09/52 My Sunday Photo: 26/02/2017

my sunday photo
This week’s picture comes from our visit a week ago to Cardiff Castle. We had a lovely day out and visited the castle after lunch for a spot of dragon hunting. I had to stop to take this picture of the Norman Keep.
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Photalife

Techniquest Toddler Day – Our Visit in July

At the beginning of July I took BattleKid into Cardiff and we met a friend and her little boy and we took to the two boys to the Techniquest Toddler Day. Once a month, during term-time, pre-school children have the run of the exhibits with activities on a special theme. Activities include:

  • Drawing,
  • Colouring and
  • Making something to take home.

The day myself and S took our toddler boys to the Techniquest Toddler Day, the theme was Under the Sea. We arrived after 11am as S had a hospital appointment and when we arrived Techniquest was heaving with toddlers, prams and stressed-looking parents. We paid our entrance fee, parked our buggies in the designated area and put the boys Toddlepak reins on so we could keep them under some control. And in we went to explore.techniquest toddler day

I’d only been to Techniquest once before, 2 years ago, when BattleKid’s cousin was visiting from Ireland and didn’t get to see much of it with a 6 month old. This time I got to see more of it.

We started at an exhibit that released bubbles into a vessel of water and both BattleKid and L were fascinated. So much so they could have stayed there just watching bubbles, and of course pressing buttons. We had to drag them away and onto something else. We moved onto a turntable in which children could release a circular shape onto the turntable and watching it go around before it came off again. Well, S and I could have walked away and the boys wouldn’t have noticed!  This exhibit was very popular and each child, including ours was vying for those circles to release back onto the turntable! techniquest toddler day

We moved passed the ant farm, which BattleKid wasn’t really interested in, onto a dark room, where my attention was caught. We started at the lightening tube and had fun putting our hands on the glass and watching the electricity move with our hands. There was an exhibit with what looked like dry ice but I didn’t get a chance to see what it was all about as BattleKid found something more interesting for himself and L to play at.techniquest toddler day

We wandered around, stopping at another bubble machine for a few minutes before moving into the water-based room. BattleKid and I touched the spinning wet wheel, before he played in the water river, splashing a few other attendees by mistake throwing things into the water. Oops, sorry. BattleKid then had fun at the water waste pipes, spraying water into certain parts and watching it come out somewhere else.techniquest toddler day

After the water area we moved upstairs where a ball vortex caught the boys attention and they spent ages there, finding the balls and putting them back into the vortex. We had a go at making music with tubes, but BattleKid just wanted to bash everything but the tubes with the paddles! What is that they say about not working with children?techniquest toddler day

techniquest toddler day

Next on the agenda was a wind-type machine called Blown Up into which you could place pieces of material and watch it go up and out the top of a tube. BattleKid and L had a ball with this exhibit. Another thing we had to drag them away from!techniquest toddler day

techniquest toddler day

techniquest toddler day

We moved back downstairs, passing by another wind machine which suspends a ball in air and it blew the head off BattleKid and L. It was really funny. Before we packed up our belongings to go, BattleKid and I had to stop by the dragon, his current obsession and took a few selfies with it.IMG_1043

techniquest toddler day

We thoroughly enjoyed our few hours at the Toddler Day in Techniquest, despite how busy it was and I think we may try to go to another Techniquest Toddler Day in the future. The boys had an absolute ball and there was lots to see and do. We didn’t do any colouring or drawing, so maybe we can try do that next time.techniquest toddler day

The Techniquest Toddler Day is a great idea for introducing younger children to technology and science from a young age. It costs just £5.50 per adult with under 4’s going free. Techniquest is buggy friendly and had baby-changing facilities. There are a limited number of lockers if you don’t want to carry a bag or anything around with you and there is a coffee shop if you fancy a sit down but be advised there are no bottle or food warming facilities at Techniquest.

There is just one thing I would advise if you are planning on attending a Techniquest Toddler Day – arrive early. As mentioned we arrived after 11am and the multi-story carpark opposite Techniquest was completely full. I got lucky at the car park beside St. David’s Hotel and so did my friend but parking was at a premium at that time of the day. And if you do park at the hotel carpark ensure it is within a correct bay. When we returning to our cars after lunch there were ticket inspectors checking tickets and all those not in a proper bay were ticketed. Also, ensure you have change for the ticket machine as it doesn’t take cards. I had to give one man my last change from my purse because he had none himself. Good dead for the day.

Techniquest is a great day out and not too expensive in my opinion. One TripAdvisor says:

“Great day out for my two children at the toddler day… good value and great atmosphere all round.”

and I would agree.

