Tips to get the most out of a trip to Bluestone wales

Top tips to get the most out of a holiday to Bluestone

Disclosure: We were given a 4 night stay at Bluestone but all words, photos and opinions are my own.

We’ve been to Bluestone national park resort three times now, and each time we go it seems like we learn something new about how to get the absolute best out of a holiday there.

So I’m writing this post partly as a reminder to ourselves for the next time we go, and also to hopefully help anyone else who’s planning a holiday to Bluestone to really make the most of their stay.

 

I think that no matter what you do really you’ll have an amazing time at Bluestone because it’s just a truly lovely place to go for a holiday, but there are some things worth knowing and keeping in mind to really get the best out of it.

 

The lodges

The lodges are generally really well equipped with everything you need but there are a few things worth knowing about:

  • There are tumblers, wine glasses and mugs in the kitchen, but no pint glasses.
  • We’ve stayed in three different lodges and they’ve all had a grill pan and roasting dish but no simple baking tray, so take one or two with you if you know you’ll want to cook things like chips while you’re there.
  • The twin bedrooms often have just one bedside table in between the beds, which of course means just one bedside lamp.  Not always an issue, but if your children are like mine one might want to read at bedtime when the other wants dark to get to sleep, so think about taking a little reading light with you.
  • There are no clothes airers in the lodges but you can get one from guest services if you want one, useful for drying towels and wet coats.

 

What to take (and what not to take)

  • There are towels in the lodges but you can’t take these with you to the Blue Lagoon, so pack some towels if you plan on swimming there (which you absolutely should).
  • Whether you hire a buggy or not, pack comfy shoes to explore the resort.
  • You don’t need to take a hairdryer with you, there was one in each bedroom of the lodge the last time we stayed.
  • If you’re going to Bluestone in the winter you might want to take a torch with you.

 

Getting the most out of the resort

  • If you think you’ll want to eat at any of the restaurants during your stay then it’s worth booking this before you go, they do get quite busy.
  • If you don’t want to cook but don’t fancy eating out either then the food from the chippy is really good and can be taken back to your lodge.
  • Budget for some treats while you’re there.  There are quite a few places around the resort where you can treat yourselves to drinks and snacks and they’re all really lovely.  Ty Coffi in the village has seasonal goodies on offer, from different flavoured milkshakes in the summer to tempting hot drinks in the winter.  The drinks from the cafe at the adventure centre are really good, and the bar in the Serendome has a great range of drinks available.
  • The Blue Lagoon is free to use when you’re staying in Bluestone and is so much fun for the whole family.  Just remember to take a pound coin for the locker.
  • The serendome is amazing, but it really is just like being outside so take their advice to wrap up in the winter months.

 

Make sure you’re kept informed

  • There’s an app you can download that is really useful for helping you find your way around the site and also for keeping up to date with news and events from around the resort.
  • The other top tip is to turn the TV on in the lodge in the morning and check for any messages.  If the weather is bad then things like the winter lights might not be on, or some paths around the resort might be closed, and these kinds of things will be shared with you in these messages.

 

Get to know the village

  • The village is the central hub of Bluestone resort and it’s worth having a wander round there on  your first day to get the lay of the land.
  • There’s a play park for the children and a lovely treehouse play area for them to explore.
  • This is also where the cafe, pub and restaurants are.
  • Newton stores is the little supermarket on site that, despite being small, has pretty much everything you could need.  We packed loads of food and drink to take with us on our last trip and after looking around the shop we’ve said we’ll bring far less with us next time.  The shop was well stocked with everything from food and drink to toiletries and household goods.  You can even buy individual dishwasher tablets which is really useful.

 

  • If you spot them in Newton Stores, grab a little Welsh deli pasty, they are amazing.

 

Make full use of the time you can be on site

  • You can arrive on site hours before check in time and stay on site for hours after you check out on your last day, so plan to make the most of that time.
  • On our last stay we checked out then parked back up in the longstay car park and walked back round the village and around the lake, before going over to the Blue Lagoon for one last swim.
  • You can use all of the facilities from the Blue Lagoon and the Adventure centre to the new Serendome, so no matter what the weather is doing you can find something to do before you check in and after you check out of your lodge.

 

Enjoy Bluestone at every time of the year

  • Spend some time on the Bluestone website before you go to get to know what will be on offer during your stay.
  • In the spring and summer months you can enjoy a walk through the woods to Camp Smokey for drinks, burgers and the experience of toasting your own s’mores.

