Thoughts on packing day

1. I feel completely justified in eating 1/4 of a marble cake and downing it with what’s left of the wine. Waste is a sin after all. I don’t feel justified in mixing noodles and spaghetti to make my last meal in Cardiff. My parents would be so proud (Not).

2. In the process of trying to use up all my shower gel and hair products I now smell of a combination of raspberries, eucalyptus, honey and apricots. No wonder I have a headache!

The beautiful smell!

3. Isn’t it ironic that the time you thoroughly clean your flat is when you are leaving, prompting exclamations such as:’ I thought I brought that with me from Malta’! and ‘Didn’t know there were shoes in this box!’

4. I was so bored that I decided to watch a random programme on ITV player. Pity it was I Wanna Marry Harry. Could not last five minutes before my brain cells were screaming.

5. In cleaning my cupboard I could surmise that I have used about 400 teabags in the course of my stay here. This does not include tea at Rod or any other tea consumed. Should I be worried about my tea addiction consumption?

6. Is it still called charity when you are giving away things on the sole reason of not having space?

7. Despite complaining about lack of space, I still found space to fit in Bubbles. My aunt, I fear, will not be amused.

Allons-y Liberty House, you’ve been kind to me! Speak to all from my lovely temporary accommodation in the beautiful Woking.

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One year on : The weather

Do not believe them when they warn you about the weather. Do not believe them when they say you will never experience Summer in the UK.  Undoubtedly I have been lucky this year but the scares compelled to be wholly unprepared for the Indian Summer we are witnessing in Cardiff and other parts of the UK. This, of course, means that I have no summer wardrobe, no sunscreen and no sunglasses. Therefore as my scout husband would say : Always be prepared.

Walking home from the city centre today for the last time this year, I could almost hear a beach playlist playing in my head. You know, the type you would hear in the background as you’re sauntering across Ghadira bay for one of those Jamaican slushes from the kiosk (though you’re more likely to be hopping-running rather clumsily in the burning hot sand, but let’s not cut the romance!). The first thing I did on arriving was finding my previously saved Summer playlist off Youtube and play it for the first time in over a year.

Here is one just for you:

Spring in the City

Spring has always been my favourite season, but I clearly had no idea how good it could get. Spring in Malta is beautiful simply because the humidity seems to become more bearable and the sun doesn’t hide behind clouds.

Spring here is another thing completely. It is the true definition of growth, re-birth and colour. The weather has not yet improved substantially but the surroundings more than make up for it! As I may have said previously, the weather hasn’t been as bad as I imagined it to be and now, all this colour makes it all the more bearable.

To make use of my camera, and my Sunday, I set off to Bute Park. I first discovered Bute Park with my parents three weeks ago and have been waiting for the sun to come out to enable me a re-visit! It was windy and cold but I hardly noticed my purple fingers in my enthusiasm to take photos. The skeletons of winter are blossoming and although it may be described as an allergen nightmare, I love seeing the small flowers and berries make their appearance.

Bute Park is found right next to the Castle, and there is a small cafe at the entrance known as Pettigrew teahouse. Apparently, their afternoon tea is amazing! Within the park are the Sophia gardens (which some people insist on calling ‘Sapphire Gardens’ , and the Blackfrairs Frairy (or where the Frairy originally stood! – you can see a small model in the pictures). They have a number of wood carvings and stone structures and all in all it is perfect for a walk, jog or simply sitting down with a book to read!

My favourite flower here in Cardiff is no doubt the daffodil. the daffodil, together with leeks, are the national symbols of Wales. I had no idea daffodils could come in different colours apart from yellow. The prettiest are the orange and yellow ones although the white and yellow give a beautiful contrast too!

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Christmas in Cardiff

What?! The end of term already? We haven’t even started! Three months have come and gone already in this city that I have come to love so much! Part of me hardly wants to go home, basking in the Christmas glow that exists in the city centre! I know that here, I may very well have the White Christmas I’ve always wanted! Don’t get me wrong – I’m super excited to get home with family. Four more days before that lovely plane flight to home sweet home!

