Living Arrows 38/52

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth

Kahlil Gibran

I had been thinking we haven’t been up to much since we got back from our USA holiday but then I remembered we did something great at the weekend. We went to the World Superbike Race in Portimao at the weekend. The track is only a little over an hour away from us here in Portugal and the weekend paddock and stand tickets were cheap as chips.

BattleDad and I have been to the Isle of Man TT twice before but this was our first WSB meet. It was also someone’s first big motorbike race meet. We brought him to Aberdare Races last year but WSB is on a whole other level. He wasn’t sure of the noise at first but soon got into it. And he even got a picture with the Yamaha pit girls, although he doesn’t look overly fussed does he!

We are thrilled that we have a race track so close to us here in Portugal. Just another advantage to add to the list. All we need now is for a MotoGP race to be sceduled for Portimao and we’ll be as happy as Larry. That said, Jerez is only two hours away!

living arrows - BattleKid with the Yamaha pit girls at Portimao living arrows - An excited BattleKid at WSB at Portimao

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Dragon Hunting at Carreg Cennen Castle

One of the things I wanted to do with BattleKid before we left the UK for Portugal was to visit as many castles in South Wales as we could. We love nothing more than getting out and doing a spot of dragon hunting while we explore old castles and forts. So, while BattleDad was away one weekend, I did a search for castles in South Wales and came upon one which looked great from the picture. And so it was that we went dragon hunting at Carreg Cennen Castle, just me and the boy.

Carreg Cennen Castle

Carreg Cennen Castle, located near Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire, is perched high on top of a hill. Originating somewhere in the 12th century, it has been ruinous since the 15th century when it was vandalised during the War of the Roses. It dominates the skyline of the area around the River Cennan and surrounded by mountainous farming land.

Although quiet and peaceful today, it would have been a hive of activity at the height of its time with stables, workshops and kitchens keeping the castle going on a day-to-day basis. Carreg Cennan Castle is now a part of Cadw.

After visiting a friend in Swansea, BattleKid and I drove the 23 miles from Swansea past Ammanford to start our dragon hunting at Carreg Cennan Castle. I kept looking out for it but it didn’t come into view until we were only a few minutes from it. The closer we got, the more spectacular it looked. I can only imagine what people must have thought back in the 13th and 14th centuries as they approached the castle.

We parked in the car park and walked to the gift shop/restaurant to show our Cadw membership cards. And then it hit me that we had to walk up the hill to get to the castle. I genuinely did not think BattleKid would manage it. There is no way you will get a buggy up that hill. Considering he had not long turned 3 when we visited, I was sure I would hear “Mummy, up” half way up the hill. However, whether it was the promise of seeing the castle or going dragon hunting, he walked the whole way up the hill. I was so proud of him and secretly thankful as I just about managed the climb myself while holding his hand.

As you approach the castle, the views across the countryside are spectacular and you can see why they chose to build a castle on this particular hill. To enter the castle, we climbed a few stone steps before crossing a modern-day steel bridge to the Barbican which led to the Middle Gate Tower, with stunning views.

From there BattleKid and I turned left and went into the area leading to the North-East Tower. We checked in holes in the walls and any other nook and cranny a dragon might use to hide in. But our first check in our hunt didn’t turn up a dragon. We continued our dragon hunting at Carreg Cennen Castle by going into the Hall and Chapel Tower, but no matter where we looked, we couldn’t find the dragon.

We headed across the Inner Bailey to the King’s Tower. However, as it was closed off, we just checked the stairs that we could see but alas, no dragon. I must say, when we visited in January it was bright and sunny, but boy was the wind cold. Despite hats and gloves, we still felt the sharpness to the wind and I can just imagine how hard the inhabitants of the castle must have had it during winter in the 12th to 15th centuries.

But Carreg Cennen Castle is still very beautiful. We carried on across the Inner Bailey to check around the North-West Tower. Despite no sign of a dragon we had lots of fun jumping in puddles left behind by rain.

Then something caught BattleKid’s eye from across the Bailey and off he went running towards the Hall again. He had spotted something red and came back clutching his dragon, having found him hiding in a high hole in a wall. Dragon hunting at Carreg Cennen Castle was a success and he was chuffed with himself.

