Monday, 30 June 2014

Happiness Is... (vol. 73)

Another Monday! Weekend days go so much faster than weekdays, don't you think? Perhaps this is because they're shorter- I certainly sleep in later, and often go to bed just as early, on weekends, so I do have less waking hours. But it's also because I move more slowly at weekends- in the week, I rush from place to place, leaving early so I'm not late- whereas at weekends, I take my time, moving luxuriously from bed, to shower, to breakfast table, to whatever weekend activity I have planned. It's a lovely way to spend my days. 

I'm sort of doing that thing at the moment where I ignore that things are happening because I'm excited and scared of them happening in equal measures. It's sort of all becoming real now and I'm, well, going to tell you about it this week. Promise.

Anyway. This week, happiness is...

... being "late" for work because I ate breakfast. Yep. Last Wednesday, I decided I just didn't have enough time to do everything I needed to do before 7:30 (which is when I normally leave the house). So I decided to look after myself, slow down, and go into work 15 minutes "late"- which was still 45 minutes earlier than most people in my team. It put me in such a good mood for the rest of the day!

... finding the perfect dress to wear to my aunt's wedding. OK, so she isn't getting married until September, but with the sales I could hardly not look for a dress- and I found the perfect one. This one, to be precise. It was definitely above my self-imposed budget, but I saw it, tried it on, and couldn't resist. I'm so excited to wear it!

... prosecco. M and I are currently using any excuse possible to drink prosecco. Celebration? Of course! Tuesday? Why not! It's just so delicious, and feels really very civilised. I'm also starting to bring J around to it- he seems to think he doesn't like champagne/ prosecco/ cava/ anything along these lines, but I'm persuading him that he is wrong. It's such a happy making drink.

... London Grammar. For some unknown reason, I hadn't listened to the whole of London Grammar's album If You Wait until this week. So to make up for it, I listened to it the whole way through four times at work on Thursday. What can I say? A) It's amazing. B) I'm antisocial. And I agree with Bee- the album basically has medicinal purposes.

... buying new books. Particularly books which I want to read, but which actually make me look clever too! This weekend I bought 30 Second Philosophies and Consumed: How We Buy Class In Modern Britain. Bonus points- I bought them from an independent bookshop! J, on the other hand, bought Andrea Pirlo's autobiography. I don't even know who that is.

What's making you happy this week?

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Living Room Picnics

J and I are celebrating at the moment.

He's just taken the first exam for his Masters (and thinks it went well) and I have The Big Exciting (which I'll be filling you in on next week!)

So when he arrived last night, I decided that a living room picnic of antipasti, baked Camembert, and prosecco was in order.

We nibbled, sipped and caught up, teasing each other with Game of Thrones spoilers.

And when we were done with the savoury, I whipped out a couple of homemade chocolate fondants and Ben & Jerry's for pudding. 

Perfect Friday night fare.

Thursday, 26 June 2014


I feel sometimes as though I must be the only girl who has never been bough flowers by a boy.

OK- I'm telling a tiny white lie. I have had a boy buy me a single red rose- and I mean a boy, not a young man- we were eleven, and he was my primary school boyfriend. We went on one "date", and held hands for about two weeks, and that was about that. 

And when I was 18, a male friend bought me a bouquet of flowers because I was sad, and it was the only thing he could think of doing to make me feel a little better. 

But I have never had anyone buy me flowers "just because". Never had a boy try to woo me with flowers.

But who needs a guy to buy you flowers when you can buy yourself flowers?!

I picked this beautiful bouquet of sweet williams and gerberas. Pink and pretty and brightening up our kitchen in my favourite jug, because we don't have a vase of the right size.

I love this time of year for so many reasons. But the beautiful flowers in season (hello, peonies. I spot you in the kitchen of every other blogger. Who cares that you're my favourite too...) are a really, really special part of that.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Blogger Book Club- Take Four!!

So it's that time again!! Jenny and I are so excited to launch the fourth edition of The Blogger Book Club- and once again, it is over to you to help us pick what to read next!

