Monday, 1 April 2013

Tomos Watkin Brewery

My column for the February 2013 issue of Swansea Life magazine.


Big Day Out!

Tomos Watkin Brewery

ON LOCATION: 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 sat-nav users the address and postcode is: Unit 3, Century Park, Swansea Enterprise Park, Swansea, SA6 8RP.

CROWD SCENE: All age groups over 18 are welcome. Students and under 30s usually choose to go on the weekends before a night out. 

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. 

TOURS: 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.

LOOK OUT FOR: During the tour 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. 

FOOD AND DRINKS: 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.

TOUR TIMES AND PRICES: The tours cost £22.50 per person Monday to Thursday from 6pm to 9pm, there are also Friday tours available at £25 per person from 6pm to 9pm. For the same price as Friday tours, visitors can book a tour any time between 12pm and 8pm on Saturdays.

PARENTAL GUIDELINES: You must be over 18 to visit the brewery at the above times, but there are special school tours available at other times.

PHOTOGRAPHY: 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.

STAFF: All the staff are dedicated and happy to answer any questions about the process. 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 is even a chocolate flavour to try.

PROS: After paying for the tour the buffet lunch and drinks are free, and there is no limit on how much you can eat and drink. 

CONS: There is a minimum of 12 people and a maximum of 25 people allowed per tour. 

TOP TIP: Remember to drink responsibly, or, bring a designated driver with you. You can buy some bottles of the brewery’s beers and ciders to take home with you to enjoy later. 

TELL ME MORE: More information is available at, or, you can phone 01792 797280. To book a tour send an email to 

Richard Thomas is the author of Sci-Fi Worlds and Para-News, both available from Visit Richard Thomas's website at

Skidz Karting in Swansea

My column for the April 2013 issue of Swansea Life magazine.


Big Day Out!
With Richard Thomas

Skidz Karting in Swansea

ON LOCATION: 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. 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. For sat-nav users the address and postcode is: Unit 1, Rear of Queensway, Swansea West Business Park, Fforest-Fach, Swansea, SA5 4DJ.

OPENING HOURS: 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. 

CROWD SCENE: Mixed, there are karts to suit most age groups: the 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.

BACKSTORY: Skidz Karting opened in 2011. 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.

NOTEWORTHY: 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. 

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.

PARENTIAL GUIDELINES: There is 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. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. There is also an arcade near the track. 

TEAM EVENTS: Groups can take part in special events at the track. For groups of ten or more (12 on weekends) there is the Grand Prix. This involves practice laps, heats, semi finals and the final for the fastest eight drivers. Another option for groups of 20 or more (24 on weekends) is the Team Endurance, which includes five minute qualifying then two hours of non stop driving. Trophies are given to the top three teams. There is a maximum of six drivers per team. For children between eight and 13 there are Junior Parties available. Each child will receive either 20 minuets track time or 30 minuets track time depending on the time chosen. There is a minimum of six children on these. 

TOP TIP: If you're looking for a birthday or special gift idea, then why not buy a Skidz Karting gift voucher. They'll make a great gift and can be used as part or full payment for any type of session they offer.
TELL ME MORE: For more information about the events and prices visit or phone 01792 580927. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard Thomas is the author of Para-News, Sci-Fi Worlds and the UFO Files range of ebooks published by Bretwalda Books. For more information visit

Bowl the family over

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, March 30, 2013, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.


Bowl the family over
A big day out!
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Tenpin Bowling in Swansea.
WHY? Tenpin Swansea, formerly Megabowl, is the only ten pin bowling alley in Swansea, located in the Parc Tawe shopping and leisure complex near the city centre.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? Tenpin Swansea offers a host of family friendly activities for people of all abilities, from first time players right up to veteran bowlers. The alley boasts 26 bowling lanes, three American pool tables, an amusements arcade and cosmic bowling nights.
ANY HISTORY? Bowling is one of the oldest sports still played today. The earliest forms of bowling can be traced back to Ancient Egypt. In 1930 when the Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie excavated the grave of an Egyptian boy dating to 3200 BC he found artefacts resembling the pins used in tenpin bowling today.
WHAT TO TAKE? Bowling shoes are provided. One game costs £6.99 per adult and £5.49 each for juniors. You can also play two games for £12.25 (adults) and £9.75 (juniors), and three games for £13.75 (adults) and £11.25 (juniors). There’s also special family deals available. A family of four people can play a game for £21.99 or two games for £38.99.  Add £3 per person for a burger meal in the Beach Road Cafe Bar inspired by the sun bleached, chilled-out beach vibe of Bondi.
LOOK OUT FOR? As well as normal ten pin bowling on some nights you can play cosmic bowling, a hybrid of glow-in-the-dark ten pin bowling with dance club music and lights. Up to date information about cosmic bowling times can be found at At Tenpin Swansea there’s also an amusements arcade where you can try to win a prise on the claw machines, or, if you like, you can just chill out watching Sky Sports in the fully licensed bar or playing pool on the three American pool tables.
WHEN TO GO? The bowling alley is open 11am to 12am on weekdays and 10am to 12am on weekends. During the school holidays they are open 10am to 12am seven days a week. The bar closes at 11.30pm. 
TELL ME MORE: For sat nav users the address and postcode is Parc Tawe, The Strand, Swansea, SA1 2AX. Phone 0871 873 3150.