To all of you lovely people out there, we’d like to wish you a Very Merry Festive-Mas!
The WAC crew comprises of people with varying beliefs / spiritualities, but we all love us this time of year for the chance it gives to hang out with people we love, eat loads of lush food and have a couple of lie-ins.
This is one of our favourite photos of Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland, by Instagrammer xeno.v (check the feed, beautiful photography!)
So. Not much left for us to say other than:
enjoy your weekends, whatever you’re doing
eat a lot
drink too much
DON’T FORGET TO RECYCLE!
Before you rip open those gifts, remember that the amount of wrapping paper we throw away every year at Christmas could stretch around the equator nine times, or up to the moon if every sheet of paper was laid end-to-end (thanks for the tip-off Recycle for Wales). SERIOUS.
So the very least you can do is recycle that bad boy.
With the exception of the shiny metallic and glitter varieties, ALL paper, including wrapping paper, is recyclable. To find out if paper is recyclable try the ‘scrunch test’ shown here. Paper that is recyclable stays in a ball when it is scrunched in the hand.
And if you think that’s bad, somewhere around 13,350 tonnes of glass is thrown out in the UK over Christmas. If this was recycled, it could save around 4,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide – the equivalent of taking 1,300 cars off the road for an entire year. Recycling one Prosecco bottle saves enough energy to power a home stereo for 24 HOURS – just think of all that dancing!
TIPS FOR REDUCING WASTE THIS CHRISTMAS!
– Definitely recycle your used wrapping paper – OR, save it for re-use in a multitude of ways! Shred it to use as colourful tissue packing for future gifts, or use it like newspaper to clean windows and mirrors. It also has potential in future crafting projects – origami for kids, or use the blank side for drawing or colouring.
– If your Christmas cards have nice designs on the front, cut them out and use as gift tags for next year.
– Got yourself some festive leftovers? Our very own Lia’s Kitchen has plenty of suggestions for how to use up whatever’s left to reduce waste! Whatever IS leftover and done for, make sure you put those bits in your food caddy.
– If you don’t have a living Christmas tree, there are plenty of ways you can use it before you get rid of it. Pine needles are great for pot pourri, or add them into the compost heap to balance out any alkaline.
– METALS! You can recycle kitchen foil, drinks cans, freezing trays, cigarette and tobacco foil, screw top lids from wine or alcohol bottles, and traditional milk bottle tops. Make sure all that stuff goes in your green bags!
– Christmas decorations! If they’re still in good order, they can be donated to Re-Create, so don’t trash them just because the holiday is done!
The challenge: 32 people to buy Christmas gifts for on a £300 budget! Can it be done? Cardiff Indoor Market enthusiast Jade Tambini tells us that yes, it can!
This blog is all about my experience challenging myself to do a full Christmas shop at Cardiff Market with just £300 to spend.
The first thing that struck me about my decision to do my full Christmas shop at Cardiff Market this year, was the absence of stress and overwhelming panic that usually consumes me in the lead up. I’ve always been one to plan our day out in order to do the full shop in one day (much to my husband Paul’s terror). So the thought of getting it all done in one go at the market felt just wonderful!
I’ve spent a lot more time at the market recently buying lunch, fresh produce and more and have been won over by the variety of stalls there, fallen in love with the atmosphere and I’ve gotten to know loads of the amazing traders during my visits too. If you’ve not been to the market before, it’s hard to put into words how it feels to spend an afternoon browsing, bantering and buying, all I can say to describe it is that it’s a little bit like being transported to another time and place, sheltered from the world outside, like a safe haven almost to give you space to think, be and enjoy shopping.
In preparation for the shopping trip, I pled with my Facebook friends to let me borrow a ‘grannie trolley’ to make the day a more comfortable experience. Since we’ve got 32 loved ones on our huge Italian/ Irish direct family list, I couldn’t think of any other way. Amidst the mocking of my apparently ‘uncool’ idea, I managed to get hold of a shopping bag on wheels ready for a knockout day of shopping!
Without further ado, here’s a breakdown of some of the gifts I picked up during my four-hour shopping session, to get Christmas all wrapped up for under £300. I was joined by my mum and our family friend’s daughter, Heidi 12, who was super cute running around talking to all the traders, we were also later joined by Paul, my hubby!
Note; if you are in my family please stop reading since you will likely find out what we’ve bought you for Christmas! That includes you, Paul!
