REVIEW: Jamie’s Italian, Cardiff

On a cold Monday night in February it was a delight to go to Jamie’s Italian in Cardiff City centre to catch up with friends and celebrate a birthday….

In terms of location, it couldn’t be much handier, bang smack in the centre of Cardiff and attached to the St David’s 2 shopping/food complex.

As it was dark, I didn’t manage to get any decent photos of the interior to share with you, but it’s big, airy, modern yet full of Italian-style details eg rustic crockery. It was busy and bustling, but felt relaxing and intimate at the same time…

So what did we eat? The three of us of all chose the same starter… Crab and avocado bruschetta (£6.70) which looked amazing and tasted even better! We agreed it was like a flavour explosion with yoghurt, chilli and fennel all complimenting the crab and avocado…. Really delicious and a perfect starter!

 

crab and avocado bruschetta at jamies italian
crab and avocado bruschetta at jamies italian
 
 
Then it was time for the main course, I chose the ‘famous prawn linguine’ (£13.50) and again this was delicious, great egg pasta (made daily on the premises) and lovely flavours of prawn, garlic, chilli, tomato, saffron, fennel and lemony rocket… None of which overpowered each other, it was actually very soothing (comfort food!) Yum!

 

prawn linguine at jamies
prawn linguine at jamies
 
My friends had the classic tagliatelle bolognese (£10.95) and something I’d not heard of before but an Italian favourite ‘Turkey milanese’ (£13.50) which is basically breadcrumbed Turkey with an egg on top! All the mains were enjoyed and devoured… I should have got a photo of the empty plates! 

Only negative we could really think of is that the Turkey would have been even better with some potatoes on the side, same reason I plumped for the pasta instead of a Seabass special they had on the board… Can’t eat meat/fish without carbs ;)! They do have fries and garlic bread on the sides menu but I’m surprised they don’t do some kind of crushed potatoes or something?

 

tagliatalle bolognese at jamies italian
tagliatalle bolognese at jamies italian
  
turkey milanese at jamies italian
turkey milanese at jamies italian

Now for the dessert course. At this stage one friend ducked out and had a hot chocolate – she told me tell it you was lovely! But the two pregnant ladies carried on 😉 I had the Amalfi lemon meringue cheesecake (£5.45) and it was so good! It was a decent portion but felt nice and light (guessing that’s due to the mascarpone) and it was so good I even ate most of the blackcurrants which I don’t normally like!

 

lemon meringue cheesecake at jamies italian
lemon meringue cheesecake at jamies italian
  
  I also had a lovely mint tea to wash it down with. My friend ordered the apple and blackberry pavlova (£5.45) and loved it, I wish I’d tried it as I’d been close to ordering it myself… I’ll have to have it next time… Looks amazing too!
 
apple and blackberry pavlova at jamies
apple and blackberry pavlova at jamies

So great location and interior, great food and now I have to mention our waiter Nedim. He’s been working there for 5 years which I thought was a good sign and reflects his passion for the food and brand. He told me how he’d lived in Italy for 6 years before moving to Wales and so that explains why he had a good knowledge on Italian food (I never knew fennel was good for digestion!). He was friendly, efficient and knowledgable, thanks for a lovely evening Nedim!
Thank you Jamie’s for a lovely night… Smiles all round and hopefully see you again soon!  


Small print: I was invited to review Jamie’s Italian in Cardiff, and was given vouchers towards the cost of the meal but we paid for the rest ourselves, and opinions are my own! 

 

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REVIEW: Funky little chickens hair salon and Cafe Junior, Cardiff

I’ll write a whole other post about it, but I had to get W’s haircut for the first time. There was nowhere else I would think of going other than Funky little chickens… I’d gone there for our baby massage classes and been well impressed with the  cars to sit in and dvd’s to watch, to keep the little ones distracted while they get their chopped off!

Since then they’ve set up shop in Cafe junior, Roath so I thought we’d kill two birds and try both!

Firstly I was mega impressed than when I phoned on a Friday afternoon they could fit W in at 0920 the next morning… A perfect time for us as we’ve already been up a couple of hours… And the traffic/parking is dead quiet at that time!!

I can’t remember the hairdresser’s name but she was lovely… She got straight to the task in a no-nonsense kind of way but she was very caring and great with W too.

