Christmas at Bute Park 2022 Review



Bute Park Christmas

*I was kindly provided tickets to Christmas at Bute Park in exchange for an honest review

As with many major cities across the UK, Cardiff now hosts an impressive immersive light show in the city centre's main green space, Bute Park. 2021 was its first year & was a sell-out success so needless to say expectations were pretty high. While this was our first time to Christmas at Bute Park, we had previously gone to Westonbirt Enchanted Christmas, one of the first and longest-standing immersive festival light experiences so I was intrigued to see what the Welsh Capitals' take on this would entail. 

Firstly we love Bute Park, it's a stunning green lung in the heart of Cardiff city centre and a place we spend a lot of time, walking along the River Taff, cycling and enjoying the large open spaces, however, we have rarely seen it after dark so the boys and I were very excited to see Bute Park in a different light, excuse the pun. 

Bute Park Christmas

Before deciding on a time to visit I spoke to a few friends who had already visited and some had mentioned there being areas where crowds would bottleneck & that it would be better to steer clear of the more popular times (6-8pm) to avoid this. I think this may have been early teething issues with the event and crowd flow has been improved somewhat but with that in mind, we booked the first session at 4:15pm and within 10 minutes the park was dark and guess what, no queues at all, in fact, it was very relaxed & everyone had time to interact and explore the installations! If you can I would therefore recommend an earlier time if you are going with young children.

Right from the start the park felt magical, it was lovely walking along the tree-lined avenues all lit up in different colours and then coming across the water lilies on the river with the castle as a backdrop. The trail itself is around 1.4km and really isn't taxing in any way and is doable even for very young children.

Bute Park Christmas

There are a variety of themed areas that make up the light show, some interactive which is great but all are a delight to all ages, with our favourites being the fire garden, light canyon and the spectacular Prismatic right at the end.

I would recommend packing a bottle of water or a hot flask for the walk, especially if you have young children with you. There are plenty of hot drink huts along with the way, although while the kid's hot chocolate was reasonably priced at £3 with all the trimmings (looked delicious) I was taken aback at the mulled wine being £5.50 for a small cup, although as I said taking a hot flask with you is an easy way to keep warm along the walk. 

The trail is suitable for all ages, strollers and wheelchair users and there are also wheelchair-accessible toilets along the route. Well-behaved dogs on leads are also allowed on the trail. Once you get to the end of the trail you come into the Street food area with some fantastic local traders, although again this is on the pricey side but not more so than other Christmas events happening in the city and I have to say they have a fantastic choice this year from Greek, Indian and Italian food with kids options aplenty. 

Please be aware that entry to Christmas at Bute Park is via the Castle Mews entrance, next to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and is the only entry point for the event. There is no direct on-site parking but North Road and Museum Avenue are only a few minute's walk away.

Overall it was a really lovely evening out and felt festive and magical seeing the park lit up that way. Christmas in Bute Park has extended its opening days due to demand and you can now view the lights until the 8th of January 2023.  Children under 2 are free as are personal carers. It's £19.50 for an Adult, £13.95 per child or £59.50 for a family of 4. 

Christmas at Bute Park

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Home Improvement plans for 2023 - First the Skirting boards


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home interior

*This post contains affiliate links

My house is in serious need of some TLC, especially as the early years of parenting are now out of the way & putting travel before interiors but it's come to the point that I need to give my home a little attention and while I have practically not budget, after Christmas, I am planning to do what I can myself, starting with repainting every room so we can start the New Year feeling fresh. 

My skirting boards are looking particularly unloved at the moment I'm not actually sure when they were last painted (it's got to be at least a decade I'm guessing). It can however be tricky to know what colour to paint your skirting boards and some thought does need to go into it as it helps tie the room together.

Do you leave them a natural wood colour? Or, perhaps you want them a nice simple white to match your doors and architrave. Then, of course, there is always the idea that you might want your skirting boards to stand out, be a feature of the room perhaps in a bright colour, or a colour to match your walls.

Years ago, the majority of people would either leave their skirting boards plain, showing off the natural wood, or paint them white. However, these days, interior design trends have got people thinking differently about their skirting board choices. Experimenting with different colours, going bright and bold to fit in with their interior design theme.

So, once you have your new skirting boards from places such as Skirting World, all you need to do is pick a paint colour - easy huh!


Where To Start

The only place you can really start is by knowing what you want from the space.

Do you have a specific theme in mind? Perhaps going for the minimalistic look with clean lines and natural colours. Or, maybe you want your skirting boards to stand out? To know where to begin with your skirting board choices, you need to know where you plan to go with them in a design sense.

Going Modern

If you plan to go down the modern route with your interior design choices, then perhaps a contemporary shade of gloss might suit your taste. Another way to go might be to colour match your skirting boards with your coving and/or architrave, with a different colour on the walls. The pop of colour frames the room perfectly.

Go Bright & Bold

If you aren’t a fan of the clinical whites, you could drench your skirting boards in bold, bright colours. Make your skirting boards more of a feature than someone to be hidden away.

Dench the skirting boards in your personality and style to create a space that feels inviting and really shows off who you are to your guests. You could also paint your skirting boards in a similar colour to the rest of the space to add a striking depth to the room.

High Traffic Areas

Think about the colours you plan to use on your skirting boards, especially in the high-traffic, or high-usage areas of your home.

For example, painting your skirting boards black in a utility or laundry room might not be the best idea, especially if you get a lot of dust from clothes…etc. The dust will be clearly visible against the black background which will mean you spend more time dusting to keep them looking nice.

Or, having white skirting boards in a boot room, for example, could also be an impractical idea. The mud and dust from the boots will again, mean you spend more time trying to keep them looking clean.

living room

What Colour Should Skirting Boards Be?

Traditionally, skirting boards have either generally been painted white to match doors, coving…etc, or left showing their natural wood effect. However, in more recent years skirting has been used as more of a feature, than a necessity to be hidden away. So, there is no right or wrong colour to paint your skirting boards. Paint them any colour you like, or leave them in their natural state if you’d rather. You do you!

Should Skirting Match The Doors?

Again, this is completely down to you and your personal preference. Having them match does tend to make them look cleaner and more simple. Yet this doesn’t have to be the case, you could have everything a different colour if that’s what you love and suits your design theme and personality.

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The Royal Mint Christmas Experience, Llantrisant, Wales


The Royal Mint

*We were provided tickets in exchange for an honest review. Words 100% my own 

The Royal Mint Experience in Llantrisant, where all the UK's coins are made, have pulled out all the stops this year and has turned into a magical winter wonderland.  Walking up the path you are transported to a land of snow and festivities and are met with a huge Christmas tree, a polar bear chair and giant candy canes. Inside the Mint is no different with decorations hanging, more beautifully decorated trees and Santa's sleigh which children can sit in. 

You can either head to the Cafe for a mince pie before your tour or head straight to the ticket desk to check in for a special festive tour of the Mint, which is part of the Christmas Experience. Each tour sets off at a specific time so make sure to arrive around 15mins beforehand, you will need to go through a brief security check before heading into a cosy room with soft throw-covered seating, where you meet your very knowledgeable tour guide. It's here you will watch a short video about The Mint and hear more about the story of Santa, Stockings and Coins and how they are all connected. The story continues throughout the tour and is easy to follow and entertaining for all ages. 

The Royal Mint

Do remind your children to bring along their Christmas lists which can be posted in a special postbox, which lights up when you pop your letter into it. You can print out a special Royal Mint letter to take with you - here. We were assured all letters were then sent directly to the big man himself. 

After posting of the letters you walk over to Santa's sorting room, where you hear more stories and touch on the history of the Mint and the different coins that are made on-site. You then get a chance to see some of the factory floor and how the coins are made before having the chance to strike your own coin. Striking of a limited edition 50p coin is optional and has an extra small surcharge, this is a very unique experience and perfect for those 5yrs+.

Once everyone who wants to strike a coin has, you make your way through to see Santa and a very authentic Santa indeed, in fact, one of the best ones we have seen in a while. Santa was so welcoming and really took time to listen to what each child had to say and didn't rush anyone, before handing over a very special Christmas present. My youngest came away telling me that he was sure that was the real Santa. 

The Royal Mint

Once everyone has had a turn to sit and speak with Santa, you move across to the exhibition space. While the official part of the tour is over you are free to explore the exhibition at your own leisure, there are lots of things to see and do in this area, including interactive exhibits and you get to see the 2012 London Olympic Medals which were made in the Royal Mint. 

I would say the whole experience is around 45mins-1hr and there is a lovely gift shop and Cafe on site. The Christmas experience costs £10 per child and £15 per adult and the gift the children receive is worth more than their ticket so in terms of value it's really good. 

