Dear Diary

You have found my micro-blog

This part of the blog is a chance for me to scribble down what I get up to in a day. The main Blog does not let me feed you information quickly enough and Twitter is too quick so this is my in-between place, my diary...

Sunday 9th August 2015 - If You Want to be Somebody, If You Want to go Somewhere
"Today feels familiar, much like that line in Harry Potter (Sirius Black: 'It… feels like it did before.') referring to a calm moment before the storm of war. My impending battle is with how much I put of myself into a new (ad)venture. Today no one really knows about the plans, the bakery only exists in the minds of a few people, I need it to exist in the minds of many many people and for all of you to embrace our new business and share in our enthusiasm. I need to wake up and pay attention.

When people ask me what is the measure of my success to date, the honest answer is being an employer. The most challenging aspect of owning your own business is finding people who can do what the business needs (not necessarily what you think it needs) and then you nurturing that talent. Pettigrew Tea Rooms is literally burgeoning with talent and it is a pride and an honour to be in a position to help those people express their talents. The new business' are less about me and more about our small collective of talent.

Our collective will be housed in Pettigrew Bakeries, from our gorgeous traditional shop in the heart of Victoria Park, at the very gates of that park which was created by the Pettigrew family. Our family business has carried their name to help people understand the stunning parks that family created, nothing is more fitting for our new home.

Gareth Davies - Sugarcraft Artist

Sitting here in my front room listening to some calming jazz, I cannot help but feel nervous and excited, yes it feels like it did before and also it is completely different."

Thursday 21st May 2015 - I Want to Bake Free a New Chapter
"Today is a massive day. Rather rudely I have left you out of the build up to this new chapter in the story of baking free. This time around, I had to be very sure and very careful before committing to sharing. I still haven't quite decided how to document the process. This blog feels a little stale now (sorry oh loyal ones), Tumblr is where its at? apparently... I intend to use Youtube more and probably short sharp micro blogging, at least that is the plan anyway.

For now, I owe you at least a teaser of my plans.

Yes I adore all things cake, but my passion has always stemmed from a love of savouries, real bread, pastry and so on. I want to continue my dream to bake free and bring my version of a traditionally fabulous Bakery to Cardiff."

Sunday 18th March 2012 - Exciting Expectations
"The opening date for Pettigrew Tea Rooms has been announced and the response was pretty cool. So all is go for Friday 30th March 2012.

The fit out all went to plan this week [despite finding several challenges] and next week is on track to complete the work.

The staff are in place and on site on Thursday 22nd March to receive an induction and training, the tea and coffee should be arriving then too.

...and I am on BBC Radio Wales at 10am on Tuesday 20th March too! so this should be a full on, but fun week."

Monday 12th March 2012 - Finally, I Am Awake
"...and so the real work begins.

It is 6:15am when my telephone alarm clock gently sounds a haunting melody to bring me up from a light sleep. I am awake and instantly processing information. My mind lurches to take control of the situation, searching for the solution to butterfly's that will dispel my fear. Menu's, rota's, chutneys, milk, recipes, money, cashflow, staffing, training, problems, issues, problems. This is an unusual morning, followed by the remnants of a night time dream in which I did not win the West Lodge and I had no Tea Room. Only time and tea brings the return of confidence as the intensity of experienced fear fades away like an echo that returns, but is lesser with every sip.

This morning I have the keys, I have the lease, I have the Rooms. It is in my power and my plan to craft my business dream, this dream I have dreamt for years, the dream shared by so many, It is 6:15am and I am finally awake."

Saturday 10th March 2012 - Momentous Momentum
"This is an important update to my story. Yesterday evening on the 9th March 2012 I signed my part in a contract with Bute Park & Arboretum to provide a traditional Tea Rooms experience at the West Lodge, Castle Street, Cardiff and there was much rejoicing. There are many important milestones as I reflect on the past couple of years, but I believe none quite so significant as the signing of the lease yesterday evening.

I now have access to the West Lodge and can begin my installation and realisation of the vision for Pettigrew Tea Rooms. Later this morning I will take my first wander around the building with a legal right to be there. I may cry. Even better Lee has not been inside West Lodge since before the building work commenced, today I get to show him around too.

So next weekend I will announce the date for the Grand Opening of Pettigrew Tea Rooms... and in honour of this I am today adding a... wait for it... COUTDOWN TIMER to the blog! [for those of you following for a while you will know of my fondness for teasing with countdown timers]. So stay tuned this week for updates."

Thursday 8th March 2012 - The Big Order
"This morning I am making payment on my largest order for the Tea Rooms. This is the biggest commitment to the project and my own capital. If anything makes this 'real' then this purchase is it. You may have come across Nisbets if you have worked in hospitality. They supply everything you could need to set up a business and all available from their catalogue. My order is placed this morning for delivery next Tuesday!"

Tuesday 6th March 2012 - Mise en Place
"There still seems like so much to do before I can officially open the doors of Pettigrew Tea Rooms and trade. Sadly there is no time to reflect on how far I have come since first deciding to open this business. Excitement is still winning out over fear, although I am nervous at being so near to getting in the building and fitting my equipment.

This final week before getting on site is all about mise en place and today is no different. I have a 9:30am meeting with a local insurance broker followed by a 10am meeting with my builder and then the rest of the day is set aside to plan project fit out. All this planning should mean that when you come in for a slice of cake and a cup of tea, rather than being scolded with hot water by ill trained staff who have run out of cake, it will be the relaxing experience that makes you want to tell your friends and come back time and again... well that is the plan anyway."
or Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance

Wednesday 29th February 2012 - 'Till We Meet Again
"Last day of February and I have an approximate date for getting into the West Lodge. It looks like I can get in to the building on the 8th March and start my fit out plans. That gives me 7 full days before I fall into the rabbit hole.

Yesterday I met the divine Angharad from Buzz magazine and was able to sneak her onto the West Lodge site for a preview of the Tea Rooms. It is now really coming along and I can actually picture what the rooms will look like when they are finished.

Also yesterday, I took receipt of a till and began the fun job of learning how it works and programming it. As a geek, I actually loved it!"

Tuesday 28th February 2012 - One of Those Days
"Today will consist of; the final interview for a baker, meeting with the lovely Angharad from Buzz Magazine, visiting West Lodge, collecting a till register and meeting the extra lovely Jane from Cardiff Castle. In between there are lots of very dull administrative things to get done.

Also working on several restoration projects for furniture, including another glass display cabinet and some rather beautiful tables. I am hoping very much to have a firm timetable to opening the Tea Rooms in place by the end of the week. Here's hoping eh?"

Thursday 23rd February 2012 - Cardiff Metropolitan University
"This morning I have been asked to give a guest lecture at the Cardiff Metropolitan University [formerly UWIC and formerly my university] on the subject of Social Media. You may have spotted that I am quite a fan of new fangled communication tools. Blogging, Tweeting, Facebook-ing,, Pinterest, I have even looked at Tumblr! [although it blew my mind and seems to be mainly for youngsters to flirt]

So with great pleasure I am going to extol the virtues and discuss the downsides of all that is Social Media as I have discovered it in the last two years from telling you my story.

Today consists of, cycling, lecturing, cycling, procuring, interviewing, interviewing, interviewing and Clandestine Cake Club - Cardiff. It is varied, busy and I love it!

I have finalised the logo choices for you and will be unveiling _________ Tea Rooms very shortly. No countdown this time though, I promise."

Tuesday 21st February 2012 - The List of Lost Lists
"To do lists are my defence against forgetfulness. I have never been marvellous at remembering names, numbers, faces or detail [yes it is a miracle I worked in hospitality for over a decade] and so I have to concentrate to remember. My coping mechanism is to write everything down. I have a list for shopping, list for birthdays, list for the neighbours names and a lists of lists for the business. The running joke amongst my friends is that I have a list of the lists I have lost... I do not. After all, I have a list of lists and never lost one yet.

There is nothing quite so satisfying as crossing your way through an entire list, particularly when you are working in isolation for the majority of the day. Part of my mini meltdown last week came from the length of list vs the amount crossed off. I found myself adding with little of the fun of completion.

This week is different. Things are finally getting completed and I am confidently making informed decisions. Decision paralysis is another beauty I wasn't quite so prepared to meet in project management. I knew there was a problem when I found myself staring at the breakfast cereal unable to choose which was the RIGHT one to eat. Not which one did I want, but which one was the most efficient, cost effective, would last the longest, would not over deliver or worse under deliver and of course which one would do the best job. Step away from the breakfast cereal!

As I said, this week is different. I am nearly logo a go go, which is rather exciting and I will keep to my word of letting you vote for your favourite. The name of the Tea Rooms comes hand in hand with the logo and so that announcement is really the next milestone. Keep checking back as I will aim to unveil that this very week."

Saturday 18th February 2012 - Only Human
"I tweeted today alluding to what a hard week it has been. I am not a particularly emotionally volatile person and certainly not prone to extreme swings of mood, but this week like a carbonated drink or a busting dam, I was shaken up and had to let my emotion burst out. You may have been expecting this, particularly if you are in business yourself, but my response has come from my realisation that this is happening and that if I am going to do it, I need to do it right.

No matter how high your expectations are of this business mine are probably higher. For a long time this has been no bad thing. I am doing this on my own [with some amazing support of course] but day in day out it is just me and I can see how people burn out. So now I am learning a new skill, which is to decide what can wait for another day, what has to happen to open and what is out of my own control. Speaking as a teeny bit of a control freak this actually pains me, but some things will be out of my control.

Now I am calm in control and confident that I will make this a success. There is a lot to do and I have already done a lot. I am excited, nervous and slightly manic at the moment and from all my reading, this is entirely normal. I am testing myself, my limits and learning what I can do. A hard week done and an exciting one about to begin."

Thursday 16th February 2012 - Little Things
"The move in date to the Tea Rooms is fast approaching. After what has been a long patient wait all of a sudden there simply are not enough hours in the day. This seems to be the way of starting a small business. Rather than completing I am prioritising, what can not be done must wait. My rather brilliant accountant recommended a book to me and as he is one of my key advisers I am reading it.

The book is rather well known in the small business World and is called 'The E-Myth Revisited Why Most Small Business Don't Work and What to Do About It' by Michael Gerber. I am half way through and I believe the books aim is to help small business owners understand their own behaviour when running a business, through the various development stages of that business' cycle. It highlights many common pitfalls in business start ups that turn some peoples dreams into their personal nightmares.

