Saturday, 23 May 2015

Stay Local


It's no secret that I am a massive homebody. I think it's years of travelling back and forth between boarding school and where my parents lived that have made me so keen to grow roots in one place and find my true 'home'. I've lived in Cardiff since 2009 and I can't imagine living any where else. My feeling of contentment has only grown since living alone and having a full time job. Having my own place and my own disposable income lets me live the life I want to live as far as possible. 

One of the my favourite things about where I live is that my local community has everything I could want. 

My weekends will begin with the occessional lap around the local park well before anyone else is up. This is more to do with the fact that I want as few people as possible seeing me 'run' rather than anything to do with me being an early riser. But I've found some sense of fun in 'running' especially when the scenery is so beautiful.


Post run cup of tea and rest on the couch, I'll rattle myself into some kind of shape and head to the local market which is on every Saturday from 9:30. Here I pick up my organic eggs, Welsh butter, flowers, sourdough bread, vegetables and fruit. 

Counterproductive to my 'jog' and gym efforts is my favourite stall: Pwdin Cart. Pwdin is Welsh for pudding and as you can imagine they serve up some amazing cakes. I've already tried the Swedish strawberry cake and the berry and lemon curd roulade. Insert heart eye emoji. Love of cake is firmly part of my German heritage, there's really nothing better than a cup of tea with some homemade cake. My personal trainer would be disappointed but it makes me happy so in the grand scheme of things how bad can it be?

 Covent Garden Flowers

Normally I can pick up some flowers from the market, but if I'm feeling a little extravagant (normally directly after pay day) then I will treat myself to some flowers from my all time favourite florist. I spent the first five years of my life in Holland and have such strong memories of my mother buying beautiful flowers for the house. Some people might think flowers are a waste of money but they bring me such joy and add that special pop of colour to my flat. 

If I'm having friends round for breakfast brunches then I go all out and make sure to have a good selection. Flowers have that ability to make a house a home. 

Hokkei

To round off a successful day of 'running' and general housework it comes down to Hokkei. Founded by two Welsh contestants who met on Masterchef, Dale and Larkin wanted to bring tasty Chinese food to Cardiff. Their journey even has its own show on BBC charting the ups and downs of their business. Hokkei is another reason why living in Cardiff is so exciting, people here are ambitious and want to try new things. Plus the food is amazing, ethically sourced ingredients and great taste, what's not to love?

Cardiff may not be London in terms of sheer scale and things to do, but this is my home and there's a lot to love and enjoy about this corner of South Wales.

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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Romance & Love For Beginners: Lessons from my exes


If my 'romance life' has taught me anything it's that life is not a Nicholas Spark's novel, or even a rom-com. Despite my best intentions (and efforts) boys come and go. That's the nature of life and love it seems. Every boyfriend is the one, until other wise proven. At least when a relationship ends and the dust settles you can look back and attempt to learn a lesson from the relationship you've just come out of. I've taken to trying to be objective about some lessons and vaguely feel prepared for the next poor soul that walks into my life.

This list is by no means 'it', the lessons I've learnt from my various exes are many. However, I don't want to look (too) bitter, if I listed every grievance and lesson learnt we'd be here all day and I don't think I'd ever find a new boyfriend. As it's looking I'm leaning towards a feline companion anyway.

1 - Not even affection can bridge a 1ft5 height difference

My first boyfriend was 6ft4 and I stood (and still stand) stumpy at 4ft11. Standing next to him was like standing next to the Empire State Building whilst I was a single story first time buyers home. Holding hands was like reaching for the stars and having a permanently sore side for holding my arm up in the air. 

I like to date tall men, and realistically at 4ft11 it's not hard to find men taller than me. It's useful because they can reach for the top shelf where you hide your snacks or can fix broken light bulbs for you. However, even I have to concede that at some point the height difference is ridiculous. Wearing heels is cute, what's less cute is crippled feet and when he rests his head on yours as if you're his personal head rest. 

2 - If he's got a Lostprohets tattoo that should be a red flag

I started dating my first long term boyfriend well before the whole Ian Watkins story hit the news, but knowing that he had a Lostprophets tattoo really should have been my first warning sign. Even before the news about Ian Watkins came out, we all knew he was creepy. That aside parts of the tattoo were wonky or badly done so it wasn't even a good tattoo from an artistic perspective.

However, I was still partly in an emo and pop punk appreciation stage and for some reason, which I'm still not sure I understand, I thought it was cool. We live to learn from our mistakes.