You can read more about it and book here

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Snippets from our Interrail Adventure


The Vatican
Chillin in The Vatican

We have recently got back from the most amazing adventure, by train, across Europe, on a budget. I have so much to write up about our trip but I thought I would share a few snippets while I put more in-depth posts together. 

Firstly it was amazing to be able to travel again in what felt like pre-pandemic times, yes we had to wear masks on all the German trains but that didn't bother us at all and we are more than happy to comply with any travel requirements, as long as we can travel. 

I was so excited to take the kid's Interrailing as it's something I've done myself a few times before having children and it's certainly not just for 20's something backpackers but suitable for all ages!

Looking out across Salzburg

After lots of planning, with a variety of routes we could have taken, we settle on whizzing down from London to Turin in Italy and then spending time exploring Levanto, The Cinque Terra, Pisa, Florence and Rome before taking a night train to Salzburg in Austria, across to Stuttgart in Germany and then finishing it off with a night in Paris. 

We managed to tick off 5 Countries - France, Italy, The Vatican, Austria and Germany! As this was our first dip into family interrailing, we definitely have plans to do more next year and go even further afield. I myself have been as far as Croatia, Hungry, Czech Republic and Slovakia all by train as the European network is so well connected. 

Cinque Terra
Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terra

As I said I will be writing more in-depth into how you go about planning an Interrail trip from costs to train supplements, tips, hacks and best routes. As well as sharing family destination guides to the places we stopped and where we stayed. 

We stayed in a mixture of mainly Hostels and backpackers with some budget hotels and a self-catering apartment (in Levanto). All I have to say is don't be put off by the idea of Hostels - all of the ones we stayed in we had a private ensuite room in central locations with fantastic amenities - again I will be writing about this more in-depth. 

Disclaimer - we were provided with adult and youth Interrail passes - as standard my youngest had a free pass as ALL children under 12 get a free pass with an adult. All supplements, food, accommodation and activities were paid for by me. My words are 100% my own and I will always provide an honest and unbiased review. 

Florence, Italy

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Getting creative with k'nex



*We were kindly provided with a k'nex box to review

If you are looking for a Christmas present this year that inspires creativity and thinking out of the box, literally, then k'nex is a great option! We were recently sent the k'nex 300 starter box, which provides enough pieces to make 20 builds although of course kid don't have to follow the instructions and just like lego can create their own builds. 

What is really unique about k'nex is that the rod and connector building system no only allows you to build some pretty awesome things but they also move! My son built the mini swing and loved that it actually worked and with the wheels provided in the kids the cars move.


While k'nex isn't suitable for under 3yrs old due to small pieces, it is suitable for a variety of ages as there are different skill levels, so both of my children, who are 7 & 12, found knex fun and engaging. I did think that perhaps my eldest would find it boring but he didn't at all and he really liked the harder, more challenging builds, in fact so did I (who doesn't love a creative challenge) 

What I also like about K'nex is children can build and expand their collection as they go, as the sets are all compatible with each other. There is a huge range including working rollercoasters, cranes, cars and also  educational packs that focus on STEM exploration, offering that perfect combo of fun and learning. 


We all want our children to spend less time on screens and k'nex is not only fun but also builds on dexterity skills, design and creativity. You can read more about knex on the Basic Fun website and John Lewis offers a great range starting from around £8.50.
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Fire Safety Tips for home & away


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*This post contains affiliate links

Luckily I've never had to deal with more than very minor issues when it comes to fire although I once had to evacuate my house for a short time as my neighbour had a fire in her kitchen & smoke was coming into my home. I've also been one of those travellers who has had to stand outside the hotel because someone set the fire alarm off due to smoking in their room (which of course you can't do). But since having kids, fire safety has become even more of a priority and not just in our own homes but also when we are travelling. 

Fires can occur in any kind of property, from your home to a school, workplace or even a hotel, so having basic knowledge of fire safety, improving safety in your home and what to do in an emergency is so important. Here are a few ways to make sure your home and travels are safer

1. Install a fire alarm & make sure your holiday property has one

Firstly fit at least one smoke alarm in your home, preferably two (one on each level). It's the easiest way to protect your home and family and they are both cheap and easy to install. If you are travelling, especially if you are using sites light Airbnb, make sure to get in touch with the owner to check if the property has been fitted with a fire alarm and it may also be worth asking if they have done a proper fire risk assessment of the property, something which they are responsible to do but it's always monitored with individual holiday rentals. 

