankly, I feel like utter crap every time. I see it squeezing me in all the areas I hate. I feel it pulling up or falling down when I’m running. I feel it tighten the hotter and sweatier I get. Each time, I dread that feeling. All that, and I’m a size 10. A so-called healthy weight.

I watch each Nike campaign and want nothing more than to get onto the netball court, to go for a run, to start a gym session. They empower me. The diversity of their campaigns. The focus on power, strength, and determination. Regardless of your race, creed, gender, AND weight. I look at that Nike mannequin and it is yet another stride toward our focus on who we are and not what we are. It is a big middle finger to sports clothing labels that don’t go above a size 12. It’s a big middle finger to everyone, who just like me, whether you are a size 4 or a 24, feels like absolute garbage anytime they put activewear on because we are only exposed to one image of what working out should look like.

Tanya Gold’s main argument seems to be that by being representative of a ”plus size” woman Nike are encouraging obesity and bad health. I imagine that Miss Gold has not expressed the same opinions when seeing mannequins in the brightly coloured windows of Topshop, Oxford Street – mannequin after mannequin adorned in beautiful, tiny clothes, no bigger than a size 4 at best. Did she express her concern with promoting unhealthy habits then? Did she spare a thought over the growing cases of eating disorders in young women in the UK? I doubt it.

Nike is a brand that is now synonymous for its indiscriminate campaigns and ads. This latest move to use ”plus-size” mannequins is not a promotion of bad health. I would be a fool if I were to say that there is no direct correlation between weight and health, that correlation, however, is not strictly reserved for those that are considered obese. Health is not something you see. You cannot simply look at a person and decide whether they are or are not healthy. A few years ago I embarked on an absolute absurd diet in order to look my best for my trip to Santorini. It didn’t verge on obsessive, it was obsessive. I lived for someone telling me how skinny I looked, it only motivated me to eat less and less. I’m not really sure now looking back what stopped that mentality but I wasn’t healthy. I was starving myself, I was struggling with my body image, I had a huge eczema flare up because I was starving my body of nutrition, but boy, did I look good in a bikini.

Nike’s use of this new size mannequin is a promotion of strength, determination, and power. It’s a nudge to all of us that have felt disgusting in gym gear because we don’t have abs. Its a little whisper in your ear that you shouldn’t give up on sport or exercise just because you don’t look like Miss Gym Bunny 2019. It’s a Welcome to Nike as you walk in their store entrance because you aren’t afraid of someone pointing and laughing at you being there.

Miss Gold’s article has taught me one thing, however. I don’t know what dress size she is, I don’t know what she looks like, I don’t actually know anything about her. I won’t judge her based on her dress size or her image. I will, however, judge her on her words and the discrimination, prejudice and discriminatory behavior she has today promoted. I can do that, that is my right, as a size 10, as a size 6, as a size 20. It doesn’t matter. Discrimination isn’t for just the attacked to defend, it’s for all of us to defend and I’m glad to see a global brand do just that.

In a world where we are all discussing mental health and self-care more and more each day, how can we deign to put body types into categories – Healthy or unhealthy? As if it is something that we can see just by checking our clothing labels. I know other people will look at me and say ”she’s a size 10, what has she got to worry about?” but yet I still get that sinking feeling when I go to pull on my sports bra for my run. I still dread going to the gym because of how self-conscious I feel. I still buy my activewear online because I can’t think of anything worse than going into a sports store and trying anything on. All of that has to change. Sport is for us all, so is health, so is fitness.

So, Fuck you Tanya Gold. I’ll leave you with this.

Summer of Street Food

Cardiff Eats, Food

I’m pretty sure some of the best meals of my life have been from street food vendors. Those blue crab samosas from a vendor in Barbados, Jerk pork cooked on corrugated sheeting in Jamaica, Gyros from a small truck in Santorini. There is just something about street food that sets my world on fire (and usually my mouth because I’m too greedy to wait for it to cool down) but this summer there’s no need to jet off to an exotic location. You can get your street food fix right here in sunny South Wales.

Whether you are more halloumi fries or roti wraps there are so many options this summer for you to indulge in. Here are a few of my faves and a few tips to get you through the street food season.