 

  • In the winter months there might be fewer hours of daylight but there is still so much to do.  With the Blue Lagoon, the adventure centre and the Serendome there are lots of options for things to do with the children even if the weather isn’t great.  And then you have all the festive fun of a Kingdom of the Elves break in the run up to Christmas and the truly magical winter lights in the new year.

No matter what time of year you go to Bluestone you’ll have an amazing time, and hopefully these tips will help you really get the best out of every minute of a holiday there.

Have you been to Bluestone?  What was your favourite thing to do there?  What do you wish you’d known before you went?

Bluestone winter lights break review

Winter lights break at Bluestone – Review

Disclosure – we were given a mid-week winter lights break at Bluestone for the purpose of this review, but all words and opinions are my own.

A few weeks ago Steve and I did something that I’m not sure we’ll be able to top.

We were invited to go on a 4 night break to Bluestone, and we kept it a secret from the children.  So we picked them up together after school on the Monday, and kept them guessing as to why the car was jam packed full of our stuff.

It was only once we were halfway there that I told them that they weren’t going to school for the rest of the week.  And they then guessed almost straight away where we were going and oh my word I’ve never seen them so excited.

We’ve been to Bluestone twice before and it is somewhere we all absolutely love.  The first time we went was in May 2017 and we fell in love with the laid back atmosphere and the freerange philosophy.  Then we went for a Kingdom of the Elves break in 2018 which was such a different experience but in all the right ways.

Nerys has asked every month since then when could we go back for another holiday so she was thrilled to be surprised with a trip at the start of this year.

 

You can arrive at Bluestone any time after 11 am and use the facilities on site, and then you can check in to your lodge from either 3pm or 4.30pm depending on what type of lodge you’ll be staying in.  We drove over after picking the children up from school so didn’t get there until around 5.

If you can get there earlier it would be worth it, partly to make the most of your time there and partly to avoid the queues at the check in points that we were caught up in at 5 o’clock.

Once we got to the desk though it was plain sailing and the staff were just as friendly, welcoming, and helpful as we remembered.

We got our keys and welcome pack and then headed off to find our lodge.

Now, we did have a bit of fun trying to find our lodge in the dark, mainly because I have no sense of direction.  What we did find a big help over the course of our stay was the map on the Bluestone app.  You put your lodge details in and it then gives you directions from where you are back to your lodge, and it updates as you go using gps.

We were staying in a Tenby connect lodge in Castle Close, and we were excited to get in and check it out because we’d never stayed in one of those lodges before.

The Tenby lodge was lovely, with most of the living space downstairs and then the master bedroom and ensuite shower room up on a mezzanine floor.

It sleeps 6, between the master double bedroom and 2 twin bedrooms.  This particular lodge was a ‘connect’ one, which means it’s attached to another Tenby lodge and you can open a door between the two to make it sort of like one huge lodge.  This would be perfect if you were going with a big group.

We did find it a bit noisy having neighbours in the lodge attached to ours (the sound really does travel between the lodges) but it wasn’t really a problem.

 

We had 3 full days at Bluestone and didn’t leave the resort once.

There is so much to do on site that we really don’t feel the need to go anywhere else, but I know if we didn’t live by the sea at home we would probably want to get out and explore one of the nearby beaches at some point.

Our favourite thing to do at Bluestone is visit the Blue Lagoon so we spent a few hours each day of our holiday there.

The children are both quite confident in the water now and they really love the lazy river and the wave machine.  Nerys was big enough to go down the slides this time, but decided against it.  Rhys on the other hand couldn’t get enough of them and kept dragging Steve up for another go on them.

One of the great things about going to Bluestone in the winter is the surreal feeling of going outside in the lazy river into the cold and the rain.  It was actually hailing at one point when we were out there and it’s just such a bizarre experience!

 

When we weren’t at the pool we were either in the Adventure centre or the new Serendome.

The weather was really wet and windy most of our stay so it was brilliant to have these places to visit and let the children run wild out of the rain.

The Serendome was a brand new experience for us, it was still being built last time we were there, so we were really excited to go and check it out.

We were all really impressed with it.  Steve said a few times that it made the holiday for him, it was just a perfect finishing touch to the resort.

 

The Serendome is basically a big umbrella, so it’s open to the elements on the sides but the huge dome that covers it keeps out the rain on wet and wild days.

It’s a brilliant way to be outside without being out and exposed to the elements, although you do need to make sure you wrap up warm if you’re visiting in the winter months because it does pretty much feel as cold under the dome as it does outside.

 

There’s a fab mix of things to do in the Serendome. 

It’s free to get in and there’s a sand play area and water play area which are both so much fun and amazing for sparking creative play.