Hunting and finding the dragon!

After some more puddling jumping, I decided we should start heading back down the castle to the restaurant to get something to warm us up. I was feeling cold and so were BattleKid’s hands. We didn’t do any roly-poly’s here as the ground was slippery and mucky but BattleKid did do some jumping off mounds in the grass.

Once we had descended the hill and passed through the Outer Gate, we went into the restaurant where I ordered a Welsh Cawl for BattleKid and me to share. And my word, was it amazing. Not only was it nice and warm, a very welcome thing, but it was extremely tasty. Certainly, the best Welsh Cawl I’ve ever had. And it wasn’t expensive either at £4.50 for the cawl, some bread and butter, and a chunk of cheese. BattleKid devoured most of it!

dragon hunting at carreg cennen castle
Hurray!

As we were having a nice day out, I took the long way home from Carreg Cennen through the Brecon Beacons National Park. A certain little boy slept most of the way home. I can safely say that our dragon hunting at Carreg Cennen Castle was a resounding success and I’m so glad we visited it before leaving Wales.

Things to note if you go dragon hunting at Carreg Cennen Castle

  • Carreg Cennen Castle is a Cadw site as mentioned and is open every day from 9.30am to 6pm from the 1st April to the 31st October. From 1st November 2017 to the 31st March 2018, the castle is open from 9.30am to 5pm*. The castle is closed on Christmas Day.
  • The whole site and car park are locked daily at 6.30pm.
  • Last admission is 45 minutes before closing, and it costs £5.50 per adult, with children, senior citizens and concession tickets costing £3.50. Children under 5 years of age enter free. As Cadw members our admission was included in our annual pass.
  • There are toilets on site, located in the restaurant or in the car park.
  • There is a restaurant and gift shop on site, and I can highly recommend the Welsh Cawl. There are benches available too.
  • Because the castle is located on a rocky hill, this site is not wheelchair or buggy friendly.
  • There is a car park at the bottom of the castle hill beside the farm and shop, is free and can hold approximately 50 cars.
  • Be aware, due to the location, mobile signal is poor, as I found out.
  • As the castle is privately owned (but managed by Cadw), there are livestock nearby. You are advised not to interact with them on your way to/from the castle itself.

BattleKid and I really enjoyed our time dragon hunting at Carreg Cennen Castle. It made a nice change seeing a castle further away from us rather then visiting Tretower or Abergavenny again. I can recommend it as a place to visit if you are in the Llandeilo area or are looking for a nice day out in South Wales. Be aware that, as it is situated on the top of a hill, you need to climb there to get it, but if 3-year-old BattleKid can manage it, anyone can. The views from the castle are spectacular and the descent down the hill is easy, although be careful if the ground is wet. And do stop off at the restaurant for a well-deserved break afterwards. The Cawl is well worth it.

Have you taken your children dragon hunting yet?

Thanks for reading,

Cath x

*Prices and visiting times correct at the time of writing this post.

dragon hunting at carreg cennen castle dragon hunting at carreg cennen castle

38/52 My Sunday Photo: 17/09/2017

As some of you know we’ve recently returned from a two-week road trip in North West America. I haven’t had time to go through all my photos but here are two I took on my phone in Yellowstone National Park.
The first is Gibbon Falls at about 8.30am. The light was just incredible and I am hoping the pictures I got on my DSLR do it some justice. The second picture is of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River and was simply stunning. Worth the hike back up the hill from the viewing point.
my sunday photo - gibbon falls in yellowstone national park
Gibbon Falls, Yellowstone National Park
my sunday photo - lower falls of yellowstone river
Lower Falls of Yellowstone River
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The Portugal Diaries #12

One thing I was apprehensive about before we left the UK was how it might affect my blog and the opportunities that came my way. While some PR’s have said they won’t send stuff to Portugal for review, others have been more than happy. Two such brands are Cosy Holder and My Piccolo.

