The giveaways are coming fast and fierce here at A Slice of My Life Wales and I really hope that you are enjoying them so far, and will continue to do so as there are lots more coming your way! The 9th November sees the return of Cardiff Winter Wonderland and today I am giving you the chance to win a family ticket!
Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland is set to run from 9th November 2017 – 7th January 2018 and is set to be spectacular. The outdoor undercover ice rink provides fun for all the family. Please note that the minimum age for skating is three years old.
There is plenty of off ice fun to be had at Winter Wonderland. Other attractions include Alpine Village catering area and a fun fair with rides, games and attractions for everyone.
T&Cs : The winner will be contacted by email, if I receive no reply within one week I will draw another winner. UK only. Over 16 year olds only. If you claim to have submitted an entry which you haven’t all of your entries will be disqualified. Winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter.
*Disclosure : We were invited to Escape Reality free of charge in exchange for an honest review*
I’ve heard a few people talking about Escape Reality in Cardiff but have never visited myself, so when they invited me and five friends along for a review I jumped at the chance. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, all I knew was that you get locked into a room and have to solve clues in order to escape! Sounds exciting right?
Everything was against us arriving in time for our pre-booked slot and we ended up arriving about twenty minutes late. We went for food beforehand and the waiters were in no rush at all, when we eventually finished our food and whizzed across Cardiff we ended up at a rival company who informed us that we weren’t booked in and were probably in the wrong place. All six of us took to Google and we managed to find the correct place, and realised that we had walked straight past it to get to the wrong place!
We were originally booked in to try the Jungala room, the easiest of the four rooms and apparently not too dis-similar to the popular film Jumangi. You have up to an hour in the room and as a result Escape Reality take bookings once an hour, and unfortunately someone was booked in to the Jungala room after us. The staff were very helpful and gave us the option of still going into the Jungala room but we would only get forty minutes instead of the full hour, or we could go into the Alcatraz room which had no other bookings and get the full hour. We decided to take the challenge and enter Alcatraz, the most difficult of all the rooms and not recommended for your first Escape experience.
I’m not going to go into a great amount of detail about the room as I don’t want to give too much away as I don’t want to spoil it, or make it easy for people! All I’m going to say about the room is that it is very well done out and there are a series of different clues, most of which get you thinking in a different way. Out of the six of us we all excelled at one particular clue each, while finding others incredibly difficult, but there was always one of us who knew the answer, and if we didn’t the helpful staff were on hand.
The staff are very helpful and are always happy to aid you into finding the answer. They keep an eye on the cameras in the room and if you look a bit stuck they will regularly pop in to offer advice, if you don’t want them to help you can tell them beforehand. You are also given iPads at the start which you can use to generate clues, although you are given a time penalty if you resort to using a clue – which is why we stuck to looking clueless and being helped out by the staff as you don’t get penalised for that!
We failed to complete Alcatraz in our one hour time slot, but as there were no other bookings and we were so close to cracking it the staff gave us the option to stay until we completed it, so of course we said yes. I can’t remember exactly how long it took us to complete, I think it was about one and a half hours.
We had a fantastic time, it was so nice to do something that little bit different with our friends and work together, it would be great for a team bonding exercise! I highly recommend a visit, although I would suggest doing the easiest room first rather than heading straight in at Alcatraz!
Things to bear in mind if visiting Escape Reality :
Arrive early (or at least not late!) there is a bar on site so you could meet for a drink before you start
It isn’t the easiest to find as it is just a doorway in between shops – you may want to research the location beforehand
When you first enter Alcatraz you are split into two separate groups, as a result if there are only two of you attending you may want to book a different room
*Disclosure : We were invited to Hamleys free of charge in exchange for honest feedback*
Aria is a very lucky girl as she was invited along to a party with Santa and his elves at Hamleys in Cardiff. Hamleys are hosting Christmas parties in selected stores right up until 24 December. The parties are aimed at 2-8 year olds and promise to be packed full of fun with games, activities, snacks, time with Santa and a gift to take home.
We were met at the door by a group of very excited and enthusiastic elves who took us through to the party room, but they would only take us if we agreed to sing, yep, we walked through Hamleys in a line singing Christmas songs – the other customers weren’t sure whether to laugh or join in, one or two did actually join the line and sing with us, I think they were a little confused!
