Staycations in Cardiff when you’re skint

Need some rest and relaxation, but can’t afford the gold dubloons it would cost you to spend a day in a spa? Fear not – Jenny Jones has put together this handy guide to Staycations in Cardiff – when you’re skint. She’ll be rounding up some of the best value options for pure indulgence on a budget.

Stressed out? Skint? Know you need some time out, but just have no idea how you’re going to afford it? Yeah, me too. Everyone needs time out from work – whether your “work” pays you loads, not enough, or nothing at all if you’re caring for people at home.

But luckily for you, I’ve been putting together this thrifty guide to getting your chill on. Even if you can’t take a full day out, I’ve split my ideal day up, so you can pick and choose relaxing activities that can fit around your schedule. My preferred mode of transport is bicycle (car parking is a nightmare anyway) so most of these are things you can access in or near the city centre either by bike or on foot. There are also a couple of things you can do – without ever leaving your home!



If you love the idea of sitting on a Parisienne street corner, supping coffee and watching the world go by, perhaps you could consider the Cardiff budget option: getting a cuppa in Cardiff Indoor Market? As far as people watching goes, as far as I’m concerned, there’s nowhere better.

Image by Melissa Jackson

The Indoor Market has a number of breakfast options both downstairs and upstairs, where a cup of tea will set you back 85p, you can get a cooked breakfast for £2.99, and the people watching is free. Now that’s a bargain.


If you’ve got kids, then you’ll already know about how amazing the National Museum is. With its endless rooms of fossils and minerals and early finds from around Wales, it’s the perfect place for the kids to run around and you to get some peace.

Image by Rob Khoo

What lots of people don’t know is that the museum also a serious hoarding of art – including the biggest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art outside of Paris. Pick up a stool on your way in, place yourself in front of the art work, clear your mind and just let the canvases loose on your cerebral cortex. You can see Monet’s Waterlillies and Van Gogh’s Rain amongst many others here. Oh and did I mention that those galleries have free entry?


Most massage places around the centre cost an average of £40 an hour, £60 for an hour and a half. If you don’t have the cash, there are other massage options that won’t break the bank, including qualified masseuses that will visit your home (great news if you’re housebound or find it difficult to get around). I like Odnova, who bring their own massage beds and other bits, charge £30 for a 90 minute massage (plus a small petrol charge to get to your house), and will pummel you to your heart’s content.


If you love being outdoors but don’t have a garden and can’t commit to an allotment, the opportunities for really getting your hands dirty in nature are pretty limited. At least they were, until you heard about the Riverside Community Allotment project. Based in Pontcanna Fields, you can learn how to grow food in a sociable and supportive atmosphere.


There are two working poly-tunnels where peppers, tomatoes, grapes and aubergines are grown, as well as raised beds and an accessible pond and wildlife area. There’s also a solar cooker and a compost toilet. Find out more about Riverside Community Allotment (See also the Riverside Community Garden Facebook page) and drop by – it’s a lovely place to spend an hour or two.

There are various other organisations that will get you outdoors and in sociable environments – Cardiff Conservation Volunteers undertake a new small project every week, and there are a couple of community gardens dotted around the city you can always volunteer with (Green City have more details), or even Keep Wales Tidy – Cardiff branch, or Cardiff Rivers Group.



Although there are plenty of budget options in town, you are trying to treat yourself, so no Greggs, right!? I would send you back to the Indoor Market for lunch, where you can choose between Clancy’s Vegetarian Emporium, Milgi’s lunch boxes (my favourite is the green one!), and the Thai place (pad thai on a plastic plate – just like in Bangkok) – all of which will gift you a very tasty lunch for under a fiver.

Image by Gourmet Gorro

If the weather’s nice, grab your food and go sit in the little garden between St John’s Church and the Cardiff Story buildings. Also great people watching in there (but watch the pigeons).


If you’re seeking a bit of peace from a constantly busy and cluttered mind, then maybe some meditation or mindfulness could be your self-indulgence.

The Buddhist Centre in Roath (but the town end of Roath – very near Newport Road) has drop-in meditation sessions that are open to all, 19.30 Wednesdays and 12.30 (midday) Thursdays. These sessions operate on a donation basis – amazing for those with low cash flow.

