631 days and letting go… From Wales to France

Naked (acoustic version) – James Arthur 

Bonjour, bonjour

I hope you’re all alright. It’s been a while since my last post here, almost 4 months and I feel kind of rusty. I think that when we realised we were going back to France, I stop taking the time to write to focus on our last moments in Wales, then we came back to France and I wasn’t able to write about the whole Welsh experience. I have recipes and walks along Wales nicely waiting to be published but I really wanted to write about these 631 days before moving on to something else. Here’s the story.

Our very first Welsh sky.

If you’ve been following the blog or my instagram for a while, you know that we, le Barbu, my cat and I, went to live in Wales for almost 2 years. On September 26th 2016, each of us took a suitcase and got on a plane, single flight for London where we stayed 2 days and jumped in a car to Cardiff on September 27th. On this day, this night, we took the Severn Bridge (it will always be the Severn Bridge for us), and arrived right when the sun went down. I will not talk about why and how, I’ve done it in the post “A year in Wales” I also said that I’ll do another post next year to see where we would be and honestly I didn’t know if we would still be in Wales or back in France.

A lot of things were discussed, I secured a place at Swansea uni to be a French teacher but I also secured one in France to be a primary teacher, le Barbu had a nice job, less stable but still and nothing waiting for him in France. We took the decision together, little cat being at ease everywhere. We came back. I don’t want to talk about politics but of course Brexit played a major role even if we felt safe in Wales, the Welsh are extremely welcoming and nice but not being sure of what my degree will become if I had to go back to France, no being sure of a stable future, living somewhere where we voted against us, our future… We missed our families, our sea, and other little things.

I absolutely don’t regret our days in Wales, I still think about in with melancholy, this little country is now a part of me; landscapes, language, rythme, atmosphere, people, sounds, smells… All of this is in me and will never go. I’ve grown, so much, and made things there; dreams came true, a lot of dreams came true. I finished my post last year with a list of things that I didn’t have time to accomplish and here you can see how it is now:

  • Run in London ✓
  • Visit Tintern Abbey ✓
  • Go on a hike ✓
  • Learn Welsh (I tried, I am still trying and it’s hard!)
  • Hike Pen-Y-Fan ✓
  • Go to Tenby ✓
  • Run a half-marathon (I was SO scared but it was SO great, I am very proud) ✓
  • Run 10k in a race ✓
  • Go to Aberystwyth
  • See the waterfalls in Brecon Beacons
  • Rent a small boat in Roath Park
  • Rent a cottage for a couple of days
  • Going back to Snowdonia

I still have things to do and it is okay because I will go back, I will go back to accomplish these things and so many more. And I can’t wait.

I will not list all the things we’ve done because we’ve done a lot but there are things that I’ve done and either 1) never think I would them or 2) dreamt of but thought unrealisable. Fulfil your dreams is not given to everyone and I feel so lucky, filled with joy every time I think about it.

  • People. I’ve met extraordinary people, talented people, nice people, crazy people, interesting people, people from places I’ve never been… Some became friends and I didn’t think I would become attached to them. I’m sending a lot of kisses and love for you.
  • Runs. A lot of runs, races, pretty medals: a half-marathon, a Movember race, London iconic 10km…
  • Win. I won at the Bingo Lingo £20 and I had to show up on stage to take them, me being one of the shiest girl before.
  • Market. I did a market, I sold my own cooking and baking! People came to buy me stuffs I had made and even bought them again once finished because it tasted good.
  • Home alone at the cinema, should I say more? My favourite Christmas film in a cinema.
  • London. I went to London so many times I can’t even remember; the little 15 year old girl who dreamt about living there is so happy.
  • Musicals. I went to London and Cardiff and saw Mary Poppins, Pride and Prejudice, The Lion King, Wicked
  • Concerts. I dreamt of going inside the Royal Albert Hall and I did! Nashville, Passenger & Stu Larsen, Anne – Marie & Ed Sheeran…
  • PubQuizzes. LIFE. We alsmot won.
  • Procession. Marching with my friend to celebrate Women’s vote is one of the amazing thing I’ve done and am proud of.
  • Sports. I went to cricket, rugby and hockey games. FUN.
  • Big Pit, we visited a mine and it was very interesting.
  • Bill Nighy. I saw Bill Nighy in real life. IRL. IRL. IRL. Just wanted to cry. Thanks Hay-On-Wye!
  • Classic. On a girls’ night out we went to Cardiff Castle to see the The Lord Chamberlain’s Men playing The Tempest by Shakespeare. Incredible.
  • Snow. It snowed so much it was perfect. Just perfect.

We crossed the country, from East to West, South to North, under the sun, under the rain. Yes, it’s not a cliché, it rains in Wales but before we left we had a 2 months of non-stop sun. God how crazy it is.

We also made the most of living in Wales to travel to England; London, a lot, but also Bristol, Brighton, Weston-Super-Mare… And our little ginger cat really liked his Welsh life, from the seagulls to the vet (he is now bilingual too), from our carpet where he liked to lounge to our bow window where he liked to sit and spy the passers-by.

One of the great advantages of living abroad is that you can take a step back from your own country. I love France, and you tend to love it more when you are away and you miss insignificant things, but there are things that Wales has and that I terribly miss since I’m back in France. We should learn from them:

  • Politeness. People always ask if you are okay, shops, tills, buses. They say sorry, a lot, maybe too much, but at least they say it. Kindness is great too.
  • Queue. No it’s not a cliché, these people know how to queue. They don’t push others, they give their places to people in need. And I don’t really understand why but at the toilet, the women’s queue is faster.
  • Tolerance. Sorry for what I am going to say but fuck how good it is to be in a country where you can dress as you want, make up as you want, colour your hair as you want without being called a freak. CRA-ZY! I am not saying there are no assaults but for god’s sake I saw a 70 year old lady with pink hair!!! And if we had to talk about religion, you would think again about our vision of secularity.
  • Generosity. People are generous, welcoming. They ask you if you need help, they have little boxes at the tills for donations, I saw people giving coffees to homeless persons, I even saw a man talking to one of them, going to Burger King and coming back with food for him. There are bowls for pets in a lot of places. There are just small actions but it means so much, during these 631 days I’ve not ceased to be amazed.
  • Eggs. They are either free range or organic.
  • Meat. More cooking choices, which is great but now I miss having the choice and the taste of mature meat. About choices, a lot of choices for vegans!
  • Lattes. I went to a cafe in France and asked for a latte, they came back with a milky espresso. Eurk. Coffee is stronger in France.
  • Parks. Lot of parks, great to go for a walk, a run, breath fresh air. Plus: they are clean because people really take their dog’s poo in bags.
  • Calm. It is so calm, so great to think and air your mind. I had the great idea to go to a shopping centre 2 days after being back to France: horror, horns, people in a hurry, self-centered and sad-looking. HELP.
  • Freedom. As I told you before, you can wear whatever you want and be whoever you want to be. I saw travellers with their horses, horse-drawn carriage and that’s okay.

Some people might say “Well, if you love it so much but don’t like France then go back”, it’s not about this, it’s about trying to learn from others and being inspired. I love my country but it has flaws.

What a long post… I hope you’re still alive at this point and if you are well done! If you want, here’s a list of the posts I’ve made about Wales:

Others are coming: places I’ve loved and recommend, Mumbles, Rhossili, Carew Castle, Tenby, the Enchanted Forest of Castle Coch, Pen Y Fan, Cardiff under snow…

If I tell you that these pictures were taken in Wales, would you say I’m crazy? Because I might be, I’m crazy about this country. I would never let anyone say “oh, fine, England – Wales, same”, I would never ever say that it always rains and that it is a sad place. Yes, there are a lot of castles, sheep, rain and it is very green but there also mountains, sea, cliffs, museums, legends, and the greatest heart. Since I’m back in France, people say that I’ve changed and I know it, to quote Wicked “Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” I was born in the Arcachon Bay, raised in the Bask Country, grew up in Bordeaux but I became an adult in Wales. I’ve learnt so much. As I was saying in the post “A year in Wales”, now my dear Wales, you are a part of me, you will always be and I deeply love you. I wanted to tell you this one more time. WALES FOREVER.

See you very soon for recipes and walks.


Nash Point, where the sun illuminates

Ar Hyd Y Nos – Meinir Gwilym


I wanted to start the week with these pictures, this sun. Before anything else, I wanted to precise that I took them mid-January, on a Sunday afternoon and in the order I’m posting them. I’m precising it because if you look at the photos you might think that the sun disappeared and came back but it’s just the way light worked with the clouds.

If there’s one thing I’ll never get tired of is watching the sea and even less if there’s the cliffs with it; I love this spectacle, it’s fabulous. Watch how nature shapes and coordinate the elements, and how the sea and the wind outline the seaside.

The sun and the clouds were quite present on this day, accompanied by an icy wind and a nice mist; all these elements together gave a delightful spectacle with a cherry on the cake: the sun reflecting in the sea.

If we ever go somewhere with a cliff, we have to go on it, we can’t not do it, to gain height. From there, the air already pure (Nash Point is quite deserted)  is even icier than down the cliff and it was hard to take off our gloves to take pictures. The view is breathtaking, you can see how the wind has shaped the grass on the second picture. Beautiful wavelets.

I also loved the shadows we’ve done thanks to the light. I can’t really explain it but I really like this photo of Le Barbu, his shadow and the sun probably, with the sea. I admit that we didn’t stay long because it was freezing but at the same time, it was so pretty we didn’t want to leave. Anyway, we went back down, crossed the little river and took a look at the sea on the rocky beach, again.

We went on the other cliff to take a closer look at the lighthouse, and if you’re interested into it, you can get married there… Nice views, right? I would even say dream views if I dared…

I can’t go for a walk in Wales without seeing sheep and taking pictures of them, some might say “hey, why do you keep taking pictures? They’re all the same!” but, they are not! This one seems very nice, a bit cheeky, innit?

Oh dear, I just though I didn’t tell you where Nash Point is! This beautiful place is at Saint Donats, less than a 50mn drive from Cardiff and I’m telling you, it worths these minutes. The breath of fresh air you get is so pure and refreshing!  We went there on a Sunday afternoon and honestly it’s one of the best ways to end the week and recharge your batteries for the week to come. Sunset came early, around 3:30pm so we’ve waited to say goodbye to Mister Illumination and went back to Cardiff.

I hope you enjoyed the tour, I really wanted a touch of softness to start the week. I wish you a lovely Monday. Des bisous

Southerndown, our golden delight

Bubble Toes – Jack Johnson

Bonjour, bonjour,

I hope you’re okay. I am back today with one of my “escape” post, I am taking you to the Welsh coast. I really wanted to bring you there because it is one of my favourite places, we go there during summer for a cold bath (cold for Southern French people), and during winter for a deep breathe of fresh air. What I like the most is the landscape beauty; there is more than the beach, there are the castle’s ruins, fields with sheep, cliffs; a wild place even if sometimes crowded – everything I like!

There is a car park, down the cliff, near to the beach which will cost you £4 and another one up the cliff around the same price. People tend to go to the one down the cliff because it’s nearer to the beach and the slope can be tough but we prefer the up one because of the view, the fan-tas-tic view. You are facing the cliffs, the sea and sometimes sheep, behind you are the fields and sometimes sheep (sheep, always sheep).

When you go down the beach (do I need to mention the beautifulness of the view?) you can stop here and enjoy the view but you can also walk a little bit further and you’ll arrive to the Dunraven castle’s ruins.

It is hard to imagine the castle before but it was very spectacular. The first stones were installed in the middle of the 12th century by Arnold le Boteler, so it is a quite old castle and was since owned by numerous persons; the Vaughan family, Wyndham family, then by mariage by the 2nd Earl of Dunraven, the 3rd and their descendants. It has been fashioned by its owners according to their tastes and the periods, it has also been used as a military hospital during World War II and in 1963 the tragedy stroke: the house is demolished. The ruins are now part of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast and are protected. When you enter the ruins, you find a luxuriant garden in summer and an all green one in winter.

