On January 10th, I took a trip to Caerphilly Castle. Having never been there before, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect – my knowledge of castles extends to, and ends with, Castle Coch and the sparing glance I give Cardiff Castle when j hustle passed it in the city centre. I paid four Time Credits (per person) to get in, and I’d say it was wholly worth it.
Arriving there was amazing, it was so much bigger than I thought, and all of the greenery and animals made it feel almost magical. The long stretching bridges and the reflection from the sun off the water in the moat in its glaring way was amazing; the cold day almost turned warm with how picturesque and summery the scene looked in front of me.
The castle itself was winding and really inviting, it leads you through it without you knowing it has. Every room connects to the other with its own feel of secrecy and intrigue. I found myself wondering more than once whether to go up or down a set of rocky, spiral stairs, where I’d end up on the other end of them and how I’d get back to go the opposite way, but that worry was hugely unnecessary as I was always lead back around to discover it all, whether I noticed the decision was made by my own feet or by the castle floors or not.
My favourite parts were the stretching balcony, almost like a corridor in its length but giving you a view of the greenery and moat on one side, and the courtyard below on the other side every few steps, the corridor that felt more like a cave; enveloping and private, and the very top of the towers (it was just a shame that some of the rock had eroded away enough for the actual top to be blocked off – but despite that, being at such a height in such a space of land was honestly incredible).
From the gift shop, I bought a small pink dragon. There was an area right where you start your trail where you can look into an enclosure from above and see a few dragon statues. They’re so bright in colour and give you honest piercings looks (the kind that make you think the eyes are following you).
When I joined the ‘Get the Chance’ team (reviewing live theatre and performance as a network of ‘community critics’), I wasn’t fully aware I’d be getting Spice Time Credits in return and quite surprised to receive them! I had some previous awareness that Time Credits were something people got ‘out there in the community’ – perhaps for doing voluntary work at a local community project or initiative. I had no idea you could actually receive time credits for writing and reviewing live theatre. I hadn’t thought of myself as ‘volunteering my time’ as I already kind of felt like I had won the lottery doing something I loved doing anyway. If you are part of a wider conversation, helping to increase accessibility and creating more knowledge and awareness of the arts for all – you too are a volunteer, an ambassador and a cheerleader. You’re using your skills and strengths to break down barriers and act as a bridge between theatres and non-traditional or possibly first time theatre goers and I’m really glad that Spice recognises this.
The great thing about Spice is that they are a form of currency: a way of trading your time to get a sort of ‘passport’ to do the things you love. If money is an issue, this doesn’t matter, you can use time credits for anything from local leisure services to high-brow theatre. They can travel with you – I’m off to London on the Megabus next week. I may decide to spend the time credits I earned writing about Welsh theatre to take in a show at the Barbican with my hubby. I’m on a budget weekend, but I won’t let that stop me! Time Credits makes this possible and they’re recognised all over the UK, which is great! So far I have used my time credits to spend an afternoon with my daughter jumping and running wild at ‘Jump’ play centre in Llanishen and I’ve spent several lovely afternoons watching family movies in Chapter Arts Centre with my husband and little girl Lili. Writing about theatre may be ‘my thing’, but I love sharing the time credits with my family for fun (cheap!) afternoons out. They were really handy in the holidays when money was getting tight! Chapter Arts Centre is wonderful when it comes to booking tickets, very family friendly and relaxed. I also like the fact that there’s no in-your face aggressive marketing of overpriced snacks (Which can push your average cinema outings up to £50 or more for some families). Chapter even has a ‘no munching’ rule. You’re there for the movies and good vibes anyway, not stuffing your face full of crisps and chocolate (plus if you really need a feed: use the lovely Chapter cafe!). Quite a few times over the last few months, my family and I have driven to Chapter, parked for free, used our time credits to pay for a family movie then taken a walk in the park afterwards. You don’t need to spend big money to make memories, but it helps if you have a few time credits in your pocket!
Thanks to Spice Time Credits, I recently had a wonderful trip to the Tower of London.
My parents were visiting from Devon and I wanted to treat them. Since their last visit to the Tower 35 years ago, the history and memory was a bit vague and I, was a complete newbie.
We had no issues with accessing the Tower with our tickets- joining the free tour that happens every 30 mins which was full of comedy and excitement by our animated Beefeater guide and on such a gorgeous sunny day, the compound shone as bright as the Crown Jewels.
Without the use of these Credits, I doubt we would have accessed such a brilliant historical and cultural day out in the rare British sunshine. Thanks Time Credits!
Hannah earned her Spice Time Credits reviewing for http://getthechance.wales . All members earn when attending and reviewing a range of sport and cultural events.