Alleyway Coffee Carmarthen

By / 12th March, 2019 / Carmarthenshire / Off

Alleyway Coffee Carmarthen

Alleyway Coffee Carmarthen opened last year and as its name suggests is tucked away in a little side alleyway right in the centre of town.

Serving great homemade food including delicious cakes .. lemon drizzle particularly good ….. we recommend a trip to this cafe for freshly prepared snacks. Open every weekday 8.30 – 5pm and 10 – 4pm on Saturdays.

You can phone Rose at this popular little coffee shop on 07933 996423

The reviews online are very positive and customers seem to like the care given to all visitors plus the quality of the food on offer, in particular the vegan options. Many of course note how good it is to see an independent coffee shop in town which makes a change from the usual chains. Some comment positively on the great sound system being vinyl records going back some years. LPs can be chosen and played upstairs!

Alleyway Coffee Carmarthen

click here  to see some more information on Carmarthen, one of Wales’s oldest towns.

Gold Award for Folly Farm

By / 21st February, 2019 / Carmarthenshire / Off

Visit Wales has recently praised Folly Farm with a Gold Award.

Gold Award for Folly Farm

Our 5 top reasons to visit Folly Farm which is less than half an hour from Old Oak Barn.

  1. There is SO much to do and see there which appeals to all ages.
  2. The animals are very well cared for and seem contented.
  3. The playgrounds outside are brilliant and there are PLENTY of ride on tractors. See photo below taken in Feb 2019.
  4. There is always something new in the well organised spacious site.
  5. Even if its raining you will have a great day out.

Gold Award for Folly Farm – Congratulations!

Gold Award Folly Farm
Animal Photos courtesy of Jeff Gendall
Folly Farm 2019

Gardens of Wales near Old Oak Barn

By / 30th January, 2019 / Carmarthenshire / Off

We are very fortunate to be less than 20 minutes away from the fantastic Gardens of Wales – Carmarthenshire’s main attraction and somewhere we love to go.

When staying at Old Oak Barn you too can pop along to see the imaginative displays of plants, flowers, trees and vegetables. The huge glasshouse is packed full of interesting and rare plants from across the globe. Visit our Local Attractions page for more details.

This Spring there is even more going on including lots of day courses on for example sustainable vegetable gardening or basket weaving. Welly Wednesdays are popular for small children – its best to book in advance.

Gardens of Wales
Gardens of Wales

Gardens of Wales

Opening times and entry costs are as below

1 April – 31 October10:00am – 6:00pm
1 November – 31 March10:00am – 4:30pm
Families (2 Adults & up to 4 children)
Gift Aid Price: £30.00 (Standard Price: £27.27)
Children (5-16)
Gift Aid Price: £5.00 (Standard Price: £4.55)
Concessions: Seniors/ Disabled/ Students
Gift Aid Price: £9.00 (Standard Price: £8.18)
Gift Aid Price: £11.00 (Standard Price: £10)
Single Parent Family (1 Adult & up to 4 children)
Gift Aid Price: £20.00 (Standard Price: £18.18)

Walking Wales

By / 3rd January, 2019 / Carmarthenshire / Off

Walking Wales

These three videos show some great local walks near Old Oak Barn in Carmarthenshire. We have ordnance survey maps to borrow and lots of good ideas of where to go to get off the beaten track.

The first is around Laugharne

The second around Stackpole in Pembrokeshire

The third from Wisemans Bridge to Saundersfoot and beyond.

So put your walking boots on and get walking!  You can always pop into Carmarthen to the local Cotswold outdoor shop to buy new boots! It is a great stockist of everything you may need if you too like the Big Outdoors.

Wales Escape

By / 10th December, 2018 / Carmarthenshire / No Comments

Wales Escape

At this time of year when the days are short and the nights are long we often think of the summer and where to plan a holiday.  Some of us think of a Wales Escape! The countryside of this wonderful county of Carmarthenshire is very varied and you don’t have to go far to see some beautiful scenery.

Wales Escapes - beautiful Pen y Fan

If you are looking for somewhere that goes the extra mile to meet all your needs then why not visit Carmarthenshire and come and stay at Old Oak Barn. We are confident that you will not be disappointed if you choose to stay here.

Wales Escapes - Babs Car in Pendine

Wales Escapes - ride a horse on the beach

You could nip down to Pendine, our nearest sandy beach to see Babs or to go horse riding!

Visit the Gardens of Wales near Carmarthen – one of Wales’s premier gardens.

Eat out in one of the many pubs or restaurents nearby.

Visit Laugharne for some tranquil walks where Dylan Thomas wrote Under Milk Wood.

5 Top Reasons to choose Old Oak Barn in Carmarthenshire

  • We are really child friendly and make children of all ages very welcome.
  • The barn is totally private and away from the hustle and bustle of modern city life.
  • The 40 acres of woodland provide a wonderful playground for outdoorsy families – an abundance of birdlife too.
  • The barn is exceptionally well equipped inside and has great wifi.
  • It is very spacious, comfortable, light and airy in summer and warm and cosy in winter.

Wales Escapes

You can check availability by clicking right here.

Towy Valley

By / 8th November, 2018 / Carmarthenshire / No Comments

Towy Valley

Towy Valley

The Towy Valley is one of the most beautiful in the whole of Wales; the River Towy itself is the longest flowing river which is just in Wales, at well over 70 miles. In the distance of the picture above you can see Dryslwyn Castle a famous landmark in the locally.  But there are several castles in the Towy Valley.

The river rises in the Cambrian Mountains of Mid Wales and flows into Llyn Brianne a lake created in the late 1960s to control the flow of the river to provide water extraction further down the valley. This lake ran very low this summer 2018 when there was a shortage of rainfall and the flooded buildings were exposed once again. I remember well when they were last exposed back in the early 1980s.Towy Valley

From the wilds of Mid Wales the Towy flows past the many pretty but small market towns in the county, These include LlandoveryLlandeilo and Carmarthen and then past Llanstefan into Carmarthen Bay.  As it enters the sea, the Towy is joined by the Rivers Gwendraeth and Taf.  It is the Taf which comes out at Laugharne to which many of our visitors go and are astounded at the tranquil beauty of the estuary. The Towy Valley has lots of birdlife including dippers, grey wagtails and cormorants and is famous for salmon and sewin and more recently otters too.  If you go to Paxtons Tower near Llanarthne you will get wonderful views of the valley.

Towy Valley

In recent years Carmarthenshire and the Towy Valley in particular have become one of the most popular cycling destinations in the UK.

Visit this link here here if you are keen to find out about the many cycle trails which have been developed in the valley. Or click here to see our previous blog. If you would like to bring your bikes when staying at Old Oak Barn we have safe and secure storage available.

Towy ValleyThe youtube link below says it all!

Photos courtesy of Discover Carmarthenshire – thank you.

Carmarthen Velodrome

By / 31st October, 2018 / Carmarthenshire / No Comments

Carmarthen Velodrome

Carmarthen Velodrome

Celebrating Cyclists

Did you know that the recently opened Carmarthen Velodrome is generally accessible for free between the hours of 9 and 6 during the week provided it is not hosting a tournament. If staying at Old Oak Barn and you have brought your bikes why not pop along for some practice! Provided you go anti clockwise and take note of the rules which are on display by the grandstand you will be very welcome. Managed by the Town Council, it was decided to continue with the tradition of not charging for its use as this had always been how it was operating – to encourage the people of Carmarthen to enjoy the Park and what it has to offer.  Phone Laura on 07794 024952 who will answer any questions I am sure.

Carmarthen Velodrome

2 Photos above from Discover Carmarthenshire

The Velodrome is one of the oldest in Europe and certainly the oldest in Wales.  It is one of only a tiny handful which has been built with concrete. But its big claim to fame is that its the only one with a rugby pitch in the middle of it! Around 12 games a year are played on the pitch and then of course the velodrome is shut for cyclists. What a venue!

Click here to see a short clip from the Carmarthen Velodrome facebook page which will give an idea of what to expect.

So, we are lucky enough to have one of the oldest velodromes in Wales, if not the world, here in Carmarthenshire just 15 minutes from Old Oak Barn. Built in 1900, the velodrome at Carmarthen Park – home to the Towy Riders Cycle Club – has now been refurbished with all 232 concrete surface panels that make up the track replaced, along with a new safety zone built along the inside perimeter and a safety fence around the outside edge. As well as being used for training by local clubs and the community, it is hoped the velodrome will become a regional centre of excellence for hosting national and international cycling competitions. Great little Tea Room in the park too!

Carmarthen Velodrome

Its amazing to think that had the velodrome been in operation when the Welsh cyclist Geraint Thomas was learning to ride a bike he may well have cycled there because as we know his family is from Carmarthenshire. What a hero he is! Now an MBE he is one of the most popular British professional racing cyclists. He currently rides for the UCI WorldTeam Team Sky, Wales and Great Britain. Competing on both track and road, he has won three World Championships, two Olympic gold medals and one Tour de France.  I was lucky enough to see him whizz through Carmarthen in September in the Tour of Britain. The two photos below I myself took in Pensarn – it was only when I looked closely at them later that day I realised who I had snapped.Carmarthen Velodrome

Carmarthen Velodrome

© Copyright Charlotte – permission needed for last two photos to use please

Little Toadstool Designs

By / 25th October, 2018 / Carmarthenshire / No Comments

Little Toadstool Designsteething babiesDo you have a teething baby? A visitor staying at Old Oak Barn recently has just started up her own business selling soothing teethers for little ones who like to chew. What a great idea! I imagine there is a demand for babies who like to chew on their mothers necklaces!

teething babiesAnyone looking for a teether that you can wear so baby isn’t dropping it and you’re not forever wiping it, have a look on Kirsty’s facebook page.  Just search for “Little Toadstool Designs.”  She has created some fab designs and colours.

teething babies Also at @littletoadstooldesign

Old Oak Barn is a very child friendly holiday cottage and if you are thinking of staying in 2019 please check our availability calendar here.


By / 13th October, 2018 / Carmarthenshire / No Comments


Barafundle Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole of Wales and has even made it in the worlds top 100 beaches. It is less than an hours drive from Old Oak Barn and many of our visitors spend a day on this fantastic beach.



It is extraordinary to think it was once the private beach of the Cawdor Family who lived on the Stackpole Estate. Of course today the estate including the beach is managed by the National Trust. It is only accessible on foot but the walk from Stackpole Quay is less than half a mile. Several steps have to be negotiated but it is not a hard walk overall. There are no amenities there which I think enhances the whole experience. Many holiday makers pop into the Boat House Tea Rooms at Stackpole Quay on the way home for tasty fresh food.  The photos in this blog I took in late September when we last visited this popular part of South Pembrokeshire.


Stackpole Quay


The Coast near Barafundle looking north

Swanlake bay

Swanlake Bay near Freshwater East enroute for Barafundle

London Walking Tours

By / 22nd September, 2018 / Carmarthenshire / No Comments

London Walking Tours

We get lots of visitors from abroad – mostly from Europe but often from Canada, America, New Zealand and parts of the Middle East. Some stay in London before or after their stay in Wales. If you are thinking of visiting the big city and want to organise a London Walking Tour then we can recommend giving Jonnie at Bowl of Chalk a shout as he is bound to meet your needs. He stayed with us here at Old Oak Barn recently although it wasn’t until after he had left that I realised what he actually did. I am sure if you want to learn some fascinating facts about the history of London then Jonnie is the person to get in touch with.

You only have to check out his reviews on Trip Advisor to see that he is very highly rated 14th out of 788 London Walking Tours in the whole of the city! Bowl of Chalk also features in the top 101 favourite things to do in London!

If you’d like to join one of the regular Weekend Walks it’s really, really important that you book ahead. You can find all the details of how to contact Jonnie on his website. Talking of which it is packed full of great photos and articles which demonstrate clearly the depth of Jonnie’s knowledge and expertise.

London Walking Tours

The Cultural Exposé wrote that “this is not your standard walking tour and working on a tipping policy (just pay what you can) Jonnie is not your standard tour operator ….. a friendly way to learn more about London.”

Jonnie AKA JJ Fielding has also written a book – he is clearly passionate about London – and very knowledgeable too.

Image may contain: text

Just a reminder that if you would like to stay at Old Oak Barn you can check out availability here.

Diablos Queen Street Carmarthen

By / 17th September, 2018 / Carmarthenshire / No Comments

Diablos Queen Street Carmarthen

diablos queen street carmarthen

This summer Diablos Queen Street opened in Carmarthen. Under the same ownership as the lovely Diablos on the Quay where many of our visitors dine while staying here at Old Oak Barn, we are sure you will be impressed by the thought that has gone into this new venture. Right in the centre of town parking is easy and in the evening free parking at County Hall is recommended as its only a minute away.

Alex Luck the owner is well known in Carmarthen for his high standards of cuisine and of customer care. I have been twice now to the new Diablos on Queen Street and both times was really impressed with the service. The new assistant manager is I know determined to make sure customers are always more than satisfied – she too is well known in Carmarthen. Together with the cheery bar staff the team already in place is bound to to be a success!

We chose food off the specials board which included vegetarian tacos with salad and sweet potato fries ….. mmmmm ….. great value too at less than £7.

Diablos queen street carmarthen

We were thrilled to supply some of the old timbers used in the renovation in particular the bar area. Overhead and cleverly supporting the light fittings are some wonderful pieces of elm which were felled in Carmarthenshire many years ago and have been seasoning under cover here near St Clears for years! The two boards roughly 10 ft long and a foot wide make a great feature on entering Diablos. The electrician tells me they were perfect for the job!








Diablos can be reached on 01267232755

Live Music every Friday and Saturday!

Booking advisable at weekends.  If you are staying with us and would like us to book you a table that can be arranged! You can check availability here!

Closed Mondays only.

Xcel Bowl Carmarthen

By / 24th August, 2018 / Carmarthenshire / No Comments

Xcel Bowl Carmarthen

15 minutes from Old Oak Barn is the popular Xcel Bowl Carmarthen centre where you can spend an entertaining time playing bowls in the recently refurbished space. The soft play area is perfect for little ones and I myself have spent many hours with my grandchildren and friends and happily recommend it for families. Children love the techy aspects of the 10 pin bowling set up where players for example can take photos to display temporarily on personal scoring screens above the alley. Food for sale in the cafe is freshly prepared and very tasty.

Earlier this year Xcel Bowl Carmarthen which is a registered charity as well as a social enterprise was awarded Gold in the Community Tourism Awards by The Carmarthenshire Tourism Association who recognised the brilliant facilities and great attention given to customer care plus of course the huge part the project plays in supporting its local community.

Xcel Bowl carmarthen

Xcel Bowl is part of the Xcel Project  and The Xcel Project was founded by Towy Community Church. Open now for five years all the profits go towards supporting local people in need through Carmarthen Foodbank, Xcel Community Shop and Xcel Furniture. Over 40 people are employed within the project which is a fantastic achievement in such a short time.

Xcel Bowl Carmarthen is open 7 days a week from 10.00 in the morning until 10pm except for Sundays when it closes at 6pm.

If you would like to know a little more about the project please watch this short film which is very informative.

So …. we have learnt that the profits from Xcel Bowl go into supporting local residents within Carmarthenshire some of whom face crisis times in their lives – through the Foodbank, the Furniture Store and the Charity Shop all of which are on the same site. I hope you agree after you have been bowling what a great project we have on our doorstep!

If you would like to check availability of Old Oak Barn click here!

Tea Traders Carmarthen

By / 20th July, 2018 / Carmarthenshire / No Comments

Tea Traders Carmarthen

Tea Traders Carmarthen

Tea Traders Carmarthen is a speciality tea shop located in the very centre of our local market town.  Recently the small independent company has won awards for its great customer service and for being one of the most exciting new tourism businesses in the county.  Congratulations!  While you are staying at Old Oak Barn we can recommend this lovely new establishment for an amazing choice of tea but also some great tasty fresh food.  They also sell the finest loose leaf teas and beautiful gifts for the home some of which have been locally made by popular craftsmen.

I popped in the other day and was given a warm Welsh welcome by  Nick and Paul. They opened Tea Traders towards the end of 2017 and already have proved a very popular addition to the town.



We sat outside in lovely sunshine and enjoyed a delicious snack. The lemon drizzle cake and the Ginger loaf were very fresh and beautifully made.