There’s also the imagination garden which my children both loved.  It has these big blue shapes and cogs and things that you can use to build basically anything you can imagine.

We also found a little play park area with swings and a little slide, and another space with garden games and giant lego blocks to build with.

If you get peckish while you’re there there are a few different places to grab a bite to eat and there’s even a bar which looked like it had a great selection of ales and cocktails on offer.

For children who are a bit more adventurous you can book a session on the go carts that whizz around the dome or a climbing session on the Sky Walk.  What’s really great about this is that there’s a mini skywalk option for younger children and those who don’t fancy going quite so high up in the sky, and there’s also a wheelchair friendly course so almost everyone can have a go if they fancy it.

The go carts and the Sky walk do cost extra though, and it’s often worth booking these kinds of activities in advance.

 

The thing I was most looking forward to on this break was seeing the winter lights, so I was gutted to find out that on the first few nights we were there they weren’t on as the weather was so bad.

We held out hope though and luckily on the Wednesday the wind died down and the rain cleared for long enough for the show to go on.

The winter lights trail starts at the entrance to the woodland walk down by the lake and, honestly, you can’t miss it.

When you’re in the village there’s a big notice projected on the side of one of the buildings pointing you in the right direction then as you get closer you can see the main path to the woodland walk lit up in rainbow colours.

Once you’re in the woods the magic really begins.

We went when it was properly dark outside and it was so beautiful to see all these different light displays leading through the woods.

There were giant butterflies and flowers up in the trees, fish with moving lights in an underwater themed display and of course the magical fairy houses.

 

 

We probably spent about half an hour making our way around the trail taking it all in.

Everywhere you looked there was something else to see, so even though there were quite a few other people there it never felt like you were waiting to have your turn to enjoy a part of it.

At the end of the trail there was a little area set up with fairground mirrors and a few games where you turned handles or pressed buttons to make things move on the screen which the children really enjoyed.

 

The last day of our trip we checked out of our lodge (you have to check out by 10am) and then parked the car up in the long stay car park.  The weather had really cleared through so it was dry and the wind had dropped down so we took advantage of the extra time on site to wander round the village and visit the lake.

The resort was so quiet, I think most people do tend to head for home straight away after checking out, so it felt like we almost had the place to ourselves.

We played in the park in the village for a bit, popped into Newton stores for a few treats and then walked down to the lake.

We’d brought Nerys’ walkie talkies with us so we split up and walked different ways around the lake, talking to each other.  The children had a great time and it was really nice to get some fresh air and stretch our legs before leaving.

 

We had such a wonderful holiday all in all, and I am thrilled that we actually got to see the winter lights; I’d heard all about them from friends who had been before and the whole thing absolutely lived up to my expectations.

This is one of the things I really love about Bluestone, no matter what time of year you go there is something different to experience that makes the trip extra special.

After our last trip I wrote about the perfect time of year to visit Bluestone and now, having visited during the winter lights festival, I’m still just as undecided about it as I was then!

It all depends what you want from your holiday I suppose, but honestly, I think any time of year is the perfect time to visit Bluestone.

Best season to visit Bluestone wales

When is the best time of year to visit Bluestone, Wales?

We are rather fond of Bluestone, Wales in our family.

It was somewhere I’d heard such wonderful things about for quite a while before we actually went ourselves and I was thrilled that it lived up to all the expectations I had.

We have been twice now, once in late spring and once in December for a winter break including a trip to the Kingdom of the Elves.  And it sparked a conversation with the children about which holiday they liked best.  I wondered if there was a particular time of year that is best for visiting Bluestone.

Best time of year to visit Bluestone Wales (1)

 

I think the best way to tackle this is to look at what you can expect from a holiday at Bluestone at different times of the year, and what we particularly enjoyed about each of our trips.

 

Spring and Summer

We went on our first trip to Bluestone in May 2017, so it was late spring and it was absolutely glorious.

We got really lucky with the weather and had plenty of sunshine and blue skies, with just a bit of drizzle on the last day.  Which meant we seemed to have endless hours to get out and explore the resort.  This would be a big draw for me to go again in the spring or summer, the fact that there are more hours of daylight to spend outside enjoying everything that Bluestone has to offer.

 

There are also a few things both onsite and in the local area that aren’t open, or have restricted hours, in the winter so the warmer months are a great option if you particularly want to do them.

This includes eating at Camp Smokey at the resort.

Bluestone camp smokey

 

The steep ravine with its tree climbing and high ropes course is still open in the winter, and you can wander down to Camp Smokey for a look around, but if you want to enjoy a meal there you’ll need to book a visit in the warmer months.