I have read similar books before, but there is something about reading this book right now as I observe the various personality traits as described by Mr Gerber playing out in my day to day life. I have the vision of an entrepreneur the desire to ensure systems are in place and the business runs smoothly like a manager and the hunger to get my hands dirty in the daily work of the operation. There is much to do right now in this business to get it moving and it is good to have some of the pitfalls fresh in my mind so I can make every effort to avoid falling into them.

The positivity in this book is in how it explains that running your own business can be a dynamic and exciting venture. If you own a small business and maybe do not enjoy it then this book is for you, if you are planning on starting a business because you hate your job and think you can do it better than your boss then this book is for you.

My favourite quote so far comes at the beginning of the book when the Author is describing some of the attributes of good business people he has met. He talks about their ability to see the power of 'little things done exactly right'. If ever there was a mission statement for a brilliant Tea Rooms it has to be that phrase. This will be our mission statement and what we strive for in all we do."

Monday 13th February 2012 - The Room of Doom
"I need to get cracking on the detail of setting up the Tea Rooms now. The weekend was dedicated to auditing what I already have and tidying the aptly named 'Room of Doom' so that it is at least accessible. Everyone has a 'Room of Doom'. It maybe your study, garage, attic, under the stairs or perhaps as small as that drawer that barely opens. This is the place that has too many things, collected over time, and ensures that moving house is the second most stressful National activity.

My Room of Doom is also a treasure trove, Aladdin's Cave filled with unopened boxes of crockery, china, glass, crystal, cutlery, tables, chairs, sideboards and other assorted auction/charity shop finds from the past five years or more. I have lived in perfect harmony with this room balancing my obsessive desire to organise this hellish stacked room that can barely be accessed, with the calming confidence that there is forgotten treasure in this space that will guarantee the week prior to opening my Tea Rooms is a sheer delight.

We popped in to the room now formally known as the 'Room of Doom' yesterday to find a table that needs repairing. Six hours later this room has been tamed! Boxes were not explored, just shuffled, better stacked and labelled. Gum Tree has been laden with local listings, the charity shop can expect a box of bric-a-brac and the restoration projects are now at the front of the space demanding my full attention.

My little secret is that I have two more 'Satellite Rooms of Doom' elsewhere in the country specifically filled with Tea Rooms furniture. For now, I enter a rather busy week with a sense of achievement already notched up. The kettle is on and today is all about insurance... it's not all a party!

There will be a competition coming this week by hook or by crook so keep checking."

Sunday 12th February 2012 - I am Cardiffian
"Friday 10th February 2012 was the day that I revealed to the World the news that I have the honour of becoming the first proprietor of the historic West Lodge in Bute Park, Cardiff City Centre. My name will now be associated with this building and the park which is an incredible honour and a great responsibility.

Among all the wonderful support that I received on Friday and well wishes, I was also asked to whip up a guest blog for The Cardiffian introducing myself and the story of why I am starting a Tea Rooms. Read the full post HERE."

Thursday 9th February 2012 - What's in a Name?
"I Want to Bake Free is kind of catchy. I hope that many of you sing the first line of the famous Queen song over and over when you visit my blog and then for the rest of the day. 11.7 million people have watched the iconic music video on Youtube and it still raises a smile from me. This name came to me out of the blue one day back in 2009 when I sat down to write this blog.

Picking a name for my Tea Rooms is a tough choice made even tougher by how right I Want to Bake Free is. You may have spotted that I am sometimes a perfectionist. My mild OCD ensures that if I am not happy with something I generally cannot proceed until it is fixed. This means that selecting a name for my business has become my latest 2am wake up stress.

I have a short list. If West Lodge is to go ahead, as we will all find out tomorrow [AGHHH], then I will ask you to vote for your favourite. If it doesn't then I have some more time to think about it. Now turn your volume up get the vacuum cleaner out and start dancing..."

Wednesday 8th February 2012 - 30
"I turned 30 on Monday. You won't find age clichés and lamenting here, only recognition that time fly's. I was 27 when I made the decision to start my own business and 3 years on I am very close to obtaining that desire. This week I will be able to share with you whether West Lodge is to be the home for my Tea Rooms or not. If not it may be time to re-think my plans altogether.

So on Friday morning the 10th February 2012 at 07:30am I will tell you what is happening. I should find out myself in writing on Thursday, this gives me time to collect my thoughts and write a blog post. I will put up a countdown timer later today, because I LOVE THEM!

P.s. I hear tell of a SUPER AWESOME competition too... watch this space... and tell your friends."
My sister made me a 30th birthday cake!
Saturday 4th February 2012 - Venue News This Week
"OK I understand that I will be getting venue news before the end of next week. I will be of course sharing that with you live. I expect that it will come in the form of a letter and it will either say 'well done' or 'sorry'. So this is a nail biting time.

In the meantime I am carrying on as if the news will be positive. That means coming next week...
  • Branding Ideas
  • Logos
  • Recruitment - Waiting Staff
  • Procurement
I can only take this so far until I get some confirmation, you will be first to know!"

