Archive for the ‘Dragon Posts’ Category

Watch The Dragon’s Tara Hammett on BBC Wales!

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

We’re delighted to announce that The Dragon Hotel’s specialist fitness guru Tara Hammett is coming back to your TV screens!

Last October, our Tara featured on Is My Job Killing Me? where she mentored six unfit, lethargic DVLA workers who lived largely sedentary, unhealthy lives.

Watch more clips from Is My Job Killing Me?

She convinced them of the benefits of healthy eating, steady exercise and a more healthy lifestyle – resulting in her six subjects losing loads of weight and becoming more motivated than ever before.

…but did the big health kick last?

Some 12 months on, Tara returned to her team to see if they’d kept up with their health kick. The Great Welsh Diet Experiment: One Year On, part of the Live Longer Wales season on BBC Wales, detailed her findings and followed her trying to keep the six workers on the straight and narrow…

The programme is broadcast on BBC Wales at 20:30 but if you’re unlucky enough to be based ‘abroad’, you should be able to watch on Sky channel 952, Virgin Media channel 864 or Freesat channel 964.

You can follow Tara on Twitter @tarahammett – and why not give us a follow while you’re at it @TheDragonHotel.

Beaches in Swansea – Caswell Bay Beach

Monday, July 28th, 2014

The latest in our series examining South West Wales’ beautiful beaches sees us land at the scenic Caswell Bay – one of the region’s most popular swimming beaches.

Rocks at Caswell Bay beach
(Image: Gareth Lovering under CC BY-SA 2.0)

About Caswell Bay

Sandwiched between the intimate, serene settings of Pwll Du Bay and the rockier Langland Bay, Caswell Bay is probably one of the best swimmers’ beaches in Wales. When the tide’s out, the mile-and-a-half swathe of sand at Caswell is a stunning sight.

Sunset at Caswell Bay(Image: Catrin Austin under CC BY 2.0)

Overlooked by sudden cliffs and a deep wooden valley, it’s been popular since mid-Victorian times, when both moneyed city dwellers and underprivileged orphans took advantage of the excellent transport to enjoy a day at the beach.

The bay’s name is thought to have derived from the wells that are known to bubble up along the beach from the valley’s underground streams.

Caswell Bay Facilities

Caswell Bay is a great hit with families and it’s easy to see why. Not only does it have a huge expanse of open space for people of all ages to swim and play, but it’s also packed with some great facilities.

It’s all accessible by wheelchair, with toilets and showers available, while there are also a few different kiosks selling ice cream, food and any beach paraphernalia that you forgot to bring with you.

There is easy car parking available just 100m from the beach, but you might find it more enjoyable to park at the neighbouring Langland Bay and taking the scenic cliff-top walk to Caswell. The trek is just over a mile but does offers some truly exceptional views over the locale.

Caswell Bay(Image: Chris Jobling under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Who would love Caswell Bay?

As one of the most picturesque beaches in the Gower, it’s tough to think of anyone that wouldn’t enjoy it. However, if you are looking for a quiet, unspoilt day out at the beach away from it all, you might prefer going elsewhere, because it can get busy sometimes.

Looking for something slightly quieter? We’d recommend walking over to Pwll Du Bay.

How to get to Caswell Bay

From Swansea, take the A4067 west and carry on until it becomes the B4953, through Langland and into Caswell. Once you’ve passed Summer Chalet Park on your left, Caswell Bay’s car park will be on your right.

Caswell Bay is also one of South Wales’ few beaches that’s easy to get to by bus. Simply take the 2C bus from Swansea Bus Station and it’ll drop you down to the car park. But beware – the last bus will leave Caswell Bay at approximately 1749.

Looking for a Hotel Near Caswell Bay?

Based in Central Swansea, The Dragon Hotel is just a simple 20 minute drive from Caswell Bay. We’re chosen by thousands of beach-loving holidaymakers every year as a comfortable, great value hotel near Caswell Bay and are a great base from which to explore the picturesque beaches of the Gower.

Want to book a break this summer? Give our reservations team a call on +44 (0)1792 657 100.

How to Make Laverbread Breakfast – a True Welsh Delicacy

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Described by Richard Burton as “Welshman’s Caviar”, laverbread is a delicacy that’s made principally from seaweed plucked from the shores of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.

657px-Laver_and_toast

It’s washed into a paste, boiled for hours and is, alongside Welsh rarebit, Glamorgan sausages, and Welsh cakes, one of this blessed country’s most popular native dishes.

The first record of laverbread being eaten by the Welsh was in 1607 in William Camden’s Brittanica. Swansea has played a key role in the history of this delicacy, where it was processed and distributed at markets and today much of South Wales’ laverbread is produced nearby in the Gower.