Bath bombs, soaps and candle sets from Luvely Bubbly
Julie is the loveliest lady you’ll meet, she has so much knowledge on the different products available at the stall and will talk to you about the person you’re buying for, suggesting recommended products to suit their personality and what they like.
For my brothers’ girlfriends I picked out raspberry swirl bath bombs and fruity glitter hand soaps. For my sister-in-law and my dad’s girlfriend the bath bomb, candle and soap boxes were perfect and at just £10 and £12.50 depending on which one you choose, were great value for a lovely gift! The candle and mini soap bag pictured is just £5!
I also picked up some soaps for my mother in law. The stall has so many different types of soap whether it’s funky jelly baby flavour, parma violets, rhubarb and custard (they all literally smell like the sweets!) or natural more earthy organic smells that suited my mother-in-law’s taste really well.
Asian delights from Lovely Crockery
I spent just over £60 in Lovely Crockery but I can’t begin to tell you how incredible Su’s products are and I got so much for my money. First, I bought these adorable bunny feet egg cups for my two nieces, they were only £3 each, can you believe?
I also picked out this gorgeous Japanese rice pattern tea pot for my mum which was only £13 and a pack of traditional teas.
I bought my nana these super cute compact mirrors and lipstick holders, she’s always loved things like this so I thought they were perfect.
I also bought her this lovely ‘cwtch’ mug! Since my family are all up north in Leeds and Pontefract I thought it was a nice choice to remind her of me in Wales.
I also picked out bits and pieces for various little additional gifts for my my sister, mum, mother-in-law and sister-in-law which varied from under £1 to a few quid.
What I love most about JC Morgan’s card stall is the variety. I’ve always loved sending cards that match my family set. It’s hard to find cards like ‘Nana and Grandad’ and ‘to mum and her boyfriend’ and I always enjoyed receiving very specific cards like ‘to my granddaughter and her boyfriend’ before me and Paul got married, it just feels so much more personal. You just can’t get these old classics with the stunning verses inside in many place anymore either, and the prices are incredible here! Lots of people don’t like cards but my mum and nana especially always revel in reading the verses so it’s nice to pick some special ones!
Most of the cards I picked up were less than £1.50, the price they should be. I do love Marks & Spencer cards too, I’ll be honest, but they carry a big price tag for a card and supporting a local independent feels really nice. They are so helpful there, I couldn’t find a card I wanted and the guys there were going through all the drawers and finding me everything I needed. I also picked up wrapping paper, cellotape and gift tags.
Half way through the trip my lovely husband popped in and took trolley responsibility – as you can imagine, he was delighted to be dragged around for the last hour of shopping!
Festive boxes from Cheese Pantry
My favourite thing about the new Cheese Pantry stall that’s opened at the market, aside from Melissa and Jo the lovely gals working there, oh and the daisy bell, is the delicious cheese samples always available to try on the counter! My husband picked out three festive cheese boxes for our aunty and uncle and a couple of his closest cousins.
With delicious cheeses, hot Christmas chutney’s made locally by Penylan Pantry, and some crackers to compliment, we’re sure our relatives will be really pleased with their gifts!
On Melissa’s advice, we popped the cheeses in a tupperware to go in the fridge and have kept the boxes aside ready to prepare with some lovely ribbon we were given to gift wrap them! The gang there are so helpful, really worth a visit either for gifts or for a Christmas day cheese board!
Healing stones from Rocks and Clocks
My dad’s mum Grandma Angela is the sweetest, kindest lady you’ll ever meet. She’s very spiritual and has always prayed every night for everyone in our family, 30 direct cousins strong, as well as lighting candles in church for people when they need extra support. She’s had a difficult year with her mobility and some setbacks in her health and while she’s back on top form I wanted to pick out some healing crystals for her from Rocks and Clocks.
I also picked up an incense set and a stress busting crystal for my friend who has a very busy job! The lady who works there consults on the different healing crystals and it’s really interesting to look at them and see which one’s you’re drawn to. She even cleanses them of other energy so they are brand new for you, in a special bowl before you take them away.
Lucky for us we have Christmas dinner all cooked and prepared for us, since my mother-in-law is the best you can get! If I wasn’t I’d have certainly been back this week to the butchers, fruit and veg stalls and fishmongers for my meats, vegetables and smoked salmon! Bakestones are selling gorgeous freshly baked Christmas cakes too which smell make the market smell like Christmas day even now!
All in all, a fantastic and stress free experience. My trolley was packed full when I got home ready to wrap and pop under the tree! I was on budget too with change for a Welsh Cake from Bakestones!
