March of the Mummies 2022. Demanding reform of childcare, parental leave and flexible working. Thousands marched yesterday, pics from the Cardiff march.
I cannot believe we still have to protest this shit. It was rubbish a decade and a half ago and it still is now.
Things have changed since I first went on maternity leave and had to use a private nursery (all only possible because of incredible family support). I didn’t have the Childcare Offer For Wales (up to 30 hours free for children aged 3-4) that I’d have been eligible for now but that still leaves 3 years of childcare challenge. The poorest I’ve ever been was on statutory maternity leave, which is still piss poor.
More companies offer better paternity leave now and the Paternity Act passed in 2010 but there is more to be done. Childcare is horrifically expensive in the UK but childcare workers are still underpaid and undervalued.
These issues are still so relevant and we need to challenge, especially with proposed changes to regulations in England that would change the childcare ratios. We can’t sacrifice quality and safety for affordability. We all deserve better than that.
Big love for the wonderful @pregnant_then_screwed for her tireless work on this issue and the cwl Cardiff campaigners who made the Cymru contingent happen. @amothersplace @bethansayed @blackandbeech @jenburkedavies @rowanmeg
Halloween half term overwhelm hitting you hard already? Me too. The FOMO is high and rising. Scariest thing about this Halloween is that I’ve booked us in for too much organised fun. There’s a lot going on, loads of it’s sold out, so this post is just the tip of the Calon Gaeaf iceburg. I’ve included some not so Halloweeny options too for those of us who’ve had a gutsful of ghosts and ghoulies already.
We’re checking this out tonight. Created by the team behind the light trail at Cosmeston last Christmas, we’ve been told to expect special effects and petrifying performers along with a traditional fairground. Sessions are available to book from 5.30pm to 8.30pm. My kids have been off on an Inset day today so I thought it would be a fun thing to do in the evening. Tickets still available.
Soz huns, they’re all sold out for daytime and twilight sessions. I went last year and had a delightful yomp through the fields in the autumn sunshine. My mum took my kids and nephews today. If you’ve not booked already, get in there early next year I guess.
My 14 year old and his mates experienced the Night-Time Scare Trail last night twice. They booked it a while ago and from what he’s told me, they had an amazing time. He doesn’t say very much these days so when he enjoys something it’s high praise indeed.
Does what it says on the tin. It’s an early bonfire night innit. Fairground open from 2pm, prizes for Halloween fancy dress, free Halloween train ride. If you get the eeby jeebies at fireworks displays, this is the one for you as they’re released from Friar’s Point but you can see the whole thing from the safety of the Barry Island prom. It will get mega busy and there are road closures so plan ahead. It’s free with charity bucket collections. The rugby clubs are holding firework displays the following weekend if you’re a big fan of bright lights and explosions.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff
I know, it’s not midsummer it’s autumn but go with me on this. Under 25s are half price, you might be eligible to join Sherman 5 (check on their website) for discounted tickets. It’s a silly, mad introduction to Shakespeare for younger theatregoers. I’ve heard great things about the run and the last shows are on 29th October so get in there quick. We’re heading to the Saturday matinee.
Saturday 29th October 2022. Pop on your Halloweeniest costumes and follow the map to pick up some treats and have some fun. Expect spooky street entertainers, face painting, special deals for participants, pumpkin patch selfie stage and a trick or treat bag for gathering all the Halloween sweeties from the brilliant Barry businesses who are taking part.
Coco and Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile movies at the Memo Arts Centre, Barry
This Day of the Dead get crafty at the Memo with some Dia de los Muertos vibes before watching one of my absolute favourite animations EVER on 2nd November. The big half term film Lyle, Lyle Crocodile is also on during the week with croc crafts before the showing. Check film times on the website.
As Halloween’s so early in half term this year (oh my days has this term draaaaaaged) if you’re lucky enough to be off work at any point, there are all the usual places to visit too. Is it even half term if you’ve not been to St Fagan’s? Don’t forget to use your Escape into Autumn free entry to Dyffryn Gardens. And if you’ve been following my blog for the past few years you’ll know I’m a fan of the Mountain View Ranch Family Trail. If all you manage to do this week is survive, that’s cool too. If you’re working through the week, I see you, I am you and that’s why I’m jampacking the weekend with too many plans.
We popped to the book launch of The Elephant and the Buns at Elephant & Bun Deli in Cowbridge on Sunday and met the lovely author Megan Mattravers. We were lucky enough to be one of the early birds to get a free sticky bun with our book purchase and my youngest was delighted to get his books signed by Megan.
Like Megan’s previous children’s book Vintage Owl, The Elephant and the Buns is based on a true story and set in beautiful Cowbridge with some familiar shops and characters in the gorgeous illustrations from Owain Lewis (who also created the fabulous window display at the deli).
The book is perfect for older primary school readers who might be overwhelmed by a thick novel without pictures, for confident readers aged 6-9 who are on the journey from picture books to longer stories, or simply for you to share with your younger children when you read to and with them.
The deli was an absolute trove of edible delights. I heartily recommend the sausage rolls. The spherical iced buns were the cherry on the top.
Megan is at the Goodsheds in Barry on Saturday 23rd October for a book reading and book signing event 10am-11am. Tickets are available here:
Off with your kids over half term? Me neither. I’ll try squeezing in some mini jaunts to quell the FOMO beast but here are some of my top spots for this incredibly Halloween saturated week ahead.
Memo Arts Centre, Barry
Abominable Friday 25 October – Saturday 2 November (various times) from £3.50 in advance
Animation from the makers of How to Train Your Dragon about Yi meeting a Yeti and going on a quest to Everest.
There are loads of showings which include an Autism Friendly Screening on Tuesday 29 October at 11am for a more relaxed environment with the lights kept on low, the sound not quite so loud and a breakout quiet space.
Little Shop of Horrors Wednesday 30 October (4pm) £3.50 in advance
An amazing cast including Steve Martin and John Candy star in this 80s comedy musical about a plant with a taste for human flesh. Before the film they’ve got Halloween crafts in the café from 3.15pm.
The Nightmare Before Christmas Thursday 31 October (3pm) £3.50 in advance
Dress up in your Halloween gear for this Tim Burton animation about Jack Skellington. Before the film they’ve got Halloween crafts in the café from 2.15pm.
Oskar’s Amazing Adventure Friday 1 November (2pm) £7
I saw this lovely play in Edinburgh a few years ago and I’m so glad it’s coming to Barry. It’s about a puppy and uses songs and puppets. At the end the children can meet the performer and get to play with the puppets.
National Museum, Cardiff
Dippy on Tour Saturday 19 October – Sunday 26 January (10am – 5pm) FREE
It’s only bloody Dippy the Diplodocus from the National History Museum. He’s in Cardiff for a few months but this half term is the first chance to catch him here. There are some cracking Dippy themed events coming up like a Museum Sleepover on 16 November and a family friendly HUSH Silent Disco on 30 November.
Cosmeston Medieval Village, Penarth
Medieval Hallowe’en Event Thursday 31 October (10am – 3pm) £5 per child
Discover where the Monsters of Mayhem are hiding. For ages 5-12, accompanying adults are free.
St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff
Halloween Nights Tuesday 29 – Thursday 31 October (6-9pm) £13 adults, £10 children
We went to this last year and had I loved that the event tapped into the opposite of the overly Americanised plastic crap Halloween filling up supermarket aisles nowadays. There were traditional ghost stories steeped in Welsh history, folk traditions and ghostly guests. Suitable for ages 4-12 and their grown ups.
Pumpkin Picking Patch, St Nicholas
Pumpkin Picking Friday 18 – Thursday 31 October (9.30am – 4pm) parking and entry FREE, Crafts from £4.50, pay for your pumpkins
I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that this will be incredibly busy with instagrammers, I fear that the best pumpkins have already gone and there’s potential for a mini squash flavoured Fyre Festival but PYO veg has that irresistible wholesomeness about it. I’ve not been but with the closure of Hendrewennol, there’s an appeal to a local pumpkin picking patch. Let me know what you think.
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff
The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps Thursday 31 October (7pm) £8
A dark and witty mix of storytelling and poetry from the BBC 6 Music Poet in Residence, Murray Lachlan. Bizarre and hilarious death stories told by a butler to a boy. Halloween outfits encouraged. From 6pm there’s a unique Virtual Reality prequel to the show. For ages 7+.
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
I Wish I Was a Mountain Tuesday 29 October – Friday 1 November (11am all days and 7pm on Tuesday) £7
Written and performed by former Glastonbury Poetry Slam Champion, Toby Thompson. Based on a fairy tale of a man who wishes to be turned into a mountain. Creatively translated into BSL by deaf poet Donna Williams at 7pm on 29 and 11am on 30 October. For ages 6+.
Central Park, Barry
Pumpkins in the Park Saturday 26 October (12 – 5pm) £2 for pumpkin carving
Online bookings have sold out but limited slots available on the day. Expect pumpkin carking, bouncy castle, fun fair, crafts and even a dog fancy dress show.
Scream Your Heart Out Saturday 26 October (7pm) £5
For adults only, this screening of the classic horror film Scream for over 18s is in the park, in the dark. Not a family friendly event, obviously.
Amelia Trust Farm, Barry
Pumpkin Patch Trail Saturday 26 October – Sunday 3 November (10am – 4pm) £2.50 plus entrance fee
Buy your trail leaflet from the café, solve the clues to find the pumpkin faces .
Creepy Crawly Shows Monday 28 – Tuesday 29 October (2pm) £3.50 plus entrance fee
Brave enough to meet rats, snails and snakes? Meet the creatures in these ticketed shows. For ages 1+.
These aren’t the only events and shows on this half term but it’s a starter. We can’t do everything and it can all get a tad overwhelming at times. This list is for when you’re looking for a treat.
I’m Welsh but I’m not a confident Welsh speaker. On the daily, this doesn’t make me ponder on Welshness, on national identity and bilingualism but last week I took my boys to Cardiff Bay for this year’s Urdd Eisteddfod where it felt like a bigger deal on the Maes.
We were non Welsh speakers at a Welsh speaking event in Wales. We had a lovely day and we did feel welcome but also at a remove. I felt like a visitor, an outsider, somehow other.
The Urdd Eisteddfod is one of Europe’s largest touring youth festivals. As well as all of the stalls and activities on the Maes, there are loads of competitions for children and young people in things like singing and dancing following regional rounds. About 15,000 competitors take part through the week. The Urdd was set up to give children and young people the chance to learn and socialise in Welsh.
We toyed with sending the boys to Welsh school back in 2012 but our closest English primary school is behind our house. We cross no roads to get there, I can hear the playground from home and garden and it’s a cracking school.
The seven year old was in his absolute element in the Senedd display of the 2D and 3D art and design competitions. He’s a model making fiend and a puppet fan boy. He was so genuinely impressed with the paintings and drawings “wow, I can’t believe this one only came second, it’s a winner for me”, it was unsurprising when he looked up at me, his eyes glowing with creative crafting ideas and asked “how can I join in Mum?” like it’s Blue Peter and anyone can enter. Sorry babes, you can’t because you don’t go to a Welsh medium school. *insert sad child’s face* That’s where it feels excluding and exclusive. Which is understandable knowing that the Urdd exists for Welsh speaking children.
When I posted about this on Instagram I had a reply from a teacher at an English medium high school who told me that they had pupils compete so it turns out they don’t have to go to Iaith Cymraeg schools to participate. I did not know this. I thought the Urdd Eisteddfodau were a cultural rite of passage that my kids would have no part of in the same way that the opportunity wasn’t there for me as a child who grew up in Wales at English language schools. And that’s as a pupil who did extra Welsh (true story) and chose to do Welsh GCSE and A Level.
My Welsh is OK, I can get by to a limit. If you did A level French, that’s the kind of language vibe. Except it’s not. I’ve got an A Level in it but I don’t only encounter it at the boulangerie on my holidays. I work all over Wales so Welsh is at meetings, seminars, conferences, it’s in the lunch time chats and evening meals out, it’s sprinkled through emails, it’s on print, websites, in theatre productions, social media strategies. And that’s just work.
At the Urdd Eisteddfod we made an effort to use as much Welsh as we could all day. The 10 year old ordered his hot chocolate all by himself and enjoyed his “un siocled poeth”, the 7 year old said “diolch” to pretty much everyone in Cardiff Bay.
They were in awe at how much Welsh I used (my children are very easily impressed) “how did we not know you can speak another language?!” I can’t, I’m really not that confident with it but I do try when I can. I felt guilty and lazy for not using it more at home when I do make the effort in work emails and events. I want to use Welsh with them more at home, beyond our current “nos da cariad” (good night love) and “pwy sy’n barod?” (who’s ready?).
It was a lush day out though, one of those exhausting days where you walk for miles, while away time soaking up live music, have a nosey in every trade stall, race cars in virtual reality, golf, join a band, colour in, trampoline, make a bead bracelet, toast mshmallows and bump into a couple of people you know. As it was free entry this year I treated us to drinks and a fairground ride without the inward panic about spending all of the money.
It felt right to expose the boys to a world where people assume you can speak Welsh, it opens their mind up to realising it’s the first language for some people and it’s alive in Wales, not just something to learn in the classroom.