Saturday, 22 June 2013


Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, June 22, 2013, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.


A big day out! 
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Perriswood down the Gower. 
WHY? Located on the A4118 in the heart of the Gower overlooking the stunning Oxwich Bay, Perriswood Archery and Falconry Centre is only a 20 minuet drive from Swansea. The centre provides a range of activities that can be enjoyed by individuals and groups of all ages. Whether you are looking to try something new; relax and take in the surrounding scenery; have fun with the family; or celebrate a special occasion, Perriswood is a good place to visit.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? Archery lessons are available all day everyday on the centre’s outside range, or inside if the weather is not good. The lessons are suitable for the whole family from 6 years old up and for all abilities. There are also 38 different birds of prey to see at Perriswood, including owls, hawks, and falcons. And visitors get to hold the birds for themselves. You even get the chance to see one fly to your own gloved hand! Very few falconry centres let members of the public so close to their birds, setting Perriswood apart from other centres. For a more relaxing option you can enjoy a herbal tea or freshly ground coffee with a cake in the Perriswood coffee shop. You can also take a look around the rest of the centre’s animal attractions, including monkeys, micro pigs, honey bees, and others.
ANY HISTORY? Brian Williams and his family have lived at Perriswood Farm for over 200 years. In 2004 Brian decided to diversify into teaching archery. The centre originally started off with seven bows and two targets in one of the fields. Over the last seven years the centre has developed and today Perriswood can have up to 80 people shooting at one time! By spring 2007 it was decided that changing the way that archery is taught wasn't enough and Brian struck out to bring birds of prey to the masses.
WHAT TO TAKE? The centre offers visitors three different length lessons. A 15 minute archery lesson costs £6, and 30 minuets costs £8. An hour lesson costs £14. Whereas “Arrows, Talons & Tea” costs only £12 per person.
LOOK OUT FOR? If you would like to try archery and falconry then “Arrows, Talons and Tea” is the best package. An introduction to archery is followed by a hot drink and cake before you take part in a bird display.
WHEN TO GO? Perriswood is open seven days a week. The opening hours are 10am to 7pm.
TELL ME MORE: You can contact Perriswood by going to or phoning 01792 371661. The address is: Perriswood Farm, Penmaen, Gower, Swansea, SA3 2HN.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

All the fun of the farm

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, June 15, 2013, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.


All the fun of the farm
A big day out!
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Folly Farm near Tenby in Pembrokeshire.
WHY? Folly Farm is much more than just a zoo, the 200 acre park is also home to Europe's largest undercover vintage funfair with a huge collection of working rides and stalls including a vintage big wheel and giant helter skelter ride lovingly restored to their 20th century glory. 
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? Located near the tourist town of Tenby in the beautiful Pembrokeshire countryside, Folly Farm offers affordable fun days out for the whole family. In total there are six fun-filled amusement and activity zones, some of which are undercover. So there's plenty to do even if the weather continues to be bad. 
ANY HISTORY? Folly Farm opened in 1988 following the decision by the owners, the Williams and Ebsworth families, to diversify from dairy farming into the leisure industry. In 1997 Pets Corner opened and in 2002 the first zoo animals arrived. In 2009 Folly Farm welcomed Wales' only giraffe to their zoo, a move that coincided with Folly Farm winning Premier Family Day Out at the Pembrokeshire Tourism Awards that year. Today Folly Farm attracts 400,000 visitors each year, making it Wales' top paid-for tourist attraction. 
WHAT TO TAKE? Tickets cost £9.75 for adults and £8.75 for seniors and children (3-15 year olds). Toddlers two years old and under visit Folly Farm for free! To save money buy tickets online at and drink are available at Folly Farm’s Ploughman's Restaurant. And don’t forget to bring a camera with you. 
LOOK OUT FOR? Folly Farm's Jolly Barn is home to a huge variety of farmyard animals, including sheep, pigs, donkeys, horses, chickens and other farm animals. There's also loads of opportunities for children to get hands-on during the Pet Handling sessions in the nearby Pets' Centre which is home to rabbits, guinea pigs, tortoises, parrots and lots more. But with over 50 different species and more than 250 animals, Folly Farm’s zoo is the big highlight. As well as giraffe Folly Zoo has zebra, Bactrian camels, pythons and other animals to see. And with zoo keeper talks, the chance to watch the animals during feeding times, and a whole host of fascinating facts on Folly Zoo’s animal enclosure signs, you’ll go home knowing a lot more about the different species. And if all that isn’t enough there’s even a go-kart racetrack! 

WHEN TO GO? Folly Farm will be open 10am to 5pm daily throughout the summer months. 

TELL ME MORE: For sat-nav users the address is and postcode is: Folly Farm, Begelly, Kilgetty, Pembrokeshire, SA68 0XA. Phone 01834 812731. 