We didn’t eat there when we went but it’s something I would like to try on another visit, now the children are older and more likely to try different foods.  At Camp Smokey you can enjoy hot sandwiches, burgers and hotdogs as well as various snacks.  The main appeal though is in the smokey smores, where you can toast your own marshmallows over the camp fire.

 

If you want to visit Folly Farm while you’re in Pembrokeshire you’ll also be better off choosing a spring or summer break, because it’s only open at weekends from the start of November to the middle of February.

 

 

Holidays to Bluestone in the spring and summer are great for simple things like letting little ones burn off their energy in the play park in the village.

They can still do this in the winter of course, and it’s still great fun, but it’s more relaxing for parents when it’s warm and sunny.  You can let the children stay and play until it gets dark, while you sit down and enjoy a coffee or a milkshake from Ty Coffi.

Bluestone Wales spring summer

 

The whole philosophy at Bluestone is about free range fun, getting the whole family out in nature and exploring.  And the lake is a great place to go for a walk to experience some of that free range fun.

In the spring and summer especially the lake is brilliant.

Between March and October you can sign up for a whole range of watersports and water-based activities at the lake, from paddle boarding and kayaking to family raft wars.  If you’re not feeling quite so energetic you can still have a great time walking around and seeing all the amazing wildlife.

When we went we were all so excited to see some ducks with their little ducklings walking around.

Ducks Bluestone lake

 

If you’re looking for more things to do to keep your children busy and entertained on your holiday there are all sorts of options in the spring and the summer thanks to the legends of the sea festival and the summer festival.

Both festivals offer so much to keep the whole family entertained, with special events, shows, workshops and craft activities.

A lot of these events take place out in nature during the warmer months which is really lovely. 

And you can keep making the most of being outside at mealtimes too, by having a barbecue at your lodge.

All the lodges have little stands in the kitchen to use with disposable barbecues, which you can either bring with you or buy at Newton Stores in the village.

Newton stores Bluestone

The one potential downside of visiting Bluestone in the spring or summer is that these times of year are often more popular and busier. What we found when we went in May though, was that even though the resort was busy, it really didn’t feel busy.

There is so much open space around Bluestone that we found plenty of places to explore that felt quiet and peaceful.



Autumn and Winter

Things can get so busy in the run up to Christmas and a few nights away at Bluestone is the perfect way to get away from it all and relax a bit.  You can visit the spa, go for walks in the woods and around the lake and just enjoy a slower pace of life.

There are also some activity-packed festivals during autumn and winter too, from the Bwbach festival in autumn to the winter lights festival at the start of each year.

One of the biggest reasons to visit Bluestone in winter though is for the Kingdom of the Elves.

Bluestone Christmas

The Kingdom of the Elves is the hugely popular event that Bluestone put on every year in the lead up to Christmas, and it is well worth a visit to get in the festive spirit and is great for children of all ages.



One of the great things about Bluestone is that there is still plenty to do outdoors in the colder months of the year.

As long as you come armed with wellies and warm clothes (and possibly a torch) then you’ll still have an amazing time exploring the nature trails, the lake and the playground in the village.

Bluestone park village

The resort is set out so that you can get everywhere easily on foot, but if you don’t fancy walking everywhere in the cold then you can easily hire a buggy for the duration of your stay, or time your outings to make use of the free bus service that runs around the resort.

Visiting in the colder months might also mean that you get full use out of all the indoor activities on site that you might not get round to in the summer.

There’s the adventure centre that has enough to keep the children happy for hours at a time. And coffee and wifi for the parents.

The main indoor attraction for my family has always been the blue lagoon, and swimming here when it’s cold is a brilliant experience.

The lazy river takes you outside and it is something else when the cold air hits you for the first time!

We also absolutely loved the frost lagoon experience on our winter break. The pool stays open a bit later on these days, so you can swim after dark. There is music playing and disco lights flashing, and the pretty surreal experience of going from that to looking up at dark skies in the freezing cold when the lazy river takes you outside.

Frost lagoon bluestone wales

Bluestone is still busy in the lead up to Christmas, but again we didn’t notice it feel busy while we were there.

At other times in the autumn and winter though it may be quieter than the warmer months which some people might prefer.

You also have the added bonus of the local area being quieter too at these off-peak times of the year. You might not think of going to the beach on a chilly day, but it’s amazing to have the whole place pretty much to yourself. And you can still have so much fun, building sandcastles, exploring and even flying kites on windy autumnal days.



So, there are so many reasons to visit Bluestone at any time of year, I’m really not sure if there is one season or another that is actually better than any other.

