Easter Fun at Home in the Rhondda

What made our Easter holidays just so stupendous? (Apart from the incomparable company, of course)

Well, we were busy. Not every minute of every day, but generally so. We had visitors and Easter-tree activities the first weekend and then the Big Big Man had a week off. Sweeeeet. This is when it really becomes a proper holiday – all of us together.

And these are a few of our favourite things…

Bryngarw Park just outside Bridgend. I love this place, there’s sculptures in the woodland walks, an overgrown Victorian garden which is slowly being restored, a wide open field perfect for football kicking and kite-flying, the most impressive slide I’ve ever seen on council owned land, boarded walks through the marshes (loads of wildlife and fungi to spot), a lake with ducks, and my favourite is the shallow river, great for wading through in wellies at this time of year, and even better as a makeshift swimming pool in the summer. And you only pay for car park – what’s not to love? There’s also a cycle track, but we’ve yet to try that out, maybe when the Little Little man is capable of commandeering his own stabilisered bicycle.

St Fagans Museum of Welsh Life. Another car-park only fee attraction. We took my brother and his lovely girlfriend here on Good Friday, and we had a brilliant time, all the buildings (it’s an open air museum with buildings from across Wales reconstructed within the grounds of a castle) had open fires, and it’s a great place to have meander around and have an insight into Welsh history, though I have to say most of the staff were miserable as sin, maybe because it was a Bank Holiday, but they really didn’t engage with visitors at all, quite frustrating as I’m sure they have bucket-loads of information which would have fascinated us all. Regardless, we enjoyed it as we always have done.

Roath Park in Cardiff. This provided another fun day with a picnic; we fed the ducks, visited the (very busy) park, lapped the lake (as in, walked around it, we did not drink from it, no) and moseyed through the gardens, lots of camellia in full colour and the magnolias just ripening to flower. The gardens here are beautiful, and as most of the trees and plants are labelled it’s a great way to get ideas for your own green space. It started to rain so we headed home sooner than we’d have liked, but we’d exhausted nearly all our options anyway.

Bute park in Cardiff. This is my preferred park of them all, next to the river and castle right in the heart of the city, there’s always something going on (this weekend it’s the RHS flower show), there’s cafes and sculpture trails, the secret garden, footbridges across the Taff to play pooh sticks, a Gruffalo area, woodland walks, plenty of space for any kind of games you want to play, reconstructed building foundations (Kids LOVED this, what was so fascinating, I’ve no idea but it allowed my friend and I to have an hour of uninterrupted conversation – unheard of), fallen trees to climb, a stone circle and I’m sure there’s more I don’t even know about. It’s a great bargaining tool when there’s some shopping you just have to get done when the kids are with you, or even just to persuade yourself to make some heinous purchases.

It was also the Big Big Man’s birthday over Easter, we had a day with just the Big Little Man as the wee one is contracted into nursery every week (and I am not the kind of mother who looks a gift horse in the mouth – I absolutely put my child in nursery when I don’t need too, hello its £38 a day, and he loves it, and so do I). So, the Big Big Man wanted to go to Burger & Lobster for lunch, like Wahaca, it opened just before Christmas in Cardiff as the first site outside London, we’d heard mixed reviews, but he was adamant. He wanted lobster. It was good, delicious in fact, but I don’t know if I’d go again. £30 each for a combo of ½ lobster each, burger, fries, salad and selection of desserts to share, otherwise it’s £20 for burger OR lobster. So, at the higher end of what we normally pay. We reasoned it out that we didn’t have (or need) starters or sides, BUT there was no children’s menu (WTF?), they wanted to charge £3 for a bread roll (‘It is brioche’ – I don’t care if it’s gold plated, most places do it for free when you spend that much). That really irritated me. However, our waiter was excellent and ended up doing the roll, a beer and extra portion of chips for free when he realised it was the Big Big Man’s birthday, obviously he noticed our unimpressed faces. He also brought over a tray with a live humongous lobster in to show the Big Little Man, which was a sweet thing to do. I’d really struggle to recommend this place due to the cost, and if you don’t like burger or lobster, you’re completely screwed, and definitely don’t take kids if they’re fussy. But, it was delicious and perfect for a man who wanted lobster on his birthday.

We also went to Aberdare Country Park which is great for those who are at the other end of the Rhondda valleys, and did a few other activities but above were definitely the highlights. I remember thinking that there wasn’t much to do around here; I had limited knowledge because I grew up in the Midlands, but the more I look around and talk to people, the more I find to do. When I was working, I didn’t have the time to do these things with my family, but the best of all is that most of these activities are free, so now there are no excuses to not explore and have fun.

Next up is the sculpture trail behind Castell Coch, recommended to me by my equally bargain-activity loving friend. If you have any suggestions for the South Wales area, I’d love to hear them.

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