Tuesday 30 May 2017

A Tour Round Barry Island (Gavin & Stacey!)

The last holiday we had as a family of two (rather than a family of three) happened to be here...

That was the end of April 2015. It's taken me over two years to write about it. And Gavin and Stacey was first aired over 10 years ago (say what!?)

We loved the TV show and Barry is one of those places we'd both visited when we were younger but not really visited as adults so it was an obvious place for a weekend away. We kept it cheap and cheerful and stayed at Cardiff Airport Travelodge - which is only 2.5 miles from Barry Island and not actually that close to the airport at all. It also wins bonus points as there's a Toby Carvery on the same site!

It's relatively easy to find a list of various filming locations online and I popped them into a map in preparation for the trip (feel free to use the map if you want) :-)

We tried to visit as many as we could; some we only managed to do as drive-bys though and the weather wasn't exactly great which didn't help - but here's the shots I managed to take!

Gwen, Doris and Uncle Bryn's Houses

Pam and Mick's House

Stacey's Café Job

Nessa's Arcade Job

Nessa and Dave's Wedding

Nessa's Pregnancy Announcement

Baby Neil's Christening Party

Smithy's Drunk Pub Quiz

Nessa's Living Statue Performance

Gwen's Birthday Barndance Party

Gavin and Stacey's Favourite Chippy (Boofy's)

Dave Coaches' Bus Stop

Barry Island Fairground

Barry Island Beach

There's still lots of places we didn't get to though so I reckon that probably warrants another trip there!

Friday 26 May 2017

Fancy a Go at Geocaching?

Last Saturday, I spent the best part of the photo an hour evening stuck under a snoozing toddler. I had access to a computer and my phone so spent a bit of time attempting to solve some puzzle or mystery geocaches.

But what's geocaching I hear you ask?
I know there's quite a few other bloggers into geocaching (Sarah and Rachel spring to mind) but for those not already in the know...

It's a bit like a real life treasure hunt but played by using access to multi million pound satellites. Sometimes the treasure is a large ammo box containing all sorts of goodies and sometimes it's an incredibly tiny metal can containing a soggy bit of paper.

Remember the other year when everyone was using their phone to play Pokémon Go? Well imagine using your phone and GPS signals to navigate your way to a precise location and then try to locate a an actual (not virtual) container where you can sign your username to say 'I woz 'ere'. You log your found geocaches online too so you can have the satisfaction of watching your number increase each time you find one. 


Granted, it doesn't sound like much but it's a strangely addictive hobby. There's over 200,000 geocaches in the UK alone (with over 3 million worldwide) and and you've probably walked or driven past hundreds without ever knowing they were there.

Just a few geocache hiding spots!

The idea behind geocaching is that it gets people out and about usually taking them to spots which have some sort of significance - anything from a historic site to a beautiful view to a personal story. The containers are sometimes things like 35mm film canisters, plastic boxes or even more elaborate items such as fake stones or flowers.

One geocache spot - believe it or not, this is the River Thames!

Lots of geocache containers!
It's essentially free too (basic membership and the app is free) but you can pay extra for a premium membership for special features and access to more caches if you fancy. Years ago you probably would've needed to invest in a snazzy GPS device but nowadays, your mobile phone will work just as well.

A gorgeous view from one geocache hiding place.

There's lots of different types of geocache: traditional caches are the most common (ones where you just follow the co-ordinates and find a container) but multi caches (following a trail to find answers which lead to the right co-ordinates) and mystery caches (completing a puzzle to find the co-ordinates) can also be quite good fun. And there's other types too! You can learn all about it on Geocaching's website where they've put together a comprehensive intro guide.

We learnt a lot about Rowley's House and Mansion in Shrewsbury by heading there to find a geocache...
Like any hobby, it comes complete with it's own lingo and culture: geohusband, geowife, geowaggon, geotot, etc. are all fairly obvious but there's also acronyms such as TFTC (Thanks for the cache), SL (Signed log), TN,LN (Took nothing, left nothing) and TB (Travel Bug) amongst others. Non-geocachers are called "muggles" and there's even huge geocaching conventions (or "mega events") you can attend.
Yet another gorgeous view from a geocache spot.

We're relatively small fry in the geocaching world; we're only on 169 finds compared to some people who've found thousands. I did become a member back in 2009 but we only really got started with it in 2015 and then in 2016, geocaching took a back seat compared to looking after a newborn.

