Sunday, 30 December 2012

Going for a full house

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, December 29, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.
  






















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Going for a full house
A big day out!
RICHARD THOMAS heads to … 
Castle Bingo in Morriston. 
WHY? There are lots of big cash prizes to be won at Castle Bingo in Morriston including prizes of £4,000 and more!
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? Castle Bingo has bingo halls scattered across South Wales with eight purpose built bingo halls in locations including Swansea, Bridgend, Cardiff and Newport.
Castle Bingo in Morriston was first opened in March 1993 and is renowned for its friendly and social atmosphere, as well as being lucky for its members, who have won to date over £4 million on the National Bingo Game. Many of Castle Bingo’s visitors travel from as far as West Wales to play at their favourite bingo club.

ANY HISTORY? Castle Leisure which operates the Castle Bingo chain is one of the oldest private companies in South Wales and has been based in the same Cardiff office continuously since 1856. The history of the game is much older, however. Bingo or Housey-Housey, as it used to be called in Britain, began in Italy with the Italian lottery in the 1500s. From Italy, the popular pastime is believed to have migrated to Britain and other parts of Europe including France, where Le Lotto as it was known was played by the French aristocracy in the 1700s. Bingo as we know it today was used in 19th century Germany as an educational tool to teach children the multiplication tables. In the early 1990s a misconception about the Gaming Act was that if bingo was played using playing cards instead of numbers this would allow public houses to get around the law, which prevented bingo being played for cash prizes in a public place, however, since the Gaming Act has no description of how bingo is played this was to prove false. Despite the law a large number of public houses continued to play the game and still do so today. The government has since legalised all forms of small stakes bingo in public houses.
WHAT TO TAKE? On Saturdays prices start from as little as £4 for an eight page book during morning sessions and £8.50 for afternoon and evening sessions but these prices are different on other days. Hot drinks are available in the club’s coffee bar and just across the road is a McDonalds drive through.
LOOK OUT FOR? The Castle Jackpot where you can win £4,000. All you have to do to win is shout “house” on 45.
WHEN TO GO? Castle Bingo is open seven days a week with sessions starting as early as 12pm and as late as 9.35pm.
TELL ME MORE: For sat nav users the address and postcode is: 41 Clase Road,Morriston, Swansea, SA6 8DS. You can phone on 01792 772211.
For more information about game prices and start times visit the Castle Bingo website at www.castlebingo.co.uk.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Raise a glass to tour

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, December 22, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.























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Raise a glass to tour 
A big day out!
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Tomos Watkin Brewery in Swansea.

WHY? At Tomos Watkin’s brewery in Llansamlet, Swansea Enterprise Park, groups can take a tour of the famous Welsh brewery and sample their award wining beers and ciders for free after paying for the tour. 
WHAT'S THE BUZZ? The tour consists of a three hour visit and starts with drinks and a warm welcome on arrival from one of the brewers who will give you a 20 minuet talk about the history of the Hurns Brewing Company and Tomos Watkin. This is followed by a tour around the brewery which lasts around half an hour where visitors are shown the full brewing process from raw material to packaging the product. After the tour visitors relocate back to the brewery tap for more sampling of the finished products and there is also a cold buffet including sausage roles, crisps, chicken legs, cocktail sausages and other snacks available. 
ANY HISTORY? The present incarnation of Tomos Watkin was started in 1995 by Simon Buckley and first operated from a small brewery in Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire before moving to their current premises in Swansea Enterprise Park in 1999. The Hurns Brewing Company acquired the Swansea brewer in 2002 and today Tomas Watkin exports their beers and other beverages to countries around the world, including the United Arab Emirates, China, Singapore, France, and the United States. 
LOOK OUT FOR? At the start of the tour chief brewer and tour guide Alex Cunningham hands out samples of the different varieties of malt the brewery uses to make their world famous beer. There's even a chocolate flavour to try. Later visitors get a chance to look into the vats where 16,000 pints worth of beer ferments every day for export across Wales and around the world. 
WHAT TO TAKE? There is a minimum of 12 people and a maximum of 25 people per tour. Cameras are allowed on the tour and visitors are encouraged to take as many photos as they want of the brewery, or even make a video of their tour. 
WHEN TO GO? Tours are available Monday to Saturday. For prices and to book a tour send an email to shop@tomoswatkin.com
TELL ME MORE: For sat-nav users the address and postcode is: Unit 3, Century Park, Swansea Enterprise Park, Swansea, SA6 8RP. More information is available on the website at www.tomoswatkin.com, or, you can phone 01792 797280. 
Visit Richard Thomas's website at www.richardthomas.eu.


Saturday, 15 December 2012

Searching for spooks

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, December 15, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.
























 
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Searching for spooks 
A big day out! 
RICHARD THOMAS goes ghost hunting in Swansea. 
  
