Vintage restyled: Cardiff’s Castle Emporium

Cardiff Castle Emporium general outside shotFor the past two years, the old converted cinema opposite Clwb Ifor Bach was home to Cardiff Fashion Quarter, the go-to place for vintage clothing and knick-knacks. While it had a lot to offer fashionistas, it was perhaps quite limited, both in its offering and the layout of the space.

Relaunched by new owner James Morgan-Rees, CFQ has transformed into The Castle Emporium. While some of the old traders remain (Rock-ola Reborn, Eagle Eye Vintage, AMARAS), there is a new range of stalls, i.e. a whole lot more vintage-gem-hunting to get excited about.

We took a walk around the Emporium, snapping some of the independent businesses that have set up shop.

Cardiff Castle Emporium aerialThe view from the first floor – the colourful stalls are a treat for the eyes

Cardiff Castle Emporium candle tinsRoughneck Candles recycle pocket sized tins by turning them into kitsch homeware

Cardiff Castle Emporium minotaur booksJust some of the bookshelves at Minotaur Books, who stock everything from popular poetry to obscure dystopian literature

Cardiff Castle Emporium Al's Musique BoutiqueCardiff Castle Emporium bow ties suitcase Cardiff Castle Emporium horse whiskyAl from Al’s Musique Boutique poses alongside vintage clothing and accessories for gentlemen

Cardiff Castle Emporium mario kart yoshi playstation 2Cardiff Geek Party‘s shop houses games memorabilia, retro consoles and stacks of bargain computer games

Cardiff Castle Emporium Super Mario Bros gaming stationWe’ll be heading back here for the Mario Tournament. There’s a different game leaderboard each month; Matt’s hoping he gets a chance to show off his Crash Team Racing expertise

Cardiff Castle Emporium vegan chocolate cake Cardiff Castle Emporium vegan snacks chocolateSo many yummy treats at Simply V, including marshmallows, wagon wheels and chocolates – and they’re all vegan!

Cardiff Castle Emporium vintage clothes Rock-olaCardiff Castle Emporium vintage jumpers Cardiff Castle Emprium shelves of bric a bracFor fans of upcycling and vintage fashion, there are stacks of menswear, womenswear and accessories to dig through

With the rejuvenated vintage haven sitting firmly at the top end of Womanby Street, it makes what is already a culturally busy passageway even more exciting. Take a stroll winding around the Emporium then down to Urban Tap House; you won’t be disappointed.

Know any other great spots in Cardiff for finding vintage treasures? Comment below or tweet your suggestions @Creative_Hacks.

Amy sig


Café Pure: guilt-free indulgent food in Cardiff Bay

If healthy eating summons up images of protein-guzzling hulks downing their powdery shakes during a relentless gym sesh, it’s time you paid Café Pure a visit. This Cardiff Bay eatery has a varied menu of super nutritious breakfasts and lunches, packing barrowloads of flavour into every portion.

Good health and good eating are combined here. Every meal on the menu is accompanied by a clear indication of its nutritional information, with a massive grid at the back indicating the presence of common allergens. If only all restaurants were this considerate.


This labeling system also means you won’t necessarily feel guilted into going for the salad after a particularly gluttonous Christmas period – more or less everything on the menu makes for a well-balanced treat. That said, salad was the first choice for both of us. I’m not usually one to go for leafy greens over a burger or pizza, but the Paleo Fuel option mixed up loads of my favourite things in one massive salad – topped with a tuna steak and served with a sweet teriyaki dressing on the side, it was seriously scrummy.

Amy’s Superfood salad with tofu and ‘Café Pure Sauce’ (a surprisingly nice blend of berries and balsamic vinegar) went down just as well – it’s always refreshing to eat somewhere with an abundance of choice for vegans, and she wasn’t disappointed here.

Both our meals were washed down with vitamin packed drinks – the Berry Beauty smoothie and Tutti Fruitti juice jar were filled with anti-oxidants and meant we both had the majority of our five a day in a single delicious drink.

Feeling brave after such a wholesome lunch, we both decided to try one of Café Pure’s signatures before leaving: wheatgrass shots, squeezed from blades of the plant grown on-site and served with a juicy slice of orange to counteract the bitterness. Each shot contains the same nutritional clout of 2.5 pounds of dark green vegetables. It wasn’t the tastiest of tipples – Amy definitely wasn’t keen on the earthy tang or potency – but it did leave me feeling energised and ready to face the bracing Bay weather outside.

A quote on the back wall of Café Pure reads “You are what you eat, so don’t be fast, cheap, easy or fake.” A visit here means you can fill yourself up with a nutritionally balanced meal made from fresh ingredients, prepared with care and full of natural flavours.


Five ways to celebrate NYE 2014 in Cardiff

fireworksIt’s that time again when you wave off one year and toast in the next. New Year’s Eve can be a total flop (sorry Jools Holland, but your Hootenanny is a slippery slope to midnight misery). The good thing is that if you are in or near Cardiff there are plenty of things going on to ensure that your 2015 gets off to a brilliant start. Here are just some of the things that are destined to be fun for NYE 2014.


AmyMatticeskatingThe annual Calennig event – which translates from Welsh as ‘New Year celebration’ – is a traditional, free and family friendly place to be. Outside City Hall, there are plenty of fun things to keep Cardiffians entertained. There is a family funfair that runs until 1am, live music in the outdoor arena, food, drink and more.

