Dragon Hunting at Chepstow Castle

Although BattleKid and I had visited once before, we had never been dragon hunting at Chepstow Castle until earlier this year. When my nephew and Dad were visiting when BattleKid was 4 months old, we took a drive to Chepstow Castle. However, I couldn’t explore the castle as BattleKid was so small and I had his buggy. Fast forward three years and we, as a family, finally visited this wonderful castle on the banks of the River Wye.

Our sole intention this time was to not only explore the castle, it being BattleDad’s first visit, but also to do a spot of dragon hunting at Chepstow Castle. We were sure there must be a dragon lurking inside as we’d found dragons in other Welsh Castles like Carreg Cennen.

Chepstow Castle is an amazing castle which sits on the banks of the River Wye in Monthmouthshire, Wales. It is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain and is a castle not to be missed. The castle also boasts the oldest castle doors in Europe. Over 800 years old, the wooden doors hung at the main gateway until 1962. They are still on display in a special exhibition.

Construction began in 1067 and continued well into the 18th century. It has four baileys, or courtyards, each added during its long history. Perched on a clifftop along the bank of the River Wye, Chepstow Castle overlooks an important crossing point on the river which was a major artery to Monmouth and Hereford. It is a Cadw site, open to the public, and was even used for filming of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary programme.

When you arrive at Chepstow Castle, there is a car park at the bottom of the hill upon which it is located. I have been very lucky in that both times I have visited I’ve been able to get parking in the car park. I’d imagine on busy days it must fill up quickly. BattleDad, BattleKid and I parked up, used the public toilets beside the car park (as there are none in the castle itself) and up we went to show our Cadw membership cards before entering through the gift shop.

dragon hunting at chepstow castle
Chepstow Castle

We entered through the Outer Gatehouse and started our dragon hunting at Chepstow Castle in the Chamber Block and Kitchens. Checking all the nooks and crannies as we moved though, we just didn’t find any sign of a dragon hiding out. What we did stumble upon was an amazing cellar. The stonework and ceilings were stunning. BattleDad and I could just imagine it being filled with wine, grains and other assorted food for the inhabitants of the castle. But no dragon.

dragon hunting at chepstow castle

Next, we moved onto the Great Hall and although we saw no sign of a dragon, we did enjoy the amazing views from the balconies overlooking the River Wye.

From the Great Hall, we moved from the Lower Bailey into the Middle Bailey. There weren’t many places a dragon could be hiding in the Middle Bailey but our dragon hunting at Chepstow Castle took us into the Great Tower. BattleKid and I actually had a lot of fun running from one end of the Great Tower to the other. One gentleman inside must have thought we were mad. We searched high and low for the dragon but decided he must have been hiding further in the castle.

From the Great Tower we passed through the Gallery, again with lovely views over the River, into the Upper Bailey. There were lots of places in here a dragon could be hiding. We checked around the knight in the bailey, behind some trees, under the bridge that leads to the Barbican and a gorgeous wooden door at the very end of the castle. Our dragon hunting at Chepstow Castle was taking some time.

dragon hunting at chepstow castle

We knew he wasn’t in the lower end of the castle and eventually found him hiding in a hole in the wall in the Barbican near the South Tower. Finally, we had found the Chepstow Castle dragon, albeit a small one.

dragon hunting at chepstow castle

BattleKid was thrilled and even offered the Chepstow Castle dragon some flowers to eat. Hmm. Not exactly what you’d call dragon food. As our successful visit dragon hunting at Chepstow Castle was nearly at an end, we made our way back to the Lower Bailey where we took a few family selfies and checked in a well, just to make sure there weren’t two dragons in the castle. You never know these days!

We finished off our visit to dragon hunting at Chepstow Castle with a spot of roly-poly down the hill outside the castle walls. And yes, I joined in. We were also very lucky to be leaving just as the rain rolled in. All-in-all a successful visit dragon hunting at Chepstow Castle.

