From 1893 Henry Oakley created these labyrinthine paths which twist around above and below ground. James Pulham & Son constructed the man-made dark mysterious grottoes, interspersed with caverns into which natural light filters allowing water lilies, fuchsias and begonias to flourish. After WW11 the gardens were neglected, to the extent that the grottoes were earthed up. More recently they have been re-discovered and renovated.
There are ponds, a fountain, a bog garden with an Indian bean tree and giant rhubarb. Magnificent pine trees are dotted about, formal flower beds and fairy signs for children to seek out.
They sell a small selection of plants next to the friendly cafe where our sandwiches were made for us. A lovely day out in an extraordinary setting.
The Taff Trail is a 55 mile route that starts in bustling Cardiff Bay and ends in the lovely market town of Brecon. It is unique in offering a series of accessible varied rides lasting from a few hours to a whole day. For example, you could do a short ride to Castell Coch a fairytale folly castle or a longer trip to the Bunch of Grapes pub near Pontypridd which serves great food and real ales. Serious cyclists might consider carrying panniers and staying overnight in Brecon. Accomodation options range from a basic tent to a luxury hotel! Don't have a bike? They can be easily hired from Pedal Power, who cater for all ages and abilities.
Castle Hill, Tongwynlais, Cardiff CF15 7JS
+44(0)29 2081 0101
Google map: bit.ly/HjwddT
Ynysyngharad Road, Pontypridd, CF37 4DA
Google map: bit.ly/H0cQY9
Off Dogo Street, Cardiff, CF11 9JJ
+44(0) 7775 616411
Google map: bit.ly/GZLVJ6
This restaurant is simply excellent. It serves pure vegetarian Asian food (no fish or eggs are used in the cooking) at affordable prices. The menu has over 100 dishes so you can really keep going back again and again trying something new each time. If you like tofu, paneer and dahl (to name just a few of their ingredients used) you'll love coming to this restaurant. As well as Indian dishes they also serve oriental dishes which are noodle based. My favourite dish is Masala Dosa, a huge pancake of spiced potato which also arrives with a spicy soup and cooling coconut chutney on the side. It tastes just as good as in the bustling cafes of India I remember so fondly. An added bonus is that although they don't have a drink licence you can take your own alcohol into the restaurant. Not to be missed!
This castle can easily be seen emerging from the trees on a hillside beside the M4 (junction 32). It has a fairytale appearance even when passing at speed, but entering the castle takes this feeling of enchantment further. Unlike most castles this one is relatively modern (although built on ancient foundations) and is the result of money and Victorian imagination taken to the extreme. It was built as an elaborate holiday retreat for the 3rd marquess of Bute at the end of the 19th century. Its walls are beautifully decorated with intricate paintings of many things, including Aesop's Fables in one room. The furniture and decor is wonderfully over the top and bizarre. There is also Caerphilly Castle 5 minuites drive away, with all the splendor of a decayed ancient castle but Castell Coch brings history to life in a fantastically refreshing way to adults and children alike. It is reasonably priced and also has a lovely, if small, tea room.
This is a great small independent bar with a big heart. The music is always spot on whether it's laid back lunch or feel good Friday. This place does great Welsh food produced only from the local area. The Promised Land has a nice big city atmosphere that you would find in New York or Manchester. The best pubs and bars are catalysts...friendships can be forged in them, relationships can be made, business can be done and memories created. This is what The Promised Land is - a home from home, a place to meet and greet, a bolt hole, and a place you rest on your journey. You'll enjoy whether you are a romancer, dancer, soul boy, beat kid, young go-getter or should know better!
A very good cycle route from Penarth Road to St Fagans via Ely (and back). Cardiff County Council say that the Ely Trail goes 'along the whole length of the River Ely within the council boundary. The trail is a mainly off-road stone-dust path suitable for cyclists and walkers. The Ely Trail is nearly finished apart from the old paper mill site (Arjo Wiggins) at Ely Bridge, but it is possible to walk and cycle from Cardiff Bay to St. Fagans. On completion of the bay edge Route it will be possible to link into the Taff Trail and Coastal Path.'
