Thursday, 30 April 2015

Hotels in Cardiff: A Doctor Who Fan's Guide

Looking for the perfect place to stay in Cardiff Bay...? You've come to the right place!

It will come as no big surprise that Doctor Who fans are travelling from far and wide, all over the world to visit its current home sweet home in Cardiff, Wales. Whether it is to set foot on much loved filming locations, visit the Doctor Who Experience or take a trip on the tour, the BBC’s decision to film the series around South Wales has been credited with breathing new life into the region.

I live two and a half hour drive away from the Welsh capital, and my first ever visit was during my 21st Birthday when Luke treated me to a trip on the Doctor Who Tour. Like many others, I spent the days leading up to my short break scouring the internet looking for the best hotel, at the best price and in the best location, but with no prior knowledge of the city I struggled to find one to suit all of our needs.

This led me on to put together a brief post about the hotels I have stayed in during my many visits Cardiff, allowing you to decide which would work best for you. I have only ever stayed in the Cardiff Bay area (So I'm a teeny tiny bit biased...). This is where you can find the majority of Doctor Who locations, it is where the Experience is based, and the BBC Studios are located only a short walk away. Plus, it is bursting with the best restaurants, cafes, bars, local supermarkets and lots of touristy attractions such as the Millennium Centre, the Marina and the Norwegian Church. Why would you want to stay anywhere else...?

Travelodge 

Cardiff Bay Atlantic Wharf

Hemingway Road, Cardiff, CF10 4JY
0871 9846424

This hotel is located closest to the Bay, and is where myself and Luke have spent the majority of our stays. It is affordable - we have paid anything between £12-£79 for a room (the earlier you book, the better!) It has excellent views of either the city skyline or the bay, includes free parking (just make sure you get your parking ticket validated before leaving on reception), accessible and is next to all the local amenities.

The hotel is located directly next to the Red Dragon Centre, which boasts oriental restaurants, a local pub, a casino and a bowling alley. It is also a 5 minute walk from Cardiff Bay train station; where you can get a cheap train direct to the city centre, a 5 minute walk from the Millennium Centre, and a 10-15 minute walk from the Doctor Who Experience. You can find out more information along with the tariff for this hotel here.


Future Inn
Future Inn Cardiff Hotel
Hemingway Road, Cardiff, CF10 4AU
+44 (0)29 2048 7111
http://www.futureinns.co.uk/cardiff/

We have stayed in this hotel twice before and I highly recommend the accommodation. Future Inns prides itself on rooms starting from £59 per night. Hot Tip: If you are thinking of booking this hotel, make sure you book 21 days in advance to take advantage of their 21 day advance rate, it works out a lot cheaper in the long run. 

Great Customer Service!
We booked our first stay at Future Inns for Valentines Day back in 2014, also known as "Flooded February". Unfortunately, due to the flooded roads and poor driving conditions we didn't make our trip down as we were forced to turnaround and head back home. I was devastated as it was 3pm and the contract stated that we needed to let the hotel know we were no longer staying before this time. However, the staff over the phone were very accommodating, they understood our frustration and helped us rearrange our night away to April - free of charge! We were very impressed, and when we did eventually come around to spending our stay here, the staff were lovely and welcoming - we felt like we were staying in a 5*. 

The hotel has free amble parking, is easy to find and is a 5 minute walk from the bay area. It also boasts a delicious bar/restaurant with a tasty English breakfast served every morning (trust me, I've tried it!). Find out more about what this hotel has to offer here.



Holiday Inn Express
Holiday Inn Express Cardiff Bay
Longueil Close, Cardiff CF10 4EE
029 2044 9000
http://www.ihg.com/cardiff

My most recent trip to Cardiff saw us stay in the Holiday Inn Express during Valentines weekend. We paid £88 for bed and breakfast, which I thought was pretty decent considering it was peak season for couples. Please remember that this is the reservation price, which needs to be paid upon arrival to the hotel in order to secure your room. The hotel itself was very clean and modern, with amble space which altogether made for a nice and peaceful nights sleep. I would certainly recommend setting your alarm to get up in time for the full English breakfast with all the trimmings - a great way to start the day - (and I'm not even a morning-person!)