As I left, I had been so in my own world that I hadn’t realised it had been pouring it down ALL day, so I even picked up a brolly for my walk back to the train!
It’s party time! But do you ever wonder how much power is generated by recycling? Angela from Recycle for Wales is here to tell us how to use your waste for good this season!
The #RecycledBeats Christmas campaign claims that recycling just one bottle of prosecco could save enough energy to play the entire Super Furry Animal’s Radiator and Fuzzy Logic albums on a home stereo 13 times each and power a spinning disco ball for five and a half days.
Prosecco power doesn’t stop there either. Playing a gig at the Tramshed on 20th December, Welsh singer and green queen, Charlotte Church said:
“Every little effort we make to recycle more can enable us to do more of the things we love without harming the world around us. If I recycled one prosecco bottle, I could save enough energy to power both the guitar and bass in my Late Night Pop Dungeon show for the full hour. That’s amazing!”
Everyday non-party items also provide a range of opportunities for recycling – from all types of drinks bottles to toilet roll tubes and wrapping paper. Recycling one aluminium deodorant can saves enough energy to power a home stereo for 32 hours – that’s 480 plays of Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas is you.
Whether going out or staying in throughout party season – your energy saving recycling can take place before, during and after the party and throughout the year at home.
Getting ready- Good tunes are an essential part of ANY pre-party preparations. Whilst you’re singing into the shower head at home, remember that one hairspray canister could save enough energy to play three of your favourite albums on your home stereo, back to back.
The party- Who needs a band? Recycling just one wine bottle saves enough energy to power a home stereo for 24 hours. You could also provide the disco magic by recycling just one tube of toilet roll, which saves enough energy to keep the disco ball spinning for two whole hours.
The clean up- The party is over and everyone is asleep, and yet the empty cleaning products still have a lot of energy. That one bleach bottle used saves enough energy to power a guitar amp for two gigs, the deodorant bottle- nine gigs! That’s enough for all of next year’s parties too!
The following day- Baby its cold outside! If you’re staying at home on the sofa with your duvet, recycling four beer bottles could save you enough energy to power your favourite Christmas classics, including Home Alone and Love Actually.
Angela Spiteri, campaign manager for Recycle for Wales said:
“Partygoers often forget you need energy for more than just dancing; the power for the party can come from simply taking the time to recycle your drinks bottles. It can take up to 95% less energy to make products from some recycled materials compared to creating materials from scratch.
#RecycledBeats highlights how this translates into actual energy to power all things musical – from bands and DJs playing across Cardiff this festive season.”
Last week, I took part in my first ever food tour of Cardiff – a food safari, no less, taking in some sights, history, and a lot of tastes of the fair capital. Having lived here for as long as I have, I sort of presumed I had explored all of the culinary boltholes in the centre of it. How wrong I was!
We met Sian (who was leading the tour) along with fellow tour-attendees, Doug and Val in the cafe at the castle. Doug and Val had lived here between 1985 to 1990, then moved away. You can imagine how different the city is today to when they’d been here originally.
Although we didn’t eat anything at the castle, Sian gave us a potted history of the castle through the ages. One of my favourite anecdotes was about how it used to be the Royal College of Music and Drama (as the council initially didn’t know what to do with it when it was handed over by the Butes) – Sian had music lessons there as a child. Imagine having music lessons in a castle!
Anyway, this was our first stop: bara brith and tea at Pettigrew Tea Rooms.
Andrew Pettigrew was Head Gardner for the Third Marquis of Bute , and the tea room is named in his honour. I am ashamed to say we ate the bara brith so quickly I didn’t manage to get a photo … (that’s the sign of some good cake!). It was really good too – super moist!
We then wandered through Castle Arcade. Although I must have walked through here hundreds of times, it was the first time I ever noticed the stag in the mirror (above the exit that goes out onto High Street – see below!)
It was then into Cardiff Indoor Market, taking a leisurely look around the stalls (I spotted some very tasty faggots and peas in a tupperware box that took my fancy!), but we stopped outside Ashton’s. You’ll know it as the fishmonger that’s at the entrance to the market from the Hayes side. Ashton’s is also the oldest limited company in Cardiff (fact!), and you can buy laverbread and cockles from them to eat there. Sian had baked some oatcakes and brought them with her, to make us small ‘tapas’ style morsels. They were absolutely delicious!