He LOVED the car and it made him so happy that it took him several minutes to realise that something was happening to his hair!

The haircut was all done in about 10-15 mins. I think it normally costs £8 but of course I got carried away and spent the £4 for a certificate and lock of hair in a box! As well as a great product and service, I do love their branding and little touches!

So, haircut done and this gave us free access to Cafe junior, a cafe/softplay that also opens as a family-friendly bistro in the evenings. I’d wanted to try this place out a lot when I was on maternity leave but the parking in Roath put me off every time!

But here we were, we finally made it! We were the first ones in that morning so W loved having the run off the place while me and the other half were able to have coffee/brekkie on a comfy sofa… Very relaxing atmosphere with even relaxing music being played!

I loved it… Totally different to the bigger softplay places that can feel a bit claustrophobic and loud. Cafe junior has high ceilings and a very, light airy feel.

Cafe junior
Cafe junior

I’d take a punt and say it was the most middle-class place of its kind in Cardiff. While we were there,  some dads met for breakfast/toddler play dates (never seen that before!) a well-to-do French lady and smart Italian man (not together!) enjoyed a coffee while watching over their kids.

It makes a refreshing change that you can sit comfily and even if your little one is ever so slightly out of sight, you know they’re fine… No hoards of big kids trampling over them, no ‘big kid’ equipment that they’re trying to clamber over… Just lots of excellent toddler toys… Wendy houses and the like.

I wonder how busy this place gets on a Saturday afternoon? We’ll definitely be back on a Saturday morning again, hopefully before his next haircut which could be another 16 months away 😉

small print: I wasn’t asked, or paid, to write this.. Just wanted to share our experience with you!

If you found this useful you might like 9 essential baby classes or a toddler’s afternoon in Cardiff bay 

A shopping trip to McArthur Glen Discount Outlet

Last weekend I had a few free hours while W and daddy went to watch some local rugby… So I thought I’d go for some retail therapy at McArthur glen which is just about 20 mins away.

It’s actually quite toddler-friendly… They have little tykes cars that they can drive round in, and there’s a play area.. I’m sure I will take W with me at some point but for this occasion is was nice to have some mummy time… And I ended up topping up his autumn/winter wardrobe with these beauties…. First off Gap where I got 2 long-sleeved vests, a long-sleeve top, lovely warm joggers and fleece-lined jeans for £40… A bargain for Gap 🙂

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Then off to Next where I picked up this lovely waterproof, fleece-lined coat for £17

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I bought a couple of other bits including my usual Yankee candle (lemon lavender mmmm) and treated myself to a couple of mummy pieces from Fat face… The skirt (£15) will have to wait till next summer but the jumper (£20) will be perfect for the next few months 🙂

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So a successful albeit slightly more expensive than planned afternoon! So lucky to have a discount outlet on our doorstep!

Cardiff bay…. from a mother and toddler’s viewpoint

I used to live within walking distance from Cardiff bay…. If we wanted to nip to the local, the local was essentially the range of pubs/bars/restaurants in Cardiff bay. So I have LOTS of drunken memories there, from sunny all-dayers to Christmas parties in the comedy club.

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Fast forward a few years and I popped down there a few weeks ago with W for our usual Friday trip! It was the last day of the summer long Cardiff Bay beach which I thought was ok, better for older kids. W is at that stage of running off everywhere so I would have enjoyed it more if the area was enclosed and he didn’t keep running off towards the deep water of the bay!

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After a runaround the ‘beach’ i popped him back in buggy and headed to the Wales millennium centre. Should have taken a photo but it’s a lovely armadillo-type building which hosts shows etc. it has a large indoor lobby and I knew they had a kids area. This seemed to be having a bit of a refurb but they did have 2 tables of Lego out so W was in his element just playing with these new toys!

Again, he eventually kept trying to escape (I really need to sort this out haha!) so it was time to leave (would Defo take him back there on a rainy day!!) and I thought I’d push him across the beautiful barrage where I knew there was a play area….

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On the way there I stumbled upon a little park that I’d never noticed before, nestled between a pub I used to frequent and the Norwegian church. It was perfect for W… Not too big but enough space to run around, totally enclosed and we had the place to ourselves!

