WELCOME TO THE MUMBLES July 2nd 2012 Our insiders guide to Welsh seaside village The Mumbles read more Birthplace to famous poet Dylan Thomas and A-List Welsh sweetheart Catherine Zeta Jones is the beloved Mumbles – a pint sized village with an abundance of charm and just a short drive away from our popular Laura Ashley Swansea store. Last week we caught the train from London to Swansea Central to talk shop + interior styling with Lou the store manager and Kay – the store’s very own passionate design service devotee. Bursting with enthusiasm Lou and Kay showed us around our beautifully presented out of town store (Pontardulais Road Retail Park) and their impressive portfolio of design service completions, before sharing their tips on the local area and fond stories about working for Laura Ashley over the years. With Laura Ashley being a Welsh treasure herself, Lou was telling us all about how young kids still pop into the store today asking the staff questions about Laura, having been set projects by their school to research a successful Welsh entrepreneur! Just one of the reasons why Lou enjoys working at Laura Ashley; getting to meet so many people who truly love the brand. Staying in The Mumbles had us charmed at hello, with it’s adorable independent shops, eateries, castle and not to mention the stretch of coastline views and jaw-dropping walks along the Gower. Sadly the day we went, it was a little misty out to sea so we’re already planning a trip back to what is going down in our black book as one of the friendliest little towns we’ve had the pleasure of staying (cheery smiles all round despite the damp weather). Lou and Kay’s ‘must-visit’ places at the ready, we snapped and sampled Mumbles’ finest spots. Here is our round–up… First stop was the Oystermouth Castle (these pictures don’t quite do it justice as it’s spectacular on a sunny day- take a look here for evidence!). Founded by Willian De Londres of Ogmore Castle in the early 12th century, the hill on which it stands offer pretty views of the Mumbles, with painted home fascias adding a splattering of colour. Pinned up on the visitors board is a whole host of summer events at the castle – everything from storytelling to outdoor theatre. Joe’s Ice Cream Parlour is legendary here in Wales for their irresistible top secret ice cream recipe, created almost a century ago by Joe Cascarini, son of Italian Welsh settler Luigi Cascarini who came over to Swansea from the Abruzzi Mountains back in 1898, during the industrial era. Even the drizzly weather didn’t deter locals away on the day we dropped by. We have to say the proof was in the ice cream which was possibly the best ice cream we’ve ever sampled- it seems the blend of Italian and Welsh flavours is a winner! Settled amongst Mumbles highstreet of small independent shops is Chai Delicatessen & Tea Room where they make their very own range of speciality teas and condiments. Don’t leave without picking up a jar of their delicious homemade jam or chutney… A picturesque walk along the Gower beaches is the star attraction when visiting Swansea. Expect spectacularly clean unspoilt rural coastline, wild ponies and stunning views across Three Cliffs Bay. As quoted in the Independent, the Gower Peninsula’s 50 unspoilt beaches, coves and bays are ‘The Supermodel Of British Beaches’, drawing in the walking enthusiasts and UK surfers in their plenty. It only felt apt that we sampled some of the local seafood along the way, refueling at popular Langland’s Brasserie. We had the special of Moules Marinieres and their famous Lasagne (with 8 hours slow cooked Bolognese) whilst enjoying the sea views… When we tweeted out to our followers on Twitter for recommendations of places to go- more than half a dozen came back with Verdi’s – an Italian restaurant overlooking Swansea Bay. Word on the grape vine was that Jamie Oliver had been filming there just a few weeks previous – if the cuisine is good enough for Jamie it is good for us! Sadly we couldn’t stay for lunch but the home-made pizzas and generous pasta portions had our taste buds twitching…. Tagliatelle al Pesto Genovese at Verdi’s Verdi’s is packed in the summer time- boasting an indoor and outdoor seating capacity of 400 people, with every seat showcasing panoramic views of Swansea Bay. Mumbles Pier just along from Verdi’s. Admittedly the sign doesn’t look like much but Dick Barton’s fish + chippy does the best cod and chunky chips in Swansea, according to Lou who will only get her fish and chips from here (despite a drive). It is also where her parents used to ‘court’ when they were just teenagers- how sweet! Our last stop before catching the train home. Have you been to the Mumbles? Where was your favourite spot? Tweet us @LauraAshley__ Come and see us at the Laura Ashley store in Swansea: Unit 6A, Pontardulais Retail Park, Swansea, SA5 4BA To find out more about the Swansea Design Service please call the store on 0871 223 1592 and ask for designer Kay Cullen or call the main Design Service phone number on 0871 223 155.