It all depends what you’re looking for in a holiday really.

The one thing I preferred about our May trip was that we were able to spend longer outdoors. It felt like we were able to squeeze more out of each day because we were out exploring later into the afternoons and early evenings.

When we went in December though it was just magical.

I really don’t think I could pick between the two holidays as to which was my favourite. What’s so lovely about Bluestone is that they have found a great balance between keeping some things the same, so it’s familiar and almost like coming home when you go back for another stay, and updating things and moving with the seasons.

There are festivals throughout the year, celebrating the changing seasons and making a holiday at any time feel like something really special.

So I’m sorry if this post hasn’t actually helped you decide the perfect time of year for you to book a holiday to Bluestone, but as far as I’m concerned there is no bad time to go!

Disclosure – We were given a four night stay at Bluestone, including tickets to the Kingdom of the Elves, but all words and opinions are my own.

Family fun in Swansea with ParkLives

Family fun with ParkLives

Keeping children entertained through the long school holidays can be pretty difficult at times.  It can also end up being really quite expensive if you’re not careful.

Luckily we’ve been having a lot of free fun as a family this summer, thanks to Coca-Cola ParkLives.

Family fun with ParkLives in Swansea

 

We discovered Coca-Cola ParkLives last summer, and were really impressed with the variety of family-friendly activities that they had on offer in Swansea.

So before the school holidays had even started this year I popped on to their website to see what they had going on to keep us all entertained this summer.

One of the events that I spotted was a family fun day in Dunvant park.

So one day last week we hopped on the bus and went to off to have some fun!

As part of the fun day there was a kite making session which I signed the children up for online.  We made a beeline for that activity as soon as we arrived and the children were quickly immersed in making and decorating their very own kites.

Kite making family fun ParkLives Swansea (1)

 

The ladies who were running the event were absolutely lovely.

They put the children at ease straight away, helping them with their designs and generally being really encouraging, guiding them to come up with their own ideas for decorating their kites.

I was really impressed with how simple the kites were to put together, but how great they looked once they were done.

It was also lovely to hear that a lot of thought had been put into making the activity as environmentally friendly as possible.  There was no plastic involved; most of the kite was made out of different papers which can all be recycled.

Kite making and flying family fun ParkLives Swansea

 

Once the children had made a kite each, and then another one each, they decided to see what else was going on as part of the family fun day.

Nerys had a blast jumping along a sort of inflatable platform on a space hopper.  I wasn’t sure how long it would keep her entertained for, but she played there for ages and had so much fun.

ParkLives family fun day Dunvant park Swansea

 

There were quite a few other children playing at the same time but there seemed to be enough space hoppers available so that everyone was happy.  And the platform itself was big enough that there was space for all the children to bounce around.

Family fun day Dunvant Park ParkLives

 

While Nerys was busy bouncing Rhys went off to join in with a bit of a football session, and then found some friendly ParkLives session leaders just about to set up a game of boules.

After watching them play a game and learning the rules he was desperate to have a try himself.

Family fun day boules Dunvant Park ParkLives

 

Once Nerys spotted what he was up to she came running over to join in too, and they had a great time playing a couple of games together.

They may have changed the rules slightly and used some interesting throwing styles, but they had a lot of fun.  One of the things I love about these kinds of events from Coca-Cola ParkLives is the opportunity it gives the children to learn some new skills.

ParkLives family fun day Dunvant park

 

Over the last week or so we’ve also been along to a football session in Brynmill park which both children really enjoyed.

Nerys wasn’t sure to start with, and I think felt a bit nervous about joining in, but the session leaders were really friendly and let her take her time to relax and join in.

ParkLives football session Swansea

Once she got stuck in though she had so much fun and I loved watching her, and seeing that she seems to have a bit of a natural flair for football.

 

We also went along to a really lovely family yoga session run by Delyth from Free Self Yoga for Coca-Cola ParkLives.

The session was at 9 in the morning and was a brilliant way to start our day.  We were made to feel really welcome and with it being a family session it was nice and relaxed and no one seemed to mind when the children got a bit lively and loud.

Rhys and Nerys both tried really hard to follow Delyth’s instructions and were eager to show her how well they could balance in tree pose.

There are so many benefits to doing yoga and going along to a class is a great way for me and the children to learn more about it and practice the poses that we sometimes do together at home.

 

Now I’m off to check out what activities we can pop along to in the last few weeks of the holidays.  

I’m hoping to take the children to another football session after seeing how much they enjoyed the last one, and I would love to do another family yoga class together before school starts up again.