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As I sat there watching him running round like a loon while I chilled out for 5, I guess it just struck me how places take on a different life when you’re a parent! I must have walked past this park a hundred times and never noticed it before, and over time I’ll probably know where all the soft plays are in Cardiff but not have a clue where the best pubs are (actually I think that’s already happened!)

A Sunday afternoon at National Trust’s Dyffryn Gardens

I’ve driven past the signs for Dyffryn Gardens a million times and always wondered what it was like…. my birthday a few weeks ago gave me the perfect opportunity to drag my other half and W there for a few hours…. and we all LOVED it!

It cost about £8 each to go in (W was free) – there’s a little play area before you even pay to go in, and a café and shop at the main entrance… but we headed straight towards the grounds… past the main house…

Dyffryn Gardens - the main house
Dyffryn Gardens – the main house

There was a large open space in front of the house… W loved running around, in and out of people playing croquet (eek!)

Dyffryn gardens
Dyffryn gardens

As you move around, then you enter a world of little small walled gardens of all styles… it was all so beautiful and well-kept, felt like magical secret gardens… here’s some pics….

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As you can tell, the weather was a bit overcast but we were still pleasantly surprised that it was very peaceful for a Sunday in school holidays – the area is so big I can’t imagine it ever feeling busy! We enjoyed it so much that we’re considering buying the annual National Trust membership (about £100) so that we can go here all the time – it’s only 20 mins or so away!

If you’re considering going with older children, I must add that I was very impressed – they had loads of activities running from making nests to cooking marshmallows on a fire, I can’t remember the rest but there was loads to do…. we’ll definitely be back!

Small print: We paid to go in with our own money, and opinions are my own. For more info visit their website

9 Baby Groups and Classes to do in Cardiff (or wherever you are really!)

You’ll know from baby W’s early days, we kept busy going to groups and lessons – they massively helped both of us so I thought I’d share my Top 9 with you.

  1. Swimkidz swimming lessons

I’m a bit scared of water, and I never wanted baby W to be… so he’s been having swimming lessons since he was 6 weeks old!  We’re now on our 3rd term, and we’ve already seen such progress – he’s happy to be dunked underwater, he’s learning how to ‘hold on’ and he’s kicking his legs and splashing his arms around, and will happily push himself into the water! There are a few other bonuses too:

  • we do the classes on a Saturday morning and so this is nice daddy/baby bonding time!
  • baby W might be small be is quite strong  – I can’t prove it but I wonder if the lessons have helped his strength?
  • he enjoys bathtime and I wonder if that’s to do with the lessons!?

We now pay £90 for a term of 10 lessons, quite a bit cheaper than their main competitor Waterbabies (apparently the lessons are very similar). Swimkidz operate around the UK, find your nearest class here but there are also lots of other companies that offer this in Cardiff and the area – I’ve heard of cheaper ones running at Howells school, and Hebron Hall in Dinas Powys – it’s worth asking around and choosing the one most convenient for you in terms of day and location!

2. Baby Massage

Baby W was about 2 months old when I took him to baby massage classes at Funky Little Chickens in Cardiff. He was going through a grouchy phase (similar to colic) so I thought this would help. He would never lie still for the lessons, he was like the naughty baby of the class (!) so we didn’t actually get to practise much while we were there.

So why I am I recommending it? Well Fiona is a lovely, warm, soothing teacher – and she gave us handouts of all the massages, so I started using these at home. As well as focusing on different parts of the body every week, she also gave us massages for particular needs e.g. colic, colds, teething etc – these have all come in handy as and when we’ve needed them! She also took us through some nursery rhyme exercises – these are fab and baby W loves them! I’m sure similar things can be found online, but I learn best face-to-face so for us this was worthwhile 🙂 I think we paid £50 for 6 lessons. Again, there are lots of other options around, but I can highly recommend Fiona!

3. Mother and baby yoga

I’ve practised yoga on and off for a few years, including when I was pregnant so I couldn’t wait to try mother and baby yoga! Everyone I asked recommended Emma from Pure Yoga and I would definitely agree – she was fab! I took baby W every week from around 3 months old until I had to go back to work when he was 8 months old. Classes cost £32 for 4 (she runs classes in Bridgend as well as Canton) and last 1.5 hours – each class does stretches for mum, stretches for mum including baby, the baby section with lots of nursery rhymes, time for a chat and then time for relax!