The courtyard of Cardiff Buddhist Centre

It may not look like much from the outside, but inside you’ll find friendly people and a quiet retreat from the madness of the city. Bless those Buddhists.


If your idea of relaxation heaven is splurging loads on clothes, then how about investigating the city’s wide selection of charity shops? Albany Road and Wellfield Road in Roath are well-mined by the city’s students, but venture a little further afield (particularly into the more affluent areas) and you’ll find some real gems. I particularly like daytripping over to Penarth, where we’ve managed to get designer items for an absolute steal.

We’d also like to suggest two more shopping alternatives to you, that are perfect for people on a budget: car boot sales, and vintage kilo sales.

Image by Bessemer Road Car Boot

There are so many car boots around south Wales it’s impossible for me to pick favourites (although I will – I’m still a fan of Splott Market and Bessemer Road Market, and definitely make the trip down to Sully Car Boot if you can. I’ve heard Cardiff City Stadium Car Boot is good but I haven’t visited yet, and apparently there’s an amazing undercover car boot in Bridgend, but again I haven’t made it out there yet).

For vintage kilo sales, the best thing to do is keep your eye on Facebook. Local tastemakers Blue Honey put one on every so often – Vintage Kilo Sale is the thing you’re looking for.




As the spiritual (and physical) home for Cardiff’s student population, Cathays and Roath are absolutely bursting with cheap, tasty eats. It’s hard for me to pick just one, so I’m selecting two: Falafel Kitchen on Cwrys Road (my pick: Sabich pitta – fried aubergine and an egg, with mountains of salad for a fiver), or Jalan Malaysia on Woodville Road, where the Turmeric Fried Chicken is a finger licking £8.95.

Don’t feel limited to these two though – City Road and Crwys Road are all about the budget eats.


If you’re one of those nutters that gets relaxation from endorphins, how about joining a running group? Cardiff has recently acquired its own GoodGym, and we’d recommend this. The group meets every week at the Old Library in town, goes for a short run, and then heads to a local destination where they carry out a task to help the local community. Examples of tasks carried out include painting fences or walls, weeding, basic gardening tasks – all for local community groups or charities.


They’re a fun and sociable group which does good and gets fit together. They keep together as a group and no-one gets left behind. Although you do have to pay to join Cardiff’s GoodGym (a tenner a month), the money goes into the GoodGym charity – plus imagine all that karma you’ll be building up.


There are weekly free Sahaja Yoga Meditation drop in sessions in the city centre. In this class, you’ll sit on chairs to achieve Yoga, effortlessly and spontaneously – no Asanas (exercises), mats or special clothing required. If you’re having trouble juggling the challenges in your life, this kind of activity can help you manage stress, master your emotions and find solutions to your problems. You may enjoy better health, better focus, and a deeper understanding of the universe and your place in it. And if not – it’s free, so why not give it a try?


Okay, I said spas were out of the question right at the start … but I lied! Cardiff and Vale College on Dumballs Road has its very own hair and beauty therapy studio, called Urbaspa. It’s brand new, it’s cheap, and I love it!

The idea is that the students get hands on experience while they’re studying, and so the prices reflect that. Bear in mind though, your treatment might take a little longer than usual, and students might have to get teachers to look over what they’ve done. If that doesn’t float your boat, you can always ask for one of the recent graduates who work there in a professional capacity –  I had a great short haircut in there for £20, and got a shape and paint done on my nails for just a fiver. Bargain!

You should also check out the actual spa there – it’s got a sauna, jacuzzi, steam room and monsoon shower, along with heated ceramic beds, and half day access is only £8. I recommend adding on a session on the floatation bed, which is just £7. If you’re feeling really flush, book in a half day spa along with a tasty lunch at the Schoolroom. It’s an incredible £20 – but because it’s so cheap, weekends are booked up months in advance. Go during the week, when the spa is much quieter. Urbaspa website / Urbaspa price guide.

Well, that’s it! Thanks for reading my guide to Thrifty Staycations in Cardiff. Have you got any recommendations you could add? Let us know in the comments!




