Lifestyle

A unique picnic experience and a waterfall you can walk behind – ideas to get your kids off their screens for the day

I’m an aunt to some adorable nieces and nephews so when I get the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with them I try to make the most of it. I don’t want to watch them playing on their tablets or phones; I want to use our rare day together to build memories!

We’ve experienced a scorching hot summer so I assumed August bank holiday would be applying copious amounts of sunblock and wearing sunnies. But living here; there was no surprise when a blanket of rain swept across Wales. Thankfully that didn’t put a dampener on our plans! In fact, it meant we could discover a magical world away from the busy crowds.

We had a fun-filled picnic arranged and an adventure to go on – we packed our wellies and raincoats and off we went!

The picnic was no ordinary picnic… it was a bistro dining experience nestled on a side street in Sketty, Swansea. As we walked into The Picnic Bench I immediately felt relaxed. It felt casual, and having two kids in tow (that can’t always talk quietly or sit still) I knew I would feel comfortable here.

There were lots of little touches that made this place special.  The wall of pastel prints was a favourite! It reminded me of the 50’s American decor trend with pastel pink, mint green and pale blue retro colours. I especially liked the ‘eat cake. It’s somebody’s birthday somewhere’ quote and thought this was definitely my kind of place!

Their feature wall was a floor to ceiling chalk board  with ‘hello’ written in different languages linking to the different picnic benches on their menu. Children could write their own messages or play games at a lower level.

In the middle were miniature sized polaroid photos pinned up of customers who had already dined there. I was beginning to notice a miniature theme – the benches, the milk bottles, the polaroid photos, the salt and pepper cellars – it was all too cute.  Sure enough we got our 5 minutes of fame and sat for our very own polaroid print which was immediately pinned to the wall.

There were two picnic bench options offered to the children:

Little monsters bench 1 had cod cubes, baked beans or peas and a cheese sandwich on the lower tier. Fries, a fruit pot, chocolate cookie, mini cupcake and a milkshake on the upper tier.

Little monsters bench 2 had meatballs in tomato sauce, mini cheese and tomato pizzas and fries on the lower tier. Jelly and ice cream, a fruit pot, mini cupcake and a milkshake on the upper tier.

Both sounded delicious to me but I think the sound of pizza and jelly and ice cream sold it to them – they both chose bench number two.

Adults were definitely spoilt for choice! I really found it difficult to make a decision as the options available sounded amazing!  It was a unique menu with each bench offering a different theme.  You could choose from Italian, American, Mexican, vegetarian, British and of course Welsh! I loved the fact that they included a traditional Welsh bench on their menu naming it ‘Welsh Dragon’.

After much deliberation I chose the American Dream – a classic cheeseburger, hot dog, fries and onion rings on the lower tier. BBQ wings, cheesecake, apple pie, mini cupcake and milkshake on the upper tier, my mouth was watering by this point!

We had our meals set out on miniature wooden picnic benches. As soon as the kids caught sight of their colourful meal and milkshakes making their way over to them they squealed with excitement and their eyes were as big as saucers. Seeing that moment was priceless!

I am going to admit here that I am a bad Aunt… I know all kids just want to dive in recklessly but I wanted to get some shots of their picnic benches before they demolished it so yes! I made them wait :O They were quicker than me and plucked their milkshakes from their top tier and started to ogle my picnic bench – which looked Instagram worthy!

Needless to say our picnic really did the trick. It was an experience of its own! It helped the kids enjoy meal time, they sampled a variety of food they hadn’t tasted before and instead of complaining about the caramelised onions on their pizza they just happily peeled them off and devoured their slices! A first!

The kids loved it and even said so on their miniature feedback form.

Now that we all had full bellies and smiles on our faces it was time for our adventure.

We drove about 45 minutes to a part of Wales known as ‘Waterfall Country’. Sounds magical already right? Waterfall Country is an area in the southern part of the Brecon Beacons National Park where an unusually large number of waterfalls can be found. It generally includes the Four Falls Trail, Henrhyd Falls, Melin Court Falls and Aberdulais Falls.

We were visiting the Four Falls Trail and parked up at Gwaun Hepste (CF44 9JF) near Ystradfellte which led us to the beginning of the trail. There had been a few days of rain so we changed into our wellies and raincoats and set off to discover some of the most stunning waterfalls in Wales.

There’s something surreal and magical about waterfalls. Watching the powerful water plunge off a rocky ledge into a crystal pool somehow clears my mind and completely relaxes me. I love the smell of the forest, I love the roaring sound of the water and I love admiring its sheer beauty.

Sgwd-y-Eira

I read somewhere that there is a scientific reason why we love waterfalls.  Something to do with moving or rushing water giving off negative ions – which ironically gives us positive vibes!? It’s one of the reasons why we feel so good after a long hot shower and the negative ions principle is even being used to help with mild depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

But anyway, here I was sharing my love of waterfalls with the little people in my life; so I decided to show my niece and nephew two out of the four waterfalls on the trail. You can actually follow the rough riverside paths if you want more of an adventure, but there are moments when the path hugs the cliff on one side with a scary drop on the other – the kids are pretty young and the trail can take a few hours to walk so I stuck to the way marked trail on the higher ground.

Sgwd Clun-Gwyn

As we eventually approached our first waterfall Sgwd Clun-Gwyn (translated from Welsh as ‘fall of the white meadow’) we could hear the thundering roar before we saw it. There was a rocky viewing point to admire the impressive and dramatic two tier waterfall. The kids were amazed by the sheer drop of the river below and looked on enviously at some dare devils who placed themselves dangerously on the other side of the cascade stepping out on the cliff ledge.

Sgwd-y-Eira

The second waterfall – my absolute favourite did not disappoint. Because it had rained for a few days prior it truly looked spectacular. Sgwd-y-Eira (translated from Welsh as ‘fall of snow’) looked like something from a movie it was that beautiful it could take your breath away. This particular waterfall does get crowded but we were lucky enough to enjoy it with little interruption. We followed the natural path that led right behind the most alluring curtain of water. We had the waterfall mostly to ourselves except for a little boy who followed us underneath.  His Mum didn’t want to climb across the slippery rocks with a smaller child to reach the adjoining path, so he joined us and followed us through the refreshing tunnel of clear gushing water. It felt incredibly forceful and completely drenched us. I could hear the kids shriek with laughter; it was ‘so worth it’ they howled as they were soaked again and again by the spray as they got so close to this hidden gem.

Sgwd-y-Eira
Underneath Sgwd-y-Eira

I think my mission was accomplished – the kids didn’t mention once that they were missing their screen time and we all made some special unforgettable memories.

I would love to return in winter and hopefully see the ground covered in snow and see glistening icicles formed over the rocky cliff ledges. I will of course be back then, but for now; I’m still enjoying my #summeroffun

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