Alphabet Dating Final Installment W, X, Y, Z

This is the final installment of our Alphabet Dating series. We wanted to give you all some ideas of different places to go and things to do with your other half. We are big believers in making sure you keep the spark alive and keep going out and experiencing adventures as a couple. Lets hope that these ones will inspire you to do something a little different. 

Alphabet Dating Banner W-Z

W – White Water Rafting

When I was little I grew up in South Africa and we did a family trip white water rafting. It was one of the best and funniest holidays that we had. It is actually one of those memories that still comes up round the dinner table after a couple of glasses of wine. The fact my sister and my mum actually broke their canoe is one of the funniest parts!

So why not try something with a little bit of adrenaline! There is a brilliant course along the River Dee where you will exprience the thrills and spills of a Grade 2/3 course. Are you brave enough?

whitePhoto Courtesy of White Water Active

X – Xylography

The dictionary’s definition of Xylography is the art of engraving on wood or of printing from woodblocks. We Welsh have one of the most amazing and unique tokens of showing love, our beautiful love spoons. Have you ever thought about making one? I have a friend whose husband sent a present to her bride on the morning of their wedding. He had spent two months carving his own love spoon! I was so impressed! She was a lucky girl!

There is an amazing course that you can take a woodcarving and love spoon class that you can book into in Port Talbot. Why not spend an afternoon together making something that you can keep forever. Our very own Anna, got her husband, Richie one for their 5th Anniversary!

lovespoonPhoto Courtesy of Pinterest

Y – Ynys Llanddwyn

This is a magical place. We have all heard about Welsh Valentines Day and the stories come from here, the remains of St Dwynwens castle. She became known as the patron saint of lovers and pilgrimages were made to her holy well on the island. It was said that the faithfulness of a lover could be divined through the movements of some eels that lived in the well. This was done by the woman first scattering breadcrumbs on the surface, then laying her handkerchief on the surface. If the eel disturbed it then her lover would be faithful. It is a beautiful place to visit and they have an amazing variety of nesting sea birds.

stdwynwenPhoto Courtesy of Visit Wales

Z- Zip Wires!

A few years ago I decided to conqueror my fear of heights and go do an areal obstacle course. I’m not going to lie. It was scary! I honestly s**t myself most of the way through. I managed to complete it and the last thing is was a long zip wire to the ground. It was amazing and I thought that it would cure my fear. I can categorically say, it was a thrilling experience and I am so proud of myself doing it but there is no way that I am in any way cured of my fear! Are you and your other half brave? In Snowdonia there is the longest zip line in Europe. Ever wondered what it like to soar 500 feet in the air at 100mph? The speed will be incredible!

zipwirePhoto Courtesy of Zip World

I hope you have loved this series as much as we loved writing it. Now, go forth and date, and make sure you send us any photos if you try any of them! 

Alphabet Dating: S, T, U, V

Morning lovely people. So our fabulous Alphabet Dating continues today with some tricky letters.  So tricky in fact that we asked Donna to do it (or ‘Mum’ as she’s otherwise known to us). So, over to you Don!…..

So today I was asked if i’d like to write a post for the blog on alphabet dating.  I’ve heard the Cwtch girls talking about it and thought it was a great idea, , they gave me my letters S, T, U and V.  I was a little bit stumped, until I got to thinking about it.

I’ve been married 11 years and together for 20, so dates tend to be grabbing a movie and a meal anywhere thats easy to get home to the kids from.  Recently we started ‘day dating’ as babysitters can be a little difficult with 3 kids (including Tornado Tom!).

Mark and DonMark and Donna


Asking someone to look after just one child (while the others are in school) is a whole lot easier!!  I’m loving day dating and it gives us time to actually relax and to do something other than go for a meal or a movie.


St Fag MEDIUMImage by Maria Farrelly Photography

I’m going to start with St Fagans, I love it there so much!  I’ve taken the children there so many times, I’m not sure the little ones appreciate the historical value of the place, they just love to run in and out of the rooms.  But for me I love to walk into each house and take in how things once were, the staff have so much information to share.  I particularly love the church, there’s a kind of calm in there, I’m not a particularly religious person but I do love a good church! Plus day dating when the kids are in school means its nice and quiet and its free!!!  They have somewhere to grab food and of course Cardiff Bay is only down the road but personally its picnics all the way for me!  Their website contains a list of great events and of course Cwtchfest will be held there in September – perfect!