Rhithganfyddiad: the art and poetry project that maps Cardiff like never before

We spotted these gorgeous illustrations of Cardiff a few months back and decided to investigate who was behind them and their accompanying poetry: meet Efa Lois and Morgan Owen! 

Gwelsom ni’r darluniadau hyfryd hyn hyn o Gaerdydd rhai misoedd yn ôl a phenderfynu ymchwilio i bwy oedd wedi’u creu yn ogystal â’r barddoniaeth sy’n cydfynd â hwy. Dyma gyflwyno Efa Lois a Morgan Owen!

Rhithganfyddiad is a collaborative project between Morgan Owen, a young poet and MA student at Cardiff University, and Efa Lois, an illustrator and Architectural Assistant currently based in Cardiff. They told us:

“We started Rhithganfyddiad because we wanted to document the city as it currently is. Cities are constantly evolving, especially Cardiff, and we hoped to capture what the city is currently like, whilst reflecting on its past.

The end result is a poem and an illustration – a chronicle of each place.”

Mae Rhithganfyddiad yn brosiect ar y cyd rhwng Morgan Owen, bardd ifanc a myfyriwr MA ym Mhrifysgol Caerdydd, ac Efa Lois, sy’n arlunydd ac yn Gynorthwyydd Pensaernïol. Dywedodd Morgan ac Efa wrthom:

“Dechreuodd Rhithganfyddiad am ein bod am adlewyrchu’r ddinas fel y mae hi ar hyn o bryd. Mae dinasoedd yn datblygu drwy’r amser, yn enwedig Caerdydd, ac rydym am ddal naws y ddinas fel ag y mae hi, tra’n ystyried ei gorffennol.  Cynnyrch ein hymwneud â’r gwahanol ardaloedd yr ydym yn ymweld â nhw yw cerdd a darlun.”

They are gradually filling in their map of Cardiff with their gorgeous work – we can’t wait to see the full set!

Maent yn raddol yn llenwi eu map o Gaerdydd gyda’u gwaith hyfryd – ‘da ni’n methu ag aros i weld y casgliad yn ei gyfanrwydd!

Here’s a selection of their images and poetry- you can see more of their work on their website, or in store at Cant a Mil Vintage on Whitchurch Road. You can also buy prints online.

Dyma ddetholiad o’u darluniadau a’u barddoniaeth – gallwch weld mwy o’u gwaith ar eu gwefan, neu yn siop Cant a Mil Vintage ar Heol yr Eglwys Newydd. Gallwch hefyd brynu printiau arlein.

Heol y Gadeirlan | Cathedral Road

Mae’r hewl hon yn bont annisgwyl
o’r canol i’r cyrion,
un stryd sy’n rhychwantu
dinas benbwygilydd.

O unpen i’r llall mae bywyd
yn arafu a’r ddinas
yn ymbentrefoli
nes dy fod mewn byr o dro

yn bell bell o’r dwndwr
heb ymgydnabod â’r rhyngdir.


Cydgymysgwn – nid goddef
ond parchu gwead
ein cydblethiad;
ymhyfrydwn yn y cymhlethdod
cain lle gwêl
y culion ddryswch.

Treganna | CantonMewn dinas o’r iawn ryw mae’r
strydoedd yn gyfrodedd
heb arwain at unlle’n benodol.
Dryswch dymunol yw ei nod amgen,
ei chyfiawnhad a’i gogoniant.
Mae’r hewlydd oll yn rhan o’r cyfanwaith,
a phob un, eto i gyd, yn torsythu
yn ei hannibyniaeth.
Y daith ei hun yw’r unig resymeg.
Wrth hyntio’n ymwybodol o’r cymysgedd
awn i wledydd dirifedi
heb adael am eiliad ein dinas ni.


Ni fu realiti erioed mor hurt
â tharfu ar y cyfeddach
a’r delfrydu, ac amheuthun 
yw tario yn y tir neb 
rhwng rhyddid a chyfrifoldeb.

Dychweli’n ddoethach
yn ddieithryn. Fe weli,
a thithau’n lwcus, fod bellach
sylwedd am yr hen haniaethau
a’r breuddwydion liw dydd.

