Penarth’s Windsor arcade

Located on Windsor Road, a quick 25 minute bus journey away from Cardiff city centre, is the quaint and charming Windsor arcade.

Privately owned, the arcade was designed by Edward Webb as a commercial development for entrepreneur Solomon Andrews and built in 1898 on Plymouth Estate land.

Today this Grade II listed hidden gem serves as a bridge, connecting Windsor Road and Ludlow Lane in Penarth.

The arcade is not a busy place, neither is it flamboyant. On the contrary, it’s quiet and unassuming. But the skills it lacks in being able to command attention, it makes up for in character.

Windsor arcade

Stroll through

With a bakery, tea room, sweet shop and flower market, its where the locals may wander through to meet an old friend and catch up on the days events.

Windsor arcade

Spring blooms

A young couple would venture here to grab a flat white to soak in the rustic ambience or a working mum would visit on her way home to purchase a lolly for her toddler.

An executive may even rush in to grab a sandwich or have a quick business lunch with colleagues. The scenarios are endless.

You really don’t need a reason to visit this arcade, but if in Penarth, add it to your ‘to do’ or ‘to see’ list. Strolling through the entire arcade might take just under 10 minutes if you don’t stop at one of the tea rooms for a cuppa. Nonetheless, it would be the 10 best spent minutes of your afternoon.

 

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Meet me at the Wyndham

It stands alone. But it stands proud. The Wyndham Arcade is the oldest of the city’s arcades. Perhaps not as flamboyant as the other arcades, perhaps not as loud, yet every inch as grand.

It’s Edwardian architecture sets it apart from the crowd. Currently home to 10 independent retailers, if you’re looking to rent a commercial space or be a part of the arcade family, then hurry, there are two units currently available for leasing.

Wyndham Arcade

Space to let

 

Rick, the co-owner of Rebel Rebel, a body piercing an alternative living store in the court, shares his story: “This store has been around for 28 years, in three locations in the arcade. We love our customers. Some of our regular customers happen to be family members of our original customers, while we also have some tourists returning to the store after an year or more.”

Rebel Rebel smells of insense sent down by the Gods, and is a myriad of colour, and other quirky and eclectic finds. The owners will gladly spare some time to chat and share their exotic tales.

Bellisimos role in the arcade, is to make clients look and feel beautiful. Just as its name suggests. Sparkling white interiors and dazzling chandeliers whisk you away to cleansing rituals, skin care routines and treatments, designed to make you feel Hollywood good. Kiera from Bellisimos Aesthetics says, “The arcades should definitely be the ‘go to’ place in Cardiff even though they are currently not, because they are a part of the city’s soul – quaint and charming.”

Foodies have lots of options to choose from at the Wyndham – be it Ask Italian, Bills family restaurant, Servini’s café or the Waterloo teahouse.

The Hilton Hotels often boast that their slogan “Take me to the Hilton” is so well-known that it has been used by travellers for well over a century.

But when in Wales, opt for local culture and heritage. Besides, “Meet me at the Wyndham” has far more finesse, wouldn’t you agree?

For the bookworm: In you

If a penny was saved each time someone mentioned the phrase “cuddle up with a good book” or “cozy up with a good book”, there would be far too many pounds collected to count.

Although the words ‘good’ and ‘book’ always go hand in hand, it’s not really an essential requirement.

For, depending on what you like to read, isn’t it granted that all books are good?

While most books are tasked with the responsibility of sharing knowledge and imparting wisdom, some go a step further. Some take it upon themselves to divert your attention to mysterious, far off lands. Others will teach you how to bake the perfect red velvet cake. There are books whose pages take you to the past, there are those which fast forward to a future on Mars.

Books that teach colloquial Mandarin are quite different from books that teach the art of Feng Shui. While interior decorators might grab a book on antiques, fashion designers may opt for one about fabric textures.

Joke books make you laugh, classics have the potential to make you shed a tear or two. Thrillers will have you grabbing the edge of your seat, gardening manuals will have you grabbing a pair of gloves.

But rest assured, whatever your choice, there is one store in Cardiff that has it all.

Troutmark which specialises in selling second hand books, first editions, comics, annuals magazines and other rare specimens, is conveniently located in the Castle Arcade.

At first, Troutmark may seem like an unusual name for a bookshop but read it in context with their slogan ‘just one visit and you’re hooked’ and bingo, it starts to make sense.

Explore Troutmark’s extensive collection:

troutmark-collection

Molly Ernestine tweeted after a recent purchase of an autobiography: “The best find this afternoon from Troutmark Books –  a treasure trove of second hand books, comics and records.”

What’s truly special about this store is that not only are they book-sellers, they are also book buyers and will willingly purchase books off you.

Prices start from as low as a pound for some of the books on offer.

“Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.” – Lisa See, Snow River and the Secret Fan

 

 

 

 

 

Art in the arcades

With the holiday festivities over, and the Christmas lists done and dusted, you might wish to detox by immersing in activities less stressful than shopping.

A walk in Bute park, morning yoga, jazz concerts and visits to museums are some of the more therapeutic activities that spring to mind, to calm the mind.

For some, if art is your ‘go to’ place, then look no further than the Duke Street Arcade. Step into Jian Chen’s Fine Art studio and whether you’re an art lover, collector, enthusiast or just a browser, this colourful little gallery will transport your mind to a more spiritual zone.

One where fairies and butterflies co-exist with parrots and penguins.

Every piece of artwork in the shop is derived from the artist’s original paintings, which can be viewed in her basement Gallery.

The artist, Jian Chen says uses watercolours to create her masterpieces. She has been painting since she was a child.

Here you can sneak a peak into Jian Chen’s exquisite collection

“I believe I’m now at a point where I exist within creativity,” Jian explains.

“I have the need to paint every day, just like when I was a child. Inspiration comes from everywhere, anything can trigger me.

“With regard to what to paint and how to paint, I just follow my instinct,” Jian expresses.

Jian’s candles, keychains and tshirts are ideal to present as gifts, while the paitings make perfect keep sakes to decorate your home. They are affordable with small prints starting from just £2.50 upwards.

One of the store’s best buys is the Sloth (featured below). Katie Mitchell who recently purchased a Sloth watercolour acknowledges that Jian is very talented.

“I love her work and I’m looking forward to hanging the beautiful painting up in my house!” she says joyfully.

A Christmas wish…

Sara Halewood

A special message from Jackie, who works at Sara Halewood, Royal Arcade, Morgan Quarter

“I want to wish a happy Christmas to everyone in Cardiff, to all religions and all cultures and I hope that everyone has a happy and healthy 2017!”

The halls are decked…

Take a leisurely holiday stroll down the Castle Quarter Arcades and the corridors, hallways and store windows are bound to leave you immersed in joy.

This season, the Castle Quarter Arcades has hand picked a cross section of local talent and expertise to help fulfil their Christmas wish of contributing to the home grown design industry.The decor in each of the hallways places emphasis on novelty, ingenuity and originality.

Glitzy and unique, the golden spheres which hang down from the Victorian ceilings were designed and lazer cut by Home by Kristy, Cardiff’s newest lighting, design and gift shop, based in the Cardiff Arcade.

These eye catching globes, which give the illusion of being suspended in mid air, had their sparkle added by Graham Sweet Studio, a company founded over forty years ago. They produce all their props, in house, right here in the UK.

The 15 foot Norweigan spruce tree which is placed atop the balcony of the Castle Street Arcade was supplied by the Ty Cerrig Christmas Tree Farm. While the seeds for this tree came from Germany, the tree was grown on the farm in Maerdy Newydd Bonvilston in the Vale of Glamorgan.

According to Ty Cerrig  the British public have been decorating Norway Spruce since 1841, when Queen Victoria was pictured with her husband Prince Albert and their children, standing beside one at Windsor Castle.

Ty Cerrig Norweigian Spruce

Ty Cerrig’s Norweigian Spruce

Still on the subject of trees, the festive bay trees with fluffy golden shimmer ties and fairy lights that adorn the court were brought to life by the Dutch Garden Centre.This nursery is South Wales’ largest stockist of trees, shrubs, conifers and hedging and bedding plants. It’s a specialist importer of Dutch flowering shrubs and bulbs and renowned for decorative summer and winter gardens.

Visible Art, a Cardiff based printing company worked on printing the tote bags, Forbesfield is credited with providing the Christmas wreaths in High Steet and Duke Street Arcades and Vinyl Life lent a hand to print the large stag head.

Both ‘Home by Kirsty’ and ‘Forbesfield’ were responsible for delivering the entire installation to beautify the arcades.

These are just some of the fine artisan and bespoke craft teams that are giving the corridors a magical vibe this December.

Annalisa Jones, who manages public relations and events for the Castle Quarter Arcades explains this year’s design concept further: “At Castle Quarter Arcades, we have recruited the talents of local suppliers to help us realise our vision this Christmas. With an emphasis on innovation and originality, we have created a magical space for Cardiff shoppers unlike any other in the city.”

