The Duchess of Cambridge has spoken about her experience of being "isolated" as a first-time mum on a visit to a children's centre in Cardiff. Kate recalled how she was living in Anglesey when Prince George was a "tiny baby" and William was working night shifts as an RAF Search and Rescue helicopter pilot. "It's nice to be back in Wales! I was chatting to some of the mums earlier, It was the first year and I'd just had George – William was still working with Search and Rescue and we came up hereand I had a tiny tiny baby in the middle of Anglesey it was so isolated, so cut off. I didn’t have any family around and he was doing night shifts.
WATCH: Kate's visit to Ely and Caerau Children's Centre
"If only I had had a centre like this," she told staff at the Ely and Caerau Children's Centre. Earlier, as she arrived at the centre in Ely, an economically deprived area of the city, she told her hosts: "I will have to remember my Welsh!" She also mentioned her children, adding: "We will be taking a trip down to Anglesey at some point."
Her first stop was in the baby sensory room, where babies were playing with spaghetti, jelly and musical instruments. Crouching down, Kate was in her element as she cooed over the little ones and chatted to their parents about the centre. She smiled at 11-month-old Eleanor Logue, who was happily covering herself in cooked spaghetti as mum Rhi, 29, talked about how she felt supported by other parents there. "You can come here and tell people, 'I haven't slept'," said Rhi. "And everyone else is like, 'I haven't either!'" laughed Kate. "It normalises it. No one is going to judge you for it. And it's a social thing for you."
The Duchess of Cambridge at children's centre in Cardiff on Wednesday
"So many families now are so spread out," the Duchess continued. "It's much harder to rely on other generations for support." She asked several parents about the survey, Five Big Questions on the Under Fives, saying: "Have you heard about the survey we are doing? What do you think? There is so much pressure on parents, but actually they need the community too."
Afterwards Rhi said: "We talked about post-natal depression and how hard it is to have a kid and how important centres like this are. I would have been in such a dark place without it. It’s lovely to see her in a place like Ely. It’s such a deprived area and there have been so many funding cuts. Sometimes you are scared to walk the streets, but coming here you feel safe. You don’t feel like you are going to get mugged."
Kate spoke to fellow parents
In another room, Kate was charmed by 14-month-old Indie Corten-Maynard and one of her two mums Estelle Corten. "Are you going to push me over?" laughed the Duchess as the toddler pushed a large spiky inflated ball into her. "She was asking me what it was like coming here as a same-sex couple and I told her how welcoming the centre has been," said Estelle. "It was amazing to have the future Queen here in Ely!"
In the English language part of the centre’s bilingual nursery, Kate sat down with older children who were playing with dough and joined them in making doughballs as she was told how the children spend lots of time outdoors. One little girl was keen to ask what was going on and the Duchess told her: "We are talking about your nursery! It’s so cool I would love to come here. What’s your favourite thing about it? Do you like playing outside?" She then took the little girl by the hand and asked her to show her the outdoor area, stopping to meet the resident guinea pigs Willow and Bella in a wooden hut, appropriately bearing the sign "Cath's Cottage".
She crouched down to stroke the black-and-white pet, Willow, telling the children: "I had guinea pigs when I was little. I think your nursery is the best. She’s so soft, isn’t she?" Watching as the children fed them carrots and sprouts, she joked: "I did not know that guinea pigs liked Brussels Sprouts!"
The Duchess ventured out to see the outdoor playhouse
She then introduced herself to another group of youngsters who were drawing, saying "Nice to meet you, I’m Catherine. These guinea pigs are a lot quieter than the ones I had at home!" As she emerged, she told Head of Centre Carolyn Asante: "They are so happy in there! It’s like their own little world."
In the centre’s Welsh medium nursery, Kate was presented with flowers and a drawing of herself by four-year-old Erin Jones, who briefly hesitated when prompted to hand them over. "Are you shy?" asked Naomi Asante Chambers, a senior teaching assistant. "Don’t worry, I am too," the Duchess told the little girl. "Is this my dress?" she asked, pointing at the drawing.
"I love your hair, I should have done mine like that today. I love the drawing too, thank you! Thank you so much, what a special morning I have had." She also joined three-year-old River Roson, who was playing with pretend food. "Are you cooking too? Are you making a stir fry?"
"You’re my friend!" the little boy told her, to which the Duchess replied: "You’re my friend too!" As she made her way back through the building, Kate was stopped by another little girl who asked her to help clean her hands. She agreed and began wiping the child’s hands, prompting Carolyn to tell her: "You’ve got the job! When can you start!"
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