A pre-6am wakeup call from number one son started our day in Abertillery with a groan, but thankfully my husband and I had a day in Cardiff to look forward to while Grandma, Grampy, Auntie, Uncle and cousins had fun with our kids.
My rucksack was heavy with a day’s worth of juice as we caught the train from Llanhilleth to Cardiff Central for a rare day out. It was a noisy, packed train, and we added to the din, talking, uninterrupted, all the way there. It was a thoroughly enjoyable 40-minute ride through the valleys.
I love Cardiff’s unique Victorian and Edwardian Arcades which nestle right in the heart of the city. The seven arcades house over 100 independent cafes, bars and shops and there is so much to see, so we spent most of our time enjoying these few streets.
The market place was bustling, and I enjoyed watching row upon row of Welsh cakes being made and baked on a traditional bakestone. When I was able to eat wheat, I often used to snack on these as they don’t usually contain milk, which I became allergic to after the birth of my daughter.
We bought ten of the delicious goodies to take back with us before moving on. The smells from other interesting-looking food stalls filled the air and made me wish even more that I didn’t have another twelve days to go.
For lunch, my husband chose a large, cool-looking bar called The Alchemist, which was decorated accordingly with potion bottles. The one and only thing I could order on the menu was a smoking three-mint tea, which turned out to be the most impressive tea I’ve ever had. It arrived in a small class measuring jug, billowing smoke. I was instructed to wait until the smoke died away before pouring the tea through a tea-strainer into my vintage tea cup.
A couple of ladies at the table next to us shared that they had spent more time stopping for food and drinks rather than the planned shopping because there were so many tempting options in Cardiff. Shopping is certainly much less fun when food is not on the menu! But there was a juice bar in the Arcades, a health food shop which sold coconut water and plenty of other distractions to keep me occupied instead.
My husband had spicy chicken fajitas which were stunningly presented and tasty and filling too, he said. For dessert, he ordered a changing colour cocktail which arrived in two conical flasks which he was told to add to a glass of dry ice, one flask at a time. Magically, the liquid changed colour from clear to blue to pink. We had a wonderful time and feeling refreshed we set off to the main shops to hunt for a pair of smaller jeans for me!
After some successful shopping, the next stop was afternoon tea in the Barker Tea House in High Street Arcade. It was beautifully decorated with comfy brown leather armchairs, wood panelling, and vintage wall paper. It was a little painful watching my husband spread strawberry jam and clotted cream on his scones, but it turned out that he didn’t think his scones were up to much, and would have much preferred one of mine! Flattery helped the food-envy, but only a little.
We arrived back in Abertillery to find the boys tucking into large slices of Grandma’s delicious-looking Victoria sponge. Grandma makes great cakes and pastries and always has a treat in store for when we visit for the weekend. The boys finished their slices and promptly asked for more!
We ended the day with a trip to Maxime Cinema in Blackwood, where astonishingly cinema tickets are £3.50 all of the time. We saw Fight with My Family, with Vince Vaughn, Dwayne Johnson, and Nick Frost, which was a great movie – laugh out loud funny and entertaining.
Back at base, there was only my dessert juice left to drink. I took a sip and promptly spat it out. Taking a whiff of the remaining liquid in the bottle to confirm my suspicions, it definitely smelt as bad as it tasted. It was off, but why?