By Sarah-Jane Reeves
The summer holidays are here, and the Diff is HOT HOT HOT! I am currently sat in front of two fans in as little clothing as possible without alarming my children. I’ve got a Shandy Bass and a packet pork scratchings on the go…it’s officially the summer holidays! This time of year is an utter joy for some families, and a nightmare for others. If you are lucky enough to be jetting off on your holidays, that’s great. However, if you are spending time at home with the family or juggling childcare and work – it can be tough and expensive. Thankfully, this marvellous weather helps, picnics, walks in the park, bike rides and general outdoor adventures are where some of the best memories can be made.
If you are spending summer here in the Diff, you might find you are using local businesses more than you usually would. This month I thought I would share five of my personal favourites.
First up, it’s a practical favourite. A handy suggestion for all year round but especially at this time of year when you might be using the car more for day trips or taking it on holiday. LLanishen MOT, a family fun business, are my go to when it comes to all things motor related. I have been using them for about 4 years now and I have always been pleased with the service. From regular MOT’s to general repairs, they have always been upfront and fair on price, the service has been prompt and they are friendly and helpful. I’m not a car expert, so it’s essential that I can take the car to a garage I can trust. I highly recommend them. (17 Kimberley Terrace, Cardiff, CF14 5EA. Tel: 02920762864)
Next up, the kids. Like I said, as I write this, the weather is glorious but who knows how long it will last? So, my next suggestion is Mambo Play Centre. On a rainy day or a day like today when you are seeking shade it’s a great place for kids to socialise and burn off energy. Complete with ball pits, slides, bouncy castle and cars they will have hours of fun. It also has a café, so I like to take advantage of a coffee and piece of cake while the kids play…I mean why not…I deserve a break right? (www.mamboplay.com)
The summer holidays aren’t all about the kids, us adults need a treat too. Obviously, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to bars and restaurants in Cardiff. From the city centre to Mermaid Quay and all that’s in between, there is something for everyone. I do love a date night that is a little further afield though. That’s why I love The Captains Wife in Swanbridge, Sully. The building itself is steeped in history (if that is of interest, I may well write a piece on that in the future so get in touch if you have more information!). It’s a lovely rural/beachside location. For me, it always feels a little like being on holiday. The food is reasonable and tasty – I really like the specials on offer and the Sunday roasts. Or just pop by for a drink and a bit of sea breeze. Perfect! (www.vintageinn.co.uk)
If you don’t fancy a trip to Sully but you still don’t feel like cooking, how about a takeaway? Apparently, Cardiff has the highest number of take away restaurants in the UK. I’m sure that most of you aren’t remotely shocked by that news, I know I wasn’t! So, I thought I would share one that I like, and that’s Lyalena. The menu is a tasty blend of Middle Eastern and International cuisine. Our favourite is the platter for two comprising of Lahem Mashwi, Lamb Kofta, Chicken Shish, Chicken Kofta, Chicken wings, Chicken and Lamb Shawarma, salad and rice. They also make the most delish falafel. Our food always arrives, hot, on time, and utterly scrumptious! (www.just-eat.co.uk)
After all this play and food, you might fancy a brew? Or maybe a freshly made coffee? Now this recommendation is a little out of the norm for me. Because it is in fact a coffee shop chain, but I wouldn’t lie to you guys, so I’m telling you who makes my coffee just the way I like it. And that’s Coffee #1 – not any old Coffee#1 – it must be the Wellfield Road branch. The baristas in there make the best coffee, and I’m a very fussy coffee drinker. The staff are always friendly, and I can always find a comfy seat or sofa to write in. What more could I ask for? Actually, they do a lovely almond croissant…I wonder what time they close…