Be In The Picture 7

I’m falling behind with getting this post done at the beginning of each month but it’s been a busy one and we are getting ready for our forthcoming USA road-trip, which I mentioned in my Holiday Diaries for this year. But, as the saying goes, better late than never. I am glad I am managing to keep up with this series as it ensures I try to get in front of the camera during the month. And BattleKid will have lots of pictures of his mum to look back on in years to come.

We started off the month by exploring a nearby castle at Castro Marim. I was put in the stocks for taking too many pictures and not doing enough dragon hunting. I got a kiss though!

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Getting a kiss while in the stocks at Castro Marim Castle
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Holding tight to the Castro Marim dragon

The same week we met friends of ours from Wales in a town called Beja in Central Portugal and as it had a castle, we did a bit of dragon hunting there. While we waited for them, I sneaked a picture of the boy and I.

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This month also saw my nephew pop over for a visit and we did a few silly snaps after getting some promo pictures for our collaborative YouTube Videos on both mine and Nico’s channels. BattleKid wanted to get in on the action so we let him.

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BattleKid getting in on the action!

We also went to Ayamonte with Nico, and BattleKid didn’t want to play ball on the selfie front so I thought bugger it and pulled a silly face, as you do!

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Other than that we’ve just been crafting, going for dinner, enjoying some early morning cuddles and time on the decking while it’s still cool enough.

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If you didn’t catch June’s Be in the Picture post, why not check it out. Next month’s post will definitely be late as we will be in North West America on our road trip but I am hoping both August’s and September’s posts will have some good pictures to share.

Initiated by Kerry of Kerry Louise Norris and Alana of Baby Holiday, Be in the Picture encourages us to get in front of the camera instead of always being behind it. I’m guilty of this and by joining in with Be in the Picture, it ensures BattleKid will have pictures of me as well of himself when he grows up.

Dragon Hunting at Powis Castle near Welshpool

Powis Castle is one castle that was recommended to us by a work colleague of mine quite a number of years ago. While we longed to go dragon hunting at Powis Castle, it always remained slightly out of reach as it was a bit too far for a day trip from home, being situated in Mid Wales. However, last August bank holiday weekend, we were in Chester and thought it would be perfect to visit on our way back down to Wales. So that’s what we did!dragon hunting at powis castle

We left Chester and took the A5 down towards Shrewsbury before turning off for Welshpool and Powis Castle. Powis Castle is a National Trust site. It was originally built in the 1200’s and the Herbert family took ownership in the late 16th century and it has remained in their family ever since. A medieval castle, fortress and grand country mansion, it doesn’t resemble your usual castles in Wales. It is very much more a stately home and is extremely grand indeed, being the seat of the Earl of Powis.

When we arrived there was plenty of parking in the car park and we walked up the road and footpath to the ticket office where we paid to get in. As the castle didn’t open until 11am, we had 45 minutes to kill and so we found a seat in the courtyard and BattleDad got us some drinks and cakes to enjoy in the glorious sunshine from the courtyard restaurant. We really enjoyed our tea break and admired the grand home from our seats.dragon hunting at powis castle

Our plan was to start our dragon hunting at Powis Castle within the castle itself and if we were out of luck we would check the extensive gardens instead. We started in the drawing room but there was no obvious signs of our hiding dragon.  There was a very nice gentleman giving talks and information about the room and the Herbert family too. We moved upstairs towards the bedrooms, some of which were not open to the public for obvious reasons. In those that were, we saw no sign of the Powis Castle dragon.dragon hunting at powis castle

From the bedrooms we moved downstairs to the kitchen where there were two people giving talks about how the kitchen was run and still is today. Children also had the opportunity to dress up and partake in some activities there but we were on a dragon hunt so didn’t stop. We thought we spotted him in the games room where there was a large billiards table and the cabinets were full of stuffed animals, but, he either wasn’t there, or had managed to evade us as we wandered through the castle. We did, however, leave a message in the visitors book in this room.

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The message we left in the visitors book at Powis Castle.

Having had no luck within the castle (of which you cannot take pictures inside as the Earl still resides there), we turned our attention to the gardens. However, dragon hunting is tiring work, particularly on a sunny day like this, so we paused at the courtyard for an ice cream before continuing our hunt. And I must say the ice creams were very good!

We started by taking a right from the entrance to the gardens and headed towards the lake that sits at one end of the gardens. We checked all the holes and cracks in the walls where a dragon might hide but still we couldn’t find him. As we rounded past the lake, and before we headed up a small hill to the side of it, BattleKid spotted him hiding at the foot of a rather magnificently big tree. He was hiding on the ground among the foliage.dragon hunting at powis castle

We had found him! However, a little boy just ahead of us wasn’t too impressed that our dragon hunting at Powis Castle was more successful than his, as I overheard him say to his mum “that boy has a dragon, I want a dragon”. Oops. Satisfied with our result, we took a short stroll up the hill and discovered the Ice Cellar of the castle. I had never seen one before and was quite surprised by it. You can only look through some gates into it and you cannot see the floor but it gives you an idea of what one from centuries ago looks like.

