Millennial Mother’s top 5 indoor activities for kids in Cardiff

Today, we welcome Millennial Mother over to We Are Cardiff to give us some insights into the top things to do in Cardiff with your kids – when the weather sucks! Welcome, Millennial Mother!

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The colder months are tough in our household. My three year old is one of those children who gets cabin fever after 9am. In the warmer months we can explore an array of countryside walks, beaches and parks around Cardiff. But in the winter months, with frost, rain and wind it is hard to get the motivation to change out of my loungewear and into 10 layers of waterproofs.

We have found some great indoor activities for children in Cardiff that have saved our skin more than once. This is a list of my top five. I hope you find them useful!

1. National Museum Cardiff

This was where I could usually be found on a Saturday as a child. I watched Jurassic Park about age six, and after that just wanted to be an archaeologist. I would spend days wandering around the dinosaur exhibition, pretending I was on an excavation! Now, I play the same games with my little one. After delighting in the dinosaur exhibition, you can enjoy the whale in the sky, and an intriguing creepy crawly section. Upstairs holds some beautiful pieces of art from Impressionist to Modernist, which are great to relax even the most busy of minds. I would recommend holding onto toddlers extra tightly to avoid orange crisp fingers staining 500 year old paintings though!

P.S if you like good coffee stop off at Brodie’s Coffee afterwards.

2. Cardiff International Pool

This swimming pool is a wonderful rainy day activity. The facilities are excellent, there are three large slides for older children and adults and a smaller slide for smaller children. The swimming pool doesn’t have a deep end, which is fabulous for someone like me (5 foot 3). It also has a small paddling area for younger children. The changing area is communal, which is ideal for families, as parents can swap and change to help out with kids there. On a rainy day there is nothing better than a family trip to the swimming pool. As my Nanna would say though ‘make sure you dry your hair probably before you go out in the cold as you don’t want to catch a cold!’

3. Techniquest

This is where science comes to life through interactive engagement. Children can learn how water currents are created in the water works, watch balls shoot up in the air, play on a giant piano and learn about all sorts of science. The museum is an excellent visit for children of all ages and the venue provides Toddler Days, Theatre Shows, and more. The museum is based in Cardiff Bay, so after you can enjoy a nice spot of lunch at one of the many cafes and bars.

P.S. I recommend a trip to Quantum Coffee because their coffee is insanely good, and friends have spotted A List celebs enjoying an Americano there!

4. Cardiff Story

This is my husband’s favourite place to take Nancy. As the name suggests, it tells the story of Cardiff’s rich history, and how it evolved from a small market town to the capital city we know and love. My daughter’s favourite part is the reconstruction of a house on Cathedral Road. It shows changes in these houses, and showcases how differently we live in comparison to our ancestors over one hundred years ago. There is also a variety of interactive resources that show the different people living in the Cardiff Docklands.

There is also a wonderful restaurant on the top floor that caters for children and adults alike. Milk and Sugar have a small but area with enough toys to keep your little occupied while you drink your latte. I would recommend keeping an eye on the Cardiff Story website as they often run special events called ‘Dinky Dragons’ which is a Rhyme and Story Time.

5. Playtown Cardiff

This is a hidden gem, right in the heart of Canton. Your little one can explore what it is like to be a doctor, a postman, a barista, a hairdresser, and even to do their own food shop! This imaginative playtown is a fantastic opportunity for your little one to develop their role-playing skills and to enhance their vocabulary as they come across new items. I always love to make up games and watch Nancy pretend to be me as she wanders around the shop. The centre opens in slots to allow the staff to tidy the rooms before new arrivals, I would therefore make sure you check the opening times to avoid disappointment There is also a family room for snacks and drinks, which is ideal, especially if you have more than one child and one needs feeding while the other needs entertaining.

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Thanks to Millennial Mother for dropping by! You can catch Kelly on any of her channels:

And now back to us …

Introducing the Ladies of Rage

Today we welcome Hannah Weiss to introduce the Ladies of Rage, a new Cardiff musical collective. All images here by Aiyush Pachnanda. Enjoy!

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The Cardiff collective Ladies of Rage (LOR) was established by radio DJ Ffion Wyn Morris, to unite women in the Welsh music scene. The group is 80 members strong, the group welcomes anyone interested in learning to mix tracks or take their turn on the mic. Whether you’re into D’n’B or old-skool hip hop, writing lyrics or beatboxing, there’s a place for you here.

There’s a LOR showcase for International Women’s Day in March – it will be held on 9 March at The Moon, and we’d love to see you there!

The LOR had a showcase at The Moon in December, which was a real success. The ladies had honed their skills through a series of monthly jam sessions and workshops, ready to take the stage for the first showcase.

The Moon is Cardiff’s prime space for up-and-coming indie acts and the perfect place for the Ladies of Rage to make their debut: large enough to pack a solid audience, small enough to allow each performer to connect with the crowd. There was a mix of men and women; a healthy cross-section of supporters in the scene, people looking for a good show and a handful who wander in throughout the night, drawn by the music to find out more.