There are four more Techniquest Toddler Days coming this year:

  • When I grow up: September 16th.
  • Around the World: October 7th.
  • Get Spooky: November 4th.
  • Winter Wonderland: December 2nd.

I can highly recommend the Techniquest Toddler Day if you want somewhere different to take your toddler and there are, of course, lots of nice restaurants in Cardiff Bay for lunch afterwards.

Thanks for reading,

Cath x

techniquest toddler day
Pressing buttons at the Techniquest Toddler Day

Wriggle Exhibition – The Wonderful World of Worms

Last Saturday BattleKid and I were invited down to Cardiff Museum to the official opening of the new exhibition Wriggle! the Wonderful world of worms. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was apprehensive whether the Wriggle Exhibition would be above BattleKid’s age range.

We arrived at 9am and when the doors opened for the invitees, we made our way in and I found a place to stow BattleKid’s buggy and stashed his change bag in the lockers (they cost £1) before we had some of the breakfast refreshments that had been laid on. Once BattleKid had finished his snack, we took a look around the displays that were on the ground floor foyer for the event. Wriggle Exhibition

There was everything from microscopes to fossils and even stands explaining the importance of worms in food production. We had a look around and BattleKid honed in on the microscopes, fascinated with them, although I’m not 100% sure he actually saw anything under them. I explained to him that mama uses them in work, which he thought meant one of them was mine to take away. Eh no.

He kept going back to them time and time again to look through the eyepiece. You never know, we could have another scientist in the making! There was also a fossil-making stand where children could press fossil specimens into clay to take home with them which I thought was a great idea.Wriggle Exhibition

After about 20 minutes we were all called to the bottom of the stairs for the opening talk from Dr Andrew Mackie. All the children were invited to the top and I tagged along to get a front row seat, keeping BattleKid company. Dr Mackie thanked all the efforts from the scientists and teams who put together the exhibition as well as the local Primary School who helped put together some of the ideas in the exhibition. He then invited Dr Rhys Jones, an evolutionary scientist and BBC presenter, to the front to officially open the exhibition.

Rhys was a great speaker, funny and very passionate, and was extremely engaging with the children, particularly one little boy sat beside us. And although the exhibition wasn’t open to the public until after 10am when the museum opened, he managed to sneak us in for a preview, on the proviso we didn’t tell anyone!

Wriggle Exhibition
Dr Rhys Jones officially opening the Wriggle Exhibition

Wriggle Exhibition

Supported by the People’s Postcode Lottery and Western Power Distribution, Wriggle is an innovative exhibition which is both family friendly and interactive. And although he can’t read yet, the displays were enough to capture BattleKid’s attention. Wriggle delves into the world of worms in a number of ways including:

  • Awesome Worms – showing us weird and wonderful worms including the bone-eating snot flowers worm. Yuck! There were lots of different specimens to view, with descriptions alongside their display jars.Wriggle Exhibition
  • Worm or Not a Worm – an interactive wall which acts as a game to help see if we can tell a worm from another creature. Believe me, even I couldn’t tell with most of them!Wriggle Exhibition
  • Worms’R’Us – explaining the worm research going on behind the scenes. I was delighted to see some of the tools used and recognised them from my day job too! I felt right at home.Wriggle Exhibition
  • Wriggle Exhibition
  • From Fossils to Fantasy – looking at worms in popular culture such as books and films.
  • Size Really Matters – exploring worms of various sizes from tiny worms no bigger than a fingernail, to a 30m long bootlace worm. They have a rope you can follow to the display that is as long as one of these and you can’t imagine a worm that long until you see this rope!
  • The Wriggloo – almost like a den, it gives you the opportunity to see the world from a worms perspective and the animals they live alongside, and often need to dodge. You can wriggle your way inside and believe me, BattleKid did just that. He loved this part of the exhibition, spending what felt like ages going in and out of the wriggle holes which were too small for mama which meant I spent my time running around trying to keep up with him. He was also quite taken by the animals in the display holes and the badger inside the Wriggloo. The Wriggloo also houses a real-live wormery.Wriggle Exhibition
  • Wriggle Exhibition
  • Wriggle Exhibition
  • Wriggle Exhibition
  • Wriggle Exhibition

There is so much to see and do in the Wriggle Exhibition and although I thought it would be outside BattleKid’s age range as I’ve said, far from it as he was fascinated by the worms and animals. He spent ages looking at the display panels in the floor and their contents as well as inside the Wriggloo. Wriggle Exhibition

There is quite a lot to see at the Wriggle Exhibition and unfortunately, as I didn’t have BattleDad with me, I didn’t get to spend time reading all the displays. However, that just means I’ll have to return!

