Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Family travel and lifestyle blog

16/10/2019

Oakwood Theme Park - Review


kids on water


We were recently invited to visit Oakwood Theme park in West Wales, located right next to Bluestone Resort and a quick drive to Narberth and Tenby, two popular holiday destinations. Many people are not even aware that West Wales has a theme park even though Oakwood has been around since the '80s and has grown substantially since then.

I was excited about going back as the last time I had been there was about 25yrs ago when we had come to Wales on a family trip from South Africa. It's funny how things have changed but also some have stayed the same, my favourite memory was going on the bobsleigh and the Treetops rollercoaster, which are still going strong and my boys also thoroughly enjoyed.

Our drive from Cardiff was pretty smooth and took just over an hour and a half to get to the park. When you arrive there is plenty of free parking all within easy reach of the entrance. Once you get your tickets and go through the barrier you come onto the miniature train platform which takes you into the park, unfortunately, on our visit, there wasn't much information and we waited for 15mins with no train appearing so we did the quick 5 min walk into the park (we did manage to catch the train on the way back).


Kids slides

Aerodrome


You are provided with a map of the area and once you're on the main site it's fairly easy to navigate. We decided to head over to Neverland, an area that is particularly family-friendly and if you have young children you will probably spend most of your time here. There is a mini swing boat which both of my boys enjoyed as well as London Taxi ride and Aerodrome plane rides. This part of the park is also the one with the most themed rides and attractions, with the Journey to Neverland walk-through display and a large indoor soft play area which is great for a rainy day. The Lost Boys adventure with three slides could be improved on as this is the main outdoor play area for younger children in the park and is a little outdated.

We had hoped to go on the Skull Rock log flume but unfortunately, it was closed for maintenance which is something that is always a possibility at any park, so if you are planning on visiting and have a few rides you really want to go on it could be a good idea calling in advance to check they are open. After we enjoyed everything on offer at Neverland we went to explore the rest of the park and headed over to the bobsleighs, this was, in fact, the only time we queued during our time here, we waited around 15-20mins which is nothing in comparison to other parks and all the other rides we waited 5mins or less.

After the bobsleighs which were a real hit we walked past the Moon landing slide which is an almost-vertical drop slide, I was somewhat anxious about my 9yr old going on this and I think listening to that intuition is important. I feel as a parent I do need to point out that my son was over the minimum age and height for this ride, he took his time & listened to the instruction but on his way down hit the back of his head rather hard on the slide, of course this isn't anyone's fault and besides a bit of upset he was fine although I would take personal caution with any rides you feel your children are not ready for despite the recommended age/height.


Oakwood

Oakwood


The slide shook my son's self-confidence a bit and despite him being a lover of rollercoasters we decided to stick to the smaller ones after and as I was feeling a bit under the weather we focused on the smaller rides in the park that were suitable for all ages and sizes, so if you are visiting with children under then I can honestly say there is plenty on offer.

One of the coasters we did go on and love was the Treetops rollercoaster which whizzes through the woodland part of the park and still gives you that speed rush and was the biggest coaster my 4yr old had been on to date. There are of course some serious rollercoasters in the park including Megaphobia which is one of the largest wooden coasters in the UK then there is Speed which at one point held the record for the steepest roller coaster with a 97-degree drop. Other white knuckle rides include Drenched, Bounce and Vertigo.


Oakwood rollercoaster

Oakwood


Another great family attraction is the paddleboats which cruise past Megaphobia and offers a bit of relaxing among all the excitement. Of course, walking around is going to build an appetite and there are plenty of places to eat from food on the go from different kiosks to a sit-down restaurant, cafe and diner. There are also plenty of picnic benches around the park if you want to bring your own food. We had eaten quite a lot before we arrived but enjoyed some doughnuts on the go before exploring the Witches Brew area which has another smaller coaster, teacups and the Cauldrons trampolines which again the kids loved.

The day we visited was also an After-dark event day which is open slightly later and puts on a fireworks display and entertainment, I really wanted to stay longer although I was coming down with a bad chest infection and wasnt up to it but I've heard good things about these evenings and it's a great additional experience suitable for everyone.


Oakwood theme park

Oakwood train


If your thinking of heading to Oakwood especially over this half term I thought I would share some tips on getting the best out of your trip

1. Buying your tickets online saves you an additional 10% and children under 3 go free. There are also discounts for those with a valid student card and those over 65. The same goes for photo passes and Vertigo tickets (which are extra), you save money booking in advance and online.

There is a special Fright for 4 offer on at the moment which works out at £20 per person for 4 people available online only from Sat 19th Oct until Sat 2nd November to celebrate Halloween. Oakwood also takes Tescos Clubcard Vouchers.

2. From our experience, you wouldn't need to purchase the fast track passes as we only experienced queues once during the whole day and even the larger rides the queues were at a minimum.

3. If you want to keep costs down to take your own food, there is plenty of picnics benches as well as a variety of catering options.

4. Do check the website as the park is not open all year round and I would recommend going to one of their event days which are often the same price but offer something a little extra and special.

Also, I would recommend allocating the best part of a day if you decided to visit so you get the most out of your time there and have a watch of my vlog to see more. Do take plenty of snacks and water and just remember to have fun!




Oakwood

*Our tickets were provided in exchange for an honest review 

13/10/2019

A night in Tylau Yurt, Hay-on-Wye


Hay-on-Wye


Near the end of summer I decided on a whim to book a night in a Yurt as we have done all sorts of glamping from Bell Tents, Pods, converted horse van and a converted WW1 wagon but we had yet to stayed overnight in a Yurt. So I did a quick search on Airbnb and discovered a family-friendly Yurt within walking distance of Hay-on-Wye, the market town famed for it's many bookstores and literacy festival.