Our last chat took place on Skype, and was so successful- it was great to be able to chat in real time, and respond to everyone's thoughts immediately. It certainly made me think about The Silent Wife differently! We're planning to continue with this format for the next chat, so please make sure you're signed up to our mailing list (you can do this below) to get our Skype names and join in!

Jenny and I were also chatting last night, and we are thinking of arranging a Christmas Blogger Book Club meet up! This would likely take place in London on a weekend in December, and we'd have a good natter about a book over tea and cake in person. What would be your thoughts on this? Would you be interested in attending? I do hope so, I'm already getting overexcited about this and thinking about places we could hold it...

But anyway. Back to the matter at hand! At the end of the last chat, the girls and I each nominated a book or two to discuss in our next chat- which will be taking place at the beginning of September. As we did last time, Jenny and I will be sending out a poll so you can help us choose our book- and the nominees are....

I haven't read any Murakami before, but I hear his work is beautiful. For a very short blurb on Amazon, this sounds wonderful- a real book to get lost in, perfect for summer reading!

This has actually been sitting on my bookshelf for a while, but is something I haven't got around to reading yet- I'd absolutely love an excuse to though (not that I need an excuse to read, but you know...)

This sounds so interesting, and pretty topical in a lot of ways. It doesn't actually sound like the sort of thing I'd normally pick up, but I'm really enthusiastic about giving it a go if this is the one we pick!

Doesn't this just sound like something else?! I'm so intrigued by this book that I think I'll have to get it even if we don't choose it for this chat!

A confession: I've actually already read this. But I can therefore vouch for it's wonderfulness. It's so evocative, and knowing Guernsey and its history pretty well, it is so perfect. I strongly recommend.

(Obligatory picture of Guernsey as a result of that last one)
So yes! If you haven't already, please sign up below as soon as possible- we'll be sending out the email with the poll pretty soon, as we'd like to have picked a book by 12th July!

Come on. Get involved. We're lovely, and these books all look fantastic- I'm so excited to read one (or maybe more than one, if we pick one that isn't my first choice!) of them!

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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Tintern Abbey

If I should be, where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from they wild eyes these gleams
Of past existence, wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream
We stood together
From Lines Written A Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, William Wordsworth

Not the Sunday just gone, but the one before, J and I went out on a little explore. We spent most of that day exploring Monmouth, which I'll tell you more about another day- but I decided that on our way back to Cardiff, we would detour via Tintern for a peek at the Abbey and the village, as my aunt is getting married there in the autumn.

As we drove through the village along the banks of the river, we turned a corner and both gasped. The Abbey is huge, and unbelievably beautiful. I can completely and utterly see why monks would have spent 400 years here- the setting is almost as beautiful as the Abbey itself. In case your history is a little rusty, like J's ("Why was the Abbey destroyed?". The one question that makes any former history student shake their head in disbelief)- in very simplified terms, when Henry VIII split with the Roman Catholic church in order to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn (and we all know how well that turned out), monasteries were also dissolved to raise revenue for the king. And that's what happened here.

As we'd spent so long pottering in Monmouth, we decided against paying to go in to the ruins of the Abbey, and instead sat outside The Anchor, the pub/ restaurant/ tearoom in the grounds of the Abbey. And it turns out, my aunt's fiance was sat inside the restaurant at the same time- we just didn't see him. Small world, eh!?

I treated the two of us to tea and cake- mine is the chocolate monstrosity (which was incredible- which is a big thing, considering how often chocolate cake in cafes is disappointing), while J went for the caramel pecan cake. I stole a bite, it was also delicious.

I'm planning to head back here for a picnic at some point soon. It was just idyllic, and I'd love to go and explore inside the ruins. And apparently at Christmas, they do carols by candlelight here too- wouldn't that be amazing?!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Happiness Is... (vol. 72)

Somehow, no matter how much time I spend back in Devon, it never quite feels like enough. 

It's not that I want to move back there- or at least, certainly not for the foreseeable future- it's more that whenever I'm there with the family, it feels like an intermezzo, a little holiday away from real life, where I can be looked after and really enjoy my time with no responsibilities or duties. Of course, I still help out as much as I can get away with- but it's because I want to, and not because I've got to- and there's a world of difference there.

As an aside- I've decided to go back to replying to comments right here on the blog, rather than email responses. I just am SO useless as keeping on top of my inbox that this seemed like a better idea. I've started from yesterday's post, and hopefully I'll be able to post relatively timely responses. Fingers crossed, anyway.

Right. This week, happiness is...

... getting big sister points. This weekend, I think I got all the big sister points going from Little L- I made a birthday cake for Papa CupandSaucer with her, I showed her how to do a cartwheel, and I impressed her with the fact that I can dive (as pictured above). She's my favourite little person, and I love spending time with her!

... enjoying reading again. For some reason, not so long ago, I went through a phase where I just had no interest in picking up a book. For a girl who (like almost all of you, I'm sure) used to be told off for reading when she should have been asleep, this was faintly worrying- but I've got my reading mojo back, and I'm ploughing through A Dance With Dragons: After the Feast, even if it does feel a little unseasonal.

... strawberries. Oh my goodness, possibly my favourite thing about this time of year. I bought a kilo of them yesterday, and now I need to guzzle them all before they go off. Somehow, I don't think I'll struggle, but if I do? I'll be making this or these (but with strawberries).

... hammocks. Papa CupandSaucer's house was made for summer, with a big, sweeping veranda (with insanely gorgeous views all the way out to Plymouth Sound), a swimming pool, a trampoline, and a hammock. I spent a good portion of Saturday afternoon drying off after a dip in the pool in said hammock, and now I'm determined to find a place to hang one here because it was just so bloody comfortable.

... really big exciting news!! Which I can't tell you all about yet. Which I know is the most annoying thing in the world, but I promise that as soon as possible, I'll fill you all in. All you need to know is that it is BIG and EXCITING and nothing to do with me being engaged or pregnant or anything as terrifyingly grown up as that. Unlike Zoella, I'm also not writing a book. Make of that cryptic nonsense what you will.

What's making you happy this week?

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Today I Believe...

... that cartwheels, bouncing on a trampoline, and waterfights are good for the soul. And body, it turns out, as I've woken up feeling like I've done 6000 sit ups.

... that bravery comes in all different forms.

... that telling a stranger that you love their outfit is a brilliant way to make their day 
(this happened to me on Thursday!)

... that British sunshine is some of my absolute very favourite sunshine. Maybe because it's mostly unexpected and fleeting?!

... that a trip "home" will always restore you, even if it's just as busy as your day-to-day life

... that people grow, and change, and sometimes aren't as awful as you once believed (even if you will continue to go steady around them)

... that comparison really is the thief of all joy, and the most important thing in the world is to do what is right for you.

... that Summer Solstice sunsets can be some of the most beautiful.

What do you believe this week?

Post inspired by the wonderful Laura of Little Things and Curiosities- you can view her Today I Believe series here

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Waterloo Tea

I have a secret for you. 

It's the best place in Cardiff to get a really spectacular cup of tea. And because you're all so lovely, and I'm pretty awesome too, I'm going to tell you all about it.

Waterloo Tea is my absolute favourite hideaway in Cardiff. Tucked away in Penylan, less than ten minutes from my house, it's a haven where you can spend a good ten minutes trying to decide which type of tea to drink, and another twenty being told everything there is to know about it by the in house tea experts. 

J isn't quite as much of a tea addict as I am, but last Saturday I decided that I needed to introduce him to the wonders of the place. We arrived, ordered their house blend (which is wonderful, by the way- I always think it's quite fruity, which is unusual for a black tea, and perfectly strong) and deliberated over cakes. In  the end, J went for a piece of the Coffee and Tia Maria cake, while I decided that Butternut Squash, Blueberry and Orange cake was too cool a combination to miss. Both were utterly exceptional- I'm not always a huge fan of coffee cake, but J's was incredible. And mine? It had the lightest crumb, a moreish, crumbly texture, and tasted like a lighter version of carrot cake. Delicious.

One of my favourite things about Waterloo Tea is that when they bring you your tea, it comes with a little egg timer which tells you how long you should leave the leaves in the pot before drinking. Of course, they encourage you to drink your tea however you like it best, but it is so lovely to be taught how to make sure you enjoy your tea at its very best. They also have a different "tea of the month" each month, which always sound fantastic.

Tea fact: TGFOP1 means something like Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe Grade #1... which means that is a great tea.
We whiled away an hour or so, nattering about some of the big things that are going on at the moment, and just generally catching up. We were there at around 5pm-ish on a Saturday, and it was busy enough that we didn't feel like our conversations were being listened to, but quiet enough that we didn't struggle to find a table.

I'm told that their afternoon tea is one of the best in Cardiff- and that is now firmly on my Must Do In Cardiff list. It's just so in demand that so far, I haven't managed to snag a table (or remember to book!) but it will be done. 

Honestly- if you're in Cardiff, and looking for an escape just a little outside of the city centre, then Waterloo Tea is well worth a visit. Follow it up by a stroll around Roath Park lake, and you'll be spending your afternoon in my favourite way.

 Waterloo Gardens Teahouse, 5 Waterloo Gardens, Penylan, Cardiff, CF23 5AA 

(And if you're in Penarth? Look for Washington Tea, their sister cafe- I haven't been there but I'm sure it's awesome. And apparently they will be opening Wyndham Tea in the centre of town soon too! Hurrah!)

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

How To Do Brunch Right

Take a group of six friends. Pile them around a table in the garden at 9am, and add two pots of tea, two bottles of orange juice, and a carton of some sort of smoothie.

Encourage everyone to bring something to go with pancakes and croissants. Marvel at the fact that no one brought bacon (we aren't a sweet-with-savoury sort of group).

Whisk up a batch of pancakes- to more than serve six, we used two mugfuls of self-raising flour, two mugfuls of milk, two eggs, a heaped teaspoon of baking powder, a drizzle of oil, and a few heaped spoonfuls of caster sugar. Whisk well, then fry in batches. Keep warm in the oven, and try not to flip any onto the floor.

Warm through a couple of packets of croissants. Find every possible croissant or pancake topping possible in the storecupboard- raspberry jam, honey, maple syrup, nutella, blueberry and lime jam- all are fair game here. Add bowls of blueberries, peaches, and sliced banana.

Pile everything onto the table- pass the jam, grab a pancake, and just generally let everyone dig in.

You're joining us next week, right? This lot are a friendly bunch. Promise. (And they asked to be here)

Tuesday, 17 June 2014


Last week, I took a little work trip to Llandudno.

 We left Cardiff Central at 13:21 on Tuesday, and arrived back at 21:42 on Thursday- and in between, squished in two ten-hour days in a conference center. So truth be told- I didn't get much time for exploring. I did find a statue of Alice in Wonderland though...

However. When I arrived on Tuesday night, I pulled my running shoes out of my bag, laced them up, and set off for a run along the sea front- only to be stopped less than five minutes in by a phone call from a colleague who had left her laptop on the train. (She managed to recover it, fortunately!!)

I've been to North Wales before, but never Llandudno- it was so pretty though, in a charming old seaside town kind of way. We had the best of the weather- glorious sunshine, beautiful sunsets, and perfect temperatures- and I could completely see why people apparently holiday here year after year after year.

 My hotel room had the loveliest little balcony, with a little table and a view of the sea- which I made the most of by enjoying a cup of tea out there before breakfast on Wednesday morning. And the lure of the sea proved too much for me on Wednesday evening, when I ran down to the shoreline before supper with colleagues, resulting in sandy feet and a big smile when I eventually dragged myself away.

I didn't get chance to explore the pier though. Which means I'll just have to find another excuse to trek up there- what a terrible, terrible shame...

Have you explored anywhere new recently?

Monday, 16 June 2014

Happiness Is... (vol. 71)

Um, hi summer! Where did you come from?! I certainly wasn't expecting this weekend's mini-heatwave, but I'm really rather glad it appeared. Particularly as I had a three-day weekend- I was given Friday as time off in lieu from my slightly crazy week in North Wales last week- I've spent almost the entire weekend in the sun, and my limbs are gaining some colour as a result (and I'm certainly not unhappy about that).