WHY? In the classic Charles Dickens novel A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his old business partner Jacob Marley, as well as three other spectres, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. In fact, telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve was a tradition back in the Victorian era. So why not visit some haunted places and revive the tradition by telling your friends and relatives what you found this Christmas?
WHERE TO GO? Swansea is home to some of Wales' most haunted places. Swansea Castle which dates back to about 1106 is supposed to be haunted by a woman in a blue dress. The castle in the city centre according to local legend is also said to be connected by an underwater tunnel to Oystermouth Castle in Mumbles, where the ghost of a similiar spectre, this time dressed in a white dress has been seen numerous times. It is Swansea Museum which has gained a reputation as being perhaps the most haunted building in Swansea, however. Staff and visitors alike have experienced spooky activity in the main building on Victoria Road, next to the LC2. According to one member of staff a mysterious "hooded figure" has been seen on several occasions on the stairs and strange tapping, cold spots and even whistling have also been reported in the museum. More paranormal activity has also been reported at Swansea Museum's collection centre in Landore.
WHAT TO TAKE? Admission is free at Swansea Museum. You’re not allowed to photograph some of the exhibits at the museum, but don't forget to bring a camera to try and get some ghost photos where you're allowed.
LOOK OUT FOR? The cloaked figure who has been seen haunting the staircase at Swansea Museum is allegedl the ghost of someone who committed suicide on the lightship Helwick, one of the museum's three floating exhibits which can be seen at Swansea Marina.
WHEN TO GO? Swansea Museum is open from 10am to 5pm every Tuesday to Sunday. Last admissions are at 4pm. The museum is closed Mondays and bank holidays. Swansea Museum Collections Centre opens to visitors every Wednesday between 10am and 4pm. To contact Swansea Museum phone 01792 653763. Swansea Castle and Oystermouth Castle will be closed until next year.
TELL ME MORE: For more information about all these haunted sites go to www.para-news.info.
 Signed copies of Richard Thomas's new book Para-News: UFOs, Ghosts, Conspiracy, Cryptids And More are available from www.richardthomas.eu.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Signed copies of Para-News and Sci-Fi Worlds now available!

I am now selling signed copies of my two books, Para-News and Sci-Fi Worlds. Use the PayPal button at the bottom of this post or visit my Amazon store to make a purchase.

ISBN 9781907791727 Para-News: UFOs, Ghosts, Conspiracy, Cryptids - and More, Bretwalda Books (11 October 2012)

Product Description:
A gripping account of the very latest developments in the esoteric worlds of conspiracy theories, Ufology, paranormal investigations and the bizarre.

Most people will have heard of UFOs, ghosts and yetis, but what about the wilder shores of the paranormal, the conspiracy theorists and down right bizarre? In this book, one of the world's leading and most prolific paranormal bloggers takes readers on a voyage of discovery like no other ever written.

The key players are interviewed, explaining their views on the JFK assassination, the shadowy and sinister Illuminati, the influential Bilderberg Group, allegations of an incipient New World Order, cover ups and how hidden messages can be found in Hollywood movies such as Blade Runner and TV shows including the X-Files. Dean Haglund, Richard Dolan, Steve Watson, Richard Holland, Nick Pope, Timucin Leflef, Bryce Zabel, Christopher Knowles and Nick Redfern are all here.

The book takes a critical look at timeslips, ghosts, UFOs, cryptids, mind control, aliens, disinformation, black-ops, the Bermuda Triangle and a host of other paranormal phenomena.

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ISBN 9781909099357 Sci-Fi Worlds - Doctor Who, Doomwatch, Battlestar Galactica And Other Cult TV Shows, Bretwalda Books (1 June 2012)

Product Description:
Internationally renowned blogger and writer on the paranormal, science fiction and conspiracy theories, Richard Thomas takes the reader on a tour through the galaxy of sci-fi worlds that have dominated our TV screens over the past 50 years. Along the way he interviews Nick Redfern, Nick Pope, Lex Gigeroff and others.

In this fascinating ebook, Richard Thomas explores the deeper meanings behind some of our best loved TV science-fiction shows. He looks at Dr Who, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Doomwatch, and many others. He explores the themes used in the programmes, from time travel to transhumanism and explains some of the hidden meanings of the visual imagery shown on screen.

Contents
* Introduction
* The Eleven Faces of The Doctor
* A History of the Cybermen
* William Hartnell Back in Time
* Nick Pope: Interview With A Real Man In Black
* Interview With Nick Redfern - Author of Science Fiction Secrets
* Interview With Richard Holland - Author of Haunted Wales
* Interview With Richard Freeman of the Centre for Fortean Zoology
* Interview with Lance Parkin - Author of A History: An Unauthorised History of the Doctor Who Universe * Interview With Lex Gigeroff: Lexx Co-Writer/Actor
* Battlestar Galactica * Rise of the Planet of the Apes
* Secret Society Symbolism In Ridley Scott's Blade Runner And Other Sci-Fi Films
* Nigel Kneale * Interview With Scott Burditt - Webmaster of Doomwatch.org
* Transhumanism in Doomwatch
* Interview With Dean Haglund - Star of The X-Files And The Lone Gunmen
* Conclusions