How to make laverbread breakfast

This laverbread recipe was typically cooked as nutritious, high-energy sustenance for pit workers before they started a hard day’s work. It’s really easy to make too.

After collecting the laver from the seashore, boil it for an hour or two and then mince it so that it’s a soft, gelatinous paste. Or you could cheat and buy it ready pasted!

Then mix it with 50g of oatmeal and leave to solidify for around 20 minutes. Once you’ve fried some bacon in farmhouse butter until crispy and put it aside, roll the laverbread into small patties and cook it quickly in the hot pan until crispy.

Blasus (delicious)!

Want to try some authentic Welsh laverbread?

Here at The Dragon Hotel, we’re a proudly Welsh establishment. That’s why, when you stay here, you can include laverbread in our award-winning Macdonald Signature Breakfast. Take a look online today!

Beaches in Swansea – Pwll Du Bay

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Pwll Du Bay Swansea

Here at the Dragon Hotel we love spending the day at the beach. The sand between our toes, panoramic views, and maybe a quick paddle in the sea if it’s warm enough; so we thought we’d share our seaside passion with a series of beach reviews.

Have you read our previous post about Limeslade Bay? Well, here we introduce the second bay in our beach series – Pwll Du Bay.

About Pwll Du Bay

Although Pwll Du translates as ‘Black Pool’, this beach is nothing like the illuminated resort of the north. Pwll Du is a secluded and sheltered bay that is peaceful and unspoilt. It is picturesque and the perfect location for a romantic picnic or bird watching.

Located on the Gower Peninsula, there are uninterrupted views out across the bay, and with sheltered coves this a safe and protected spot. Pwll Du is a popular stop for ramblers who enjoy a walk along the beautiful Welsh coastline. And it’s easy to see why, this is wild Wales at its most scenic.

Facilities

Due to its remoteness there are no facilities at the bay. The nearest car parks and toilets can be found at Bishopston, Pennard and Caswell. There is also no wheelchair access or lifeguard on duty. This is the price you must pay for peace and tranquillity. Dogs are allowed at any time of year though.

How to Get There

Access to the beach must be taken by foot. It can be reached either by Brandy Cove which is around 20 minutes away, through Pennard or Bishopston Valley, which are both an hours’ walk.

In order to reach these paths you can follow the coastal road west from Swansea, through the Mumbles to Bishopston where you can park your car. Or bus number 14 can be taken Monday to Saturday, from Swansea city centre, to Kittle where the path starts. If you wish to visit on Sunday look out for the 114.

Pwll Du Bay is inaccessible by train. The nearest station is in Swansea city centre.

Pwll Du Bay Accommodation

Does Pwll Du Bay sound like a rural dream to you? Then it may be worth a visit during your stay in Swansea.

Construction in this area would spoil the countryside and the remote appeal of the place. Therefore accommodation is set back a bit from the bay. The Dragon Hotel is only 20 minutes away and therefore is a brilliant location if you wish to explore Pwll Du one day, and the city centre the next.

And if the sea is too cold for a swim, we have an 18 metre heated indoor swimming pool for when you get back. So get your goggles ready!

The Dragon Bids Adieu to Some Old Friends

Friday, July 18th, 2014

For those of you who follow our blog posts you’ll know that here at The Dragon Hotel we believe in the old maxim work hard, play hard.

Well, we were presented with such an excuse recently, with not one… not two… but three of our senior staff members leaving. To put together a memorable (hopefully for the right reasons), we deployed the party planning force that is the Williams Siblings.

From Inspector Gadget to Wham! and everything in between, Jaidon once again transformed the Pembrey Suite and took us all back in time for the 70s and 80s themed party, complete with creative bowls made out of old vinyl records.

As the photos might suggest, the creativity did not stop with the room decoration, there were costumes galore. The ever-creative Jaidon channelled his inner Kylier and managed three costume changes!

dragon

As usual, our Culinary team had prepared a fitting buffet (complete with vol-au-vents and cheese & pineapple on sticks!) and we welcomed DJ extraordinaire Steve to provide the excellent music. A raffle was pulled, with the top prizes of two pairs of tickets to the Kings of Leon concert at the Liberty Stadium being won by Birthday Girl Tanisha and DJ Steve – could there have been a better draw?!

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night!

There was, of course a slightly sombre element to the evening as we prepared to say good bye to Chefs Steve and Kevin and Restaurant Manager Justin.

With over 30 years of service at the hotel between them, it was lovely to welcome some ex staff members back to help us give them a good send off.

We also must thank their families for lending us some wonderful photos of them in years gone by so that we could truly mark the occasion. It is with a heavy heart that I see the three leave The Dragon family and I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing them all the very best for the future.