Vendor recommendations:

5B50EABD-FBB6-4478-BAF4-E91720BE7971

The Bearded Taco

I just want to know how I haven’t tried these tacos up until a few weeks ago. Seriously, lust-worthy. With both Mexican and American influences The Bearded Taco team, Sian and Jake, seriously know what’s up when it comes to good quality street food.

Recommended: Their Let’s Avo Cwtch taco really is the talk of the town. Gin & tonic tempura avocado with lemon & agave slaw, vegan chipotle aioli, and fresh coriander.

ZD%pWmugRPqx%umEJ%3XtwBACBDC29-B8EB-4AD3-92EE-0A2C0404FF6B

Assembelly

In a sea of wraps, pizzas and burgers, Assembelly stands out of your usual street food crowd with its array of local, seasonal produce and beautifully fresh seafood. Toby Bradley-Watson is the brains behind the brand and he has more than a few strings on his cooking prowess bow – namely a stint at Rick Stein’s flagship restaurant in Padstow. This is a company who take their seasonal ethos seriously so don’t expect to see the same items popping up time after time. One thing I can assure you is no matter what the menu, the food is out of this world.

Recommended: If you are lucky enough to get your hands on this then go for the award-winning bacon & scallop roll.

67d9ebf5-7a3d-45c1-9dca-7b71d4de65cbBA4B3B07-B348-477F-A58E-45DE63B3DDBD

The Beefy Boys

I almost feel like a con artist listing this burger aficionado because there is no way that you don’t know about them already. Four amateur grillers turn grill masters. The Beefy Boys are firmly on the Worlds burger scene after coming second at the World Food Championships in Las Vegas and there is no sign of that changing anytime soon. Their burgers are 100% Hereford beef and served medium rare. No binding agent here, they are 100% beef.

Recommended: The Chipotle Boy. Served on their semi-brioche bun with a smokey and creamy chipotle sauce, bacon, Swiss cheese, American cheese, lettuce, onions and pickles.

IMG_7708

 

Events/Pop-ups:

Academy Espresso

The uber cool coffee bar situated in The Pumphouse, Barry serves up way more than lattes and a few cocktails, they also play host to the hottest street food vendors in South Wales. Most weekends you will find the likes of Puckin Poutine, Flour’d Up and Dirty Bird on their doorstep providing the perfect snacks to their ever-changing drinks menu. Keep a close eye on their Instagram page for their monthly street food line ups and any one-off special – My fave to date? Cereal cocktails!!

Cardiff International Food & Drink Festival

This one doesn’t really need much introduction. The hugely popular Cardiff International Food and Drink festival is scheduled this year for July 5th-7th. It’s an array of local, national and international produce that simply cannot fail to impress. This event gets insanely busy so try not to get there at peak times, i.e. lunchtime or early evening. If you are lucky, find a table in Roald Dahl Plass and sit and enjoy your street food with a cold beer and lots of free music & entertainment.

St Canna’s

I think probably my favourite place in Cardiff right now. James at St Cannas knows how to run a business, every month this little micropub has a fantastic line up of mini events. GoT screenings, Open mic nights, Theme evenings (Recently: Star Wars and a Eurovision night!!!!) and most importantly, Street food pop-ups from all of our regional favourites. Keep an eye on their Instagram page for confirmed dates.

Pembrokeshire/Aberystwyth Food Festival

Swansea Street Food Festival may now be in the past but there are still two more local festivals to look forward to. Pembrokeshire, 14th-16th June, and Aberystwyth, 19th-21st July. Both events are run by the fantastic team at Street Food Warehouse so it’s safe to say they will be events not to be missed! These festivals are a great opportunity to sample lots of regional food trucks in one day. Don’t show up with a full stomach!

a238d78f-68a7-472f-a86c-fb1306021e39D822EE6C-93A9-4339-9132-4E97849260DDB1C55F04-E357-49D9-8146-CEEACB8F47D8BCF08EC2-2E46-4605-9FC7-358CAB3792A0B8D4BDCD-2610-4651-86AA-7640F26BAC3C

Tips:

  1. Don’t be a fool, Don’t eat a huge meal before you arrive. Grab a banana en route so that you can try out a few different street food dishes without vomming in your car on the way back home. If not, you will arrive stuffed after your greasy fry up and have total food envy once you see the incredible, colourful tacos your mate has just ordered that you now can’t enjoy because you’re too full from your foolish breakfast choice and a single soggy churro.
  2. Share. Convince your best mate/partner/dog to go halfsies with you on everything and try double the dishes! Note: Please don’t actually share with your dog, they don’t appreciate gourmet cheesecakes the same way humans do.
  3. Dress appropriately. I don’t mean cover up. If you want your cleavage on display whilst scoffing down a burger you do you, hun. Just don’t wear the tightest item of clothing you have and then feel uncomfortable all afternoon when you have a food pot pressing into your jeans button. Wear something loose and let your belly do its thang.

 

Happy Eating Loves ♥

Disclaimer: I hold no responsibility for weight gained or money spent on delicious snacks.

source

Happily Ever Afters, Red Opera Gowns & Soundtracks

Lifestyle

I currently have a ‘must watch’ list of around five or six romantic films on my Netflix account. It doesn’t really matter what they are all about, boy meets girl, boy does something to hurt girl, boy makes a grand romantic gesture and gets the girl in the end. There are good, bad and ugly renditions of this age-old genre but I’ve seen them all. Mainly the ugly.

There is nothing that makes my little heart soar more than seeing Edward Lewis, at the end of Pretty Woman pulling up to Vivian’s home in his Lincoln Stretch Limousine, conquering his fear of heights to climb up the fire escape, all with a bunch of roses in hand, to kiss her and utter the immortal line:

Edward: So what happened after he climbed up the tower and rescued her?
Vivian:
giphy

 

Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman plays out. The tears run down my face. I spend the next thirty minutes yearning for a real life romantic moment with diamond necklaces and red opera gowns.

What happens after the credits roll though? What happens after those immortal words? What happens after they go back down that fire escape?

Everyone knows by now that Disney and rom-coms are behind our misguided expectations of romance and flowers in our relationships but what if actually we’ve been reading it wrong all along. What if we start understanding that after those credits roll the romance still continues but its more pyjamas and takeaway than operas and polo?

We constantly associate the word romance to images of grandeur, extravagance and overt displays of affection. Whether we like it or not these moments just don’t have longevity kids. Unless of course you are married to Kanye West for whom filling a mansion full of roses is just another day. We are creatures of habit, after all, we get comfortable with our loved ones, we slip into that beautiful haze of monogamy. We forget about wearing matching lingerie every day or greeting them at the door wearing nothing but a tie (Sorry I’m back to Pretty Woman again). Everything has a life span, nothing is forever and so why do we treat stages of relationships like they are?

Last month I was stricken with the worst kind of period pain. The kind that makes you want to curl up and cry watching The Notebook. In a hormonal struggle, I ended up highly upset that I couldn’t find my hot water bottle, as we all know, our uteruses best friend in moments like this. Joe disappeared to our corner shop and a few moments later returned with some rubber gloves and a pillowcase which he proceeded to shape into a makeshift hot water bottle for me. Tell me that is not romance. Admittedly my yellow marigolds probably don’t scream Richard Curtis movie but at that moment I truly thought this was one of the most romantic things anyone had ever done for me.

 

giphy-3

 

We have been together for five years now and yes, I cannot lie, some days I  watch one of my beloved romantic films and yearn for those moments of romantic bliss and there is nothing wrong with that. In those moments though, I’m missing the real romance. I’m missing him ordering us pizza even though he keeps telling me “pizza is just a snack” because he knows I love it. I’m missing him leaving me a cup of tea on my bedside table in the morning even though I’ve grumpily kicked him out of bed in my post wake rage.

