School Days, Thinking Out Loud

To my children on the first day of school

Enjoy! I won’t cry, you won’t cry. That’s not our thing. No severe case of stiff upper lip, just a case of being a totally normal thing to happen at the start of September. I love that you love school, that you’re bright and a good friend.

You’ll get up to all sorts of exciting things this year. All of you. Trips and projects, odd crazes and funny stories. You’ll pick up fodder for anecdotes in your adult years. You’ll learn and you’ll grow.

I’m getting soppy. I should probably have started the school year as I mean to go on by laying out your uniforms and preparing your packed lunches but we’ll muddle through somehow.

And a special extra note for my step daughter: I hope you have a better first day than your dad did.

Things To Do

Free Family Dance Festival (yes, FREE!) this Easter Holidays

This weekend I ended up at Chapter with my boys (Chalk age 8 and Cheese age 4) and my nephew who we shall call (for reasons unbeknownst to you) Ross age 2.

We stumbled across a FREE (yes I do mean to shout that word) new dance event for families that’s touring Wales during the Easter holidays. Chapter’s Coreo Cymru programme and National Dance Company Wales have picked four delicious short dance pieces by four very talented dance companies.

Animatorium by National Dance Company Wales premiered at Green Man festival in 2016. This incredibly skilled group of dancers kept all three boys rapt and asking questions “why are they on the floor?” “is he eating his jumper?” “what do the tags on their jackets mean?”

Bounce by Harnisch-Lacey Dance is a high energy mix of breakdance, acrobatics and contemporary dance that had my 8 year old gymnast saying “wooooah” and prompted a chat about climate change and global warming on our walk back to the car.

Into the Water by Up & Over It mesmerised my 4 year old, so much so that he wriggled his way to the front and sat watching it on his own cross legged. “that was amazing, how did they do that with their hands?!” It was a really sweet piece with amazing hand dancing. You might have seen them on Britain’s Got Talent or YouTube (if you engage with either – I don’t really so hadn’t seen them before).

Homo Irrationalis by Karol Cysewski was very funny and a big hit with the boys. The 4 year old has been muttering “stupid behaviour” daily since we saw it. Three hilarious male dancers took us on a journey through evolution. The boys enjoyed trying to guess which creatures they were at different points.

As a bonus we got to join in with a ceilidh at the end of the show led by Up & Over It. I know it’s some people’s idea of hell but for me it’s the ultimate in family-friendly-join-in-if-you-fancy activities. The 4 year old and I threw ourselves about with gusto (that Gusto, he’s always one for a knees up) while the less keen 8 year old guarded the 2 year old.

It was a gloriously sunshiney day for the first ever Family Dance Festival and as it’s part of a tour you can still catch it across Wales. For my fellow Vale of Glamorganers it’ll be back in our neck of the woods at the end of the Easter hols in the Bay. A good excuse for a stroll across the barrage and some free (yes, FREE!) dance.

Chapter, Cardiff – Friday 7th April 4pm and 6pm / Saturday 8th April 12pm, 3pm and 5pm

Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon – Sunday 9th April 3pm and 5pm / Monday 10th April 12pm and 3pm

The Hafren, Newtown – Tuesday 11th April 3pm and 5pm / Wednesday 12th April 12pm and 3pm

Riverfront, Newport – Tuesday 18th April 3pm and 5pm / Wednesday 19th 12pm and 3pm

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff – Friday 21st April 3pm and 5pm / Saturday 22nd April 12pm and 3pm

 

 

 

 

Places To Go, Things To Do

February Half Term

Half Term is almost upon us. Oh joy. I’ll be working for most of it *gets out tiny violin* but if I weren’t singing for my supper and palming my kids off on grandparents we’d be spoilt for choice with things to do and places to go.

Barry

Memo Arts Centre, Barry / Cinememo / £3 – £3.50

The Memo have family screenings all week including Moana and Sing. They’ve got a Relaxed screening on Thursday 23rd February at 11am. “Relaxed” means these are designed to welcome people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, sensory or communication disorders or learning disabilities.

Memo Arts Centre

Barry Library / Code Club / Ages 9-11 / Free

Friday 24th February. 4pm – 5pm.

As usual, our Vale libraries have plenty of things going on including Code Club. Booking is essential so drop in or give them a call on 01446 422425. If your child has an idea for a game or an app but doesn’t know where to start then get them to go along and learn to code. While they’re in there you could browse the shelves or check out the Holocaust Memorial Day Exhibition in the Art Central Gallery. Or if you’re feeling less cultured, escape the building, pick up a few bargains at the shops and maybe a cheeky steak bake.

Barry Library on Facebook

Communities First, Barry / Free

If you live in a Communities First area in Barry take a peak at their facebook page for details of activities going on.

Barry Communities First on Facebook

Penarth

Penarth Pier Pavilion / Space Day / Ages 4-11

A day of fascinating facts, brilliant experiments and out of this world activities for future astronauts and their families. The Planetarium and Mad Science Show sound awesome.

Penarth Pavilion

 

Cardiff

National Dance Company Wales at the Dance House, Wales Millennium Centre / Dance Days / Ages 7-18 / £15

Monday 20th February. 10am – 1pm (age 7-11) and 2pm – 6pm (12+)

My 8 year old has joined in with a couple of these and had a whale of a time. It’s basically a taster day for any level of dance experience.

NDCWales Dance Days

If you have a child doing Dance Days but spare children left over you can either blow away the cobwebs with a stroll across the barrage or head around the corner to…

Wales Millennium Centre in the Glanfa Foyer / Create a Paper Garden / All ages / FREE! (just turn up on the day)

Monday 20th – Saturday 25th February. 11am – 4pm.

Sounds similar to days we’ve spent building model houses, gardens and shops in the huge foyer space in Wales Millennium Centre. Go along and help transform the Centre into a beautiful garden made from paper. It’s free (huzzah!) and indoors.

Wales Millennium Centre – Paper Garden

St Fagans National History Museum / Childhood themed Half Term Activities / Free – £2

Saturday 18th – Sunday 26th February. 12noon – 4pm.

An obligatory half term day out for me when I was growing up, I take my tribe for school holiday adventures. It’s free to get in, £5 for parking and we usually take a picnic and a flask to keep the costs down. Their extra activities (Make a Toy Craft Sessions, Playtime Toy Sessions and Victorian Childhood Guided Tours) this half term range from free to £2. Check their website for details of what’s on which day.

St Fagans Half Term Activities

Bute Park Education Centre / Frog Themed Sessions / Age 3+ / Free

Tuesday 21st and Thursday 23rd February. 10:30am, 11:30am and 1:30pm

Remember Barry the Frog? He was one of the unusual animals on the Castle walls during City of the Unexpected in the summer. You can take a selfie with him in Bute Park this half term and do some frog related model making, crafting, games and stories. You’ll need to accompany your child and all wear wellies. What’s not to love?! It’s free and froggy.

Bute Park Fun with Barry the Frog

 

There are many parks and beaches in the Vale and beyond to explore for free but that’s a whole other post!

Let me know about anything I’ve missed out and I’ll try to shoehorn it in somehow.

My young humans would quite happily while away the whole week playing minecraft, building lego masterpieces or “decorating” everything in washi tape but I will drag them out by hook or by crook (when I’m not bringing home the bacon).