About the Author
Richard Thomas is a freelance feature writer specialising in Fortean subjects. Richard has written for high street magazines, including Alien Worlds Magazine, Paranormal Magazine and UFO Matrix Magazine. He is also a blogger for UFOMystic and Binnall of America. In addition to writing about the paranormal and unexplained, Richard also writes a column entitled “Big Day Out” for the South Wales Evening Post, Wales’ largest circulation newspaper. His first book PARA-NEWS - UFOs, Conspiracy Theories, Cryptozoology and much much more was published by Bretwalda Books in May 2011 as an ebook. For more information about Richard Thomas go to his website at www.richardthomas.eu.

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Buy signed copies of Richard's books using PayPal

Alternatively you can buy signed copies of both books from my Amazon store.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Waterfront Winterland

My column for the December 2012 issue of Swansea Life magazine.























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A big day out!
  
WHY? This weekend Swansea’s premier winter attraction featuring two fantastic ice-skating rinks, a family funfair, Santa’s Grotto, and stalls selling delicious hot food and drinks returns, as the city starts to get into the Christmas spirit.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? For the seventh year running Museum Park in Swansea has been transformed into a Christmas playground and ice-skating park. There are two excellent ice rinks at Waterfront Winterland, the main Admiral Rink and the children friendly Rocky’s Rink, where little ones can get used to ice skating and gain in confidence before moving to the big rink. For non-skaters there’s lots more to see at the park, including their fantastic family funfair with rides like the Mad Mouse, Snow Storm ride and the nostalgic carousel to enjoy. It is the attraction’s gigantic Ferris wheel that steals the show, however. Standing at 44m, the Miles Hire Giant Wheel is largest touring attraction of its kind in the UK and offers spectacular views of the Swansea Bay area. There are also lots of festive treats, hot chocolate and lots more to warm you up during your visit, which you can enjoy in the undercover spectator area.
ANY HISTORY? The annual festive attraction first opened in 2006 and since then an impressive 536,000 people have visited the park.
WHAT TO TAKE? If you have young children that haven’t been on the ice before then you will need to book tickets for them to use the children’s Rocky's Rink. There is a charge to use both the children’s rink and main ice-skating rink.
LOOK OUT FOR? Santa will be at Waterfront Winterland in his Christmas Grotto. Children can meet Father Christmas for £4 and for an extra £1 have a photo taken.
WHEN TO GO? The Christmas attraction will be open daily until 6 January 2013. The opening hours are 12pm to 10pm on weekdays and 10am to 10pm on weekends. Santa’s Grotto is open until 23 December.
TELL ME MORE: Waterfront Winterland is located in Museum Park, Swansea, just outside the LC and Swansea Museum. For more information go to www.swanseachristmas.com or call on 01792 637300.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Perfect gifts at market

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, December 1, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.























 

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Perfect gifts at market 
A big day out!
RICHARD THOMAS heads to
the Christmas Market in Swansea.

WHY? At the Swansea Christmas Market you’ll find all the ingredients for a perfect Christmas this year, including food, spirits, cheeses and handmade gifts available from Welsh and continental traders.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? The familiar green wooden chalets have returned again to Oxford Street in Swansea, transforming the city centre into a Christmas Market for the festive season. With over 39 stalls selling everything from glassware and jewellery to perfumes and luxury chocolates, you’ll have no problem finding the perfect Christmas gifts for friends and family. And to keep you entertained while you shop, school choirs and street dance groups will be performing at the market.
ANY HISTORY? The Christmas Market has been a feature of Oxford Street in the build-up to Christmas for several years now, but there is a much longer history of markets in the city centre. Swansea Market was re-sited from Castle Square to Oxford Street in 1830, but this market proved too small for the ever expanding Swansea town and plans were made to improve the market. A new purpose built market was opened in 1897 on Oxford Street and for the first time the market was completely enclosed. The new market building’s roof was the largest structure of glass and wrought iron works in the UK at that time. The current Swansea Market building was opened in 1961 after the original building was devastated by the German Luftwaffe in the Second World War.
WHAT TO TAKE? It is an outside street market with no cover, so bring a rain coat or umbrella with you encase it starts to rain. There are food stalls selling everything from delicious hotdogs to Indian cuisine. Parking is available in the High Street car park for up to four hours any time after 10am for just £1.
LOOK OUT FOR? Don’t forget to call into Swansea Market. Inside the steel and glass building you will find over a hundred stalls offering a huge selection of traditional Welsh cuisine, as well as cards, flowers, clothes, sweets and other gifts.
Waterfront Wonderland is also nearby where you can enjoy ice skating on the main Admiral Rink and child friendly Rocky's Rink, visit Father Christmas in his Grotto, as well as enjoy the funfair rides like the Miles Hire Giant Wheel.
WHEN TO GO? The Swansea Christmas Market will be doing business until 16 December. The market's open hours are 10am to 5.30pm everyday, except Thursdays when the market will be open late until 8pm. 
TELL ME MORE: The Swansea Christmas Market is located on Oxford Street and Princess Way in the city centre, just outside Swansea Market and Quadrant Shopping Centre. For more information go to www.swanseachristmas.com.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

A fresh fir for Christmas

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, November 24, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.
 
