Friday, 3 January 2014

Gower Fresh Christmas Trees and the Gower Heritage Centre

Below is my “Days Out” column from The Weekend supplement in the Saturday, December 14, 2013, issue of the South Wales Evening Post.


Days Out!
With Richard Thomas
Forget getting your old plastic tree in the attic back out again this year. At Gower Fresh Christmas Trees you can shop for the best fresh cut trees well as visit Wales’ largest reindeer herd.
WHERE? The tree site and Christmas grotto is located at Poundffald Farm in Three Crosses, Swansea, just five minutes from Junction 47. For sat nav-users the postcode is: SA4 3PB.
WHY? Gower Fresh Christmas Trees was set up about ten years ago by Poundffald Farm owner and fifth generation farmer Robert Morgan. What began as a concrete slab and a small number of Christmas trees soon became the largest grower in South Wales with over 250,000 trees for sale. Robert added the Christmas grotto five years ago to add some more Christmas cheer to the farm and to give children something to enjoy while adults are busy scouting for this year’s Christmas tree. There is a huge selection of trees to choose from at Poundffald Farm this Christmas. This year's crop includes every type of tree from Norway Spruce to the Noble Fir.
WHEN? Gower Fresh Christmas Trees is open 9.30am to 7pm on weekdays and 9.30am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. The Christmas attraction Winter Wonderland is open at the same times as the tree site. Children can visit Father Christmas in his grotto between 3pm and 6.30pm on weekdays and 9.30am to 4pm on weekends (last admissions at 3pm). After the start of the school holidays children can see Santa all day until 3pm on Christmas Eve.
CONTACT? Phone: 07811 949239.
HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE?     One to two hours is enough time to see everything and pick your Christmas tree to take home.
WHO WILL ENJOY IT? Children will love the outstanding Winter Wonderland exhibits where you can come and meet Santa and his reindeer as they prepare for Christmas Eve. Inside is the farm's Arctic display which includes penguins, polar bears and seals. There are also singing Santa's and children can even have their photo taken in Santa's sleigh or visit Father Christmas himself in his grotto. There is even a life size 12 piece nativity display with baby Jesus, Mary, the three wise men, and shepherds. They also have a shop full of all types of Christmas items to purchase.
WHERE CAN I PARK? There is an onsite car park.
PRICES? Prices are from £4 to £6.50 for non-drops and £2 to £4 for spruce, but trees that are eight foot plus are more expensive. Decorations, gifts and tree stands are all for sale in the Christmas Shop. To visit Winter Wonderland and see Santa in his grotto costs £6.50 on weekends and £6 per child on weekdays, but is just £2.50 each for adults. To find out more got to:
Set in the heart of the Gower Peninsula, the Gower Heritage Centre is a fun way to spend your day with a wide range of craft displays and activities to enjoy. In addition, the centre also holds several special annual events. Father Christmas will be in his Christmas grotto at the centre every weekend between 11am and 4.30pm until Christmas Eve.
WHERE? For sat-nav users the full address and postcode is: Gower Heritage Centre, Parkmill, Gower, Swansea, SA3 2EH.
WHY?  The Gower Heritage Centre is a visitor attraction and rural life museum based around a working 12th century water-mill. Located only a 15 minuet walk from the breath taking Three Cliffs Bay, the centre offers fun activities for all the family, including craft shops and craft activities.
WHEN? The centre is open from 10am to 5.30pm all week. 
CONTACT? Phone 01792 371206
HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE? With so much to do, you could spend the whole day at the centre.
WHO WILL ENJOY IT? There is something for the whole family to enjoy at the centre. Everyone will enjoy watching the craftspeople resident at the centre at work in the stores. Some of the gifts available to buy at the centre include various items in different turned woods made by woodturner John De Filippo, puppets and puppet making kits at Poppet Puppets, as well as paintings and artwork by Cheryl Firths. Other special items available to buy at the centre include some amazing driftwood gifts and handmade candles, as well as a range of garden furniture made at the Mill. There’s also an old fashioned games arcade, as well as a sandpit area, adventure playground, soft play area, and tractor play area. There’s even an animal farm with ducks, baby rabbits, guinea pigs, goats, sheep, horses and other animals. And, if all that wasn’t enough to see, the centre is also home to the smallest cinema in Wales, the La Charrette.
WHERE CAN I PARK?  There is an onsite car park.
PRICES? There is a fee of £6.45 for adults and £5.45 for children 2 years old and up. Seniors and disabled visitors only pay £5.45 and you can opt to buy a family ticket which covers 2 adults and 2 children for £22 or a supersaver family ticket which covers 2 adults and up to 4 children for £26. More information can be found at:

Swansea Christmas Market and the Taliesin Arts Centre

Below is my “Days Out” column from The Weekend supplement in the Saturday, December 7, 2013, issue of the South Wales Evening Post.

