In 2005 me and my ex-partner separated and I moved back to live in London. She continued to live in Ascot, Berkshire with my son, Rhys. However, three-and-a-half years ago she decided — for some random reason unknown to me — to move my son and herself to Swansea in Wales. This created much tension and resentment on my part which festered and cause some disagreement and from time-to-time verbal jousts. However, after over 3 years of travelling up and down the M4 to see my son she finally — with my help — moved back to Ascot.
My son is a funny and intelligent boy of 13 and as we moved all their stuff we had a quite deep existential conversation about his Swansea adventure. Demonstrating an Albert Camusesque approach to the last few years the boy stated that the whole “move to Swansea had been a bit pointless?” I considered this for a moment and weighed up whether it had been worth:
1) Hours driving up and down the M4 motorway getting stuck in all manor of traffic jams.
2) Almost dying when skidding from one lane to the next in the torrential rain.
3) Witnessing accidents and aftermath of accidents on the M4 as well as a whole host of road-killed dead animals.
4) Having to pay the extortionate and forever rising cost of crossing the Severn Bridge to get into Wales.
5) Paying the pricks in Government a fortune in tax on petrol! And a bit on petrol too.
6) Paying to stay in many, many, Hotels and Bed and Breakfasts.
Internally, the Hulk-like rage was building up inside me as I prepared to let go a volley of anger in having to experience all this but then I decided it had been worth it. He’s my son and he is worth every penny and I would have gone EVERY weekend if money had allowed. In fact, if I thought they would not come back I would have moved there to be with him. Probably.
So I told my son that it WAS worth it because it had been a positive experience and there are worse places in the world than Swansea. For anyone interested in going there here are some of the sites and delights I experienced which made it all worthwhile.
1. THE GOWER PENINSULA
If you love beaches (not the film) and walks and nature then this is the place for you. As Keats may say: “a thing of beauty is a joy forever!”
2. DINOSAUR PARK and SHOWCAVES
This place was fantastic with beautiful scenery and wonderful majestic caves which made one feel very humble. The dinosaurs ain’t bad either.
Definitely check out these places if you want okay food. The Uplands Diner – Home of the Megabeast – is a great café!
Cosmo is very reasonably priced all-you-can-scoff buffet place.
The Madras Takeaway in Sketty was VERY good Indian food -
Plus there’s loads of pubs and clubs in the town which I’m sure are good for getting wasted and picking up cheap men or women. I just didn’t go out at the weekends as I was too knackered from the drive! NOT THAT I’M BITTER OR ANYTHING!
I stayed in loads and loads of hotels and B & B’s while I visiting Swansea but the best one was definitely in Uplands and that was The Alexander. The people who run it are so polite and friendly without being intrusive. I enjoyed my stay there each time and the breakfast was great plus it was cheap but not nasty.
5 - OAKWOOD THEME PARK
Technically not in Swansea but in Tenby this is Wales equivalent to Alton Towers. It’s no patch on the Midlands Monster Park and a bit rough around the edges. However, it has some great rides especially the SPEED rollercoaster. Very frightening!
6. HORSE-RIDING – PARC-LE-BREOS- ON THE GOWER
This was a fantastic day out and pretty reasonably priced as well. If you like horse-riding and like beaches then why not go horse-riding on the beach. The views were outstanding.
7. BATTLEFIELD LIVE – LASER-COMBAT
The boy didn’t like horse-riding that much as it was “boring” but he loved this action-game-similar-to-paintball-but-much-much better as you get 10 lives per game and don’t get covered in paint.
Unfortunately this young lady isn’t there but it’s still great fun running around pretending you’re Rambo and shooting people with toy laser guns!
8. FOLLY FARM
This is the cutest place in the whole of Swansea with a whole Noah’s Ark of domestic, farm and exotic animals. It also has playgrounds and fun for all the family; even a cynical, grumpy bugger like me.
9. SKIDZ GO-KARTING
Me and Rhys had a great time doing this and on a Sunday morning we’d have the track to ourselves. I was brilliant at the karting and the kid regularly ate the dust; and I beat him in the race too.
10. SINGLETON PARK, CLYNE GARDENS & OTHER PARKS
I do a lot of running and walking and Singleton Park and other parks in Swansea are absolutely beautiful in the Spring and Summer. Swansea overall is a very natural and wonderfully fresh place. Especially when compared to the gut-wrenching-lung-busting-pollution of London.
That’s the end of the list. The boy hates sport so I didn’t get to go to the Liberty Stadium to watch rugby or football. We went to the cinema a lot too. But basically these are all places I have visited and things I would not have done if my son hadn’t moved to Swansea so overall I would say it wasn’t pointless at all. Just a lot of hard work driving back and forth. But he’s family so you have to do the right thing by your family.
Having said all that the greatest thing I ever saw on my trips to Wales was this:
Welcome to England! Because as Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home, Toto. There’s no place like home.” Welcome back son!