 























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A fresh fir for Christmas
A big day out! 
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Gower Fresh Christmas Trees at Three Crosses, Swansea. 
WHY? Forget your old plastic tree in your attic, at Gower Fresh Christmas Trees you can shop for the best fresh cut trees this Christmas and visit Wales’ largest reindeer herd.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? There are a huge selection of trees to choose from at Poundffald Farm this Christmas. This year's crop includes every type of tree from Norway Spruce to the Noble Fir. What really sets the farm apart from other Christmas tree retailers, though, is their outstanding Winter Wonderland exhibits where you can come and meet Santa and his reindeer as they prepare for Christmas Eve.
LOOK OUT FOR? In Winter Wonderland the farm's Arctic display includes penguins, polar bears and seals. There are also singing Santa's and you can even have your photo taken in Santa's sleigh or visit Father Christmas himself in his grotto. There is even a life size 12 piece nativity display with baby Jesus, Mary, the three wise men, and shepherds. They also have a shop full of all types of Christmas items to purchase.
ANY HISTORY? Gower Fresh Christmas Trees was set up nine years ago by Poundffald Farm owner and fifth generation farmer Robert Morgan. What began as a concrete slab and a small number of Christmas trees soon became the largest grower in South Wales with over 250,000 trees for sale. Robert added the Christmas grotto five years ago to add some more Christmas cheer to the farm and to give children something to enjoy while adults are busy scouting for this year’s Christmas tree.
WHAT TO TAKE? Tree prices start at £5. Trees that are eight foot plus are more expensive. Decorations, gifts and tree stands are all for sale in the Christmas Shop. To visit Winter Wonderland and see Santa in his grotto costs £5.50 per child but is just £2.50 each for adults.
WHEN TO GO? Gower Fresh Christmas Trees is open 9.30am to 7pm on weekdays and 9.30am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. Their Christmas attraction Winter Wonderland is open at the same times as the tree site. Children can visit Father Christmas in his grotto all day until 3pm on Christmas Eve.
TELL ME MORE: The tree site and Christmas grotto is located at Poundffald Farm in Three Crosses, Swansea, just five minutes from Junction 47. For sat nav users the postcode is SA4 3PB. For more information go to www.gower-fresh-christmas-trees.com or phone 07811 949239.
Visit www.richardthomas.eu.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Winter wonder is back

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, November 17, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.
























 
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Winter wonder is back
A big day out! 
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Waterfront Winterland in Swansea.
  
WHY? This weekend Swansea’s premier winter attraction featuring two fantastic ice-skating rinks, a family funfair, Santa’s Grotto, and stalls selling delicious hot food and drinks returns, as the city starts to get into the Christmas spirit.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? For the seventh year running Museum Park in Swansea has been transformed into a Christmas playground and ice-skating park. There are two excellent ice rinks at Waterfront Winterland, the main Admiral Rink and the children friendly Rocky’s Rink, where little ones can get used to ice skating and gain in confidence before moving to the big rink. For non-skaters there’s lots more to see at the park, including their fantastic family funfair with rides like the Mad Mouse, Snow Storm ride and the nostalgic carousel to enjoy. It is the attraction’s gigantic Ferris wheel that steals the show, however. Standing at 44m, the Miles Hire Giant Wheel is largest touring attraction of its kind in the UK and offers spectacular views of the Swansea Bay area. There are also lots of festive treats, hot chocolate and lots more to warm you up during your visit, which you can enjoy in the undercover spectator area.
ANY HISTORY? The annual festive attraction first opened in 2006 and since then an impressive 536,000 people have visited the park.
WHAT TO TAKE? If you have young children that haven’t been on the ice before then you will need to book tickets for them to use the children’s Rocky's Rink. There is a charge to use both the children’s rink and main ice-skating rink. Monday to Friday until Thursday 20 December sessions starting before 5pm only cost £5.50 for all categories. From Friday 21 December, every weekend and all sessions after 5pm the rink prices are: £7.50 for adults (16 and over), £6.50 for OAPs and students, and £5.50 for children (15 and under) and skaters with a Swansea Passport to Leisure. There are also special promotions for lunchtime and evening skates, including money off a hot chocolate with every ticket purchased for skating sessions between 12pm and 2pm.
LOOK OUT FOR? Tomorrow Father Christmas himself will arrive in Swansea to switch on the city’s Christmas lights. After starring in Swansea's annual Christmas Parade, Santa will be at Waterfront Winterland in his Grotto. Children can meet Father Christmas for £4 and for an extra £1 have a photo taken with the big man.
WHEN TO GO? The Christmas attraction will be open daily until 6 January 2013. The opening hours are 12pm to 10pm on weekdays and 10am to 10pm on weekends. Santa’s Grotto is open until 23 December.
TELL ME MORE: Waterfront Winterland is located in Museum Park, Swansea, just outside the LC and Swansea Museum. For more information go to www.swanseachristmas.com or call on 01792 637300.
Visit www.richardthomas.eu.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

For a truly grand time

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, November 10, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.
 

















 

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For a truly grand time
A big day out!
RICHARD THOMAS heads to The Grand Theatre in Swansea.
WHY? The Grand Theatre in Swansea has a 1,000-seat auditorium and hosts a wide variety of shows and exhibitions for everyone to enjoy.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? There's lots to see at The Grand this month. Tonight audiences can catch the last performances of the number one musical of all time, Grease, at the theatre, and later in the month Francis Hardy's stage adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, performed by the wonderful Fluellen Theatre Company, is coming to the The Grand. Information about ticket prices and start times can be found in the Winter Brochure, which can be downloaded at www.swanseagrand.co.uk.
ANY HISTORY? Since 1897, Swansea's Grand Theatre has been providing the public with a broad range of cultural, artistic and general entertainment events. The Grand Theatre was designed by the architect William Hope of Newcastle in 1897. It was built by D. Jenkins and was opened by Madam Adelina Patti - an Opera Diva of her day - under the original proprietors Morell and Mouillot. The Swansea Corporation leased the building in May 1969 and bought it outright in 1979. The Theatre was then refurbished and updated during the period 1983 - 1987 at a cost of £6.5 million. A further £1 million was spent for the Arts Wing to open its doors for the first time in 1999. Over the last twenty years, the fabric of the theatre has been improved and enhanced considerably, thanks to the support of the former Swansea Corporation, Swansea City Council and more recently the City and County of Swansea. However, none of the theatre's unique identity has suffered as a result of this improvement and today's Grand is as full of charm and atmosphere as was the case when the theatre first opened its doors all those years ago.
WHAT TO TAKE? Morning tea and coffee, lunchtime specials and pre-show dinners are available in the theatre’s Footlights Café Bar. Located in the theatre’s delightful garden area it's the perfect setting to meet with friends for a drink or a light meal. The menu includes fresh Italian coffees, a variety of teas, sandwiches, toasted sandwiches, pasties, cold drinks and fresh pastries.
LOOK OUT FOR? The Arts Wing is the most recent development at The Grand and adds almost 2000 square metres of extra space to the theatre. The contemporary space holds exhibitions, conferences and smaller-scale music and drama performances including lunchtime theatre on the last Saturday of each month and a regular comedy club featuring acts on the comedy circuit. On the top floor there is also the Rooftop Café, Restaurant and Bar with it's own terrace, affording unique views of Swansea.
WHEN TO GO? The Grand is open Monday to Saturday between 9.30am to 8pm, on non performance days they close at 6pm. On Sundays the theatre is open for one hour before performances.
TELL ME MORE: The Grand is situated in the heart of Swansea’s city centre on Singleton Street. For sat nav users their postcode is SA1 3QJ. To book your tickets call the Box Office on 01792 475715. Visit www.richardthomas.eu.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

The Vue, Swansea

My column for the November 2012 issue of Swansea Life magazine.




















 
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I went to...
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Vue
  