Stella Marie and Trishna Jaikara Shan kick-start the showcase. Both DJs are here to demonstrate their skill on the decks, and each brings her own flair to the hip hop mixes they’ve come to play. People drift from the bar to the stage, as the hype builds for the first emcee.

First on the mic is Becky Cee, a new rapper who found performing through poetry. This is evidenced by the compelling lyricism of her words, as she explores anger and anxiety. At times her delivery is backed by music, at others she lets the timbre of her voice fill the space. Each of the trio of tracks is deeply personal, a timely reminder of the purpose of the night: enabling women in music to make their voices heard.

Following her is Judy Price, the leading lady on tech for the night, who blends her words with a self-composed mix that gives her set a smooth, bluesy vibe. There’s a steady confidence in her delivery that matches the evocative self-awareness of her lyrics.

Amelia Unity is up next, an OG in Cardiff’s hip hop scene. The spoken word poet, graffiti artist and B-girl takes the stage to give The Moon a taste of the talent that won her first place at the Swansea Poetry Slam last year. She’s ready with an arsenal of talking points, from the personal to the political.  Quoting the ‘colour war on the high street’ and ‘a gambler who couldn’t play her game’, Unity flips from uncovering cracks in Cardiff’s hip hop community to smoking public discourse on beauty standards and aging, taking her audience on a vivid ride through her experiences of life and art.

Lyrical depth is a clear strength these women share. Leah Hutchinson shifts into a more introspective tone with her mix of singing and spoken word, showcasing her flair for flow and a unique vocal tone. She welcomes the audience into her world through four tracks that unfold in a gorgeous string of metaphors referencing nature, poetry and religion. Framing both her fellow performers and the audience in the statement ‘we are all an expression of infinite art’, she encapsulates the purpose of the night in one beautiful turn of phrase.

Building on Leah’s tentative step through the divide between poetry and music, singer-songwriter Asha Jane dives into a soaring R&B set of self-penned tracks. ‘If you fall in love with a storyteller, you might be in love with the stories’, is the haunting refrain of stand-out track ‘Oyster’. Asha spins a soulful tale of love and loss, while the hype of the audience around her stills to rapt attention.

Asha stays on stage to collab with battle rapper Shawgz, who transforms the crowd’s focus into a flare of energy with a rapid-fire salvo of tracks from her new BLK Tape EP. The pair play off each other’s strengths, letting the tempo rise and fall as they shift flow in perfect sync. Shawgz owns the stage with flair, demonstrating her freestyle chops as she ribs with the audience.

The vibe stays at a simmering high as Lady SP hits the stage with a flow so fast it ricochets around the venue like gunfire. If the first half of this showcase drew the audience in through the ladies’ lyricism and exchange of shared experiences, the latter sets are a performance of sheer power.

The strength of the collective really hits home when Tasha, better known by her moniker TT, rallies for her first time on stage. The other women gather, ready at her back, while the crowd before her chants their collective support to welcome her onto the scene.

The full roster of emcees, singers and DJs share the stage to swap verses in a friendly-fire cypher that rounds out the night with a display of unity and mutual respect. Every women takes her turn on the mic, the hype of the others around her never letting up.

Lubi J and Stella shift the showcase from performance to party, taking turns on the decks to play some D’n’B, with emcee Missy G stepping up to the mic to freestyle over the mix. Before the night comes to a close, the ladies present founder Ffion with a birthday present as she thanks the audience for their support, giving a shout out to each performer’s tenacity and talent, and a nod to Amy Farrah’s photo exhibition. Headshots of the performers line the walls, accompanied by words, as each gives her voice to the need for this new era in music.

The Ladies of Rage showcase is a clear demonstration of the treasure-trove of talent among women emcees, DJs and musicians in Wales. It’s not just a performance, but a call to arms. This is the first time several performers stepped from the edges of the underground scene to go onstage. How many women in the audience, you wonder, might be inspired to pen lyrics and experiment with mixes after watching the skill on show that night?

It’s those women in the crowd the Ladies of Rage came for. The ones who haven’t yet dared to test their skills. Now when they do, there’s a full collective of women ready to share their experiences and stand alongside them.

This is just the first step.

JOIN THE LADIES OF RAGE!

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A new comedy night – underneath Cardiff Castle

We were VERY excited about this brand new comedy night in Cardiff, put on by Little Wander, the learned folks who run the Machynlleth Comedy festival. And the venue is a brand new one for comedy in the city! Read on to find out more.

Comedy at the castle

You can catch Comedy at the Castle in Cardiff Castle’s historic Undercroft! Previous acts include Jonny and the Baptists, Evelyn Monk, Frank Foucault, and Stuart Laws. Find out about the latest Comedy at the Castle gig and buy your tickets now!).

We spoke to Little Wander to get some more info on Comedy at the Castle. 

