Aum Ganesha

Ganeshaone of the most worshipped deities in Hinduism. Ganesha – widely revered as the remover of obstacles and the bestower of spiritual gifts such as intellect, knowledge and wisdom. Ganesha – the God of beginnings.

The Royal arcade is famed for it’s curious little shops and quirky cafes, but it is also known for a little boutique that houses all things Ganesha.

Aptly named Ganesha Handicrafts, after the majestic elephant God, this colourful multi-level store houses a wide selection of ethnic clothing, jewellery and Eastern inspired handicrafts. What’s special about their products is that they are ethically sourced from India and Nepal, ensuring that the craftsmen and women who hand make the store’s product range receive a fair wage for their skilled work.

If you’re hunting for a gift out of the mundane selection found elsewhere, then this shop doesn’t disappoint. Items like cloth messenger bags and backpacks for example retail for just £10 upwards. These bags come heavily embroidered in bright colours, are soft to touch and easy to sling on your shoulder or back. Choose from mirror work, patch work, tassels or simple knits, depending on how subtle or flamboyant your style is.

If traditional jewellery is more up your alley, the store has a wide collection of rings, pendants and necklaces, studded with vibrant gem stones from the Far East. Some of the natural stones used in the jewellery pieces include blue turquoise, Indian ruby, Japanese opal and black onyx. Though the jewellery is simple, it’s timeless and elegant, and makes the perfect accessory to complement any spring or summer outfit.

 

And speaking of outfits, the store is stocked with ethnic wear for both men and women. The boho gypsy skirts, are sure to catch your eye as they glisten in the sunlight, almost as if they are showing off their pretty shades and mirrors.

The shop smells as fragrant as oriental Jasmine flowers thanks to the aroma released from burning incense sticks, which are also available to purchase.

Kelly who loves shopping here says excitedly, “I cannot wait for pay day! I’m heading straight to Ganesha Cardiff!”

However, even if you were to leave without buying anything, just the experience of visiting the shop will leave you with a sense of calm and well being.

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Thank you, Ganesha – the God of good fortune and success.

 

 

 

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.

 

Paper, pens and poetry

They say love is a letter written on pink stationery. Well, what about letters written on other sheets of coloured paper? What do they represent?

Walk into the Pen and Paper in the Royal Arcade, the largest stationary retailer here in Cardiff, and you may be able to find out.

This store is a haven for those with a penchant for paper in all shapes, sizes and forms.

From diaries and Filofax’s for the super organized souls to journals and notebooks for those who only prefer the occasional scribble.

Paperblanks are beautiful writing books renowned for their intricately designed covers. The covers depict anything from traditional 17th century motifs to art nouveau inspired elements, such as the one pictured in the photograph below.

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In a mood to share your deepest thoughts and secrets with someone? Then forget instant messaging, the writing sets and notecard collections with floral emblems could turn out to be your new best friend. Coupled with matching envelopes for a cohesive touch, the sets scream elegance and sophistication for just under £5.

However, vintage and art deco postcards are also on hand should you opt to pen a quick ‘hello’ to someone faraway..

There are also greeting cards, retro themed calendars, gifts in a tin and plenty more trinkets to surprise a family member, a lover, a colleague or a friend. They are as quirky as ‘sock monkey in a tin’, affordable and fun.

 

The list goes on. What you write says a lot about you. But what you write on may convey a whole lot more. So forget writing texts for now. Go on a little paper chase and choose to write some poetry instead.

 

 

 

 

 

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?

Love, Mrs Clause

The recent Marks & Spencer television advertisement is probably one of the better commercials released this year.In the on-screen advert, unknown to Mr Clause, Mrs Clause travels by helicopter to procure a pair of red trainers for little Jake. This is just so he can lovingly surprise his elder sister Anna, come Christmas morning.

This video touches almost everyone who watches it because it shines a spotlight on a different Christmas icon than one the world is used to. Plus, the dazzling red trainers are just a really cool gift for a 12 year old.

If it’s zany, quirky or cool gifts you are looking out for to fill those stockings in time for 25 December, your prayers to Mr and Mrs Clause, have just been answered.

With only a week left to go to complete that Christmas shopping gift list, note that while the following gifts easy on the eye, they are also easy on your wallet!

Bricks at Home is the world’s first LEGO inspired designed store, and until 11 January 2017, Cardiff folk will have a chance to visit their pop up shop in the Morgan Arcade.

‘Coffee Chain’ travel mugs, LEGO clocks and LEGO storage bricks are some of the fascinating and playful gifts on offer in the store.

Andrew Morris, of Bricks at Home says, “These gifts are good because they are colourful, reasonably priced and everybody has a fun connection to Lego.”

Scribbler is a busy little greeting card store, also located in the Morgan Arcade. Renowned for edgy, and humorous greeting cards, they have added a range of upbeat gifts to their repertoire this month.

Much loved Enid Blyton and Lady Bird short story books, Christmas games in a tin, and snow man and robin lip balms all retail for under £10 and their compact size makes renders them the ideal stocking filler.

If it’s foodie gifts you are after, mangia bene, Wally’s deli will come to the rescue with all good things Italian.Smoked cheeses, Panettone, chocolate and biscuit tins will no doubt make gifting or house visits a breeze since these goodies are already beautifully designed and pre-packaged. Just pop them in a bag and off you go! No further bows or gift wrapping is necessary.

Panettone, which literally translates to ‘big bread’, is a sweet bread loaf laced with raisins and candied fruits. It is of Milanese origin and traditionally enjoyed after meals, during the festive season. The Panettone at Wally’s is available in various sizes, with the smallest weighing 100 grams and merely costing £2.95.

Trysori, a pop up shop in the Royal Arcade is famed for clutch bags and jewellery. Until Christmas eve, they will also sell Welsh made fabric and knitted toys from Ellie Sew. These charming soft toys are made by hand, crafted with love and the furthest from a commercial doll you will find elsewhere on the market.

Elina Zvereva from Cardiff, the name behind the Ellie Sew brand, reveals: “Sewing and making dolls, toys, and stuffed animals is my greatest passion. Every doll and toy is special and I’m able to share the warmth of my hands and heart with you when you take them home.”

Ann George from Port Talbot who has caught a glimpse of Ellie’s creations online adds, “I really like these knitted toys.”

“Christmas is a magnificent time of the year and I hope my toys could bring happiness to many kids as well as adults. If you’re tired of mass produced gifts, please visit the Trysori Christmas pop up shop to find heirloom gifts for your friends and family,” requests Elina.

With the weather being as cold as it is, how about some cozy booties to keep your feet warm? At Sara Halewood cute and quirky moshulu slip on’s are just the love your feet will crave this season.

Shoes that make you smile

Cozy and comfy from £35 upwards

 Jackie, who has been with Sara Halewood for almost 5 years, explains the concept of  gift shopping in the arcades: “What I like about the arcades is that they are unique, independent shops. It’s a very special place to come and shop for people.

“I think they should be looked after very well and promoted more than the larger shops, which are okay but quite normal.”

Jackie, is passionate about customer service and adds, “In the independent shops you will be well looked after.

“We have novel things to offer and share a special relationship with the customers which we have developed over the years. They have become friends as well as customers.”

Mrs Clause might think so too, Jackie.

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:

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“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.