The Ronald McDonald Cardiff House

Have you ever seen those boxes at the tills in McDonald’s and wondered what they are for? All the donations from them go to the Ronald McDonald House Charity. RMHC provide accommodation for families near to specialist children’s hospitals making it easier for families to be closer to their children when they are seriously ill.

I think there is a bit of a stigma attached to this particular charity because lots of people think that McDonald’s run it and could afford to fund it. RMHC is an independent charity whose biggest corporate supporter is McDonald’s. So, all those pennies in the boxes at the tills mean a lot.

Happy Birthday

I was kindly invited to their Cardiff house’s first birthday party celebrations. It was a great feel good community event, with lots of returning families as guests. There was loads of great stuff for the kids, all free and we had a lovely afternoon. I actually felt a little emotional as I recalled our family’s own journey in the early weeks of my baby’s life when he was in neonatal intensive care and I thought about what the families who use this charity could be going through.

The house is very impressive, a true home from home. Everything has been thought of in order to lift as much of the mental load as they can for the families that stay there. All the décor is a nice high quality and the design is thought out so that the place feels light and airy and modern. The rooms downstairs are accessible to anyone with limited mobility and one bedroom has a hoist that goes through to the bathroom. The downstairs kitchen is designed with access in mind with lowered counter worktops. The finer details are taken care of like a laundry room and household amenities like washing up liquid and shower gel.

Families

As much as the house has little details included the finer point of this charity is the person-centred approach they have. Over and above the design and mod cons is the needs of the families they serve. Volunteers and house staff facilitate parties for special occasions. Mother’s Day and Father’s day were both marked at the house last year with treats for the mum’s and dad’s like having a hairdresser visit. Birthdays are celebrated. They openly accept anyone who is part of the family’s support network to stay with them. They have waffle Wednesdays! Every Wednesday they hold a communal breakfast of waffles which everyone at the house has the option of joining in with.

Community

The house is open 365 days a year and there is no limit to the amount of time you can stay there. The hospital refers families to the house and it’s completely free to stay. The Cardiff house is right opposite the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital at the Heath, so families can feel as close as they can without sleeping in a chair on the ward.

RMHC understand that they need to build more than just a house, and they are building community. When you are going through the worst times of your life it’s a huge thing to feel part of a community.

I’m blown away by the thoughtfulness of the Ronald McDonald House Charity and I urge you to pop your 15p change into one of those boxes the next time you visit McDonald’s. Or you can donate here: https://www.rmhc.org.uk/donate/

Or if you prefer something more practical here is the Amazon wish list for the Cardiff house.

Thanks so much to RMHC for inviting us along to celebrate with you it was a lovely day and a great event, and a cause I’m proud to support.

RMHC Cardiff

Family Fun Day

Family Fun Day

The Tree House

Meeting Space Available For Hire

An Accessible Bedroom With Hoist

My First Blog Conference – Blogtacular

I’m going to London this weekend. Ooh just writing that down made my belly do a mini flip with excitement! I will be in London ready to attend Blogtacular on Sat June 16th. On my own, with no kids, like proper on my own. Eeek! I’m excited and nervous  all at the same time.

Online Creators

I booked my ticket way back in January. I think it was even on New Years Eve I booked it, which would make total sense because I always get the London itch when I watch the New Years Eve fireworks. It’s such an exciting place and I feel like it’s within touching distance of me here in South Wales yet I can’t remember the last time I visited. One of my 2018 blog goals was to go to a conference. There are a couple to choose from but Blogtacular really caught my eye, marketed as a conference for ‘online creators’. That covers a lot of different creative people and I want to meet them! It’s not just for for bloggers but for anyone who creates content for an online space. There are indie business owners going,craft bloggers, fashion bloggers, sewing bloggers,and all kinds of people.

Blogtacular

Photographs © Will Ireland, Piers McDonald & Kat Molesworth for Blogtacular

Workshops

There are two keynote speakers and lots of workshops throughout the day. Some of the workshops I’m particularly interested in are about podcasting and how to write a good blog post. But there are workshops about SEO (search engine optimisation), photography and marketing. I think it will be really difficult to choose which workshops to do.