4 Gym Techniques to Improve Your Golf Swing

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Ravielli swing

Every golfer wants better technique. Every golfer wants to improve their swing.

But golf is a game of strength and suppleness as it is skill. Want to perfect your golf swing?

You could do so before you next step foot onto the golf course. You just need to get down the gym.

Here are 4 gym techniques to improve your game:

Medicinal Dumbbell Chest Press

What it does

The dumbbell chest press is perfect for working your triceps, chest muscles and shoulders – giving you more swing power at the tees. Although many choose to press off a stationary bench, doing so off a medicinal ball will also improve your balance and increase flexibility.

How to do it

Lie on your back with a dumbbell in each hand, your elbows at 90 degrees and the dumbbell over your elbows. Push the weights up to extend your arms but don’t lock your elbows and then bring them back down.

Aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Standing Twists

What it does

While performing chest presses is essential for building your front, if you’re not doing equal work to your back muscles, you could develop an imbalance and make your swing overtly tight. Standing twists strengthen your trapezius, rhomboid muscles and other core muscles around the neck and upper back.

How to do it

Stand loosely with a bar behind your neck and your hands securely holding the bar down. Keep your feet no wider than your shoulders.

Rotate your upper body and shoulders 90 degrees from one side to the while keeping your pelvis stationary, staring straight ahead and remaining at the 90 degree position for a moment. It’s can also very helpful to do this exercise before a round of golf to warm up those essential muscles.

Single-leg Leg Press

What it does

Great golfing technique doesn’t begin and end with the arms. One of the best ways to improve lower body strength and the control and stability in your lower limbs is through leg presses. These exercises really give your glutes and quads a big boost and improve your chances of developing a flexible, powerful rotation when swinging. And the best way to make both of your legs as strong as possible is to work them both separately.

How to do it

Sit on a leg press machine and put both of your feet on the leg press platform while gripping the hand attachments on the side of the machine. Then take one leg off the press and place fully on the floor.

Begin the lift – bend the knee until you reach a 90 degree angle and then push through your heel to full extension.

Rotating Dumbbell Row golf swing logo

What it does

Getting more power from a drive is very important, but it’s useless without the right control. If you can’t control your technique in the final moments of a swing then you’ll find yourself making more mistakes, affecting your confidence.

Because your abdomen and thorax should be moving before your hands do, you need strength and control in that area. This rotating dumbbell row is a great gym exercise to give greater control.

How to do it

Stand with two dumbbells with your knees slightly bent and your legs at shoulder width apart. Then bend forward at your waist to let them sit in front of your thighs. Then bring your arms up and down conversely toward your rib cage

Looking for picturesque places to test your swing?

South Wales is bursting with some of Britain’s most scenic, diverse and challenging golf courses. To build a brilliant golf break to suit you and your party, speak to golf specialists at The Dragon Hotel today.

For exclusive rates and flexible golf breaks, call 01792 657140, or take a look at our golf packages today.

How to Enjoy the Definitive Swansea Dylan Thomas Experience

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Dylan Thomas is without doubt one of Swansea’s, and Britain’s, greatest exports. The poet, most famous for his seminal play Under Milk Wood, grew up in our “ugly, lovely” city (his words, not ours!) and wrote most of his work here.

This year in Swansea, there’s plenty going on to celebrate the centenary of Thomas’ birth – we’ve already had Elijah Wood staying with us at The Dragon Hotel filming the 2014 movie Set Fire to the Stars.

Here’s where you need to go, and what you need to see, to get the quintessential Dylan Thomas experience in Swansea:

Visit 5 Cwmdonkin Drive

Dylan Thomas plaque

Where better to start than where Dylan Thomas was born?

Today Thomas’ house has been completely restored to how it appeared back in his day – including the tiny box bedroom where he wrote the bulk of his work.

In the suburb of Uplands, just a few minutes’ walk from the centre of Swansea, sits 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, the modest semi-detached house where the poet grew up and lived until he was 23.

You can tour 5 Cwmdonkin Drive today – visit its dedicated website today.

Eat at the Kardomah Café and Restaurant

In the 1930s, when Thomas was growing up in Swansea, the Kardomah was one of the young poet’s favourite haunts. He would join the poets Charles Fisher and Vernon Watkins, as well as the composer Daniel Jones, artist Alfred Janes and other bohemian members of the so-called ‘Kardomah Gang’, to talk politics, art, religion and science deep into the night.

The Kardomah was destroyed during the Blitz of 1941 (Thomas’ play Return Journey to Swansea emotionally describes the café being “razed to the snow” when he visited the site) but a new Kardomah emerged a few years later.

Today, it’s one of Swansea’s best cafes and still retains the arty, bohemian ethos that so endeared it to Thomas and the rest of the influential Kardomah Gang.