Thursday 2nd February 2012 - History, Chance and Passion
"A good news story has come about that I would like to share with you. The proposed venue for my Tea Rooms is the West Lodge building at the entrance to Bute Park on Castle Street. Work is proceeding at a pace on the building and the careful development should be complete very soon. I hope to hear very shortly after this if I have been successful in my tender.

The story is about the floor of the main tea rooms, where a chance discussion following a magnificent discovery means that important historic artworks are being given a new lease of life. If I am lucky I could be the custodian, read the article HERE"

Wednesday 1st February 2012 - Thank Goodness for Leap Years
"February is all set to be a busy month, with news of the West Lodge due any day I am carrying on as if the news will be positive in order to meet the tight turnaround to opening this business. Recruitment is at the forefront of my mind knowing that I need to find the right people who really understand what I am trying to create.

Today I am meeting some of those people for a chat to find out more about them and share my thoughts on the jobs that will become available. Creating jobs is very cool and one of the proudest outputs of this project. Not only do I get to live my dream, but I am able to give work to other people that I hope is fun and fulfilling for them.

Oh and the big 3.0. is in a few days, I am intending on keeping so very busy that I forget all about it..."

Saturday 28th January 2012 - So Over Waiting
"I have never been very good at waiting. When I was a little boy Christmas, Birthdays, School Holidays, the Weekend, the end of a school lesson all seemed so far away. I have developed patience with age but that is just a mental state which allows me to present a calm exterior. Inside I am shouting to get confirmation for this stunning venue HERE.

I can tell you that I have done all that I can to secure the West Lodge, now we all have to wait a little longer to find out the news. To provide me with a distraction and because there will be so much to do when I do get confirmation, I am going to proceed with planning those jobs that will take some time. First things first, recruitment and a brand.

Next week I will draw up some job specifications and adverts. I will need someone AWESOME who loves to bake, some PASSIONATE & BRILLIANT serving staff and anyone who wants to talk to me about joining my dream and changing their life. If this is you or someone you know then email me, do it now!"

Thursday 26th January 2012
"Wow yesterday was a little crazy for me. In a really good way. I had 1280 pageviews of the blog in one day and pretty much exclusively driven through Facebook and Twitter. That is unprecedented for me and I am beaming today from ear to ear. I am so touched by how interested you have all been in my project. That is quite enough of that. Now down to business, today is another big day... I will tell you why soon." 

Tuesday 24th January 2012 Part 7 - The Venue Elephant in The Room
"Well you may say that I have been a bit of a tease when it has come to news about this venue and you would be right. I will be rather sad when the secret is no more, but it has been enormous fun getting to this point. I have maintained all along that this venue is worth the wait, tomorrow you can tell me if you agree.

Tomorrow morning I will post the name of the venue that I have been tendering for over the past weeks along with pictures and a few of the plans that I have if I win it. I do have to stress that I will not know until sometime in the next fortnight if I am successful in my tender, but the secret will be out and you will learn my fate as I do.

If I confirm this venue then the real work will begin very quickly and the wonderful support that you have shown in reading my blog will be repaid by a live day by day reveal of setting up this tea room and all that that involves. I will be aiming to open my business as quickly as possible and that will make the coming weeks fast paced, exciting and I am sure a little stressful. I hope that by the end of March, beginning of April, we will all be taking tea together and looking back while laughing at all this uncertainty.

I cannot tell you just how excited I am by the prospect, this is by far the bravest and most adventurous thing I have done in my life. By doing this now I feel like I have steered the course of my life into new waters that I cannot predict. Maybe I will look back in ten years and feel very differently, but right now this feels right and like the only decision that I could have made for mine and my families future.

So I hope to see you here tomorrow for the full venue details. Bring some friends! I have enjoyed record readership this week so tell everybody you know, especially you Cardiff folks!

Have a brilliant day.


Monday 23rd January 2012 Part 6 - HLF Bute Park Restoration Project
"This morning I thought it would be nice to highlight the amazing work going on in Bute Park, as it is currently undergoing a £5.6 million restoration project, supported by a £3.1 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). This will restore some important historic features, provide new facilities and help tell the story of Bute Park. This information is taken from

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Latest News
A new Education Centre has been built within the site of the existing plant nursery. This exciting new facility will support in house training of horticultural staff and apprentices, be the base for educational visits, offer a wealth of guides and information for family and tourist visits to the park, and provide additional refreshment and toilet facilities.

What's happening during the project?
Summerhouse Kiosk: Echoing the design of the original William Burges summerhouse in the park, the new Summerhouse Kiosk (completed May 2010), provides much needed refreshment and toilet facilities in one of the busiest parts of the park.

Animal Wall: Completed Oct 2010, the iconic William Burges landmark was cleaned and conserved for the delight of residents and visitors.

Blackfriars Friary: Scheduled for 2012, work will be undertaken to conserve and interpret the medieval Friary remains, and the late Victorian interpretation of the original building plan.

West Lodge: The restoration and extension of this historic landmark will provide a visitor information/orientation point, refreshment and retail facilities, as well as additional public toilets within the park.

Mill Leat: Scheduled for 2012, reintroduction of water to the old castle moat that runs alongside the original 12th century mill stream will restore beautiful views and enhance the character of the park to the west of Cardiff Castle.

Bute Park Arboretum: Improved signage and interpretation will allow increased awareness and understanding of the park's nationally significant tree collection.