A customer has kindly made them some knitted cakes some of which are on display – I don’t think they are for sale though!  But recently they have started stocking a small range of locally made crafts – all original from local craftspeople.

Tea Traders 

15 Guildhall Square,

Carmarthen, SA31 1PR

Tel: 01267 237101


Open every day except Sundays from 9.00. a.m.

Shoreline Cafe Saundersfoot

By / 19th June, 2018 / Carmarthenshire / No Comments

Shoreline Cafe Saundersfoot

We stumbled across a wonderful place to have a coffee or light lunch – The Shoreline Cafe in Saundersfoot – the other day.  It is less than 30 minutes from Old Oak Barn.

Renovated in the past couple of years you will find the cafe overlooking the beach with access from the street which leads to the tunnels. The balcony is only small but if you are lucky enough to get there before others you can sit with a wonderful view across the bay and imagine you are on the Med. If you park in Wisemans Bridge, as many do, and take the short walk across the beach if the tide is well out or through the tunnels if the tide is in, it will be one of the first cafes you come to. While reviews are a little mixed online we loved our coffee and tea cakes!

Shoreline Cafe Saundersfoot Shoreline Cafe Saundersfoot Shoreline Cafe Saundersfoot







The picture below is of the harbour at the southern side of Saundersfoot – currently Phase 2 of the Harbour development is taking place in the small town which may well see a boost to tourism in the area generally ……. you can read about it …. here!

Shoreline Cafe Saundersfoot

The plans are impressive and intend to :-

  • Establish a base for maritime engineering
  • Develop a Pan Wales Marine Tourism Centre in partnership with maritime organisations and Governing bodies, creating a single point of contact for all maritime leisure activities along the Welsh coastline.
  •  establish a RYA academy for sail and power
  • Support facilities and teaching base for sea rowing / sea kayaking / diving and paddle boarding
  • develop food, retail and short stay accommodation in the town.

Carmarthen Food Assembly

By / 4th June, 2018 / Carmarthenshire / No Comments

Carmarthen Food Assembly

While you are staying at Old Oak Barn why not start your holiday with a locally sourced organic veg box? If you are staying for a week this summer and would like to buy some organic veggies grown in the local area then please get in touch with me and I shall arrange to buy this for you through the Carmarthen Food Assembly.

Carmarthen Food Assembly

These days many people care deeply where they can best source their food and although we have always recycled plastic waste here at Old Oak Barn it is still very satisfying to collect products which have limited packaging and zero plastic.

Currently there are 18 producers who live on average 16 Miles from Carmarthen selling 516 local products.

I cannot organise a big shop for you but I am quite happy to source their veg box which I would pick up from Carmarthen on Thursday evening ready for your stay which would begin on the Friday.  I need to order this by the Monday before your arrival and can only offer this service to visitors staying for a week or longer at the moment.

An organic, fresh and delicious selection of seasonal Welsh produce. The boxed selection will feed a family of 2 or 4 for a week. All items are grown on Blaencamel Organic Farm which is carbon neutral and award winning! It is north of Carmarthen near Aberaeron and has long been established as a leader in the growing of organic fruit, vegetable and herbs too. Funnily enough we used to visit the farm back in 1975 when it was just getting going!

The contents will vary throughout the year depending on which crops are in season which ensures you get the freshest seasonal produce and eat a varied diet throughout your stay. Ordering this veg selection removes the sometimes tricky decision about what to order and you can create your meals around the veg you receive!

At the moment the selection typically includes new carrots, new potatoes, strawberries, a mixed salad pack, spinach, baking/roasting potatoes, green garlic, parsley and more!

7kg – 9kg for a family of 4 will cost approx £15.50

4kg – 5.5kg for 2 people will cost approx £11.50

The Assembly here in Carmarthen has been up and running for just over a year now and is surely a good way to think about how and where to buy your food. If I have extra in my organic vegetable plot I always offer visitors something fresh to try. There is usually a glut of tomatoes and cucumbers in the summer and sometimes lettuce and spinach leaves too.  All these photos below were taken in my veg garden in June 2018. Everything growing well in the hot weather during May.

Carmarthen Food Assembly

Carmarthen Food AssemblyCarmarthen Food Assembly