Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Premier sporting venue

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, January 26, 2013, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post


Premier sporting venue
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. The home to Swansea City and the Ospreys regional rugby team, 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 www.liberty-stadium.com.
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.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

A centre of attraction

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, January 19, 2013, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.

A centre of attraction
A big day out!
  RICHARD THOMAS heads to the Egypt Centre in Swansea.
WHY? Horror film fans will be familiar with Imhotep, High Priest of the sun God Ra and architect of Ancient Egypt’s first pyramid. At the Egypt Centre at Swansea University visitors can see for themselves a real life Egyptian coffin, as well as other ancient exhibits from the land of the Nile and even buy some replica Egyptian jewellery and art to take home.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? Located within the Taliesin building at Swansea University, the Egypt Centre is the only museum of Egyptian antiquities in Wales. The Centre is open to the public and also welcomes school parties and groups from early years, primary and secondary to graduate and post-graduate and special needs students. 
ANY HISTORY? The Egypt Centre opened in 1998, but its roots are much older. Most of the objects in the Centre were part of the collection of the 19th and early 20th century pharmacist and archaeologist Sir Henry Wellcome, who collected them from excavations.
LOOK OUT FOR? There are over 4500 items in the centre's collection. Egypt Centre staff have published over 100 online pages concerning individual items, which you can find on the Egypt Centre website at www.swan.ac.uk/egypt. The funerary items on display in the “House of Death” are one highlight. These include amulets, shrouds, statues, coffins and fragments of coffins, and even canopic jars, which were used by the Ancient Egyptians to store and preserve the internal organs of the deceased for their journey through the afterlife.
WHAT TO TAKE? Admission is free but you might want to visit the Egypt Centre Shop located in the foyer of the museum, where you can buy some keepsakes. Some of the more unusual gifts available include books of Egyptian spells and curses, as well as a wide range of statues, recycled glass, papyrus from Egypt, and exclusive hand-made jewellery. More conventional items like pens, pencils and key-rings are also available to buy. Don't forget to bring a camera with you.
WHEN TO GO? The Egypt Centre is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm. After your visit to the Egypt Centre head to Swansea Museum's main building next door to the LC2 on Victoria Road, where you can see their fantastic Egyptian mummy.
TELL ME MORE: For sat-nav users the full address and postcode isEgypt Centre, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea, SA2 8PP. To book a group visit call 01792 295960 or email the assistant curator Wendy Goodridge at w.r.goodridge@swansea.ac.uk.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Fun for all the family

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, January 5, 2013, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.



Fun for all the family
A big day out! 
RICHARD THOMAS heads to 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 www.treetopstrail.com.
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? This time of year the attractions at the park are open everyday between 10am 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 www.heatherton.com, or you can phone 01646 652000.
Visit www.richardthomas.eu.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Charming family date

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, January 5, 2013, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.

Charming family date
A big day out! 
RICHARD THOMAS heads to The Grand Theatre in Swansea. 
WHY? The Grand are now hosting their 100th pantomime show, Cinderella. The classic tale has been transformed into a stunning stage production complete with an abundance of comedy, stunning sets and colourful costumes.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? Produced by the same team behind the theatre's record breaking pantomime from last Christmas, Aladdin, Cinderella stars Chico as Prince Charming, Kevin Johns and Mike Doyle as the Ugly Sisters, and the beautiful Gemma James in the title role of Cinderella. Audiences of all ages will be able to catch Cinderella before she leaves for the Ball until January 13.
ANY HISTORY? Since 1897 the 1,000-seat auditorium as 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 and 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 the postcode is SA1 3QJ. To book your tickets call the Box Office on 01792 475715.
Visit www.richardthomas.eu.