ON LOCATION: The Vue is a new state-of-the-art cinema located on York Street in the centre of Swansea. For sat-nav users the full address and postcode is: Vue Cinema Swansea, York Street, Swansea, SA1 3LZ. 
CROWD SCENE: Mostly under 30s, many of them students, but depends what time you go. With 12 screens there's always something suitable for all ages. 
HISTORY: The Vue opened in 2006, but there is a much longer histroy of film going in Swansea. In 1914 Wales’ first purpose built cinema, the Carlton Cinema de Luxe, opened on Oxford Street. The Carlton was closed in 1977, and is now home to Swansea's Waterstones branch. Nearby on the Kingway was Swansea's Plaza cinema designed by Cardiff architect Howard Williams, which was Wales' largest cinema from when it opened in 1931 until it was pulled down in 1964. 
SHOW BUSINESS: Now showing at The Vue is Dredd 3D. In this visually spectacular take on the legendary Judge Dredd from the 2000AD comics, Dredd (Karl Urban) is an extreme law enforcer operating in the nightmarish conditions of Mega-City One, a sprawling future metropolis, which is dangerously over-populated and where violent crime is soaring. With other judges being murdered, Dredd has the ultimate power to execute wrong-doers. Joined by a young trainee, Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), he is targeting a drugs gang warping minds with a narcotic known as SLO-MO. And he's taking no prisoners. Another sci-fi blockbuster now showing at The Vue is Total Recall, a remake of Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1990 film based on a short story by Blade Runner author Philip K.Dick. Set at the end of the century, a factory worker, Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), begins to suspect that he is a spy after buying memory implants of a life he wishes he had goes wrong and he finds himself on the run. There are also lots of other films to choose from if your not a sci-fi fanatic, including TED, a  laugh-out-loud-funny film about a man whose life is being ruined by his childhood teddy bear coming to life.
PARENTAL GUIDELINES: Kids and accompanying adults can get in from just £1.50 with special family screenings each Saturday and Sunday morning, and even weekdays during the school holidays.
SENIOR SERVICE: Senior tickets cost £5.85 on weekends. There are also special screenings for the over 60s every Thursday at 11.30pm, tickets cost £3.05 and includes a free tea or coffee and biscuits. 
TICKETS: During the weekend tickets cost £7.85 for adults (19 and over). For younger film goers the prices are slightly cheaper, £5.85 for children (2-12) and £6.25 for teenagers (13-18). Tickets for students with a valid photo ID only cost £6.65. Family tickets for 4 cost £23.40. There is an extra charge for 3D tickets of £2 for adults and £1.50 for everyone else. A 3D family ticket costs an extra £6. 
SWEETS: Completing your cinema experience a wide variety of snacks including popcorn, hot dogs, nachos, sweets and soft drinks are all available at the cinema’s snacks counter. Combos are available to save a little money. 
DRINKS: The Vue also benefits from a speed bar where you can kick back with a beer before your film starts. 
AUDITORIUM: With an impressive 12 screens, the cinema can seat up to 1,762 people and has all the latest facilities you would expect of a modern cinema. 
PROJECTION: The Vue is equipped with wall-to-wall screens and digital projectors, enabling film fans to experience all the latest blockbusters in ever better 3D animation! 
DISABLED ACCESS: There is a wheelchair bay available at the rear of some of the screens (1, 2, 3, 8 or 9) and a lift from the foyer to the upper level.
TOILETS: There is an accessible toilet by the entrance to screens 4 and 9. Further accessible toilets are available on the second floor by the rear of screens 2 and 3. 
STAFF: Dedicated and happy to help costumers, be it finding the best money saving combo deal or holding your popcorn while you find your ticket. 
PROS: Film goers can save at least 25% by visiting the Vue Monday, Tuesday and Thursday before 5pm. 
CONS: 3D glasses are included in the price of a 3D ticket. However, this does mean you can't save money by keeping your glasses and bringing them back with you on your next visit. 
TOP TIP: If you’re an Orange mobile or broadband customer, you can enjoy 2 for 1 cinema tickets every Wednesday at the Vue. All you need to do is text the word Film to 241 from your mobile phone, or register your Orange broadband account. Visit www.web.orange.co.uk/p/film/cinema_tickets. 
TELL ME MORE: Monday to Saturday the Vue is open 9am to 5pm. On Sundays the cinema is open from 10am to 4pm. For film start times and to book tickets you can phone on 08712240240, or go to www.myvue.com. 
Richard Thomas is the author of Sci-Fi Worlds - Doctor Who, Doomwatch, Battlestar Galactica And Other Cult TV Shows available from Amazom and all good ebook retailers. Visit www.richardthomas.eu.

Light up the night

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, November 3, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.

























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Light up the night 
A big day out! 
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Swansea's Fireworks Display at St Helen's Ground. 
WHY? Sparks In The Dark is Swansea's largest fireworks display. Thousands of people turn up to enjoy the annual fireworks extravaganza at St Helen's Rugby Ground in Swansea every year.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? This year the spectacular show includes entertainment from Nation 80s before the display including dynamic dance from Nu Sxool, music from local band Where’s Wally and former X Factor winner Joe McElderry, who rose to fame in 2009 when he beat Ollie Murs and Stacey Solomon to win the title. The event also includes a large circus skills workshop, where people have the opportunity to have a go at juggling, stilt-walking and unicycling.
ANY HISTORY? On November 5, 1605, Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was caught guarding explosives placed beneath the House of Lords and arrested. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot's failure. WHAT TO TAKE? Advanced tickets are priced at £15 for families (2 adults and up to 3 children), £4.50 standard, £3.50 concessions and £3 Passport to Leisure. Tickets purchased on the night are £20 for families (2 adults and up to 3 children), £5.50 standard, £4.50 concessions and £3.50 Passport to Leisure. Accompanied Under 3s go free. Candy floss, hotdogs, burgers as well as glow sticks and other glow in the dark toys will all be available to buy on the night. Spectators should dress appropriately for the time of year as this is an outdoor event.
LOOK OUT FOR? The show will see Swansea Bay light up with a spectacular fireworks display and The Wave and Swansea Sound will be on stage with live music, special guests and entertainment throughout the night. Fire jugglers and children's entertainers will also be at St Helen's to provide pre-fireworks fun on the night.
WHEN TO GO? Gates for fireworks extravaganza open on Monday November 5 at 5.30pm with entertainment starting at 6pm. The evening will finish with a spectacular fireworks display choreographed to music at 7.30pm.
TELL ME MORE: The fireworks display will be held at St Helen's Rugby and Cricket Ground in Swansea. For sat nav users the address and postcode is: 1 Bryn Road, Brynmill, Swansea, SA2 0AR. Tickets can be purchased online at www.swansea.gov.uk/fireworks or by calling Swansea Tourist Information Centre on 01792 468321. Alternatively, tickets can be purchased in person from a number of venues including Swansea Tourist Information Centre, Mumbles Tourist Information Centre, Swansea Civic Centre and any Active Swansea Leisure Centre. Tickets can also be purchased in person on the night on the gates at St Helen's Ground.
Visit Richard Thomas's website at www.richardthomas.eu.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Get in a spin on track

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, October 13, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.
