I have never felt the Christmas spirit as much as I do here. The weather is appropriate, the skeletons of naked trees in a background of grey. The autumn gold and red leaves replace the sun on these fantastic days. I will be going to the Christmas market down in city centre again today. The backdrop of the beautiful castle with bright blue stars makes it all the more wonderfully Christmassy!

 

I love the small wooden sheds full of local produce and handicrafts. The Welsh have many pretty trinkets but mostly I like their Welsh slate and their love spoons. The slate industry in Wales started in the Roman period but really expanded in the 19th century. The Cilgwyn quarry is the oldest one and I think it looks fantastic and even romantic!

Welsh Slate Wine racks The love spoons are another intricate piece of work which I really admire! It was traditionally presented as a romantic gift and is often used as wedding souvenirs in celebrations nowadays. It was important for the father of the bride to observe the work of the suitor to ensure the suitor could provide for his daughter and the household! This website has a list of all the symbols used on Welsh love spoons and their meanings.

Apart from handicrafts, there are the inevitable cider, beer and cheese stalls as well as Welsh cakes. It is a pity I cannot take them home with me because they will go stale by the time I arrive in Malta.  The German sausage stall and mulled wine stall fill the air with Christmas smells.  A few miles away from these picturesque stalls is Winter Wonderland, an exciting playground for children and adults alike. There is an ice skating rink and I actually saw real reindeer!

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There is another Christmas market in Cardiff Bay – mostly inside the Wales Millennium Centre. When I went last week there was an amazing orchestra playing songs from musicals as well as Christmas carols. There were shivers going down my spine at the beautiful saxophone. I bought more mulled wine and fudge from there – an excuse that I needed to keep warm!

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I feel the Christmas spirit here quite a lot – I feel it isn’t forced upon you but everything is simply more alive, more cheery, more friendly. It must be Welsh love! 

Celebrating one month in Cardiff

Waterloo tea complete with cake, scones, truffles , sandwiches and individuals pots of tea!
Waterloo tea complete with cake, scones, truffles , sandwiches and individuals pots of tea!

I spent the end of my first month in Cardiff in the best way possible – a day of great lectures with fabulous course mates, followed by plans to meet up in the evening for Sophie’s Birthday at the Pen and Wig. I went home then to cook some yummy food, enjoying the relaxation cooking brings, and cleared my room (not the best part of the day I will admit!). Switching on my computer to talk to my father and sisters, and then to spend a couple of hours with Emanuel, I could feel back at home in an instant.

Back from the great night out, I sat waiting for my mum to arrive in Cardiff for the first time. I knew that this would be followed the next week by Emanuel. What more could I want?

Both weekends were different and equally fantastic. I bought raisin and coconut bread for my Mum and went to Waterloo tea gardens for afternoon tea. This place is definitely recommended by my mum, my auntie (who joined from Surrey) and I. We were treated like princesses and the scones were by far the best I’ve tasted.

On Sunday we went to Cardiff Bay (I did this the following week with Emanuel). Once again, food is always sought after and Fabulous Welsh Cakes are true to their name. So much so, that Emanuel had to buy another packet of welsh cakes to take to my mum as my sisters had gobbled them up! Compared to the ones Emanuel and I ate at Cardiff Market they were scales of goodness above! With Emanuel we ate dinner at Cardiff Bay in a steakhouse called Miller and Carter. The steak was divine and was served with a delicious homemade onion loaf and a lettuce wedge (very fresh!) with a dressing of our choice. Considering the size of the rib-eye and the condiments that came with it, not forgetting the wine, we figured that for the same thing in Malta we would have paid at least twenty pounds more! That makes the wine taste sweeter when you’re a student 😉

I spent Monday morning with my Mum shopping in the massive St. David Mall.  As you can imagine we were exhausted by the end of it!  I then treated her to some lovely pizza from the Pizza Express chain restaurants! My Mum was impressed and that is saying something considering that her homemade pizzas are the best!