Oh, and while you’re there, keep an eye out for that electrifying polar bear.

Castle Quarter Arcade

Polar bear surprises

Dear Santa, let me explain…

Yes the Cardiff arcades are quaint and charming. Yes they date back over a hundred years and each one of the courts is filled with their share of history.

But, that doesn’t mean they are traditional or boring. Au contraire, the arcades can also be a lot of fun!

Take for example the Morgan Quarter and the #MQNaughtyorNice promotion that’s currently buzzing in the arcade’s corridors.

Post a selfie on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #MQNaughtyorNice while shopping or sipping coffee at either Morgan Arcade or Royal Arcade. A winner will be picked each day and announced on the Morgan Quarters social media channels. And the best part is, you can enter the promotion as many times as you like until 8 December!

Here’s a sneak peak at some of the fab gifts on offer:

christmasgifts

“We know Christmas shopping can get stressful, so this year we’ve launched the ‘naughty or nice’ list as a bit of light hearted, festive fun,” says Rory Fleming, the Centre Manager at Morgan Quarter.

“It’s a great opportunity for shoppers to win a treat for themselves, and our range of exclusive prizes show the variety of gifts available in the quarter,” Rory explains.

If you’ve only been good for a couple of months this year, that’s alright. Focus on that and mention that you have been nice. Either way, Santa’s pretty cool. He won’t mind.

 

 

Get your Christmas brew on

December weather. Also known as, the perfect time to curl up in a cozy cafe with a good book and your favourite mug of coffee, tea, hot chocolate or cocoa.

While Cardiff’s arcades look especially radiant, tis the vibe in its corridor’s quaint cafes that squeals Christmas.Red throws, clinking cups, happy chatter, marshmallow toppings, the smell of roasted Arabica beans and an occasional “laugh out loud” fill the Victorian courtyards with winter sweetness.

Some of the cafe’s are even offering seasonal brews to spice up the ambience.

At the Boardroom Coffee Shop in Duke Street Arcade, all hot Christmas drinks come laced with whipped cream, delicious toppings like toffee apple, mint, salted caramel and Irish cream as well as a dash of glitter! Don’t worry, although the gold dust sparkles, it is edible. Each festive drink will set you back £3 pounds.

If it’s tea you crave (maybe tea is more your cup of tea?), then the Waterloo Tea Room in Wyndham Arcade offers a pot of a light and flavorful Christmas blend for £3. London Fog, is another hot creation made with a combination of Earl Grey, dried lavender, vanilla syrup and milk, and again a cup is yours to enjoy for only £3 pounds.

As a surprise pressie, the barista and manager, Kasparas will also add a signature Christmas tree art on any latte of flat white ordered during the season.

Erica Henderson, a foodie and lifestyle blogger who has visited the tearoom this season says, “Waterloo tea rooms is a gorgeous, modern place to relax and enjoy a vast selection of fine teas. The interior exudes a quaint air of relaxation with a friendly and genuine team at hand. Their kindness and care is reflected in their efforts to support the community and of course, their cakes are extremely delicious!”

Wally’s Kaffeehaus, located on the top floor of Wally’s deli in Royal Arcade has many  speciality beverages on the menu. These include kirsch hot chocolate for £3.25 and a mug of gluhwein for £3.95.

Fancy a cup of cheer this Christmas? Then head on down to the arcades for the most decadent brews, this side of town.

Did you hear about the Morgans?

You may be forgiven if your initial thoughts triggered memories of Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant escaping wild bears or riding bulls and horses at the rodeo.

In Cardiff, merely whisper the word ‘Morgan’, and you will be pointed in the direction of the best preserved of arcades – the magical Morgan Quarter, sparkling with Christmas lights right about now.

The Morgan Arcade and the Royal Arcade interconnect to form this upscale shopping destination. With over 50 boutiques, galleries, gourmet delis and cafes, it delights visitors every day of the week.

Ever wonder what it’s like working in a Victorian era building filled with so much history and charm?

Andrew, from Spillers Records, the world’s oldest record shop, describes the experience as working in a “micro climate.”

“All the shops know each other and everyone helps each other. Since it’s away from the hub of the main district, it’s peaceful as well,” Andrew describes.

Located in an avenue just off the Hayes, the arcade has managed to carve a name for itself as being chic and upscale. It’s unique boutiques are brimming with hidden gems.

Eva Morgan who has worked in the arcades for three years, gets it bang on target when she says: “I enjoy my job and enjoy being in the arcades. Our shops are quite niche.”

Quite rightly so.