Our mother and baby yoga group (photo taken from PureYoga Facebook page)
Our mother and baby yoga group (photo taken from PureYoga Facebook page)

This really helped my achy back, and baby W enjoyed the rhymes (when he was in the right mood!). It was always a really nice bunch of mums there and one of the things I loved most about the class is that ‘anything goes’ – because it was an hour and a half long there was always at least one screaming baby so you didn’t mind if it was yours! Now I’m back in work I really miss this class and I really need to get back into yoga!

4. Tinytalk baby sign classes

For 10 weeks from around 6 months to 8 months old, we did a course of TinyTalk baby sign classes (I think it cost about £50) on a friend’s recommendation who said it had come in really handy when her daughter was too young to talk but was trying to communicate. The class teaches about 5 words/signs every week, through singing and singing! Then there’s always a dance, storytime and singing which baby W loved – lots to take in! The second half of the hour is then time for babies to play with a range of toys and time for mums to have a cuppa – again, always a really nice group of mums and baby W loved all the sensory toys they had there!

Unfortunately I hardly remember any of the signs and I didn’t practise enough at home, but I might buy their book/DVD as baby W is getting into the babbling stage so it should help him communicate a bit easier 🙂 They operate around the UK and there is an alternative called Sing and Sign.

5. Totsplay – massage, yoga, baby sign and play

Confession – we didn’t do Totsplay so I can’t truly recommend it BUT I met LOTS of mums who were doing it who all recommended it and basically it sounds like a combination of classes 2- 4 above i.e. baby massage, yoga, signing and lots of play. I’m not sure how much it costs but I think you have to sign up for about 6 weeks or so. They operate around the UK – find out more here.

6. Mother and baby groups – Bambino’s and Jellybabies

From when baby W was about 3 months old, I tried to go to a mother and baby group every week – these are just informal groups where babies can play with play gyms and toys while the mums chat. I went to Jellybabies in Taff’s Well every Wednesday where a couple of friends would usually come too, this was a small, more intimate group. I’d go to Bambino’s in Danescourt every fortnight and this was much bigger – lots more toys, and lots more babies! Bambino’s has since finished but there’s another one in Danescourt on a Wednesday morning instead.

Us at Bambino's group (photo taken from their Facebook page)
Us at Bambino’s group (photo taken from their Facebook page)

There seems to be a group running in most neighbourhoods – whether it’s through a church, or a breastfeeding support group. (I’ve heard good things about Thornhill new mums group, and BabyBeans  in All Nations Church). They have a few plus points as well as the chance to meet other mums and the baby playing with new toys:

  • cheap (they usually ask for £1-£3 donation)
  • you don’t need to sign up – you just go along if you feel like it on the day
  • Sometimes they might have ‘taster sessions’ where people like TinyTalk would go in and do a free sample – so you get to try classes before singing up

The main drawback is that lots of mums are put off as they feel anxious, too shy to talk to other mums etc. A few times I went and didn’t speak to any other mums – but I just played with baby W – it was a nice bit of playtime with no distractions like TV and my phone!

There’s a really handy list of all the baby and toddler groups in Cardiff over here at Single, pregnant and preemie’s blog

7. Softplay

Now baby W is 10 months old and crawling about the place, he is ready to check out all the various Softplay places in the area – I heard that Jump in Llanishen, and Coconuts in Barry are both good for W’s age group… but so far we’ve only ventured to the lovely Canton community hall – not a softplay centre as such, but twice a day, every weekday they are open with lots of soft equipment for babies and toddlers to clamber over – we’ve only managed to go once but I was very impressed considering it’s just a council-run centre – we will definitely go again soon! Details here

Another local mummy blogger (Cardiff Mummy Says) wrote a guide to the different softplay centres in Cardiff – I look forward to checking them all out!

8. Library rhymetime and storytime

I knew that Cardiff central library ran these, but I didn’t go into the city centre much with baby W – so it was only a few weeks ago I took him to get his library card (and free pack of books!) from our local library in Fairwater and found that they run a storytime every Thursday morning.

We managed to twice before I had to start working on Thursdays, so gutted I didn’t know about it before – it’s within walkable distance, free and baby W loved it – a story, instrument and singing section and the chance to play with books!

