Perfect weekend in Ponty
To my shame, for all my shopping/eating out/entertainment needs, I have always turned right onto the A470 and headed for the bright lights of the capital instead of turning left towards Pontypridd.
How could a small town compare with the capital of Wales I thought?
Last weekend I took on the challenge extended by Visit RCT to spend an ENTIRE weekend in Ponty. I did a bit of research, made some plans, prepped my two nine year olds and this is how we got on....
Saturday morning dawned sunny and bright so I put on my running shoes and headed to Ynysangharad War Memorial Park to take part in the weekly Park Run event.
Parking was a doddle and also very cheap- £1 for two hours. (Ponty 1 - Cardiff 0 I thought).
There are lots of car parks but I chose Gas Road Car Park as it was just a short walk from here through the town centre to the park. Over 300 people take part in Park Run here but the park is really beautiful and absolutely huge so at no point did it feel crowded.
Everyone was really friendly - all in all it was one of the best organised and most welcoming running events I've ever attended.
Afterwards I had a much needed coffee just outside the park gates in a brand new independent coffee shop and cafe - The Chainhouse.
A quick trip home and a shower later and it was back to Pontypridd for the first ever Pontypridd Children's Book Festival.
On the way to the festival, we popped into the indoor market which has been at the heart of the town since the 1870s.
My vegetarian daughter was thrilled to find Soul Spice - a food stall catering for Vegetarian and Vegans.
We sat at a bench and split a curry box and a falafel wrap - all the food is made to order, really fresh and totally delicious.
Daughter number two had to be dragged away from the toy shop (and its impressive range of slime) and was very happily fed with an enormous steak bake from one of the many food stalls.
We passed a lovely coffee shop with some tempting looking cakes but time was ticking on so we headed through the town to Pontypridd Museum, for our session at the book festival.
Having been fixtures at the Cardiff Children's literature festival for the last few years I didn't know what to expect from this much smaller version. We'd booked tickets for a talk with Eloise Williams who was simply amazing.
The session was interactive and entertaining and we all left with new books and big smiles on our faces.
Our Ponty adventure continued the next day as we headed back to Ynysangharad War Memorial Park for the first junior park run.
I headed back to the same car park to discover parking is free on Sundays - bonus!
This 2k run starts at the bandstand and is a great way to start a Sunday morning.
Afterwards we walked the short distance from the bandstand to Lido Play - a great adventure playground for kids of all ages.
I sat in the sun while the girls climbed everything in sight with their new Park Run friends.
Next stop was the National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty.
Also situated in Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, the lido is an impeccably restored grade II listed building.
It's free for children to swim and only £2 for adults. I'd booked online and paid an additional £2.50 for activity bands for the kids so they could go on the giant inflatables, hand boats and water zorbs.
Our session lasted an hour and a half and the heated pools combined with the sun made us feel like we were abroad.
We spent the rest of the day in the sun in the park with a picnic.
All in all it was quite an epic, action packed weekend and I am thoroughly ashamed it's taken me so long to explore.
I've had requests from the kids to return to Lido Ponty and Lido Play and park and Park Run is now a weekly fixture for all of us.
I want to explore more also and am planning another day out to include Pontypridd Common with its mysterious stonehenge-like rocking stones combined with a visit to Prince's Bakery and possibly a trip to the nearby Welsh Mining Experience at Rhondda Heritage Park.
It's safe to say we'll be turning left onto the A470 more often in future!
To book a session at the National Lido of Wales www.lidoponty.co.uk
For parking info www.rctcbc.gov.uk/parking
Find info on Pontypridd Children's Book Festival 2019 on facebook and twitter