Things to note if you go dragon hunting at Chepstow Castle

  • Chepstow Castle is a Cadw site as mentioned and is open every day from 9.30am to 6pm from the 1st July to the 31st August. Between 1st September to the 31st October it is open from 9.30am to 5pm. From 1st November 2017 and 28th February 2018, the castle is open between 10am and 4pm from Monday to Saturday and 11am to 4pm on Sundays*.
  • Last admissions are 30 minutes before closing and costs £6.50 per adult, with children, senior citizens and concession tickets costing £4.20. Children under 5 years of age enter free. As Cadw members our admission was included in our annual pass.
  • There are no toilets on site, although there are public toilets located beside the car park.
  • The castle has some benches but there is no coffee shop.  There are also no baby changing facilities at Chepstow Castle.
  • The courtyards and walkways are mainly accessible to buggies and wheelchairs. Upper levels are not accessible.
  • There is a car park at the bottom of the hill of the castle, and it is a pay-and-display car park.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time dragon hunting at Chepstow Castle and can recommend it as a place to visit if you are in the Chepstow or Monmouth area. It is quite a big castle, with plenty of rooms are areas to explore, and dragon hunt if you wish. Chepstow is a lovely little town and has plenty of cafes to grab a cuppa and a cake after your visit. And dare I say it, dragon hunting at Chepstow Castle was more fun than our dragon adventures at Abergavenny or Tretower Castle.

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 chepstow castle dragon hunting at chepstow castle

 

Dragon Hunting at Abergavenny Castle

We are regular visitors to Abergavenny as it is only 15 minutes from our house. We often pop down on a Saturday for breakfast in our favourite café before running some errands, like depositing money in BattleKid’s bank account or getting his ever growing feet measured in Clarks. A few times we’ve gone dragon hunting at Abergavenny Castle after we’ve finished and BattleKid loves this little castle.Dragon Hunting At abergavenny castle

Abergavenny Castle is a ruined castle which was established in 1087 by a Norman Lord. Now a Grade 1 listed building, it is quite small and is located beside one of the main town car parks. It had a stone keep, towers and ditch fortifications. It housed both the family and the army of the Lord of the Castle. In the 19th century a lodge was built on top of the motte as a hunting lodge for the Marquess of Abergavenny and today acts as the castle museum.

Abergavenny Castle was also the scene of an infamous massacre over Christmas in 1175. The whole castle was destroyed in 1233 by the Earl of Pembroke and eventually rebuilt in stone. The walls you can see today are the remains of a stone hall built between 1233 and 1295.Dragon Hunting At abergavenny castle

Whenever we go dragon hunting at Abergavenny Castle, we always go clockwise for some reason, starting along the ruined walls. We check the holes and nooks and crannies in the walls for the dragon. We check the outside of the walls and also gated entrances.

We always check around the edge of the motte where the lodge now stands and also in the trees in the gardens. There are many a ruined wall with holes to check as you never know where the dragon might be hiding.

On our most recent adventure dragon hunting at Abergavenny Castle, we started at the main ruins and BattleKid checked all the usual places. Not finding the dragon where he initially thought it might be, he took a moment to reflect and think hard about where he might be hiding. Cue camera time for me!Dragon Hunting At abergavenny castle

We walked along the bottom of the motte and then made our way up it to the ruin wall that runs perpendicular to it. Lo and behold the dragon was hiding in one of the holes in the wall. BattleKid was delighted to find him at long last. He gave him a hug and then promptly tried to put him back where he found him.Dragon Hunting At abergavenny castle

Although this was a short expedition of dragon hunting at Abergavenny Castle, it was no less fun than previous visits for BattleKid. Happy that he had found his dragon he didn’t let go of him until he fell asleep in the car on the way home. Dragon hunting is tiring work you know.Dragon Hunting At abergavenny castle