On the right picture, you can see the Ice Tower. I can not guaranty 100% its former use because I don’t remember exactly but I think it was the colder room in the castle so I assume it was used as a freezer or a place to store the salt. I really need to remember these things. Anyway, you can go inside and when you go inside you do realize why the castle has been loved by so much people: the view. Look at this view, it is always about the view.

At Southerndown there is the beach where everyone goes, quite crowded in summer because small and near to the car park, but if you want to visit the place, here’s a little piece of advice: continue toward the castle, then walk 3/4 minutes and then there is another cliff. There are some paths, you can choose one and go down the cliff; there is a huge beach where only few people go and it is very nice. Just remember that you go there at your own risks, be very careful not to slip.

Here is our little private golden beach… Of course it is not ours and hopefully it belongs to everyone! But only a few people go there so you’ll have the feeling of being alone.

As you can see, when we went there, the sun was quite low (it was in January) and the sunset was about to start. Because of that, we started to go back to the main beach and the car.

I truly think that I could never get enough of this place, even if we have to drive 40 minutes (from Cardiff) to get there, the peace that reigns worths it. There are places, like this one, where you know that you can empty your mind, find a refuge, breathe fresh air. I’ll admit that there are a lot of breathtaking places in Wales, Snowdonia is one of them and Southerndown too. One is breathtaking by the mountains, while the second one is breathtaking by the sea. I love both of them, so much.

We went down to the main beach, made golden by the sunset…

I have always loved sunsets, they are magical. The gold effet on the sand, the cliffs all of a sudden brighten, the sea and the sky are pure gold and the sound of the waves. What else?

Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay there forever and not only the sun was down but it was very, very cold with a little -8 degrees that stings your nose. We watched the sunset from the car, up on the cliff and left, on this Sunday evening, ready to face the Monday.

I hope you enjoyed you walk, the pictures only give a third of the beauty of this place but I hope that I succeed in taking you to a sweet golden place for some minutes and I wish you a lovely week.

Des bisous




#HISTOIRESEXPATRIÉES N*1: Roath, my neighbourhood

Shout – Bloom

Hey, coucou

I was about to post a recipe but as I was reading blog posts I crossed Lucie‘s which led me to L’occhio di Lucie. Where am I going? Well, L’occhio di Lucie has just started something that I really appreciate: a monthly rendez-vous for expats. Each month there will be a new theme and we will have the occasion to write about it from our expat point of view, no matter where we live. I remember, when we lived in France I enjoyed following expat adventures such as Pomdepin‘s or American Mom in Bordeaux on Instagram… I love those blogs because I travel with them, and they give me another point of view of something that I might already know and for me, this is very enriching. This is a very open-minded gesture, you discover new things, new ways of seeing things…

I’ve decided to join that little expat group, this article take part in this #HistoiresExpatriées rendez-vous. Every month the theme will be different and I can’t wait to discover new themes and make you discover my point of view as an expat in Cardiff. This month we’re talking about neighbourhood. When we first arrived in Cardiff we lived in Cathays for 5 months and now we’re living in Roath. So, let’s go to Roath.


When I knew that I was going to live in Wales, I absolutely wanted a bay window in my flat. At least one. Some might find that stupid or simple but honestly, I really love those windows, it’s charming and I want a bay window since I am 9 so, I’ve waited enough time. If you ask me which neighbourhood I prefer between my old one and this one, I’ld say this one because the streets are cleaner, calmer, closer to parcs, and the houses are very beautiful, with a very nice victorian style. Some of them are divided into flats, some are just houses which means triple bay window + garden, this is pretty cool! And, I think they match those automnal colours.


Roath is located in the North-East of centre Cardiff and we live close to Penylan, I can’t really see the “borders” of those two neighbourhoods. Apparently, the name Roath could come from the Irish ráth which means fort or the Welsh rhodd which means gift. I have to confess, I like the second theory :)

Roath has been a simple land for a long time until housing developed in the 19th century. In 1887 the third marquis of Bute, a very important family in Cardiff, along with other landowners gave land to Cardiff Corporation. They developed a huge parc with gardens and recreation ground and the third marquis of Bute formally opened it in 1894. This family, as I said, is very important in Cardiff and they used to worship in St Margaret’s Church that you can see above, it also has its mausoleum and crypt. The church is supposed to be located where and old chapel was but this building dates back from 1870-1873.

Let’s go back to the parcs and the nature, I’m bringing you with me to Waterloo Gardens, one of my favourite place.


I love this place because it is very close to where I live. It’s nice to breathe there, not much city noises, people walking their dogs, squirrels having fun (and pooing on you, yep, that happened to me), kids hiding and us, running.

« A m’asseoir sur un banc cinq minutes avec toi, et regardez les gens tant qu’il y en a, te parler du bon temps qu’est mort ou qui reviendra, en serrant dans ma main tes petits doigts. » Mistral Gagnant – Renaud (French song)

If you’re from Great Britain you probably know that but for us, it is not common the closing times of parcs along with the sunset. It is nice though, especially when you run in parcs because obviously you don’t want to be shut in a parc. We love this parc but there’s a little problem, Cardiff decided, because of a minor flooding risk, to cut 140 trees. So, it goes beyond absurd to cut so many trees for a minor risk but it will also cost millions, it will completely change the face of the parcs and what about the squirrels? What about their houses? Uh? Not-cool-at-all. I really appreciate and support the people who defend those trees and who, to raise awareness, pins posters up on them with pun on words or references.

The beauty and the diversity of those trees are amazing. I walked in the parcs yesterday, camera in my hand, and it’s a colour downpour. I can’t post all the pictures here, some may find that boring but, what can I say, I have my heads in the clouds most of the time and those trees illuminates the sky and I like that.

