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This week I managed to find some festive spirit, not in the bottom of a glass, but in Cardiff. On a drizzling December morning my friend and I headed off to the Welsh capital of Cardiff, our mission was simple: to survive a day out with three young children and achieve a day filled with minimum fuss and maximum fun. So two women, three car seats , a two year old, a five year old and six year old all headed off to the city and soon the chorus of ‘are we there yet’ began.

Two and half hours of travel sickness, toilet calls and constant squabbling resulted in a management meeting between me and my good friend, Kate which decided that a coffee break was in order. I should point out that a child free journey to Cardiff takes just two hours in total, at the coffee break point we still had half an hour of travelling left. After a praline cappuccino each for the adults and a drink and bite to eat for the tiddlers; we strapped them all back into the car and commenced our journey. However, the journey could not start before the performance of a fight over a cuddly toy, a screaming tantrum over packet of mint imperials and troubles with car seats and issues with seat belts; but this is the delight of travelling with young children!IMG_0290[1] (Small)

When we arrived in Cardiff we headed straight to the Christmas market and I was delighted to see that an effort to capture a little Christmas magic had been made. The smell of spiced wine wafted around the market and after many calls from the girls to be photographed by the polar bears, toy soldier and the nativity scene that were dotted around the market we finally made it to a stall that sold genuine venetian masquerade masks. After a fair few minutes admiring the display of masks I decided to treat me to a beautiful cat mask with harlequin decoration. Well after all the best way of getting what you want for Christmas is to buy your own present.

There was just time to head over to Cardiff castle for a guided tour of the Clock Tower and this was well worth taking. The Arabian room was stunning, with its highly decorative and gilded ceiling, the library exquisite and the banqueting hall magnificent. The Victorian nursery, filled with toys, books and fine furniture was magical. Its tiled walls depicting fairy-tale characters and was majestic and seemed to render all three little girls in our party awe stricken.   It seemed sad that no one plays in this beautiful room today, although rumours persist that a ghost often sets the rocking horse in motion.IMG_0362[1] (Small)

IMG_0284[1] (Small)We emerged from our guided tour of Cardiff Castle to find that the daylight had faded and so we walked back to the car admiring Cardiff’s Christmas lights. It was then a hurried drive to Carmarthen to watch Cinderella at the Lyric Theatre. Yes, we certainly crammed a lot into one day. The children loved the show and laughed, danced and cheered throughout the performance and as they slept peacefully on the way home, I found that I had discovered the Christmas spirit I was looking for.

IMG_0355[1] (Small)Next week I let you know how I have managed with a trip to a top hotel, pantomime performance and shopping expedition with my two little ones and a teenager.

Merry Christmas,

 

SerenIMG_0381[1] (Small)

 

 

 

 

 

About Seren Charrington-Hollins

ABOUT SEREN-CHARRINGTON-HOLLINS Describing my work through just one job title is difficult; because my professional life sees me wear a few hats: Food Historian, period cook, broadcaster, writer and consultant. I have a great passion for social and food history and in addition to researching food history and trends I have also acted as a consultant on domestic life and changes throughout history for a number of International Companies. In addition to being regularly aired on radio stations; I have made a number of television appearances on everything from Sky News through to ITV’s Country House Sunday, Holiday of a Lifetime with Len Goodman , BBC4’s Castle’s Under Siege, BBC South Ration Book Britain; Pubs that Built Britain with Hairy Bikers and BBC 2’s Inside the Factory. Amongst other publications my work has been featured in Period Living Magazine, Telegraph, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Great British Food Magazine and I write regularly for a variety of print and online publications. I am very fortunate to be able to undertake work that is also my passion and never tire of researching; recreating historical recipes and researching changing domestic patterns. Feel free to visit my blog, www.serenitykitchen.com