We’re almost certainly best known as the people that founded and run Machynlleth Comedy Festival which has its tenth birthday this May. But we do loads more than Machynlleth, including we run monthly comedy clubs for arts venues across Wales and the UK, we bring touring comedians to Cardiff, mainly at Chapter and Clwb Ifor Bach, we book and manage national tours for some of the UK’s best comedians, including James Acaster, Kiri Pritchard-Mclean, Jen Brister and Gein’s Family Giftshop. Last year we made our first TV show, Stand Up at BBC Wales which went out on BBC 1 and BBC 2 in October, and also started a second comedy festival in Aberystwyth last October, which will be an annual event. Alongside this we work for other festivals, so we booked and managed the comedy at Green Man Festival since 2008, and worked with Manchester International Festival in 2017 to deliver comedy programming. We’ve worked with NTW on numerous projects including NHS70, and delivering a specific element of the Roald Dahl City of the Unexpected celebrations. We do loads of stuff, almost exclusively in comedy.

Camping at Machynlleth Comedy Festival
Gareth and Lauren, Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest
Two of Sparkles Hoop Troop enjoying the festivities at Machynlleth Comedy Festival

We always said that we’d only ever run a regular comedy night in Cardiff if we felt that it could be perfect. I knew of the Undercroft, a medieval vaulted cellar underneath Cardiff Castle, from our work on Roald Dahl’s City of the Unexpected, and always felt it would be perfect for a comedy gig. So when Lloyd Glanville from Cardiff Castle approached us I kind of knew straight away we’d say yes. It’s a perfect space for it right in the centre of the city, but couldn’t feel further from the city when you’re down there. Lloyd had been to a lot of our shows in Clwb and Chapter so had a good idea of what we offer and so we’ve got the basis of a really strong partnership. It’s going to be monthly, and there will be four acts on each month. We plan to  showcase our favourite acts from the live comedy scene, and we can’t wait to share them with the city.

Aside from our monthly night at the Castle we’ve got a fair bit on the way in Cardiff in the coming months. Keep an eye on the Little Wander Facebook page to see what’s coming.

Keep up with all the Little Wander news …

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We also recommend you take note of Machynlleth Comedy Festival is the biggie, held on the May bank holiday weekend, and the new Aberystwyth Comedy Festival held in October. Get them in your diaries, and come enjoy some world class alternative comedy in fabulous surroundings.

Get outside for a wild Cardiff winter – enjoy nature in the city all year round

Today’s guest writer is Pip Gray, who is joining us to talk about the joys of urban nature – specifically in Cardiff, in the colder weather! Take it away, Pip!

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With acres of green spaces, wild coast line and miles of waterways flowing through the heart of the city, Cardiff is a city full of wildlife and nature to appreciate all times of the year – including the best time to go out and see it, winter.

Spending time in nature is scientifically proven to improve our mood, mental and general health, there’s no better time to get outside than in winter! Full to the brim with some of our most dramatic and exciting natural experiences, which can rival any summers day in the sun – disconnect and get involved.

Wrap up in your big winter coat, pull on your wellies and let’s create some warming winter memories outside amongst our cities ancient trees and wild neighbours.

Winter Visitors

Whilst we’re wrapped up in scarves and boots, wildlife from our chillier highlands surrounding Cardiff flock to our city for a warm escape from freezing conditions.

Look for winter birds such as Fieldfare and Redwing, relatives of the Song Thrush, who will be visiting our parks and gardens to feast on berries and seek shelter from colder climes.

They’ll be joined by one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in the UK, huge Starling murmurations. To enjoy this free performance, spend a little time looking up just before dusk at the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve, or across the city’s parks including Splott Park to watch up to thousands of birds swirling and dancing in the sky together before they roost.

Get In The Garden

Winter isn’t best known as a popular time to get in the garden, but our garden birds really appreciate a little helping hand during this tough season.

Setting out a feeding station and/or water is a lifeline for birds such as Robin and House Sparrows whose populations have plummeted due to loss of places to live and feed in our suburban sprawl. A simple feeder from a pet or DIY store filled with suet balls and a water bath will reward you with close up views of our most colourful garden birds including Blue Tits and Chaffinches – it’s like a safari, but for your garden!

Now is also a great time to start thinking about how to make your garden wildlife friendly for the year ahead, whether it’s pots of wildflower for bees or a fruit bush which supports everything from butterflies to birds!

Signs Of Spring

Another easy way to connect with nature that’s accessible to all, is to get down to earth. No really, get down to the ground and start noticing our amazing wild plants! Here in Cardiff we have countless numbers of wildflower, grasses, fungi and ancient organisms such as lichen and moss. A really great way to get interactive with our botanical buddies is with #WildFlowerHour at 8pm every Sunday on Twitter, where you can share your finds, have help identifying and get involved with protecting the plants which support our wildlife, and us.

In winter, look for snowdrops in our wooded areas, which will begin to flower alongside delicate yellow primroses. Some of our most ancient plants such as ferns and lichen thrive in our oldest forests, visit Howardian Gardens or Coed y Wenallt to lose yourself in the magic of an ancient woodland without leaving the city.

Thanks Pip! Pip Gray runs a Cardiff based wildlife blog, Wildly Pip, where she documents her journey living wildly in the city centre.

Pip’s next wildlife talk about Cardiff’s winter wildlife is run through Green Squirrel and is on February 16 at Roath Park Lake.

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