Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Plantasia and 1940s Museum

Below is my “Days Out” column from The Weekend supplement in the Saturday, August 31, 2013, issue of the South Wales Evening Post. 


Days Out!
With Richard Thomas
Plantasia opened in 1990. In recent years the hothouse has been used as a filming location for two Doctor Who episodes, The Doctor's Daughter and Cold Blood.
The tropical paradise is housed inside a unique glass pyramid and is just bursting with plants and wildlife. The hothouse contains three climate zones: Tropical with a rainforest, Arid and Humid. There is an admission charge into Plantasia of £3.95 for adults and £2.95 for children. Children under 3 visit for free. Family tickets and annual membership are also available. There is no charge, however, to just sit back and relax in their coffee shop or browse through their fantastic gift shop while others enjoy the exotic plants and animals. Visit www.plantasia.org.
WHERE? Plantasia is located inside the Parc Tawe complex near to Toys'R'Us in Swansea.
WHY? The superb all weather attraction in the heart of Swansea houses a huge variety of unusual animals and exotic plants, some of which are extinct in the wild.
WHEN? They are open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm. Last admissions are at 4.15pm.
CONTACT? To book phone 01792 474555.
HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE? An hour is enough time to see everything.
WHO WILL ENJOY IT? The collection includes over 5,000 plants ranging from banana plants, giant bamboo, coconuts and collections of ferns and cacti. Along with the plants there are several species of fish, exotic insects and other animals to see. These include piranhas, a bearded dragon, a chameleon, tarantulas, snakes and even tamarin monkeys. In the butterfly house butterflies can be seen flying freely and viewed at various stages of development.
WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS? The Gift Shop stocks a wide range of books, educational toys, collectables and unusual crafts that children will want to take home with them.
HOW TO GET THERE? For sat nav users the address and postcode is: Plantasia, Parc Tawe, Swansea, SA1 2AL. 
LUNCH? Plantasia has its own coffee shop which serves a range of speciality tea, coffee and hot chocolate along with freshly made sandwiches, salads and jacket potatoes.
WHERE CAN I PARK? Free parking is available in the Parc Tawe Retail and Leisure Park car park.
ANYTHING ELSE IN THE AREA? Afterwards, you can enjoy a Joe’s ice cream or fresh donates sold in the stores by the Plantasia entrance.

The London Blitz are infamous around the world, but the ports and industrial towns of South Wales were also targets for the German Luftwaffe, a three-night bombing campaign on Swansea in February, 1941, left most of the city destroyed. The 1940s Museum was set up eight years ago to tell the story of the impact of the bombing raids on the area, and how locals managed to cope with the devastation of total war. The museum's exhibits show what life was like in the Swansea Bay area during and in the aftermath of the Second World War. Visit www.1940sswanseabay.co.uk.
WHERE? The 1940s Swansea Bay Museum is based in Crymlyn Burrows off the Fabian Way in Swansea.
WHY?  The Museum offers a unique chance for people born after 1945 to discover for themselves what life was like for civilians on the Home Front during the war and experience the sights and sounds of an air raid first hand. You even get to find out what you could eat with a week’s rations and dress up in 1940s clothes and uniforms. 
WHEN? The Museum is open daily between 10am and 4pm, last admission is one hour before closing.
CONTACT? Phone 01792 458864.
HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE? An hour is enough time.
WHO WILL ENJOY IT?  Anyone with an interest in local history or WWII should visit the museum. Short films and displays of actual material from the period help bring to life a time over 65 years ago when every Briton had to carry a gas mask and identity card with them. 
WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS? Children will find the authentic wartime grocer's shop interesting, where visitors can see what products available back then are still on store shelves today. Items like Spam, tinned beans and Weetabix are all here on display - although the Weetabix used to come in a tin rather than a box, according to Museum director John Thomas. They will also enjoy the RAF plotting room, where you follow the course of the German bombers before taking cover in the air raid shelter.
HOW DO I GET THERE? For sat nav users the address and postcode is: Baldwin's Crescent, Skewen, Swansea SA1 8PT.
LUNCH? You can enjoy a spam sandwich and coffee in the gift shop cafe.
WHERE CAN I PARK? There is free on site parking available.
ANYTHING ELSE IN THE AREA? After visiting the 1940s Museum, Swansea Museum's Collections Centre in Landore is another good place to visit. The Collection Centre houses Swansea Museum's reserve collection which include some extraordinary exhibits from Swansea’s industrial and maritime past. The Collections Centre can be found next to the Park and Ride car park, opposite the Liberty Stadium, on the Cross Valley Link Road, Landore, Swansea, SA1 2JT. Visit www.swansea.gov.uk/swanseamuseum or phone 01792 653763.