6 alternative things to do with a toddler in Cardiff

Everyone’s writing family bucket lists for the year ahead… I thought I’d try an alternative take on the must-do things for a toddler in South Wales… forget Barry Island and St Fagan’s…. what about…

  1. Car wash – the nearest theme park is probably Oakwood which is a couple of hours away. Save hundreds of pounds on a theme park trip by using one of the drive-through car washes… your toddler will find it amazing (and maybe scary) and funny! It’s a good few minutes of entertainment (longer than a rollercoaster) and you end up with a clean car… bonus! There’s one by the Tesco on Western Avenue, pop in there to get a free piece of fruit for said toddler and then treat them to a McDonalds which is also nearby!
  2. Cardiff airport – can’t afford a foreign holiday? Check the departures/arrivals on the airport website (they’re not that frequent) and go and watch an aeroplane land and/or take-off instead! Much excitement for the little ones and chuck in a car picnic for the full sense of adventure! We’ve watched them from the Premier Inn car park and also the playing fields in St Athan where you can see small/private planes take off too!
  3. Pugh’s garden centre – we don’t have an aquarium or zoo nearby so here’s the next best thing. The fish shop at Pugh’s in Morganstown is AMAZING… such a massive selection… plus a tank that little ones can stand in and watch the fish swim past them! With free parking, this is a great, low-cost way to spend a couple of hours…. see snakes and lizards in the reptile shop, treat them to a cheap book or toy in the Works then have a cuppa and a cake in the family-friendly cafe in Pugh’s itself… perfect!Pughs Garden centre fish
  4. Ikea -another great place to kill a few hours…. let your little ones run wild over the showrooms, they will play house for ages! And follow the arrows around the store to the family-friendly restaurant, great value food and good facilities e.g. Plastic cutlery for kids. On a nice day they also have a play area outside. Just don’t go on a weekend. Or when you actually need to buy something. (For those times put them in their crèche!!)
  5. McArthur Glen – best place to get toddler’s feet measured? Clark’s McArthur Glen…. you get the quality of Clark’s but at a fraction of the price! Free parking so a much better idea than going into the city centre… kids love running wild here and wait til they see the free dinosaur-themed play area! One parent watches them while the other gets some retail therapy in! Finish your visit off with an ice-cream or Wagamamas (crayons included!) just don’t let them see the Little Tykes cars you can hire…. oh also this is the only place in South Wales I’ve seen family-friendly toilets with an adult-sized and child-sized toilet in the same room… cuuuuute!
  6. Funky little chickens – if getting your feet measured is a milestone, what about haircuts too… are you really a toddler from Cardiff if you haven’t had your hair cut at Funky Little Chickens?! You get to sit in a car and watch cartoons, so don’t even notice the hair cut going on… genius! Plus they have toy box to keep them entertained while they wait 🙂

So there you have it. Can you think of any other random places that could be added to the list?!

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Benugo, John Lewis, Cardiff: the Christmas menu

I hardly ever make it to any ‘blogger events’ so I was delighted that I could make it to lunch at Benugo’s last week to try out their new Christmas menu…

My office is pretty much next door to John Lewis but I’d not checked out Benugo’s before, luckily the event was sandwiched between two of my meetings…

I arrived to a lovely selection of sandwiches. I say sandwiches but really they were more like wraps, mini baguettes etc. Posh sandwiches!

I tried:

-Roast beef (rare) and horseradish sauce

– chicken and avocado (with a little kick)

– middle Eastern mezze wrap, (with hummus, falafels etc)

ALL were delicious! (And I think the latter two are available all-year round) Really tasty, flavoursome and good quality. I think they had a festive turkey, bacon and cranberry baguette on the menu but I was a bit late and missed out on that!

These were washed down with a glass of fizz and mulled wine 🙂 I only had a few sips of each as I had to go back to work, but it was a nice treat to have them both! My first mulled wine of the year… smelled and tasted like Christmas in a cup!

And to cap off a wonderful hour, we were given Christmas scones which contained cranberry, orange and cinnamon.

Again: delicious!!

Before I knew it, it was time to head back to work, but what a magical hour I had! Was lovely to meet John Lewis’ Ruth and local bloggers KellyAllenWriter and NuggetStumpBlog.

I will definitely be back for lunch! Thanks for having me Benugo’s!

Disclosure: I was given a free lunch but wasn’t asked/paid for a review 🙂

Dinosaur babies exhibition at the National Museum Cardiff

The National Museum in Cardiff has just opened a new exhibition called ‘Dinosaur Babies’ and we were very excited to be invited to the launch as W LOVES dinosaurs!

As we approached the museum we spotted some giant dinosaur footprints…. (they had done a great job promoting this event, with dinosaur poo and a knocked-over statue being found on Queen street in the run-up!)


And once inside the launch event there were people dressed as dinosaurs and a dinosaur-themed breakfast… we both loved the dinosaur eggs on lava (the lava being a tart full of bacon and baked beans…. genius!!)


After a short talk from museum staff and CBeebies’ Lizzy Daly then it was time to check out the main event…. the Dinosaur Babies exhibition!


Continue reading “Dinosaur babies exhibition at the National Museum Cardiff”

Posting a letter to Santa at Santa’s Post Office and a walk to Wales Millenium Centre: Christmas at Cardiff Bay

This year I am proper excited for Christmas. It’s the first year W has any idea what’s going on so I’m already enjoying the build-up… he loves Christmas trees and lights, and has a good understanding of what Santa’s about!

So it was lovely yesterday to meet the big man himself at the launch of Santa’s post office in Cardiff Bay. (He isn’t usually at Santa’s post office – he was only there for the launch!)


W got to tell him what he’d like for Christmas (choo choo trains) and what his baby brother would like (milk and cars!).

Continue reading “Posting a letter to Santa at Santa’s Post Office and a walk to Wales Millenium Centre: Christmas at Cardiff Bay”

9 charities you can donate baby clothes (and other stuff) to in Cardiff 

Since I wrote my post about what to do with old baby clothes, I’ve seen lots of queries in Cardiff Facebook groups asking where to donate baby clothes, here’s all the places I know of…

Charities in Cardiff to donate baby clothes to

Continue reading “9 charities you can donate baby clothes (and other stuff) to in Cardiff “

A week of full-time parenting a toddler and a baby!

Today it was eerily quiet in the house, apart from baby S’s cries and coos… W was back with the childminder on her return from holiday….

It means that I’d had both boys home with me for over a week, on my own apart from the weekend when my OH was home…

I have no idea how stay-at-home-parents cope – I was utterly exhausted by the end of it!

Continue reading “A week of full-time parenting a toddler and a baby!”

How to break a world record… This summer!

Have you ever broken a world record?! I have and it was an awesome feeling… 

Nearly 10 years ago, I was one of thousands of Joneses who held the coveted record of being in the largest gathering of people with the surname!

I believe another group of people broke our record… So next weekend I have the chance to break a similar, but different, record….

I could be part of the largest gathering of people dressed as elephants!!!

As a family, we’re elephant-mad, ever since my other half and I saw them in the wild in Sri Lanka… I think every room in our house has an elephant in so I don’t need much persuading to join a gathering of them!


So some details if you’d like to join us:

Where and when: Saturday August 13th 2016, Millenium Stadium, Cardiff starting at 2pm

Rules: you must be dressed head to toe as an elephant. There are strict rules about the costume eligibility: check them here before you attend! 

Why elephants?: the event is being organised by child bereavement charity 2wishuponastar and the elephants represent:

  • The charity’s mascot as elephants never forget, and neither do bereaved parents
  • The elephant in the room  – ‘child bereavement is something people are understandably afraid to discuss, but if we are to improve support for bereaved parents, it’s an issue that needs to be tackled.’

The story behind 2wishuponastar is incredibly sad… The founder lost her son, then her husband… And set up the charity to improve bereavement services in hospitals across Wales.

So as well as the chance to dress like an elephant, you get to (hopefully!) break a world record and raise awareness of a great charity – see you there! 
Disclosure: I wasn’t paid to write this, I wrote it for free as I think it’s a great event and great charity! 

Making memories with W at Cardiff Bay and Forest Farm

A couple of weekends ago, I made some lovely memories with W, half thinking it might be our last weekend pre-baby. (It wasn’t!)

On the Friday morning we headed to Cardiff Bay, and as it was half term my sister (a teacher) was able to join us…

As we were there nice and early (9? 10?) it was lovely and quiet, felt like we had the place to ourselves in the sunny weather…

As soon as we got there W found an abandoned balloon, which created lots of fun for him chasing it and losing it (it didn’t have a stick/string) so was a challenge to keep hold of 😉 


We walked towards the play area on the Cardiff Bay barrage…. 

W enjoyed trying to climb over the fence at the Captain Scott memorial (PS when did they put a fence around this?! And why?!)

We stopped for a coffee at the very cool ‘Coffi co’ which has an outdoor seating area which is pretty much enclosed and full of benches and deckchairs. This was lovely…. Sis and I got to catch up over a nice coffee in the sun while W could safely play with his cars and transport them from one deckchair to the other… This is the life!

As it was taking us ages to walk anywhere with me being heavily pregnant, and W trying to carry his balloon, we gave up on the plan to walk down the barrage and took him to the little play area behind the Norwegian Church instead. 

We had fun playing with him, but the funniest bit was when he hid behind a bin. Sis thought he was playing hide and seek but I knew…. He was having a poo! 
(He’s not potty/toilet trained yet but for a while now he leaves the room/hides if we’re out when he needs a poo!)


On the way back meandering through the bay, he took lots of opportunities to climb up onto the railings (one of his fave sayings at the mo is ‘climbing trees’ whenever he’s climbing up/across something… No idea where he’s picked up that saying from!) 

He was as chuffed as always to see some ‘quack quacks’ on the water’s edge, so much so that he fed them all of his crisps bless him!

Then it was lunchtime, and we decided to try Bill’s as I’d heard it was child-friendly… As it was sunny we sat outside and luckily there was a water feature nearby that he could play in while we waited for the food. He was mostly well-behaved, ate some of his macaroni cheese and our sweet potato fries (must make these at home for him!) and enjoyed playing with the crayons/colouring in book they lent him 🙂

Then it was most definitely home/nap time (we won’t write about the tantrum he had ;)) 

That night, my OH was out at the cricket (sis and I watched ‘train wreck’.. V good!) so Saturday morning I gave his delicate head a lie-in and took W to a wildlife day at Forest farm

We were a teeny bit early for the event and so were busy throwing stones into the pond….


…then the event organisers (inc RSPB and Cardiff council park rangers) came to do some pond dipping (at which point I was worried that W had scared everything away with his stone throwing!!) 

This was cool, we saw lots of tadpoles which W called ‘fishies’ (I don’t think he understood the concept of them being baby frogs!) and watched a couple of those tadpoles get killed by insects! 


We then had a walk around the meadow looking at all the ‘yellow flowers’ and ‘daisies’ 


It was a lovely little event and I’d definitely take him again. From here we drove a couple of minutes up the road to see ‘quack quacks’ and kingfishers at the old Glamorgan canal but by then he was grouchy so we headed home.

It was nice to have some quality time with him. Since then I’ve had less energy as bump has grown, and the weather has been more naff!

He’ll always me my special, first-born, gorgeous, adventurous, fun-loving son. I love you W! Xxx 

Cardiff’s bluebell woods (Wenallt): an early morning walk with W

I meant to post this 2 weeks ago when we visited the Wenallt (a bit behind with blogging sorry!) But hopefully you can still catch the bluebells if you visit this week!

cardiffs bluebell  woods
cardiffs bluebell woods

Usually on weekends, I’m the one who gets up with W when he wakes up, around the 6-6.30 mark. I don’t really mind, especially now I’m heavily pregnant and struggling to sleep/lie-in!

Usually we’ll spend a couple of hours pottering in the living room, him watching cartoons, me half asleep playing on my phone, trying to stay quiet so dadda gets a good few hours lie-in.

What I prefer is being able to get out and about early… I’ve previously blogged about wanting things like soft play to be open earlier… But now the mornings are lighter and the weather’s much improved then what better than a walk in the woods!? 

toddler W exploring bluebell woods
toddler W exploring bluebell woods

So at 8am on a sunny morning we headed over to spot magical bluebells… Through Rhiwbina, turning off at the Deri Arms up Wenallt road until we came across a car park leading into the woods.

W headed straight into the bluebells which was great for some nice photos but I was a bit worried about him trampling all over them! It really was a lovely, magical sight… And at that time of the morning we pretty much had the place to ourselves

wenallt woods, rhiwbina, cardiff
wenallt woods, rhiwbina, cardiff

We then took a long walk around the woods and created some magical memories….

  • W stopping to play at every brook/stream we came across, dipping sticks into the water and wiping them on stones
  • Hearing woodpeckers!
  • W chatting to all the dogs (lots of dog walkers up there!) and one was so friendly that W could feed him biscuits and play fetch with him!
  • W picking up lots of sticks… All called ‘stick man’

Of course, it was soon back to reality… A heavily pregnant me had to carry him (uphill) back to the car when he got tired…. By then the car park was full and so our special moment of having the woods to ourselves was gone… He was grouchy for the 15 minute journey home… And when we got home past 10am dadda was still in bed!!!

Seriously… magical though, it’s so close to the city yet so peaceful…. So good for the soul… Especially on an early morning Sunday!

Oh and I forgot to mention… Parking is free: bonus! Huge thanks to colleague and fellow blogger twinmummyanddaddy for letting me know about the place months ago! Xx

REVIEW: Jamie’s Italian, Cardiff

On a cold Monday night in February it was a delight to go to Jamie’s Italian in Cardiff City centre to catch up with friends and celebrate a birthday….

In terms of location, it couldn’t be much handier, bang smack in the centre of Cardiff and attached to the St David’s 2 shopping/food complex.

As it was dark, I didn’t manage to get any decent photos of the interior to share with you, but it’s big, airy, modern yet full of Italian-style details eg rustic crockery. It was busy and bustling, but felt relaxing and intimate at the same time…

So what did we eat? The three of us of all chose the same starter… Crab and avocado bruschetta (£6.70) which looked amazing and tasted even better! We agreed it was like a flavour explosion with yoghurt, chilli and fennel all complimenting the crab and avocado…. Really delicious and a perfect starter!

 

crab and avocado bruschetta at jamies italian
crab and avocado bruschetta at jamies italian
 
 
Then it was time for the main course, I chose the ‘famous prawn linguine’ (£13.50) and again this was delicious, great egg pasta (made daily on the premises) and lovely flavours of prawn, garlic, chilli, tomato, saffron, fennel and lemony rocket… None of which overpowered each other, it was actually very soothing (comfort food!) Yum!

 

prawn linguine at jamies
prawn linguine at jamies
 
My friends had the classic tagliatelle bolognese (£10.95) and something I’d not heard of before but an Italian favourite ‘Turkey milanese’ (£13.50) which is basically breadcrumbed Turkey with an egg on top! All the mains were enjoyed and devoured… I should have got a photo of the empty plates! 

Only negative we could really think of is that the Turkey would have been even better with some potatoes on the side, same reason I plumped for the pasta instead of a Seabass special they had on the board… Can’t eat meat/fish without carbs ;)! They do have fries and garlic bread on the sides menu but I’m surprised they don’t do some kind of crushed potatoes or something?

 

tagliatalle bolognese at jamies italian
tagliatalle bolognese at jamies italian
  
turkey milanese at jamies italian
turkey milanese at jamies italian

Now for the dessert course. At this stage one friend ducked out and had a hot chocolate – she told me tell it you was lovely! But the two pregnant ladies carried on 😉 I had the Amalfi lemon meringue cheesecake (£5.45) and it was so good! It was a decent portion but felt nice and light (guessing that’s due to the mascarpone) and it was so good I even ate most of the blackcurrants which I don’t normally like!

 

lemon meringue cheesecake at jamies italian
lemon meringue cheesecake at jamies italian
  
  I also had a lovely mint tea to wash it down with. My friend ordered the apple and blackberry pavlova (£5.45) and loved it, I wish I’d tried it as I’d been close to ordering it myself… I’ll have to have it next time… Looks amazing too!
 
apple and blackberry pavlova at jamies
apple and blackberry pavlova at jamies

So great location and interior, great food and now I have to mention our waiter Nedim. He’s been working there for 5 years which I thought was a good sign and reflects his passion for the food and brand. He told me how he’d lived in Italy for 6 years before moving to Wales and so that explains why he had a good knowledge on Italian food (I never knew fennel was good for digestion!). He was friendly, efficient and knowledgable, thanks for a lovely evening Nedim!
Thank you Jamie’s for a lovely night… Smiles all round and hopefully see you again soon!  


Small print: I was invited to review Jamie’s Italian in Cardiff, and was given vouchers towards the cost of the meal but we paid for the rest ourselves, and opinions are my own!