Mums in the know lists most of these classes but ours wasn’t on there (it’s already so popular they don’t want to promote it!) so it’s worth checking with your local library to see if they run anything similar!

9. Messy play

This is ace – on Mondays and Thursdays there’s a class in Tesco Western Avenue where your baby (and you!) pay £4.50 to get totally messy for an hour – we got covered in baby-friendly shaving foam, paint, colourful spaghetti and flour!

It’s worth every penny if it means you don’t have to make this mess and clear it up at home!! Unfortunately we can only make it now if our swimming class isn’t running but we’ll try and go as often as we can – great sensory/exploring play! Jade Messy Play’s Facebook page is here and also we’ve found a new one since writing this – it runs every fortnight in Radyr, just outside Cardiff – the Creative little hands Facebook page is here.

Hope you found this post useful? If you did, I’d love it if you could share it with other parents on Twitter/Facebook, thanks! You can follow me on Twitter @yummyblogger

If you found any other useful classes and groups please leave a comment to help other new mums!

Exploring Cardiff: Street food Cardiff

I’ve been living in Cardiff for about 14 years and I think the coolest thing that’s happened to it during that time is happening now…. Street food Cardiff!

Friday night I headed down there with my sister and some of her friends and I LOVED it – they’ve basically taken over a warehouse on Dumballs road (random road, mix of industrial estates and apartments!) and filled it with pop-up food stands, bars etc…

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It’s on every Friday and Saturday night between now and the end of the year. We got there for 6pm when it opens, and there was already a large queue…. as soon as we got in we walked around to choose what food we’d have. I think the food changes every night – this was the menu the night we went…

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I finally got to try pulled pork from Hangfire Smokehouse which I’d heard such good things about. Only £5 for a big bap of pulled pork and slaw and it was delicious.

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The queue for Hangfire Smokehouse was huge and so Burger and Lobster (who are opening soon in Cardiff) were giving away samples of their lobster roll to people in the queue – that was also delicious and a nice starter for me!

I thought I’d be able to sample a few more food stands but the pulled pork had stuffed me up like a pig so the only other thing I was able to eat was a crème brulee from the brulee bar – my sister and I shared a ‘sticky pud’ and ‘blue moon pie’ – both were great but we agreed that ‘sticky pud’ was the winner!

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The place was heaving and I loved the mix of people in there – from babies to oldies with lots in between! The décor was pretty cool – lots of random things like cars on their side, tuk tuks, fairy lights oh and they were projecting movies onto the wall.

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I hope to go back again over the next few weeks and try out some different food. I don’t think I’ve done the place justice with this post but I urge you to check it out – I honestly think it’s the coolest thing happening in Cardiff!

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Oh and go early, when we left about 8.30pm the queue was huge and I think they were working on a 1 in, 1 out policy.

Exploring Cardiff: Rhiwbina

One of the things I said I wanted to do in my maternity bucket list was to explore parts of my city that I wasn’t that familiar with.

I had a few hours away from baby W last week, so had the opportunity to check out the lovely suburb of Rhiwbina….

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I’d already been there the week before he was born for a massage and pedicure at Vanity rooms and knew there were some cute shops to look around…

So I started with lunch at the Snails deli – I went for lamb cawl (Welsh broth/soup) and it was delicious. It was a Friday lunchtime and it was jam-packed, I was lucky to get a seat at the window-facing bar so I could watch the world go by.

Cawl at Snails Deli, Rhiwbina
Cawl at Snails Deli, Rhiwbina

I loved the décor and atmosphere – rustic, friendly, bustling. I’ll definitely be back!

Snails Deli, Rhiwbina
Snails Deli, Rhiwbina

From there I went a few doors down to a shop called ‘Cwtsh bach’ – a very cute, little gift shop selling a lot of (but not only) Welsh and Welsh language gifts. I saw lovely felt cushions with the words ‘Mamgu’ (Grandmother) and ‘Tadcu’ (Grandfather) on them so I’ve bought those for my parents for Christmas 🙂 (similar style to the ones you can see in the photo) – PS I’ve just realised that they sell most of the stock online if you click on the link above!