2. Establish an escape route

While most hotels have the fire escape route placed in your room (usually behind the door), you should also have a plan for your home and every family member should be aware of it. The escape route should be straight forward and keeping that route clear daily is key. Unlike the home Hotels have fire doors which add an extra level of protection and should have regular checks and a fire door survey done. 

fire safety

3. Make sure both you and your children know basic fire safety

You and your children so know how to dial 999 and make an emergency call and if there is smoke to keep low where the air is clearer. You should both also know the Stop, Drop and Roll technique should your clothes catch fire as running around makes the flames worse, what you need to do is immediately lie down and roll around. 

4. Don't overload plugs

Electrical fires happen more than you think and can occur both at home or when travelling. There are simple ways to prevent them such as not overloading extension plugs and unplugging small appliances when not in use

5. Have a nighttime checklist

You are more at risk of a fire when you are asleep, so doing a nighttime check before you go to bed can really help reduce the chance of fire by doing a few simple things. 

1. Turning off and unplugging electrical appliances, including your cooker, unless they were designed to be left on, such as a fridge or freezer. The same goes when you are travelling, try not to leave phones or cameras charging in your hotel room overnight. 

2. Make sure things like candles are fully blown out and turn off your heaters.

3. Make sure exits are clear and know where your door and window keys are, both in your home or while you are travelling, especially if you are hiring an apartment or Airbnb

It's surprising how many people don't do this but in an emergency having clear exists and being able to access your front and back door keys are essential so you can get out quickly

camp fire

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Travelling to Europe? 5 things you need to do before you go


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London Paddington

*This post contains affiliate links

Many of us, due to the pandemic are only now slowly getting back into international travel, whether it be a long-haul trip or just city break or ticking off a bucket list moment such. as tours in Paris, the world is open again. My boys and I have just embarked on a trip around Europe by train and I thought I would share the top 5 essential things to do before you head off on your own adventure.

1. Check your Passports

While this may be obvious, the amount of times I've seen people miss out, especially those with kids (as their passports only last 5yrs) due to expired passports has been surprisingly a lot. The UK passport office is still experiencing delays and it may take longer than expected to get your new one back, there are options for fast tracking but these can cost significantly more so don't leave this until the last minute.

2. Apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)

While this does not replace travel insurance it's still really important to get one of these free cards which lets you get state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost or sometimes for free. When I was travelling in Amsterdam a few years back I needed to see a GP for a non-urgent appointment to get some medication and was able to quickly arrange an appointment with a local GP for free as I had what was then called the UK European Health insurance card. The UK European Health Insurance Cards can still be used if valid but once expired you need to reapply for a GHIC. Also it goes without saying also book comprehensive travel insurance.


3. Print physical copies of all your bookings

While the majority of us rely on smart phones and smart phone passes we should always print physical copies of our train reservations, flight plans, accommodation bookings etc as what would happen if you lost your phone or it was stolen, or simply ran out of battery and couldn't access the ticket, address or information? It's already happened on our trip where I thought I would be able to charge my phone on the train but the charger port was not working so I ran out of battery, luckily I had a small portable charger that helped a little but I also had our train reservations and accommodation booking printed otherwise I wouldn't have know the address or hotel contact number without it.

4. Decide how you plan to get around & prebook your transport

If you are just going for a quick city break and plan to walk to most of the sights thats fine but if you are planning on using public transport make sure to research where you need to buy tickets as most trams, busses and metros require a ticket before boarding. Also purchasing rail reservations beforehand if you are planning on taking intercity or high speed trains is highly recommended as these often sell out beforehand. It also goes without saying that that if you plan to hire a car do this in advance to ensure both availability and the best rate and make sure you driving licence is valid. When it comes to car rental there are lots of options so shop around and do Car rental compare online.

5. Still check for additional Covid restrictions

While most of Europe has fully opened up there are still some restrictions in place in a few countries and need to be adhered too. They are usually to do with mask wearing, such as in German it's not a legal requirement to wear an FF2 mask on public transport. You don't want to be subject to a fine if you have not prepared and packed the right mask.

European travel

Of course the main thing is to have fun while travelling but doing your research beforehand will save you a lot of time, money and inconvenience and having a rough itinerary before setting out also enables you to have a better idea of what kind of budget you need before going. Travelling slightly off peak will also mean cheaper accommodation and less crowds, allowing you to really enjoy the popular sites with less queues.
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How to have a Japanese-inspired Day out in London


Kyoto Gardens
Enjoying Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park

My kids and I, like many people, have a deep love and fascination for everything Japanese and while we would love to jump on a plane to Japan (hopefully we will one day) right now with ongoing travel restrictions that are still in place in Asia means that's not the most feasible option. So how do we learn more about Japan and experience some of the culture without actually travelling there? First of all, we have been reading a lot of books, watching documentaries and films and learning how to cook some Japanese-inspired food at home. But then my son asked if we would have a Japanese-inspired day out in London for his birthday and like any major city London is a melting pot of cultures and influences, so we set out to see what we could find.