The Wriggle Exhibition is suitable for all ages, even two year olds, and is both educational and fun. There is plenty of time to visit the exhibition as it runs until 30th September 2017 and the museum will be running supporting events throughout this summer, details of which can be found on the Cardiff Museum website.

Wriggle Exhibition

Although worms are not my thing, I thoroughly enjoyed what I got to see of the Wriggle Exhibition and have no doubt I’ll return, either with BattleDad in tow or on my own. i would like to spend some time reading and exploring those displays I didn’t get a chance to see, due to running around the Wriggloo after BattleKid. Thanks to Cardiff Museum for inviting us to the official opening of the Wriggle Exhibition.

So if you are looking for both a fun and educational thing to do with your children, especially this summer, why not visit Wriggle! the Wonderful world of worms at Cardiff Museum. You might be squeamish like me but I bet you enjoy it and your kids will love it!

Cath x

Cardiff Museum details:

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 5pm.

Closed Mondays except most bank holidays.

Free entry, although there are donation points in the foyer.

Visitor parking is located behind the museum and costs £6.50, exit token available in Museum shop.

 

Cuddle Fairy

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff – Our Visit

Last weekend we were kindly invited down to the Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff in the Red Dragon Centre for a game of bowling and some food. Now, it’s been a number of years since I’ve been bowling and to be perfectly honest I hadn’t been overly impressed by the Hollywood Bowl the previous time I’d been. I was also apprehensive about taking a 2 year old bowling and whether he would get bored with it. But I need not have feared.

Firstly, the Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff has had a complete make over and looks nothing like it did 5 or 6 years ago when I last went with work. Gone is the drab interior and sticky carpets. The Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff is now modern, fresh and really cool now. We arrived shortly before our 11am slot and made our way to reception where we were greeted by our Lane server, Morgan. Also new, and a surprise to us, was the fact we didn’t need to don bowling shoes as we were all in flat shoes so could remain in our own shoes. This was a first and the set of socks I’d stashed in BattleKid’s change bag weren’t needed after all. I think this is quite a good thing, so be warned, if you are in heels you will be required to change shoes, so go in flats of your own ladiesHollywood Bowl in Cardiff

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

After checking in at reception we were shown to our VIP lane, number 26, which is the last lane and was a nice quiet one out-of-the-way. The VIP section consists of four lanes with coloured pins, more comfortable seating than the other lanes and with more professional bowls as well. With them being out-of-the-way they are ideal for families wanting some quiet time or if you want to be away from possible parties. That said you could also hire them for a party if you wanted and they don’t actually cost too much more as I’ll explain later.Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

Morgan put our names into the computer and once we got settled, we were soon all set for our game of bowling. BattleKid wasn’t sure at first but as soon as he saw someone in a lane nearby knocking down the pins with their ball he shout “crash” and wanted to do the same. We used the ball launcher and had the sides up for him and off he went. He couldn’t quite understand why we had to take turns and in the end we let him take most of the turns to save having a tantrum. To be honest we didn’t mind at all, we just had to have patience while he decided which ball he wanted to use, all based on colour mind you, not weight! I have to say I was very impressed with our server, Morgan, as soon as she realised BattleKid was taking all our goes she asked if we wanted the bumpers up permanently and we said that might be best.Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

Each lane, VIP or regular, has a dedicated lane server to get you drinks and food if you want, handy for parents who might not want to leave their children unattended. There are also ample ball launchers for younger children or wheelchair users (there was a wheelchair users using one in a lane near us). The lanes are wheelchair friendly with ramps for chairs and plenty of space around them.

During our game the manager, Keith from Dublin of all places, came over to say hi and to make sure we were being taken good care of, which we were. Morgan had brought us over our drinks and sorted out the bumpers for us without us having to ask. Halfway through our game the lighting on the lanes was changed and it looked mightily impressive, very cool I have to say.

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff
Before the lighting change
Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff
After the lighting change

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

BattleKid thoroughly enjoyed his game of bowling, with a little help from mum and dad at setting up his balls for him. He enjoyed pushing the balls down the launcher and watching the pins being knocked down, all accompanied by shouts of “crash”. He even managed to get a few strikes which was more than what mum and dad may have managed had we been allowed to take our turns. We were both very surprised that his attention was kept for the majority of the game as we were sure he’d lose interest before we’d gotten halfway through. Who knew a game of bowling would be such a hit with a two year old!