Sunday, 9 June 2013

Plenty to see at Pier

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, June 8, 2013, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.


Plenty to see at Pier 
A big day out!
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Mumbles Pier in Swansea.
WHY? Mumbles Pier offers visitors some of the most spectacular views of natural beauty in Wales. From The Pier Beach Hut Cafe you can see the breathtaking scenery of Mumbles Bay, Mumbles Lighthouse and Port Talbot.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? Mumbles Pier is just five miles from Swansea City Centre. One of Wales’ last Victorian piers, Mumbles Pier is still a popular fishing point. Although the Pier itself is currently undergoing repairs, the land beside The Pier is an entertainment complex comprising bars, a restaurant, and ice-skating rink. The Pier even has its own amusements arcade, so there’s still plenty to see.
ANY HISTORY? Designed by W. Sutcliffe Marsh, Mumbles Pier first opened in 1898. The Victorian built attraction was once the only way to visit Swansea in style. The White Funnel paddle steamers of P and A Campbell would dock on the end unloading tourists who would then make their journey via the Swansea and Mumbles Railway, the world’s first passenger railway. The pier is now undergoing a huge refurbishment program in which everything other than its legs will be either restored or renewed. A new RNLI boathouse and slipway is being built on the end of the pier as well as new fishing platforms along each side of the pier head.
WHAT TO TAKE? Remember to bring a camera with you to take some snaps. The pier's cafe offer a range of freshly-cooked meals from home made soups to fish and chips. The Pier also has its own pub.
LOOK OUT FOR? The Victorian walkway will hopefully be re-opening to the public next summer, but there is still lots to do. In the amusements arcade you can try your luck at the slot machines while the children play all the latest video games. There’s also ten pen bowling and an array of prizes to be won on the cranes. The bright and airy space has something for everyone. And before heading home be sure to check out Mumbles Lifeboat Station, the third busiest station in Wales, where a Tyne class lifeboat and a IB1 class lifeboat are operated.
WHEN TO GO? Mumbles Pier Beach Hut Cafe is open seven days a week from 10am. For more opening times visit
TELL ME MORE: For more information phone 01792 365220. For sat-nav users the address and postcode is: Amusement Equipment Co Ltd, Old Lifeboat Cottage, Mumbles Road, Mumbles, Swansea, SA3 4EN.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Step back in time

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, June 1, 2013, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.

Step back in time...
A big day out! 
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves in Abercrave, Swansea. 

WHY? You don’t need Doctor Who's TARDIS to take a trip back in history. At Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves in Abercrave, Swansea you can visit an Iron Age farm or have a talk with famed cave explorer Tommy Morgan in his Victorian kitchen. Be warned, though, you might come face to face with tyrannosaurus rex or pterodactyl along the way!
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? Located halfway between Brecon and Swansea inside the Brecon Beacons National Park, Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves is one of the most breathtaking show cave complexes in northern Europe. There are three separate caves to explore: Dan-yr-Ogof cave, Cathedral Cave and the Bone Cave, where the remains of 42 human skeletons have been found. There is also an Iron Age village, museum and farm to visit, as well as an adventure playground for 6-10 year olds to play in.
ANY HISTORY? Early settlers farmed the land that the Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves complex now occupies at the end of the Bronze Age, then approximately 3,000 years later, in 1912, local brothers Jeff and Tommy Morgan squeezed though a small gap in the hillside and discovered the spectacular Dan-yr-Ogof cave. Forty-one years later cavers made another discovery, Cathedral Cave, named after the awe-inspiring Dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. In a 2005 poll the caves were voted the “finest natural wonder” in Britain by Radio Times readers.
LOOK OUT FOR? Fans of Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi classic Jurassic Park will like the Dinosaur Park, one of the largest parks of its type in the world, with nearly 200 life-sized replicas of T. rexes, pterodactyls, brontosaurus and other prehistoric beasts that ruled the Earth 65 million years before mankind!
WHAT TO TAKE? All the dinosaur models are outdoors, so don’t forget to bring a raincoat or umbrella with you. Tickets cost £13.75 for adults and £8 for children 16 and younger. Children under three years old go free and group discounts are available when there are 20 or more people visiting together. There are also a wide range of keepsakes available to buy in Rock & Dinosaur Shop.
WHEN TO GO? Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves will be open seven days a week now until Sunday 3 November 2013. The caves open at 10am, with tickets available throughout the day at the entrance until 3pm.
TELL ME MORE: Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves is approximately 25 minuets from the M4, taking junction 45 and following the brown tourist signs north on the A4067 (Pontardawe). For sat-nav users the postcode is SA9 1GJ. For more information about ticket prices phone 01639 730284 or got to