Cwtsh bach, Rhiwbina
Cwtsh bach, Rhiwbina

 

Cwtsh bach, Rhiwbina
Cwtsh bach, Rhiwbina

On the same street (Beulah road) as the deli and Cwtsh bach, is another cute gift and card shop (Ginger White’s) they were selling local jewellery, candles and smellies and a range of other stuff.

Ginger White's, Rhiwbina
Ginger White’s, Rhiwbina

I turned the corner onto Heol-y-Deri and went to ‘Nest vintage’ – I had been to this shop before but since then they have moved into larger premises.

Nest Vintage Living, Rhiwbina
Nest Vintage Living, Rhiwbina

 

This is an absolutely gorgeous shop that looks very homely – they have little rooms and snugs everywhere selling everything from Cath Kidston to Orla Kiely to local Welsh goods.

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I didn’t buy anything but did get some ideas which I hope to go back for before Christmas. They also had lots of Christmas decorations and it smelt lovely in there as they were burning some Christmas-selling candles…. lush!

 

Opposite they have opened a new shop called ‘Little Nest’ for children’s and baby gifts – lots of pretty wooden toys, felt animal heads and cute baby leggings…. I was running out of time by this point so didn’t get any pics sorry.

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I did manage to pop into Victoria Fearn art gallery on the street – and cue more unique gifts and decorations – as well as some lovely art pieces!

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In addition to all these gorgeous gift shops, Rhiwbina has everything else you need from a wine merchant, yoga studio, barbers, chemist, florist and I think it even had a wedding dress shop!

It also had this very cool but random bench – I would love to know why it’s been decorated in this way!

bench in Rhiwbina
bench in Rhiwbina

Seeing as I’m publishing this on ‘Cyber Monday’, I hope it inspires you to Shop local, and support local businesses – you really could do all your Christmas shopping in Rhiwbina – I will be popping back there this month!

Another NCT Nearly new sale haul!

My first NCT haul post is one of the most popular posts on my blog, so I figured you’d love to see what I got on my second visit last weekend…

This time we arrived quite late as we had our underwater photo shoot at the same time, so who knows what bargains we missed out on… but there was still plenty left to choose from, and it was a lot less crowded! Also, as I had baby W with me this time, sleeping in his pram we couldn’t make it upstairs to the books, toys etc 😦

This is my favourite item from the day… a H&M cardigan that he can wear straight away (cost £3)

H&M stars baby boy cardigan
H&M stars baby boy cardigan

And a hoodie he can wear right away – this is our first piece of clothing from Zara’s baby range 🙂 (cost £1) I should have taken a close-up, but I love the ‘toggle’ button detail 🙂

Zara baby hoodie
Zara baby hoodie

And another hoodie, we love turtles so I had to buy this – it’s Marks and Spencer and was only 50p! I love the detail of the lining and the elbows…

M&S Turtle hoodie
M&S Turtle hoodie

As well as hoodies and cardies we need some long-sleeved tops so got these… this one is from Next and I love that it has detail on the back… only 50p!

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This one is perfect for Autumn – foxes seem to be ‘in’ at the moment! This was £1 and originally from George at Asda’s.

Fox top from George at Asda
Fox top from George at Asda

Another long-sleeved top, this time for when he’s a year old – a bit forward-thinking perhaps but it’s a Diesel top so I HAD to buy it!! This cost £2.50 but it originally would have cost about £28 (!!) – I must say the fabric does feel more expensive than any other baby clothes we’ve had thus far – I would never spend that much on 1 item for him so it’s nice to get it at such a good price!

Diesel baby boy long-sleeved top
Diesel baby boy long-sleeved top

You can buy baby boy tops for a few quid in the supermarkets, but bottoms are always a bit more expensive so I was chuffed to find him another pair of jeans that he can wear straight away – these are from Mothercare, I love the style and also they’re lined with cotton on the inside so hopefully he will find them warm and comfy 🙂 (Cost: £2)

Mothercare baby boy jeans
Mothercare baby boy jeans

And because bottoms are expensive, I found a couple of pairs of cords that will fit him when he starts wearing 9-12 months clothes. They cost £1 each – H&M on the left, Next on the right…

Baby boy cords from H&M and Next
Baby boy cords from H&M and Next

Now the first time I went to a NCT sale, I made the mistake of buying the next size up in the wrong season i.e. a lot of summery clothes that weren’t warm enough to wear by the time he could fit in them! So I tried to be more sensible this time around – I’m sure he will get wear out of all the items above… but I HAD to buy this T-shirt for him which he might not wear now that it’s Winter (although thinking about it, he could wear it over a long-sleeved top :))

I don’t even like the idea of babies wearing clothes with skulls on them BUT I do love photo-print style T-shirts… and it was only 50p (Florence and Fred, Tesco)…

Skull t-shirt from Tesco
Skull t-shirt from Tesco

So a good few items that he can wear straight away plus a couple for a few months time, all in excellent condition and the grand total was a bargainous £13 – the cost of 1 new outfit from most stores (if you’re lucky!)