Nursery Educational and Training Centre: Now built! This new facility discretely located within Bute Park Nursery, and playing on the concept of a "secret garden", will be the hub of the park's public education programme. The Council's horticultural staff will train here, and it will provide additional refreshment and toilet facilities.

Improved access, facilities and management: The park north gate is now closed to vehicular traffic and the Castle north gate open to pedestrians wishing to access the park via the Castle. This has re-united Cardiff Castle with its parklands. Signage, seating and interpretation will be improved throughout the park and an increased staff presence will make usage more enjoyable for all. Furthermore, nature conservation/biodiversity will be encouraged in the park through improved tree maintenance, replacement and landscape management. The park is maintained by a dedicated team of Park Rangers and gardeners based on site. Announcement coming on Wednesday morning so stay tuned!"

Sunday 22nd January 2012 Part 5 - The Marquess of Bute
"Continuing this short series in the build up to Wednesday's venue announcement, I would like to introduce you to an interesting title by way of a short history lesson.

John Crichton-Stuart, born 1847 and died 1900, was the 3rd to hold the title of Marquess of Bute. He was a landed aristocrat, industrial magnate, antiquarian, scholar, philanthropist and arch itectural patron. Residing in Cardiff Castle with his family in 1873 the Marquess had his head gardener Andrew Pettigrew to layout what is now known as Bute Park. It is 130 acres of landscaped gardens and parkland that once formed the grounds of Cardiff Castle.

The 5th Marquess of Bute presented the park to the Council in 1947 and the park is still owned and managed by Cardiff Council. Straddling the River Taff, Bute Park offers a combination of arboretum, flower gardens and recreation grounds. Most of the park is laid to grassland but there is also an abundance of woodland and tree-lined avenues. The castle begins the park in the city centre.

Within the park there are sculptures such as wood carvings formed from retained tree stumps. An ironwork sundial, originally placed in the park in 1990 after a Festival of Iron event, was removed in 2006 and replaced by a small round formal garden to honour Stuttgart (Cardiff's German twin-town.) This feature was designed by the Parks Service in Stuttgart and planted by horticultural apprentices from both cities as part of a programme of exchange visits between the two parks departments.

The dock feeder canal runs along the eastern edge of the park. Its origins go back to medieval times when it was a millstream, constructed to feed the Lord's Mill, situated below the western walls of Cardiff Castle. This line is clearly seen on the Bute Estate Maps of 1824. In 1833, the line of the mill stream was incorporated as a water source for the development of the Cardiff Docks by the 2nd Marquess of Bute and was reformed as the dock feeder when the docks were constructed 1836-1841. The dock feeder is still the main water supply to the port of Cardiff.

I like Bute Park a lot."

Saturday 21st January 2012 - Part 5 What To Do in the 'Diff
"According to Tripadvisor these are the top 6 visitor attractions in and around the City of Cardiff.
  1. In at number 1 is St Fagans: National History Museum
  2. The more recent Wales Millennium Centre is at number 2
  3. The lovely Victorian Roath Park is at home at number 3
  4. Number 4 is the Impressive Millennium Stadium
  5. The classic National Museum & Art Gallery holds the number 5 spot
  6. Number 6 of the 58 attractions listed is the stunning Bute Park which runs through the very heart of the city.
Did you know that Bute Park has ambition to become one of the top 5 visitor attractions not only of Cardiff but of Wales?"

Friday 20th January 2012 - Part 4 Why Cardiff?
"To help with context, I am going to tell you a little bit about the city that I live in. Cardiff is a vibrant City with a population estimated at 341,100. I live in the West part of the city just a short stroll from the centre of town. Having spent a decade or so working in the City I have seen the pace of development and experienced the positivity that has driven Cardiff to become a World class destination for business and tourism alike. 

Cardiff is a fun place not taking itself too seriously and demonstrating a great optimism with a 'can do' attitude at all levels; from public services, to private investments. The humour and pride of the nation is magnified in the Capital City and although light-hearted there is a resilience, power and determination here which can be best reflected by the National Rugby team. I defy any British person who didn't will Wales on at the Rugby World cup in 2011 after their teams had left the competition. 

So the City is where I want to be and where I want to continue to work. However, as a thriving place for shoppers, tourists and day trippers alike, the commercial property in this area is usually priced at a premium making it unviable for a small business such as mine to be located here. Oh and also I dream of a view, beautiful gardens, countryside and green space. If you could bundle both these things together, with reasonable lease rates, I would be a very happy person... indeed. [SEE HERE]

Cardiff STEAM visitor Survey 2010: 16,647 day visitors come to Cardiff. Almost a third (32%) of all visitors were from Wales, 42% from England and 26% from overseas. Visitors from overseas were most likely to have come from mainland Europe (42%), USA/Canada (20%), the Far East and Australia/New Zealand (11% each). SourceSteam Report 2010 & Cardiff Visitor Survey 2010"

Thursday 19th January 2012 - Part 3 Sliding Doors
"Morning all, yesterday I used the 'T' word for the first time here, on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Now I have broken my silence about the tender, it is only fair that I tell you a little bit more about the process and give you some idea on timeline.