 
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Get in a spin on track
A big day out! 
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Skidz Karting in Swansea. 
WHY? Skidz Karting is Swansea’s only indoor go karting track. With karts and tracks suitable for all ages and abilities, drivers young and old will have a great time trying to beat each others best lap time on the tracks.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? Measuring 330 meters in length and consisting of an exciting mix of tight bends, sweeping curves and great long straights, the 6 meter wide main track allows for plenty of overtaking opportunities and provides plenty of challenges for even the most experienced go karter. There’s also a great track for younger drivers, providing plenty of fun but still nice and safe with a secure pit lane area for safe pit stops. Children as young as three can take part. There are three types of kart available: electric KIDZ KARTZ that travel up to 6 miles per hour for three to eight year olds, SODI FUN KID petrol karts for eight to twelve year olds, and the worlds most popular kart the SODI GT4 for adults. LOOK OUT FOR? Along with two great tracks there is also a games room with driving simulators where you can get some practice before you go on the track, a pool table, air hockey table, and a cafe serving light refreshments to check out. ANY HISTORY? Skidz Karting opened last year. Although a popular sport in Europe today, go karting first began on the other side of the Atlantic. Art Ingels is thought to have built the world's first go kart in 1956 in California. Go karting quickly caught on with tracks built in many towns and cities across the United States.
WHAT TO TAKE? Drivers will have to make a one time purchase of a balaclava for hygiene reasons, but these only cost £1.50 each and are yours to keep and bring back next time. All the other kit, including a helmet, overalls, gloves and a detailed safety briefing are provided for. Prices are £20 for 25 minuets during off peak times and £25 for the same during peak times, Monday to Friday after 4pm, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays.
WHEN TO GO? During the school term the go karting tracks are open daily between 12pm and 8pm, except Mondays when the tracks are closed. During school holidays Skids Karting is open seven days a week from 10am to 12pm. TELL ME MORE: For sat-nav users the full address and postcode is: Unit 1, Rear of Queensway, Swansea West Business Park, Fforest-Fach, Swansea, SA5 4DJ. To book a place call 01792 580927. More information about opening times, prices and the go karting tracks can be found on the Skidz Karting website at www.skidzkarting.co.uk.
Visit Richard Thomas's website at www.richardthomas.eu.

Centre full of history

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, October 20, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.
























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Centre full of history 
A big day out! 
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Swansea Museum’s Collections Centre at Landore. 
WHY? Swansea Museum operates over four locations. The Collections Centre is a fascinating place to visit because it houses the museum's reserve collection which include some extraordinary exhibits from Swansea’s industrial and maritime past.
WHAT'S THE BUZZ? The Collections Centre is housed in an historically important building on the former Hafod/Morfa Copper Works site in Landore, parts of which date back to 1830. The former copper rolling shed and warehouse building has been transformed into a public-access store and collections centre. The building is now home to the reserve collections of both Swansea Museum and the Maritime and Industrial Museum, providing more opportunities for the public to see some wonderful gems from history.
ANY HISTORY? In the mid-19th century the Hafod/Morfa copper-smelting complex was the centre of world copper smelting activity. Little evidence remains of this industrial past, however, save for the buildings on the site.
QUIRKY HISTORY? Considering the age of the building and the exhibits inside, ghost hunters won’t be surprised to learn that staff have even reported hearing “loud whistling” when nobody else should have been in the building.
WHAT TO TAKE? Admission is free but don’t forget to bring a camera with you.
LOOK OUT FOR? Some of the most popular items in the collection at Landore are the old vehicles like a traveller's van, lorries, a fire engine and also boats. There are even two lifeboats; the Naomi Beatty and the William Gammon. Gifted to the museum in 1992, the William Gammon was named in memory of the coxswain of the Mumbles lifeboat, who lost his life along with the other seven crew members on April 23, 1947, whilst attempting to rescue the crew of the Samtampa. The collection from the former Maritime and Industrial Museum in Swansea is also at the Landore site.
WHEN TO GO? Swansea Museum Collections Centre opens to visitors every Wednesday between 10am to 4pm.
TELL ME MORE: The Collections Centre can be found next to the Park and Ride car park, opposite the Liberty Stadium, on the Cross Valley Link Road, Landore, Swansea, SA1 2JT. For more information about exhibitions and events at Swansea Museum you can visit their website at www.swansea.gov.uk/swanseamuseum or phone 01792 653763.
Visit Richard Thomas's website at www.richardthomas.eu.

