Last weekend we headed west. When you live in the west country, this can only mean one thing: Wales.
Heading over the bridge to what my kids affectionately term Dragon Country, listening to our current favourite song on repeat, the three of us talked about what we wanted to do in Cardiff. The castle? A must. Meeting up with friends? Yes, please. Plenty of lovely things to eat and drink? Tick.
First stop was Nata & Co, the most amazing Portuguese bakery tucked away in a part of Cardiff called Splott (what a name!). Aside from the classic Pastel de Nata (or custard tart) there were many delights with which to spoil our appetites. The boys and their friends devoured enormous slices of chocolate cake, while us grown ups downed hot caffeine and custard.
Next, we headed to Bute Park. Formerly the gardens of the capital's castle, the park runs along one side of the town centre - yin and yang, and all that. Perfectly timed with our visit was TAPE!, an installation made entirely from sticky tape hung between the boughs of trees to form a kind of giant spider web. My youngest boy is obsessed with all things scary, so the opportunity to enter a big white web was irresistible. Such a strange sensation knowing you're high above the ground in a cocoon made from layers of such an unlikely material, once inside the web was eerily quiet, creaking occasionally, reminding us of walking on ice.
The park is full of treats, temporary and permanent. For lunch, we ate at the Secret Garden Cafe, hidden behind a high, red brick wall, followed by ice creams at the Summerhouse Cafe. If the day hadn't been running away with us, we'd have sampled all three of the park's eateries with an afternoon tea stop at Pettigrew Tea Rooms, housed in one of the castle lodge buildings on the edge of the park.
Instead, we RAN to Cardiff Castle, where the kids bought swords and messed about in the stocks. A climb up a steep set of steps and we arrived in the heart of the castle, where my knights-in-training fought and played for the rest of the afternoon.
We headed to our home for the night, the Maldron Hotel in central Cardiff. The boys are always excited about staying in hotels and couldn't wait to see the room and decide who'd sleep where. Our room was up on the eleventh floor - the view was incredible and we could see the restaurants on nearby Mill Lane. Once spotted, the kids refused to acknowledge anywhere but Wagamama as their restaurant of choice for the evening. We sat outside and people-watched while we slurped our noodles. After such a packed day of fun, all three of us were ready for bed.
Next morning, there was a knock at the door at 7am - breakfast! It's hard to tell where my excitement at the kids' breakfast-in-bed thrill ends and my thrill begins; there are few things in life more special than sitting in bed, cuddling your kids and eating pastries.
And there our 24 hours in Cardiff came to a close. Back east to Bristol and the beginning of another week of this summer holiday. We're packing in the fun this year - follow our adventures here on the blog, and on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #summerholidaydiaries.
We travelled to Cardiff to contribute to a travel ebook created by RAC Breakdown Cover.
As always, all thoughts and images are my own.