As it turns out ironically around the time Ian Watkins was first arrested, this ex boyfriend began his 6 month cheating stint.Now I take great schadenfreude in the fact that he's had to spend large amounts of money on tattoo removal. You know what they say about karma...

3 - You're not a real couple until you have a fight in IKEA

Oh IKEA, it seems like such a fun idea at the start of any fledgling relationship: let's go pick out a Billy bookcase that you wanted for your new place but let's also play the 'dream home' game, have meatballs and sauce for lunch and then buy more stuff we don't need in the market hall and spend £20 on candles. 

As it turns out it's less 500 Days of Summer and more Black Friday carnage. First you realise whilst strolling around the showroom that your tastes are not at all similar. You like a grey sofa, he points to a black leather couch. He likes the green apple candle and you like the pink rose candle (nobody should ever like the green candle, be wary of people who do). He doesn't see the point of a faux sheepskin rug but you saw it in a blogger vlog and need it 'because of reasons'. Then he finally settles on the bookshelf he wants for his room, but neither of you drive or own a car. "How are we going to get this into a taxi?", "We don't", he says "I'll leave it here." I tell him to just call the taxi company and ask for the biggest taxi they have, he's horrified by the mere idea. Male stubbornness ensues and we have a stand down in aisle 25. The taxi journey home (sans billy bookcase) is silent and once home he stoically builds his Expedit as a sign of manliness and competence. 

We never went back.

The only man I can ever take to IKEA is my long suffering father who has built and dismantled more IKEA shelving and furniture in his life than he wants to admit. A never once complained (to my face at least).

4 - An ex is an ex for a reason

It doesn't always feel fair or right; you love them, you miss, them you want them back. Or you hate them, despise them and want to burn everything that reminds you of them. Dealing with an ex and the emotions from a break up, regardless of who broke up with whom or why, is hard. Keeping perspective is even more difficult, thinking about your ex can be all consuming and very counter productive. 

But remember: if that person was the right person for you, you'd still be together (bad tattoos and IKEA shelving arguments aside). Once the emotional fog lifts and you have time to look back you realise that it's true: an ex is an ex for a reason. I strongly believe that the right person will walk into your life at the right time, in the meanwhile at least you have ridiculous stories about exes to make you life and remind you to keep you standards high. Very high.

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Saturday, 16 May 2015

Pamper Time at Dollymixers


If you don't feel as much joy as me at the prospect of a pamper then I don't think we can be friends. With a blow dry and a freshly polished set of nails I feel I can take on the world, so when my favourite nail salon said they were expanding and adding a hair bar, who was I to resist?

Dollymixers is my mecca for all things hair, nails and pamper with everything you need under one roof.


The salon is stunning, it feels so cosy and welcoming and is more like a second home than anything. The girls are always lovely and will fix you up with a drink the second you sit down.

The girls at Dollymixers really take good care of you and there are so many pamper options available to you. They've got all the nail basics covered including pedicures but what I think it a great addition is the hair bar. 

You can get extensions fitted, re-style cuts, trims and even colour changes. More recently the salon has added a brow bar so you can come here on a Saturday morning and get everything done for your big Saturday night out. It's a blessing because it stops you having to run to different salons or places. For someone like me who takes an age to look presentable this is a god's send.


Hair dressers can be a source of anxiety for me, so many times I've left the hair dresser in tears because it's all gone wrong but I've had a trim and colour change at Dollymixers and can't praise them enough! Finding a salon I feel comfortable in is rare, I know they want me to feel good about myself so I trust them 100%. To make a good situation even better, you can have Netflix on whilst you're getting pampered, it's these little details that make the experience so great.

Dollymixers always have deals on every month, for May it's a free 'quick fix mani' when you get a blow out, spaces are limited so don't dilly dally! They also take group bookings for parties which I think is a great alternative to a night out.

If you're Cardiff based I honestly can't recommend Dollymixers enough, give the girls a ring and get yourself booked in for a pamper you won't regret it!


Dollymixers, 44 Crwys Road CF24 4NN

Telephone: (029) 20 213 548

Opening times:

Monday - Closed
Tuesday - 10:00 - 19:00
Wednesday - 10:00 - 19:00
Thursday - 10:00 - 19:00
Friday - 10:00 - 19:00
Saturday - 10:00 - 17:00
Sunday - Closed

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the little nomad | a UK/German travel and lifestyle blog |. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.