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
To see what everyone else is linking up this weekend to My Sunday Photo, please click on the badge below. Why not join in yourself!
Photalife

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.

Linking up with Donna of What The Redhead Said. If you’d like to take part or see some other Living Arrows posts, please click the badge below.

Living Arrows

Worst Holiday with Kids – Bloggers Tell Us Where and Why

Does going on holidays with your children fill you with excitement or dread? Excitement for the possibilities that lie ahead, or dread of it turning out to be the worst holiday with kids. Yes, sometimes disaster can strike, and there is nothing you can do about it, but often it’s not something we can foresee. For instance, our worst holiday with BattleKid to date is a tossup between our first holiday to Lanzarote with him, and our second.

Lanzarote had been a favourite destination of ours for years. So, when booking a holiday with a one-year old, we thought why not return to the Canary Island of choice. We chose a resort and town we hadn’t been to and it looked great. When we arrived, we knew we had chosen right. A lovely one-bedroom apartment awaited us. Unlike our first holiday abroad with an 8-month old, we could put BattleKid to bed and relax in the living room with Netflix. The resort was very family friendly, and the town was a lovely 20-minute walk from our resort. It really couldn’t have been better. Until disaster struck on Day 5 of our 7-day holiday. Chicken pox was confirmed the next morning and we were grounded for an extra 3 days. Not what I wanted.

We decided that it was just unlucky of us, so didn’t let it stop us booking a return trip to the same resort the next year. However, the very first day we arrived, disaster struck again. This time, we had only just arrived at our apartment, and were leaving to go for a walk, when BattleKid fell. It resulted in a trip to the hospital for four stitches in his knee. It meant no pool time whatsoever for the entire holiday. We’ve now decided we are jinxed with that resort and may not return to it again, despite it being a brilliant resort.

worst holiday with kids
Knee injury on Day 1

In my previous post fellow bloggers and I shared with you our best holidays with our kids to date. This time I’ve asked them to share their worst holiday with kids to date. Let’s see where and why!

Bloggers Worst Holiday with Kids

Samantha from North East Family Fun says she generally enjoys Haven holidays, but wasn’t a fan of Golden Sands. Their caravan was dirty and had to be re-cleaned on arrival, the entertainment wasn’t great and it rained the whole time! 

Jenna from Then There Were Three says her worst holiday with kids would have to be their trip to Barbados. The hotel was a shambles, and despite saying they were child friendly, the kids club was never open. They were also only informed of a child’s menu on their last night!

Sarah from Mumzilla says their worst holiday was to a holiday apartment in Spain with a then 18-month-old. It poured down all week with rainy. On the only sunny day, their son managed to tip his buggy and smashed his teeth in. They are now growing through stained as a result.

Oh, and the car seat provided for was for a baby, so it was fun cramming him in that one!

Karina from Mum’s the Nerd says their worst holiday was camping in North Wales as it rained heavily the entire time.

Cass from Frugal Family says their recent holiday to Milan has been their worst holiday with kids yet. Even though they had a great time overall it was too much hard work keeping everyone happy.

We booked a family room which meant no-one had space to go for some time on their own, so we were together 24/7 which was not ideal! I ended up refereeing arguments about everything from one child accusing the other of using up all the WiFi, to whose turn it was to go in the shower.

Collette from Truly Madly Cuckoo told us their worst holiday was when their son got airlifted to Bangor Hospital following an allergic reaction to a peanut he only touched at a BBQ.

It was so scary, I dread to think what would have happened if he had actually eaten the peanut rather than just touched it.

He has now been prescribed an Epipen which they carry everywhere. 

Frances who blogs at Whinge Whinge Wine says their worst holiday with kids was last year in Majorca. Everyone got food poisoning and said it’s

No fun being puked on by two small children when you’re puking yourself.

It then struck her husband on the flight home, which ended up being delayed hours because they wouldn’t let him travel. You can read all about it in her blog post, aptly entitled Holidays from Hell. What an awful holiday, I think you’ll agree.

Lynne from A Day in the Life of a Mum of 6’s worst holiday with kids is my worst nightmare. On a trip to France, her car engine blew up and it had to be transported back to the UK. Her husband had to fly to London and buy a new car to get them home.

We laugh about it now but it was uber stressful at the time.

Hannah from Travelling with Leo says their worst would have to be their weekend camping at the Curious Arts Festival….

In torrential rain!

