*In association with The Red Dragon Centre
When it comes to celebrations such as Father’s Day, in our house, it’s more about spending time together as a family, having an experience we can all enjoy, rather than giving expensive presents.
So when The Red Dragon Centre invited us along for an early Father’s Day celebration on Sunday as part of our role as blogger ambassadors for the Cardiff Bay entertainment complex, it was the perfect opportunity for some quality time together.
We arrived at 10.30am straight from our early morning swimming lessons, ready for a round of bowling at Hollywood Bowl, the 26-lane state of the art 10-pin bowling centre, followed by an all you can eat buffet at Spice Route.
My kids love bowling, It’s usually a treat reserved for birthdays and special occasions and the last time we went was six months ago, for Little Miss E’s 7th birthday, when she won the game. Her brother, Little Man O age 5 1/2, was determined to be the winner this time.
All three of my children made good use of the bumpers, which stop the balls from falling off the edge of the alley into the gully, and also the ramp. Rather than struggling with the heavy balls, they place the ball on the ramp, push it down, and off it goes, always on target.
Needless to say, this meant they all scored pretty highly and each one of them was in the lead at various points. I don’t think Toddler Boy I, age 3, was remotely bothered about the scores but the other two were excited.
Cardiff Daddy and I did it the grown up way, with no ramps or bumpers. I had a few good bowls but – I’ll be completely honest with you – also a lot of low scores and compete misses too. I’d love to say this was because I let my kids win, or to blame it on the fact that I’d been out the night before…but I actually think it’s just because I’m not very good at bowling.
Little Man was thrilled to be winning towards the end of the game… until Cardiff Daddy got two strikes on his last two turns and pushed him back into second place. “I feel so guilty,” he told me, but as I said to my children, “it is his Father’s Day treat so it’s only fair he won.”
One game was enough for our children, taking around an hour. We’d pre-booked our game but generally Hollywood Bowl has availability if you just turn up. Adults cost £5.79, children £4.79 with family deals available from £19.09. This weekend will see a Family Fun Fest, with face painting, glow bowling, balloons and treasure hunts available to customers between 12pm and 4pm.
We played on the arcade machines for half an hour or so. My children had £1 each and chose to go on the Mario Kart racing game, but they are young enough not to mind pretending to play with no money in the machines.
Lunch was the all-you-can eat buffet at Spice Route. It’s great value at £8.95 for adults and £5.95 for children. It’s also perfect for hungry kids because they don’t have to wait ages for their food to be ready.
After starters of onion bhajis, spring rolls and a slice of pizza, my children headed straight for the noodle bar. They remembered from the last time we visited the giant flames as the chef cooked their food and were equally as impressed this time. They love being able to pick out what they want in their stir fry and having it very mild, and I love that this means they will try adventurous food with no complaining about not liking different elements of it. As they could serve themselves most of the food, they were keen to try different dishes, especially as they could try a spoonful rather than ordering a whole dish.
Cardiff Daddy tried pretty much all of the different curry dishes “in the name of research” obviously! He is a big curry fan enjoyed the chicken dishes but was equally impressed with the vegetable dishes too.
I’m trying to eat healthy at the moment, having completely over indulged on our recent holiday to Italy, so was pleased with the huge salad bar with lots of fresh vegetables and side dishes such as chick pea and mint salad, and a spicy sweet potato salad. The dhal was lovely, as was the pav bhaji.
We found the waiting staff really attentive, quickly cleaning up used plates from our table. There were never any empty serving dishes on the buffet station, despite their being several big groups dining. My children were thrilled to see a group of children celebrating a birthday – staff told us that it’s a really popular choice for children’s birthday parties in the Indian community, with bookings most weekends.
Dessert was again buffet-style. My three loved the serve yourself ice cream station, while Cardiff Daddy had some of the cheese cake and traditional Indian desserts.
I had a big bowl of fresh fruit including orange and watermelon, and gave in to temptation with a slice of the cheese cake. I love that the portions are bite sized so it didn’t feel like I was breaking the healthy eating mission too badly!
Dads eat free at lunchtime and for half price for dinner this Father’s Day at Spice Route when accompanied by a family.
Elsewhere at The Red Dragon Centre, dads can enjoy a free pint of Menabrea when dining at Bella Italia.
Check out the Red Dragon Centre website here.