Our visit to Powis Castle was a success and it was a castle we had wanted to visit, so we could now tick it off our list.

Things to note if you go dragon hunting at Powis Castle:

  • It is a National Trust site. Cadw membership cards aren’t accepted.
  • It costs £12.50 for an adult and £6.25 for a child to visit the whole property (without GiftAid) and a family ticket costs £31.25. To visit the castle only prices are £6.35 (adult) and £3.17 (child), for the garden only £9.21 (adult) and £4.60 (child), and for the winter garden £6.20 (adult) and £3.10 (child).*
  • The Castle opens from 11am to 5pm, as does the museum, shop and garden shop. The gardens open from 10am to 6pm, with the garden coffee shop opening from 11am to 4pm. The restaurant opens from 10am to 5pm.
  • Parking is free, and there is ample parking. There are electric car-charging points in the car park and some spaces for disabled badge holders.
  • Dogs are allowed on the lead in the car park and courtyard only. There are strictly no dogs allowed in the deer park.
  • There are baby changing and feeding facilities on site.
  • There are toilets available on site.
  • There is a children’s quiz/trail and also games on the great lawn (although we didn’t see these as we didn’t visit that end of the gardens).
  • NOTE: the castle is not very wheelchair accessible, nor buggy accessible. The ground floor is, but that’s where it stops due to the historical nature of the castle. The garden has a step-free route which is highlighted in the leaflet available at the ticket office. For wheelchair users there is a virtual tour of the upper floor rooms available at the ticket office.
  • Guided tours are available.

We were glad we got the opportunity to go dragon hunting at Powis Castle and even better to combine it with a great weekend away. I am not sure we would have visited Powis Castle had we not been travelling back from Chester. We had glorious sunshine during our visit and the ice cream was most welcome and delicious.

I can highly recommend a visit to Powis Castle if you ever get the chance. We did not get to explore all the grounds as they are quite extensive, especially for little legs but it would make a great day out for the whole family. Maybe bring a picnic to enjoy somewhere in the gardens if you visit.

Thanks for reading the next post in our Dragon Hunting Series. I hope you enjoyed it. If you missed our previous ones you can find them in the Dragon Hunting Series. And if you’d like to have a sneak peek at Powis Castle, we filmed a little vlog of our day out dragon hunting at Powis Castle (below).

Cath x

*Prices correct at the time of writing this post.

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Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre in Kington – Our Return Visit

We have visited the Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre before with BattleKid and we thoroughly enjoy it. Last August Bank Holiday weekend, on our way to Chester, we visited again and thoroughly enjoyed our visit.small breeds farm and owl centre

The Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre is privately owned and run, and is located in Kington in Herefordshire.  It is open from 10.30 to 5.00 (4.30 in winter months), every day of the year, even on Christmas Day.

As usual during our last visit, we went clockwise, starting in the incubation room where we saw newly Southern-white faced owls. BattleKid wanted to hold them and was quite confused as to why he couldn’t. From there we made our way through the barn area where we saw my favourite of all the animals at the Small Breeds Farm, the Boer Goats. I love them and explained why in my last post.small breeds farm and owl centre

It took a little bit of coaxing to get BattleKid to help me feed them!

We then went into the small animal’s room which houses rabbits, guinea pigs and chipmunks. The various birds were next to be visited before we turned our attention to the farm animals in the outdoor enclosures.

BattleKid had a great time giving feed to the horses and goats. The Boer goats passed us on the way to their enclosure and one made a beeline for the feed bucket on its way past (see our vlog below).small breeds farm and owl centre

After finishing in the main farm area we stopped at the tea room for some lunch, and as it was such a nice day, we sat outside on the picnic benches to enjoy toasted sandwiches and baked potatoes. BattleKid hogged a whole potato and baked beans with cheese to himself!

Nicely full and satisfied, we visited the Owl Garden to see all the various owls which include tawny owls, barn owls, the snowy owls (my personal favourites) and BattleDad’s favourites, the great horned owls. We had another great visit to the Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre and were so lucky that it was a lovely day weather-wise at the start of that bank holiday weekend.small breeds farm and owl centre

Tickets cost £9.00 per adult and £6 per child*, with animal feed buckets costing £1 each. The Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre is wheelchair accessible and a mobility scooter available to loan on site.

The tea room serves both hot and cold drinks and food and there is a picnic garden and barn, should you wish to bring your own food and drinks to enjoy.

Something that I discovered during our last visit was their owl experiences which are available. There are two, the Owl Experience and Owls by Moonlight.

The Owl experience is available during breeding season (approximately March to July) costing £78pp (age 14 years and above only), which take place between 8.30 and 10.30am and must be paid for in advance. You get an introduction talk with a Senior Owl Keeper, a guided tour of the owl garden before opening and trip to the incubation room. You also get to prepare breakfast and feed it to the owlets. You get up close and personal with tame owls and have access to the rest of the Farm afterwards. You can share your experience with 1 other full paying person.