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

  • Abergavenny Castle ruins and the museum are free to visit and are located near the main car parks of Abergavenny town.
  • There is limited free parking within the grounds itself. The nearest car park is a pay and display carpark.
  • The museum is open from 11am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, and 2pm to 5pm Sunday between March and October. Between November and February the museum is open Monday to Saturday from 11am to 1pm and 2pm to 4pm.
  • There are various exhibitions, both temporary and permanent, within the museum. Check what’s on by visiting the Abergavenny Museum website.
  • Note that the grounds of Abergavenny are quite uneven so are inaccessible to wheelchairs and buggies for the most part.
  • There are Family Backpacks available in the museum for families to use free of charge during their visit (free to use with a returnable security deposit such as car keys or mobile phone). These include replica artefacts, historic games, information sheets and activity sheets and binoculars to make visits more interesting. We haven’t used these but they sound brilliant for slightly older children than BattleKid’s 3 years of age.

We always enjoy ourselves whenever we go dragon hunting at Abergavenny Castle. I would recommend you visit Abergavenny Castle if you are in the area but it wouldn’t quite make a full day out unless you plan to get one of the backpacks and bring a picnic to enjoy in the grounds (tables available at the back of the castle). It is quite small, but that said is easily enjoyed for an hour or two for a spot of dragon hunting. As we haven’t ventured into the museum I cannot comment on it.

We generally go dragon hunting at Abergavenny Castle after running errands after breakfast. It’s a nice way to round off a visit to Abergavenny. Have you visited it?

Thanks for reading,

Cath x

Dragon Hunting At abergavenny castle

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Aberdare Bike Races – BattleKid’s First Motorbike Race Meet

On Saturday 30th July this year we went to Aberdare Bike Races. Now BattleDad and I have been quite a number of years ago on a Sunday afternoon and it was really good. We quite enjoyed it and, as it was our first race meet before we went to the TT for the first time, it gave us a good idea of what to expect when going to the Isle of Man. We decided to take BattleKid this year because he is two and a half years of age, motorbike mad and we thought this year would be a good time to take him to see whether or not he would enjoy it.aberdare bike races

We decided to go early in the morning in case BattleKid didn’t enjoy it, as there are still times that he gets a little uneasy when BattleDad starts up his own bike. If he did enjoy it we could stay until lunchtime and still be back in time for BattleKid’s nap at the afternoon, if he didn’t then we could leave early enough. We arrived about 9:30 in the morning and made our way through the gates into the park.

We had booked our tickets online which was really handy. When you first go into the park, if there are bikes going around the track, you need to wait by the gates until the bikes have completed their laps. Only then do the Marshalls let you through into the middle of Aberdare Park where spectators are allowed and where the merchandise stands and food stalls are located.

We waited with everybody else by the gates until the bikes had completed their practice laps and this gave us a chance to see how BattleKid would take to the noise. Lolo was over visiting us from Ireland so he took him up into his arms and made a game of the bikes going around. By doing this, not only did BattleKid get really excited but it calmed any nerves he had. He did get a little fright when one of the bikes backfired but he soon got over it.

Once the bikes had finished their laps, the Marshalls opened the gates and let us through, and the first thing we hit was the playground. BattleKid had an absolute ball going up and down the slides, having fun on the swings as well, all while the bikes were doing their practice laps. The morning session is practice session and race laps are in the afternoon.aberdare park races

After a couple more goes on the swings we decided to make our way to the merchandise stands because BattleDad wanted to see a friend of his who would be on the Institute of Advanced Motorists stand. Unfortunately his friend wasn’t there yet but this gave us a chance to check out some of the clothes stands. I picked up a lovely Honda jacket for him for next year.

We also had time for BattleKid to have his first ever carousel ride on his own. He had a very serious face on him going around. After that we took another walk around the stands, stopping by the quad bikes track for the two boys to have a ride together. I think it was more for BattleDad than BattleKid, if we’re being honest!

BattleKid had a very serious face on him again as he and BattleDad were going around the track. It was quite funny looking at his little serious face with the very big helmet they had put on his head but they both seem to enjoy it.