We then went on to try some cawl and Welsh ciders! This was a definite high point. (My favourite cider was the Gwynt Y Ddraig medium dry, in case you ever want to take me out for a drink).
From there, we went down to the bay. Doug and Val were most excited about this part of the tour, as the bay had been in its very early re-development when they left. No Millennium Centre, no Senedd, no barrage.
To give you some perspective, this is what it would have looked like when they left …
This is what it looks like now (!)
(obviously the locations are slightly different, but you get the idea)
We wandered around the bay a bit, and Sian imparted more historical knowledge. I live in Butetown but rarely spend time just wandering around, chewing the fat. In this case, chewing on the amazing Welsh cakes from Fabulous …
Our final course was in Ffresh. They’ve recently refurbished the inside with a load of copper coloured trees – beautiful!
Also the food. OMG the food. We stuck to deserts – I had a very nice and light iced pear, followed by this amazing shared cheese board. Per las … my downfall …
After dessert, I was so full I pretty much rolled down towards the water and into the Princess Katherine, one of the water taxis that runs between town and the bay. There’s actually an onboard audio guide that gives you information about the places you’re going past as you chug past them.
“We have many spectacular mountains, a stunning coastline and a little rain – that all helps to create an ideal environment for growing produce which results in award-winning food and drink!” says Sian, who’s been running food tours for a few years now (she also reads the news and used to present the weather, so gets recognised occasionally while you’re walking around with her!). She’s also fluent in French, Italian, Spanish and German as well as English and Welsh (feel like you messed around too much in school?? Me too!).
It was wonderful having Sian to guide us – she is incredibly knowledgeable about Cardiff and so passionate about food – she told us about everything from Welsh vineyards to the history of Italian food in Cardiff. All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our food safari – and ended up discovering some proper hidden Cardiff food gems. Cockles in the market will be on the itinerary for every trip we ever make to town, forever!
Cardiff-based Baby Queens are enjoying something of a slow burning, organic raise to public consciousness. Though they’ve been around for a while – they were first featured here on We Are Cardiff in 2014 (Baby Queens Our Cardiff Geography) – they’re now signed to SFA man Cian Ciaran’s Strangetown Records, and this year have been part of the BBC Horizons project, spearheaded by new music champion Bethan Elfyn.
The opening track of their eponymous debut is entitled: ‘Tired of Love’. The title of the track is one that we’ve seen many times in music; before our ears have even been properly aquainted with the record there’s a worry that may just be another nondescript British pop album. However, as soon as the music starts, these worries are allayed; in fact, the first track’s seems like it is deceptively there to catch the listener off guard. The track is layered with an infectious electronic drum loop, the lyrics are consciously lovesick and the production shifts between styles effortlessly; it is a signifier that the album packs no punches both lyrically and sonically. The track is evidence that the self-titled nature of the album isn’t simply out of convenience, it is a declaration of the group’s identity, both philosophically and sonically. With the group getting props from Marinia Diamandis on Twitter to write-ups on The Guardian, they’re certainly on their way to something big and show that Cardiff’s tightly-knit music community is still doing great things.
The synthesis of synthetic and organic sounds is one of the biggest positives about the album. It is difficult to properly balance these polarising sounds, but Baby Queens have balanced it competently; in fact, they haven’t just found the right balance, they’ve synthesised both sounds creatively. The soft electronic percussion of ‘Hear Me’, for example, pops with the inclusion of the relatively archaic shaker and classic guitar lines. There is an acute awareness throughout the record that the weaving together of opposing sounds leads to a much more pleasing collage of sound. The symbiosis of these two sounds ensures the album’s production stays organic and sonically interesting throughout. It’s difficult not to think of Cardiff when you hear the combination of electronics and natural sound; the electronic production winds around a subtle natural foundation much like the city itself. Cardiff is a city that juxtaposes harshly against a fertile natural landscape; the city is a symbiosis of nature and modernity much like the music it produces. The unique material culture of the city – one that is still grounded in nature despite its metropolitan allure – has been threaded into sonic palette of the record; Cardiff has left an impression on this group, perhaps even unconsciously. The group aren’t afraid to dip their toes into different styles, either, which ensures the album stays stylistically varied.