The Holiday Inn is located about a 15 minute walk from the Cardiff Bay amenities (Millennium Centre, Train Station, bars), a 5 minute walk from the County Hall, and a 15-20 minute walk from Cardiff City centre, which is suitable for guests willing to walk to their destination whether day or night. Many of the rooms look on to the picturesque docks behind the hotel or to the very residential area surrounding the site. It is located in a very quiet area, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of shops and bars - which some visitors may prefer - but is easily accessible from all the central link roads running around the capital. You can find out more about this hotel, including room tariff's, here.


St Davids Hotel & Spa
St Davids Hotel Cardiff
Havannah Street, Cardiff CF10 5SD
029 2045 4045
http://www.thestdavidshotel.com/

Now for the biggy. I have to be completely honest, this option is just thrown in as it is on my personal wishlist. Since I first visited Cardiff I have only dreamt of staying at St David's, but I still haven't had the chance to do so. Classy but modern, the room tariffs are pricey but just wait to you see the views. 

If you are staying in Cardiff for a particular reason, or just feel like splashing the cash, I would definitely say go ahead and book this hotel, as it is the most iconic, stand-out hotel there is in the city. Over-looking the bay it is in a centralised location with all the local amenities surrounding the hotel.

I can't speak as a visitor as I have not stayed here myself, so if any readers have stayed here, please make me even more jealous by lifting the lid on the hotel and I will be sure to update this post. You can view a more detailed description of the hotel, along with room tariffs, here.


So there you have it, my advice on the best hotels to stay at in and around Cardiff Bay. I hope this equips any first-time visitors out there with knowledge to help decide on the best option for you. If you would like to ask any further questions regarding any of my stays at either of these hotels, please do not hesitate to email me at pluckykelly@gmail.com .

In other news, I am running the Cardiff Bay 5 mile on Monday 4th May in aid of Prostate Cancer, if you happen to be in Cardiff around this time, come and show your support. More information on why I am running the 5 miles, here. 

I look forward to writing my post about my recent trip to Cardiff in the next couple of weeks. It's been a busy month or so, and I just haven't had chance to get back to blogging. To make up for it, I will leave you with a teaser of my next post, cue video:



Blog to you soon

Sunday, 22 March 2015

For Sale: Clara Oswald Rings of Akhaten Cosplay Dress

You wanna see 'Something Awesome...?'

Hi Everyone,

I've decided to bite the bullet and sell one of my favourite Clara Oswald Cosplay Dresses. I have only worn this dress once, during a special occasion, but it felt too long for me and didn't suit my overall shape. It's taken a long time to finally brave it and put it up on eBay, but after a sort-through over my overly-crowded wardrobe, the deed is done.

This gorgeous dress is the Urban Outfitters Silence & Noise Fishtail shirt dress from the Series 7 Doctor Who Episode "Rings of Akhaten".

As you can see from the photos, it is in fabulous condition, comes from a non-smoking home and would suit anyone sized 10-12 (UK). I have started the bid at quite a high price because I am reluctant to sell it, but I have seen this very dress sell for way over £150 in the past!




For all the details you need on this item including a detailed description, sizing and pricing, please Click Here

Keep your eye on sites such as the Fashion of Doctor Who to finish off your cosplay outfit and try it out at your next event!

Here's the trailer from the episode to see the dress in all-oswald glory


Happy Bidding :-)

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Clara Oswald: Get The 'Hide' Look

You are the only mystery worth solving...

Forget the 'London Look', I wanted to share with you guys my not-so-great attempt at a Doctor Who cosplay I put together when I visited Wales Comic Con at the end of last year. During Jenna Colemans first series on Doctor Who, I managed to gather quite a lot of dresses from her Clara Oswald wardrobe, for the simple reason that they were gorgeous outfits and suited by taste in fashion.

