Monday, 25 November 2013

National Botanic Garden of Wales and Laserzone

Below is my “Days Out” column from The Weekend supplement in the Saturday, November 9, 2013, issue of the South Wales Evening Post


Days Out!
With Richard Thomas
The National Botanic Garden of Wales is the most visited garden in Wales. The site offers a stunning range of themed gardens that appeal to a wide range of visitors, from those who just love the sight and smells of flowers to those who want to know about medicinal plants or the latest DNA research into plant evolution. Admission prices are: £8.50 for adults, £7 for OAPS, and £4.50 for children 5 to 16 years old. Children 5 years and younger visit for free and families (2 adults and up to 4 children) can enter for £21. For more information visit:
WHERE? Spread across 560 acres of beautiful countryside, The National Botanic Garden of Wales is situated near Llanarthney in the Towy Valley, Carmarthenshire.
WHY? The garden is both a visitor attraction and a centre for botanical research and conservation, and features the world's largest single-span glasshouse measuring 110 metres long by 60 metres wide.
WHEN TO GO? They are open daily between 10am and 4.30pm.
CONTACT? Phone the switch board on 01558 668768 or send an email to
HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE? With an amazing collection of over 8000 different plant varieties and lots more to see, you’ll want to set aside the whole day to see everything the gardens have to offer.
WHO WILL ENJOY IT? There is something for all ages to enjoy inside the garden. Families will enjoy the fantastic Magical Mystery Tour, a fun trail of the weird and wonderful aspects of the garden. Along the way you can visit the Great Glasshouse and see the amazing glowing fungus, see the Plastic Bottle Greenhouse, and hear the mystical story of the Lady of The Lake.
WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS? There is plenty of open space inside the garden for kids to run around and play in, but they will love the Roots and Shoots Adventure Zone, a willow play area with slides, climbing frames, tunnels and musical blocks made entirely of recycled materials. Not only is this great fun but it is educational too, as children also get to learn about plants at the same time. The “seed” and “seedling” zones were designed for younger visitors, while the “Leaf Lookout”, “Root Run”, “Branch Balance” and “Flower Fort” provide a bigger challenge for older children.
HOW DO I GET THERE? The National Botanic Garden of Wales is situated 10 minutes from the M4 and ¼ mile from the A48 in Carmarthenshire, midway between Cross Hands and Carmarthen. For sat-nav users the full address and postcode is: National Botanic Garden of Wales, Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire, SA32 8HN.
WHERE CAN I PARK? The garden has an onsite car park.
LUNCH? 90% of all the food served in the garden’s catering outlets is prepared and cooked on site by their excellent in-house catering team. The best place to visit to eat is the Seasons Restaurant, located in our Stable Block. Also serving locally made and sourced light food and drinks is the Gatehouse Café, which can be found at the garden’s entrance. The café is a lovely place to sit and relax, and locally produced produce, such as jams, cheeses and cakes, are all available to buy to take home with you.
ANYTHING ELSE IN THE AREA? Pembrey Country Park is one of Wales’ top visitor attractions providing a unique blend of coast and countryside. Consisting of some 500 acres of parkland, you can enjoy a picnic then check out the ski slope, Cobra toboggan ride, steam railway and many other facilities inside the park.
Fans of Arnold Schwarzenegger's favourite alter ego the T101 will recall the high-tech laser battle fought between humans and machines at the beginning of T2: Judgment Day. At Laserzone you can get a taste of what it would have been like to be on the set of James Cameron’s classic film, while you and your team take part in your own futuristic warfare. Visit
WHERE? Lazerzone is located opposite Castle Square next to Swansea Castle.
WHY? Laserzone is a high-tech, live action laser game played in a multi-level themed arena with special effects, fog, laser beams, pulse pumping music and other players/targets combining to create the ultimate laser adventure.
WHEN? Laserzone is open seven days a week. Monday to Friday groups can play from 12pm to 10pm, and on weekends games are played between 10am and 9pm.
CONTACT: Phone 01792 653433.
HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE? Games last about 30 minutes.
WHO WILL ENJOY IT? Lazerzone is suitable for most age groups. Each player is given a laser pack consisting of a laser weapon and body armour. The gun and body armour both have hit sensors built into them, all of which have different score ratings. Your end score depends on your hit to shots fired ratio and how many times you’ve been hit by other players. Up to 30 players can play at once and you can choose to either play as part of a team or go it alone as an individual. Company groups can also book the whole area for themselves using Lazerzone’s exclusive booking facility.
WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS? Anyone from 7 years old and up can play.
HOW DO I GET THERE? For sat-nav users the address and postcode is: Laserzone, Castle Buildings, Worcester Place, Swansea, SA1 1JQ.
WHERE CAN I PARK? There is ample car parking next to Plantasia in Parc Tawe Retail and Leisure Park. Lazerzone is located just outside the shopping complex.
LUNCH? If you feel hungry after playing there are some snack machines to use and a pizza restaurant, Pizza Express, is just next door and there is also a McDonalds nearby.
ANYTHING ELSE IN THE AREA? There is lots to do inside the Park Tawe shopping complex next door to Lazerzone. The Odeon is a 10 screen cinema situated in the Park Tawe shopping complex, right next door to Tenpin Bowling. There is also a Joes Icecream and Dinky Donuts inside the shopping complex just outside Plantasia, which is another great place to visit. The superb all weather attraction houses a huge variety of unusual animals and exotic plants, some of which are extinct in the wild.