Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Wales Coast Path - Sudbrook - Walking with Fat Face

severn bridge

fat face jeans

Jumper: H&M - Jeans: c/o Fat Face - Shoes: Converse c/o Spartoo

As much as I would love to go walking in my usual tights and dress with pumps that really isn't ideal so I popped on my super comfy, stretchy jeggings from Fat Face and some more practical shoes to head out for a walk this weekend. I normally have real issues trying to find jeans that fit all over but these jeggings were spot on. I hate a baggy ankle, don't you? If you get a pair of skinny jeans you want them to be skinny all the way down. I'm definitely going to be wearing these again this winter with some added layering to keep warm on my winter geeky train walks. I may even be tempted to get some slouchy boyfriend jeans like Elizabeth who is rocking them over on her blog here. One step at a time though, this dress loving girl won't become a jeans convert overnight. 



The walk I went on around Sudbrook isn’t the prettiest in Wales - its heavily industrialised but that's the type of history I really love. The route Martyn and I walked along forms part of the Wales Coast Path which runs along the whole 870 miles of Wales. This area is known for lave net fishing and has been an important crossing point since Roman times. 

The reason I wanted to visit the little town is the engineering marvels on view. Not only can you see the Severn Bridge and Second Severn Crossing, there is also a hidden tunnel too. The Victorian engineers wanted to create a less perilous crossing between England and Wales in a time when the only way across the channel was by ferry. Bob Dylan took this ferry once as he needed to get from one live show in Cardiff to perform in Bristol the next day. 

The village of Sudbrook houses the huge brick building that contains the pumping station which spews out millions of gallons of water from the spring that would otherwise flood the Severn Tunnel. You might not even learn anything about the little village by walking through it but it has a real important history. I loved the little row of Great Western Railway workers cottages, all the quirky little alleys and the wonderfully eccentric Tunnel Centre which documents the history of the town. I'm guessing most of you aren't into trains but you can find out a bit more about the construction of the tunnel here if you like. 

What are you go-to items of clothing when you go for a long walk? Can you recommend any interesting walks in the West for me? 

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Sunday, 20 September 2015

My weekend in the 'Town of Books' - Hay on Wye

hay on wye

books in hay on wye

hay on wye castle

hay on wye antiques

afternoon tea

Starting a new job, in a new sector with entirely new skills to learn has certainly been a challenge but one that I've enjoyed. I come home from work exhausted from taking in so much information and after nearly three months in the job I decided that I deserved a little break so I booked a weekend in a cottage in my all time favourite town. Hay-on-Wye is a small town of about 1,500 people located in  the Brecon Beacons National Park in SouthWales. It's only about 90 minute drive from my house and I've been many times before. The town is nicknamed “the town of books” and you’ll quickly see why as you walk down the streets. Every single corner of this town is filled with books and bookshops. There are also plenty of antique shops and cafes to visit too. 

After forcing Martyn to look around book shops and antiques for a couple of hours after arriving in the town we headed to the very homely Old Stables Tea Rooms for an obscene amount of cake and plenty of tea. All the staff were friendly, the sponge cake was light and fluffy and the outdoor area was full of cute dogs. The ideal setting for me. 

The rest of the weekend involved lots of chocolate, walking along the Offa's Dyke path, relaxing in a huge bath and reading in a Shepherds hut at the stunning Pond Cottage. We were some of the first people to stay at the cottage which had undergone a total refurbishment. The cottage had everything we needed including a book collection, deep bath and a well appointed kitchen. Drinking prosecco in a bath was exactly what I needed after a long walk and week at work.

I absolutely loved my weekend in Hay-on-Wye, I could have easily stayed there for another few nights. It is right on the Wales/England border so is really accessible for anyone in the Midlands so head to the town soon if you fancy a spot of book shopping and wonderful views of the Brecon Beacons.