Kyoto Gardens

1. Kyoto Garden, Holland Park

We started the day with a relaxing walk around the beautiful Kyoto Garden in Holland Park. Kyoto Garden was a gift from the city of Kyoto to commemorate the friendship between Japan and the United Kingdom. As soon as you walk into the carefully planned and landscaped garden you feel a sense of tranquillity and calm especially as you approach the tiered waterfalls and pond full of koi carp, surrounded by stone lanterns and Japanese maple trees. We also spotted a rather majestic peacock wandering around the garden which only added to the unique atmosphere. The Kyoto Garden is free to explore, open daily from 7:30am and is a lovely spot to start the day. 

Japan House London
Exploring the exhibition at Japan House

2. Japan House London

The cultural home of Japan in London, Japan house was created in 2018 by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign affairs to showcase the best of Japanese culture, crafts and food. Here you will find Akira Restaurant (we didn't eat here but I've heard it's excellent) on the upper floor, the ground floor offers an emporium selling a curated collection of crafts from different Japanese artists and designers. The ground floor also has The Stand, take away drinks and snack bar stocking authentic teas such as iced matcha and sencha teas as well as a small seasonal menu. Downstairs is an exhibition space, we explored a free exhibition called "Windowology: New Architectural Views" which was really interesting, they also host film screenings and talks here. 

3. V&A Japanese Collection

The V&A houses a permanent and free Japanese collection in The Toshiba Gallery that is well worth visiting and will be of interest to both children and adults. The collection includes paintings, textiles, armour, woodwork, sculptures and ceramics, as well as modern and contemporary crafts and gives a good grounding into the history of art and culture in Japan. 

If you have time you can also pop over to the Natural History museum and head to the Volcano exhibition and experience what it's like to be in the middle of an earthquake in Japan - it's interactive and my kids found it really interesting. 

Mochi Donut
Trying a Mochi Donut at Japan Centre

4. Japan Centre and Mochi Bar, Leicester Square

Both my kids and I were keen to pick up some tasty snacks. to take home and Japan Centre in Leicester Square has everything you need and more making it an authentic Japanese dining and shopping experience with open kitchens and a central dine-in basement courtyard. On ground level they also have the Mochi Bar, a Japanese bakery serving up freshly hand-baked delights such as mochi donuts, mochi ice cream and bubble tea, we, of course, had to try some Mochi donuts and they were delicious. 


5. Experience Tokyo Ramen at Yokocho

Luckily over the time we visited Heddon Yokocho near Regent Street was having a special Godzilla event and as both my kids and I love retro Godzilla we had to make a visit and taste their amazing Ramen and Godzilla-inspired cocktails (for me, not the kids). Both the interior and food transport you to the alleys ways of Tokyo, "Yokocho" actually means alleyways which are hidden off the main streets of every city of Japan and offer delicious restaurants and street food. I cannot recommend this place enough, the food was amazing and the kids ate every last bite of theirs as well which is always a win! It was a great way to end a Japanese inspired day out in London.

We had also planned to visit Kew Gardens which has a large Japanese garden, Bamboo Garden and Minka house but unfortunately, we ran out of time but that is another place to put on your list.


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It's Time to Start Thinking About Your Autumn/Winter Style

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Autumn fashion

*This post contains affiliate links

It's that time of year again! The trees are bare, the air is chilly, and we're all bundling up in our warmest clothes. But just because it's cold outside doesn't mean your style has to suffer. In fact, winter is the perfect time to experiment with different textures, layers, and colours no matter what your personal style is. But not only that, but it’s also time to stock up on some of essentials that will carry you through this season.

Fall and winter fashion can be tricky especially at the start of the season when the temperature fluctuates between warm and chilly. It's not as easy as throwing on your favourite outfit that has seen you through summer and calling it good. But there are ways of tackling the colder months that will keep you feeling good about yourself and warm all at the same time. One of the key to pulling off a successful fall or winter look is to focus on the details, a simple way to do this is by adding a scarf, a hat, or even a belt. But let’s take a look at three elements that will help you with your styling.