We had a little bit of drama as the door to the party room was stuck, but thankfully with a little bit of magic we were in. The party room itself is lovely, the Christmas set up is very cosy with a little fire roaring away and an armchair for Santa. It is very small but lovely all the same.
We started with cookie decorating, unfortunately the tubes of icing were too hard for Aria to squeeze, but with daddy’s help she managed to have fun. The promised snacks came in the form of the cookies that we had just decorated, but Aria refused to eat her piece of art work.
Once the cookies were decorated and we persuaded Santa to come and see us with a bit of singing the children sat on the rug by the fireside while Santa read Twas The Night Before Christmas to them. This was lovely, a really nice moment and I have to say that Santa was amazing, one of the best Santa’s that I’ve seen.
Once the reading had finished the children were invited to play games with the elves and Santa, unfortunately the games involved walking/running which Aria isn’t yet able to do unaided, plus they were generally a little bit too old for her, but she isn’t yet two yet which is the suggested minimum age, plus she isn’t quite up to speed with most other children her age.
Once the games are over the children get to write their wish list for Santa and meet the man himself. You get a lot of time with Santa, he takes the time to chat to the child and the parents, and really tries his best to make the child comfortable and, most importantly, smile for the camera! As well as having the time to sit on Santa’s knee he also wanders around during the party and spoke to Aria on several occasions.
We came away with a lovely goody bag from Santa which included a new tree ornament, a gorgeous ‘I Met Santa at Hamleys’ teddy, a Mr Men Meet Father Christmas book and a big bar of chocolate. Aria was also handed a helium balloon which she loved.
Tickets for this event are priced at £19.99 per child and can be booked here. The massive down side for me is that you are only allowed one adult per paying child. I can see why they do this as the room is small and could very easily get overcrowded, but, as a one child family, this could be a deal breaker. If we were paying almost £20 for a Santa experience I would want both of us to be able to attend. They do say that two adults can go, and you can take it in turns while one waits in the shop, but it really isn’t ideal.
Watch my short video to get in the festive spirit and see a bit more of the experience.
We were recently invited along to Cafe Rouge in Cardiff to sample their Autumn/Winter menu. Cafe Rouge is conveniently located in St David’s shopping centre, we are huge fans of St David’s as it boasts a variety of shops, restaurants and cheap parking. You can get all of your shopping done and eat some good food without having to go outside which is almost always a plus with the wet Welsh weather!
We decided to order the Rouge Olives (green, black and French olives with cornichons, caper berries and Roquito chilli drops –£3.50) and Fougasse À L’ail (artisan garlic sharing bread with warm garlic butter – £5.25) while perusing the menu. Aria was given a menu complete with stackable crayons to keep her occupied. All of which was a massive hit, the food for us and the activities for Aria.
We don’t usually order a starter for Aria but Cafe Rouge have a set kid’s menu where you get a starter, main, desert and drink for £6.95. The only starter option on the kid’s menu is baguette slices & crudités so that is what Aria had. The bread was lovely but a little hard for Aria’s little teeth. Spencer ordered the Egg Meurette (poached egg in a red wine, bacon & sautéed mushroom sauce served with chargrilled sourdough bread – £4.95) and I went for the Soufflé (twice-baked Brie soufflé topped with melted butter and toasted hazelnuts, with apple & pear chutney, frisée and a chive & vinaigrette dressing – £6.25).
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Spencer’s starter as it is a very strange combination, but it was surprisingly delicious and full of complimenting flavours. I had high hopes for my Brie and it did not disappoint. The soufflé was light, fluffy and flavoursome.
Aria didn’t eat much of her starter, she doesn’t like veg and the bread was quite tough for her, so for her main we made sure to go for something that we knew she would like, Poulet Goujons (breaded chicken fillets with frites, peas and sweetcorn). Spencer ordered the Poisson Frites (breaded hake fillet with frites and tartare sauce – £12.75) and I went for the Boeuf Bourguignon (slow-cooked beef in red wine, smoked bacon and mushrooms with roasted carrots, herb mash and crispy onions – £14.25) and a side order of French Beans (£3).
Aria’s Goujons were lovely, they were made with ‘proper’ chicken which is always a relief and unfortunately quite a rarity nowadays. Spencer enjoyed his fish and chips, although I must say it isn’t something that I would order as I find it quite a ‘boring’ option, but it goes to show that they have something for everyone! My beef was absolutely delicious, rich and full of flavour which is exactly how I like it. There was absolutely no need for the side order of green beans as the mains were very filling.
