Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Side Street Style

A family travel and lifestyle blog


Experiencing the Volvo Ocean Race, Cardiff

Cardiff Bay Barrage

I love nothing more when people take on incredible challenges, when they put themselves to the test both physically and mentally and this is reflected in the documentaries I watch (currently obsessed with ones about Mount Everest) and the books I read which are usually autobiographies about those who decided to walk a different path, adventurers, sportsmen, trailblazing women. So when we heard that the around the world sailing race that is the Volvo Ocean Race was coming to Cardiff I was really excited.

The Volvo Ocean Race only happens every three years and only the best of the best compete against each other in what is one of the most grueling around the world sails. The route changes every race to accommodate new ports of call and this year they were arriving in Cardiff (as well as my hometown of Cape Town). Its' really fantastic seeing and being apart of world-class events that come to the Welsh Capital and actually seeing the Bay Barrage being used properly as it's such a great location.

Volvo Ocean Race

Cardiff bay Barrage

There was a real focus on keeping the event as Plastic-free as possible while still embracing modern technology. All the catering companies had to provide re-usable, recyclable or bio-degradable food and drink containers and I have to say the whole event was spotless as the cleaning crew was visibly on hand to make sure it left as little of a mark as possible.

There was an array of activities suitable for all ages and Visit Wales was on hand with some AR experiences of some of the most breathtaking sights across the country. The kids also loved all the interactive displays such as the giant plastic Whale, the rock climbing wall, ferries wheel, live music and being able to explore what life is like for the sailors on one of the boats which they call home for around 9 months.

Cardiff bay Barrage

Volvo Ocean Race

We actually visited the Volvo Ocean Race twice during it's time in Cardiff as the first day we visited the race boats hadn't come into dock yet. We found the whole event a great learning platform for the boys as well as a great example of a plastic-free event being held on a large scale. We have been watching the race ever since and it's a pretty close call with only one leg left to go as it stands. The event also highlighted all the amazing watersports on offer in Cardiff Bay and I am hoping to sign up to do the ladies Paddleboarding course at some point. Overall it was a fantastic day out, action-packed and a great way to get kids inspired to take the lead when it comes to the environment as well as getting out onto the water. 

Bay Barrage


What I've learnt from being a homeowner

living room

John and I are finally coming to the end of our second home improvement project and aim to sell before the end of the year. This will be the second time we have done this although our current home is the first one I have also been on the mortgage and deeds. Like many I spent years renting both in the UK, Europe and in South Africa and while renting can be exhausting in many different ways there are certain things you are not responsible for such as major repairs or mortgage payments and there are certainly some differences you notice when becoming a homeowner and knowing the buck stops with you should something go wrong.

Owning a home can be expensive so you need to be on top of things

While our mortgage is a lot lower than rent the general upkeep of a home can really add up. You have to become savvy when it comes to bills and providers and I know a lot of people mention this but do shop around for the best deal especially when you come to the end of a contract. We have noticed for example year after year our broadband provider has put up our service to the point it's just so much more expensive than any other broadband provider so obviously we are going to be changing this. Bear this in mind with house insurance and utility bills as well. Also having a small savings pot aside for home maintenance and any increase in council tax is a good idea too.

Renovations take time

Unless your looking for a fast turn around on your home it's just not going to happen all at once. We have done things slowly in our current home because we didn't want to take a huge loan out to do the improvements but rather take our time and pay for it as and when. Even when major renovation works have been completed you also need an extra budget for remodeling and interior design, all of these factors have to be taken into account so when it comes to making a house a home you also have to learn how to be patient. I have written a post about saving money while renovating which may be useful to read if your planning on doing some.

sunshine portrait

Learn to be frugal

Finding that balance of working, family, finances and living can be a hard one to achieve but it's really important to make sure you have some time to just enjoy the moment and save on things around the house when you can so you have more in the pot to have fun. Make Ebay and Gumtree your friends and your go to place when your looking for a new piece of furniture, artwork or other interior accessories - you can find some real bargains and often either new or nearly new items for more than half the price of retail.

Check your mortgage

We have all heard of PPI but not many of us know that you could also have been mis-sold your mortgage, this is something that I have only recently found out about and while we haven't been affected as we have a very thorough adviser there are many that have been affected and it's worth researching as you could be entitled to money back as well as making your repayments far more affordable in the long term. A mortgage in theory should be cheaper then rent so if you took out an interest-only mortgage, subprime mortgage or your mortgage is going to run long after you retire than I really advise seeing if you are eliagable for a mortgage claim

Don't sweat the small stuff, things don't stay perfect

While I would love a spotless home I have to be realistic that my two young boys just don't get that concept as well as I would like. You can either let some mess stress you out or just go with the flow because at some point they will grow up. Also newly painted walls get a little scuffed at some point and occasionally things get broken - this is just life, it can be replaced and don't get too worked up about it.

bang the drum

A sense of pride and feeling like an adult

Nothing signifies adulthood more than becoming a homeowner, it is the pinnacle of "I am now a responsible adult" and the way you feel about your home changes from how you felt about a rented property. This is now your own space to put your own stamp on it and it's strange how quickly you become somewhat houseproud of that fact and Is say embrace it. Make your home a happy place/

These are a few of the things I have learnt along the way and one thing for sure is while I am excited about the next step we take and the next house we decided to call home one thing is for sure I am not looking forward to the stressful process that is moving, but then who does?

property tips

Associated Post 


Ready for Adventure with Start-Rite


If your a parent you will probably already be familiar with Start-Rite shoes, they are one of the oldest shoe companies in the UK and have graced the feet of Royals since 1955 when a young Prince Charles and his siblings wore them. Over the years some of their styles have had somewhat of a modern upgrade but their reputation for quality well-made shoes hasn't changed so I was really excited when they got in touch to see if my two very active boys would put them to the test. 

As a family we always like to be ready for what the day will hold as we are very active and always doing something whether that's a day trip to a National Trust property or walking up through the forest or heading further afield on a road trip and exploring somewhere completely new to us so the kids footwear has to be able to withstand all of that. 

start-rite shoes
start-rite shoes

My eldest has become pickier over the last year, which is understandable as he is developing his own likes and dislikes when it comes to personal style. He has started getting into things like skateboarding and rock climbing and wanted something that was a bit edgy so I just knew he would like the Flow shoe with an easy to open velcro strap and is also water resistant which comes in hand when your child likes to jump over puddles and streams as mine does. 

When it came to my youngest I was a little bit worried as many do not know this but he was actually born with an extra toe (which has since been removed) but it means he has very wide feet and the majority of the time we struggle to find shoes that fit but start-rite actually stock an array of shoes right up to H. Comfort is especially important for him so these super-soft Leo walker shoes have been a real hit as he can round around with no rubbing or issues.

The main thing is my boys love them and that is the best recommendation I can give especially as my eldest point blank refuses to wear anything that is slightly uncomfortable or a design he doesn't love. We have had the shoes a couple of weeks now and so far no tears in the fabric or stitching coming undone and I am sure they are going to see the boys through some fun adventures this summer. 

Thanks to Start-Rite for sending the shoes. Words 100% my own.