As I’ve mentioned the new decor is brilliant and the Hollywood theme is evident throughout the Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff, with Hollywood stars on the lanes and floors, and pictures of famous actors and actresses decorating the VIP section.Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

As we neared the end of our game Morgan came to take our food order to ensure it would be ready once we’d finished our game and were ready to move to the diner. We were given the option of eating at our lane but we thought it would be best to sit at a table with BattleKid. The diner in the Hollywood in Cardiff is called Harry’s and has a good number of seating available with booths as well as comfy chairs. Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

We were seated in a booth and our food was with us in minutes. It was nice and hot when it arrived and looked great. BattleDad chose a Sloppy Joes Burger while I went for a Chicken Caesar Salad and we asked for a children’s chicken nuggets and chips. I have to say the food was really tasty and fresh. BattleDad’s burger was delicious and BattleKid’s chicken nuggets were really yummy, made from fresh chicken too. BattleDad commented that his fries were tasty and the burger and bun were really good quality.

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff
BattleKid’s lunch
Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff
BattleMum’s lunch
Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff
BattleDad’s lunch

Another plus was our drinks. BattleDad and I went for lemonades and were glad they actually tasted of lemonade, while BattleKid had an apple juice. They weren’t watered down like some fast food chains. Another thing I’ll say about the food at the Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff is the menu is quite good and the portions are generous, they don’t skimp on food quantity. While my salad was nice and tasty I ended up wishing I’d gone for the Empire Burger as recommended by Morgan, but there’s always next time (and there will be a next time).

After we finished our lunch, and after we had high-fived the Hollywood Mouse (see below), BattleDad brought BattleKid into the arcade while I spoke to reception to get some information on prices (see below). We had promised him a ride on the car at the entrance so off the boys went while I got the particulars. Once I’d spoken to the girl at reception I joined the boys and did one car ride with the boy before we headed to the Lightening McQueen car for BattleKid to have a go in before we headed home.Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

What we liked about Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff:

  • Great, fresh, modern decor.
  • Regular and VIP lanes which won’t break the bank.
  • VIP lanes have coloured pins and pro-bowls and are perfect for quiet family games away from the crowds, or for intimate parties.
  • Can wear your own shoes provided they are flats.
  • Plenty of lanes (26) and ball launchers too.
  • Wheelchair accessible.
  • Parking is free within the Red Dragon centre car park and there are plenty of spaces.
  • Diner has also been redecorated.
  • Food is tasty, fresh and with generous portions.
  • Soft drinks are not watered down like in other fast food retailers.
  • There is a bar serving alcoholic drinks for over 18’s.
  • Each lane has a dedicated lane server meaning parents do not need to leave children unattended.
  • Arcade area to keep kids and adults entertained before or after your game of bowling.
  • Value-for-money.

What we didn’t like about Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff:

  • Nothing, we had a great time!

I have to say our experience of the Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff was nothing like I’d envisaged and was a thoroughly enjoyable outing for us. We hadn’t been sure of what BattleKid would make of it all, given he is only 2, but he enjoyed himself and to our surprise his attention was kept throughout the game of bowling. He was really well-behaved and even got a strike sticker from Morgan for his efforts. Stickers win all the time.

We came away very impressed by both the service we had received and the decor of the revamped Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff, and now that we know BattleKid will enjoy it, we can see us returning in the not so distant future. I can highly recommend the Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff as a place to spend a few quality hours together as a family having fun!

Thanks again to everyone at the Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff for a very enjoyable first game of bowling with BattleKid.

Cath x

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff
High Five!

 

Traverse 16 – After

As you might have read in my previous post, the weekend of 9th April saw myself, CherrySue and Stone Travel attend Traverse 16 at Cardiff City Stadium. We arrived at about 9.15am in time to register and get a cup of tea before the welcome opening talk.Snapchat-6611367551257295461

This talk was by Tori James, the first Welsh woman to summit Mount Everest and her talk was inspiring. She gave a quick summary of how she got from climbing Snowdon to Everest. She had lots of self-doubt but went for it as it was something she was passionate about. And despite the threat of avalanches and hypothermia she conquered Everest after 2 months. She closed with this quote that all bloggers, not just travel bloggers, should keep in the back of their minds,

“We can all achieve more than we think we can!”

If you’d like to know more about her trip up Everest, her expedition was featured on a BBC Wales documentary and she tweets at @torijtweets.

After the opening talk it was time to attend the first of our talks. Myself and Stone Travel went to the Write Better, Right Now by Abigail King, while CherrySue attended the Understanding the Value of You, the blogger by Tika Larasati.