I have to confess that what I really like in the parcs are the Chip and Dale, some are very shy, some are quite courageous and come closer. Some people might say that I’m not patient but in reality in depends on what teases my patience. Sitting around a tree and waiting for a squirrel to look at me and taking photograph… I love it. And I can be patient for it.

After a little bit of observation, I left Waterloo Gardens, not without being itched by an holly leaf.

In my neighbourhood there is more than one parc and now I’m bringing you to Recreation Ground, where people meet to have a picnic, light a barbecue, play and relax and where rugby or football teams meet on Sundays.

I find autumn magical. I’m here in the middle of a place, I take a picture and turn over, take another one and I have two completely different picture. One is ginger, the other one is golden. So beautiful!

Some streets are covered with gold, there are rests in the foliages, and new friends appeared.

Walking dow to Recreation Ground, we arrive to Roath Pleasure Gardens with its bowling, tennis and basket fields, it’s very nice to walk in or, as we do, run it.

I took the time to take a cliché shot with the red box, perfectly in the tone.

Even if the parcs are what I prefer, I couldn’t let you believe that I live among the trees while I’m living in Cardiff so in a city. So I re-walk down Recreation Ground…

To arrive on the noisy side, that I also like. There is another church, St Andrew’s.

Roath has more than one famous street, I only took 2 of them in picture because to be honest, I can’t photograph this world, it is too fast, too noisy. I would very like to give this alive side of my neighbourhood back to you but I just simply can’t, I find my pictures quite ugly ahah

I’m bringing you to Wellfield Road, I like it, it is a shopping street with well-known shops but also independent ones and restaurants. There are little arcades, in one of them there’s a cafe called “Cafe du chat noir” and a hairdresser called “La femme”, sounds very French… And there’s Albany Road, even bigger and longer.

There are 2 addresses that I particularly like; Juno Lounge (very nice coffee, nice things to eat), Beti Biggs (a home decor shop) but there’s also Flying Tiger, The Wellfield Bookshop, The Coffi House and all the restaurants that make me want to eat even if I just did.

And of course, there’s more than one pub, I chose to show you this one because I really like its cosy feeling, it is big inside and we feel good.

I hope I did pass this nice neighbourhood feeling, I’m very happy with the first theme of our new monthly rendez-vous because I took time to walk in Roath and observe, enjoy it. I’m used to marvel while I walk but I usually don’t take the time to photograph it.

I wish you a nice weekend and I’ll post a recipe on Monday. Des bisous




An escape to Bristol

Teardrop – Massive Attack

Hey, coucou

After posting two recipes this week, I’m taking you with me to Bristol with its autumnal colours. Those photos were taken last year but I couldn’t post them any other day than today, November 11th so they’ve nicely waited for a year in my album.

We went to visit Bristol last year, on November 13th for the « Remembrance Sunday ». I don’t know if you know about this but in France we have a lot of bank holidays and November 11th is one of them, it is strange for us not to have a day off on that day but, in the end, it is fine. What is great is that you still commemorate the First World War, you don’t need a bank holiday for that and we really appreciate it. We were surprised on the November 11th because we were at Ikea and at 11h11 everyone stopped moving, everyone stopped speaking. It was intense.

Because the Cathedral is very famous, it was the first thing we wanted to visit. We didn’t know until we arrived but there was an exhibition in front of it… The atmosphere was really special, I’ve got photos for you to imagine how it was.

The exhibition was called « Shrouds of the Somme » and was created by Rob Heard. On July 1st 1916, 19 240 soldiers of the British Empire were killed and it was only the first day at the Battle of the Somme. In the end, on November 18th 1916, 127 751 soldiers were killed in one of the bloodiest battle ever. The artist sewed white sheets on dolls to represent the 19 240 first deaths of that battle. Usually, crosses with poppies are alined and it is very touching but seeing dolls it makes things more real, it is very breath taking.

We were kind of cooled, fixed, when we entered the cathedral to visit it.

In 1140 an abbaye was founded here. A lot of things happened and in 1539 the abbaye is dissolved. In 1542 what was left of the abbaye became the cathedral. In 1941 war damages destroyed the stained glasses of the North Wing of the nave. They were replaced by stained glasses commemorating the war contribution by civil forces.

Here’s the nave and a beautiful sculpture. The inside of the cathedral is very, very, very pretty; the stained glasses are sumptuous. There is something quite special here, in the UK because your cemeteries are often very close to the cathedrals or churches, as a garden whereas in France they are not and it is a curiosity for us. Your graves are different too. Of course we visited the « garden » of the cathedral where really old graves are with trees and decorations, it might appear seedy but culturally speaking I think it is interesting…

Back in town, we saw the city hall with that fancy man looking perplexed and a wink to our beloved French city.

Then we went to visit Saint Mary Redcliffe Church, it was on our map so we were like « why not? »

This church, on those grounds, dates back to 1292 – 1370, it is an anglican parish that Queen Elizabeth I loved, especially because of what makes it famous: its gothic architecture. It is also interesting from the inside because of its little treasures; a statue of Queen Elizabeth I, an octogonal medieval column with an angel, Sir William Penn’s armour (founding father of Pennsylvania, pretty impressive right?), and the graves of rich benefactors of the church as well as its stained glasses.

And something intrigued me quite a lot: this (click on the link to see it)!

It might only be a water sculpture for you but it is more than that. Water sinks by a pipe and spreads through the moving rod. By chance (or accident, see it as you like), we never know where the water is going to fall which means that we don’t know where the rod is going to go. It is written on the sign that it is a metaphor to life: you never know what is going to happen by chance or by accident… Intriguing, right? It intrigued me so much that I just couldn’t move away, I got stuck and le Barbu was completely desperate by my « bug system ». And every time I watch that video I’m like « mmm quite true », it is calming.

We ended our Bristol walk by a walk around the Christmas market and of course, a street art walk. Bristol is well-known worldwide for its street art, there are specialized city guides, specialized maps which will tell you where to find the most beautiful, the most unexpected, the funniest, the one you shouldn’t miss… We saw a lot of them but I’m just going to share my 4 favourite in a non-ordered way.

The first one doesn’t need any comment, it is just so cool and powerful! I don’t really have any reason for the second, I like its shape.

Is it possible to talk about Bristol without mentioning Banksy? Of course not. You will find this graffiti on Stokes Croft, it is quite old (1999), I admit but I think it is accurate even nowadays. There are a lot of Banksy’s graffiti in Bristol but it was the one I really wanted to see. Another graffiti I really wanted to see: « Breakdancing Jesus » by Cosmo Sarson. I think it is very beautiful and in reality it is very stunning (8,5 meters), I love it! It is also on Stokes Croft and by the way, if you like street art, that’s somewhere to go for sure.

Et voilà, my post on Bristol is already over. Unfortunately I couldn’t show you everything we did or saw but there are a lot of things we weren’t able to do so I’m planning on going there again, an afternoon to visit Bristol is not enough, there is plenty to see. If you have « must sees », share them here please :)

Here’s Bristol port, nice and a little hipster. Des bisous




Castell Coch and its magical forest

Lion – Casi

Hey, coucou

Olala, a new post already, yes it can happen! On top of that, today we’re going to visit a castle which is located 20mn away from Cardiff centre and very easy to find, you can drive there, take the bus or even take your bike and you’ll have a nice promenade. Before I start, let me introduce you the castle with its name: its name is Castell Coch in Welsh, Castle Coch in English. Castell is pretty easy to translate but what about coch? Coch means red in English and it comes from the red rubble sandstone the castle is made of. That’s it! Simple as ABC and we’ve learnt a new word in Welsh ✓

Let me take you upstairs…

It’s a medieval castle (1240-65) which was left abandoned until 1880 when the 3rd Marquis of Bute, passionate about Middle Ages decided to take care of it. He appointed William Burges and they renovated the castle to bring it back to life. This castle is a side-castle because the Marquis’ residence was Cardiff castle (my post about Cardiff castle). Burge died in 1881 but the work continued thanks to the plans he made and the castle was refurbished.

The first room we visited was the banqueting hall and I was immediately attracted by the windows… Well, the view isn’t blocked by buildings! I don’t know about you, but I will be completely okay with this view when I wake up!

Here’s the room. It is decorated on the walls with paintings relating the exploits of St Justin, the man even has the privilege to have his statue on the fireplace. I like this room, especially the view, but wait until you see the next one… My favourite of the whole castle!

I want to live in this room, under this ceiling. I often have my head in the clouds (literally, or not) so I kind of have a fascination for beautiful skies and beautiful ceilings and this one is probably one of the beautifulest I’ve ever seen. Don’t you think? The blue is sparkling, decorated with magnificent birds and golden stars. I admit, it may be a little bit too much but it is the drawing room, they didn’t have tv so they needed something to be occupied and there are so many details in this room that you will be busy for a long time. There are a beautiful fireplace with persons, a chandelier, benches near the windows to admire the view, to dream and on the walls are painted characters from the Fables de La Fontaine. Exactly what I told you, that will keep you busy; look at the walls, find who is who and recite the Fables. There are also paintings of dedicate flowers.

We visited the bedrooms and although Lord Buke’s is quite small and basic, Lady Buke’s is quite spacious. I think it is almost my apartment size. Strangely, even though it is empty it appears oppressive because of all the dark colours and gold everywhere. This being said, I like the dome.

Of course, if you follow the blog or if you know me, you know that food and I are in a close relationship and we appreciate each other very much so I could not not go in the kitchen and stay for a while, to Le Barbu’s utter despair. I could easily imagine it busy with the cooks and the servants, bringing it to life. I loved this kitchen, very spacious! It is in front of the banqueting hall and there is an opening to the left so the cooks could give the plates to the servants. There are 3 red doors in the kitchen which means that it used to be three kitchen fireplaces in the Middle Ages, yet only one was used during Victorian time. It may be a detail for you but for me, such a beautiful table means a lot, it’s a dream. A real dream. I would love to cook in a kitchen like this one. Welsh cakes anyone?

We continued to walk in the castle, go upstairs and visit all the nooks and the prisons (I would like to be locked in there!). The cool thing in this castle is that it is a nice visit, it won’t take 3 hours to see everything, it is not Tower of London, but a fine castle.

It looks like a “Disney Tower” don’t you think?

The castle tour being done, we continued visiting around the castle and there, you have to open your eyes, it is green! There is green everywhere. It is so magnificent that it’s magical.

I though I was in a fairytale, a legend or a movie with princesses and princes, knights on horses, druids and little fairies. I’m not crazy, I’m just overwhelmed by those Welsh legends. It is completely in me at that time.

As you can see, the castle is surrounded by green, even the foam has covered the foundations. Oh! I almost forgot! You definitely should visit the shop, nice stuffs there! You can buy books about history, knights, the country, woolen plaid (I want one SO badly) and… bookmarks made of sheep poo. Yes! In Wales, there are 3 sheep for 1 inhabitant, so they use them for meat, wool and some smart persons though “hey, why not use their poo?”, very clever indeed because it is ecological (poo for paper instead of trees) and funny so I think people will be curious enough to buy it. I was very happy to buy a poo bookmark but I lost it, I’m very sad now :(

I didn’t retouched this photo, not the colour, not the framing. If you look closer, you’ll see that the horizon line is very horizontal, it is just that the path is on a slope. Now, tell me, can’t you imagine princesses and princes, knights on horses, druids and little fairies? I am sure you do!

We would advise you to enter the forest and walk, it worth it because it is extremely beautiful, the nature smells good, the colours are extraordinary, you might find animals, walkers with their dogs, runners… And walk, walk, walk and let yourself be guided by the smell of a tearoom. I confess, you can go to the tearoom with your car but, the walk in the forest is magical. The tearoom, Forest Cafe, will guide you with the smell and then you could enjoy a good time surrounded by nature. Sit outside with the peacock and the squirrels or inside, near a fireplace. The boss is very very nice. The food is simple but it’s not a restaurant, it’s just a tearoom and it’s the perfect place to relax.