You can find out what activities are available in your area and sign up for sessions on the Coca-Cola ParkLives website – www.ParkLives.com


 

Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post with ParkLives, but all word, photos and opinions are my own.

Jurassic kingdom Cardiff

A wild family day out at Jurassic Kingdom in Cardiff

With the summer holidays in full swing, we went on a bit of an adventure.

We hopped on a train to Cardiff and went to spot some dinosaurs at the Jurassic Kingdom event in Bute Park.  If you’ve not heard of it yet, Jurassic Kingdom is an outdoor dinosaur experience, perfect for a family day out.

The first event of its kind in the UK, Jurassic Kingdom has over 30 animatronic dinosaurs to discover, and is a brilliantly interactive way to learn about the different time periods when they roamed the earth.

A wild family day out at Jurassic kingdom Cardiff

 

The key information you need to know:

  • The event is based around over 30 dinosaur installations, with animatronics and sound effects to bring them to life.

 

  • The Jurassic Kingdom event is on in Bute Park in Cardiff from the 11th to the 27th of August, although it’s not open on Mondays and Tuesdays.

 

  • It’s open from 10am until 6pm, with last entry at 5 o’clock.  When you book your ticket you need to pick an hourly time slot to go in, but once you’re in you can stay for as long as you like.

 

  • Tickets cost from £9.50 for a child (under 2s go for free) and £38 for a family.  They’re a few pounds more expensive on the door so it’s worth buying in advance online.

 

  • There’s no parking at the park itself but there are pay and display car parks in Sophia Gardens, Castle Mews and North Road.  There are also multi-storey car parks at the St David’s centre and Capitol which are a little bit further away.

 

  • If you’re travelling to Cardiff by train the event is about a 20 minute walk from Cardiff central station, or you can get a bus from there.

Jurassic Kingdom dinosaur event Cardiff

 

We visited the event the day before it officially opened and so not everything was fully ready and set up.  Even so, we were there for about an hour and a half, happily wandering around and discovering all the different dinosaurs.

I would imagine that with everything up and running most families will end up staying for around 2 hours, maybe longer if you decide to grab some food from one of the street food vendors at the event.

You could even take your own picnic along and enjoy that in the park.  It’s a really pretty setting and, well, when else would you be able to eat your lunch with the dinosaurs!

Jurassic Kingdom dinosaur event Cardiff Bute park

 

There are over 30 dinosaur installations at the event and they all look amazing.

We made our way over to the first few and were really impressed with how great they looked.  I have to admit though that I was slightly underwhelmed after seeing the first few, because I was expecting them to do something and instead they seemed to just be static models.

I was busy taking photos of a few of them while the children went on ahead to find some more dinosaurs and the next thing I knew Nerys was running back to me, faster than I had ever seen her run before, with a look of panic on her face.

Then I heard the roar.

The event staff were busy working their way around turning the power on to the different models and the children had come across one that was raring to go.  I think it was so unexpected that it panicked Nerys a bit.

Once she got used to them though, and was reassured that they weren’t able to actually ‘get’ her she was fine.

Jurassic Kingdom Cardiff dinosaur family event

As for me, well, now things were interesting!

As more and more of the dinosaurs were turned on the whole event transformed into something really quite impressive.

When you approach the models they start to move in different ways.  They might move their heads around, blink their eyes or open their mouths.  The tails might wave around and they may move their arms about.

What’s really great though is the noises they make.

There was something almost eerie about walking around the park and hearing various growls and roars from amongst the trees.

Jurassic Kingdom Cardiff family event

 

We all really enjoyed wandering round the park and coming across all sorts of different dinosaurs, including several that weren’t actually dinosaurs at all.

One thing I really loved about Jurassic Kingdom was how it was really educational as well as entertaining.  The dinosaurs were accompanied by information plaques so you could learn their names and a nice amount of information about the time period that they lived in and what sort of creature they were.

I found the time periods in particular fascinating.

I still tend to think that the dinosaurs all existed at the same time, when actually some of them lived millions of years apart.  Did you know that we’re closer to the time of the T Rex, than T Rex was to the time of the Stegosaurus?

That honestly blows my mind a little bit.

For those who really want to come away from the event having learnt something, there will be an educational tent set up where you can go and watch some dino documentaries, but this wasn’t set up when we were there.

There are some lovely fun elements to the event too.

When we went the event wasn’t fully set up, but we could see a few interesting looking activities being prepared.  There was a sandpit for children to dig in and presumably look for dinosaur bones, which my children would’ve really loved.