Drink at the No Sign Bar

Established in 1690, and with wine cellars that were used in the 15th century, the No Sign Bar is Swansea’s oldest pub.

The Kardomah Gang often strayed from their beloved coffee shop to drink something slightly harder, and became somewhat infamous for their drunken antics after enjoying one too many. The No Sign Bar was also a favourite with Thomas and his journalist friends when he was trying to make a name for himself on the local newspaper.

These days, the No Sign

Learn more at the Dylan Thomas Centre

The dedicated Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea’s Maritime Quarter is a gret place to go if you’re looking to learn more about Wales’ greatest poet, or even just to see some interesting curios from his life.

Here, you can see the writing shed where Thomas wrote Under Milk Wood, read previously-unseen manuscripts and scripts, listen to audio recordings, look at personal images and enjoy a range of literary events.

Dylan Thomas' shed where he wrote Under Milk Wood

 

There are also experts on hand to answer questions and debunk any myths about the poet.

Looking for the quintessential Dylan Thomas experience in Swansea?

Join us at The Dragon Hotel. We’re celebrating Thomas’ centenary with a very special offer that allows you to explore Dylan’s Swansea. For just £125 per room you can enjoy:

  • 1 night B&B for 2 people
  • Elevenses for 2 at the Kardomah Café and Restaurant
  • A free glass of wine or beer for 2 at The No Sign Wine Bar
  • A Dylan Thomas Trail Booklet

To book, quote the promo code DYLAN when you call our reservations team on 01792 657100.

(Images: Stuart Mudie, John Levin under CC BY-SA 2.0)

July 4th: Your Essential Guide to Independents Day in Swansea

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Did you know that this Friday (4th July) is Independents Day?

Indie

Across the UK, thousands of independent shops, cafes, restaurants and small businesses will be enjoying their spot in the limelight.

Now in its 4th year, Independents Day aims to celebrate the wide variety of personal products and services found in independent businesses and encourage shoppers to invade town centres and spend their money away from national brands.

And there’s plenty to be found during Independents Day in Swansea.

WHAT’S ON DURING INDEPENDENTS DAY IN SWANSEA?

This Independents Day will see over 250 independent traders in the city joining in the initiative.

Pubs, restaurants, shops, hairdressers and beauty salons will be providing a range of competitions, special products, discounts and initiatives throughout the day.

And, in combination with the Big Heart of Swansea campaign, which aims to bring more shoppers into Swansea City Centre, Independents Day will promote the Swansea City Centre Loyalty Card.

The exclusive card offers a range of discounts and incentives for over 100 businesses in the city centre.

What’s more, to celebrate this event, free parking will be available in Swansea’s NCP parks in The Kingsway, Orchard Street and Salubrious Place between 10AM and 4PM.

Join us this Independents Day

If you’re heading down to Swansea City Centre to celebrate independents Day, why not pop in and say hello?

Our lunchtime d’hôte menu is the perfect upmarket lunchtime dining option, or you could pop to The Lounge to enjoy speciality coffees and afternoon tea.

The Creative Bubble Summer Stage comes to Swansea

Friday, June 20th, 2014

This Saturday will see the launch of a new exciting City Centre entertainment project.

the-big-heart-of-swansea

Swansea BID/Big Heart of Swansea has teamed up with the Creative Bubble team from UWTSD and Santander to create a new performance area in Swansea City Centre.

The Santander Stage will be at Portland Street every Saturday 12:00pm – 1:30pm until September 6th.

The event will be showcasing singers, poets, actors, comedian and musicians of any age who will be entertaining visitors and shoppers in the City Centre.

This is all part of The Big Heart of Swansea – an initiative to encourage people to shop locally and use the city’s great services.

Come in to the city centre and enjoy the FREE entertainment! We’ll see you down there!

(Image: Big Heart of Swansea)

Get Fit and Have Fun With Tara Hammett!

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Are you looking to keep fit, enjoy the sunshine and get your beach body ready for the summer?

Of course you are.

The Dragon’s very own health guru Tara Hammett has started her own podcast with Swansea’s favourite independent radio station The Wave

In the podcasts, she covers all sorts of fitness issues with The Wave’s new health-freak breakfast DJ Badger to help you get fit – and enjoy yourself along the way. Some of the things she discusses include:

  • How to lose weight and have fun while you’re doing it
  • How to tell when packaging says food is healthy but it really isn’t
  • How to find time to exercise, even when work’s really busy
  • How to plan a healthy, good value weekly shop
  • How to look great for the summer
  • And much more!

You can download the fitness podcasts on iTunes, at the Google store, or on The Wave’s website today.

Alternatively, you can meet Tara in person by joining our health club where she’s our esteemed, motivational personal trainer. See you down the front!