Family delight in Wales - despite the British weather
Last updated at 17:20, Tuesday, 25 September 2012
With a staycation in mind, James Higgins and family took the M6 (among other motorways) to Wales.
THERE is something very satisfying about a full boot. I speak here in a vehicular sense as opposed to in a footwear capacity.
Don’t ask me why. It perhaps indicates intent to do something worthwhile.
In this case, the fully loaded people carrier which was our chariot for the week was en-route to Wales.
Our destination was the seaside town of Beaumaris in Anglesey, where seven days of old fashioned family fun, relaxation and, we hoped, basking in the sun, was in order.
The ten day weather forecast which we had been religiously studying in the days before our departure however, did not bode well.
On the menu was rain, rain and, sadly, more rain. And that either meant plenty of time mooching about our apartment with glum faces - or time out and about experiencing what the Isle of Anglesey and beyond had to offer.
We plumped for the latter - and here are my top tips if you are Wales bound.
Anglesey Sea Zoo www.angleseyseazoo.co.uk
The great thing about Anglesey Sea Zoo was that, once we had paid for the day, that ticket was valid for the week.
There was everything one might imagine of an aquarium-style attraction, with creatures from seahorses to sharks and cuttlefish to crabs.
The route around the Sea Zoo was lined with information and educational displays and there was plenty at eye level for the children.
Among the favourites for our party was star fish spotting and the huge viewing window for the main aquarium which featured, among other things,sharks - and lots of them.
There was also a seahorse nursery and lobster hatchery among other things. Outside there is a fantastic play area with bouncy castle maze - but rain prevented us from enjoying that particular attraction.
Price: Family of four (two adults, two children), £26; adults, £7.50; children (3+) £6.50 (Bold)
Verdict: Great for a day out and the week-long ticket represents great value for money
Welsh Mountain Zoo www.welshmountainzoo.org
While our children delighted in the antics of the various animals living at the mountain zoo, I spent most of my time there marvelling at the stunning location. I would happily challenge anyone to find a UK zoo in a more spectacular setting, in fact.
We had ventured off the Isle of Anglesey and to Colwyn Bay where they zoo sits nestled on a hillside.
It is home to a number of endangered species from Britain and around the world including Snow Leopards, Chimpanzees, Red Pandas and Sumatran Tigers.
Our time was taken up with the self-explanatory Penguin Parade, Chimp Encounter, and Condor Haven among other things, while the Children’s Farm was great fun - and the subject of repeat visits.
Sealions’ Rock was a hoot and if you do make it to the zoo, make sure you catch one of the shows. The children’s playground was also a great energy burner and we had three contented, if a little tired youngsters by the end of the day.
Price: Family ticket (two adults, two childen) £31.40; adult (16+) £9.95; children (aged 3-15) £7.50.
Verdict: A zoo with many of the usual attractions and much more in a truly unique setting. Fantastic day out.
Tree Top Adventure link www.ttadventure.co.uk
I never had a fantastic head for heights. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no acrophobic, but the closer my feet are to firm ground, the better.
For that reason - and the fact I have an intrepid six-year-old son - the Tree Top Adventure at Betws y Coed in the Snowdonia national park was the perfect place to spend a few hours doing a little bonding.
Unlike some high wire courses, this one caters for children aged four to eight on a specially constructed course which is high enough to satisfy one’s sense of adventure, while not being so high that it becomes intimidating.
We spent a fantastic hour-or-so making our way round the course a number of times, growing in confidence on each occasion.
While we did so, high up in the trees were more intrepid explorers traversing the real high wire course.
Tree Top Adventure also has attractions in the shape of the Powerfan Plummet - the closest thing to a 100ft freefall you can imagine - and the Skyride, an enormous swing.
Price: At £12 per person, the Junior Tree Trail represents great value for money
Verdict: Cracking day out for adults and little ones alike, with a real sense of achievement at the end.
Beaumaris Gaol www.visitanglesey.co.uk
The time arrived for a little culture during our week away and where better to soak it up than the gaol on our doorstep.
Beaumaris Gaol is a wonderfully preserved relic of the Victorian era, with an interactive tour which takes visitors on a journey back in time.
The reality of life incarcerated is brought to life in the dimly lit corridors, cold, sparsely furnished cells, punishment and work areas.
The treadwheel room is a particular revelation as the brutality of hard labour is brought home.
The gaol was built in 1829 to serve the town of Beaumaris and the then county of Anglesey, but had a relatively short period in service and became defunct as a prison in 1878.
We visited this attraction en-masse and it would, perhaps, have been an idea to leave our younger children with family. Our six-year old boy was fascinated, and the experience was worthwhile, but for our younger girls, aged four and two, it was perhaps a little overwhelming.
Beaumaris Gaol was educational, captivating and spine tingling in equal measure. Get in on your agenda if you’re Anglesey-bound.
Price: Adults, £4.50; children/concession £3.50
Verdict: Frozen-in-time example of the harsh realities of prison in the 1800s
Anglesey Model Village and Gardens link www.angleseymodelvillage.co.uk
WE entered the world of miniature marvels on a decidedly wet and windy day. For this reason we pretty much had the run of the place and umbrellas in hand we set about exploring with a determination the rain would not dampen our enthusiasm.
A lot of the walkway around the attraction was covered by mature trees so we were not as exposed to the elements as we had originally feared - and that meant we have plenty of time to take in the impressive mini versions of some Anglesey landmarks.
There were two highlights: a model train track with working engines and a mini ride-on railway on which the children played the part of train driver.
The model village is not huge in terms of the area is covers so we made our way around in 30 minutes or so. But we then retraced our steps twice to catch elements we missed first and second time round. With bargain basement entry prices, a quiz for the children to complete on the way round and some charming models on show, this was well worth the couple of hours of our day we spent there.
The model village is open between Easter and the end of September every year. That means the chance to drop in has passed for 2012. If you are Anglesey-bound next year, however, it’s well worth a visit.
Prices: Adult £3, Child/OAP £2.50, Family Ticket (two adults, two children) £9.50.
Verdict: Charming little attraction which represents good value for money.
Crabbing on Beaumaris Pier
WHEN the sun did shine, my boy and I took to Beaumaris Pier to see what all the fuss was about when it came to crabbing.
Armed with a £1 line and a £1.50 bait ball, we trooped, bucket in hand, to what we considered to be a prime location.
It was incredible fun to cast our bait into the sea, then wait a couple of minutes before reeling it in to see if we had attracted a bite.
The excitement as we did so was palpable - and when we landed our first crab, there were cheers all around. Two hours of activity saw us catch eight; not bad for amateurs on the crabbing scene.
The morning’s activities represented great fun and I’d recommend this as a must to anyone looking for some cheap family fun.
First published at 16:57, Tuesday, 25 September 2012
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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