Having a try at hammering stones to find hidden gems. A great activity at Cardiff’s Out of the Woods festival.
I was recently asked to review a canvas by The Canvas Prints.
Their website is very clear and easy to use, and can be found at www.thecanvasprints.co.uk
They provide an easy, step by step guide so that you’re able to create your own unique and individual special canvas. They offer a good range of various styles of canvases, with a description of each one, which helps you to choose just the right canvas for you.
Another useful tool is that you can upload an image using social media sites, making it an easy and quick way of using a very recent photographic image. I do take a lot of photographs. I love capturing the moment and rarely take a ‘posed’ shot. This is mainly because my daughter won’t stand still long enough for the shot, and also because I feel that you get more of a memory from a realistic, action shot.
When I sent my first choice of image to The Canvas Prints people, they advised me that I should consider choosing a different image, as my chosen image was not suitable to transfer to canvas. I thought that this was very professional and thoughtful, it meant that I wasn’t wasting money or being let down by a poor quality canvas print, and that my second choice of image would be a better finish when transfered to canvas.
It was lovely to sort through our photographs, bringing back lots of memories of our adventures, and I eventually chose an image from a recent camping weekend. I found a beautiful shot taken of my daughter at the harbour near our campsite, just before she jumped off the harbour wall and straight into the sea below.
The resulting canvas is fabulous.
I have seen some canvases where the finish looks a bit waxy, however the colours of the whole image stand out so clearly and the detailing is very crisp. I can pick out individual colours and elements of the picture, which highlight the quality of the canvas. This is a beautiful way of displaying a lovely picture, taken at one of our favourite places that we love to return to. It brings back memories of fun times, each time we look at the picture.
I think displaying pictures on canvas is a lovely and very special way of sharing memories, and I would highly recommend The Canvas Prints, as they offer a very professional and individual way of creating your own personal canvas.
Our lovely canvas brightening up our living room.
I was sent a canvas to review. My opinions are my own, are unbaised and honest.
Yes….. we got to the top !!
Climbing up to the top of Pen-y-Fan was on our summer holiday to-do list. My daughter has been jumping at the chance to do the walk and, after we got her first pair of walking boots and thick walking socks, there was no stopping her. We waited for a dry and clear day and my Dad, my daughter and I set off with a well packed picnic and a flask of chicken noodle soup !!
The weather at our house was warm and sunny but, when we got to Brecon the clouds were set with rain and we quickly threw our jumpers on to help against the cold. We started on the family-friendly path, which is great for young children. This is a gradual path and not too steep, which makes it a good way for children to get to the top. We took regular breaks and, when we started to feel the cold, my Dad got out his trusty flask filled with chicken noodle soup and extra pasta, which my daughter loves.
After a cup of steaming soup, we headed back up the path, exchanging “hellos and how’s the top” to the passing people who had woken very early and were now on their way back down.
As we got higher, the wind started getting stronger and it was quite a surprise that we had to put on our hats and coats to stay warm.
We reached the corner of Corn Ddu and, with Pen-y-Fan in the distance, we knew we had about twenty minutes from the top, and this gave us our second wind. With a few “are we there yets ?” from my daughter, I pointed to the rocky mount that was the top, where many people were now in a small line waiting for their photo to be taken.
Of course, we wanted to have our photo taken too and, what was nice, was that everyone helped each other and offered to take photos on each others’ cameras, so that we could all get a shot with everyone in. We took in the amazing sights from all angles, but decided not to say too long as the wind was making it so bad that we had to shout to each other to be heard.
After a little while on the way back down, we were able to stop out of the wind for our lovely picnic, snacking on sandwiches and having little bits of fudge, to give us renewed strength for the journey down.
The walk down was a lot easier than going up, and we found ourselves back at the car in record time, treating ourselves to a warming cup of tea from the little stand in the car park. We sat for a while watching people coming down, and chatting about our day, all agreeing that we were so glad and quite proud that we made the effort.
So, three generations of my family went up the largest mountain in South Wales, and we were able to tick off one of the biggest outdoor to-do adventures from our summer holiday list !!
We went up a mountain, and came down victorious !! What a wonderful memory !!
This photograph reminds me of one of the reasons why I love camping.
I love seeing my daughter all snuggled up in her sleeping bag.
Last month, (July 2014), my family and I were very lucky to be invited to visit the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells.
Not having been before, we were a bit sceptical, (and a little intrigued), about what to expect. The first thing that we noticed was how completely organised and well planned the event was, even from a visitors’ arrival. There were a large number of attendants, who guided visitors into a field where a park and ride system was in place. We noted our field number, then had a very short walk to a queue of buses, with only a few moments wait before we were seated and on our way to the showground. It was a brief drive to the venue, during which the driver kindly informed us what time and what bus stop we should attend when we wanted to return.
Walking through the entrance gates, we were totally overwhelmed. We were presented with so much to see and to do, that we decided to spend a short time just wandering around to familiarise ourselves with our surroundings. We did invest in a programme, which was very fairly priced and a great help. It included very useful map, along with details of everything that was happening that day, including the times and locations of venues of the attractions or demonstrations that we wanted to visit. It helped us plan everything in the day with ease.
Delicious smells of freshly-cooked foods wafted on the light breeze from the various stalls, enticing us here and there to taste little samples of this or that. This is a great way of showing people how produce from Wales is picked, packed and ultimately presented in various supermarkets. We sampled little pots of lovely curry, miniature pasties, cheeses and pickles, various ice-creams and mixed berries, all offered by different producers, sellers or supermarkets. There were also lots of cookery demonstrations, which all contributed to a great interactive experience for children to understand about Welsh produce. This was a good way of linking what we eat and where it comes from, how farmers work, and how produce arrives on our shelves.
One of our favourite displays was the put on by the RSPB. This took up a huge area offering fantastic learing opportunities and interactive activities for families. My daughter had a wonderful time pond-dipping. She was given a net with a pot, and the very friendly staff showed her how to safely dip her net into a pond, to try to retrieve some creatures to put under a microscope. She spent ages transferring her creatures into little dishes, observing their movements the microscope, and then working her way through the “spotting sheet” to identify her finds. Then we simply had to “Make A Bug Hotel”. She was given a piece of piping and natural materials to make her own Bug Hotel, that could be put into her garden to allow various wildlife to come and live in her hotel. We moved over to the tree section, where we learnt about the different trees that could be found throughout the country and their contribution to our eco-system, Finally, we were given our own Elder tree, to take home and plant in our garden.
We learned that trees don’t only produce oxygen and fruits etc, as well as habitats for wildlife, but also that if managed properly, they become materials for this like fencing, building and decorative features. We saw fantastic traditional Welsh fencing techniques, with the men building fences made from the indigenous bushes and trees etc. I loved this display of traditional crafts, and I hope that this skill won’t die out.
We watched the young farmers (ie children), showing their sheep in competition, and we were amazed to hear how some families had travelled from London and beyond, just to compete in the show. The young farmers were very confident displaying their sheep, and it was one of my daughters’ favourite parts of the day.
Another fantastic part of the day was that I was very lucky to have been sent some vouchers for Joules. For a link to the Joules site please click:
Joules are a high-quality brand that celebrate British heritage through their clothing styles. Joules started producing and selling clothes over two decades ago, when the founder, Tom Joule, started out by selling robustly-made, functional and stylish country clothing at equestrian and outdoor events. Joules had a marquee at the show, and so we decided to look in.
Thoughout the day, I’d seen and overheard so many people talking about their Joules bags full of goodies, so I was excited when I eventually found the marquee. Upon first glance at the queue of eager visitors, my heart sank a bit. I looked at my husband and thought “should we just keep going” but he said to join the queue as it was moving very quickly, and I’d been looking forward to visiting. We only queued for a few minutes and then we were in the door. It was a really good system, allowing only a limited amount of people in at a time, and it didn’t feel too busy or too full of people, especially on such a hot day.
We were able to wander around the store at our leisure, looking through the fantastic bargains. The staff were very friendly, helping people find different sizes and keeping queues down with kind words and engaging conversation. There were a huge variety of items on offer, all in every different size, which is something not normally found when hunting through bargains on this magnitude. I found two beautiful jumpers which will be really functionally warm and stylish when camping. Also, my daughter chose some comfy fluffy bed socks, which she immediately wore during her snooze on the journey home !!
My bag of goodies are wonderful, and I was very pleased. I was especially happy with my stunning yellow jumper, that I can’t wait for our next camping trip !! It’s colourful and bright, it’s not baggy but fitted, and I can wear it with a pair of jeans to glam up an outfit, or throw it on with a pair of shorts while camping. I love it !!
The clothes were beautifully-made, in a fantastic range of rich country colours and, what I liked, was the variety of styles. It can be so difficult to find outdoor clothing that’s fit for purpose, colourful and flattening for women, while still being very fashionable. Joules ticks all the boxes !!
There’s so much more to write about, including the fact that everything at the Show was very fairly priced. Usually, with events such as these, visitors are viewed as a “captive market” and subjected to the inevitable price-hike for food, drinks, etc. But everything was made available to suit a range of budgets, from the Members Tent a the top-end of the facilities, right through to outlets offering home-made pork sausage or vegetarian hotdogs for kids, priced at £1 !!
All in all, we enjoyed an amazing day, full of interactive displays and events for all ages. My daughter learnt so much about Welsh culture. She can’t wait to get back to school, to show and tell about everything she learned.
I was sent tickets for the Royal Welsh Show and vouchers for Joules for this review. My opinion is honest and unbiased.
These are delicious mussels from a food foraging day out, freshly picked from the rocks around Oxwich Bay in the Gower. Then prepared by my husband, and served in a creamy sauce with a side salad and crusty bread.
Today is the start of my main holiday, and I have the next two weeks off work.
I shouted a huge “yayyy” last night, when I got home !
We’re not able to go abroad, this year, but I don’t want to waste a moment of the time that we have together as a family. So, we’ve collectively compiled a Summer Holiday “to-do” list.
Activity 1: Have a coasteering trip.
Coasteering is one of the most adventurous activities that we offer, in work. Although this would be the first time that my daughter has taken part in a properly organised coasteering activity, we feel that she’s ready for it. It involves wearing a full kit of wet-suit, buoyancy aids and helmets. It reqires jumping into and swimming in the sea, and exploring the coastline of Caswell Bay, in the Gower. This is a stunning beach with beautiful clear-blue sea, little caves to swim into and is an absolute favourite of mine. Also, the cafe serves the best chips, followed by caramel ice cream and clotted cream. A perfect end to a wild day at the beach.
Activity 2: Celebrate National Play Day.
Wednesday 6th August is National Play Day. This is a day when organisations, parents and families can come together to celebrate play, and the importance it has in children’s development. I’m lucky that I will be a part of the “Friends of Pentre Gardens” celebrations. We’ll be providing a fun packed afternoon full of outdoor playing, arts and crafts, games, messy play, sporting games, face painting and costume creations. The play opportunities will be endless ! National Play Day is celebrated nationwide, with many communities holding events through various playschemes and childrens organisations. It’s a fantastic opportunity for everyone to come together and celebrate play, and adults are actively encouraged to take part in a bit of “child’s play”. It’s going to be a great day.
Activity 3: Go foraging for wild-food.
We are so lucky to have a fantastic range of wild-foods available to us, growing very near to where we live. Our local hedgerows are thick with blackberries and wild raspberries. Last year, we spent a couple of sunny evenings filling up plastic tubs with these easily rich pickings, later making homemade tarts and preserved jams. On one evening, late last summer, my husband and daughter announced that they were going “for a walk”, just about dusk. They returned a short time later with a bag full of succulent, sweet apples, and both with stupid grins…… I didn’t press the subject !
Sometimes, we venture further afield to visit a beach in the Gower, called Oxwich Bay. This is a food foragers dream. When the tide is right, you can wander up and down the shore and simply pick cockles off the surface of the beach. It’s so exciting when you find your first one, and then seek out more and ever more. To make it even more rewarding, it’s possible to walk along the edge of the beach to pick mussels clinging to the rocks. In recent months, we’ve watched how the locals use special tricks and techniques to harvest up to 20 or so razor clams at a time. This involves shuffling backwards until a black spot in the sand is located. This spot is then squirted with a very salty water solution and, a few seconds later, a long razor clam pops up out of the sand ! We come home with such a feast. We never take more than we need, but it creates a rewarding and educational day out. Nothing finishes the day off better than a bowl of steaming mussels with crusty bread. I guess it helps that my husband is a chef and has a vast knowledge of wonderful recipes ready to wow us with !
Activity 4: Have a full day out on our bicycles.
We’re so lucky to have an amazing cycle track through Cardiff. The Taff Trail follows along the River Taff, passing beautiful communal gardens, muddy trails and paths cut through wild woodland. Another bonus are myriad farm shops and traditional deli’s that are to be discovered en route. These little hidden-away treasures often serve great coffee and (of course) delicious home-made cakes that help to refresh a weary biker.
Activity 5: Record our Summer Holiday adventures.
We find that we’re lucky to have such amazing family adventures, but we rarely record our time together. Yes, we take photographs, but collating all of the pictures, tickets, recipe ideas and drawings into a summer scrapbook is such a lovely way to remember the fun times we have as a family. It also helps when my daughter goes back to school, and is able to do a show-and-tell about her holidays for her class-mates.
Activity 6: Visit a traditional beach.
Porthcawl beach is only a short drive from our house, and has everything one could want from a tradtional seaside beach. Candy floss is sold in the shops, fairground rides and the old-style tuppeny slot machines are all to be found in the arcades lining the beachfront. We always seem to be tempted, (at the end of a busy day), by fresh chips served in cones with a splash of salt and vinegar, or fresh doughnuts cooked in freshly and, of course, an ever-expanding array of flavoured ice-creams. All very traditional, but an easy and fun day out, evoking reminisces of my childhood.
Activity 7: Walk to the top of Pen-y-Fan.
Our biggest challenge, however, will be to tackle a trek to the top of Pen-y-Fan. This is the highest mountain in South Wales, and will be a big adventure for us. I’m very lucky to have taken lots of young people to the top in all weathers, and now my daughter is bursting to give it a go. So, a trip to the local outdoor store beckons. We’ll invest in some good, stout walking boots and attempt the big challenge. I really can’t wait to take our picture at the top of the mountain.
I guess I hoped to show that, with a little planning, it’s possible to fill out a holiday with all those things that are important to us….. outdoor adventures, simple but good foody treats, and quality time with loved ones.
I’ll do my best to keep you posted as we tick off our achievements but, after compiling this list, my husband has already said that he’ll need to go back to work for a rest !
This photo was taken on my camera phone, I had to take it very quickly so the image is a little blurred but I love the feeling in the image. My daughter was determined to get to the over hang part of the climbing wall and at least put her hand on the hand hold, and she did it! It was so lovely to watch her and her determinationin achieving her goal.