Tartan pattern

1. It’s Time to Play With Texture

Winter is the perfect time to experiment with different textures and fabrics. It's the one time we can really embrace things like the tartan print and a mix of textures not only looks stylish, but also keeps you warm. Try pairing a fuzzy sweater with corduroy pants. You can also add a pop of texture to your accessories. A chunky knit scarf or gloves will add some visual interest to your outfit.

2. Layer Up!

Layering is a must in the UK, especially if you regularly go from the inside to the outside and vice versa. Not only does layering keep you warm, but it also allows you to play with different proportions. Try pairing a top with an oversized sweater or long coat. Layering can also help you transition your summer clothes into fall and winter. For example, if you have a light summer outfit that you love, you can layer it over a turtleneck or long-sleeved tee for a winter-appropriate look.

3. Making Fall/Winter Colors Work

Winter is often associated with dark, muted colours like black, grey, and brown. But don't be afraid to experiment with other shades! Jewel tones, pastels, and even white can look great in the wintertime. Just make sure to pair them with other colours in similar hues so that your outfit doesn't look too jarring. For example, if you want to wear a white sweater, pair it with other whites or creams. This will create a cohesive look that is both stylish and winter-appropriate.

Autumn shades

The 6 Styling Essentials to Invest in Now

As the weather starts to cool down, it's time to start thinking about what you really need in terms of essentials to get through the colder season comfortably but still feel good about what you're wearing! Here are the top 6 winter fashion trends for men that will keep you looking good and feeling comfortable all season long.

1. The Puffer Coat

Puffer coats have been popular for a few years now and they don't seem to be going anywhere. They're perfect for cold weather because they're so warm and comfortable. And there are so many different styles to choose from that you're sure to find one that fits your personal aesthetic. Whether you want a solid colour or a fun print, there's a puffer coat for you.

Puffer coat

2. Chunky Sweaters

Chunky sweaters are another great option for keeping warm in the winter. They also happen to be very stylish and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Pair a chunky sweater with some jeans and sneakers for a casual look or dress it up with slacks and a blazer for a more formal outfit.

3. Flannel Shirts

Flannel shirts are always in style in the fall and winter. They're perfect for layering under a sweater or jacket and they add an extra element of warmth on those especially cold days. Plus, they come in a variety of colours and patterns so you can find one that fits your personal style perfectly.

4. Beanies

Beanies are a must-have accessory in the wintertime. Not only do they keep your head warm, but they also look great! They come in all different colours and styles so you can find one that matches your day-to-day outfit or goes with a more specific outfit if you're going out on the town.

5. Boots

Boots are essential for snow, rain, and cold temperatures. And luckily, there are so many different styles of boots to choose from these days that it's easy to find a pair (or two) that fit both your needs and your sense of style. Whether you're looking for something practical or something fashionable (or both!), there's definitely a pair out there for you.

6. Scarves

Scarves are the perfect way to add an extra layer of warmth. They come in endless colours, patterns, and materials so you can find one (or two...or three!) that fits your personal style perfectly. And they're so easy to throw on when you're heading out the door on a cold day!

Styling Your Favorite Fall/Winter Fashion Today

These are just a few of the many fashion trends that will keep you looking good and feeling comfortable all winter long! Experiment with different styles and see what works best for you. With so many options available, it's easy to find a winter wardrobe that expresses your personal sense of style while still keeping you warm throughout the season!
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Glamping at Top of The Woods, Boncath, Wales


Top of the Woods

So nice we did it twice! I have to say it's not often that I rebook a place, simply because I love to try new places but Top of the Woods, in Boncath West Wales is worth a revisit, in fact, I can see it becoming somewhat of an annual tradition especially as it offers family and dog-friendly accommodation. Perhaps because you really can switch off here, phone reception doesn't exist and only the thinnest slither of wifi can be found near the main farmhouse and it's patchy at best but that's not why you come somewhere like Top of the Woods, you come to make real connections, with nature, your family with new friends, in a gorgeous rural location completely off-grid.

Top of the woods

Top of The Woods offers 3 glamping options - Pioneer Camps, Nature Domes and Safari lodges, all of which are comfortable and high-end with private & undercover cooking areas but some offer more facilities. 

On our first visit, we stayed in a Nature Dome and our second in a Pioneer Camp, so I will focus on these for this review as I can offer my first-hand experience of them. There is also meadow camping for those who want to bring their own tent, with lovely views and large wild meadow for children to run and play.

Nature Dome

Nature Domes - these are great even for the slightly off-peak months, we stayed in one in September and the dome remained cool during the day and nice and toasty in the evening with the use of the wood burning stove, honestly we didn't feel chilly once. The domes all come with awesome views across the welsh countryside where you can enjoy a cafetiere coffee in the morning which you can find in your own undercover camping kitchen, which really does have everything you need to cook up a feast. The dome also has solar lighting throughout and blackout curtains to help keep out that very early summer sun. The interior itself is also stylish with wood flooring, welsh wool blankets and rugs and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.

Pioneer Camps

Pioneer Camps - our stay this year was during a heatwave and I'm so glad we opted for a Pioneer Camp tent which in the extreme heat offered more ventilation than the Domes (don't be put off the Domes, it was extreme heat) and while they are slightly more back to basics than the Domes, we loved it. The camps are surrounded by a wildflower meadow and woodlands and come with their own firepit & wagon-style covered kitchen. There is raised wood flooring inside as well as a log burner which we didn't need to use on this occasion and soft crisp bedding which meant we got a good night's sleep.

Regardless of whether you decide to camp or glamp everyone has access to an array of facilities on site which not only ensures you stay comfortable but also encourages a connection with nature and community. The Dutch barn is a focus point of the site and offers a large all-weather covered picnic area, freezers and charging points should you need them (but as I said there is zero phone reception here). Right next to the dutch barn is the hammock garden, which both myself and my kids loved as well as the communal fire pit which hosts campfire stories during the summer holidays.


While refreshingly there isn't a "play park" as the whole site is there for children to explore, there is a willow garden, a games room with plenty of board games, a waterfall trail and lots of space to run free. The site is also completely car-free with wheelbarrows on hand (again very popular with my kids) with parking only being a short distance away but knowing there are no cars driving around brings an extra peace of mind to parents with kids who will naturally enjoy running across the meadows. If you wake up early you can also join Jon to meet their three resident Kunekune pigs which are adorable.

Wild swimming
Wild Swimming in the River Teifi


Things to do close by

I would highly recommend the Waterfall walk which takes you through the stunning Fynnone woods to Fynnone waterfall which really is somewhat of a hidden gem and makes for a great adventure-filled day out that costs nothing except a packed lunch (and spare clothes if you plan to take a dip in the waterfall pool). 

We also really enjoyed a visit to both Newcastle Emlyn Castle and Cligerran castle, both of which are free to enter and explore and for those who love Wild swimming then there is a great spot suitable for young and old on the river Teifi just behind Cilgerran castle. 

If you like partial to ancient neolithic history then I also encourage a visit to Pentre Ifan, a neolithic chambered Dolmen thought to date from 3,500 BC as well as the surrounding Ty Canol Ancient woods.

There is also plenty of coastline to explore and we really enjoyed hiring Kayaks in Cardigan and then enjoying a short walk over to Pizza Tipi for some of the best Pizza you will taste in Wales. 

You can of course opt to take it really slow and just enjoy the peaceful surroundings of Top of the Woods, which is what a lot of people come to do. 

Top of the Woods Eco camping and Glamping is found in Boncath, Pembrokeshire and is open from the end of March 2023 to October 2023, so if you looking for a springtime adventure next year keep this place in mind. 

Glamping Wales

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6 Unique Outdoor Experiences in Southern Wales


Cardiff Castle

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South Wales is the perfect base for getting outdoors and reconnecting with nature and it's packed with hidden gems, waterfalls and mountain trails suitable for all ages and skills. It's well known for the Brecon Beacons, the Wales Coastal path and lots of Castles but there is even more that awaits you in this part of Wales and I thought I would share 5 truly unique experiences to try in South Wales that will get your outdoors, in the fresh air in a really positive and fun way and all of these suggestions are perfect for the whole family, if you want to get the kids invovled as well. 

Wild foraging

1. Try Wild Foraging 

Wales is a haven for foragers as we have an abundance of woodland, meadows and coastline to explore but of course you need to go with someone who is knowledgable about the local area and knows what is safe to pick and safe to eat. There are a variety of foraging workshops across South Wales that will teach you about wild food life, how to identify wild edibles and their nutritional and medicinal benefits. Gourmet Gatherings, based in Monmouth offers a guided tour along the Severen Estuary, with it's hedgerows and meadows, it's a great way to explore the local area while learning something new. 