The album jumps around a few different styles with aplomb. There is a direct trip-hop and pop influence embedded in the album, but it is still stylistically varied. For example, ‘By The River’ veers into a gospel song on points with a strong Americana influence, whereas ‘Forever’ opens with a reggae guitar line and never really threatens to leave the genre for the remainder of the track. There’s always a nice surprises in each track, – like the Aphex Twin-esque drum loop at the end of ‘Forever’ – that keep the listener’s earbuds on the tip of excitement, too. The group’s ability to wind through several complicated genres speaks volumes for their chemistry. Despite foraying into several genres, their harmonies still stay solid and their identity never becomes compromised. The best thing about the album, really, is how the group are so unrelentingly themselves. Leroy’s drumming, too, deserves special mention – it is expertly measured and matured throughout.
Lyrically, too, the album displays the group’s deceiving depth. Initially, I thought the album was entirely made up of romantic love songs – not that there’s anything wrong with that – but on further listens I found that the album, in a few tracks, deals with much more relevant and complicated issues. The hook in ‘Forever’ can deceive the listener into believing it is a simple love song, but the overall lyrical content points to something more political. For example, the lyric ‘your skin is light, my skin is dark, that does not change the shape of our hearts’ is a plea for egalitarianism in a time of rampant secularism or straight-up racism. Baby Queens seem ready to shake off their ‘girl group’ stereotype by producing lyrical content that is relevant and political. In a time of Brexit, alt-right and all that other nonsense, it’s good to have a group pushing for people to view each other on more human terms. The vibe of the whole track, too, is suited to the times. It is as utopianistic as it is sombre, in a way. The lyrics contrast sharply with the sombreness embedded in the vocals. Essentially, the track’s contrasts and tonal hypocrisy mirrors contemporary life; the track realises it is a time where relentless positivity is needed, but where the facts of modern life distils this down into sombre well-wishing.
Overall, Baby Queens was a real surprise packed to the brim with personality and risky production choices. It is out now on Strangetown Records– go check it out, you won’t be disappointed (and if you are then I’m prepared for some comment section shadowboxing).
Baby Queens is out now on Strangetown Records. Find out more:
We accidentally went to four Christmas craft fairs yesterday, so here are some lovely, local independent artists and businesses where you can find super special Christmas pressies this year. We’ll keep adding to this post as we find new stuff! Leave us a comment if you have an idea!
Fancy visiting Cardiff’s first ever ethical night market?
Picture the scene – in the build-up to the festive season the magic and excitement of Christmas quickly disappearing as you navigate through crowded department stores with terrible Christmas music played over tinny shop speakers and the worry that the products you’re lovingly picking out have been made in less-than-ethical conditions.
What Christmas shopping really needs is a stress-free cosy atmosphere, ethical local brands (and maybe a glass or two of mulled wine).
This December will see Cardiff’s first ever Ethical Cardiff Night Market, and it’s going to be a Christmas special!
This alternative market – organised by environmentally friendly letting agent Green Valley Moves – will be popping up in Cardiff Speaker Hire on Dumballs Road on Saturday 10th December. It will include stalls filled with eco-friendly products, delicious veggie and vegan food and lovingly handmade crafts.
All of the vendors have a passion for sustainability and are providing products that are good for people and the planet. The stallholders include independent coffee and vinyl venture Outpost, natural male grooming product makers Old Faithful and vegan-friendly coffee and juice experts The Moos.
There is more than just stalls, however, as the night will also include a bar, live music (championing local female musicians) and a pottery workshop by Cardiff Pottery Workshops.
The event was created by Green Valley Moves founder, Cat Woods, to provide people with a more relaxed shopping experience.
“I’m prone to anxiety” Cat explains, “and Christmas shopping, with all the crowds, is something that puts a strain on me. So when I decided to organise the Ethical Cardiff Night Market I had mental health in the front of my mind.”
Cat reached out to other people who find Christmas shopping nerve-wracking to see what she could do to help. The whole event has been designed with these suggestions, meaning the market will have calming acoustic music and staggered entry so that it doesn’t get overcrowded.
There will still be a strong sense of festive magic, however, as Cat continues: “We have lots of things planned – including a snow machine!”.
Green Valley Moves is an ethical Landlord/Letting Agent, based in Cardiff, with a passion for sustainability and the environment. They provide sustainable lettings services for landlords and help tenants save money by giving them the knowledge and inspiration to live healthier, greener lives.
Founded by Cat Woods, Green Valley Move’s profits create and support local community eco projects.
The Ethical Cardiff Night Market was created to champion ethical and eco-friendly producers in Cardiff and South Wales, as well as provide a low-stress shopping alternative for those who find Christmas shopping anxiety inducing.