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Friday, 11 September 2015

Host a Macmillan Coffee Morning

It’s time to get your fancy coffee mugs out and dig a showstopper recipe, as Macmillan Cancer Support’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning returns on Friday 25th September. This year Macmillan is hoping that more people than ever will take part and help to celebrate its 25th Anniversary by raising over £25million for people affected by cancer. If you didn't already know, Macmillan Cancer Support is a UK charity that provides practical, medical and financial support to those with cancer. They also campaign to push for better cancer care. Nothing has really changed from the original coffee morning back in 1991 when the first one was held. You just gather with friends, family of colleagues and tuck into some cake and coffee to raise money for Macmillan

Last year Macmillan estimates that over 5 million people were involved and a staggering total of £138million has been raised since 1991.
With 2.5 million people currently living with cancer, this year Macmillan needs more people than ever to get involved. Every cup of coffee bought, cake baked and laugh shared at a coffee morning helps Macmillan to continue to providing vital services and support to ensure no one faces cancer alone. 

macmillan coffee morning

Make sure you get the free Coffee Morning Kit which has everything you need to have a wonderful coffee morning. It includes recipes, a money box, donation form, some games and stickers, cake flags and much more. You can also buy extras like The Little Book of Treats which has recipes from the Cake Queen Mary Barry and Dame Maggie Smith. 

If you want some party hosting ideas or want to try new recipes I've shared a post all about this here -

lemon drizzle cake
If you decide to host your own coffee morning all proceeds can be used to help those who really need a little help:
  • £22 could pay for a Macmillan nurse to spend an hour with someone who has just been told they have cancer. 
  • £62 could help someone with cancer claim the benefits they are entitled to. 
  • £175 could enable a person living with cancer to heat their home when they really need to.
tea towel

If you don't have time to host your own party M&S have the answer, they are hosting coffee mornings nationwide including my local stores in Cardiff and Newport. They have raised over £4 million pounds since they started started their partnership 6 years ago and every Colin Caterpillar or Victoria Sponge you buy will mean that money is donated to Macmillan. You can also pick up some limited edition homeware in store and 10% of the proceeds are donated to Macmillan. 

For more information or to get your free Coffee Morning kit visit www.coffee.macmillan.org.uk or text SEPT to 70550. 

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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Explore Wales Pt 2 - St Fagans National History Museum

If you're from South Wales the chances are that you've visited St Fagans on a school trip at least 4 times. Most people I know have some memories from a visit there but haven't been back since leaving school. For those not from South Wales or not in the know, St Fagans was opened to the public on 1 November 1948 and the museum stands in the grounds of the magnificent St Fagans Castle and gardens, a late 16th-century manor house donated to the people of Wales by the Earl of Plymouth. Since 1948 over forty original buildings from different historical periods have been re-erected in the 100-acre parkland, among them houses, a farm, a school, a chapel and a Workmen's Institute. Traditional crafts and native breeds of livestock all add to the charm and it is the perfect attraction to get an insight in to the rich heritage and culture of Wales. It's also totally FREE! 

St Fagans National History Museum was originally known as the Welsh Folk Museum and was part of a Scandinavian-inspired movement, concerned with collecting and preserving examples of a disappearing, primarily rural, way of life. However in the 80s the museum shifted its focus and buildings of a more industrial nature were added like the terrace of six houses from Rhyd-y-car, Merthyr Tydfil in 1987. The museum now pretty accurately represents how people in Wales have lived right up to the present day.

St Teilo's church is one of the highlights at St Fagans. The oldest surviving feature of the church is the stone font which is believed to date from the 13th century or earlier. St Teilo's church has been refurbished as it may have appeared about the year 1530, complete with all the elements associated with a late medieval Catholic church, including a rood screen and loft, altars, carvings and brightly-coloured paintings on all the walls. It really is beautifully decorated and would have been even more impressive to medieval visitors. 

The Oakdale Workmen's Institute, I spent a lot of my youth in a place just like this having dance classes, going to gigs and to writing classes. 'Stutes were a real focal point of communities in the Valleys.  They were typically paid for by Miners and were places where people could self educate, meet and socialise. 

Another trip down memory lane for any Welsh readers. Who remembers being terrified at Maestir School and thinking they were going to get the cane? 

Because St Fagans is a working museum, everywhere in the houses you can see people at work and ask them questions.  You can watch the blacksmith, potter, farmer, baker, weaver and miller show you their skills. It is always expanding too; a new Celtic village is currently under construction and The Vulcan – a much-loved Cardiff pub – and a police station are on their way too. I spent a few hours here and only saw about half of the buildings and didn't have time to see the castle and gardens to make sure you leave plenty of time if you plan on visiting. 

If you want to visit this really special place here are all the details you will need:

Website: https://www.museumwales.ac.uk/stfagans/
Opening hours10am – 5pm daily (open Bank Holiday Mondays)
LocationSt Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff, CF5 6XB(4 miles west of Cardiff City Centre, just off the A4232) You can get the No32 bus from the city centre which stops at the museum entrance. 

You can read all my posts about Wales here.

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