It's also well located to the Brecon Beacons and offers tons of outdoor pursuits, we had been hoping to kayak down the river why but due to heavy rainfall a few days prior to our mini-break meant the river levels were too high, but on the flip side we decided to do a waterfall walk which was fantastic. Back to the Yurt, even though I had booked it on Airbnb I discovered it was part of Outdoors@Hay which offers outdoor adventures and accommodation.


glamping yurt

inside a yurt


The Yurt looked perfect for a quick break away from reality and has some modern facilities without taking away too much of the authenticity and at the end of the day, it's still camping, which is what I love. It's really well furnished and was spotless when we arrived and despite the temperature dropping at night we kept warm and toasting using the log burner. We also lit the outside campfire which is fantastic as many sites these days don't allow for campfires so toasting some smores and marshmallows over the fire is always a treat for the boys.


roasting mashmallows


As I've said we love camping but for a quick getaway glamping is a fantastic option as everything is already set up and no lugging equipment around with you. Tylau Yurt had plenty of bed linen and duvets plus all the crockery and cutlery you need to cook up a storm on the gas oven. There is also plenty of seating, in fact they have managed to fit a large table inside so you can sit down to a feast as well as picnic benches outside were we sat and ate pastries in the morning.


glamping breakfast

glamping yurt


As with normal camping do take warm clothes to sleep in at night, there is no electric although lamps are provided but like I said the log burner kept us nice and warm while we listen to owls hooting and the gentle patter of drizzle on the yurt, a great way to switch off from screens and we all had a good nights sleep. As the check-out at this Yurt was only midday we decided to have a nice and slow morning, enjoying coffee and breakfast while watching the boys kick a football in the field, as well as watching some horses gallop by in an adjacent field.


Kids Bookshop

Wye Valley


We then headed over to Hay-On-Wye, one of my favourite towns in the Wye Valley and no matter what day of the week you go in summer it's bustling with visitors mainly there to uncover some rare books or take in the cafe culture. We wandered around the winding streets, picked up a book for myself and the kids and then we popped into Richard Booth's Bookshop Cafe which serves some delicious home-made brunch and I highly recommend visiting if you're in the area.


After lunch, we decided to head to Pwll-y-Wrach Nature reserve near Talgarth to do a child-friendly walk to a beautiful waterfall. There is a tiny little carpark which only fits around 3/4 cars and despite the natural beauty of the place it's very quite and a good alternative to the much busier waterfall walks in the Brecon Beacons. Despite all the mud we really enjoyed this walk and you can also walk up above the waterfalls for the birds-eye view. Overall a great little getaway in the Wye Valley. 


Welsh waterfall

welsh waterfall


We paid £100 for all of us for one night in the Tylau Yurt during summer, which I feel is very reasonable considering it's peak season and within walking distance of Hay-on-Wye. Parking is also free on-site and you have access to plenty of modern toilets and showers as well as a shared fridge and your stay also includes a bag of wood for the fires. We really enjoyed this little off-grid break away from screens and wifi and do check out my in my vlog from our trip below.


11/10/2019

5 ways to keep your tyres in tip top shape this winter

car tyres

*contains affiliate links

As we move into the colder seasons it's really important to make sure we are prepared and if your a car owner this includes your car as breaking down in sub-zero temperatures is not fun and believe me I know, I've been there! The roads also tend to become more treacherous during the winter months so with safety in mind it's really important to spend some time now making sure your car is ready to take on the roads this winter, especially your tyres, so I thought I would share 5 ways to keep your tyres in top condition this winter

1. Reguarly check your tyre tread

Not only does the correct tread help the overall performance of your car but it's extremely important in terms of safety especially in poor weather conditions. It's also against the law if you go below the legal tread limit and one of the major reasons a car fails its MOT and if that does happen they need to be replaced straight away. Don't leave your tyres until they are on their last legs instead get good quality tyres at economical prices from Elite Direct Tyres Chigwell Branch.

2. Check tyre pressure

Knowing how to check your type pressure and get it to the right pressure using the air pump at your local petrol station is really important. Tyre pressure can affect the overall handling of your vehicle including steering, braking and mileage. Your car manual should have the correct pressure and if not look it up online as having over or under-inflated wheels can cause damage and at worst a blowout which could possibly cause an accident.


family car


3. Have your wheel alignment checked

When your wheels are out of alighment it can increase the chances of uneven wear and can also reduce the driver's control and car steering which can lead to an increase in fuel consumption. I can say first hand what a difference it makes, with my last car I started to feel like it was pulling to one side and didn't feel safe, it felt somewhat unstable and harder to steer and with two children in the car I knew I needed to get it checked. It did cost me money to get the wheels aligned properly but it instantly made a big difference and the whole car felt more stable and roadworthy than it had before.

4. Don't overload your car

It's really important especially int he run-up to Christmas when most people are shopping more or carrying more things from one place to another to not overload the car. Overloading the car puts both the car and the passengers at risk and can compromise the handling of the vehicle as well as cause excessive wear on your tyres. My car manuals should give you an indication of what is a safe weight for your car to handle and it's important to keep to that.


car safety


5. Drive responsibly

Maintaining good driving habits not only keep you safe on the road but also helps to keep your tyres in tip-top condition. Always drive within the speed limits and refrain from braking or accelerating excessively as well as avoiding uneven road surfaces and making sure to slow down when driving over speed bumps - if not it can knock the wheel alignment out. Also having the right breakdown cover is always a good idea, no matter how responsible you are cars can break down.

Tyres are so important when it comes to driving and if your planning on a road trip this Autumn and winter it would be worth booking in for an interim service and check over of your car so you know your safety and your car's maintenance is up to par. Dealing with these things before they become an issue always saves you money in the long term. You can also see my post about how to pack for a road trip here.


car safety

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