Sgwd HenrhydImage by Nature Flip

I’ve never been there but I”m developing a fascination with waterfalls.  I think its the sound of water that just makes me happy, I’ve always been fascinated with water in any form as long as i’m relaxing by it, don’t ask me to sail a boat, I’d probably sink it!  Of course I’m also hoping that Mark isn’t in the mood to dunk me under the fast flowing water but I’m hoping for a nice romantic stroll followed by my compulsory picnic!

Its worth visiting their website for directions and facility information.  Of course its better to see after there has been rainfall but don’t forget those sensible shoes, not a good walk for flip flops or heels.  Perfect excuse to get the walking boots and combats out!! Aren’t I glamours!

St Davids 

St Davids CatherdralImage by St Davids Cathedral

This, again, is somewhere I’m desperate to go (lets hope Hubby reads this!).  Every birthday or special occasion leads hubby to ask me where I want to go and its always the beach! Its a bit of a drive for us so I think it would be the perfect excuse for an overnight stay!  We went on holiday to Tresaith last year and discovered that whilst we’ve spent lots of time in Cornwall and exploring the coast, we haven’t explored the Wales coastline nearly enough.  I’m now a bit obsessed with the idea of moving to West Wales!


I’m definitely up for this!  We took the kids there and I was jealous of the amount of fun they had.  I think dates can be way too serious and after being together 20 years they usually follow the same format.  I once paid for Mark to do rally driving in north wales and he looked so happy doing it and I think he’d love this too!  He may need a bit of convincing but once he’s doing it he’d love it – then when he’s all happy I can nip into Festival Park for some celebratory shopping!!!



Three Cliffs Bay

Three Cliffs BayImage by Three Cliffs Bay

 Back in 2008 July we had a random day off and no kids too so we decided to head out to Three Cliffs Bay in the Gower Peninsula.  It was cloudy and we had our waterproofs on but undeterred took a picnic and were determined to sit on the beach even if it rained!  We parked at the top and did the trek down, by the time we got to the bottom the waterproofs were off and we were baking hot!  A quick paddle in the stream and we were ready for our picnic.  There is literally nothing commercial there, no ice cream vans, no cafe’s, nothing and we love that!  It means the beach doesn’t tend to be very busy and its very clean.  Since that random date, Three Cliffs Bay is our most favourite place in the whole of Wales, if I ever take a random day to myself you’ll all know where I am!  And I’ll be there with my picnic which seems to be a consistent theme!  I probably should explain Mark bought me a beautiful picnic basket with matching rug for my birthday and I love it so find any excuse to whip it out!



TwmbarlwmImage by Twmbarlwm

We’re so lucky in Wales and I think unless we go an explore it then its easy to forget that.  As well as waterfalls and beaches I’m in love with mountains – good job I live in Wales!  I love to climb to the top and just sit there and take it all in.  Don’t get me wrong I love to be wined and dined but the outdoors just gives me a sense of peace.  I have 3 busy kids, I’m a school Governor, I’m a Cwtch Girl and I have a huge family so I’m always busy.   Dates for me are about stopping and actually talking to Mark with no interruptions.  He may drive me nuts but he makes me laugh so very much too!  Of course the fact that he’s climbed to the top with a secret bottle of bubbly for when we reach the top didn’t go amiss either.


Usk River

River UskImage by Wye and Usk Foundation

Before we had children we used to take lots of drives out to Usk as its such a charming little place.  We found a nice park that was perfect for the dog to run.  We still go there with the children as there’s a fantastic play area, but close by is a break in the shrubs and a walkway down to the river.  Its quite shallow there so we can paddle and take the dog.  Of course you have to be careful in any water as the currents can be unpredictable but again its the sound of water I just adore and the dog goes wild for it when the weather is hot!!