I’ve heard the food is amazing and the goody bags are great too. Overall though the general consensus is that the atmosphere is really friendly and there seems to be a lot of other people attending by themselves as well – not just me! There are fringe events to attend on the Friday before, a photo walk around London which I’m really looking forward to and then a meal arranged in the evening with some fellow attendees. I just hope I can find my way around O.K.

Going Solo

I’m generally alright going places on my own. My run-away thoughts are rarely quiet long enough for me to have time to feel out of place, and I usually find chatting to strangers quite easy to be honest. I find forced conversation hard, those situations where you feel required to say something *shiver*. This is a full day conference, and it really is a full-on day 8.30am – 6pm so I know there are going to be plenty of breaks and I can just imagine sitting there eating lunch by myself like a lone ranger feeling really anxious. I am a bit worried about that to be honest but I am stepping out of my comfort zone and let’s see if something great happens. Hoping I get to meet lots people and who love blogging as much as me.

Sleeping Alone – Bliss

I’m looking forward to spending a day with other bloggers and creators and hearing about their businesses and getting inspired. I’m looking forward to just being in London, and being on my own. Like proper on my own. I’m looking forward to cwtching up in a big hotel bed to myself and sleeping all night long but I do wonder if the reality of that will be a bit lonely rather then fun. We will soon see.

Blogtacular tickets are almost sold out but if you want to get one of the last 20 available tickets be quick and order through my link. It won’t cost you anything more but I will get something back for it. Blogtacular tickets

So wish me luck and come and say hello if you’re going too!

I might get to connect with some brands while I’m there too. Check out which brands I have been working with in this post.

Afternoon Tea in South Wales

If you are looking for ideas for afternoon tea in the Newport and surrounding areas then you’re in luck. I asked my friends for some recommendations and they came up with this awesome list. This is not a sponsored post so if you find it useful I’d love it if you left a comment to let me know.

The Parkway Hotel Cwmbran

The lunch here is always really nice so I imagine it’s worth a visit for the afternoon tea too.

 

afternoon tea

St David’s Hotel Cardiff

With Vegan and non-gluten options available they cater to everyone.

St David’s Hotel

Crepe Escape Cardiff Bay

I’ve never been but I bet they have great views of the Bay. Worth ringing up before going to ask about their afternoon tea packages.

Crepe Escape

The Celtic Manor Newport

This just needs no introduction. On the more expensive side but comes well recommended by more than one person.

Celtic Manor

afternoon tea macaroons

Miss Jones Whitchurch Cardiff

If you fancy the idea of a gin infused cocktail in your teapot instead of tea then this is your place. Sounds lush to me.

Miss Jones Cardiff

White Castle Tearooms

I can’t find a link for this one but may be worth a look if you know where it is! I think it’s CADW.

Patisserie Valerie

This is the one I booked in the end for my Mother’s Day treat because there was a brilliant deal on Groupon – £19 for two people. With a brand new one opening up in Cwmbran and one already well established in Debenhams in Newport Friar’s walk I’m spoiled for choice.

Patisserie Valerie

Llanyravon Manor

Such a nice atmosphere here, a little hidden gem just behind the boating lake. Get your afternoon tea at The Raspberry Tea Rooms here.

Llanyravon Manor

Parc Pantry

Choose from their flagship cafe in Malpas or book at the victorian tea room within belle vue park. Just make sure to book 2 months in advance as stated on their website.

Parc Pantry

vintage tea cups poster

The Coffee Mill Risca

This looks like a lovely little independent cafe. To find more info, search for their page on social.

Truly Scrumptious Pontypool

Looks like another independent cafe up the other end of the valley. To find more info, search for their page on social.