My favourite dress is from Series 7 episode “Hide”. This is the Pins And Needles vintage style ditsy tea dress from Urban Outfitters back in 2012, I just had to get it after seeing Jenna in costume filming the new series. Unfortunately this dress is no longer available in stores, but I have seen it on eBay numerous times from different sellers, so keep your eye out on there. 


My blazer was from Boohoo.com, but these days you can find something very similar from your local Primark. Clara’s original blazer was from Urban Outfitters, and so was her red bag. Unfortunately, the red bag was all I was missing… and crucial to the whole ‘look’ if I do say so myself! My earrings are the BBC sonic screwdriver earrings, priced at £17.99. 

For the shoes, I purchased a cheap pair of black wedges from New Look which had the same ‘look’ about them. I have just spotted this pair on the site now which are very similar and are available in sizes 4-8...

This outfit can be worn almost anywhere. So far I've worn it on holiday, shopping, at a christening and on a night out. Its simple, dressy, classy and smart... all in one! You can dress it up with heels or dress it down with a pair of converse, its completely up to you!

Keep your eye on some of the best sites for Clara Oswald Cosplay such as Doctor Who Cosplay Finder and The Fashion of Doctor Who , which feature outfits from the actors on and off screen. If you know of any other good sites, please let me know!

All the outfit deets you need below... and remember to send me any of your 'Hide' cosplays, I'd love to see them!




To you, I'm a ghost, we're all ghosts to you...


I really loved this series 7 episode, although it did scare me quite a bit! Even more so as it was the episode that was put on during my visit on the official TARDIS TOUR back in 2013. Here's a reminder of what happened during the episode...

I did visit the mansion which doubles as Caliburn House in Hide last October, complete with Clara dress... have a browse at some of the photos below, or click here to view my full blogpost from the location.




See my Clara Oswald: Get the look for another look into my collection of Clara dresses - I have so many - but not enough chances to wear them! 


I hope all my lovely readers are all o-k... more posts to come soon! 

On a side note... You may have seen on my Twitter account that I have had some very bad news recently. My dad has been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. In order to raise awareness, myself and Luke are going to be running the Cardiff Bay 5 mile run on the 4th May 2015. I am currently training for this event, as I have only ever ran 5km (3.1miles) before... and even that was a struggle!! However, we want to raise as much awareness for Prostate Cancer as we possibly can, and donate some money in the process. If you would like to support us, and/or find out more about my story, please head to my Just Giving Page - www.justgiving.com/fundraising/KellyLuke-Cardiff ... every little counts...we are hoping to raise £400 for this charity, which helps men of all ages fight this cancer. HUGE THANK YOU X

Blog to you soon 

                                                             

Monday, 9 February 2015

Doctor Who Valentines Gifts

Whether you buy into the Valentines day hype or not, the 14th is just around the corner, so I thought I would suggest a couple of last-minute gifts for all of you Doctor Who fans and loved ones out there. They are only to be used as a guideline, picked and chosen by myself as some of my favourite affordable gifts online. So have a nose if you are struggling to decide on the perfect present.




These gorgeous earrings are from Forbidden Planet. Please check delivery dates before ordering in order for your gift to arrive in time for Valentines. Alternatively, check the website for your nearest store. These officially licensed earrings are absolutely stunning with their Sonic Screwdriver design. 

Luke bought me these last Valentines, they are gorgeous and reasonably priced. Perfect for your valentine.


  • This awesome t-shirt has been on my wishlist for years. It is from Forbidden Planet but is currently only a pre-order item, so if you want it before Valentines, you will have to look for an alternative online. I believe they are currently stocked on Amazon and Ebay.
It is a TARDIS blue skinny-fit t-shirt so please bear this in mind when ordering (not always bigger on the inside!!)




Mug: Modern Art Tardis - £6.99

Cheap treat: *secretly hoping I get a new mug for Valentines this year*. This very cool design is sweet but sophisticated, perfect for the early morning cuppa alongside breakfast in bed on Valentines morning.