Fe weli, a thithau’n eithriad,
nad ildiaist i’r sadrwydd
mae’r lle hwn yn brotest yn ei erbyn.

Heol y Fuwch Goch | Womanby St

Fin nos yn feddw nadredda
gwyntoedd ffrwythlonder a phydredd
i gyfeiliant diotwyr a gwylanod.
Yn ddeuparth bywyd ac unparth marwolaeth,  
cerdda ffantasmagoria y strydoedd
sydd bob un yn arwain at ruddin y gân
a’r golau. Annedd frwysg rhwng gwyll
a gwawr yw’r noswaith lân sy’n darfod yn yr oriau mân.

Llandaf | Llandaff

Yng ngogysgod y ddinas
mae hendref greiriog
sy’n edliw i’r concrit
ei lesgedd.

Ar ei ynys grebachlyd
mae’n mesur y llanw
di-drai sy’n difa

Lle cedwid gynt rin
rhyw genedl a gwagle
i freuddwydio ceir heddiw
grawcwellt yn ymborth.

Eilbeth yw iaith a llên
a myfyrdodau
lle mae arian
yn llywio meddyliau.

Deled y byd i weld
tomen o garegos
pan nad yw llwydni
Llanbobman yn ddigon.

Y Sblot | Splott

Dur yw iaith absenoldeb;
dur sy’n rhydu yn y dociau dof
yw pont dwy genhedlaeth;
dur sy’n fy nghludo i gartref
na ddychwelaf iddo eto.

Dau le a unwyd gan un enw
a dynghedwyd i gyd-ddioddef –
dau le sy’n gorwedd
dan lwch hen luniau
sy’n stwyrian wedi sôn am Ddowlais.

Dowlais yw enw colled
yn y blaendir a’r ddinas
fel ei gilydd lle mae’r dur
yn rhydu o hyd.

Mynydd Bychan | The Heath

Nid angof fydd y fan hon
sydd rhwng dau le o hyd –
tramwyfa aml daith,
ond cyrchfan anfynych.

Pan fo’r cyrion yn crwydro a’r ddinas
yn glastwreiddio’i chalon,
rhinwedd yw rhyngedd
y lle sy’n aros yn yr unfan.

Illustrations/Darluniadau: Efa Loi, poetry/barddoniaeth: Morgan Owen


Cardiff heatwave: your best photos!

The weather has been CRAZY, right?? And you guys have been out and about, merrily snapping away. We have gathered some of our favourite ‘grams and stuck them here in this wee video.

Congrats to everyone featured! And make sure to check out their feeds:

@sirjamesob / @andrew_weeks77 / @onixjihane / @pritchardswyd / @iamsamophotos / @vickyryan45 / / @fiehds / @louisaraxox@mwilcx10



Cardiff: pirates, river monsters, and the Champions League

In my latest column for the ever-lovely Caught by the River about the Taff, I wrote about Cardiff’s very own afanc (river monster).

I went on an amazing guided walk at Christmas, where tour guide Bill O’Keefe totally blew all of our minds with a selection of legendary stories about Cardiff, and made mention of Cardiff’s reputation for being a wretched hive of scum and pirate villainy back in the sixteenth century. I did some more research into this and decided to dedicate a column on it and the Taff’s afanc for CBTR.

Here’s part of the piece (you’ll need to click through to read the full thing):

The River Taff’s afanc reached the height of its fame towards the end of the 1500s — a time when Cardiff was the stronghold for some of the world’s most infamous pirates. The town fulfilled vital conditions for a shady sea port: lots of nearby coves to offload ill-gotten gains; a big market; townspeople happy to buy ripped-off goods at bargain prices; the Welsh language — which made it impossible for investigators from London to work out what was going on — and a good supply of ‘bawdy houses’, run by single women at a time when prostitution wasn’t fully criminalised.

Most importantly of all, Cardiff had officials with a flexible attitude towards the law – happy to let the buccaneers do what they wanted, as long as there were some sweet kickbacks.

