On Saturday we kicked off the early birthday celebrations for Danny. He wanted a meal out with a friend and we decided this weekend would be ideal as Ceri and Lexy are home for Easter too. Unfortunately things didn't go exactly to plan. We had to change our outdoor activities to indoor ones due to the weather and then found out that Dan's best mate was too ill to come. Thankfully, they'd had a fun adventure the day before- going off to a local town together on the bus, followed by fun at the fair and we managed to have a lovely day anyway.
We drove to St Catherine's Walk, Carmarthen and went to the cinema to watch Kung Fu Panda 3. We enjoyed the first two films and anything starring (the voice of) Jack Black just cannot be bad. There is a strong supporting cast including Angelina Jolie (her kids also cameo as voices of the young pandas), Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Lucy Lui and Kate Hudson. The overall theme of the third movie is finding and believing in yourself, knowing it is OK to be you. Po and friends also show us how much more we are capable of when we all work together. A third of this film was made in China and this comes through in the beautiful hand drawn traditional style Chinese illustrations throughout the film. Most importantly it's an easy to watch film which captures children's imagination and makes them laugh out loud.
We booked our tickets in advance at Vue Carmarthen. I went for the "inclusive" family option as it didn't cost much more than an ordinary family ticket. I expected a drink and small snack but we ended up with so much food. Huge drinks, popcorns, nachos...the only downside was having to carry it all into the screen. I may bring my own usherette tray next time just to carry our snacks in.
After the film we went next door to eat at Frankie & Benny's. I realise we've been here (in different locations) quite a lot recently. We did try to book local restaurants but couldn't get a table for twelve. I was quite relieved when this particular restaurant didn't even flinch when I told them the party size.
As always the staff were very friendly and helpful. The kids coloured in their activity books while we waited to order and for the food. I like the classic 40's/50's/60's music playing in the background- I can't help but sing along. The Italian lessons played in the toilets came in handy- Izzy needed to go at least four times so I am now fluent in Italian.
The kids meals offer great value and variety.
Dan went for a pizza. Next time he's going to add extra chilli.
I loved how Mum, Jo and Ceri's fries were served in a brown bag. Lexy had a lovely rectangular metal tin for his potato dippers- it would have been great for camping.
My main, the Penne Arrabiatta is suitable for vegans. It was delicious with a chilli kick. Next time I will order the house salad as a side too as I missed eating salad with this.
I meant to order the Rosemary Bread, which is also suitable for vegans but I ended up with the shared bread box. I assume (but don't take my word for it) that the bread, olives and hummus are vegan so I ate these but left the other dip.
In between courses there were cuddles!
Cerys drew a sketch of Caitlyn. I learnt that this is a very effective way of keeping Caitlyn both still and quiet for a fair amount of time (I'm going to sharpen my drawing pencils...).
When I took this photo Isabelle also had the green serviette on her head. I only managed to capture Jo having a funny moment with the menu on her head, as you do...
More cuddles and a game of table football (flicking a penny in-between the glass goals- we know how to have fun!).
Then it was time for dessert. Danny had pancakes.
It was then time for the infamous Frankie and Benny's birthday celebrations. Yes, the lights dimmed, the music played and out our waiter came with Danny's birthday brownie. We all sang to Danny and the fellow diners can not have known how much it meant for us when they all cheered for our special boy at the end of the song.
After paying, the kids were given sweets and a balloon. Thank you Frankie and Benny's for being great hosts.
We made our way out and back onto St Catherine's Walk. The kids love The Drover's Sculpture. Izzy was actually upset that the lovely glittering bauble was gone- we had to explain that it was just a Christmas decoration.
We then walked back to the car park (it's all so close together and easy to get to) and were pleased to see a rainbow, the sign of hope.
We still have more celebrating planned before Danny goes away for his heart op on his birthday, but this was a great way to start.