Angel Hotel Abergavenny

It comes as no surprise that their afternoon tea is award winning, this place has been recommended to me a lot for afternoon tea particularly. I saw a few bloggers went to an event there recently too and they also do a cheese fondue which looked amazing. I can see they have allergen info listed on their website so awesome thumbs up from me for that. If you choose this one I’d love to know what you thought.

The Angel Hotel

Season’s Coffee Rogerstone

I popped in here for a coffee recently and the staff were so lovely and they do soya milk too. Check them out on social.

Bryn Meadows Golf Club Blackwood

Photo’s look beautiful and unlimited tea and coffee with your afternoon tea.

Bryn Meadows

Barker’s Tea Rooms Cardiff

Boasting a selection of fine teas from all around the world this might be one to try if you like exploring new tastes. Check them out on social.

Farmer’s Arms Newport

This venue is well known for serving lovely food but I didn’t know it was an option for afternoon tea. Check them out on social. Their pictures of their afternoon tea look scrummy.

Thanks to everyone who contributed their ideas. I’m glad I wrote them all down for myself to refer to later. I love a good cup of tea and there’s something about dainty cakes and finger sandwiches that just makes them more enjoyable. Let me know in the comments if you have had afternoon tea at any of these places and if you would recommend them yourself.

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Afternoon Tea in South Wales UK

Our Wagamama Mama Club

I have this group of friends, and we kind of bonded over Wagamama. We’re four busy mums and we get together once every couple of months for a night out and a good old chin wag. And we always go to Wagamama. The food is quick, healthy, and tasty and we all have our favourites on the menu. We even have the Wagamama brand photo as our group What’s app picture. So I was thrilled when Wagamama gave me a voucher to take our little Wagamama Mama club (try saying that after a few g & t’s) on tour to see the cool new refurb at their Cardiff library restaurant. Trust me when I say, we don’t just discuss noodles.

Wagamama Cardiff

Refurbished Cardiff Library Wagamama

Wagamama chefs

Open kitchen

Mum Friends

We know each other from church, we’re all mums and we have a good laugh together. Our meet-ups have become a bit of a lifeline to me in fact and a highlight in my calendar. A safe space where no topic is off limits and when we have no advice or experience to share, we just listen to one another, and that is enough. There’s something special in that and I have come to really respect each one of these three special friends. They really are each amazing women in their own right and we’ve all been through our ups and downs this past year. I don’t see all of them from week to week but that just means we always have a lot of news to share. And share we do, over a nice hot bowl of ramen and fresh greens and green tea to help it all go down.

Nothing ever leaves the table. What is said in Wagamama’s stays in Wagamama’s. And we laugh a lot too. I really have a laugh with these girls, like a proper scream. Our meets are a real pick me up for me and I always feel uplifted when I get home. Without anything ever being said aloud, the Wagamama club dates have been protected in our house. Once they’re in the diary they are not messed with and I think Rich realised before me how important these catch-ups are for me. Just to get out of the house child free and let off some steam with friends who understand you is vital.

Wagamama friendsWagamama food

Wagamama restaurant

Allergies in Mind

We began meeting up for our consecutive birthdays in May, June, July and August, that was our summer meet ups sorted and we carried on from there. I fell in love with Wagamama because their allergy information on their website is brilliant which helped me loads when my baby was diagnosed with a cow’s milk protein allergy. I found I had more choice of the menu at Wagamama than anywhere else. I know they’ve really upped the ante with their vegan menu for 2018 too. Moreover, the food is always really fresh. It’s prepared right when you order and brought to the table as soon as it’s ready (no wilted greens from sitting under a heat lamp-winner) and there is masses of it. We all have our favourites on the menu now we’ve been going so much. The desserts are absolutely lush too and not things you get elsewhere, like banana katsu (lightly breaded deep fried banana with salted caramel ice cream-yum). The service at Cardiff was brilliant, leaving us to get on with our chin wagging without having to bat an eye about the food and just enjoy our time out.

I noticed a little sign that said Wagamama would donate 25p to mental health charity Mind for every positive drink bought (a fruit smoothie with spinach and pineapple, it’s so lush) which I thought was great.