Read the full column: Wandering the River Taff: A Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy (Caught by the River)

As usual, I ended up doing loads of research that couldn’t make it into the final piece, so I thought I’d pull out some of the more interesting pieces and links for you, if you want to do some more reading.

My research for this piece (lots of reading plus lots of walking) took place over the month of May, while Cardiff was going through a crazy hot period preparing for the UEFA Champions League Final. I didn’t manage to get all my photos in the CBTR piece either, so here’s what was left over.

Some lovely wooden art in Bute Park – two pieces I hadn’t seen before, the seal/fish guy and the daffodil guy …

The water-bus stop in Bute Park and the bridge between Castle Street and Cowbridge Road East. This little area is right next to Pettigrew Tea Rooms.

I like this graffiti. Looking at it made me think about some great disaster wiping out the human race and everything being totally destroyed apart from our buildings and bridges, and some aliens finding this in hundreds of years time and thinking it’s hieroglyphics, like we think the Egyptians were doing … when actually they were probably just tagging …

Back on the bridge, the city is slowly being dismantled in the post-Champions-League-world we now all live in. You can tell this is Sunday because it was still sunny and hadn’t quite started completely shitting it down with rain yet, like it has done all week after the football…

The view south towards the Millennium Principality National Stadium of Wales (wtf are we supposed to call the thing now??)

The quiet after the storm: Quay Street and surrounds on the Sunday after the Champions League Final.

Some other bits and pieces I came across:

Cardiff’s pirate days

Queen Elizabeth’s first minister wrote to Cardiff to ask what was going on. It became increasingly obvious these people could not be operating without assistance.

(taken from When Cardiff was a safe place for Britain’s most notorious pirates, Wales Online)

Captain Morgan

Have you heard about the boy from Llanrumney who became one of the most feared pirates of the seven seas? You may not recognise the story, but you will know the name if you drink rum. Captain Morgan. The world’s second-best selling rum carries the name of a swashbuckling Welshman who went from scourge of the Spanish fleet to favourite of King Charles II and governor of Jamaica.

(taken from The Cardiff pirate and a bottle of rum: Captain Henry Morgan, Cardiff Drinks)




UEFA Champions League 2017: an Italian-Spanish-Welsh Cardiff takeover

So, it’s the big comedown after the main event, the weather gods have finally let us have it after holding off all weekend, all the drains on my street are totally blocked. The city is slowly being returned to normal.

Is anyone else sad it’s over?? Big ups to all the police and emergency services and cleaning crews and volunteers and everyone who helped make it happen. It was a brilliant weekend!

Some of our favourite bits:

View this post on Instagram

Cardiff at its resplendent best.

A post shared by Gary Lineker (@garylineker) on





We also really like this story from Wales Online: To all the Champions League fans, volunteers and staff – Cardiff says DIOLCH!

Fav bits: over 1 million pints pulled in the city over the weekend, 20,000 half’n’half trays … nice!



PS if you’re interested in the community aspects of the game, we suggest following our pals at Eat Sleep Footy Repeat – they covered the 1600-strong girls match in Llanrumney last week, and report on all the best parts of the sport around here!


Cardiff cinemas long gone: Olympia / ABC

A few weeks ago, I came across some old pics of the Olympia (then the ABC) cinema at Andrews Buildings (today it’s where River Island is on Queen Street). I’ve got fond if sketchy memories of that cinema (most notably seeing The Jungle Book and Jurassic Park in there as a child), and had almost completely forgotten where the building was on Queen Street.



(photo from 1948, photographer unknown)

The original facade is still there, although the auditorium was demolished in 2003.

(compare and contrast – 1954 to today. Photos from Cardiff History Tumblr)

The Andrews Buildings on Queen Street were originally built in 1899 by Solomon Andrews (you’ll probably know him better for being the driving force behind Cardiff’s Indoor Market). The place was a leisure and retail centre that was home to Andrews Hall, a concert hall that was converted into a theatre: first the Olympia, then ABC. The cinema finally closed its doors in 1999.

There’s also this rather charming video shot in the projection room in 1998, a year before the cinema finally closed.

Was anyone else at that screening of Jurassic Park? Ah, good times.

More information: