Combo Torino, the coolest hostel in Turin, Italy



Combo Turino

I've always been a fan of youth hostels and backpackers, the good ones, not the bad ones and there are a few of those out there but with a little research you can find some really fantastic ones that offer all the same amenities, sometimes more, than a hotel, in fantastic locations for a budget-friendly price and many are family-friendly but do make sure to check before booking as some are specifically for 18yrs+.

Having stayed at many over the years as well as worked at 3 across Europe, I feel I know what makes a backpacker a place to be and what doesn't. When I took the kids interrailing I knew that the majority of our accommodation would be at youth hostels as there are so many benefits, such as being centrally located, having luggage storage (unlike Airbnb's), many have kitchens that can be used which means being able to do some self-catering and nearly all have lounges and chillout areas with books and games for kids to enjoy. They are often more relaxed than hotels which is perfect for families and I often find it a less stressful atmosphere than a hotel. 

Our first stop on our interrail adventure was Turin, which we would arrive at in the late evening and as it was a full-on travel day we decided to stay for two nights so that we could also explore some of what Turin had to offer before heading to the Ligurian coastline. After extensive research, we decided on Combo Turino, a hip hostel housed in a former fire station that also included a restaurant bar, radio station and event space. 

Combo Torino

Our train down had been delayed so we arrived close to midnight feeling rather exhausted as I have to be honest I was nervous walking through reception with dance music being played in the event area for a private party BUT I can assure you the sound did not travel at all and we heard nothing from our room so there had been no need to worry. 

The reception is open 24hrs and the staff were very friendly and welcoming and we never felt out of place here as a family. We paid just under £100 for a family room with breakfast. It was so spacious and possibly one of the coolest hostel rooms I've stayed in and not only as it was spotless and beautifully designed with two balconies that could be opened up which looked across the local market.  

Combo Torino
Our room was stylish, spacious and perfect for a family

It consisted of two bedrooms that flowed into each other with a large bathroom in between them and plenty of space to hang clothes, as well as plenty of clean towels, soap and shampoo. The free wifi also worked very well across the hostel and I managed to catch up on some work in our room but there is plenty of social areas for digital nomads and remote workers to enjoy. 

I really liked the breakfast, which is taken in the very stylish bar area with huge arching windows and a modern industrial feel. While breakfast was not a buffet or self-serve like some other places, it offered up some freshly baked bread, cereals, yoghurt, fresh fruit and cheese and meats along with Italian coffee made by the barista in the cafe and I always knew it's good when the kids finish their food, which they did each morning. 

Combo Torino

The hostel itself is only a few minutes walk from the old town and we really enjoyed exploring Turin by foot and by tram (there was a tram stop only a few meters from the hostel) and it was easy to get to the main station via tram on the day we checked out. 

While we only ate breakfast here they also offer lunch and evening menus, as well as having a kitchen space that can be used by guests to make their own meals. There is as mentioned plenty of workspace, socialising areas, free fast wifi and air conditioning and Combo Turino in many ways felt more like a boutique hotel than a hostel and I would definitely stay again. 

Combo Torino

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Have you tried Skedadle? Earning on the go


game app

It goes without saying that most of us are feeling the pinch with the cost of living in the UK and we could all do with a few extra pounds in our pocket and that's where Skedadle comes in. It's an innovative gaming app that lets you have fun playing some classic games such as Scramble and Snake and earning some money along the way, with zero charges, purchases or monthly subscriptions required! 

What is Skedadle

Skedadle is a completely free-to-use app that pays you real money for playing games, whether at home or on the move! 

Skedadel is available on the App Store and Google Play and do feel free to use my referral code UB9RC

How does it work

While playing the games, ads run seamlessly in the background, they are interruption-free and no irritating pop-up ads are to be seen. Skedadle then redirects the ad revenue from your gaming session back to you, which is pretty simple and ingenious if you ask me. So the more you play the more you earn, although there is a daily cap. 

How much can you make?