I hope you enjoyed our tour, I’m writing those lines and I just want to go to the forest again (and I need to buy another poo bookmark). Those photos were taken in spring, I’m sure it looks fab in the autumn. See you here soon, des bisous.




A year in Wales

Calon Lan – Fron Male Voici Choral & Cerys Matthews

Hey, coucou

Today is a special day and because of that there’s a special blog post. At the beginning of July 2016, I learned that I got a job as an French language assistant with the CIEP, I was really happy when I discovered that the school where I’ll be working is where I wanted to go, Wales. After a talk with my family, le Barbu and my cat (don’t judge), we all agreed that it was a great opportunity and I said yes. We spent our summer enjoying the sun (cliché ;)), our families and friends who nicely agreed to eat a raclette in the garden under 35 degrees!

We left Bordeaux to London on September 26th and on the 27th we crossed the Severn Bridge for the first time, the famous bridge which links England to Wales since 1966. Of course we had our problems, it couldn’t happen in any other way: we rented a car in St Pancras and it took us an hour to find the agency, our phones were dead, out of batteries when we crossed the Severn Bridge and it was completely dark so it wasn’t really easy to find our way to the agency in Cardiff. We got lost and luckily two women who were walking by the bay took us to the agency, but of course it was closed so they gave us the way to our hotel. Finding our way in a new city by night wasn’t easy but at least we found nice people.

In this blog post, I want to talk about this place we discovered and its inhabitants, about prejudices we had and those we now fight or approve of at least 80%, and about life here.

Wales, the country

During my schooling, I did an arts baccalaureate with English as an option and an English language, literature and civilisation licence so I know one or two things about English and Anglophone culture but unfortunately, I think I’ve never heard of Wales as a country before and that is exactly the reason why it was my first choice when I had to make wishes to be a French assistant. I wanted to know things about this country, as a country not as a region. It has its Assembly for 20 years now so it really should be considered as a specific country by everyone. It has its own cities and countrysides, mountains and beaches, its own language and traditions. Never say to a Welsh that he is English, I did it with my students to see their reaction and they hated it!

Let’s talk about Welsh people then. I could say that they are the nicest people I’ve ever met but one should never generalise. If they see you lost, they guide you. They smile and say hello when walking in the parks, the streets. They are sociable, of course they might talk about weather (you’ll learn it!) but they talk to you, in the bus, in the queue, in the pub… They always apologise, even if you push them but I think it’s all over the UK. Queuing is very important, one should never overtake! They always ask if you are okay, taxis are really talkative; they might not care about your life but they’ll talk. Welsh people are open-minded, at least the ones we know, we only met welcoming, interested and interesting people. They all love Tom Jones (I’m joking… Am I?).

Let’s talk about clichés and little things to know:

  • Yes, there’s a lot of sheep
  • Yes, there are a lot of castles
  • Yes, it is very green
  • Yes, they have an accent. Actually no, they have accents! Cardiff accent is not the same than in Newport or in the Valleys, the West, the North… You can learn them, even speak them but never as much as they do.
  • Anyway, if you go North, they’ll only speak 50% of a word. Actually, they all do that.
  • I don’t do politics but, thanks Cardiff for the European sign.
  • The food is good; welsh cakes, cawl, welsh breakfast, leeks. Yes leeks are particularly good here.
  • They are drunks. Do you know that Irish cliché? They are the same. I’m slightly exaggerating. They do drink a lot though!
  • There are no cafés with terraces, why should it be with this weather? But, there are a lot of pubs and they really are charming… Nothing is cosier than a pub!
  • Welsh is not really spoken, not that much and few of them know how to pronounce the name of this city Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwy rndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch but when they do, they show off!
  • Signs are in English and in Welsh, sometimes in Welsh and in English.
  • They say “cheers drive” when leaving a bus.
  • They might call you love.
  • They have a Welsh culture festival, the Eisteddfod and I’m really proud because I can finally pronounce it! This festival is all about Welsh arts and they elect and decorate their national poet, I could show you a picture but I’m quite afraid of him (bisous!)
  • There is the famous “everyone can cuddle but only the Welsh can cwtch”. A cwtch is a cuddle but nicer. Because it’s Welsh.
  • Welsh people are proud, and they should be! They have a dragon on their flag! And an absolutely beautiful anthem.
  • It does not always rain… Sometimes it drizzle. I’m joking, sometimes it is sunny, we even had 28 degrees this summer and we had sunburns.
  • They love sports and when the national or local team plays, they all wear the jersey (women and men) and they prefer cheering anyone but the English, even the French! Well, they used too, now with what happened lately…
  • Merlin, King Arthur, Roald Dhal, Bonnie Tyler, Tom Jones, Duffy, Charlotte Church, Catherine Zeta Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Gareth Bale, Christian Bale, Luke Evans… All are Welsh! Yes, I put Merlin and King Arthur because what if they were real?
  • I probably should stop my list here. But I also have to say that they are funny, they use specific words and they are all named Jones or Davies. It is not true but it’s like in France, we are not all named Martin or Dubois but almost everyone.

I also have to say that they have strange things in their supermarkets but I need to write a post about it because you won’t believe it. Very interesting.

Another thing, the school where I work is a comprehensive school, all boys. I have to admit that it scared me at first because it is really different from what I’m used to but I feel like there are less trouble and some of them are really nice, attentives. Of course I’ll admit that when they are 14, they are like every 14 year-old boy. But still, it is something really different and that’s cool!