Lisa from Bare Mother told us their worst holiday was a return trip to a 5-star resort in Thailand.

The first time we were pregnant, and the whole trip was bliss – adults only pool, bar/room service to our balcony overlooking the water, afternoon naps, massages and dinner out every night. We tried to recreate with a 6-month-old, and failed miserably. Stuck in our room every night, in the dark, from around 6pm. Rookies!

I know that feeling!  

Deborah from Country Heart and Home says their worst holiday was Scotland, where it did nothing but rain torrentially, all week. And when they did venture to the clubhouse, their then 3-year-old jumped into the deep end of the pool and couldn’t swim! The kids did nothing but argue and we were all stir crazy!

The whole week was a nightmare!

Emma from Wanderlust and Wet Wipes had a disastrous weekend in Muscat, Oman during which they all whinged and moaned for various reasons. You can read all about their weekend in the blog post she has written. Not quite the weekend away they had hoped for!

Jennifer from My Mummy’s Pennies is sad to say their worst holiday with kids was Disneyland Paris earlier this year. Their children enjoyed it, and she is glad they got to experience it but

It was such a stressful week that mainly consisted of queuing and we spent 5x what we usually spend on a holiday to do it.

Nikki from Yorkshire Wonders says their worst holiday was their own fault.

We booked a cheapie to Greece. It was 40 degrees, the room had no air-conditioning and there was a motorbike rental business outside our bedroom window.

The bikes revved all night, and if they closed the window to stop some of the noise, they cooked in their room. They even had to shower all through the night just to keep cool. She says it was completely awful and she’d never do it again.

Cathryn from Cardiff Mummy Says told us their worst holiday was a week in her in-laws caravan in Borth. Although they’ve had some brilliant holidays there, for the week in question, it took them 5 hours instead of 2.5 hours to get there due to lots of road works and accidents. I know the road to Borth and can only imagine.

She says

It rained the entire time, the kids fought constantly and the weather meant the TV signal stopped working. We came home early!

Nyomi from Nomi Palony said they saved up for their first all-inclusive holiday at the Costa Del Sol but it turned out that they had booked in the worst weather the region had seen in over a decade! It was torrential rain for the entire week.

To make it worse, Britain was having a heatwave so my feed was full of sunbathing happy brits while we were miserable.

On the way to the airport the baby vomited all over the car that would be left in the long stay airport parking in a heatwave. Once there we went into the city just to buy warmer clothes and waterproofs and somehow lost a 50 euro note getting out of the taxi. The all-inclusive food they saved for was terrible. Then poor Nyomi got a bad case of mastitis that meant she needed to go to a very busy A&E in Marbella. So bad was it, they were so happy to come home! 

Zoe from The Tale of Mummyhood says her worst holiday so far was their first as a family of four. Her eldest daughter fractured her leg three days in and a week before her second birthday. She had a bright pink cast covered in hearts. Zoe is still not over the trauma, even though her daughter is brand new! 

Alice from Living with a Jude has had both her best and worst holiday rolled into one, and her response has been featured in the previous post as well. She went to see family and friends in the states following several years of trying to get her horrid, emotionally abusive ex out of her life. While her friends out there made the visit amazing, and she had such sun seeing them all, her (then) seven year-old severely autistic son was (in her words) a bit of a nightmare.

He had meltdowns every day, wouldn’t stay on the beach, wouldn’t go out, freaked out on the plane. It was horrific!

It was the worst holiday because of her son’s behaviour but the best because emotionally she was on top of the world (her own words). 

But the worst I’ve read is from Luis, who blogs at Single Daddy Daycare, when he was doing his very first holiday as a single co-parent. You need to read his post! I really felt for him after finishing it. From passport woes to projectile vomiting, his first holiday as a single co-parent certainly did not get off to a good start at all.

As you can see, the reasons for certain holidays being the worst holiday with kids are varied and unfortunately weather plays a big part in it. Searing heat is not much fun with kids (Emma and Nikki), nor is torrential rain which featured a lot.

Before BattleKid came along, BattleDad and I spent a week on the Isle of Man during the TT races. We had glorious sunshine some days. However, on our second last day the heavens opened and dampened our spirits. So much so we found a room for our last night so we wouldn’t have to sleep another night in a soggy tent. I’m not sure I could do it with BattleKid in tow.

What has been your worst holiday with kids to date? Did it involve rain? We’d love to know, so why not share it in the comments below!

Cath x

worst holidays with kids worst holidays with kids