We left for Cardiff at 8am on Thursday morning, leaving our beloved cats in the safe care of our neighbour. At 10.30am I received a call, she hadn’t got a key to our house, fortunately the panic, frustration and rage that followed that news was fleeting and not representative of our whole 3 day trip, quite the opposite, it were marvellous! Once we established a cunning plan and our neighbour, along with the skinny lad from over the way that she oiked out to assist her, had successfully broken into our house, over a six foot fence and through our kitchen window, I relaxed.
We knew where we were heading for first when we arrived; TECHNIQUEST! A word I feel requires caplitals and an exclamation mark not only because I can’t say it in a serious voice, but more with a comedy, masculine tone and a dramatic American accent, but also because it was awesome there. A strange establishment to try and describe, it was part museum, part toy extravaganza, part science experiment, part colourful madness, part water park, but most of all fun. We played with every exhibition piece at least twice, playing with air and steam and balls (ping pong ones, cheeky!) and light and water and sound and scale and every force imaginable.
We had the whole place to ourselves pretty much, so Eddie could zoom around trying everything at once, whilst Rufus had time to master and repeat enjoyable tasks, such as sending ping pong balls up a large sucky pipe only for them to bounce back down through a series of carefully designed pipes, intended to demonstrate some scientific theory that neither me nor him are able to fully understand.
Not one of us wanted to leave but it was getting late and the excitement of checking in to a hotel was a welcome lure. Jon had been sent to Cardiff for a conference and we were making use of his travel time and expenses in order to have a little family adventure. We stayed in a glamorous Holiday Inn Express, just outside the city centre, and it turned out to be perfect.
The staff instantly fell head over heels for the boys, the room comfortable and clean and an all you can eat breakfast, lovely. It was right by a strange, still body of water, large enough for all the lights surrounding it to sparkle beautifully at night time, and for there to be 2 moons for a good part of the clear evenings. Mostly during the day though it rained, obviously. Jon left for his conference on Friday morning, only 10am-4pm, me and the chaps set about filling the day.
I was nervous, a big unknown city on my own, but I’d memorised the map and planned nothing too elaborate. We managed shops, swing park, we ate biscuits in the rain, they slept, I showered, then it was time to collect Jon again, and time to attempt to navigate our way to the alluring sounding Winter Wonderland. By the time we arrived it was dark and bucketing, we didn’t care.
It was sooooo sparkly and flashy, a pop up fun fair but everything was Christmas themed, amazing, my personal favourite was bumper cars dragged up as penguins, oh I giggled, and it was just the 4 of us so we didn’t ‘alf zoom! We got drenched. We managed to tempt the boys away with a promise of pizza and ice-cream. We rapped our way to Pizza Hut, Das Racist stylee, “I’m at the Pizza Hut, whaaaat!?!…” We thawed and scoffed, and all slept well.
Saturday morning we woke to rain, rain, rain, rain. Oh well, we were heading to see Jon’s very good, old school friend it would be cosy there, and that it was. Home cooking and his childhood collection of Brio and Duplo awaited us, we were all very content. Us adults managed some fairly sensible conversation whilst the boys were engrossed, but what touched me the most was how beautifully both him and his partner interacted with our boys, they weren’t just children to them, they were interesting, little humans beings. One room in their very large house is completely dedicated to power tools and wood, perfect jigsaw puzzle making opportunity, obviously. And stacking boxes with wheels make amazing train carriages, just big enough for one child in each, I kept out the way of that, and stole the opportunity to natter in the kitchen with a cuppa.
A lovely visit with people we really should see more often, short and sweet, but the journey home loomed. The boys slept the entire journey, I wish I had. This trip away was one of the most successful yet, it’s inspiresd me to want to do it more often, but by God, it’s good to be home.