After that we had another little wander around before walking around the lake and stopping by the side of the barriers to watch some more of the bikes doing their practice rounds. BattleKid had been getting a bit tired before this. However once we got to the side of the barriers he got a second wind and started really enjoying watching the bikes going round and round doing their laps. We watched a few more rounds of practice before we decided to head for home.aberdare park races

aberdare park races

aberdare park races

 

Although we didn’t spend too long at Aberdare Bike Races this year, it was a good introduction for BattleKid and he seemed to really enjoy it as did Mum, Dad and Lolo. We will definitely be taking him back next year when we will probably spend most of the day there as he won’t need his nap. Going to Aberdare Bike Races this year gives us a good idea that BattleKid will enjoy motor racing in the flesh. He enjoys watching the TT and MotoGP on the TV but seeing bikes up close and personal is a different story. This year’s visit to Aberdare Races also gets us excited for when we finally get ferry tickets for the Isle of Man TT, which we haven’t managed to do this year! One year soon we’ll get ferry tickets! They are the hardest part of trying to attend the TT.

Aberdare Bike Races are held on an 0.9 mile demanding circuit which winds it’s way through the trees in the local town park. First raced in 1950, it has seen not only local racers participate but also TT stars such as Ian Lougher and John McGuinness. This year it cost £12 per adult for a single day pass, or £23 for a full weekend adult pass. Under 13’s went free when accompanied by a full paying adult and children between 13 and 16 years of age cost £5 for a day pass.

There are numerous food stalls, plenty of merchandise stands and some fairground-type attractions for kids. There is no car parking at the park, although there is some limited space for bikes at the entrance. There are car parks in the town, less than half a mile away and you might be lucky to find some street parking around the park.aberdare park races

So if you are a biking family and plan to visit South Wales in July, I’d recommend you visit when Aberdare Bike Races are on. We’ll definitely be attending again next year. I also recorded a little vlog of our visit to the races this year which you can view below.

Thanks for reading.

Cath x

*We were not asked to write this post.

 

Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo – Our Visit and Review

While on a recent long weekend away at Bluestone in West Wales, we visited Folly Farm for the first time. Now I’ll admit when I first heard the name Folly Farm, I automatically assumed it was a small petting farm similar to Cefn Mably or the Small Breeds Farm, and when it first opened back in 1988 I wouldn’t have been far off.

However that assumption is now way off the mark as Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo, to give it its full name, is a hell of a lot more than the name Folly Farm suggests. Winner of the “Best Day Out” in the National Tourism Awards Wales in 2015, and a 2015 Traveller’s Choice on TripAdvisor, Folly Farm is an amazing place situated in Begelly in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, not too far from Tenby or Bluestone.Folly Farm

It is not only a farm but also has a full indoor vintage funfair, an award-winning zoo with over 200 species of animals and extensive indoor and outdoor adventure attractions and play areas.

On our visit to Folly Farm we arrived shortly after its opening of 10am, parked our car and made our way to the entrance where our friends sorted out our tickets, courtesy of Tesco Clubcard vouchers. We passed the huge gift shop, which both of us mums commented we’d visit on the way out, and out we went into Folly Farm itself.

First stop was the Jolly Barn & Farm, an indoor barn that houses farm animals including pigs, sheep, goats, donkeys, chickens and the most magnificent Shire horse. He was amazing and very majestic looking. BattleKid had a great time running around shouting “oh piggy, oh chicken” while doing the noises they make. I even got brave and touched a rat during the “meet a rat” time although BattleKid was having none of it at first until the handler said he was going away and then he just had to touch it!Folly Farm

Folly Farm

Folly Farm

Folly Farm

folly farm

folly farm

folly farm

I then showed BattleKid how to milk a cow which he thought was hilarious as he squirmed milk (water) over himself and me.

