We Met Santa in Hamleys, Cardiff
*Disclosure : We were invited to Hamleys free of charge in exchange for honest feedback*

Aria is a very lucky girl as she was invited along to a party with Santa and his elves at Hamleys in Cardiff. Hamleys are hosting Christmas parties in selected stores right up until 24 December. The parties are aimed at 2-8 year olds and promise to be packed full of fun with games, activities, snacks, time with Santa and a gift to take home.

Review of Hamleys Santa Christmas parties in Cardiff store

We  were met at the door by a group of very excited and enthusiastic elves who took us through to the party room, but they would only take us if we agreed to sing, yep, we walked through Hamleys in a line singing Christmas songs – the other customers weren’t sure whether to laugh or join in, one or two did actually join the line and sing with us, I think they were a little confused!

We had a little bit of drama as the door to the party room was stuck, but thankfully with a little bit of magic we were in. The party room itself is lovely, the Christmas set up is very cosy with a little fire roaring away and an armchair for Santa. It is very small but lovely all the same.

We started with cookie decorating, unfortunately the tubes of icing were too hard for Aria to squeeze, but with daddy’s help she managed to have fun. The promised snacks came in the form of the cookies that we had just decorated, but Aria refused to eat her piece of art work.

cookie decorating at Hamleys Christmas party in Cardiff

Once the cookies were decorated and we persuaded Santa to come and see us with a bit of singing the children sat on the rug by the fireside while Santa read Twas The Night Before Christmas to them. This was lovely, a really nice moment and I have to say that Santa was amazing, one of the best Santa’s that I’ve seen.

Santa reading to the children at Hamleys Christmas party in Cardiff store

Once the reading had finished the children were invited to play games with the elves and Santa, unfortunately the games involved walking/running which Aria isn’t yet able to do unaided, plus they were generally a little bit too old for her, but she isn’t yet two yet which is the suggested minimum age, plus she isn’t quite up to speed with most other children her age.

Once the games are over the children get to write their wish list for Santa and meet the man himself. You get a lot of time with Santa, he takes the time to chat to the child and the parents, and really tries his best to make the child comfortable and, most importantly, smile for the camera! As well as having the time to sit on Santa’s knee he also wanders around during the party and spoke to Aria on several occasions.

photo with santa at Hamleys Cardiff

We  had such a great time, the party was lovely and, as always, it was nice to meet up with local bloggers Cardiff Mummy Says, We Made This Life, Kerry Louise Norris, First Time Valley Mam and Baby Holiday.

We came away with a lovely goody bag from Santa which included a new tree ornament, a gorgeous ‘I Met Santa at Hamleys’ teddy, a Mr Men Meet Father Christmas book and a big bar of chocolate. Aria was also handed a helium balloon which she loved.

Tickets for this event are priced at £19.99 per child and can be booked here. The massive down side for me is that you are only allowed one adult per paying child. I can see why they do this as the room is small and could very easily get overcrowded, but, as a one child family, this could be a deal breaker. If we were paying almost £20 for a Santa experience I would want both of us to be able to attend. They do say that two adults can go, and you can take it in turns while one waits in the shop, but it really isn’t ideal.

Watch my short video to get in the festive spirit and see a bit more of the experience.

 

A Family Meal at Cafe Rouge, Cardiff

We were recently invited along to Cafe Rouge in Cardiff to sample their Autumn/Winter menu. Cafe Rouge is conveniently located in St David’s shopping centre, we are huge fans of St David’s as it boasts a variety of shops, restaurants and cheap parking. You can get all of your shopping done and eat some good food without having to go outside which is almost always a plus with the wet Welsh weather!

blog review of cafe Rouge in Cardiff dining as a family with a toddler Autumn/Winter 2016 menu

bread and nibbles at cafe rouge cardiff olives garlic bread

We  decided to order the Rouge Olives (green, black and French olives with cornichons, caper berries and Roquito chilli drops  £3.50) and Fougasse À L’ail (artisan garlic sharing bread with warm garlic butter – £5.25) while perusing the menu. Aria was given a menu complete with stackable crayons to keep her occupied. All of which was a massive hit, the food for us and the activities for Aria.

cafe rouge starters - adults and children's meals

We  don’t usually order a starter for Aria but Cafe Rouge have a set kid’s menu where you get a starter, main, desert and drink for £6.95. The only starter option on the kid’s menu is baguette slices & crudités so that is what Aria had. The bread was lovely but a little hard for Aria’s little teeth. Spencer ordered the Egg Meurette (poached egg in a red wine, bacon & sautéed mushroom sauce served with chargrilled sourdough bread – £4.95) and I went for the Soufflé (twice-baked Brie soufflé topped with melted butter and toasted hazelnuts, with apple & pear chutney, frisée and a chive & vinaigrette dressing – £6.25).