Spooky tour of caste

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, October 27, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.
























 
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Spooky tour of caste 
A big day out! 
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Swansea Castle. 

WHY? What better way to spend Halloween than to take a tour of a haunted castle?
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? Following the success of last year’s tours, Swansea Castle is again opening to the public for Halloween. Several vaulted rooms of the medieval fortress, cells of the 18th century prison and the whole of the first floor will be open to the public as part of Swansea’s Spooks in the City event. Other activities too, including lantern making, apple bobbing, face painting and workshops in Oxford Street, as well as Halloween crafts and Big Cook Little Cook sessions in Swansea Market will also be taking place as part of the event.
ANY HISTORY? Swansea Castle dates back to around 1106 when it was founded by Henry de Beaumont, the first Earl of Warwick. De Beaumont is said to have accompanied William the Conqueror on his campaign in the Midlands in 1068 and was later given the Lordship of Gower by his friend and ally Henry I. The original castle consisted of earthworks and timber defences. After various unsuccessful attacks made by the Welsh, first in 1116, then again in 1192, the castle finally fell in 1217 when it was razed to the ground. It was later restored to the English control in 1220 as part of the settlement between Llywelyn ap Iorwerth and Henry III of England. Today’s stone castle was built in the late 13th and early 14th centuries by the de Braose lords of Gower William II and his son William III as a set of private apartments for the de Braose family. One of their victims was the Welsh warrior William Cragh, who was executed within sight of the castle in 1290 for killing 13 men. By this time the castle had lost much of its military importance and has since served many other purposes. In the 16th century a town hall was located in the area to the front of the castle and in the 18th and 19th centuries parts of the castle were variously used as a town market, a police station, a drill hall and a debtors’ prison. In 1941 the castle was damaged during the “Three Night Blitz”. After decades of being closed to the public, tours of the castle began last year following funding from the Welsh Government.
LOOK OUT FOR? According to local legend an undersea tunnel connects Swansea Castle to Oystermouth Castle in Mumbles, famous for its White Lady. A similar sceptre dressed in blue robes is said to haunt Swansea Castle.
WHAT TO TAKE? There is no charge but there is a maximum of 20 places on each tour. To book a place phone 01792 637300.
WHEN TO GO? Spooks in the City is being held in Swansea City Centre on Wednesday 31 October between 10am and 4pm. The start times of the castle tours are: 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm. TELL ME MORE: For more information go to www.swansea.gov.uk/swanseacastle.
Richard Thomas is the author of Para-News: UFOs, Ghosts, Conspiracy, Cryptids And More, available from www.amazon.co.uk and all good book retailers. Visit www.richardthomas.eu.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Hothouse gets spooky

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, October 6, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.
























 
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Hothouse gets spooky 
A big day out! 
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Plantasia in Swansea. 
WHY? The superb all weather attraction in the heart of Swansea houses a huge variety of unusual animals and exotic plants, some of which are extinct in the wild. On October 30 and 31 Plantasia are holding Halloween Spook Night.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? The tropical paradise is housed inside a unique glass pyramid and is just bursting with plants and wildlife. The hothouse contains three climate zones: Tropical with a rainforest, Arid and Humid. The collection includes over 5,000 plants ranging from banana plants, giant bamboo, coconuts and collections of ferns and cacti. Along with the plants there are several species of fish, exotic insects and other animals to see. These include piranhas, a bearded dragon, a chameleon, tarantulas, snakes and even tamarin monkeys. In the butterfly house butterflies can be seen flying freely and viewed at various stages of development.
ANY HISTORY? Plantasia opened in 1990. In recent years the hothouse has been used as a filming location for two Doctor Who episodes, The Doctor's Daughter and Cold Blood.
WHAT TO TAKE? There is an admission charge into Plantasia of £3.35 for adults and £2.35 for children. Under 3’s visit for free. Family tickets and annual membership are also available. There is no charge, however, to just sit back and relax in their coffee shop or browse through their fantastic gift shop while others enjoy the exotic plants and animals. Afterwards, you can all enjoy a Joe’s ice cream or fresh donates sold in the stores by the Plantasia entrance.
LOOK OUT FOR? On October 30 and 31 there’s Halloween Spooy Night when Plantasia opens its doors after dark and lets children dressed in Halloween costumes take part in a ghost trail and explore the depths of the hothouse at night! Pre-booking is essential due to popularity. Tickets cost £4.50 per person. WHEN TO GO? They are open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm. Last admissions at 4.15pm.
TELL ME MORE: Plantasia is located in the Parc Tawe retail park. For sat nav users the address and postcode is: Plantasia, Parc Tawe, Swansea, SA1 2AL. To book phone 01792 47455 or for more information visit www.plantasia.org.