We received a Cosy Holder and some My Piccolo pouches for review in the second week of July and had fun trying them out. I’ve also been lucky enough to have one sponsored post opportunity come my way and a few others offered, although I had to say no. One sounded good but for some reason didn’t come about and I’m not sure why.

piccolo pouches
Enjoying a Piccolo pouch after the Fado
cosy holder
Relaxing and enjoying his tablet with his Cosy Holder

So, in between reviewing some products, we took it easy in the second week of July and did some crafts, painting and playing with play doh while I got on with drafting blog posts and editing some videos for our YouTube channel which has been pretty much abandoned of late.

That said, on the third Saturday of July we had another Animal Vision charity event lined up in the form of a Fado. This is a concert of traditional music and song which featured two guitar players and four singers. The origins of Fado music can be traced back to Lisbon in the 1820’s, perhaps earlier.

We were treated to two ladies and two men singing songs that were both mournful and joyful and I have to say, one particular man and one lady blew us away. They had the most amazing voices, and although we had no idea what they were saying, we adults thoroughly enjoyed it. BattleKid loved the live music but wasn’t too fussed over the singing, putting his hands over ears during some of the singing. This amused the people sitting behind us.

This guy had a great singing voice
This lady had one of the most incredible voices I’ve ever heard

Again, the proceeds of this event went towards the fundraising for the x-ray machine for Novavet, and at the end of the concert we learned more about the reason behind the fundraising.

One couple had a cat who they brought to Novavet. They learned she had breast cancer but were unable to see if it had spread or to what degree as Novavet don’t have an x-ray machine/scanner. Unfortunately, this meant the vets were unable to properly treat her and perhaps save her life. When asked by the couple whose cat it was why they didn’t have one, they were told of the cost of such a machine. Novavet said in order to fund one they would have to raise their prices significantly and they didn’t want to do that.

Novavet will care for any animal that is brought to them, whether their owners can afford the treatment or not. Most people can, but if they increased their prices, they would be unable to treat many of the animals that are brought to them. So, the couple started Animal Vision and fundraising for an x-ray machine for Novavet. And this is a cause we are more than happy to support.

At the end of the Fado, I saw the couple who had helped arrange the Flamenco evening and they came over for a chat to see how we are settling in. They have told me there will be another night in Xicken Piri Piri and I said we look forward to it, which we will. Any event help by Animal Vision will be supported by the Battle Family and my parents. We’ve enjoyed both events we’ve attended so far for this worthy cause.

The next week my sister (the third girl) arrived on the Tuesday with a surprise for us!

To be continued…

Cath x     

Read more about our adventures in Portugal in my Portugal Diaries section.  

Living Arrows 37/52

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth

Kahlil Gibran

As some of you will know, we are just back from our two week USA road trip, and what a trip it turned out to be. I’ll be writing about it in much more detail shortly on the blog but suffice to say it was amazing. From stunningly beautiful Yellowstone, to smoky Idaho and Montana, to hip and trendy Portland, it was a brilliant two weeks.

BattleKid really surprised us by taking the 3000 miles and 60+ hours in the car in his stride with not a tablet or electronic in sight. I think he was just taking everything in, much like Mum and Dad. When we finally hit Portland, we did many things just for him after being on the road for 12 days. Like visit Oregon Zoo. Aside from this post, I am putting together my review of Oregon Zoo. It was such a great zoo, a contender for the best we have ever visited.

Here are a few pictures from that day. Their Great North West Section was amazing, carved into the forest and wood that make up Washington Park in Portland.

BattleKid’s favourite animal of the day were the playful seals which swam by him at the glass of the aquarium. You could just tell they were playing, swimming directly at him and turning at the last section, one way or the other.

We finished off in the gift shop, as you do, and were very tempted by the explorer’s hat. In the end we didn’t buy it, simply as we were running out of suitcase space. Maybe next time.

living arrows - BattleKid looking through binoculars at Oegon Zoo living arrows - Playful seals swim by BattleKid at the glass of the aquarium at Oregon Zoo living arrows - BattleKid in an explorers hat in Oregon Zoo shopI hope you’ve had a good end to the summer and the kids are settled back in school. Did you go on any nice holidays, at home or abroad? I’d love to hear all about them.

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