Welsh and Wonderful

A lifestyle blog written by a Welsh lady living in Wales.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Syon Park, London

What's the first thing you think of when someone tells you they've visited London? There are so many iconic landmarks and attractions which are synonymous with London, so you can imagine my surprise to discover that a trip to the big smoke would reveal the hidden beauty of Syon Park.
Syon Park lies on the banks of the river Thames, in Brentford, South West London. We recently visited during a mini heat wave, and it was so green and beautiful!

The park surrounds the London home of the Duke of Northumberland, which is one of a handful of stately homes within easy reach of central London.
Syon holds a huge diversity of habitat and wildlife in a relatively small area. It is part of a larger expanse of green space, including Kew Gardens and Richmond Park, connected by the river Thames.

It was a fantastic place to take photos because there was so much variety, and the gardens are well kept yet natural. There were certainly plenty of photo opportunities!
It's hard to believe that London is home to dragon flies...
...beautiful flowers and busy bees...
...and a heron (!)
It was quite a novelty being directly under the flight path to Heathrow, but it was (unsurprisingly) rather noisy too. Planes flew overhead approximately every 90 seconds. Our visit would have been peaceful and private, had it not been for this, but don't let this put you off because it's a lovely place to visit.


We took a stroll through the Great Conservatory and admired the beautiful grounds, enjoying the sunny weather. Our visit to Syon really made us forget that we were in London.

Thank you for reading! Angharad x

Syon Park
020 8560 0881
Brentford, TW8 8JF
syonpark.co.uk
check website
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Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Oblix at The Shard

Oblix is located on the 32nd floor of the Shard, western Europe's tallest building, and it's an unforgettable experience. If you're planning a trip to London then this is definitely something to add to your list!

We arrived on a drizzly Saturday afternoon, keen to get away from the rain and enjoy lunch with a view. After my bag had gone through an x-ray machine, we zoomed up the non-stop lift to the 32nd floor and turned left to the restaurant's entrance, where we were welcomed by the receptionist. Our coats were taken to the cloakroom and we were taken along a dimly lit, Aztec-style corridor.

As we were led through Oblix's bustling open kitchen and past the tables of other diners, we couldn't help but say "wow" as we saw the view. Our table was right by the window, and there was no denying that the 32nd floor of the Shard makes for an impressive venue for lunch, even if the weather was grey and gloomy.
For the first 5 minutes or so we just sat there, mesmerised by the awesome view. It was pretty cool, but also rather distracting! Once our concentration levels had resumed, I checked out the tempting cocktail menu.  I ordered a Pink Cadillac, which came complete with a sprig of lavender, while David enjoyed a glass of red.
We decided to go straight to the mains as we were hungry after travelling all morning. I ordered the salmon with salsa verde, accompanied by a side of orecchiette pasta, asparagus and broad beans. David had the sirloin steak with hand cut chips and warm bread and butter. We waited for quite a while, and by the time our food arrived, my cocktail had long gone.
Lunch in the sky is a fun experience, and it was fascinating to see the trains coming into the station below, marvel at the number of boats going up and down the Thames, and spot the famous landmarks like Big Ben and St. Paul's Cathedral.

We had room for dessert, so I ordered the yogurt panna cotta with peach, verbena and berries, and David ordered strawberry pavlova & elderfower sorbet. Our desserts were light and summery...unlike the weather outside!
If you're thinking of dining at Oblix then you should make your reservation at least 2 weeks in advance, as it books up quite quickly. The booking policy stipulates that you're unable to request a table by the window, however, if there are just two of you then you've got more of a chance of getting one as the majority of the tables by the window are for two diners. Also, you may want to consider having a late lunch; we booked our table for 2.30pm, and we had no problem with getting a table by the window, and we practically had the restaurant to ourselves towards the end of the meal.
After our meal, we popped over to Ting Lounge at the Shangri La Hotel, just to see what it was like. The views were just as impressive!
Our visit to Oblix was certainly a special occasion, and I would recommend it if you're planning a visit to London. The service was a little slow and whilst the food was great, we both agreed that it wasn't the most amazing meal we'd ever had. However, the views are simply spectacular, and it's worth taking a trip there even if it's just to sample one of their lovely cocktails.

Oblix, Level 32, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London SE21 (020-7268 6700).
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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Cocktails, cake, and a catch-up!

A weekend away with the girls is one of my favourite things, especially when you haven't seen each other for a while. On this occasion, we stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton Cadbury House, a four star boutique hotel and spa, near Bristol.
Check-in was smooth and efficient, and we were each welcomed with a warm chocolate chip cookie (I wish that all hotels did this!). The layout of the hotel was a little bit confusing at first, but we soon found our way around and settled in very quickly.