What we did get to enjoy though were the dinosaur eggs and heads that you can climb in the back of, for some really fun photo opportunities!

Jurassic Kingdom Cardiff family day out

 

We had a really lovely time at Jurassic Kingdom and found it nice and easy to work our way around all the installations.  The children are out of the buggy stage now so we didn’t have one with us but I would say the set up in Bute park is pretty buggy-friendly.

One thing that’s worth noting though is that you can’t take children’s scooters or bikes into the event, so it’s best to leave those at home.

 

With everything fully set up I think Jurassic Kingdom will be a fantastic experience for any families with dinosaur-obsessed little ones. 

It is quite an expensive day out, especially if you end up buying food while you’re there.  But it’s such a unique experience I think it’s worth it for anyone with children who have an interest in dinosaurs.

You’ll all come away having learnt some new, fascinating facts about the past and having had great fun too.

Jurassic Kingdom dinosaur event Bute park Cardiff


You can find out more information and book tickets at JurassicKingdom.uk/cardiff.


Disclaimer: we were invited along to Jurassic Kingdom for the purpose of writing this review.

swansea-bay-rider-land-train

Life in Swansea – a trip to Mumbles on the land train

I have lived in Swansea for about 17 years now, and there are still so many places I haven’t been to and things I haven’t done here.  One thing that I can cross off that list though is taking a trip on the Swansea Bay rider land train, from Blackpill to Mumbles.

I went on it for the first time last week, with the children and Steve’s family who were over from the Isle of Man.  And I can safely say it is as much fun as it looks!

Life in Swansea land train to mumbles

The train runs 6 times a day, from Blackpill all along the front at Swansea bay to Southend gardens in Mumbles.

We decided to catch the first train of the day, at 10.30 from Blackpill.

swansea-bay-rider-land-train-blackpill

We got there a few minutes before the train arrived, and so had the fun build up of peering down the prom trying to spot it as it made its way towards us.

By the time the train arrived there were several other families waiting to get on, and I wasn’t sure how much room there would be for everyone.  So I was really pleasantly surprised when I realised that the Swansea Bay rider is actually a pretty decent size.  According to the council website it has enough seats for 72 people which I thought was great.

I was also really impressed with the two men who were running it that day.

They took the time to chat with us and work out the best deal for us when it came to buying our tickets which we really appreciated.

Then before we knew it, the whistle blew and we were off!

swansea-bay-rider-train-mumbles

The land train travels all along Swansea promenade to Mumbles, so you get amazing views of Swansea bay the whole way.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve looked out at that view across the bay, but I don’t think I will ever get tired of it.  And if you’re visiting Swansea then taking the land train is a great way to really experience the view for the first time!

One thing I really loved was how everyone walking along the prom reacted as the train went by.

All the children on the train were shouting hello and waving to them as we went along, and pretty much everyone we passed grinned and waved hello back to them.  There was just such a lovely atmosphere to the whole thing.

We got off the train at the last stop – Southend gardens in Mumbles.  Then walked for a couple of minutes to Mumbles pier.

mumbles-pier-swansea-bay (2)

We ventured out along the pier to visit the Mumbles Lifeboat station, which I’m not sure I had ever done before.

Rhys and Nerys have been a few times before though, with their Nana and with Steve, and Rhys was really excited to tell me all about how the lifeboat launches and splashes out in the water to rescue people.

I was really impressed with the lifeboat station, there was a fair bit to look at and interact with while learning all about how the crew do their jobs.  The children even had the chance to try on some of the gear!

mumbles-lifeboat-swansea-bay

After a good nose at the lifeboat we headed back along the pier to the beach hut cafe to refuel with coffee for the adults and lunch for the children.  Rhys highly recommends the margarita pizza from the children’s menu, it was delicious!

mumbles-pier-swansea-bay

We just had time after lunch for a quick visit to the amusement arcade.

I think the children could’ve quite happily spent all afternoon there, playing on the different games and trying out the various rides, but luckily for our wallets we were watching the clock to make sure we got back to Southend gardens in time to get the train back to Blackpill.

We did have time for Nerys and her cousin to ride in a rocket ship a few times though, while Rhys challenged his Nana to a few games of air hockey.

mumbles-pier-arcade-swansea-bay

We managed to get the little ones away from the arcade without too much drama (luckily!) and then strolled back to meet the train for the journey back home.

We were a few minutes early again, so passed the time taking photos and seeing who could spot the train coming first!

swansea-bay-rider-land-train-mumbles

enjoy-swansea-bay

Then it was time to hop aboard and make our way back along the prom to Blackpill.