The Council also says that 'the route passes through a variety of landscapes from the mouth of the river, to the rural and parkland landscapes around St Fagans. There are opportunities along the route for leisure activities and to visit sites of historic or environmental significance.'
The only drawback is that there is a bridge with steps at either side to be negotiated half way along the route.
This cycle route is perfect for that hot and sunny Saturday or Sunday afternoon as the meandering, flat river path takes you from the bustle of the city to the tranquility of the countryside. The sudden change of terrain and surroundings is what makes most of Cardiff's cycle routes a pleasure to experience.
If you visit Cardiff in Wales then Cardiff Castle is an excellent attraction.
Allow several hours to walk around and it is a decent sized castle.
It is right on the edge of the city centre and very easy to get to.
On a baking hot and sunny June evening why would anyone want to eat hot and spicy food? Well, ask the diners at Cardiff’s Multi-award winning restaurant Mint & Mustard - because it was packed! Even more surprising it being mid-week.
Chef Anand George developed his culinary skills in Kerala, on the South-western tip of India, before training in the five star luxury hotels of Mumbai.
After moving to London in 2005 George further honed his art in leading Indian restaurants Zaika and La Porte des Indes and gained an enviable reputation as a master of Indian cuisine. This led to the opening of Mint & Mustard, Cardiff in December 2007.
Since its opening, Mint & Mustard has firmly established itself as one of the leading restaurants in South Wales. Chef George has had outstanding success; in 2008 he won both the House of Commons Tiffin Cup and the South Asian Chef of the Year. In 2009, Mint & Mustard became the first Indian restaurant to be named ‘Best Indian Restaurant’ and ‘Best Restaurant in South Wales’ at the South Wales Echo Food and Drink Awards. George is also judging the True Taste of Wales Awards and the UK Chef of The Year for 2009. We were left wondering how he finds the time!
The philosophy at Mint & Mustard is to re-define Indian cuisine, creating sumptuous modern dishes, based on the enduring traditional flavours and spices of Indian cuisine. This was evident from the delicious tasting menu cooked for us by George.
Beginning with a selection of delicacies including Bombay Chat, which is a popular vegetarian snack with yoghurt, mint and chutney. It is placed in the mouth whole as the delicate pastry melts in your mouth leaving the refreshing palate cleansing mint yoghurt behind. This was accompanied by a moist fillet of salmon marinated in honey and ginger and a tender piece of chicken marinated with curd cheese, yoghurt and mint. Despite the fact we had already polished off the basket of Pappadams and chutneys the starters all quickly vanished amid ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’.
Next came the fish course – a delicate fillet of pan fried sea bass accompanied by spicy crushed potatoes with curry leaves and mustard seeds and a sauce of mango and coconut. The potato had quite a kick which strangely did not detract from the taste of the bass, but was quickly cooled by the smooth sauce.
The main course was a sharing event as plate after plate was put in front of us; lamb with spinach, duck curry, cow peas with butternut squash and runner beans with mustard and coconut. The spicing was delightful, just enough to be interesting, but not too much to make you reach for the water glass after each mouthful. Each dish was different yet they complemented each other and the meat was tender and succulent. Accompanied by plain rice and a variety of Naan bread we were all feeling very satisfied by the time the empty plates were cleared away.
But, we all still had room for dessert – none of your readymade pineapple and coconuts filled with ice cream at Mint & Mustard! Instead we were treated to a thick chunk of warm tandoori pineapple, a delicately scented crème brulee with cardamom and saffron and the specialty of the house – Chocomosa (a sweet, melted chocolate filled samosa) with caramelised banana and ice cream. Delicious! In fact this was the only point during the evening in which we were all quiet!
At just £27.00 per head for the tasting menu Mint & Mustard provides a good value quality dining experience. Coupled with friendly and unobtrusive service it really is a Cardiff must-visit restaurant.
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