Days Out!
With Richard Thomas
The familiar green and red wooden chalets have returned again to Oxford Street in Swansea, transforming the city centre into a Christmas Market for the festive season. At the Swansea Christmas Market you’ll find all the ingredients for a perfect Christmas this year, including food, spirits, cheeses and handmade gifts available from Welsh and continental traders.
WHERE? Swansea Christmas Market is located on Oxford Street and Princess Way in the city centre, just outside Swansea Market and Quadrant Shopping Centre.
WHY? With over 40 stalls selling everything from glassware and jewellery to perfumes and luxury chocolates, you’ll have no problem finding the perfect Christmas gifts for friends and family. And to keep you entertained while you shop, school choirs and street dance groups will be performing at the market.
WHEN? The Swansea Christmas Market will be doing business until 22 December. The market's open hours are 10am to 5.30pm each day, except Thursdays when the market will be open late until 8pm. 
CONTACT? More information can be found at
HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE? As long as you need to find the perfect gift.
WHO WILL ENJOY IT? There's a lot of entertainment, promotions and events being held in the city centre in the build-up to Christmas.
WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS? A snow globe will be on hand for people to have photos taken in a snowy winter wonderland and live entertainment will be taking place on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11am to 2pm.
LUNCH? Once you’ve worked up an appetite shopping there are some tasty treats to try along the way, from hot crepes, doughnuts and hot drinks to a delicious hog roast and exotic burgers.
WHERE CAN I PARK? To complement late-night shopping, parking after 5pm in the St David's and Quadrant multi-storey car parks only costs £1 on Thursdays.
ANYTHING ELSE IN THE AREA? Don’t forget to call into Swansea Market. Inside the steel and glass building you will find over a hundred stalls offering a huge selection of traditional Welsh cuisine, as well as cards, flowers, clothes, sweets and other gifts. Waterfront Wonderland is also nearby where you can enjoy ice skating on the main Admiral Rink and child friendly Rocky's Rink, visit Father Christmas in his Grotto, as well as enjoy the funfair rides like the brand new Sky Ride replacing the Big Wheel this year.
The Taliesin Arts Centre is a very popular venue presenting a wide variety of performances and exhibitions. First opened in 1984 and is named after the 6th century Celtic poet of the same name. the centre host a broad programme of events including cinema screenings and a wide variety of live performances all year round.
WHERE? The Taliesin Arts Centre can be found on the campus of Swansea University at Singleton Park. For sat nav users the postcode is: SA2 8PZ. 
WHY? The Taliesin hold over 50 live performances per year. Next Saturday (December 14) the Taliesin will be screening The Nutcracker performed at the Royal Opera House.
WHEN? The Taliesin is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm. On Saturdays the centre is open 10am to 1pm and 1.30pm to 4pm. The box office remains open until 8pm on performance evenings, unless otherwise stated screenings begin at 7.30pm.
CONTACT? To book tickets call: 01792 602060.
HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE? More information about event times and dates can be found on the Taliesin website. Just go to and click "diary".
WHO WILL ENJOY IT? With a programme ranging from children's events to opera, there's something to suit all tastes. The Taliesin is also home to the Egypt Centre; a museum of Egyptian antiquities. The funerary items on display in The House of Death downstairs 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. Upstairs is the House of Life, where visitors can handle actual Ancient Egyptian artefacts under the supervision of one of the museum's excellent volunteers. 
WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS? Children will want to pick something up in the Egypt Centre Shop. As well as pens, pencils and key-rings, also on sale are a wide range of statues, recycled glass, papyrus from Egypt, and exclusive hand-made jewellery.
LUNCH? The Taliesin cafébar offers a full menu, including a selection of tapas and snacks for all different appetites.
WHERE CAN I PARK?  There are some car parks close to Swansea University, the Foreshore car park opposite St Helens Rugby ground and the Recreation Ground Car Park on Mumbles Road.
ANYTHING ELSE IN THE AREA? The Taliesin also houses The Ceri Richards Gallery, which stocks an excellent range of greetings cards as well as jewellery, ceramics and other craft items.