Saturday, 24 March 2012

Roll up for derby fun

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


Roll up for derby fun
A big day out!
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Cwrt Herbert Leisure Centre in Neath to see the Swansea City Slayers.
WHY? The Swansea City Slayers are Swansea's first flat track roller derby team, providing fun and exciting roller derby action for all ages.
WHAT'S THE BUZZ? Roller derby is the UK’s fastest growing all female sport. The game is played by two teams of five skating in the same direction around a track. Game play consists of a series of short “jams” in which both teams designate a scoring player called a “jammer” who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. Both teams attempt to assist their own jammer while hindering the jammer on the opposing side. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins!
ANY HISTORY? The Swansea Slayers were formed in May 2010. On March 3, the amateur team won their first home bout at Cwrt Herbert Leisure Centre in Neath against Oxford Roller Derby.
LOOK OUT FOR? The Slayers’ home venue at Cwrt Herbert Leisure Centre boasts a fully licensed bar and merchandise stalls, where you can pickup one of the Slayers’ famous t-shirts and other cool stuff.
WHAT TO TAKE? On the door tickets cost £7, but children under 12-years old go free and if you buy your ticket in advance you can save a pound. As well as a full day entry to both the mixed scrim and headline bout, ticket prices include an event programme and entry to the Slayers’ after party. To buy tickets online go to
WHEN TO GO? The Swansea City Slayers have a full years worth of battling lined up against some formidable foes. The team’s next big bout is against the Cardiff Roller Collective on May 19. More details about this and other upcoming fixtures are on the Swansea City Slayers website at
TELL ME MORE: Swansea City Slayers are currently recruiting, you don't need to know how to skate to take part, they will teach you everything you need to know, and it won't be long before you're able to compete in your first match. The Slayers currently hold a fresher training session on Wednesdays between 8pm and 10pm in the sports hall in Tycoch College, but you have to be both female and over 18 in order to participate. If you would like to get involved you can send an email to or visit the Swansea City Slayers Facebook Page at

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Catch a top match

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


Catch a top match
A big day out! 
Liberty Stadium in Swansea.

WHY? Liberty Stadium in the Landore area of Swansea is the premier venue for sporting events and conferences in South West Wales. With a capacity of some 20,532 the stadium is the third largest in Wales after the Millennium Stadium and the Cardiff City Stadium. It is also home to Swansea City and the Ospreys regional rugby team, and a result of Swansea City's promotion the stadium is also the first Premier League ground in Wales.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? Built on the site of the former Morfa Athletics Stadium and playing fields, the Liberty Stadium has become one of the foremost sporting venues in Wales. As well as being home to two hugely successful sports teams, the stadium also holds international sporting fixtures and sell out concerts, as well as well as providing a base for thousands of conferences and other special events each year.
ANY HISTORY? Despite their rich history by the end of the 20th century it was becoming clear that Swansea’s Vetch Field and St Helen’s were no longer adequate venues for major sporting events. The result was the Liberty Stadium, a world-class multi-use sporting venue to be proud of. During the Liberty’s construction the stadium was originally going to be called White Rock Stadium after the White Rock Copper Works which once existed on the same site. However, this name was only temporary and after the stadium was competed and the owners began looking for sponsors it became known as the New Stadium Swansea. Finally, on 18 October 2005 Swansea-based developers Liberty Properties Plc won the naming rights to call the new venue the Liberty Stadium.
FUN FACTS? The first capacity crowd recorded at the Liberty Stadium was on 1 November 2006 when the Ospreys beat Australia 24–16.The stadium has also hosted four Wales Football internationals.
LOOK OUT FOR? The stadium is home to Swansea City Football Club and the Ospreys regional rugby team. So you’ll be able to see some of the biggest stars in English football and Welsh rugby at the Liberty.
WHAT TO TAKE? All you need is a ticket, which can be bought either in person via the ticket office at the stadium, or, by phoning 0844 815 6665.
WHEN TO GO? For match times and days or to find out what other events are being held at the stadium, go to the Liberty Stadium website at
TELL ME MORE: The stadium’s car park can be found at the entrance to the Morfa Retail Park. For sat-nav users the full address and postcode is: Liberty Stadium, Landore, Swansea, SA1 2FA.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Fantastic family fun

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


Fantastic family fun
A big day out!
Heatherton World of Activities in Pembrokeshire.

WHY? Open all year round, Heatherton World of Activities near Tenby is a family leisure park whose wide range of indoor and outdoor activities offer something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? Heatherton is perhaps best known for its fantastic paintball fields, scenarios and missions, but there’s no shortage of choice at the park, including go karting on the 300m race track, getting some target practice on the Big H Air Pistol Range and Laser Pigeon Shoot, or taking an archery lesson from qualified coaches. There’s also a regular and adventure golf course, baseball range, indoor and outdoor play area, maze, and lots more. All the equipment is provided by the park, so even for people who have never tried any of these sports or activities before, this is a great chance to come and have a go.
ANY HISTORY? Pembrokeshire first became known as a holiday and tourist spot in the late 18th century. With the Napoleonic Wars preventing rich tourists from visiting the spa resorts in Europe, Pembrokeshire provided a British alternative to the continent.
LOOK OUT FOR? The Tree Tops Trail is an outdoor tree top high ropes adventure activity that will give you a day out to remember. There are four thrilling courses to traverse, with enough rope bridges, swings, high altitude obstacles and zip wires to thrill both novices and adrenaline addicts alike. There is a height and age restriction, however, participants must be at least 10 years old and 1.4m tall. To book a place go to
WHAT TO TAKE? Admission to the park is free, visitors only pay for what they want to play. Prices vary from £3.50 for Laser Clays, Bumber Boats, Junior Go Karts and other games, to £12 minimum to play Paintball and £25 to go on the Tree Tops adventure trail. Each activity at the park holds an individual price as well as a credit value. For the best value for money buy a credit pass. These range from five to 100 credits, and the more credits you buy the more money you can save on the attractions.
WHEN TO GO? Until Easter you will be able to visit the attractions at the park everyday between 9am and 5pm. But if you want to play Paintball it is advisable to phone first to book a place.
TELL ME MORE: For sat nav users the full address and postcode is: Heatherton World of Activities, St Florence, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, SA70 8RJ. More information about all the activities can be found on the Heatherton World of Activities website at, or you can phone 01646 652000.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Park has rich history

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


Park has rich history
A big day out!
Margam Country Park.

WHY? Steeped in history, wildlife and natural beauty, there’s something for everyone at Margam Park on the slopes of Mynydd Margam, two miles from Port Talbot.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? Since Margam Park was officially opened in 1977 approximately four million people have visited the park to enjoy the facilities and events hosted inside. The 850 acre estate boasts a magnificent 18th century orangery, an impressive and picturesque Tudor-Gothic style Victorian mansion house, a 12th century chapter house, ornamental gardens and one of the best deer herds in Wales. Children will enjoy the narrow gauge railway, adventure playground, farm trail, and Fairytale Land.
ANY HISTORY? The history of the site can be traced back to pre-historic times, Bronze and Iron Age relics abound the area and point to Celtic and Roman occupation at the site. It is even believed that the park’s deer herd was first introduced by the Italian invaders some time after the Roman conquest of Britain in the 1st century CE.
LOOK OUT FOR? The park is best known for being the home to Margam Abbey built in 1147 and Margam Castle, a Tudor mansion house commissioned by Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot in 1830. Although a relatively modern building, the castle was built on the site of an Iron Age hill fort, and during the ten years it took to complete the castle there were several deaths of masons involved in the contraction work. The Gothic building’s troubled beginning combined with the 4000 year history of the site has attracted many paranormal investigators to the castle, including visits by the TV series Most Haunted in 2006.
FUN FACTS? Margam Castle doesn’t only attract TV shows about ghosts and the supernatural, scenes for episodes of Doctor Who, Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures have also been filmed at the castle.
WHAT TO TAKE? Entry to the park is free but there is a parking charge of £3.70 for cars, £6.40 for minibuses and £12.70 for coaches. Season tickets cover parking charges for a single vehicle for a whole year and are available from the car park kiosk or at the main office just off the Castle Courtyard. These cost £16 each but don’t cover the costs of some of the events hosted by the park, for which there is a separate charge.
WHEN TO GO? Margam Park is open all year round. Until the end of March the park gates will be open between 1pm and 4.30pm on Mondays and Tuesdays. The rest of the week (Wednesday to Sunday) the park will be open 10am to 4.30pm.
TELL ME MORE: Throughout the year the park hosts various events from Living History Weekends to clown festivals and charity walks the next of which is “Lets Walk Cymru” and will be held on March 9. Up to date information about these and other events and attractions at Margam Park can be found on the park’s website at, or you can phone 01639 881635. For sat-nav users the postcode is SA13 2TJ.

Enjoy tastes of Wales

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, February 25, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.


Enjoy tastes of Wales
A big day out!
RICHARD THOMAS heads to ….
Swansea Castle Square.

WHY? As part of Swansea’s St David’s Week celebrations a Get Welsh Food Festival is being held in Castle Square this weekend. At this family event patriotic locals and visitors will have the chance to sample traditional Welsh cuisine and take a rare tour of Swansea Caste, while in Swansea Market little ones in Welsh costume can have a free 7" x 5" photo taken!
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? This is the sixth St David's Week held in Swansea, the week long festival is the only one of its type in Wales and showcases the very best of what Wales has to offer. As well as cooking demonstrations on how to get the best results using local produce, people will have the chance to sample the delicious meats, dairy products, fruit and vegetables, and quality wines. On top of this, there will be entertainment going on throughout the day.
ANY HISTORY? The festival has become an established part of the city centre’s events calendar, however, from an historical viewpoint it is a bit ironic that a celebration of Welsh cuisine is being held in Castle Square. Swansea Castle was a Norman castle first mentioned in 1116 as being attacked by the Welsh!
LOOK OUT FOR? After the food festival stage entertainment finishes at 4pm crowds will be able to watch England vs. Wales in the Six Nations on the Big Screen in Castle Square.
WHAT TO TAKE? All the events held for St David’s Week are free. Today in Swansea Market from 10am to 4pm children in traditional Welsh costume will be able to have their photo taken by a professional photographer. This doesn’t cost anything, but don’t forget to bring a camera to take some photos yourself.
WHEN TO GO? The Get Welsh Food Festival will be open today and tomorrow from 9am to 5pm. The tours of Swansea Castle will be between 10am and 4pm, however, you will have to phone 01792 637300 to book a place. Also, if you can’t make it to Swansea Market today between 10am and 4pm to have your child’s photo taken in Welsh dress don’t panic, there’s another chance to get a free photo on March 1.
TELL ME MORE: More information about the St David’s Week celebrations can be found at