So I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it is worth checking out NCT sales in your area – much less hassle than ebay and you get to help raise money for the NCT charity in the process 🙂 The next one in Cardiff is scheduled for 7th March 2015.

Thanks for calling by – do let me know what you think and which item is your fave 🙂

 

REVIEW: Visual Contour medi spa at David Lloyd, Cardiff

I love a bargain, and I love spa treatments – so I snapped up a Living Social deal which was £50 for 2 people to have a facial, neck, back and shoulder massage, a manicure and access to the David Lloyd facilities in Cardiff. My sister and I used the voucher last weekend and here’s my thoughts….

Welcome and ambience

I wish I’d taken photos but the spa doesn’t look particularly inviting, it’s cramped (they’re moving to a bigger space) and busy… the receptionist must have new because she didn’t seem particularly friendly or to know what was going on! A friendly therapist got us to fill in the usual forms and off we went into the rooms which are decorated in quite a ‘bling’ way – lots of zebra print, Marilyn Monroe posters etc…

Massage and facial

These were both lovely! The deal said the facial was an hour long, but actually it was an hour for both (i.e. half hour each). The therapist asked whether I had any problem areas before the back massage (I told her I had knots at the top which were found in a massage earlier on in the week) and she worked well on those and found new knots in places I’d never felt them before! The facial was also lovely but she didn’t ask anything about my skin type beforehand which I found unusual. It was the usual cleanse, scrub and then she left me with a mask on, and an eye mask – very relaxing! My sister said she nearly fell asleep during her treatments, she was so relaxed! Both of us agreed our skin felt great afterwards 🙂

Products

The deal specified that they used Neal’s Yard Remedies’ products and I was looking forward to having these tested on me as I’ve only used their hand cream and plain massage oils. I’m 99% sure that they didn’t actually use Neal’s yard stuff, the facial products all smelt quite fruity e.g. an apricot scrub, whereas I’d expect Neal’s yard stuff to smell more natural as they use essential oils etc. To be fair, I didn’t ask what they use, but unusually for a spa who might want to sell their wares, they didn’t tell me either….

Manicure

Then for the manicure….. a different therapist, she was young, lovely and chatty BUT she had short, unpainted (fine so far)…… dirty nails! I’m a scruffbag myself so not really one to judge but I’m a bit squeamish about dirty nails, gross!! That aside, I chose the colour and she went to get all my long nails to the same length (they’re all over the place!!) and she couldn’t find any nail clippers!! So I had the rest of the manicure (cuticles done, nails filed and painted) and left with a lovely colour, just a bit odd that they didn’t have any clippers 🙂

Manicured nails @ Visual Contour
Manicured nails @ Visual Contour

David Lloyd facilities

As part of the deal we were able to use the facilities and I was pretty impressed – the Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room were all good… but the best bit is they have an outdoor pool surrounded by loungers… the sun was shining so we sat out there for a bit and it felt like being on holiday 🙂 (As always, wish I’d taken a photo – taking photos for this blog is always an after-thought!) We had lunch there and it was really tasty – I had Moroccan lamb meatballs and sis had some Caribbean chicken thing, both were great! The rest of the facilities looked good – tennis courts, big gym etc and it definitely attracts a certain type of clientele which is what you’d expect when you apparently pay upwards of £75 to be a member!

Overall result I’d happily love to use that outdoor pool again! Although the treatments all had good results, I’m not sure I’d be bothered about using Visual Contour again – for the same price I think there are better and friendlier places in Cardiff.

Have you tried any Groupon/Living Social deals and had a good/bad experience?

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Small print: I wasn’t asked to review/write about this – I paid for it myself and just wanted to share my experience with you