First stage of the tender closed on Friday 13th, you can imagine my face when that date was revealed. The few people who did know about the tender, upon hearing that date would go 'ooooh' and pull a worried expression. I am not a superstitious chap by nature, however being a realist I made sure that my submission was made in advance of the deadline date.

The next stage of the tender will be coming up sometime next week and I will let you know more about that as I can. So you can see that despite all of this planning and preparation this venue is not 'in the bag'. Even the longest journey starts with a step and I have been hot stepping for weeks. If I am successful I will open the doors to trade sometime in March and February will be spent, procuring, recruiting and preparing!

So in a very 'Sliding Doors' way I will publicly announce here whether I am successful with this venue. If I am then I will be living the most exciting dream, that from all the support and messages you have sent me is shared by many of you. If I am unsuccessful then... 1.) I go back to venue searching, 2.) I will probably have to go back to my previous career at least for a little while, 3.) I turn 30 on the 6th February. Suffice to say each of these 3 points fills me with a little dread.

So cross your fingers, legs, and eyes for me in the coming week. More cryptic venue hints to follow before next Wednesday. Thanks for the love and tell a friend about me, I need all the positive thoughts I can get."


Wednesday 18th January 2012 - Part 2 Love Me Tender
"The search for a venue has dominated this project from day one. I felt like I had tried everything, including finding and almost securing a stunning Victorian Coaching House in Pontcanna [SEE HERE]. Upon losing this venue and almost all hope I stumbled upon plans of a conversion project happening in Cardiff.

Today I can tell you why I have had to keep this secret. Like most commercial property opportunities there will be interest from other parties and in the case of this venue I knew there would be plenty of interest. As more people were reading this blog and following me on Twitter, I realised that I couldn't start blabbing about this venue, no matter how much I wanted to.

So I found myself entering into a competitive tender process. That tender has now been completed, submitted and is being appraised on its merits. I have no idea how many other business' have submitted a tender, but I do know that the process has been fair and I can wish for no more. At some point you just have to be better than the competition. So as I reveal this venue in little under 7 days from now it will probably still be undecided if I am to be the tenant. The secrecy however will be done with and you will find out my success or failure as I do."


Tuesday 17th January 2012 - Part 1 Before The Countdown Begins
"MORNING! you patient patient people. At some point today I will adding a lovely little countdown clock to my blog. Many of you will be aware that I have been hiding a secret potential Tea Room venue up my giant cyber sleeves [SEE HERE].

Well it doesn't have to be a secret any more although as nothing is confirmed quite yet I am feeling a little coy. As you have all been so beautifully patient with me, I am going to give you more information about the context of what makes this venue SO amazing every day until the grand reveal in a full blog post when the countdown finishes... DO NOT MISS THAT!

The countdown will start today and END at 7:30am on Wednesday 25th January 2012. Please note, NOTHING is confirmed so this venue could still slip away from me, but that is the nature of this very special beast."

Sunday 15th January 2012
"Unexpectedly sometimes you just stumble across things that you like. Today I stumbled across and their rather delicious presse drinks while investigating a Tea Rooms in Tintern. If you haven't tried them, you should and hopefully sometime soon at my Tea Rooms in Cardiff."

Wednesday 11th January 2012
"A perk of this project is the occasional opportunity to spend some money on procurement. Today I set out to the first auction of the year in Ross-on-Wye with a brief for all things tea room. I am delighted to welcome, a tipping teapot, some 1950's porcelain, a priory table and a stunning Monmouthshire glass display cabinet to the Tea Room family."

Monday 9th January 2012
"Busy day/week on the tea room front. LMT due soon. Victoria Sponge baking later today as a reward and to relax. Ross-on-Wye Auctions on Wednesday to do some serious table and glass display cabinet purchasing."

Friday 6th January 2012
"The Christmas tree is gone and the house is tidy. The venue update is coming at the end of next week and there is a LOT of work going on behind the scenes. I am literally dying to share with you... alas I still cannot. All will become clear I promise! On the up-side early signs of Spring are all around, if you look."

Wednesday 4th January 2012
"GO and buy the South Wales Echo NOW!! Open it to the centre page and there I am! Very exciting... If you want to read it on-line then CLICK HERE."

Tuesday 3rd January 2012
"We are 10 days away from the end of secrecy. Bring Back Don't ask Don't Tell. NEW DATE OF ANNOUNCEMENT SET FOR 25th January 2012 *UPDATED 17/01/12"

Sunday 1st January 2012
"True to form I rang in the New Year in a Tea Room. What I particularly like is the amount of Clotted Cream served with the scone. You should NEVER have to ask for more cream. Also bought a beautiful tall cake dome I am thinking croquembouche"

Saturday 31st December 2011
"NEW YEARS EVE! Goodbye 2011 and all those other lovely trite clichés! For me it is a slightly scary point. It has been a long wait to get to this point and now time seems to be flying past. I will be seeing in the New Year listening and partying with friends and loved ones to this ... CLICK HERE, TURN IT UP AND DANCE!"

Friday 30th December 2011
"The ONLY place for New Years Eve is St Ives Cornwall. We've been taking in the best of the South West. Fresh pasties, crab sandwiches, Plymouth Gins, warm pub fires all by the sea. Tomorrow is fancy dress all the way!"