I'm feeling like a bit of a part-timer at the moment, though. Most weeks, I seem to be either out of the office, having a day off in lieu, having a bank holiday, or a day of annual leave somewhere in the week. This week is no different- I have TOIL (again!) and I'm using it to the best of my ability- with a day trip to London. Wonderful stuff!

It's a busy life at the moment- this weekend was laid back and relaxing and exactly what I needed. Ready and raring for another week where I'll spend four days in Cardiff, one (and a night) in London, and two in Devon. 

Anyway. This week, happiness is...

 ... eating outside. I ate every meal outside on Saturday! And breakfast and afternoon tea on Sunday! It's my absolute favourite thing about this time of year, and I'll keep going on about it until the weather changes.

... napping. I had TWO naps on Saturday! It felt so luxurious- one on a blanket in the sunshine in the park, the other on my bed. Neither was more than ten minutes long, both were to while away some time while J revised. I can't remember the last time I napped other than that!

... raspberry gin mojito hybrids. On Saturday night, several glasses of wine down, we decided to make cocktails and came up with this delicious concoction. Muddle a few mint leaves, a few raspberries, half a dessert spoonful of caster sugar, and a squeeze of lemon juice in a glass. Add ice and an egg-cupful (and a half) of gin, top of with tonic, and stir. Delicious. And faintly lethal after several glasses of wine...

From here
... exploring. J and I went on a little explore yesterday (more info on where we went to follow this week!), and it was so nice to have a little potter around unfamiliar places. Isn't it great to discover beautiful places that are essentially right on your doorstep?! 

... when first class is only £1 more than standard class. Yep, that's right- I'll be travelling to London first class on Wednesday evening- when it's only £1 more though, it really would be rude not to...

What's making you happy this week?

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Things To Love About Cardiff

Whenever I chatter to people and they find out I live in Cardiff, they almost infallibly say "Oh I love Cardiff! It's the one city I'd consider moving to". Seriously, it's uncanny.

I love Cardiff too. I'm currently doing a little bit of job hunting (being on a fixed term contract is making me twitchy), and while I love the idea of moving to London (and Bess keeps pestering me to join her there), to up sticks and move again would require everything to align perfectly. To stay in Cardiff, I could cope with a little bit of imperfection. 

It's partly because I have a lovely little life here- friends, family not too far away, and I know my way around- but also because there really are some pretty lovely things about the city I currently call home... so without further ado, here's a list of some of them:

1. Roath Park. Without a doubt, my favourite place in the city. Whether for a sun, a morning in the sun with J, a picnic, or just a meander around the lake, it's beautiful and I'm so lucky to have it right on my doorstep.

2. Match days. I never really understood the idea of an "atmosphere" until the first time I spent a day in Cardiff city center when Wales were playing rugby against some international side. Honestly- the whole city buzzes, and it's always such an upbeat feeling. If you're planning a trip to Cardiff, try to get it to coincide with a rugby game- even if you don't like rugby or want to watch the game- just potter around town and soak up the atmosphere, okay!?

3. The nearby seaside. Not far from Cardiff are some impeccable beaches. Rhossili is one of my favourite beaches outside of Cornwall, and Oxwich Bay is next on my list to visit. So if you get bored of the city, rugby, and parks, this is pretty awesome too.

4. The fact it has pretty much everything you need. A slightly vague one but still- for a city that (despite technically being a capital) isn't all that huge, Cardiff has basically everything you need. Big chain shops in the city center? Check. Cute little independent places dotted around? Check. Beautiful parks? Check. A seafront? Check. Great nightlife? Check check check.

Penylan Pantry- From here
5. Great food, great pubs. And related to the one above- seriously, Cardiff has a pretty great foodie scene. Places like The Meating PlaceMint and MustardFish at 85, and The Potted Pig catering for smarter dining; BuffaloThe Pear Tree, and (apparently) Barocco for drinks; sweet cafes in The Penylan PantryThe Pot, and Deli Rouge; and of course Joe's Ice Cream- it really is a real foodie place to be.

6. The impeccable Welsh weather. Okay, this might be slightly tongue-in-cheek but still- when the weather is great in Cardiff, there are few places I'd rather be. And when the weather isn't so great? Well, it's still pretty awesome then too!

So tell me. Why do you love where you live?