The Owl Centre also run an Owls by Moonlight Experience, which takes place on certain evenings between 7 and 9.30pm. In this experience you explore the Owl garden by lamplight with a Senior Owl Keeper. There is an interval during which you are served soup and a roll. You then get the chance to get photos with hand-reared owls and have a chance to take your own photos in the softly illuminated garden at the end. This amazing experience is available for those aged 16 years and over for £32pp.

I’d love to return when BattleKid is older to enjoy these Owl Experiences.

The Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre is definitely worth a visit if you are visiting the Kington or Herefordshire area. A visit takes about 3-4 hours to fully enjoy. And it is a great family day out, particularly with younger children, who can get up close and personal with animals of various sizes. Even if you are visiting South Wales (where we live) it is also worth the drive up to visit (it takes us just over an hour to drive there).

If you’d like to get a sneak peek at the Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre, why not watch our little vlog from our most recent visit below.

Thanks for reading.

Cath x

*Prices are correct at the time of writing this post.

**We were not asked to write this post.

small breeds farm and owl centre

Tenerife Day 8: 30/12/2016

We were up for 7.30 so got washed and dressed before having breakfast, our last of our Christmas holiday. While I got on with the final bits of packing, BattleKid watched the Lion Guard. Thank god for Disney Junior. I also managed to finish my book too, a first in a long time. I don’t get the chance to read books much these days unless it’s in bed before sleep.

We checked out at 11am and left our luggage in the luggage room at reception as we had a while to wait for the taxi to the airport. We headed to the themed restaurant at the sea front for a cuppa and some cakes. BattleKid also had a final play in the playground.

At 12.15 we asked reception to call a taxi and were still waiting 30 minutes later. It was a bit ridiculous. BattleKid fell asleep and stayed asleep until we had checked in for our flight at 1.20 and headed through security. I had kept an eye on the departures of Bristol Airport and thankfully our plane had left on time from the UK so we were looking good for a better time of it than our journey to Tenerife.

We got through security no problem and went to find somewhere for lunch. We had plenty of time before our flight was due to take off so found a seat in O’Leary’s bar and had a rather nice lunch. After eating up, BattleKid insisted on having a ride on one of the amusement cars. It combined a ride with a photo, but typically he was looking down when the camera took the picture. What a waste of money!Tenerife Holiday Diaries Day 8

We walked around the airport, getting a few bits for the plane before heading to our gate when called. However boarding was delayed until 16.45, 15 minutes after our departure time. So much for getting home on time. We then sat on the plane until the doors finally closed at 5.10pm. The captain made an announcement after the doors closed to say they had been on the ground for 2 hours and he had been calling for passengers since 4.10pm! For some reason there was congestion in the terminal and although he and our plane were ready for an on time departure, the ground staff couldn’t get their act together! We took off at 5.28 and had a few snacks on the plane to tide us over.

BattleKid fell asleep on the way home from the airport and we transferred him straight to bed when we got home in the hope Santa would make a special delivery that night as we’d not been home Christmas Eve. And he did!

Although we enjoyed some quality time together, it wasn’t quite the holiday we had hoped for. We came away feeling quite disappointed and let down, particularly where the hotel and pool were concerned. I somehow don’t think we’ll be going away for Christmas again, unless it is to Ireland to spend it with family. Would I recommend Tenerife as a destination? Yes, but I would stay in a bigger resort where there are more things to see and do. I wouldn’t recommend our hotel for Christmas or any other time of the year. It needs some serious updating and a face lift.

Thanks for reading our Tenerife Holiday Diaries.

Cath x

Tenerife Day 7: 29/12/2016

As per usual, we were up before 7 so pottered around before getting dressed and going downstairs for breakfast. After filling our bellies we headed for the nearest pharmacy to get some cream for BattleKid who by this stage was tearing itchy, especially along his neckline!

The pharmacist confirmed it was heat rash and off we went back to the hotel with the sole purpose of trying to keep his mind off the itch. It reminded me of our damn chicken pox episode in Lanzarote a few years ago!

We stopped at the playground and let BattleKid run around for a while before heading up to our room to allow me to start packing us. BattleKid chilled out on the sofa with Disney Junior on the TV for a while and then playing with his stickers. I usually reserve them for the plane but this was an exceptional circumstance.Tenerife Holiday Diaries Day 7

We went for lunch just before 1 before heading back to our room. We had hoped to spend some time beside the pool but the breeze was just too much and we knew BattleKid would want to get in and end up freezing again. The cold wind against wet skin just wasn’t worth the hassle of trying to get him out of the pool. So we forwent the pool which was a shame. Had the pool been properly heated like advertised we’d have spent a lot more time in it.

After mostly packing us I read for a bit before having a snooze on the bed. BattleKid even got 20 minutes himself. Gone are the days of 2 hour marathon naps and boy do I miss them!

Our usual nightly routine of showers, dinner, bedtime and Mr Robot rounded off our last night in Tenerife. It had been a bit of a mixed holiday all round. Strange to be away at Christmas, nice to see some of the island and go to Loro Parque. Epic in terms of making a huge decision about our family’s future but disappointed with the hotel and non-heated pool situations.

Home day tomorrow.

Cath x