Volkswagon Camper

VW CamperImage by VW Camper Hire

I really struggled with V, I was trying to find places in Wales that began with V or activities to do.  Then it dawned on me, my little lightbulb lit up!  We’ve just come back from a holiday in Cornwall and of course were surrounded by VW Camper vans, which we love and have always wanted!  We’ve been talking about buying a Camper and then taking some time away for exploring Wales, just the odd day here and there or maybe weekends when the Grandparents have the kids.  I’ve never been to North Wales and as I’ve lived in Wales all my life I think thats pretty awful.  I want to go to Snowdonia, Bodant Garden, Festiniog, Caernarfon Castle, Cadar Idris and Porthmadog to name just a few places.  I’ve been online and looking at different options and I’m in love with a yellow VW Camper, now just to convince Mark he wants a yellow VW Camper!

I hope you’re all enjoying the alphabet dating posts and keep an eye out for the last one coming soon!

Thank you so much to the lovely Donna! I for one will be taking on some of these lovely dates!

Alphabet Dating N, O, P, Q, R

When we got married, my husband and I knew we didn’t want to stop dating and after I heard about Alphabet Dating, I knew that this was for us. I suggest that you get creative. Not every date that you go on needs to cost the earth. Some of my favourite ones that I have done have actually been free. Remember this is a way to step out of your comfort zone, do things that you might not normally do. But most of all enjoy spending time together. 0540

Photo Credit: Maria Farrelly

Alphabet Dating N, O, P, Q, R


National Botanic Gardens of Wales

My husband loves our little garden. most of the plants that we have in it are edible. He has a total love for all the gardening shows and he can lose a whole weekend weeding, digging and watering our plants.

The beautiful National Botanic Garden of Wales, near Llanarthne in Camarthenshire, is a 568-acre parkland. It is a perfect place for us. When we got engaged we were in Cornwall and we had gone to the Eden Project. Its historic and futuristic buildings are breathtaking, The horticultural displays, flower meadows, the lakes and walks are out of this world and you can just get lost there.national botanicalPhoto Credit: National Botanic Garden

The Garden’s centrepiece is the Great Glasshouse designed by world-famous architects Norman Foster and Partners Inside the amazing tilted glass dome is a Mediterranean landscape dominated by a six-metre deep ravine. Rock terraces and sheer faces are cut by streams and waterfalls. A lake provides a humid habitat at the foot of the chasm. Visitors are able to experience the aftermath of an Australian bush fire, pause in a Spanish olive grove or wander through collections of fuschias from Chile.

There’s something for everyone at the Garden of Wales, from the peaceful surroundings of the Japanese Garden, its stream, tea house and cherry trees to the surround-sound experience of Theatre Botanica with its specially commissioned film celebrating the world of plants. There are lakeside walks and prairie walks, an opportunity to see the development of the unique Double Walled Garden and be some of the first to see the shoots that will become the Woods of the World in years to come. I think you will agree with me that it is a beautiful place to spend the day. med gardenPhoto Credit: National Botanic Garden


Ogmore By Sea

Ogmore-by-Sea is one of the prettiest beaches that I have ever set foot on. It stretches for what seems like forever. It is part of the Glamorgan Coastal Path so it is a great spot for walkers. Starting at Merthyr Mawr, you’re also just a small bridge and short walk away from the stunning ruins of the Norman Ogmore Castle and its 52 stepping-stones across the Ogmore river.  Locals believe that the stones were laid for a girl who lived in the castle and used the stones to meet her lover across the river.  Continue walking along the river making sure you keep away from the sheep. (They scare me.) One you make it to the beach time to start the fun part. The rocks exposed along the stretch of coast near Ogmore-by-Sea were laid down between 340 and 195 million years ago. The oldest rocks are hard, grey limestones that make up the Carboniferous Limestone.These were laid down in a warm, shallow, subtropical sea and are rich in fossils, especially corals, crinoids and brachiopods. So why not take some time to do a fossil hunt. Southern Down beach also has a wealth of fossils so if you want to extend the walk you can continue on to there. My favourite part of this date is after the long walk you can unpack a yummy picnic, settle down with a glass of bubbly watch the sun set.Ogmore_on_sea_maria_farrelly_05Ogmore_on_sea_Maria_Farrelly_03