2. Go Stargazing with an Astronomy Adventure

Have you heard of Dark Skies Wales and Astro tourism? Well it's a thing and Wales is the perfect base for an astronomy adventure. While much of the UK is affected by light pollution, here in Wales we have an abundance of places that are perfect due to their rural location and allow you. to expierence the natural wonders under dark skies. If you decide to try out an evening with Dark Skies Wales you can expect to be guided by experts to learn the basics of astronomy, spot different constellations and comfortable find your way around the night sky.


3. Have a go at Carp Fishing

Have you ever thought about giving fishing a go? Well South Wales has a variety of natural and well stocked locations such as Cefn Mably lakes, which is perfect for carp fishing in a safe environment. Places like Dyffryn Springs offer tuition for all ages, from complete novices to those who just want to improve a certain skill. This is a great way to spend a few hours outdoors, even if you don't catch anything it's relaxing to be by the water and is a great family activity.  

food truck

4.  Go on a tasty foodie tour of Cardiff

Cardiff is a melting pot of influences when it comes to the local foodie scene and if your looking for a tasty way to explore the city then why not go on a Cardiff tasting tour which not only takes you to local cafes, street food vendors and Cardiff market but you also pass key landmarks in the city such as Cardiff Castle, Principaliy Stadium and the beautiful Bute Park. This tour combines exploring the city, the outdoors as well as some of the best foodie spots in the city. 


5. Get wild with a bushcraft course

Many of us have heard of forest schools for children but what about doing a bushcraft course for adults? The Brecon Beacons and a variety of locations in South Wales are perfect for reconneting with nature and learning key survival skills such as shelter building, fire lighting and wilderness cooking. You can also make it a family affair with family bushcraft camp workshops, I've done something similar with my kids in Wales and they loved it. 

mountain biking

6. Have a go at Mountain Biking

Wales is actually world renowned when it comes to their Moutnain Bike trails and while there are many advanced runs there are also a lot of beginner locations for those just dipping their toe into the adrenaline sport. I recently took my eldest son for an action packed day at Dare Valley Gravity Bike Park in Dare Valley Park which has a free to use pump track and two fantastic beginner blue runs which are also free to use although you can opt to pay for the Uplift and they also offer bike hire on site. You don't need any particular skills except that you fell confident riding a bike. 

So if you are looking for something a little different or want to try out a new skill then South Wale is a great base

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The Green Gathering Festival, Chepstow


The Green Gathering

The Green Gathering festival has been on my bucket list for a long time although with the pandemic cancelling most festivals for 2yrs we haven't been able to attend until now. I had considered staying for the whole weekend as we love to camp and love a long festival weekend, although as we are planning a big trip to Europe soon, I decided as the festival is in Chepstow which is less than an hour away from our house, that the most budget-friendly option was to get a day pass, especially as under 11's go free, which meant I only had to pay for myself and for £40 for a whole day at a festival that felt like a really good deal. 

Solar power

We made sure to get there early so we could enjoy the whole day and really get a feel for what the festival is all about. Unlike other festivals, the Green Gathering is the original off-grid low impact festival, powered by sun, wind and people and is non-profit without any mainstream commercial sponsorships. This however doesn't impact the amazing performances and facilities they put on over the weekend. 

The Green gathering

There is also a real focus on change and activism that goes beyond weekend hedonism to bring about real positive environmentally earth-friendly change. That focus is seen right from the start where instead of bringing loads of cars onto the site, the car-park is set away from the festival and you take a community-style bus shuttle onto the site. I was also very impressed with the accessibility side of things, while the boys and I don't have any mobility issues it was great to see they had put in place accessible toilets, showers, camping area and crew on hand to facilitate everyone's access to entertainment and services.

The green gathering

There was an abundance of activities for all ages including special areas for children and teens. My boys really like the archery and "street" performers as well as the large kid's play area, community library and swap shop. While we didn't do any craft workshops there were things like willow weaving, yoga, circus skills and face painting. We also popped into quite a few different tents to listen to some amazing live music as well as making sure to visit the resistance photography exhibition. 

The green gathering

There was plenty of food and drink available, and I had the chance to try out some locally brewed cider while the kids enjoyed some fresh crepes. Despite it being hot and sunny there was also plenty of shade and it was lovely and cool in the forest area which also had a fairy trail. 

Overall the atmosphere was such a positive one and while the festival is for all ages I found it particularly family-friendly and we have decided that next year we will be returning but for the whole weekend. Did you go to any festivals this year? 

The Green Gathering takes place yearly, usually during August, in a beautiful green space in Chepstow, Wales. 

The green gathering festival

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