Again, it is from Forbidden Planet and is currently in stock, so go buy it now before its too late.





TARDIS Slippers - £16.99


These brilliant ladies slippers are perfect to warm up your feet and keep cosy this winter. They are stocked in sizes 5-8 in the BBC Shop online. You can buy them now.


They are comfortable, reasonably priced with a brilliant TARDIS design for any mad Doctor Who fan.




BBC Fourth Doctor Scarf - £49.99

The ultimate gift for a Doctor Who fan this valentines has got to be this replica of Tom Bakers scarf. Although expensive, it is completely worth every penny as it stands at 13 feet long and 10 inches wide. Definitely a gift that will be remembered.

For more information or to buy your scarf, head to the BBC Shop website now.





Doctor Who Cyberman Logo Cufflinks - £16.99

An affordable, sophisticated present for the man or woman in your life. Priced at £16.99, this gift allows you to wear your heart(s) or cybermen on your sleeve whether at home, work or out on a job. 

The cufflinks are currently in stock and ready to be dispatched from the BBC Shop. Order yours now.







Doctor Who: Dreamer Ladies T-Shirt - £13.99


Every girl loves a Doctor Who quote, and this is mine. Spoken by the Eleventh Doctor, this T-Shirt is priced at a reasonable £13.99 from the BBC Shop and in sizes Small to X-Large. 

Its stunning design makes a great present for the lady in your life. I know I certainly want it! Buy yours now.





Doctor Who: The Complete Series 8 - £39.99

For a limited time only - pick up the complete Series 8 boxset for the reduced priced of £39.99 from the BBC Shop if you haven't already.

Introducing Peter Capaldi as the Twelth Doctor, This Limited Edition BBC Shop exclusive Blu- ray comes complete with a bright embossed TARDIS slipcase finished with silver foil and a ‘press here’ button, which when pressed plays the legendary TARDIS sound effect. Buy it now


So there you have it, I hope I have inspired some of you to buy the perfect Valentines gift for you loved one. (Or reminded you too if you had forgotten!) Me and Luke are just doing cards this year so we can save some money for our holiday. 

Speaking of cards, check out this cool video on how to make your own Doctor Who Valentines day cards if you are feeling in a DIY mood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qs_FeMqdWxA

So what are you up to this Valentines? Let me know what Doctor Who goodies you will be purchasing. Have a lovely weekend and I will blog to you soon :-)


Monday, 2 February 2015

Wales Comic Con 2014

On Sunday 30th November 2014, I decided to head up to Wrexham to Wales Comic Con (Part 2). It was my first time at this con, but I had heard great things. Luckily for me, the con itself is based in Glyndwr University (only a 45 minute drive from where I live) which is based just off the first island you get to in Wrexham. It is easily signposted and the car-parks are free to park in.

Myself and Luke arrived at the venue just after 11am, and by this time the queues had almost disappeared. We paid £10 for the ticket on the door which was located on the front of the building and were handed a programme each. This contained all of the exhibits on show as well as star guests and talks.

We decided to follow the crowd into the different areas and passed wrestlers, cast from In The Flesh and numerous fabulously dressed cosplayers. We then exited the building and were thrust into the sunlight. Thankfully, it was a lovely sunny day and we could have a nose around the props outside without catching a chill. Outside was Lightning Mcqueen from the Pixar film Cars, a humongous MarshMallow Man and Transformers Optimus Prime, BumbleBee and Barricade.





We then headed into the marquee opposite, where we were greeted by the sight of the TARDIS and a couple of friendly faces. It was Whovian Hire, who provide their very own TARDIS, monster costumes and cardboard cut outs for events. You can read more about them HERE.

I just had to have a photo, it was too good of an opportunity to miss... even though I do look incredibly awkward (There was a crowd of people waiting their turn after me.)