From the Jolly Farm we decided to visit the vintage Funfair as it was getting close to lunchtime. We got change and tokens and then proceeded to get frustrated trying to win Batman teddies on the grabber machines from the boys. £5 later we were still empty-handed despite getting them in the grabbers a number of times. The arms just let go too easily. This was our only disappointment of the day. BattleDad was sure we’d get one after spending £5 but no! After this we wandered around the amusement rides and us mums took the boys on the Ghost Trains. I’ve never been one for these types of rides but I’m fast coming to the realisation that I have to start doing them for BattleKid’s sake. I was also a bit apprehensive about how BattleKid would react to it but I just made a fuss of the flashing lights and the ‘dragons’ and he was fine, shouting “peep peep” ala Thomas the Tank Engine. After the ghost train I took BattleKid on the carousel which he really enjoyed. We didn’t get to see all of the Funfair as it is huge and our bellies were rumbling.folly farm

We decided to have lunch in the Funfair Restaurant and my jacket potato was tasty, while BattleDad thoroughly enjoyed his fish and chips. BattleKid ate his garlic bread and only picked at his pasta Bolognese, too distracted by the lights and sounds around him. He is also not a huge fan of pasta shapes, preferring spaghetti instead.

Before we left the Funfair the adults tried their hands at the Side Stalls, knocking tins off shelves and Duck Bingo. BattleDad actually knocked all his tins off during one of his goes and won a large blue dragon for BattleKid. He tried his best to repeat it to win our friend’s son one but ran out of tokens.

With lighter pockets and satisfied bellies we made our way to the zoo and first up was some monkeys and the lions. BattleKid loves lions from his “How to Hide a Lion” bedtime stories and didn’t want to leave their enclosure. We then saw the Tapiers, Giant Tortoise, Meerkats (Kalahari Critters) and the camels before making our way to the Rhino enclosure.folly farm

folly farm

folly farm

folly farm

folly farm

To our surprise there were not one but two Rhino enclosures and they were huge. After the rhinos we went to show BattleKid the pen-pens (penguins) and flamingos. He loves pen-pens as some of you know from our Oliver Jeffers book “Lost and Found” and I literally had to drag him away.folly farm

folly farm

After the penguins we quickly made our way to see the giraffes. I’ve always found them to be majestic looking animals, so graceful.

folly farm

From the zoo we went to the outdoor adventure area where BattleKid made a beeline for the pedal tractors, picking the largest one he could find. He is still learning what pedals are all about and usually goes backwards more than he does forwards, as you do when you’re two. folly farmFrom there we went to the sand diggers while we waited for the Big Dig attendant to return and BattleKid loved them. He actually managed to operate the two levers on his own!folly farm

Once the attendant was back the Dads handed over their tokens and spent the next few minutes living out their dreams of operating diggers. Boys never grow up. However BattleDad didn’t get much hands-on experience as BattleKid kept swiping his hands away shouting “no dada, Ada do it”. Al I could do was chuckle as I filmed it.folly farm

After the diggers and another quick visit to the sand diggers we started thinking about heading for home. We passed by the go-karts ad BattleKid had an absolute canary fit when we explained the cars were too big for him. He was both hugely disappointed and overtired, having not napped all day. We said he could do them next time but it’s unlikely as well be back before he’s old enough.

We stopped at the gift shop and got some pick’n’mix and I got one or two other little things too. BattleKid only then fell asleep in his buggy, pooped after a big day out. It was 4.30pm so hardly surprising he couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer.

I couldn’t believe that it was 4.30 before we headed for the cars. I certainly hadn’t anticipated spending the while day at Folly Farm but it’s so easily done!

As I’ve mentioned Folly Farm outdid my expectations and I was pleasantly surprised by everything Folly Farm has to offer. It is no wonder it is an award-winning day out. There is plenty to do and see for all age groups and lots of places to eat too which we thought were reasonably priced. There are extra charges for certain things like the Funfair and diggers but they are reasonable.folly farm

Folly Farm is family friendly as you’d expect and also wheel chair accessible. There is free parking there, baby changing and feeding facilities and a large gift shop too. Prices, as shown below, are great value-for-money in my opinion and, as our friends did, you can use your Tesco Clubcard Vouchers towards Folly Farm tickets.

