8

Family Day Out at Cardiff Bay Beach

There’s been a lot of hype about Cardiff Bay Beach this year – so what’s it all about?

It takes a lot to impress me. Just ask my poor husband. But after visiting Cardiff Bay Beach, I was really impressed. Visiting in the sunshine with my family on launch day, I was proud that Cardiff had created something so innovative and oozing of success on day one. It’s clear that this isn’t a half-baked attempt at a kiddies summer holiday activity, they’ve gone all out produced a quality affair which transforms the Bay.

Cardiff Bay Beach

Cardiff Bay Beach

What is Cardiff Bay Beach?

In it’s third year, Cardiff Bay Beach is set up from now until the end of the school holidays outside the Wales Millennium Centre with a giant sandpit complete with deckchairs, fairground rides, entertainment and a carnival atmosphere. The beach spans the entire breadth of Roald Dahl Plass with 300 tonnes of sand is hauled in – that’s the equivalent weight of around 25 buses. It’s estimated that the beach will attract 250,000 visitors throughout the summer.

What can I do at Cardiff Bay Beach?

Build sandcastles: It was pretty cool to see families lying back in their deck chair, toes in the sand eating fish & chips as if they were genuinely at the seaside.

Cardiff Bay

Excitement about Cardiff Bay Beach is already abuzz on Twitter

Take a dip: There’s a shallow swimming pool which gleamed in the sunshine and looked very inviting before it opened on the first day. It’s not huge though so you can definitely see it getting pretty rammed (cue fear of big kids trampling over my tiny little toddler).

Go wild at the fair: The rest of the basin is filled with fairground rides which includes a carousel, Ferris wheel, bumper boats, helter skelter, jungle trampolines, those huge balls you climb in and try to walk on water before falling on your face, a little train ride and a car ride. There’s also the standard hook a duck game, crazy mirrors and what I have to award the best fun house I’ve ever seen – usually these things look a bit lame but this pirate themed one had moving steps, a hamster wheel, bridges and water shots.

On the carousel…again

Beach games: I didn’t see it on my visit but the beach is also set to feature goalposts and nets for football and volleyball matches and tournaments.

Eat & drink: Food wise, you can grab yourself the likes of burgers, hot dogs and fish & chips at the BBQ grill, treat yourself to a cone or milkshake at the ice-cream parlor or visit a sweet stall that your teeth hurt just by looking at. Want something more? Then the Bay’s plethora of restaurants and cafes await you.

There is a rainbow of slushie drinks for kids and the Tropical Bay Bar for adults – essential if you’re combining hundreds of kids, the school holidays, sunshine (we can hope) and a load of sugar. It’s not the cheapest bar and everything is in obligatory plastic glasses but a good selection of cocktails, wine, beer and spirits. Among the choice was a pint of San Miguel for £4.50, a Pimms for £5 or a frozen cocktails for £6. I was immediately conned into buying an awesomely tacky palm tree cocktail glass – complete with strawberry daiquiri – for £8 on the promise that any refills all summer long were only £5 and guaranteeing my return to capitalise on my investment.

Brain freeze thanks to my palm tree cocktail

What else: Face painting, games, street entertainment, picnic benches and music with Radio Cardiff. Want to get fit? There’s also beach boot camps every Wednesday in August at 6.30pm.

How much does it cost?

Visiting the beach is free which includes the sandpit and pool. However, if you want to hire a deckchair, it’ll set you back £3. The rides aren’t cheap and can spend a small fortune especially if, like mine, your toddler doesn’t understand the words “four times on the horsies is enough” – and that was on the carousel at £2 a pop.

When is Cardiff Bay Beach open?

The beach is open 10am – 8pm from Sundays to Thursdays and 10am – 10pm Fridays and Saturdays.

What do I need to take to Cardiff Bay Beach?

  • Sun cream and hat
  • Buckets and spades
  • Towels
  • Picnic – if you’re on a budget
  • A portable deckchair if you have one
  • Lots of money
  • Your camera – although you’re not allowed to take pictures at the pool
  • Your refillable palm tree cocktail glass

Where can I park?

  • Havannah Street car park (by St David’s Hotel), CF10 5SG, £2.50 for 2 hours, £5 for 4 hours
  • Pierhead Street car park, CF10 4PH, £2 for two hours on a weekend or £4 for 24,on weekdays it’s £3.50 for 2 hours and £6.50 for 4 hours
  • Mermaid Quay car park, CF10 5BZ, £2 for 2 hours, £4 for 4 hours

More info

8

Holiday at Bluestone – How baby made me love rainy days

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This month, I was lucky enough to have a week’s family holiday at Bluestone Wales*.

Living near Cardiff, I’m familiar with Bluestone. And as our babies grow, more and more of my mummy friends are becoming familiar with Bluestone. In fact, I think we’re now starting to border on obsession. One mum will casually mention that they’ve booked a visit and all of us will look at her with immediate envy. I’m sure I’m not the only one that logs on to the Bluestone website later that day to check out the latest special offers.

My husband and I visited Bluestone in March last year with our baby who was then just seven months old. However, we were struck down with the curse of the baby ear infection. And no matter how hard we tried to relax and savour the holiday, we couldn’t help but succumb to our concern and exhaustion from round-the-clock baby comforting.

A year on, we returned. To say we were desperate for a holiday is an understatement. We counted down the days until our week of escape where we could spend every moment as a family without work, housework, credit card bills and the endless other chores and stresses of everyday life.

As the week approached, as did the certainty of the weather forecast; one day of sunshine and four days of heavy rain. Now, I’m someone who thrives on sunshine and passionately hates the rain – especially on holiday. Not to sound too dramatic but the thought of a holiday in the rain brings me bitter disappointment.

However, something changed in me on this trip to Bluestone. I watched my toddler’s unbridled joy at being on holiday – even in the rain. Encased in her new romper, she bounded about from puddle to puddle with glee. She squealed with delight as the wind blew in her face and the rain splattered down on her outstretched palms. Her most favourite thing on the holiday was the outdoor lazy river at the site’s Blue Lagoon swimming pool. She constantly pointed at it and when we started to get pulled in by the flow of water, her couldn’t contain her excitement and thrashed her entire body about in our arms shrieking. One thing was clear, no matter what the weather, she could not have been happier.

I quickly realised how old and boring I had become by the very nature of being an adult. My toddler’s emphatic enjoyment transformed my entire outlook and we didn’t waste a moment.

I’m not saying we played out in the rain all week but we certainly didn’t let it dampen our spirits. While there’s plenty of exploring to be done outside at Bluestone – especially with the whole of Pembrokeshire on the doorstep – there’s also lots for rainy days. And we crammed in as much as possible – laughing as we dashed through the rain to the swimming pool or the Adventure Centre with baby giggling and kicking her legs against the rain cover on the buggy. (Although part of me suspected she was laughing at us mugs out in the rain while she laid back in her dry, snug chariot and we affectionately nicknamed her Lady Muck for the week).

Pre-baby, if you’d have told me that a rainy week in West Wales would have been one of the best family holidays, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. I’m actually now a little ashamed that I’d had such a spoiled and dull attitude in the first place. Sometimes you get so caught up in being a grown up with a set of likes and dislikes and being set in your ways that you actually forget how to let go. I’m so proud how my tiny little girl has taught me such a valuable lesson – to forget myself, to challenge life’s boundaries and to embrace every moment. So as corny as it sounds, thank you baby girl and thank you Bluestone.

* Note: I was lucky enough to be a guest of Bluestone Wales for this holiday. Visit my blog next week for a full review.

If you read this blog, you may also like: 10 Signs You’re on Holiday with a Baby