The maximum daily amount you can make at this point is £2 which doesn't sound like a lot but quickly adds up, that is around £60 per month or £730 per year, for playing games! You can also add an extra 50p for each friend you get skedadling. 


What games can I play?

Skedadle hosts an array of mini-games and regularly introduces new games so you don't get bored, plus they also have a leaderboard element if you're feeling extra competitive.

At the moment the mini-games available are

4096 - a simple numbers game that is rather addictive and one of my favourite mini-games

Slide - a tile puzzle game which is pretty challenging 

Brix - a ball and brick-hitting game

Flappydadle - a take on the classic that is flappy bird, another favourite

Invaderz - their take on the classic space shooting game

Finga Ninja - a fun fighting game at speed

Scramble  - a timed take on the word game scrabble 

Snake - heading back into the 90s with this classic

Stackit - a speedy block-stacking game 

How to withdraw your earnings?

You can withdraw earnings as soon as you have earned £5 which really won't take long! The app's payout system is secure and seamless and pays directly into your bank account. They process their payouts at the end of every month and you can withdraw earnings up to midnight on the last day of the month and your payment will be received into your bank account on the first business day of the following month. 

Skedadle app

My experience with Skedadle

I think it's a great app for earning a little extra money on the side and there is no minimum commitment in any way, you can just play here and there when you have time and earn on the go. So far I've earned just under £12 and I hope to earn around £50 before the end of November which I am putting aside for some extra Christmas treats. Once I cash that out I will be putting my Skedadel earnings towards some travel plans I have next year.

The games are fun and simple to grasp but there is also enough choice that you don't get bored too quickly. You can also switch them off quickly should someone call your phone. I find its really easy to use while commuting on the train or bus, while waiting for the kids or grabbing a few minutes while having a cup of coffee. 

The app can be used by those who are 13yrs+ which means it's also a useful pocket money tool for older children and students. 

The app also runs special offers for it's members such as money off products or free trials for things which is a nice additional feature. 

The app is currently only available to the UK so you cannot play while you are overseas but apparently, they are looking into launching further afield. 

My experience has so far been a very positive one and while it's not a big earner it is an easy and fun way to make a little extra money and it's something I would recommend giving a go. 

*This is a collaboration with Skedadle - words are 100% my own & I was already a Skedadle user before collaborating with them

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5 unmissable things to do in Cardiff this year


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Cardiff Castle

The Welsh Capital is a place that is always bouncing, with a hive of activity, both residents and tourists visiting this incredible city looking for something to do, won't be disappointed with Cardiff always delivering. From live music to family experiences, to history and castles and side-splitting comedy, whatever your vibe Cardiff has you covered.

But, with so much on offer, it can often be hard to decide what the best option actually is. Don’t worry, that’s where I come in. I've got a list of the five unmissable Cardiff events that you need to attend before the year's end.

So scroll down, and check out what’s on offer, Cardiff will undoubtedly surprise you!

1. Rhod Gilbert | Hoof Cancer

When: Saturday 9th September - Sunday 10th September 2023

Where: Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff

Velindre Fundraising and their Patron Rhod Gilbert are putting on their latest Hoof Cancer Right Where It Hurts gig at Wales Millennium Centre.

This will be the third Hoof Cancer gig Velindre Patron Rhod has hosted. The event will raise funds for Rhod’s next Velindre trek which takes place in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains from 5 October. This will be the sixth Velindre trek Rhod has led, following on from the 2013 Kilimanjaro Trek of a Lifetime, Patagonia in 2015, Peru in 2017, Nepal in 2019 and Cuba in 2022.

The Morocco trek will be particularly poignant as it will be the first trek that Rhod has led since his cancer diagnosis in May 2022. Rhod is a true Welsh hero, and this will be a special gig for both him and his fans!

Rhod Gilbert

2. Oktoberfest Cymru 2023

When: Saturday 30th September 2023

Where: VSA Warehouse in Cardiff

Cardiff Oktoberfest 2023 is back, and we couldn't be more excited! You and your pals can embrace all things Bavarian and have endless boozy fun as the festival comes to Cardiff's VSA Warehouse. The day will be complete with a beer hall atmosphere, table service by waitresses in traditional German dress, authentic German food, live entertainment from Bavarian Oompah bands, a sausage-eating contest, and, of course, authentic Oktoberfest beer. Plus, the venue will be fully dressed up in Oktoberfest style, promising a truly immersive experience. Get your lederhosen ready and grab your tickets for this unforgettable event. Don't miss out on Cardiff Oktoberfest 2023!


3. Life of Pi

When: Tuesday 17th - Saturday 21st October 2023

Where: Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff

Based on the global phenomenon and winner of the Man Booker Prize, selling over fifteen million copies worldwide, Life of Pi is the acclaimed and hugely popular adaptation of an epic journey of endurance and hope, and the theatrical version is coming to the Wales Millennium Centre for 5 days in October.

Winner of every major play award including five Oliviers. Jaw-dropping visuals, magic and world-class puppetry combine in a unique and breathtaking theatrical event that is a true wonder to behold. Don’t miss its short stint in town!

Life of Pi

4. Llais Festival 2023

When: Wednesday 11th - Sunday 15th October 2023

Where: Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff

Don't miss out on Llais Festival 2023 - a musical celebration curated by Welsh Music Prize winner and Mercury Prize nominee, Gwenno - which celebrates all things Welsh music across 5 days of pure entertainment.

With events including a special tribute to Joni Mitchell called "Both Sides Now," featuring an all-female lineup including Cardiff's own Charlotte Church, Laura Mvula, ESKA, and Gwenno, backed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales; Bat for Lashes, who will also rock the stage with her iconic hits; The Unthanks who will host an all-day event showcasing their acclaimed albums; as well as a packed schedule of free workshops and oh so many more music events across the Wales Millennium Centre!

Llais Festival 2023

5. Christmas Light Trail at Bute Park

When: Friday 24th November 2023 – Monday 1st January 2024

Where: Bute Park in Cardiff

Head down to Bute Park this festive season as their award-winning Christmas Light trail, the most popular light trail of its kind outside London returns once again in 2023. Secure your tickets early for this enchanting experience, featuring an extended route with captivating visuals and original audio compositions. Enjoy dynamic choreography and intelligent design amidst awe-inspiring illuminations. Our fully accessible route and delectable street food from local vendors ensure a magical, unforgettable evening. Don't miss the joy of Christmas at Bute Park, where lights and creativity converge in a spectacular display. You can read our review of last year's Christmas Light trail here

Bute Park light trail

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10 Free Castles to explore in South Wales


Welsh castle

Did you know that Wales has more castles per square mile than anywhere in the world? While some have continuously been lived in for hundreds (in some cases thousands) of years, others are no more than a few overgrown ruins, hidden away off the beaten path, all with their own stories and history, waiting to be discovered. 

So any trip to Wales should include a castle visit and with more than 600 castles there is no shortage of ones to pick from. However, some can be, very valid reasons, and expensive to visit, these are usually ones that offer more facilities, events and are usually the larger, more intact castles. However, if you are visiting South Wales there are quite a few that are completely free to explore and make for a great family day out. 

So I thought I would share 10 of my favourite free Castles and ruins to explore in South Wales.

1. Coity Castle, Bridgend

Coity Castle is an impressive ruin that has recently had a major renovation and is well worth a visit. You can also pair this up with Ogmore Castle which is only about 15 minutes away and also free. Coity started as an earthwork castle in around AD 1100 with the stone keep and curtain being added in the 12 century. Further building works took place in the 15th century after Owain Glynd┼Ár laid siege to the castle. 

There is plenty of space for a picnic here and a walk through the gate house and moat. There is a small parking area in front of the castle and it's dog-friendly (dogs need to stay on a lead). There are no toilets but you can find these at the nearby McArthur Glen retail park. 