Now for the most exciting part of any menu, the puddings! For Aria we ordered a Chocolate Crêpe (crêpe drizzled with chocolate sauce with vanilla ice cream), Spencer opted for the Tarte Aux Pommes (warm apple tart with tarte tatin ice cream – £5.95) and I went for the Fondant Aux Chocolats (hot chocolate fondant with a melting middle served with chocolate & raspberry fondant ice cream – £6.25)
As with the other courses the deserts were all beautiful. Aria didn’t eat much of hers, in hindsight I should have asked for the crepe to be separate from the ice cream, I’m sure that this wouldn’t have been a problem. I almost always order a chocolate pudding when we go out and I must say this one was up there with some of the best, it was deliciously moist and the chocolate came trickling out as soon as I cut into it.
Overall I highly recommend Cafe Rouge, Cardiff for a family meal. We were well looked after, the staff were friendly, they provided Aria with crayons and a colouring in menu which kept her entertained and there was plenty of choice on all menus. The only small downside is that there isn’t much room to fit both a pushchair and a highchair around the table, but we did manage to squeeze both in without being in anyone’s way so it is definitely doable!
Have you eaten at Cafe Rouge recently? Did you enjoy it? Where is your favourite place to eat as a family?
*Disclosure – We received a complimentary meal at Cafe Rouge in exchange for blog coverage – all thoughts are my own*
*Disclosure – We received a complimentary meal at Strada in exchange for coverage – all thoughts are my own*
We were recently invited along to Strada in Cardiff Bay for a family meal for an introduction to their fresh meals, which includes homemade foods and local produce. Strada is an Italian restaurant and serves a wide range of foods including pizzas, pastas, burgers and more.
On arrival we were greeted by a friendly waitress who quickly showed us to our table, which had a baby seat waiting for us. We were handed adults menus and a child’s menu, complete with stickers, crayons and activities.
We decided to order some bread and olives to pick at while deliberating over the menu. On the recommendation of our lovely waitress we ordered genovese which is an Italian flatbread topped with Passata sauce, fresh oregano and basil pesto (£4.25). The olives were marinated in fresh rosemary, lemon and garlic (£3.25) and were super tasty. I can’t believe that just a few years ago I hated olives, I love them now!
To start I ordered the Arancini (£5.95) “Crispy rice balls stuffed with melting mozzarella. Served with spicy tomato passata and aged Parmesan”. Spencer ordered the Bresaola (£5.95) “Tender slices of cured beef carpaccio, shaved Parmesan, rocket and sticky balsamic.” We wouldn’t usually order a starter for Aria, she takes so long to eat that we tend to order her main to come out with our starters, at Strada you get a starter, main course, side, dessert and drink for £6.75 if ordering from the kids menu. As the starter was included lucky Aria got to have a starter too.
For our main courses I ordered the classic Strada Burger (£10.75) “7oz burger, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and skin-on fries” and topped it with caramelised onions (£1) and avocado (£1). Spencer ordered the Cotto Ham & Funghi pizza (£11.25) “Tomato, mozzarella, Cotto ham, brown cap mushrooms, Kalamata olives and fresh oregano” and for Aria we ordered the Margherita pizza with a side of skin on fries.
Regular readers and friends will know that where I am concerned no meal is complete without a pudding, preferably a chocolate pudding. Naturally I ordered the chocolate fondant (£5.45) “Warm and oozy chocolate pudding with salted caramel ice cream”, Spencer ordered the Panna Cotta (£5.45) “Smooth and creamy, served with smashed honeycomb and fresh berry compote” on the recommendation of our waitress and for Aria we ordered the chocolate and hazelnut pizzetta “Warm dough topped with melting hazelnut chocolate spread”.
We really enjoyed our meals and overall experience at Strada, Cardiff Bay. The staff were amazing and super helpful, the food all arrived in a decent time frame and tasted delicious. As you can see by Aria’s varying facial expressions even she thoroughly enjoyed herself.
Aria did end up eating a bread based dish for every course, but that wasn’t through lack of options on the menu, just poor choices on my part! The only drinks on offer for children are water, milk and organic juices and smoothies which are a great alternative to the usual sugary drinks on offer.
While we were at Strada we took a look at their Christmas menu and were impressed to see that almost all of the menu is Gluten Free and caters for pretty much everyone.