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.
How is it the Easter holidays already?! Why didn’t I book more time off work?! I must make the most of my precious time off with some wholesome days out. If you suffer from FOMO and want to tear your offspring away from their gadgets, good luck and here are a few local, vaguely seasonal ideas in no particular order:
The Tiger Who Came to Tea at Dyffryn Gardens
12 March – 15 May 2022
This gorgeous little exhibition from Seven Stories invites your little ones to play with the tiger in an indoor tea party. There are plenty of fun tiger themed activities to keep your young ones busy and playing through the Arboretum, gardens and the Log Stack play area. There’s also a £3 Easter trail if you fancy it. The usual National Trust entry fees from £5.50 per kid and £11 per adult apply so take a picnic and make a day of it.
A treasure hunt competition to find the locations where Beach Academy Wales photographed a shiny replica of Harry Potter’s golden egg. They’ve included some stunning Vale locations, and there’s a cracking prize for a lucky family to win the golden egg used in the pics and a two-day trip London with a Family Studio Tour at Harry Potter World and hotel stay. Register and read the instructions on their website:
This Easter weekend get a taste of medieval times, brought to life with jousting, owl displays, archery, and more. You can also visit in the rest of the holidays for the usual family fun of dinosaurs, story trail and playground. Under 3s are free, adults £16.50, children & concessions £13.
This three-hour (or three-mile, depending on whether your want to do the full figure-of-8 route or not) stroll through Dinas Powys woodland and fields is a dreamy and free way to while away a day with family and dogs. We loved tootling about, flinging ourselves about on the rope swing we found and having a good old chat as we ventured along the path. There’s a guide available with details of where to park if you’re not from Dinas Powys (or you could walk from the train station) and the route:
Use the QR stickers to experience this free audio trail of Barry’s Holton Road. Local characters will tell you tales from that spot in the past. Based on real stories, use your smart phone and stereo headphones to follow the gossip. For more information and a map of the story route in Barry town centre, head to this website:
Cinema, Wrestling and Pop Divas at Memo Arts Centre
The Bad Guys (U) 16 – 21 April 2022
Welsh Wrestling Live 14 April 2022
Pop Divas Live! 22 April 2022
This Easter holiday, the Memo are showing The Bad Guys on the Vale’s biggest cinema screen. If Ocean’s Eleven was a cartoon and all the characters were animals, that’s the vibe of this film. Popular family events Welsh Wrestling and Pop Divas Live return to Barry.
All the fun of the farm with extra Easter treats. Included in the cost of entry there’ll be face painting, lawn games and tractor rides. If you complete the Easter trail, there are chocolate prices. Costs £7.50 per child and from £4.50 per adult.
Head to the Old Hall Gardens and AJ car park for stalls of delicious grub and drinks. Pick up an edible treat or two and have a wander around the pretty town centre. Closes at 5pm both days. Expect plenty of the best foodie businesses in the Vale to exhibit their wares, and demos of their culinary skills.
St Fagans National Museum of History
Open all fortnight, including bank holidays
A classic Easter hols trip. It’s the perfect time of year to mooch around the site. We like to take our dogs so they get a day out too. Doggos must be on a short lead and can’t go in the buildings. There’s a £3.50 Easter trail or you can take yoursleves on a time travelling adventure exploring the cottages, chapel, shops, school, farmhouse etc. Free entry, you just pay £6 for parking. There are a few busses that go to St Fagans, route details on their website.
How many Snoopy sculptures will you find? Dog’s Trust is celebrating their new rehoming centre with a free public art trail, a Wild in Art Event. There’s a map of all the decorated Snoopys, designed by local and national artists, school children and community groups, dotted around Cardiff, the Bay, Caerphilly and Porthcawl. And it’s free.
On top of all of the usual fun, hunt for the Golden Eggs. We’re big fans of the Fairy Forest, the Jumping Pillow, the Adventure Playground, the Tree Houses, the Vomit Comet, Roly Poly Hill, and of course, the only licensed Gruffalo Trail in Wales. Take a picnic or treat yourselves to one of their amazing stonebaked pizzas. Dogs allowed on a short lead. Under 2s free, children and adults £8. Book online.
This isn’t a list of everything, it’s just a few ideas if you’re struggling. The photos of my own visits used in this post are all paid for by me. If anywhere wants to invite me along to review or promote, that’s grand, pop me a message. I’ll always let you know if that’s the case.
Each year I feel less motivated to share a “things to do in the Vale and nearby in the school hols” type of post. Last summer I prepped and research a load of things with photos, links, dates, prices etc but then photos of handwritten pages in a notebook of all the parks, beaches etc got shared all over the place by loads of people and I just felt sort of pointless and stupid for wasting my time. So, if you do end up going along to any of this stuff, I’d blooming love it if you could let me know.
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:
At the moment live theatre is illegal in Wales. Sounds mad but there we are. It’s been a bit of a shock to the system to miss out on frequent live theatre, dance, music, festivals and now the festive period of pantos, musicals, indie shows, puppetry, all that magic.
If you’re gagging for a family theatre experience in the Vale of Glamorgan I have GOOD NEWS! The amazing Cardiff based Taking Flight Theatre Company are taking their brilliant First Three Drops show on a virtual tour around Wales. Memo Arts Centre in Barry are selling tickets for two shows on Sunday 22nd November at 11am and 2pm.
My kids and I experienced First Three Drops from the comfort of our own living room when it was first performed for RCT and we loved it. It’s recommended for little ones aged 2-9 and their families but my 12 year old enjoyed it too. It’s not like watching a recorded show on telly, it feels live and it’s lovely to see all the other families at the end, you really get that warm buzz of being involved in something with other people.
Each actor appears in a separate Zoom box on the screen from their own home and one of the highlights for us was watching comedy costume changes and how the actors transformed their spaces into different scenes.
The show feels new but as it went on it had familiar vibes as it’s based on a story from the Mabinogion. It’s silly and positive with all the chaos and magic I expect of the best family friendly live theatre and left us all dancing on the sofa.
It’s only £6 per screen so you just pay for one ticket for your household. Bargain.
You could go all out, get dressed up and get the kids to pretend you’re at the theatre, showing you to your seat with a torch and selling packets of Malteasers or keep it casual and just cwtch up on the couch.
Taking Flight are awesome at making their shows as accessible as possible so expect live captions and integrated audio description, it’s done so well that you don’t even notice it, all description is woven into the words of the characters. First Three Drops is in English, British Sign Language and Sign Supported English.
Book your tickets through Memo Arts Centre now to make sure you don’t miss out and let me know what you think: