Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Have an ice day out

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, April 7, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post

Have an ice day out 
A big day out! 
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Mumbles for a Joe’s Ice Cream and some sightseeing. 

WHY? With the weather improving Joe’s Ice Cream Parlour in Mumbles is the best place to head to for an ice cream this Easter. Just across the road is the Tivoli Amusements Arcade where you can win a prize on the cranes and play on the slot machines. There are also other neat places to visit nearby like the fabulous 225 metre Mumbles Pier built in 1807, Mumbles Lighthouse completed in 1794 and Oystermouth Castle built in the 13th century.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? Joe’s Ice Cream has been famous for its unique blend of Italian ice cream and Welsh ingredients since it was first established in 1922. Although Joe’s do have different flavours, it’s the original vanilla ice cream that you want to go for, as there’s not another ice cream quite so rich and tasty. The inside of the Mumbles parlour is adorned with photos of the ice cream parlour’s founder, Joe Cascarini, and there is also plenty of space, making it the perfect option for large families or groups. To make this Easter extra special Joe’s are currently selling ice cream filled chocolates shaped like Easter eggs, bunnies and chicks available in all their most popular flavours, vanilla, mint and strawberry. Sold in boxes of 18 this is a great treat for Easter at just £4.95.
ANY HISTORY? Once a small fishing village, Mumbles was discovered by wealthy Victorians in the 19th century and has been a highly popular holiday retreat ever since. In 1898 Luigi Cascarini came over to Swansea from the Abruzzi Mountains in Italy. Astonished to discover that there were no cafes open to the workers of the Swansea valley, Luigi decided to setup a haven for the working classes open from dusk till dawn. Before long, Luigi had opened a chain of cafes and when his eldest son, Joe, was old enough he brought him over to Wales from Italy to run the café on St Helens Road. A passionate ice cream lover, Joe brought with him from Italy a secret recipe from his home in Italy and Joe’s Ice Cream was born.
LOOK OUT FOR? You can buy a cone or tub with nuts or chocolate bits for just £1.20. To find out more about the prices at Joe’s Ice Cream go to
WHAT TO TAKE? Don’t forget to bring a camera with you to take some photos of the spectacular views of the bay and Mumbles Head.
WHEN TO GO? Joes Ice Cream Parlour in Mumbles is open every Saturday between 9.30am and 6.30am. The parlour is also open on Sundays between 11am and 6pm and on weekdays between 9.30am to 5.30pm, except Mondays when they open at 10.30am.
TELL ME MORE: Joe’s Ice Cream Mumbles Parlour is located on Mumbles Road, next to the post office, but it is probably best to park in the nearby Quarry pay and display car park. For sat-nav users the Quarry car park postcode is SA3 4LQ.
Visit Richard Thomas’s website at

Bay has plenty to offer

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, March 31, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.


Bay has plenty to offer
A big day out! 
 This week RICHARD THOMAS heads to Swansea Prom. 
WHY? With its wide range of attractions the spectacular five mile stretch of Swansea Bay is a great destination for visitors of all ages. Whether you want to start getting back in shape for the summer using the fitness trail adjacent to the foot path, ride your bike, or, just want to kick back and relax with an ice cream by the sea, the Swansea prom has it all.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? This April sees some of the prom's most popular attractions returning for the Easter holidays. Nestled between Singleton Hospital and Swansea University just across the road from the prom is Singleton Boating Lake, where you can hop aboard a pedalo and glide around the lake or enjoy a round of crazy golf on their 18 hole course. There's also a bevy of resident Swans to see and an adventure playground. The prom is also home to Ashleigh Road Pitch & Putt, Swansea's only 10 hole golf course, as well as Blackpill Lido, Swansea's very own mini outdoor water park.
ANY HISTORY? Returning to the promenade today until Sunday April 15 is the 72 seater Swansea Bay Rider Land Train. Running between Blackpill Lido and Southend Gardens, Mumbles, it's a journey with strong echoes of the the old Mumbles Train which carried the world's first fare-paying railway passengers on March 25, 1807, and has been missed by locals ever since it closed in 1960.
LOOK OUT FOR? You'll find plenty of family fun at Blackpill Lido, where you can catch the Bay Rider Train. Although the paddling pool won't be open until June, with its superb children's play area and picnic facilities Lido is a great place to stop and take five by.
WHAT TO TAKE? A standard Bay Rider Train ticket costs £2, but you can opt to buy a family ticket for one adult and three children or two adults and two children for £5 instead. Tickets are available on the train. A packed lunch is a good idea but overlooking Singleton Boating Lake is the fabulous Pub On The Pond which serves great value food for the whole family. With the pub restaurant’s Squire Deal you can enjoy two main meals for just £10!
WHEN TO GO? The pedalos and crazy golf course at Singleton Boating Lake, as well as Ashleigh Road Pitch & Putt golf course and Swansea Bay Rider Land Train will be open daily from today until April 15. You can hop aboard the Bay Rider between 10am and 4pm. The other attractions will be open between 10am and 6pm.
TELL ME MORE: There are several pay and display car parks off Mumbles Road and Oystermouth Road, adjacent to the promenade. For-nav users the Blackpill Lido postcode is SA3 5AS. For more information about all the attractions on the prom go to
Visit Richard Thomas's website at