Abi King blogs at Inside the Travel Lab and has written for the likes of Lonely Planet and National Geographic. She was a bubbly and charismatic presenter whose talk was full of writing hints and tips to create better content. I really hope I can put them to use in future travel posts. We then had a quick break so it was time for another cup of tea (I do love tea) and a quick Snapchat update with the stadium as the backdrop. The venue was really nice. You wouldn’t think a football stadium would be a good venue for a blog conference but it was perfect. The rooms for the main talks were big enough to accommodate the attendees and the refreshment room was large enough to hold all the attendees and the sponsors stands, which included Cathay Pacific, IceLolly and the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Tourism.

Cathay Pacific Stand at Traverse 16
Cathay Pacific Stand at Traverse 16

Next we all went to the industry talk by Julie Falconer called “How brands can work with bloggers on social media”. Julie blogs at A Lady in London and although this was a talk for industry attendees, us bloggers still got some hints and tips about how we the bloggers could work with brands on social media. It gave me, personally, an insight into how brands might work with bloggers on the different platforms and gave me ideas for future pitching to brands. It was a really informative talk from Julie.

Traverse 16
Julie Falconer

Once this talk was over it was time for lunch and the food was very good. We tucked in and relaxed over lunch, while also getting a chance to chat to a few fellow bloggers and also to visit the sponsors stands. Some were giving away goodies and many of them were running competitions on the day. I got a new monkey to add to BattleKid’s collection and a beach towel and ball, which may come in handy on our forthcoming holiday. So even BattleKid got something out of the day apart from quality time with BattleDad.2016-04-09 12.59.48

2016-04-09 12.56.31-1

2016-04-09 13.33.48

After lunch I really wanted to go to one of the mini sessions entitled “How to pull a PR and get your blog noticed” by Alexandra Delf of Ophir PR and Susan Schwartz who blogs at Best Bits Worldwide. CherrySue and Stone Travel also came along and the small room was jam-packed with bloggers. I even saw a few fellow parent bloggers in there including Jennifer Howze of Brit Mums, whose conference I’m attending in June, solo I might add.

Alexandra and Susan in action!
Alexandra and Susan in action!

It was the best talk of the day for me and great to get both sides of the story; from PR and the blogger. There were great ideas for everyone including getting your media kit together to approaching a PR and also how to behave on Press Trips! It was a really useful talk to go to and it’s no wonder the room was full to capacity. Some people couldn’t even get it.

After this talk we decided to speak to the organisers about our Sunday experience trip, as the girls flight home had changed and we wouldn’t be able to attend the full day out. We enquired whether we could join for the trip to the Big Pit as it is very close to my house and we were only then informed that the underground part of the tour wasn’t going ahead due to strike action. That’s the main part of the Big Pit visit so we decided to cancel our places to free them up for someone else. We felt this should have been pointed out during the opening talk to allow people to choose a different experience if they wanted.

As the final talk we really wanted to go to on the original schedule had been cancelled, we decided to leave early to enjoy some family time with BattleDad and BattleKid at home. And this is where the day turned sour for me. I don’t normally like to write about the bad points of events or days out but one organiser basically interrogated us as to why we were leaving and not staying until the end. Quite frankly it was none of their business. We had thanked them and the other organisers for a great day and commended them on very informative talks, and there we were getting a grilling from someone who earlier in the day had rudely said, for all to hear, to some attendees using the lift to get from floor to floor, “that’s so lazy”. The attendees may have had a medical need to use the lifts and this organisers rude comment to other attendees was completely uncalled for and highly unprofessional.

For me, this one person put a big dampener on my overall experience of Traverse 16. As I’ve said the talks we attended were brilliant, very informative and well presented, and the venue and food was great (apart from having to pay for water and soft drinks). It’s such a shame one persons less than professional behaviour soured our overall experience of Traverse 16. Would I attend another Traverse conference? Maybe.

One thing I can say is that both CherrySue and Stone Travel were very impressed by the organisation of Traverse and how it ran during the day compared to the blog conferences they have attended in Ireland. “World’s apart” were some of the words they used to describe what they thought of Traverse 16.

What I liked about Traverse 16:

  • Good talks, very informative.
  • Great variety of talks and Sunday experiences.
  • Well presented and organised.
  • Good food.
  • Great venue.
  • Fun sponsor stands.
  • Value for money.

What I didn’t like about Traverse 16:

  • Rude comments from one organiser to attendees and their behaviour towards us because we left early.

I’m unsure if I will attend another Traverse conference but suffice to say it has made me look forward to BritMums Live so much more. Roll on June!

Cath x