We had a really great morning out together, riding the land train and spending some time at the pier in Mumbles.  I still can’t believe I’d never done it before!  And now I’ve seen how much fun it can be I’ll definitely be taking the children for a ride again next summer.

land-train-swansea-bay-rider


You can get details of ticket prices and the dates and times that the Swansea Bay rider runs here.


 

family-yoga-cwmdonkin-park-swansea-parklives

Yoga and ducks – fun with ParkLives in Swansea

If you live in Swansea you may well have noticed banners and signs for ParkLives up in the local parks.  And you might have wondered what they’re all about.

Well, ParkLives is an initiative that was launched by Coca-Cola back in 2014.  

They work in partnership with local authorities across the UK to offer all sorts of free activities to encourage people to get out and enjoy their local parks and green spaces.

Swansea is one of 10 cities that is involved with ParkLives and it’s been amazing this summer seeing all the different sessions that are going on in so many of our parks.

We had a great time at the family fun day in Brynmill Park last week and we’ve also been along to a family yoga session and an arts and crafts session that were both so much fun.

yoga-ducks-parklives-swansea

The first activity that we tried out was a family yoga session in Cwmdonkin park.

The ParkLives website said that the session was suitable for children aged 5 and over, so Nerys stayed home to do some gardening with Steve and Rhys and I walked over to the park to give yoga a try.

parklives-swansea-family-yoga

I was really pleased when I first saw that family yoga was available with ParkLives, because it was something I had mentioned to Rhys at the start of the summer holidays that maybe we should try.

He is such a high energy child I thought that yoga might be a great activity to try, to see if it could give him some skills to use to calm himself down and focus when he needs to.

When we got to the session we were given a lovely friendly welcome and then we spread out our blanket and got to it.

I have to admit I was a bit nervous before we went to the session because I’m not the most flexible person and haven’t done that much yoga before.  But I really shouldn’t have worried.  The session was really relaxed and fun, and it really didn’t matter if we couldn’t quite do the poses as well as some of the other people there.

yoga-children-family-parklives-swansea

Part of the session involved the children choosing cards with poses on them for their parents to try out with them.

Rhys chose the down dog card. which is one of the few poses I know so I was pretty happy with that!

family-yoga-parklives-swansea-cwmdonkin-park

The session lasted an hour which felt just about right and I was really proud of Rhys for staying focused on what we were doing the whole time.

I really enjoyed every aspect of the family yoga session, and best of all as we walked home Rhys told me he really enjoyed it and would like to do it again.  So I’m pretty sure we’ll be heading back for more sessions, it is just such a lovely thing for us to do together.

 

The other session we have been along to this summer was a fab arts and crafts activity in the discovery centre in Brynmill park.

The session was listed on the ParkLives website as a ‘design a duck’ activity, and honestly we were a little bit intrigued as to what it would actually involve!

When we got to the park we found that it was a lovely simple craft activity that involved using all sorts of materials to decorate a picture of a duck.

design-duck-brynmill-park-swansea-parklives

As soon as we sat down we were handed crayons and tinsel and tissue paper and felt in all sorts of colours.

Rhys and Nerys couldn’t wait to get started, and I loved sitting back and watching their different approaches.

Nerys went down the creative route, and made a beautifully bright and colourful duck.  It even had 2 googly eyes on its tummy, which added a nice little picasso-like touch of abstractism to her creation!

parklives-swansea-duck-art-crafts-brynmill-park

Rhys, on the other hand, decided straight away that he wanted to design a duck that actually looked like a real duck.

I find it fascinating to see how my children work and think in such different ways!

Rhys worked really hard on his picture, and was so proud of it when he had finished.  Especially when the judge came along to choose their favourite duck and his won!

duck-craft-art-brynmill-park-swansea-parklives

He couldn’t quite believe it to start with, I really don’t think he was expecting his picture to be chosen.

That little toy duck means really quite a lot to him and he was so excited to show it to Steve and then to his grandparents when he saw them the next day.

 

Our experiences with ParkLives in Swansea have been really positive so far.

The sessions have all been really well organised, and run by lovely welcoming staff.  What I really love is the variety of activities that are available.

The options in Swansea include:

  • Tai Chi
  • Scooters and skateboard sessions
  • Dodgeball and endball
  • Parkour
  • Walk and talk sessions
  • Circus skills

There are so many sessions available, there really is something for everyone.

parklives-swansea

For more information and to see what activities are on in your area pop over to ParkLives.com and put your postcode in the search box.

Then head outside and start having some fun in the park!

 

Disclosure – this is a sponsored post, but all words and opinions are my own.