Staycation & birthday celebrations 2017

Ryan and I booked the first week of May off work with the original intention of a road trip through Ireland, but due to the unknown state of our housing situation towards the end of March (you can read more about that in my moving back in with your parents as an adult post) we decided to save the money just in case we needed it for a rental or renewal deposit or for storage rental.
We decided to keep the week booked off and planned a staycation instead with plans to travel Ireland next year.

Day 1 – Cardiff City and the Doctor Who Experience

Today we went to Cardiff primarily to visit the Doctor Who Experience with a Groupon voucher we’d purchased earlier in the year. Which has recently been changed to a story focussing on Peter Capaldi’s version of the doctor and as its due to close for relocation in the Summer, we decided to check it out.

We arrived in Cardiff around 9.30 and had half an hour to spare before the experience opened, so we decided to take a look at some of the Doctor Who and Torchwood sites around Cardiff Bay including the Ianto Jones memorial shrine.

As the plaque states Ianto Jones is a fictional character from the tv show Torchwood who died in one of the episodes.

The Doctor Who Experience is located in a far corner of Cardiff Bay and you can see the big blue building and the Doctor’s Tardis from the docks.

There were many people already there when we arrived taking photos and selfies outside the building and of the Tardis itself, it was very cold but, thankfully the experience staff opened the doors early and let us sit in the cafe until opening time. The cafe as well as the toilets were decorated with Doctor Who artwork.

The experience itself started with an interactive story which finished at the entrance to the museum. Without giving too much away, the story was well thought out and very interactive; I was able to get hands on in three of the sections. After the interactive part of the exhibit your able to look at various props and memorabilia from the show in the museum. I took 100s of photos!! Here are a few of my favourites.

After the experience we went for lunch at an American style diner which was used as a filming location in Doctor Who where Matt Smith’s Doctor and companions visited the US.

After lunch we headed into the city centre for a bit retail therapy and I found out that the city has a Coyote Ugly themed bar! I’m definitely coming back soon to see what it’s like.

Day 2 – R&R

Our original plan for Bank holiday Monday was to help my dad in the garden. My parents have been landscaping there garden and there is a lot of soil, wood and various rocks and stones to move into the skip they hired. Unfortunately it was raining (typically for a bank holiday) so we went out for lunch in Toro Lounge instead, I was designated driver but dad and Ryan enjoyed a couple of cocktails. Dad had a long island ices tea and Ryan had a Bourbon shake, which was a couple of shots of whiskey, one of dark rum and topped up with milk.

You can see it behind my chocolate milkshake in the photo below. He says it was really good.

Day 3 – Go Ape, cinema and Italian food

The weather brightened up so we took a trip to the Forest of Dean’s Go Ape : tree top adventure which we’d won tickets for over the Easter weekend. Go Ape consists of a serious of obstacles high up in the trees, including climbing, zip wires, Tarzan swings and larger cargo nets. I got stuck… twice! Once mid air after a zip wire and again from the Tarzan swing to the cargo net, it’s a good thing I’m not scared of heights. 😉

After successfully completing our tree top adventure we went to Zizzi’s for lunch, which is a chain of Italian restaurants and to the local Cineworld to watch The Belko Experiment. Our mains were great but my dessert was a little overcooked (I had a chocolate brownie), disappointing as it looked delicious in the photos in the menu and on the flyer on our table. 🙁

The Belko Experiment was decent, we felt the ending could have been better and were expecting the reason for the experiment to have been explained better. We think there will be a sequel if it does well as it ended on a cliff hanger.

Day 4 – Helping out

My arms were aching after Go Ape the day before but, as the weather was still nice, we decided to go to my parents house and make a start on moving the soil, rocks, wood etc that we were unable to do on Monday. My dad was impressed with how much we got done and grateful, he took us out for an Indian as a thank you.

Day 5 – May the fourth be with you.

Today was international Star Wars day and we took a trip to London for the Star Wars Identities exhibit at the O2 Arena.