So next we headed back out and bumped into a parade of Star Wars characters - AMAZING. I even managed to grab a photo with a few of them... although the storm trooper looked particularly menacing.





So then we went into the main hall, where there were actors from Game of Thrones, BBC One's Atlantis, Torchwood, Red Dwarf and Doctor Who. There was also stalls full of merchandise, comics and prop replicas, which was great to have a nose around. I only had a small amount of money with me, so I had to choose who I would like to meet for an autograph. It was between Eve Myles from Torchwood or Ian McNeice from Doctor Who. I eventually chose the latter. Ian McNeice plays Winston Churchill in Doctor Who Series 5-6. However, he has a larger filmography than that. I remember him most acting alongside Jim Carey in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, one of my favourite childhood movies. He was a lovely gentleman who asked both myself and Luke to pose alongside a fake cigar... love it! Here's my photo with him, and I also bought a signed autograph below...



 Luke's meet and greet was next, and he met Storage Hunters Sean Kelly and Jesse McClure. He was soooo happy, and the guys were so popular with guests. Luke managed to get a selfie with them both which was awesome, (I definitely need to do this next time I meet Matt Smith) and I took a normal photo... pictures below...



We also caught sight of Fifth Doctor Peter Davidson, Alfie and Kat from Eastender's (who reenacted a scene infront of our eyes) and the best Bane cosplayer I have ever seen. (I was too intimidated to ask for a photo so I got Luke to ask!)


So we managed to grab some food on site before we left - lots of fast food trucks and we were happy with chips which were reasonably priced.

All in all we had a lovely day, I definitely want to head to Wrexham for Comic Con again, it was perfectly organised and very easy to find.

Look out for my upcoming posts... I have so much to write about and a Cardiff trip on the horizon :-)

Blog to you soon...

Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Regenerated Doctor Who Experience

Firstly, I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and celebrated the New Year in style. 

For this post, I am going to take you back in time to November, when I was due to visit the "regenerated" Doctor Who Experience and once again head over to the BBC Studios at Roath Lock to step onto the real TARDIS on the studio tour. This was all bought altogether as a joint ticket offer.

Unfortunately, our trip didn't go quite to plan. You see, I had been so busy with my new job at the time that I had not had a chance to check my emails in days. Sadly, when I finally got around to it, the Tardis Studio Tour part of the ticket had been cancelled and because I had not responded to the suppliers email quick enough, they assumed I still wanted to head to Cardiff for the Experience and didn't process my refund. I was absolutely devastated to say the least. I had been counting the days until I could step onto the real TARDIS once again. I was heartbroken, so much so that my stubbornness nearly saw me cancel the trip altogether and lose out on the money. 

However, Luke stepped in and put everything into perspective. There may be more chances in the future to step onto the TARDIS, plus the Doctor Who Experience had just reopened after refurbishment, so it was worth having a look! And if all else failed, I was off to one of my favourite places, Cardiff. 



☆  Experience  


Please note: there are little bits of detail on the experience to follow without giving too much away. If you would like to avoid any spoilers prior to your visit, please scroll down to Exhibition.

So we decided to drive the 3 hour journey down to Cardiff on our booked day. We arrived earlier than planned but the staff allowed us to queue alongside the group of an earlier timeslot. There were more props in the queuing area than during my previous visits. These included the Timelord costumes and props, as well as Clara's book "101 Places to See" from Series 7, next to The most important leaf in human history. 




Visitors are now given a crystal lanyard to wear around their necks for the exhibition part of the experience, which glows and vibrates during the different parts of the interactive walk-through.

Before heading in, we had a quick briefing from a member of the Experience team who was very enthusiastic; really getting us visitors excited for what was about to come. Once we wondered through the opened doors, we were greeted by a room full of scattered props from the show, and were told to have a nose around. We then watched a short film (which was excellent - but I shan't give anything away) and we were shown into the next room. This was probably my favourite room of the whole experience, it was magical, and the centre piece focused on a plot from Series 7.