I was so happy to see both my mum and Emanuel, and missed my sisters and my dad – they would have loved it. It is nice to know that they have a bearing now on where I am staying and they can gauge how happy I am in this beautiful city. Emanuel also got the chance to meet some of my roommates and my friends which is even better, since now he knows them beyond Facebook!

My fair share of fairs! – Part I

2013-09-29 13.43.44 2013-09-29 13.26.51 2013-09-29 11.50.50 2013-09-29 11.47.35 2013-09-29 11.42.44 2013-09-29 11.32.39the various cheeses on display! 2013-09-29 11.25.53 2013-09-29 11.25.47 2013-09-29 11.25.38 2013-09-29 11.23.57 home made chocolate brownies at the fair!

2013-09-29 11.13.58 home made fudge! 2013-09-29 11.08.27 an amazing dragon made out of bread!

I have been meaning to write about the town and the beautiful things you can find in Cardiff. I will attempt to be more touristy with my Mum and Emanuel when they come over for a visit.

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However, a couple of Sundays ago, I spent a fantastic morning with Michelle and Haae at the Cardiff country fair. The background for the fair was spectacular since it was taking place in Cardiff Castle. The history of this castle is unbelievable, even more so when it is now surrounded by shopping malls, pedestrian streets and various other modern attachments! The first I heard of the Castle’s vast history is when I visited The Cardiff Story. It is a cute interactive museum mainly targeting children (which means I enjoyed it tremendously)

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The Castle is 2000 years old having been built (twice) by the Romans. Some roman foundations still remain.  It was initially more of a fort and had 10 inch thick walls! It served as a fort until the Romans left in 5th century. It was then an important naval base. In 1091 the Norman lord of Gloucester built his Norman castle here. It is a combined work of different eras with some people noting that it is too modern to be counted as a castle.

The roman masonry was not found until the dreaming of a certain Lord Bute (hence Bute Town / Bute Terrace/ Bute Park)  in the late 1800s. Now the roman walls are visible as you enter the castle. The beautiful thing about the castle is the Clock Tower. It clashes with the rest of the building since it is pretty much Victorian but I like this! More on the castle when I get access to the Key and actually go around!

The country fair was only taking place in the large lawn of the castle but this is a huge green space. The Welsh band was playing and the sun was shining and all sorts of people were sprawling on the grass making the most of it! The tents contained various interesting things – especially hand-made scarves made with unusual types of fabric! Most of the fair was dedicated to food and a bought a pot of orange thyme from Herbal Haven. It is still alive – which is very positive! I also bought raisin and coconut bread which is half-baked therefore can be frozen and baked  when wanted/needed. Another buy was two pies: one pork and apple and the other beef and stilton. They are a great size and work for when I do not feel like cooking!

I was very tempted (what an understatement!) to buy the cheeses. What a selection of cheeses! I tasted all kinds of variety of cheeses. My favourite was the smoked cheddar and the one with cranberries. Yummy stuff. I didn’t buy though since I know that I would have to finish a 200g cheese all by myself, which is not conducive to my health at all!

I’ll write about the vintage fair soon as well!

 

‘Roar!’ and my family’s gifts.

Have you heard Katy Perry’s new song? Roar! I seriously love it and it is my main packing song. Makes me feel like I’m going to be my “own hero” in Cardiff! It gives me motivation and drive. Not such a fan of the video though, I’ve seen better coming from her (Wide Awake must be one of her best!)

Yesterday was family day; making the most of my family before I bugger off. It is truly amazing how much they know me because their gifts consisted of:

–          A recipe book for salads! (Yum!)

–          A photo frame of the whole family for my new desk with the beautiful words “Family- a patchwork of love” AND

–          An OWL keychain! (squee)

We went to Il-Veduta restaurant in Mdina/Rabat and the food there is always lovely. It is a special place for my family because my grandfather used to love it. It was also the place where my Dad let us know he was leaving to Bahrain for a brilliant opportunity that gave so much to each member of our family! The view from the restaurant is another magnificent plus, hence the Maltese name of the restaurant ‘Veduta’ meaning view in English!

 

A great night to treasure during any lonely nights in Cymru!