Tag Archive for south wales

Walking In The Winter Wonderland

After spending a year away in hot climates with some very non-Christmassy vibes,  I was excited to come home to Cardiff and start getting in the Christmas spirit as we neared the festive season.

Winter Wonderland

Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland has been a firm family favourite since its arrival in the city. People flock there every year to enjoy some time on the ice, cosy down with a mulled wine or have some fun on the wide selection of fairground rides.

Past years’ bad weather conditions (we are in Wales after all) has meant that many people have been left disappointed when when their skating sessions have been cancelled…cue the arrival of the new “all-weather” rink equipped with a clear roof. Only 10 years too late..

Having an ice-skate is always fun, whether you’re really good..or really bad. No one can be as bad as my Mum though, who, a few years ago managed to fall and be stretchered off. Never one for making a scene, my Mum. Whether you want to spend the time holding onto the sides and making your way slowly round, or if you’re feeling brave and want to show off your skills, it’s hard not to skate with a smile on your face. Even if there are those pesky school children getting in your way.

Winter Wonderland skating

Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland is the perfect Christmas tradition with the guarantee that everyone who attends is left feeling all things merry and all things festive. Open throughout the day and well into the evening, you can’t really not enjoy yourself. Live music  in the Alpine Village ensures that you are tapping your foot and singing along whilst munching on a bratwurst or a freshly made crepe and slugging on a toasty hot chocolate or mulled wine. Just don’t do a me and forget to bring some cash so you can’t indulge in the bratwurst sausage you’ve been smelling all afternoon. Sigh.

The funfair rides offer something for everyone. From the big wheel to the Santa train to the snow slide, all the family can be entertained and finish off their day with a giggle. Relatively cheap prices (if you’re not a family of four..), these are your typical fairground rides there for the simple purpose to get you smiling. The Big Wheel is a personal favourite as it takes you up and over the city, offering you some cracking views.

Winter Wonderland funfair

Cardiff Winter Wonderland Big Wheel

With the end of the Christmas period fast approaching, it’s probably about time you got your skates on and made a move to this festive Winter Wonderland before it’s no longer acceptable to eat your weight in chocolatey crepes and drown yourself in mulled wine. What am I saying, that’s acceptable any time of the year…..

Tickets – Adult – £9.50
              Child (3-7) – £6.50
              Youth (8-16) – £7.50
              Student – £8.00
              Family (2 adults, 2 children) – £30.00

(written alongside Laura Williams) 

Megan Carr

Some Wonders of Wales

Wales is a beautiful country and definitely one worth a visit. I’m being completely and utterly biased here of course having lived here my entire life, but honestly, Wales is stunning. When I went travelling the first time on a three month trip, I was so excited to leave Wales and explore some of the world, I was sure that I wouldn’t miss it at all. But I did; I missed the green countryside, the vast mountains, the humdrum of Cardiff. It was strange, but the place I spent the longest in, New Zealand, reminded me so much of home. Maybe that’s why I loved it so much, a home away from home on the opposite end of the world. Similar weather, similar vast, green spaces and of course, the sheep. Lots and lots of sheep.

Living in Cardiff, I have access to lots of great places. I’m a 20 minute drive away from Cardiff city centre and a 40 minute drive from the Brecon Beacons. Not too shabby really. From city to country, I pretty much have it all. I mean come on, there’s an actual Castell Coch literally right on my doorstep.

I’m going to share with you some of my favourite places in South Wales. Not sure if anyone will care that greatly but hey, I’m feeling the need to write something and this was the best I could come up with.

Exploring Southerndown

Number 1 is Southerndown beach. A typical Welsh beach situated in Ogmore, near Bridgend and about a 40 minute drive from where I live. A pebble beach with satin seas, surrounded by steep, jagged cliffs, this is a beautiful place for a walk. You can walk along the cliff tops, taking in the view and listen to the waves crashing against the shoreline (possibly one of my favourite sounds ever). There’s even the remains of a castle, Dunraven Castle, which you can explore – what a great location for a castle, someone chose wisely there. I’m not sure why I love it here so much, but everytime I go, I just feel slightly more relaxed, like I’m blowing the cobwebs away.

southerndown, wales 2015-10-25 15.27.39

Pen Y Fan, Brecon Beacons

A second favourite of mine is Pen Y Fan. Situated in the Brecon Beacons, it is one of Wales’ highest peaks. The drive alone, is incredible. With panoramic views and winding roads, it’s definitely a sight to remember. The walk up Pen Y Fan is pretty memorable as well and it is always teeming with happy walkers and joggers. Hikers are very happy people who always smile and say “hello”; I always think that if everyone treated each other the way hikers treat each other, the world would be a much nicer place. The views from this mountain are stunning and stretch for miles. Never ending greenery, rolling hills and fresh water lakes, it’s just amazing when/if you get to the top and are able to take it all in.

pen y fan, brecon, walespen y fan, brecon, wales

pen y fan, brecon, wales

The Garth, Gwaelod-y-Garth

The Garth is a firm favourite of mine. A mountain, about ten minutes from where I live which overlooks the whole of Cardiff – from Cardiff Bay to the Millenium Stadium and even a cheeky spot of Flat Holme and Steep Holme. Whilst these views might not be quite as magnificent as from Pen y Fan, the Garth is a place which I love to go. It’s a relatively gentle mountain and not too steep a climb and there’s plenty of points along the way where you can sit down and appreciate the view. Located just outside of Cardiff, near Pentrych and Gwaelod-y-Garth, this is the perfect place to come for an outer city experience.

Sidenote: this mountain also played a lead role in a film starring Hugh Grant!

Garth, Cardiff 2015-04-05 15.47.57

Wales, the land of castles

Now, Wales is known for its castles. Its glorious and grand castles, full of vibrant history and interesting stories. I mean, there’s even one in Cardiff City Centre, standing grand amongst the modern shops and busy commuters.

Whilst Wales is full of beautiful castles, one of my favourites has got to be Castell Coch. A castle which is conveniently located on my doorstep. Okay, so not quite on my doorstep but I’m pretty sure I can see it from my house. Hiding amongst the trees, peeping out over the village of Tongwynlais and very much visable from the majority of surrounding roads, this is a 19th century castle with a rich history. Now an interesting tourist destination, you can wander around the inside and learn about its former occupants.

There’s also some great walks to be had around this area – beautiful woods and even a small tea rooms to reward yourself with afterwards.

So there you have it. A few of my favourite places in my home country. This of course, is only a small part of what’s on offer – there is so much more going on in the rest of Wales. Snowdonia, in North Wales, is definitely a place I would like to explore. Having been there once on a Geography school trip which consisted of studying rocks and then getting drunk in the accommodation, I didn’t see or appreciate as much as I would’ve liked. There’s all sorts up there now – even a zipwire – the longest in Europe – soaring across the mountain, I’m sure offering some pretty surreal views. Now that’s one for the bucket list…

Whilst the world is huge and there’s a lot to explore, sometimes taking a look around your home country is a good substitute for curing that travel bug. What’s your favourite places in your home city?