When we arrived, I made a little wishlist:

  • Running in London
  • Running in Cardiff ✓
  • Run a race ✓
  • Go to the cinema ✓
  • See a cricket game ✓
  • See a rugby game at the Millenium Stadium ✓
  • See a musical at the Wales Millenium Centre ✓
  • Go to Snowdonia ✓
  • Go to Brecon Beacons ✓
  • Go to the Pembrokeshire ✓
  • Visit Tintern Abbey
  • Go to Hay-on-Wye ✓
  • See a hockey game ✓
  • Go on a hike
  • Learn Welsh (I’m still trying…)

As you can see, we did most of the thing on my list and I’m very pleased! You can find all my blog posts about visiting Wales here. I made a wide list because we were supposed to stay a year so we wanted to see most of Wales, but since we’re staying a little but longer…

  • Go on a hike to Pen-Y-Fan
  • Go to Tenby (check out this new website about Tenby)
  • Go to Tintern Abbey
  • Run a half-marathon (it’s Sunday, I’m scared…)
  • Run 10k in a race
  • Go to Aberystwyth
  • See the waterfalls in Brecon Beacons
  • Learn Welsh
  • Run in London
  • Rent a small boat in Roath Park
  • Rent a cottage for a couple of days
  • Going back to Snowdonia

And for this list, let’s see where we are next year ;)

I don’t know if you are still here after all those words but I think I don’t have enough words to describe how this country touches me and blows me away. I feel like this country and its inhabitants changed me, some parts of me are changed for ever and some of my opinions are turned. I could talk about this place by personifying it completely, it has a soul and is filled with an amazing beauty. I like living in a human sized capital, being 30mn from the coast and 30mn from the countryside. I like having so much castle to discover that I won’t be able to see them all. I like this green and this blue, those powerful colours, the red of the dragon and its personality. I like having the possibility to walk in a park within a 5mn walk, I like that there are so much parks. I like the freedom: grey, green, pink or blue hair whatever, skirt, gothic, chinos or shorts even if it is 5 degrees and no one looks at you. I like this open-mindedness, this mix of religions and cultures, those signs with every colour skins. I like turning my tv on S4C and understanding nothing except hello and having to put the English subtitles. I madly like those accents, those warm people even if they might seem scary at first sight. I actually like this rain. I like the sheep, the animals that live here even if I’m a little bit scared of the swans when I run near them. I like racing with the squirrel. I like the seagulls. I like the daffodils, they tell us that spring is coming. I remember sitting in front of a lake in Snowdonia, breathing and feeling like crying because of the beauty. I will never forget that. This country is so beautiful.

We were supposed to stay a year but we’re staying longer. Now my lovely Wales, you are a part of me and you will always be. I love you so, very much. I wanted to tell you, and whoever will read this. WALES FOREVER. Happy anniversary to you and us or, as you would say penblwydd hapus. End of my sentimental speech,

Des bisous to you too, thanks for being here.

All the pictures are from my Instagram and it’s here.







Richmond Park, closer to nature

Share With You – Nashville Cast

Hey, salut,

Today le Barbu and I will wander out of the country, in a really well-known city, by the way you can follow me on Instagram (meloubee) if you want to see all those beautiful places I always talk about and yummy things. So, we’re on our way to a city but on the blog I’m bringing you to a lovely natural place. The photos were taken on June 11th but in my head the images and feelings are still wide awake. Le Barbu had offered me tickets to see Nashville in concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London and we took advantage of the early end of it to go to a place we wanted to see with our own eyes: Richmond Park.

This green landscape is a pure beauty and only 25mn away from London! You can see some of the famous buildings from the park.

Richmond Park is a National Nature Reserve which dates back to 1627, but what is surprising is that cars can go in, only 40km/h of course but still, it is surprising to see them in. You may think it is not necessary to go to this park if you visit London because there are a lot of parks there but, there is something special here, unique. Not only the park is splendid but its inhabitants are even more splendid. Majestic, touching but impressive, used to humans but wild. Who are they?

Bambis! Yes, bambis everywhere! When you are in your car you see them, when you walk you see them, they are never really far and they are beautiful. They sleep, walk, run, play and live in liberty with some friends. They know humans are here but each of us keep its distance, each of us is respectful. Unfortunately when we were there 2 girls ran after them to take a selfie, I think it is stupid and alarming. I’m sorry but bothering wild animals just to have a selfie… no need to comment on that but on top of that it can be really dangerous; stags, deers and fawns are, as I said, wild animals in this place and I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t like to be charge at by one of them.

Please, anywhere you go, any nature reserve, any parc, please don’t run after animals, don’t chase them, if they want to see you, they will come. They are so beautiful in their environment and we are so lucky to see that that we should be respectful. Scaring them for a selfie… Think about it.

Apart from bambis you could see birds, beetles, bats, squirrels… Trees and wildflowers are splendid too, there is a lot of grass of course and we even saw a lake. Such a natural space so close from London city yet so calm, it really is marvelous. Richmond Park is 2500 acres of nature. And colours! While I’m writing this post I’m actually thinking that those photos were taken during summer and I’d like to go back there during autumn, I’ sure it is magnificent too.

Walking by we felt a little bit observed, it was time to go back home because it takes us 2h30 for London – Cardiff and as soon as the sun went down, we admired the colours and hop, in the car.

I hope you enjoyed the walk, the beauty of nature that Richmond Park is. Don’t hesitate, tell me what your thoughts are, if you’ve already been there or if you know other nature reserves. Des bisous

Penarth: blue, calm and serenity

One Love – Blue

Salut, salut

While we’re currently on holidays in France, I wanted to write an escape post. I’ve several places I want to show you and I didn’t really know which one to post today but I saw those photos and I remembered exactly how I felt this day, on the 04th July, I posted a photo on Instagram saying “Just what I needed”. This echoes to our holidays because it is exactly what we needed too! Not for the same reason, obviously but to see our family, our coast, our environment.

So today we’re going to Penarth. Penarth is between Cardiff, where we live, and Barry, where I work. We went there 5mn when we crossed the barrage but we turned around just after until this day when we decided to go to the well-known pier. We parked up on the little hill and walked down to the rocky beach.