Images Courtesy of Maria Farrelly 


Penderyn Whisky Tour

This tour was not up my street but my husband on the other hand really wanted to go. It has a brilliant history about a group of friends who back in the early 1990’s drank in a small pub and chatted about establishing the first whisky distillery in Wales in over a century. They dreamt of creating a whisky as pure and precious as Welsh gold, represented today by Penderyn’s ‘gold seam’.barman-pouring-happy (1)Photo Credit: Welsh Whisky

The friends chose the historic village of Penderyn on the southern tip of the Brecon Beacons, because of the site’s own supply of fresh natural spring water. They also had a unique copper single-pot still designed by Dr David Faraday, a relative of the great 19th century scientist Michael Faraday.

Penderyn Distillery opened its doors to visitors in June 2008 with the launch of its new purpose designed and built Visitor Centre. The distillery is the only one in Wales and the first to legally distil whisky spirit in the country for more than 100 years.  Take a journey through the history of single malt whisky making in Wales, and understand the distilling process at first hand.visitor-centre-barrel-endsPhoto Credit: Welsh Whisky


Quad Biking in Glasfyrn Parc

Though I myself have never actually been quad biking our lovely creator Maria has. While four months pregnant she decided to go with her work on a team building exercise. She hadn’t yet informed anyone at her job that she was pregnant and being the determined soul that she is, she set out to win! She was doing really well overtaking left, right and centre. Everyone started waving at her and trying to call her over. She thought it was because they were sore losers. That was until she got flagged down by the owner to inform her she was dragging half a tree underneath her quad bike!

quadPhoto Credit: Glasfryn Parc


Roman Legion Museum

My husband and I love history. Being South African I am still learning about British history and my husband is a complete history buff. He has a way to help me understand which I thank him for.  I didn’t realise that Wales was the furthest outpost of the Roman Empire. In AD 75, the Romans built a fortress at Caerleon that would guard the region for over 200 years. Caerleon was one of only three permanent fortresses in Roman Britain. The museum lies inside what remains of the fortress. The ruins include the most complete amphitheater in Britain and the only remains of a Roman Legionary barracks on view anywhere in Europe.roman-gardenPhoto Credit: Museum Wales

There is also the most beautiful Roman Gardens. The Romans were one of the first people to use gardens for decorative purposes, they were considered outdoor rooms – an extension of the house – just like many of our gardens today. The perfect place to entertain guests, relax and unwind. Today, the museum still use gardening and horticultural techniques which the Romans established 2,000 years ago, from turning soil in the autumn and mixing compost, to hoeing beds and sowing seeds in spring. My husband will love this. We aren’t at the letter R yet so this is in the bank for when we do.

This is also a perfect place to go on a family date as at weekends and school holidays, children can step back in time in a full-sized barrack room, try on replica armour and experience the life of a Roman soldier.

Did I mention that this is free entry.WNS_Caerleon_Re-enactment_06Photo Credit: Museum Wales


Introducing Alphabet Dating: A,B,C,D

Today is all about dating. You know, that thing many of us did BEFORE getting engaged, married and having kids? That distant memory of spending quality time with your other half, making an effort to dress up, shaving your legs and rooting in the drawer for those sexy pants haha. Ok… maybe it hasn’t got to that stage…YET! Good job we’re here to save you!

Us Cwtch Girls were recently talking about dating and as a newly single lady (yes… moi) I find the whole idea of dating again quite nerve-wracking. I’m 38 now and times have changed from when I was a single 21 year old! I mean… what is online dating all about?

Anyway…What I did find fascinating when chatting with my happily married Cwtchgirls was the importance of still making that effort to date your partner.  I’m not talking about winning and dining each other. I’m talking about spending quality time together, enjoying each others company and exploring the world around you.

Do you and your other half make the effort to date each other still? Do you have a regular date day/night? Or do you just slump on the sofa every evening and cwtch up?

