All I have ever known is London.
I was born and raised in London (and even went to university here), so I love leaving town and exploring pastures new. Last weekend, I did just that - leaving the comforts of the city I know so well to visit Ben and his family in Wales.
Super excited, I hopped and skipped all the way to Paddington for my 2 hour train, where I ended up sitting with 2 lovely gentlemen - one, who coincidentally, was also planning to launch his own startup brand in due course (of course, business cards were swapped - always networking!).
When I got to Wales, I was greeted by a grinning Ben holding a "Naomi" sign and his lovely dad, and off we went to my home away from home for the weekend - a perfect little town called Cowbridge, about a 30 minute car ride away from Cardiff.
I love staying with Ben's family because they make me feel right at home and his mum, who has the Maria knickers named after her, is a wonderful cook. Greeted by a steak dinner on my arrival, his family really couldn't have been more accommodating.
I won't bore you with the details of my entire stay, but tell you all about Saturday, our main day out exploring - woohoo! After having yummy cake and coffee at home, we were well fuelled to make our way back to Cardiff for a full day of fun.
On the way, I couldn't help but compare the journey to London - it was just so green and sparse compared to how grey and built-up London is. I loved peering out the window catching glimpses of huge country estates with sprawling gardens.
Once in Cardiff, we made a beeline for St David's Shopping Centre. Now this was more like what I was used to! Row upon row of shops all dressed up for Christmas - lights adorned every corner of the centre with huge golden stockings hanging from the ceilings.
I do so love the countdown to Christmas, everything is so much prettier and there is definitely a magical feeling in the air.
Our first stop? Mini golf at Tree Top Adventure Golf. I get a teeny tiny bit competitive so was determined to win despite golf not being my forte... I mean, how hard could it be? Plus, Ben is not the type to just let me win (which I love) so the competition was on!
... However, despite a close game, it is with great sadness that I must admit... that I lost (by only 3 points however!).
With crowds out in full force on a Saturday (probably out to get some early Christmas bargains), we joined in with the hustle and bustle and had a look around the shops ourselves, including my favourite, Tiger.
Packed full of random goodies (some more useful than others), I love exploring every nook and cranny of this shop. The stuff in here always makes me smile, including old-school wooden toys, giant stationery and of course, this burger hat modelled by Ben - seriously, who wouldn't want one?
Golfing and shopping really does take it out of you and again it was time to eat! We chose a cafe called Le Rendevous - with light shades in the shape of teapots and teacups, it was the perfect, cosy little place to rest our feet and fill our bellies. We both chose to go for the pulled pork baguette and an Aperol Spritz because we totally deserved it after our epic game of golf.
Over lunch, we discussed golfing strategies (not really) and whether or not we wanted to stay on for the fireworks. We decided yes, but first, more shopping and an Amaretto latte to keep us warm outside!
However, with all tickets to the fireworks display sold out, we had no other option but to find a nearby vantange point... which we soon realised was actually by the side of the road with a few hundred other spectators too slow to nab a coveted ticket (freeloading never felt so good - we had such a great view!).
The fireworks were amazing, simply mesmerising to watch. One after another they exploded in bright colours and lit up the night sky. I couldn't have been happier at that moment watching the world go by.
But our day wasn't over yet (although I don't have any photos to document), back home in Cowbridge, we headed out to the high street for a drink. Such is the joy of living in a small Welsh town, we ended up bumping into Ben's old school friends and decided to join the crowd and go to the Horse and Groom, where we concluded a busy day of fun with a victorious game of doubles pool.
At the end of the night, we made our way home, exhausted but happy in heart and mind.
Thank you Wales and Ben's family for having me over, see you soon!