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Crazy about Cardiff

riverHaving lived in Cardiff for many years it holds a special place in my heart, especially as some of my favourite people live there. Moving from Surrey where people tend to keep themselves to themselves, it was great to natter with strangers in the street and immediately feel at home in this small but perfectly formed city. My children were born there, we bought our first house there and we will always go back there.

It's great for shopping, gigs (big and small) and a night out in general and the Bay area, Cardiff Castle, charming Pontcanna, Bute Park all add to its appeal. This time we even spent a wonderful afternoon at a beautiful riverside field for a picnic in a lesser known and less desired part of the city that I'm sure most people don't know about. The sun came out, the kids fell in and all was wonderful.

For my birthday treat we checked into Jolyons - a boutique hotel at the bottom of Cathedral Road, close to the Castle and park jolyonsand a short stroll into town. Each room at the hotel has something unique about it. Some have a sink, kettle, microwave within an antique wardrobe, others have a vintage sofa, or an interesting gilt headboard and unique decor extras can be seen in the corridors too. Personally I felt they could go a step further with this theme. Our room was nice enough, everything you need and with the signature unusual bit of furniture - but I couldn't go so far as to get excited by it. (And I can get excited about quirky hotels!)

jolyons2Having said that, the bar area takes the unusual boutique style further and I think it works well there. I perched on a dramatic carved palour sofa in front of the fireplace for drinks that evening, served by a chipper barman. Breakfast was also served there and was very tasty and gave me the energy to tackle the bdmaze of arcades opposite the castle with the independent boutiquey shops - great for spending birthday money in. There is mall upon mall with every conceivable brand beyond this if you want a serious shop.

There is a vast choice of restaurants in this cosmopolitan city but we plumped for a mojito fueled dinner at a Mexican place called Wahaca where we ate cactus amongth other things, and ended in a student club (undeservedly rather empty in the summer holidays) for a bop. However had it been fuller we may have been turned away for being over age!

Cardiff has a good range of bars serving craft beers and ales. I feel like the city has grown up a bit nightlife-wise from when we were there 10 years ago when there seemed to be more skimpy outfits and beer throwing. At the more civilised end Pontcanna is also good for an outing - a trendy neighbourhood with lovely Victorian houses interspersed with interesting eateries and bars.

Happy Birthday to me!