Wednesday 28th December 2011
"Off to the Plymouth Gin Tour today! It could get messy. I will of course be drinking from a tea cup"

Tuesday 27th December 2011
"Well I had a wonderful family Christmas and I hope that you did to. Welcome to any new blog viewers over the holidays. I took a few days off to relax and accidentally destroyed almost every image on here! So today has been spent going through every post I have ever written... Wow I know how you new followers must feel reading this all from scratch."

Friday 23rd December 2011
"Secret Santa arrived courtesy of the DIVINE @sherbetshack coordinated by the equally divine @weeklybakeoff. Sorry that there is no finesse to this movie it is the Directors cut :o)"


Thursday 22nd December 2011
"Today is and will forever be #HamDay! Check out via Twitter. Pictures to follow right here."

Wednesday 21st December 2011
"The Great British Baking Club is now all grown up. I along with some awesome fellow Twitterers set up a community blog where we share posts about baking, recipes and chat in the forum. Today the blog has surpassed my own blog with visitors and that is since launching on 7th November 2011! Awesome please go check it out and join in the forums!"

Tuesday 20th December 2011
"2012 is but 11 days away and this is the year to stop dreaming. I am more than a little excited about the New Year, I hope you have some good resolution to make too."

Saturday 17th December 2011
"Awesome weekend break away from all things tea room, although baking still featured. A group of friends have a food competition twice a year and at the first Festive Feed we joined myself and the lovely @leep84 won both categories. Lee in the cocktail category for his stunning take on a Delia classic Champagne Jelly & me in the canapé category for some Traditional Cornish Cocktail Pasties. It is just for fun... VICTORY LAP!"

Friday 16th December 2011
"I won a competition by quoting Steel Magnolias! Delighted. go take a look at these young lads journey!"

Wednesday 14th December 2011
"I am painfully aware that I have been keeping you in the dark regarding my potential venue. All I can say is that there is a very very good reason for this. When a little shop comes up in Cardiff, even in these difficult days, if the price and location is good they get snapped up. I have been planning this tea room for 18 months now and intend to see it open and trade beyond the current baking trend. To do this there is no point in rushing into a venue decision. I will have more detail in the form of a blog post that will explain the venue, to be published in the second week of January. Thank you for your patience."

Tuesday 13th December 2011
"Today the folks from @beebeesmedia are coming to film me for their series Bake Britain. Through the wonders of Twitter and my involvement in the Great British Baking Club, Andy found I Want to Bake Free and today is my interview day. I am rolling out the Victoria Sandwich!"

Monday 12th December 2011
"It is out today #LMT"

Saturday 10th December 2011
"The day finally arrived and WHAT an awesome day it was at the Chapter Festive Food Fair. The figures speak for themselves... 4500 people through the doors at Chapter, 100 new followers to @want2bakefree, 61 entries to the competition, 4 amazing volunteers and over £150 raised by us for LATCH."

Friday 9th December 2011
"Lovely photographer came by today to take photos of my in bizarre and very unnatural feeling poses for the article in the south Wales Echo. Not sure when it's going in, but will absolutely let you know!!"

Thursday 8th December 2011
"Today was an intense day making 60 gingerbread houses from scratch! the highlight of the day though was the lovely Eric Lanlard tweeting that they were 'a lovely idea' great stuff."

Wednesday 7th December 2011
"Last day of working in Hotels today and I am marking the occasion by having a lovely chat with a chap called Alun... this is a very very very good thing, see Friday 2nd Dec..."

Tuesday 6th December 2011
"in the spirit of twitter today's update is 120 characters in long. Today I reached 1000 followers since my first tweet on 21st August. Magic"

Monday 5th December 2011
"Monday of my last week working in Gloucester with the lovely Hallmark Hotels. I have had 8 weeks working for the group helping to launch their stunning 4 star hotel following 3.5million investment. Great fun, new friends made but am now ready [again] to strike out on my own. Last day Wednesday!"

Saturday 3rd December 2011 and Sunday 4th December 2011
"It has been production overdrive to supply the festive gifts for the Chapter Food Fair on Saturday. The results are great, I never want to see another peppermint cream in my life!"

Friday 2nd December 2011
"BIG development today but I can't tell you what. Sorry for even mentioning it, but I need a record to link back to for when I do tell you! On a more informative note today was spent establishing the Clandestine Cake Club - Cardiff. Date for the first meeting TBC, but I think we have a venue..."

Thursday 1st December 2011
"A nice way to start December you lovely people took 3500 views of my blog in November. Happy days. today I am off to Bristol to pick up my exciting 'I Want to Bake Free' goodies for the Chapter Festive Food Fair on Saturday 10th Dec. Take a look the competition running on the day HERE."

Wednesday 30th November 2011
"Not being one to shirk off a challenge, I have decided to start up the Cardiff chapter of the Clandestine Cake Club to first meet in January 2012. If you haven't already go and have a look HERE. Oh and the Western Mail & Echo want to write about me! Whoop, more details to follow..."

Tuesday 29th November 2011
"I am a big fan of auctions. You may have spotted that from some of my past posts. So I couldn't miss the opportunity to go to Newport Auctions today to look around the contents of a closed down cafe. You may know of Tiffany's in Newport the bar/cafe. To be honest it was really very sad to see the contents of someone else's livelihood laid out and sold off for pennies. Setting that aside I didn't find any bargains but will be heading back to the auctions in the coming weeks so will keep you posted!"