It’s worth going just for the impressive fireworks display at midnight; while it’s no London display, it’s still spectacular to watch and an opportunity to cosy up. If you book in advance, you can even skate in the new year at Winter Wonderland (we hit the ice last week and highly recommend it).

Chapter Arts Centre

rsz_10325182_778919932154890_368210914248732988_nThe best arts venue in Cardiff is hosting its own extravaganza for those who fancy something slightly away from the anarchy of the city centre. With an evening of live music from the acclaimed Shape Records and sets from the hip and happenin’ likes of Bass Clef and Macho City, a free glass of bubbly and some nibbles, this will be a party for those who like a good time but don’t necessarily want to end the night shouldering for a greasy kebab on Chippy Lane at 3am.

10 Feet Tall

10505431_10152494387616466_8410168092639485066_nA good night is usually had at this venue regardless of the time of year, but this NYE looks set to be out of this world… and into Wonderland. Its Mad Hatter’s Cocktail Party promises three floors of dancing, drinking and nibbles, live jazz, more gin than is imaginable and specially crafted Alice In Wonderland inspired cocktails. Entry is a mere £4 – that’s 40 pence per potential hour of partying!


rsz_nye_web_posterTen points to anyone who pulls together a costume for this in time – Gwdihw is holding another fancy dress party to top all fancy dress parties. This year’s theme, heroes and villains, is a great excuse to channel your inner powers and transform into something superhuman. The best outfit gets a free bar tab all night, so get crafting!

Those who can’t be bothered to create an alter-ego can still enjoy the night here thanks to top class DJs, yummy drinks and the venue’s typical party atmosphere.

Prohibition nights

swing danceThere are a handful of prohibition-themed parties taking place, namely at Revs De Cuba, Ladybird and Lab 22. The latter is the most expensive at £40 a ticket, but all three are a chance to don your 1920s inspired glad rags, sip on classic cocktails and swing dance the remainder of the year away in vintage style.

We hope you all have a fantastic New Year’s Eve 2014. Thanks for following us this year – it really means a lot to us.

ROLL ON 2015! We promise to bring you all sorts of blogging excitement in the new year!

Amy sig

Street food at The Depot, Cardiff

This time a year ago, street food in Cardiff was more likely to be a greasy kebab on Chippy Lane than gourmet grub made from local ingredients. Now it seems like you can’t go to any big event in town without a yummy mobile eatery being present too.

Something Creatives have jumped on the back of this popular pop-up trend in launching Street Food Cardiff in a disused warehouse on Dumballs Road – better known as The Depot. We took a trip down to the hippest foodie spot in town for their Thanksgiving themed evening. The queue was long – we waited over an hour to get in from the cold – but it was definitely worth the wait.

Hand-painted wooden signs, mismatched furniture, an abundance of fairy lights and sculptures of trees, along with hundreds of hungry people and 11 food stands, transformed the metal shell into a colourful street dining extravaganza. Follow our footsteps below!

All the cool kids in Cardiff have heard about SFC by now, so it was a bit of a wait to get in

Once inside it was difficult to miss all the street food stalls, but these signs pointed us in the right direction

These happy punters can vouch for that!

This boutique bar was serving up cocktails from a converted caravan

London restaurant Burger & Lobster made their Cardiff debut at the event ahead of their first Welsh restaurant opening

Bangkok Café‘s fragrant and creamy vegan Thai pumpkin curry. More please!

The Brûlée Bar proved pretty popular for its fancy blowtorched puddings

…and thank you, The Depot, for a fun and filling evening!

Amy sig

Street art spotting at Empty Walls, Cardiff

Since late September, Cardiff has become one giant canvas, inviting over 20 different artists to display their distinct styles on public walls for all to see.

This arrival of outdoor creativity is thanks to the Empty Walls project, an annual street art festival run by the Art Council of Wales in a collaboration with creative groups like Made in Roath and Cardiff Contemporary. The event has injected some much needed colour and creativity into the city’s dingiest corners, made a range of artistic styles more accessible and given talented artists the space to show off their skills.

With the advice of a well informed lady working at The Abacus gallery (a handy centre point for much of the art on show), we set off hunting for inspiration on the streets. As you can see, we weren’t disappointed!

This freaky depiction is by Dutch artist Jo¥, who works by randomly flinging paint on to a surface until a form emerges

One of the most ambitious artworks to pop up was this freaky skeletal beast by North Wales born illustrator Phlegm

Another of Phlegm’s creations – this one was lurking behind a multi-storey car park

Amy took a break from street art spotting on one of The Abacus’s upcycled crate chairs – surprisingly comfy!

Local artist Philip Morgan painted this cross-dressing Welshman for Empty Walls

Here’s me hanging out with Welsh accordionist Guto Dafis, who was pasted up by local photographer Dan Green. He must be there to liven up this rather grotty car park with his music, although we didn’t hear a peep from him

This huge, cartoonish mural by Italian artist Zed1 was our favourite – fun and imaginative in equal measure

If you’re in Cardiff and fancy seeing these artworks up close and personal, we recommend paying The Abacus a visit – several of these pieces can be found on or around the building, and the gallery offers handy maps showing you how to find the rest.

We’d like to check out some more inspiring street art, so if you’ve seen a masterpiece in a public space and snapped a photo of it, be sure to tweet us @Creative_Hacks and show us!