What A Super Saturday!
Well, what a super Saturday of rugby! It sounds like something out of a reality TV show but watching the last 3 matches was a true (and please don’t cringe) ‘rollercoaster of emotions’. If for any reason you missed the heart-stopping excitement let me briefly sum it up for you.
The fantastic Welsh boys may have taken 40 minutes to warm up but their second half performance was simply phenomenal, sweeping Italy aside. George North made up for his dip in form in earlier matches with his 3 tries in about 10 minutes and even though Leigh Halfpenny had managed to practically knock himself out with some huge tackles and couldn't make the second half, Dan Biggar filled his boots admirably. The atmosphere in Rome must have been electric!
On to the Scotland v Ireland match and the emphatic Welsh win had given the Irish team quite a task to complete in order to keep their dream of back-to-back outright championship wins alive. A powerful game followed and the Irish had to equal a record number of points scored in Murrayfield to get the win they needed – but win they did.
So, down to the last game and the age old rivalry between England and France. With the match at Twickenham the English had the home advantage but could they really get a 26 point win over an unpredictable French team with a point to prove? It was so, so close. I could hardly bear to watch and had a ridiculous number of butterflies in my tummy for what, at the end of the day, is just 30 men running around a field with an odd shaped ball! With over 80 minutes on the clock, and England so close to the try line when they gave away the ball, I am sure the scene in my house with my husband screaming at the French team to just kick the ball out of play was mirrored in many homes across Wales. The dog didn’t appreciate it I can tell you. When the game continued I think I even stopped breathing for a second, but it wasn’t to be and Ireland began their celebrations as worthy winners.
On Saturday 221 points and 27 tries were scored and the rugby was fast flowing, dynamic and not stifled by the sensible match play decision so often seen now in international rugby. If all the six nations team can keep this momentum going as we head towards the world cup in September it may well prove to be another thrilling tournament.
For the Welsh and English fans, any world cup drama seems likely to develop early on when just getting out the group stages will be impressive. In Pool A we have Australia, England, Fifi, Uruguay and Wales. Nothing can be guaranteed in sport but with only the top two teams going through to the next round, Australia being a dominant southern hemisphere side and Fiji having a history of pulling unexpected wins out of the bag when up against it, Wales and England will have to play some excellent rugby to try and make it into the knockout stages.
But let’s not worry about that just yet. Let’s bask in the warm glow of our northern hemisphere rugby teams showing the rest of the world just how inspirational we can be!
A day out to get lost!
This morning, out of the blue (or so it seemed to me not being able to read the mind of an inquisitive 4 year old), my daughter said plaintively “Mummy, I’ve never been to a maze. Can we go to one?” She was most disappointed when I explained that, certainly at this time of year, there weren’t any mazes near to us and it also got me wondering where we could go in Wales to find a maze that would possibly match my daughter’s notion of what a maze should be.
The idea of a maze is an ancient one that developed out of the use of labyrinths in many cultures for ceremonial purposes. It is thought that the strong association between mazes as a pastime and an integral staple in formal garden design came about in the middle ages and has endured ever since. When I started looking for mazes in Wales I must admit that I thought there would be more out there, not taking into consideration the more seasonal maize mazes and so on, but here are three that might fit the bill for me at least.
Conwy Valley Maze, located between Trefriw and Dolgarrog looks a truly magical place. Covering over two acres, the yew hedge maze currently holds the title of the ‘biggest garden maze in the world’ and with unique and specially commissioned sculptures to be discovered in hidden corners, and themed gardens including a rose garden and a butterfly garden to explore, it sounds just wonderful. On a practical note there is also lots of parking which appeals to me but this attraction is weather dependent and it is always wise to call first if undertaken a long trip to get there in case the maze is unable to open.
If you want somewhere where you can easily spend a whole day in the same place why not head to Bodelwyddan Castle. This family friendly heritage attraction has all the right ingredients for a great day out. Within the castle (only built as it stands today from 1830 but still impressive!) there are lots of hands-on activities for the kids, independent exhibitions and multimedia guides to take you on a tour of the house. The parklands outside feature formal gardens, with a maze of course, woodland walks and there is an adventure playground at Rabbit Wood for little ones.
For a non-traditional maze, I am tempted to try the ‘crocodile maze’ at Greenwood Forest Park. I mentioned this attraction in my Mother’s Day blog but it seems definitely worth mentioning again! As well as the wooden platforms of the crocodile maze to traverse there is an area for den building, tree-top towers to explore, a forest theatre, a tunnel warren and much more. As I have never been I can’t confirm it is as good as it sounds but with 4.5 stars out of 5 on TripAdvisor I would say it’s a good bet for a family day out in North Wales.
Can anyone recommend any of these three destinations or even have any more suggestions to aid my quest to find the perfect maze? Do let me know!