We got the coach at 5.05am (!), had breakfast in Victoria train when we arrived and headed off on the Jubilee line to North Greenwich. I’d been to the O2 Arena before for a concert and it was a lot less crowded this time round, perhaps due to it being early morning  (?). We had tickets booked for the first group at 10am and there were only 4 people in front of us when we arrived at the queue.

The exhibit was different than I expected, more hands on and you got to chose an avatars for your own Star Wars journey. There were various props and interactive zones within the exhibit and concluded with a choice to join the dark side, which one of our group did.

The exhibit is on until early September so if you’re a fan of Star Wars I’d highly recommend it.

Afterwards we had some lunch in a nearby pie shop, I admit the sign (below) enticed us in.

With our bellies filled we headed on to our next destination : The DC Lego exhibit at South Bank, which, as the title suggests, was an exhibit of DC characters made out of Lego. They were very very impressive. The four of us took so many photos and a couple of selfies with our favourite characters.

Unfortunately due to the poor lighting in the exhibit some of my photos didn’t come out very well, especially the ones from the Gotham city area.

On our way back to the coach station we stopped to have a look at the London Eye and Big Ben.

Day 6 – Atomic Burger and City Maze

Ryan’s brother’s birthday was recently and his sister-in-law’s is the same day as mine (May 7th) so we treated them to a City escape maze and the four of us went for a birthday meal at Atomic Burger. Both in Bristol.

I loved Atomic Burger! It was my first visit and I loved the atmosphere and style of the place, it had retro and sci fi memorabilia on the walls and ceilings and geeky wallpaper too.

My burger was decent and my drink and dessert were amazing. I had a burger with US cheese, bacon and BBQ sauce served with cajun spiced fries, a cookie monster (Oreo) milkshake and a jelly and ice cream sundae.

Ryan wants to open up a similar style restaurant in the future with a comic book store attached.

The escape maze was a lot of fun. We had unknowingly booked the hardest maze with only a 30% success rate but, I’m proud to say that we completed the maze with time to spare! 😀

We’ll definitely be back to tackle the other two rooms and will check out the Cardiff and Oxford locations as well.

Day 7 – Free comics and Italian food

Today was free comic book day and cosplay day at our local comic book store. I wore my Merlotte’s bar and grill outfit from the tv shiw True Blood, my sister was Supergirl and my dad was a steam punk Victorian gentlemen. It was a fun morning and I got some great comics including a Buffy the Vampire Slayer one.

This year my birthday was on a Sunday, so we decided to have a meal on the Saturday evening instead, as most of us were back to work on the Monday.

We went to Piazza Fontana for food and to Toro Lounge for cocktails afterwards. The meal was superb as always and I really enjoyed the atmosphere, the waiting staff at Piazza Fontana were new and very friendly.

Two Bourbon shakes & a long island iced tea

Day 8 – Birthday celebrations

Today was my birthday, which I started by opening presents before heading off to Bourton on the Water to visit the penguins at Birdland.

We started with breakfast in the Flamingo cafe where I opened more presents and enjoyed a cheese and ham panini. We watched the penguins being fed at 11am and the keeper gave a brief talk about the penguins there.

Birdland has two breeds of penguin, Humbolt penguins and King penguins and is home to the only King penguins in England, Ireland and Wales.
After watching the penguins, we looked at the wide selection of other birds including flamingos, macaws, owls and pelicans and the recently opened enclosures for African birds including Horbills.

Towards the back of Birdland is the “Jurassic Journey” walk, which is through a nature. The walk talks about local wildlife and insects as well as fossils and different types of dinosaurs.

We stopped back at the cafe again and Ryan bought me a slice of ‘birthday’ cake. Mmmm.

After our visit to Birdland we walked into the village, had an ice cream cone and visited the Model Railway Exhibition, it was just as I remember except one of the trains had a camera added to the front of it. Unfortunately you’re unable to take photos or video inside the exhibit but, most of them had buttons where you can control parts of the track and the trains yourself.

To finish off we went to see Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 at  our local Empire cinema. I laughed, i cried and thought it was just as good (if not better) than the first one! Ryan bought me a Groot cinema cup as a birthday treat. 🙂 It was a great day and, we had a great week!