We will definitely be visiting Folly Farm in the not so distant future. So if you are based in South Wales or are visiting Pembrokeshire on holidays, such as Bluestone, then I can highly recommend a day out at Folly Farm, especially if you have children!

Cath x

*I was not asked to write this post.

General Information about Folly Farm:

  • General Opening Hours are 10-5.
  •  Winter Opening hours are 10-4.
  •  Adult £13.95, Concession £11.95 (concessions are for child age 3-15, Senior citizens or disabled patrons).
  •  Children aged 2 and under go free.
  •  Discounts are available online.
folly farm
BattleKid loved the tractors in the Jolly Barn and did not want to leave them!

Ty Hafan Family Fun Day – 6th August 2016

Updated: 09/08/2016 **

As part of my role as a blog ambassador for Ty Hafan, it is time I let you know about another event coming up. On Saturday 6th August, it will be time for everyone to have fun and laughs at the Ty Hafan Family Fun Day. Last year’s theme was Pirates and Jack Sparrow even popped in to join in with the fun. It was a huge success, raising lots of much-needed funds for Ty Hafan and their wonderful facilities.ty-hafan-logo

The theme this year is the Jungle Book. It is a chance for everyone to forget about their worries with Mowgli, Baloo and the other Jungle Book characters, have fun discovering the beautiful grounds of Ty Hafan, all while raising funds for Ty Hafan. It is going to be the biggest fun day to date for Ty Hafan with a chance to win some loot at the funfair and in the raffle. You could also pick up some lovely things at the local craft stalls which will be there, and there will be lots of attractions and a play area too. And the Battle Family will be there to enjoy the fun and frolics.

There is also a chance to join one of the hospice tours to see the amazing work Ty Hafan and their care team do. I’d highly recommend anyone attending to go. I was lucky enough to get a tour during my participation in the Ty Hafan Precious Moments campaign last Christmas, and the hospice and facilities blew me away. Seeing these first-hand made me realise how important Ty Hafan are to South Wales and those families who children have life-limiting illnesses and who avail of the facilities provided by Ty Hafan. I am going to try go on a tour again with BattleDad so he can see for himself why I support this charity with my blog.

On the day there will be lots to do and plenty to eat from a huge range of local food specialists, which can be enjoyed on the main lawn. If the sun is shining it’ll be a great place to munch some yummy food! On the main stage there will be a chance for everyone to join in some fun games or simply listen to the sea chanties, Ty Hafan’s fantastic live singers and bands.

Ty Hafan Family Fun Day:

  • games
  • fairground attractions
  • hospice tours
  • music and entertainment
  • face painting
  • food and craft stalls.

As you can see there will be lots to see and fun things to join in with for all the family, so why not pick up your tickets at the Ty Hafan Barry or Penarth shops, or buy online. Places are limited and there may be some tickets available on the day. however, to guarantee your place, it is advisable you book in advance to avoid disappointment. Gates will be open between 12 and 5pm and there will be parking available in a field on the hospice grounds. Entry costs just £2 per person and under 5’s go free.

I, for one, am looking forward to the Ty Hafan Family Fun Day and may even get my face painted. I am sure BattleKid is going to enjoy it as he has recently been watching The Jungle Book film. We may even film a little vlog of the day, if I get permission. So why not join us and have some fun at the Ty Hafan Family Fun Day on Saturday 6th August, between 12 and 5 in the grounds of Ty Hafan, Hayes Road, Sully, CF64 5XX.

I hope to see you there!

Cath x

**If you can’t make it down to the Ty Hafan Family Fun Day, you can still show your support by donating online.

ty hafan family fun day

**Unfortunately we were unable to make the Ty Hafan Family Fun Day due to my longer-than-expected recovery from an operation earlier in the week. We were absolutely gutted to miss this event as we had really been looking forward to it but I was too poorly to attend and BattleDad decided to stay with me to endure I was cared for in my recovery. By all accounts it was a successful day and we’re hoping to attend next year’s event instead to make up for missing out on this one. We hope all who attended had a great time. Cath x