We were then led into the TARDIS, which was my main disappointment of the experience...as it had not been revamped or regenerated since my previous visit. All that had changed was the scenario video that played during our time through the experience, which featured Capaldi instead of Smith. 

HOWEVER... do not let this change your decision to visit, I for one can say that walking into the TARDIS was wonderful during my previous visits, but with this being my third time, I was a little disappointed with the lack of regeneration in this particular scenario. Anyway, not to give much else away, we were also led through a storyline featuring the almighty Daleks (which was very similar to pre-refurb, but with a bit of an added paint-job) and then we were taken through the maze of weeping angels - again, similar to pre-refurb, but with a few extra props. To repeat - both of these parts of the scenario are brilliant for first-time visitors, so don't let me put you off! 

The final room was the 3D cinema screen, which had been updated to follow on from the main scenario that ran through the experience. 



   Exhibition

We were then led into the exhibition hall, where all the props and sets were located. This has been my favourite part of the whole Experience in previous visits, and once again, this part of my day did not disappoint. There had been SO much more added since my previous visits. A quick suggestion - if it is quiet, head straight up the stairs to your left and visit the props up above first, as there will be more time and room to take as many photos as you like before it gets overcrowded with visitors. 

Myself and Luke decided to make the most of this part of the experience, and spent over an hour in the exhibition, taking as many photos as we could to make our trip all the way down to Cardiff for the day worthwhile - and boy, did we! I apologise in advance if the next part of my blog is picture-heavy. I have tried to include props I have not had my photo taken with previously... 










 



Fist-pump with a Weeping Angel... it seemed like a good idea at the time...


Ok, now I'm not so sure...


















Worth a visit...?

Positives 
  • The Experience guide was brilliant and should be commended for a splendid job, he really got into character and made sure that everyone, whether young or old, were involved in the story-line.
  • It was more of an interactive experience - there was an opportunity to find crystals, even in the scariest of settings, and I thought it was a nice little added extra, especially for the kids. (And big kids alike)!
  • A fresh, new storyline with scenarios filmed by Peter Capaldi especially for the Doctor Who Experience visitors was fantastic, it really made everyone feel part of the story, and as if you could have really been running alongside The Doctor through time and space.
  • The Exhibition hall had lots of new props from Series 8 and plenty of room to take photos. The Experience team are always on hand to take any snapshots of you and your friends.

Negatives  
  • Although the storyline and some of the settings were fresh and new, as I previously stated, I couldn't help but be disappointed with some of the rooms inside. The TARDIS console room, for instance, needs to be updated from the Eleventh Doctors first TARDIS. I also believe that the Dalek scenario worked better pre-refurb.

However, do not let this put you off, especially if you have never been before! The Doctor Who Experience is one-of-a-kind, situated right next door to the BBC studios where they film Doctor Who and located on the picture-perfect Cardiff Bay. I get so many people back in the little land of Shropshire asking what its like and whether it is worth the trip down south, and the answer is a definite YES! You NEED to go there to experience it for yourself, because there is nothing else out there like it. And with tickets starting at as little as £14 for an adult, and £9.75 for a child, you have no excuse not to check it out for yourselves. 

You can buy your tickets here:- http://www.doctorwho.tv/events/doctor-who-experience/tickets/ It is recommended you book in advance for a discounted price, and to avoid disappointment on the day. Plus - make sure you keep an eye out for more studio tours in the future, with your chance to walk through those infamous doors - I know I will.

Check out my previous visits to the Doctor Who Experience:


I'm seriously considering a re-vamp of my blog over the coming months. If you have any ideas, please let me know, it would be lovely to hear them (as I'm not great at designing!)

I hope January is treating you well and you haven't given up on your resolutions just yet... I'd love to hear them! Mine is to blog more, and seeing as I have three more posts lined up for over the coming weeks, I'll have to get a move on. As always, let me know what you've been up to, and keep up to date via my twitter feed - @pluckykelly and my Plucky Kelly Facebook Page.

Blog to you soon