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetI was recently bought this book, gosh it made me giggle. But it did also make me think a lot about how dating has changed…

” Bernard and Gail are online friends who have finally met. They know they have a lot in common and are going for a walk.

All Bernard can think about is checking his telephone. All Gail can think about is how she is going to describe this date in 140 characters later when she goes to the toilet.

Bernard and Gail suspect that in real life they are simply awful people”.   Extract from The Ladybird book of Dating

Alphabet Dating

Cwtch Girl Kate told me all about this really cool thing her and her hubby do called ‘Alphabet dating’

The idea is actually pretty simple. They have a date each month and take turns to plan a day or date inspired around a letter of the alphabet.

I LOVED this idea and suggested we run a series of features on it but focusing on places around Wales. So, here we are… Each week, one of us Cwtch girls will take 4 letters from the alphabet and give you all some great ideas on where to go for a date. remember to turn that mobile phone off when you go!


A- Abergavenny

Referred to as ‘The Gateway to Wales’ it seems only fitting that Abergavenny is my chosen ‘A’ date.

Interestingly, Abergavenny means Mouth of the River Gavenny (learn something new everyday hey!). It’s a market town in Monmouthshire and super easy to find. Only 15 miles west of Monmouth on the A40 and A465 roads and 6 miles from the English border.

There is so much to do here. If you get the chance, I recommend taking afternoon tea at The Angel Hotel and also popping into the Abergavenny Indoor Market (on your wedding day too if you really like it… everyone loves a pick n mix right?). Abergavenny_indoor_market Abergavenny_indoor_market2

All images by: Maria Farrelly Photography

Our fabulous Lush Lister Hilary’s Floral Design is also based nearby, why not pop in and treat yourself to some seasonal flowers to pretty your home.

If you are wanting to explore a little outside Abergavenny, I’d highly recommend Sugarloaf Vineyard and not forgetting the breathtaking Black Mountains & The Brecon Beacons. You can easily spend a whole day around Abergavenny discovering some really special places.


All images by: Maria Farrelly Photography

B- Barry Island

My ‘B’ date was always going to be Barry Island. Full of nostalgia and a bit cheese. So much to keep you both entertained. The Beach, The fairground, Crazy Golf, The arcades, Fish and Chips and fresh Donuts (if you can make room for them) plus lots more.


Its great for dogs too! 063093107mg_8190 mg_8222-2 mg_8345-2 mg_8502-2

All images by: Maria Farrelly Photography


C- Carreg Cennen Castle, Llandeilo

carreg-cennen-castle089004There is something rediculously romantic about taking a walk hand in hand up Carreg Cennen Castle.



The views are spectacular and what better way to enjoy them, than with that special person you are madly in love with. 049If all that hiking gets a little too much for your feet, theres always piggy backs! 

All images by: Maria Farrelly Photography

D- Dan Yr Ogof Caves

Now this place is great fun … if you like caves and Dinosaurs! Dan Yr Ogof Caves is situated just of J45 of the M4.

004 010Did you know its one of the worlds largest dinosaur parks? they have over 220 life sized dinosaur models to get up close and personal with too!


And then there is the caves. This place simply blows my mind. Its incredible. completely fascinating and full of history.030 049

I’d then suggest you take a walk along the river and finish off with an awesome picnic. What a cool date hey!


All images by: Maria Farrelly Photography

I do hope this has inspired you to Date your other half more. Time flies too quickly and its very easy to stop making the effort for each other, especially once that ring is on your finger and you have agreed to a life-long commitment.  Its these little things, the little gestures, the little dates that collectively over time become the big things. The memories! and if there is one more bit of advice i can give. It’s to take lots of pictures of them! 

All the images used in this post were taken by me. The couple’s featured were my clients that had booked me for a pre-wedding photoshoot. I’m lucky enough to have photographed some incredible weddings over the years in some of Wales’ most beautiful places. I cannot recommend enough the idea of getting out there and exploring this beautiful country for yourself. 

Have fun Dating each other and if you have any alternative A,B,C,D ideas, feel free to post a comment below. We’d love you to hear from you.

Maria x 

Next week we have E,F,G, & H