We've just hidden our first two geocaches though - with plans for a few more and it's quite interesting to see people finding them and enjoying the stories behind where we've placed them .

Just a few geocaches in the Bristol, Bath and Somerset area then!

We're called 'familyduckadventures' on Geocaching if you're also a geocacher and fancy adding us a friend.

A sleepy geotot after finding 5 geocaches!

And if you're intrigued and want to know more about it all, there's this handy little official video explaining everything.

Why not take a look at the map and see if there's a geocache near you?

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Surviving an NCT Sale

They say babies are expensive. They say you'll spend a fortune in their first few years. The baby industry will also have you believe everything needs to be new. 

Really though, there's just a few basics a baby actually "needs" (Sarah wrote an excellent list a year or so ago) and the majority of things can be bought second hand. More than likely, you'll end up being given thousands of things anyway.

For all those the other things you'd like?

Enter the NCT Nearly New Sale.

The beauty of an NCT sale is that it's organised just like a shop; similar items are grouped together on tables or rails so you can see at a glance what's there and compare things. Everything is clearly (and often cheaply) priced and usually you can pay by card when you've finished. No haggling needed!

However, the small downside to them is their popularity! When I was pregnant and people talked about these magical sales, they also threw about phrases such as "bunfight", "sharp elbows" and "queuing up for hours".

We've done a few NCT sales now: as a customer, as a seller and as a volunteer.

So I have a few top tips for surviving an NCT sale...

1. Make a list
Think about what things you want or need; even if it's something niche, put it on the list; you never know what might be there! Think ahead too, buy the next sizes up in shoes or clothing. 

2. Prioritise items and decide on a plan
Work out which things you need the most and make sure you plan to look for those things first. If you're going to the sale with someone else, you could each take half the list to make sure you don't miss anything.

3. Go prepared
Some sales don't allow pushchairs (or ask them to be left in the cafe area) so check in advance and plan accordingly. Wearing your baby or toddler in a sling or carrier is often a good idea and there's usually sale volunteers who'll help you carry things or pick things up.

Don't do what we did at one sale, think "nah, it'll be fine, we can just carry her" - except than she then falls asleep and becomes a dead weight...

4. Get there early
It's first come, first served and some sales in London have queues which start forming over an hour in advance. Here in Sonerset, we usually get to a sale about 15-20 minutes before the doors open.

5. Become a member
NCT members get in 15 minutes before the public (plus there's a whole host of other discounts for being a member such as cashback on your shopping and access to an NUS card) so if you plan on going to sales regularly, it might be worth joining.

6. Quick decisions
When you spot something you like, pop it in your bag as if you go back for it later, more than likely, it'll be gone. Before you pay, you can always look through your items and put back anything you've changed your mind about.

7. Go round twice
Take a second look round; you'll usually spot things you didn't see when you first arrived.

8. Volunteer
For the ultimate early entry, volunteer to help at a sale! It's good fun and lovely to meet so many expectant parents, new families and little babies. You help out with setting up and packing away the sale and in return, you get your own private pre-sale to buy all the bargains (and sometimes other perks such as lunch or your seller fee refunded).

And for a bonus tip...
9. If there's a cafe, make sure you check it out. Our last local sale boasted a huge variety of cakes including gluten free and dairy free options :-)

You can search for your nearest NCT sale on their website here.

Happy bargain hunting!

Tuesday 23 May 2017

A Photo Every Hour - Saturday 20th May

Saturday 20th was the date chosen by me for May's photo an hour; a day spent out and about at a local community arts festival.

Here's what the day looked like...

8am - Early morning reading.

9am - Outfits for the day (mine on the right, hers on the left).

10am - Breakfast!

11am - And the bathtime clean-up afterwards.

12pm - Out and about for a local community festival.

1pm - Free classical music concert in the library :-)

2pm - Lots of fun with instruments!

3pm - Tea and coffee stop at a local church.

4pm - Back home and there's always time for more tea.

5pm - Potato prep for dinner.

6pm - Do you think I have enough cheese?

7pm - We tired her out!

8pm - Still asleep.

9pm - But while she was asleep, I attacked some puzzle geocaches.

10pm - She was clearly very tired!

Jane will be setting the date for June and rounding up the usual suspects so pop over to her blog to take a look!


Also, check out what I was up to in...

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