Coity Castle
Coity Castle in Bridgend

2. Ogmore Castle, Bridgend 

Only a short drive from Coity Castle you will find Ogmore Castle, another great free castle to explore and if you plan it right with the tides you can also enjoy crossing a series of ancient stepping stones. Beginning life as an earth and wood castle in the 12th century it was fortified in the early 13th century and lots of the curtain wall and stone fortifications still stand today. The views towards the coastline and across farmland from this castle are lovely and there is space to picnic and for kids to run around. The castle still retains its deep ditch around the inner ward which was designed to fill with sea water at high tide. There is a small amount of free parking next to the castle.

3. Newcastle, Bridgend

Along with Coity and Ogmore, Newcastle is part of a trio of fortresses built to guard against attacks from the Welsh-held West and you can easily visit all three in one day. While Newcastle is probably the smallest in terms of what there is to see and do. The remaining Norman doorway is impressive along with the view across Bridgend from this hillside location and there is a lovely central green space to sit and have a moment of calm. There is a small free car park 1 min walk from the castle. 

4. St Quentin's Castle, Cowbridge

St Quentin's castle is tucked away in a small hamlet a few moment's drive away from the market town of Cowbridge. Whilst not confirmed it's likely this castle was built in the 14th century but English nobleman Gilbert de Clare. Perched above a river the most notable remains is the twin-towered gatehouse and curtain wall. There is also a few more ruins and grassy mound which kids will love to explore. There is a small parking area next to the castle and the castle links up with some local walking paths. 

Old Beaupre Castle
Old Beaupre Castle in Cowbridge

5. Old Beaupre Castle, Cowbridge

One of my favourite historical sites in South Wales but also one that is pretty hard to find due to minimal signage and you have to cross private farmland (via a public right-of-way path) to reach it. While technically not a castle, it's actually a medieval manor, Old Beaupre has an interesting past, being built in two stages with he older part being constructed in the 13th century and then seeing major renovations around the 16th century of which large parts still remain and can be explored including the three-story gatehouse. There is space for 2 cars in a very small layby near a stile you need to go over to cross the farmland.

6. Neath Abbey

While Neath Abbey is not a castle it's still an important historical site and was once the largest abbey in Wales. It's free and deserves to be on this list, especially as there are substantial ruins to explore with virtually the entire layout of the abbey and buildings can still be seen today and is well worth a visit. It's also located right next the Neath canal and towpath for a walk after seeing the Abbey and there is a small parking area next to the Abbey.

Caldicot Castle
Caldicot Castle

7. Caldicot Castle, Monmouthshire

Caldicot Castle is an extensive medieval castle, much of which is still intact and makes for a great castle to explore inside and out. It is however only open during the summer months and offers free parking, a small playpark for kids and 55 acres of countrypark to explore. Inside the castle grounds, I recommend walking up to the top of the castle tower for some fantastic views across the Severn estuary as well as the 12 pounder muzzle-loading cannon in the courtyard. You can check opening times at here.

8 White Castle, Monmouthshire

White Castle, part of the trio called "Three Castles" which includes Skenfrith and Grosmont which are also listed here and are all within short driving (and you can even walk) distance from each other, White Castle is the best preserved and most imposing and like the rest of the castles on this list is completely free to explore. The large outer ward is as big as a football pitch and kids will love to run around here, just remember the picnic. 

White Castle
White Castle 

9. Grosmont Castle 

Like the other two castles in the trio, Grosmont experiences an active life. Starting life around the 13th century by the 15th century it was in the wars again, besieged by the Welsh leader Owain Glyndwr. There are quite a lot of ruins here to explore including the 14th-century chimney in the north block, the hall range and West tower. Parking is a short walk away. 

10. Skenfrith Castle

This medieval fortress with its imposing central tower lies right next to the river Monnow in a beautiful setting. The well-preserved walls surround the circular keep and offer real insight into this low-lying castle that took a role in defending the region against attacks. There is plenty of parking next to the castle and this is a great spot during the summer as you can wade in the river behind the castle (don't go in if it's just rained or the river is high)

Skenfrith Castle
Skenfrith Castle

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