During our stay, we enjoyed a lovely afternoon tea, dinner at the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill, and a leisurely breakfast (checkout was at 12 midday, so there was no major rush). The hotel really has everything you need for a mini break, and we didn't want to leave!
Our lovely afternoon tea!
Enjoying a cocktail before dinner :)
The food and service was excellent (we ordered the tuna steak, cheese burger, and salmon), and the restaurant and bar area has a modern and luxurious finish. We loved the 2-4-1 cocktails!
The Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill
We enjoyed exploring the hotel grounds and lake, and appreciated the quirky touches...especially the life-size model of a cow, which you can climb on (if you want to!). The hotel has a gorgeous indoor pool, outdoor hot tub, sun deck, relaxation room, gym, salon, and fitness classes are also available on site.

The hotel staff were very helpful and friendly, and we loved the free on-site parking. This hotel has everything you need for a weekend away with the girls, but it's also great for a special occasion, or a romantic retreat. We can't wait to go back!
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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Gorgeous Gower

Sometimes it's great to stop for a moment...

...take in your surroundings

...notice the little details that are so easily missed

...appreciate how awesome nature is

 ...and relax!
:-)

These photos were taken on the Gower coastline, between Pwll Du and Foxhole Bay.

Thank you for reading, Angharad x
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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Sunrise and Beautiful Blooms

I thought I'd share with you a couple of things which made me smile recently; a sunrise and some gorgeous wildflowers. It's good to spread a bit of cheerfulness, and I love to share the natural beauty of Wales with you :)

First of all...the sunrise! I must admit that I really dislike getting up in the morning when it's still dark. It feels so unnatural; when the days get shorter and the early mornings get darker I really struggle. It's like my brain still thinks it's the middle of the night and I just want to close my eyes and go back to sleep.

Earlier in the week, I had to get up a little earlier than usual. I pressed snooze a couple of times, which was followed by a mad rush to get ready before hitting the road with a flask of strong coffee.

And then....

then I saw the most beautiful sunrise over Mumbles!

I decided to stop for a moment and I'm really glad that I did. A sunrise is so fleeting, and just for a second it made me forget about the struggle of getting up when it's still dark.
Mumbles Pier
Another of my favourite things about Summer are the beautiful blooms of wildflowers. I recently went for an evening run and I discovered all these wildflowers growing literally 2 minutes away from my front door! They were so lovely that I decided to pop back later in the week to take some photos.
Aren't they lovely? As I was snapping away in the morning sun, one of my neighbours stopped his car and told me that he'd done exactly the same thing; the flowers were so beautiful that he'd stopped to take some photos :) I found it so relaxing to spend 15 minutes or so taking pictures and watching the bumble bees go from one flower to another.


Have a great week! Angharad x
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Friday, 26 August 2016

Favourite Memory From Travelling

What's your favourite memory from travelling? Maybe it was when you visited somewhere that you'd always wanted to go to, or perhaps it was a special occasion with a loved one? Or maybe it was the time that you laughed so much with your friends that you still talk about it years later?

There are so many memories to choose from, but I thought I'd share with you the special and unique experience of our visit to the beautiful village of Santillana del Mar in Northern Spain.
Northern Spain is so beautiful, and Santillana del Mar is a little gem in the Spanish countryside, which certainly surpassed our expectations.
We wandered through the cobbled streets, enjoying the traditional Spanish architecture nestled in the gorgeous green hills. It was so pretty! It's a lovely place to potter along and enjoy a slower pace of life.
After all that walking we treated ourselves to lunch at La Huerta del Indiano, which had a beautiful courtyard setting, complete with a chandelier hanging from one of the trees in the gardens.
The setting was really special, and the food was delicious; especially the creme caramel!
After lunch, we continued to meander along the cobbled alleyways, admiring the pretty stone cottages with their well-tended hanging baskets and terracotta flower pots. It was very hot, so it was a welcome relief to get some shade and cool down.

The dreamy village of Santillana del Mar made us feel like like we'd stepped back in time,which is probably why it's my favourite memory from travelling :)

Thank you for reading, Angharad x

Note: This article was written as my entry into the Jurni Blogger Competition. 
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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Mumbles Summer Evening

I recently went for a lovely evening walk along Mumbles in Swansea Bay and it was so beautiful! I enjoyed pausing for a moment to see the reflection of the sun on the water and hear the gentle lap of the waves. It was great to mingle with the holidaymakers and enjoy the simple pleasure of a warm summer's evening and the last hour or so of daylight.
Now that we've had a couple of rainy days and the days are getting shorter, I feel like I've taken summer slightly for granted, so I'm going to try and make sure I take full advantage of the lovely sunny weather and light evenings while they still last. I hope you're having a lovely summer, too!

Thank you for reading, Angharad x
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