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Spencer’s starter as it is a very strange combination, but it was surprisingly delicious and full of complimenting flavours. I had high hopes for my Brie and it did not disappoint. The soufflé was light, fluffy and flavoursome.

Cafe Rouge Cardiff blog review main courses Autumn-Winter 2016

Aria didn’t eat much of her starter, she doesn’t like veg and the bread was quite tough for her, so for her main we made sure to go for something that we knew she would like, Poulet Goujons (breaded chicken fillets with frites, peas and sweetcorn). Spencer ordered the Poisson Frites (breaded hake fillet with frites and tartare sauce – £12.75) and I went for the Boeuf Bourguignon (slow-cooked beef in red wine, smoked bacon and mushrooms with roasted carrots, herb mash and crispy onions – £14.25) and a side order of French Beans (£3).

Aria’s Goujons were lovely, they were made with ‘proper’ chicken which is always a relief and unfortunately quite a rarity nowadays. Spencer enjoyed his fish and chips, although I must say it isn’t something that I would order as I find it quite a ‘boring’ option, but it goes to show that they have something for everyone! My beef was absolutely delicious, rich and full of flavour which is exactly how I like it. There was absolutely no need for the side order of green beans as the mains were very filling.

Cafe Rouge Cardiff Autumn-Winter 2016 menu review - the puddings

Now for the most exciting part of any menu, the puddings! For Aria we ordered a Chocolate Crêpe (crêpe drizzled with chocolate sauce with vanilla ice cream), Spencer opted for the Tarte Aux Pommes (warm apple tart with tarte tatin ice cream – £5.95) and I went for the Fondant Aux Chocolats (hot chocolate fondant with a melting middle served with chocolate & raspberry fondant ice cream – £6.25)

As with the other courses the deserts were all beautiful. Aria didn’t eat much of hers, in hindsight I should have asked for the crepe to be separate from the ice cream, I’m sure that this wouldn’t have been a problem. I almost always order a chocolate pudding when we go out and I must say this one was up there with some of the best, it was deliciously moist and the chocolate came trickling out as soon as I cut into it.

Overall I highly recommend Cafe Rouge, Cardiff for a family meal. We were well looked after, the staff were friendly, they provided Aria with crayons and a colouring in menu which kept her entertained and there was plenty of choice on all menus. The only small downside is that there isn’t much room to fit both a pushchair and a highchair around the table, but we did manage to squeeze both in without being in anyone’s way so it is definitely doable!

Have you eaten at Cafe Rouge recently? Did you enjoy it? Where is your favourite place to eat as a family? 

*Disclosure – We received a complimentary meal at Cafe Rouge in exchange for blog coverage – all thoughts are my own*

Review : Shake Shack Cardiff

Spencer and I recently went along to Shake Shack Cardiff to trial their limited edition Yard burger*, the burger will be available in all UK branches from 1st – 22nd June 2016. We had visited Shake Shack once before for the launch event and were keen to go again.

Shake Shack in St David's Cardiff

limited edition Yard burger at all UK Shake Shack's review of Cardiff branch

The Yard burger features 100% Aberdeen Angus beef topped with Neal’s Yard Colston Basset Stilton and house-made pickled red onions and it is amazing. The sweetness of the pickled red onions and the powerful flavour of the stilton create a flavour sensation. This combined with the juicy, perfectly cooked burger is a winner.

meal at Cardiff Shake Shack

We both decided to double our burgers up (£10.50) and order some cheesy fries (£4) and a large strawberry lemonade (£3.25) to go with them. The cheesy fries at Shake Shack are amazing, the gooey cheese sauce is well worth the extra £1.

frozen concretes at shake shack wales cardiff crunch-stellation and welsh cake jam

I’m not quite sure how but we somehow managed to fit in puddings in the form of concretes! Concretes are frozen custard ice-cream blended with mix ins. Spencer opted for the double Cardiff Crunch-Stellation (£7.50) which includes malt, Paul A Young chocolate chunks and chocolate toffee; I opted for the double Welsh Cake Jam (£7.50) which includes a Welsh cake from Fabulous Welsh cakes and strawberry jam. I’m usually a chocolate person and will almost always go for the chocolate pudding, but this time I surprised myself by not only ordering something other than chocolate but actually preferring it to the chocolate version!