We walked along the beautiful promenade to the pier. What a beauty! It reminds me the one in Arcachon (see here), I love piers because I find them really poetic. This one is quite old and takes us back in time, back to the Victorian era, construction started in 1894 and opened in 1895. It was used by the Army during the 1st World War and was abandoned until 1929 when Penarth Borough Council bought it and boosted it with its Art Deco pavilion. It was used as a theatre, cinema, and from 1934 to 1939 as a ballroom. Then 2nd World War and… it closed. It re-opened in 1950, what a story! Nowadays, the pavilion includes a gallery, an auditorium, a 70 seats cinema, shops, restaurants and cafés… with a Bristol Channel view. Nice isn’t it?

Seat on a bench, look offshore, breathe in, breathe out, and tell yourself that everything is going to be okay.

On this day, 04th July, was a “feel blue” day. A day like that: you don’t want to go out but you want to get some fresh air, you’re hungry but you don’t want to eat, you want to be alone but with someone. It happens right after Manchester’s attacks on the 22nd May and Borough Market’s attacks on the 3rd July. British people have a different way of reacting in those cases, the famous “keep calm and going on”, whereas we tend to lower our heads and shut ourselves away, they tend to keep their heads up and walk together, determined to face the pain. I really like this cultural difference, it allows us to see things differently. The atmosphere was tensed, kind of tired but it was also the day of One Love Manchester concert organized by Ariana Grande so there was a hint of defiance and hope. For those days, nothing’s better than blue.

This fresh air was so good and this blue is amazing. Blue is my favourite colour, I find it soothing, comforting, and I like its shades. It reminds me of: the ocean, I grew up near the ocean, the sky where my head is often and the colour of some people’s eyes. Blue suits me, it comforts me.

We turned around and walked back to the car park. Instead of putting our little body back in the car right away, we walked to the cliff, it was a nice promenade. The Wales Coastal Path is awesome, you can explore the country by following the coast, you have a 1400km walk possible! From Chepstow (South East) to Queensferry (North East). We walked for a while to see the islands Flat Holm and Steep Holm then we came home.

I hope you enjoyed the promenade with us, I’m curious, tell me: what do you do on those “feel blue” days? During the next 5 days it’s all about celebration in Bayonne where I’m on holidays. If you want to see more of it, I invite you to look at the article I made 2 years ago on my French version of the blog, here, I’ll try to translate it soon.

Des bisous




Discovering Pembrokeshire: Newport and Fishguard – visit, where to sleep, to eat

On est bien comme ça (acoustique) – Vianney

Salut, salut

Already my last post about North Pembrokeshire! We were supposed to stay the entire second day but as I told you in my previous past about the boat trip, bad weather invited itself in and even if rain is fine, rain without coat nor umbrella is kind of annoying. We shortened our visit but we visited after our boat trip and didn’t come back as soon as we woke up the next day, we wanted to see stuffs first and I’m going to show them to you today.

First of all, let’s talk about an essential thing: beddy-byes, where to sleep. We checked the hotels but they were expensive and we checked Airbnb and found better places and cheaper so… Airbnb it is! If you’ve never used Airbnb, I have a link for you that would make you and me save money so click here. We chose Joanna’s place in Llanychaer with the sweet name “Lavender cottage“; ideally situated between St Davids and Newport, calm, surrounded by land. We didn’t hear a single noise, no cars, no sirens, no city noises and that was a dream, we could only hear the rain falling and some cows far away. For a night, we didn’t need such a big place but we chose extra comfort, you would be really at ease if you go there alone or as a couple during a couple of nights or even a week. I really want to go back there during winter, to light a fire in the beautiful chimney… There are enough photos on Airbnb of the inside so I just post two that I’ve taken of the outside.

After our boat trip, we were pretty hungry, our host asked us if we had plans and we told him that we were thinking about eating in Fishguard but he advised us a pub in Newport, we thought that a local’s advise was worth taken and we went there. The Golden Lion is a typical pub, super cute and calm! You can eat inside, outside and in the backyard garden. As in most of the pubs, the food is simple but gourmet, prices are okay and people welcoming. I had the chance to hear a man talking in Welsh to a waitress and I love it, I absolutely don’t understand a thing but I love it! I’m learning Welsh, slowly but surely, it is very hard. Anyway, I recommend this pub to you, the food was great!

We finished our day by a walk in Newport’s seaside. It’s a small place but very cute, very “fishermen’s village”, rock houses, rock walls and in front of some houses,  a little garden with benches facing the sea. My post’s cover photo is in Newport actually, you can see that despite the tide, it’s absolutely lovely. Colours were so beautiful, a deep blue mixed with grey and the night’s light gave the atmosphere a sweet touch.

We spend a lovely night in our Lavender cottage and we woke up with the rain’s sound. It wanted to waste our plans but no, we absolutely wanted to see Fishguard so we went there. Fishguard has this “fishermen’s village” touch too and is lovely, under mist and rain but still lovely. The tide + mist + rain gave a melancholic air to it but I like those coloured houses in the middle of this grey. Sitting here and watching the seagulls is very soothing.

Our last stop before going back to Cardiff: Pentre Ifan, we wanted to see an old thing. This place is on a hill thanks to which, in theory, there’s a beautiful view over the countryside and the seaside but because of the weather we could see sheep. Pentre Ifan is a neolithic burial chamber (so 45000 year-old!) and formed by the largest dolmen in Wales and when we saw the thing, only one question came “How? How did they do that?”. The pebble is 5m long and weight more then 16 tonnes, and it is poised on three other pebbles made of the same bluestone that was used for the menhirs at Stonehenge. It is completely crazy, I keep thinking about it and I can’t find the answer, the thing is heavy! They were really strong! I’m sure there’s a explanation so if you have it, I take it.

That’s it, our Pembrokeshire’s discovery is over! We want to go back to visit South Pembrokeshire (and I really want to see other puffins) because villages there seem to be as pretty as what we saw. Pembrokeshire is super cool, we had a great time there and a fab anniversary.

If you want to see other posts about Pembrokeshire:

There are also other posts about our visits in Wales here: CRUSH #10.

So tell me, how much do you love Wales? Where’s your favourite place? We still have a lot to see, we’re not gone yet!

I leave you with Léo l’escargot (escargot is snail in French), inhabitant of Pentre Ifan and des bisous.