Monday 28th November 2011
"Just confirmed an interview with Andy from BeeBees Media who are in the middle of filming a series called Bake Britain showcasing some of us crazy baking people. Hopefully I will be included in series 2."

Sunday 27th November 2011
"To accompany the Christmas Scones we were thinking mini Victoria Sponge's the size of cupcakes. Nicely traditional but quirky. Let the Viccy Sponge tray bake challenge commence... PLUS just broke the 3000 pageviews per month on the blog, whoop!"

Saturday 26th November 2011
"Today we tested Holly's [from Great British Bake Off Series2] Christmas Scone recipe which can be found HERE. The recipe is perfect to we will sell these little beauties at the Chapter Festive Food Fair on Sat 10th December. A festive taste of the tea room served with jam and clotted cream, mmm."

Friday 25th November 2011
"Reached 900 followers on Twitter today. WOW thats since 21st August 2011. :o) Thank you! I have been thinking for a while about this Chapter Arts Festive Food Festival on Saturday 10th December. I have decided today to give away all profits to the Children's Charity LATCH in Wales. It seems like a small thing I can do, but well worth it. Now my brain is thinking of fundraising ideas to make them as much money as I can, hmmm."

Thursday 24th November 2011
"An inspirational day today of meeting fellow 'Twitterers' in Cardiff. First off was the EVER SO lovely @UrLastMouthful Nikki. Nikki is starting the YourLastMouthful Restaurant reviewing site in early 2012 following her dream to turn her passion in food into a living. Very inspirational and I think we could have chatted for hours! Second up was the EQUALLY ever so lovely @MabJones Mab Jones, who is a fabulously talented Poet and Comedian. We talked cake! particularly Vegan cake... exciting plans a foot."

Wednesday 23rd November 2011
"Another cool day, I was invited to lecture to 2nd year Hospitality Management students at Cardiff Met University [my old Uni] and so today I went and stood in front of 30 strangers and lectured. I loved it! They seemed to enjoy it too picked up some new Twitter followers from among them."

Tuesday 22nd November 2011
"I own the Trademark for I Want to Bake Free and I also now own the domain too! Very happy man today. Think I will drop Media Wales a line and see if they want to write about Tea Rooms..."

Monday 21st November 2011
"@Leep84 took part this morning in the Absolute Radio Man Bake live on air. Unfortunately he came last, after being marked down for putting sultanas in his carrot cake cup cakes [clearly the judge was odd]. Great plug for the blog though! Well done Lee. Listen along about 25 minutes in"

Saturday 19th November 2011
"WOW another really exciting interview I gave to a great local food blogger in Cardiff is here really lovely to speak to so many nice people, must watch what I say though they take down every word! LOL"

Friday 18th November 2011
"Exciting day today I was interviewed on BBC Radio Wales by the very lovely Jamie Owen. I will get the interview up on the website sometime next week, in the meantime you can listen here about 1 hour 15 minutes in"

Thursday 17th November 2011
"Has anyone bought Cardiff Life yet? I have made it into the news section apparently... anyway off to buy my new Galaxy Nexus phone. This IS tearoom related it makes me 150% more productive :o)"

Wednesday 16th November 2011
"Another exciting day for the project today. I have uploaded the results of my Tea Tasting with the WI of Newton Ferrers AND have been invited onto the Jamie and Louise magazine show this Friday morning on BBC Radio Wales to talk about the project. WHOOP, very very exciting."
Favourite Twitter quote EVER @UK_in_UK "cake w/out cream is like a kiss w/out a squeeze"

Tuesday 15th November 2011
"THE EVER SO LOVELY @RachaelHogg from @alt_cardiff has written about my adventures HERE I ACTUALLY love her!"

Monday 14th November 2011
"I chased for news on my dream venue today. Looks like it will still be Mid-January until I know for sure, watch this space. The REALLY good news however is that I can officially confirm that 'I Want to Bake Free' will be taking one of the very sought after stands at the 2011 Chapter Christmas Food Fair on Saturday 11th December! I will have some more news about this soon, but I want to meet as many of you as possible on the day! I will be selling Christmas gifts, fabulous tea and some afternoon treats."

Sunday 13th November 2011
"Today is a 'day-off' with Lee in Newton Ferrers following a fantastically successful tea tasting. We welcomed 22 special ladies to my mums cottage to get some expert opinions on my preferred tea supplier. The results will form a new Blog post coming this week. Also of note today was a rather good email from the fabulous people at Cardiff Life who are putting something about me into next weeks issue... we wait to see what."


  1. Loved hearing you on BBC Radio Wales. You did real well and didn't sound nervous at all :) Good luck with the opening.

    PS Thanks for the Tweet acknowledgement :D

  2. Ditto the comments above, I'm sure Louise will love the carrot cake on Monday, that is if she can find any left in the studio! Hope to be able to get across to Chapter on the 10th. Our home is alive with the smell of barabrith and carrot cake as Cath has been baking for Pudsy, she made £25 in the Working Links Bridgend cake sale, so well done Cath. Maybe I can convince her to bring some barabrith over to the Chapter, it's her nannas recipe and is appropriately titled "smashing barabrith"


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