Wagamama dessertWagamama menu

Wagamama’s watchword is kaizen which is a Japanese word meaning ‘good change’. Each of us has definitely been through a lot of change in the last year that’s for sure. A lot of good and a fair dollop of sad change too but no matter what has been going on we still get together to tell, laugh, and listen, and I’m really grateful for our little Wagamama mama group.

friendships

With thanks to Wagamama for giving me a voucher for their Cardiff library restaurant. 

If you enjoyed this post you might also like this one about Feeling Connected.

 

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Wagamama Cardiff library pin

Adrian Flux British Speedway Grand Prix 2017

Thanks to Wales Blog Network I totally scored tickets to the British Speedway at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium! For those who have about as much of a clue as me, this means motorbike racing. When I first saw they wanted bloggers on board I didn’t think I’d fit but then I noticed they were asking specifically for people who had never been before. If you read my ‘I think I could be drifting into oblivion with this mumming lark’ post then you will know I was on the look-out for something a bit out of the ordinary, a bit exhilarating and the Speedway certainly delivered.

Adrian Flux British Speedway Grand PrixAdrian Flux British Speedway Grand Prix

Background & Underground

In it’s 17th year at the Principality stadium Cardiff (still calling it the Millennium Stadium in my head every time) the speedway is the second longest residency at the stadium next to the rugby. It’s a well established event with a huge fan base. Some geek stuff – the bikes are 500cc with no gears or brakes!

 

I got to see the bikes close up on a pit tour the day before the main event. Our guide led us through the pits past all the rider’s stands. They were doing some final checks on their bikes making sure they were race-ready and revving the engines. Some of the more die-hard fans got to meet their favourite riders and see the draw for the first set of riders for the practise runs.

The stadium was really quiet for the practise runs, see in my video below I’m almost whispering. Watching the practise runs gave a good idea of what to expect at the main event the following day.

The Main Event

Race day was very exciting with hoardes of fans arriving to support the event, a lot of them having been to the free event day on city lawn. The official sponsor Monster energy drinks had the ‘monster girls’ who did an opening ceremony with flame throwing. We got into the stadium just as the riders were announced and the heats began. There are 23 races overall with each rider meeting each other at least once. The final race was the most exciting; you could tell each rider wanted it as much as the next, with Polish rider Maciej Janowski taking the 1st place. He was a very popular rider and the crowd gave him loads of support.

#MumsOnTour

guest passes! british-speedway

It was a really fun night off (well 2 days off in the end with the pit tour the day before as well) and just what I needed. I went with my friend Ceri from MyahzineTV and we both really enjoyed the whole event. Even though I didn’t know anything about it beforehand, it’s set up so that anyone can fully immerse themselves in the excitement really quickly. It was really special getting ‘backstage’ guest passes and I was made-up to get the opportunity through the blog. It was great to meet some other local bloggers too. Thanks again to The Welsh Blog Network.

Top Tips:

  • It’s billed as a family event and if you were hoping to take littlies you would certainly see lots of other families and kids. I personally would prefer to take older kids mostly due to the crowds. It is really loud as you can imagine with the bikes’ engines and there were a couple of collisions which I suppose could be a little scary for some smaller children.
  • The speedway is shown live on BT sports.
  • It doesn’t smell horrible! The fuel is made from potatoes so there is often a waft of what smells like cooking oil but I didn’t leave coughing with the smell of diesel in my hair like I thought I possibly would.
  • Buy a programme to follow along with the race running order during the live event.
  • Stay until the end. Once the 3 podium place winners have taken their trophies there is an amazing fireworks display show.
  • Buy memorabilia on the way out. This is a bit of a naughty tip but the touts were flogging everything half price on our way out! 😉
  • Book a horn free zone if you have anyone in your party who would not appreciate a very loud horn being blown next to them full blast at any given moment!

I would definitely go again, I had a great time. Tickets for 2018 are on sale now at speedwayGP.com

Have you ever been to the British Speedway before? Let me know if you’re a fan in the comments.