We are all missing what’s going on after the credits. It isn’t all opera, red gowns, and soundtracks but it is romance, and in possibly it’s sweetest, most wonderful form. We hear so many cases today of relationships breaking down because the spark has gone, and perhaps it is, or perhaps we are so accustomed to thinking that the absolute fireworks, passion, and romance of a new relationship should be forever that we tell ourselves it isn’t working. Yes, a spark and chemistry are important but let’s not forget that sparks do not live forever. They are not limitless beings. They need to be tended constantly and ultimately they do die out. Edward Lewis doesn’t climb up the fire escape each week with red roses and a swoon-worthy line. I certainly am not casting one of the greatest Hollywood movie romances to the ashes though. I am convinced that the credits roll and many years later Vivian is sat on her custom chaise lounge in her old Rolling Stones tee eating cold noodles vying for those days of diamonds and raunchy evenings on a grand piano but also counting down the seconds until Edward gets home from his latest billion dollar business trip.

If only the movie industry were only permitted to release Richard Curtis romantic comedies. The ones that make us ugly cry because the moments are true and painfully relatable. Bridget Jones with her dodgy makeup because she didn’t apply it in the right lighting, Emma Thompson heartbroken when she finds THAT necklace, Rachel McAdams trying on dress after dress in About Time in an emotional flurry. Now that isn’t to say these movies are realistic, they are movies after all and there is a reason we all flood to watch them in our gaggles of friends. They are truer though, they show the tough side of love, the side that comes after the whirlwind, the side that reminds us that there is more to relationships than opera gowns and soundtracks. There are marigold hot water balloons, pizza takeaways and surprise cups of tea. What more could you want?

giphy-2

 

 

 

Recipe – The Ultimate Hangover Cure Sandwich

Recipes

Picture the scene. Hair matted, the ends sticky and tangled with some sort of sugary cocktail, I’m wearing last nights skirt around my waist and a manky old Rolling stones top, there is an untouched glass of water on my bedside table and a crumpled pile of receipts. It’s the hangover from hell. It’s the type of hangover that only a grease fuelled takeaway will solve. Well, that, or my breakfast sandwich. I use the word ‘my’ loosely because I have definitely kind of stole the basis of this idea from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings recipe book. We are essentially the same person though so it’s fine.

This is the kind of breakfast sandwich that when you bite into it you end up with egg yolk and sriracha sauce all down your My Little Pony pajamas but just don’t give a damn. I guarantee you it will 100% sort your hangover though and you’ll be back to your fine self before you know it.

19c019f4-421b-4480-9490-41a971b0e78d

Ingredients

For the patties:

  • 500g Pork mince
  • 2 tsp ground sage
  • 2 grated garlic cloves
  • 1½ tsp of sea salt
  • 1½ tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ grated white onion

For the hashbrowns:

  • 1 large white potato (Think big jacket potato size)
  • Small knob of melted butter (About 50g)
  • ½ tsp of sea salt
  • ½ tsp of ground black pepper
  • Drizzle of vegetable oil for cooking

To finish off the sandwiches:

  • English Muffins x 4
  • American cheese slices
  • A generous squirt of Sriracha (optional)
  • Eggs

Method:

  1. Grab a bowl large enough to make your pork patties in. Add all of the ingredients for your patties and mix until incorporated. Add a drizzle of vegetable oil to help this process along. Once you are happy the ingredients are incorporated form the mix into approx 6-8 patties (depending on how big you want them)
  2. Put your patties to one side and begin grating your potato into a separate bowl. Don’t bother peeling. This is a no-nonsense recipe. Add the melted butter and seasoning to your grated potato and mix.
  3. Heat two frying pans to medium-high and add a touch of oil to each. Once the oil is sizzling, add your patties to one pan and press down slightly. These will take approx 4 minutes on each side to cook. Flip them so that you get that nice golden brown finish. Add your grated potato to the other pan and spread it out slightly so that it covers the bottom of the pan evenly. This is going to take about the same time as the patties, 4 minutes each side.
  4. Whilst everything is cooking, lightly toast your muffins and yes, we want our muffins buttered. Drizzle a bit of sriracha over the bottom of the muffins and add a slice of the American cheese to each.
  5. Remove your patties from the heat and start stacking them on your muffins. Use that same pan to fry up a few eggs, 1 for each sandwich. Whilst your eggs are sizzling away cut a few pieces of your giant hashbrown and layer it on top of your pork patties. Finally, top off with the fried egg and another squirt of sriracha.

Best served with: A large glass of cold water and Sex and the City re-runs. Enjoy hot and swiftly followed by a power nap.