Both Spencer and I had a great time at Shake Shack Cardiff and highly recommend it. Shake Shack is expensive for a burger joint, but it isn’t just a any old burger joint. The food is delicious and filling, the staff were fab and the venue has a very hip feel to it.

Event : Shake Shack Launch, Cardiff

The food scene in Cardiff is exploding, there are so many fantastic chain and independent restaurants to choose from it is a foodies dream. I have a list of restaurants that I want to visit but can’t because of both lack of time and lack of money, as a result I was over the moon when we were invited along to the launch of Shake Shack in the St David’s shopping centre.

blog post shake shack Cardiff launch event

Shake Shack started out as a hot dog stand in Maddison Square Park, Manhattan. The stand was so successful that in 2004 they opened a permanent kiosk in the park, fast forward twelve years and there are shacks everywhere, including in our very own Cardiff.

Shake Shack cardiff hot dog and chips

As mentioned above, back in December, we were invited along to the house warming party. We were greeted with burgers and beer on arrival, we knew then that we were in for a treat. The booze and food seemed to coming around in endless amounts and various offerings including soft drinks, ale, wine, burgers, hot dogs and fries. They had a live band playing and the Shack was buzzing.

Shake Shack Cardiff cheese fries

The Welsh branch of Shake Shack will be serving up the popular favourites along with some special local additions as a result of collaborating with local firms. These local additions will include ales and concretes. I’m personally very excited to try the Welsh Cake Jam concrete, a result of a partnership with Fabulous Welsh Cakes.

Shake Shack Cardiff Smoke Shack

As I’m sure you can gather from the photos we tried quite a few items from the Shake Shack menu, all of which were beautiful, full of flavour and perfectly moist. I love that the burgers are served in paper bags giving them that authentic burger van look, and also making them easier and cleaner to eat!

Have you eaten at Shake Shack or do you plan on visiting soon?

H&M Launch Largest UK Store In cardiff

I was recently invited along to attend the launch of H&M’s new store in Cardiff, with 25% off all products, a free embroidery service, mocktails and a performance from singer/songwriter Ella Eyre it promised to be a good evening.

H&M Cardiff launch event giant balloon

H&M Cardiff launch event cupcake

The new Cardiff store is the largest H&M in the UK to date, the new flagship store offers all H&M concepts for women, men, teenagers and children as well as homeware and an exclusive beauty department.

Mocktail bar at H&M Cardiff launch event
I was most excited to see the kids and homeware ranges and they didn’t disappoint. There were so many beautiful clothes in stock for the older children, though there didn’t seem to be that much for the under one year olds.

Kids clothing at H&Mbaby clothing at H&M Cardiff

free embroidery service at H&M cardiff launch event
As a launch event special H&M were offering a free embroidery service on any goods bought in store, so long as your total transaction came to over £15. I had hoped to buy a Christmas bib for Aria and have ‘Aria’s first Christmas 2015’ sewn onto it but unfortunately there weren’t any bibs, or in fact any baby clothing, with a Christmas theme. Instead I decided to buy Aria a beautiful stocking and have her name sewn onto this.

H&M St david's cardiff
I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the special Welsh dragon shopping bags, I think these are fab.

H&M Cardiff Launch event goody bag
We were given a goody bag containing a canvas bag, a notebook, pen, make-up bag and a H&M gift card.

H&M haul christmas stocking cat sparkly christmas jumper pink and white stripy party hats
I bought a few bits while I was there, I had to spend £15 so that I could have the embroidery, this was the perfect excuse to buy myself yet another Christmas cat sweater, this one is so awfully tacky it is amazing! With Aria’s first birthday fast approaching I couldn’t resist picking up these cute party hats.

Have you been to the new H&M store in St David’s, Cardiff? If so, what was your favourite department? Mine was most definitely homeware.