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#Blogmas – A Trip to the Christmas Lights

#Blogmas Day 8 – A Trip to the Christmas Lights

Yesterday was late night shopping in Exeter and as I’m feeling a little bit less exhausted at the moment we thought we would take the opportunity to take a trip to the Christmas Lights.

I met Chris and Isabelle in town after I finished work in the hope that we could catch the 5pm showing of Spark which are an LED drumming group in Princesshay.

A Trip To The Christmas Lights

We turned up just in time as they had just started. It was heaving so it was quite difficult at first to find a spot where Isabelle might have a chance to be able to see.

We did find the perfect spot where lots of children were and Isabelle had the perfect view until a group of women came and pushed their way through and stood in front of the kids. I was more than a bit annoyed!

A Trip To The Christmas Lights

However, it took a bit of an unexpected turn when the drummers started to march through the crowd and headed off through the shopping centre. Everybody upped and left to follow them.

At first we weren’t going to follow as there were so many people we didn’t think we’d stand a chance of being able to see them. We headed off in the directed of the Charity Christmas trees, which if you know Exeter are in behind the side of Debenhams and go along all the way past Chando’s Deli (yum) where you end up back in the centre of Princesshay.

It just so happens that we ended up in the middle of the Spark drummers. Quite literally as they went past either side of us which was quite a treat. We had a great view and managed to watch the remainder of the show.

A Trip To The Christmas Lights

We finished off our Christmas Lights outing by going for food of Isabelle’s choice, so off we headed to McDonalds to join the longest queue along with half of Exeter’s parents and kid population!

A Trip To The Christmas Lights

This year I think I’m going to try and convince Chris into taking us on a bit of a tour of the streets where there are houses that have decorated the outside of their houses. I thought that we could have some snacks, maybe some chocolates and even a cup of hot chocolate (in a travel mug). I’ve yet to mention this so Sshhhh…….

A Trip To The Christmas Lights

Charity Christmas Trees

A Trip To The Christmas Lights

#blogmas – Christmas Activities for Families in Exeter

#Blogmas – Day 4 – Christmas Activities for Families in Exeter

I think we’re really lucky living in Exeter as there are so many things to do and see, and we’re definitely spoilt for choice at Christmas. Here are some of the things that we have done in the past as well as some things we think you will love.Exeter

1. Cathedral Christmas Market

Don’t forget to take a trip to the Christmas Market which is held in the Cathedral Green. It’s packed full of lovely local sellers where you can buy lots of unusual and unique gifts. There are also lots of food stalls so you can make a bit of an event of it with a bit of shopping, something to eat and a glass of mulled wine. It’s even nicer if you go on a Thursday evening for late night shopping, but be warned if you take the kids as it’s usually heaving. If you want to check out what kind of stalls are there then head on over to the Exeter Cathedral Website where they are listed.

2. Spark at Princesshay

Thursday 7th December. Performances will take place at 5pm, 6pm and 7pm and last about 30 minutes. Spark combines high impact drumming with kaleidoscope lighting. It looks like a real treat. We’re going to head to Princesshay to watch this and am looking forward to it.

 

Spark! by Worldbeaters Music from Fools Paradise on Vimeo.

3, A Touch of the Wild Christmas Family Fun Day

Saturday 16th December. Taking place at Grammarcombe Woods this festive celebration involves Christmas Craft Activities. All children get that chance to make a Christmas gift to take home and keep. There will be a surprise visit from Santa and his elf helper where all children will receive a special gift. Tickets (booking essential) are priced at £9.50 for children over 18 months, £6.50 for adults. The price includes a christmas gift for the children and hot chocolate or hot drinks for all.

4. Cotley Farm Christmas

If you’re looking for a real Christmas Tree then head to Cotley Farm and make it into a christmassy experience. Visit the farm shop, pick out a tree and then head to meet the reindeer (including one year old Willow). They are also holding Kids Craft Events in December where the kids can make a creation that they can take home to keep. Booking is advisable for the crafting but you can pop to the farm during opening hours at your leisure.

Christmas Family Activities in Exeter

5. Christmas at Killerton – Wind in the Willows

It’s a while since I read Wind in the Willows, and we’ve yet to read it to Isabelle. Killerton is one of the places that we like to and explore, often with our dog in tow. It’s a beautiful setting. This year you will find Toad, Ratty Mole and Badger throughout the rooms where scenes are set up to tell the story. As well as the house, you can wander through the twinkling outdoor trails where you will find activities themed on the classic story. Dates for this are available throughout December and end on the 5th January. Booking is essential as all events do get really busy.

Christmas Activities for Families in Exeter

6. Carols by Candlelight at the Donkey Sanctuary

Join the donkeys and Santa himself for a magical evening of Christmas carols illuminated by thousands of candles. There will be 20 jazz saxophonists from the Saxminster band who will play a host of merry tunes followed by a 45 minute Christmas Carol Service starting at 5pm. Mulled wine, hot drinks and mince pies will be available as well as hot food served in their restaurant. The event is free to attend so I imagine you will have to get there nice and early.

Christmas Family Activities

7. Cofton Christmas with Father Christmas Story Time – 20.12.17 

For one day only there is  a very special surprise for all the very lucky boys and girls who have been well behaved this year! Santa will share his favourite Christmas Story, and you will get to meet his trusted Reindeer and Snow Dog. You can even pop to the North Pole Workshop and make your own gift. For the adults there will be the opportunity to buy some Christmas gifts at the Christmas Market where local traders will be selling their wares. Admission is £8.00 for children which allows one adult free admission. Additional adults will be charged at £4.

I hope this give you a good start with things to do. This is going to be an ongoing post that I will update as I find or go to exciting events. Do you have somewhere great that you like to take your children?

Free or paid events welcome.

Lisa x

 

#SchoolHols2017 – River Cottage Summer Festival

#SchoolHols2017 – River Cottage Summer Festival

Not sure what to get up to this weekend then head to the River Cottage Summer Festival. Running from Saturday 26th – Sunday 27th August 2017. There are loads of things for both kids and adults to take part in all set beautiful surroundings. Day tickets and weekend tickets

What’s more under 16’s get in FREE when accompanied by an adult.

River Cottage Summer Festival

What is there to do?

There is a wide range of activities to get stuck into including:

  • Performances by Swamp Circus and Rainbow Gecko Giant Bubbles
  • Play Art Junk Modelling for the artistic amongst you
  • A foraging tour with John Wright
  • Baby Massages
  • Kids Yoga
  • The Hands-On mud kitchen – Awesome!
  • Play in the sandpit
  • felting and flower workshops
  • Marine Monster Making
  • Pottery
  • Jewellery making
  • Clay modelling

River Cottage Summer Festival

Take some time out to appreciate the stunning countryside with a guided geology walk with local butterfly experts, and take part in star gazing after sunset.

Masterclasses are also available in sushi making, cooking over a wood fire and for the little ones there are pizza making and ice cream sundae making.

Of course lots of food will be available street food style from local artisan producers. Experience the Farmhouse Feast with a two-course sit down meal served in the iconic Farmhouse for just £20 with a fantastic menu using fresh, seasonal and local produce from the farm, garden and local suppliers.

There will also be a selection of bars located across the Festival serving a variety of sumptuous drinks from Chase Vodka cocktails and English sparkling wine from neighboring Castlewood Vineyard to locally sourced beers, ciders, wines and seasonal cocktails.

A team of chefs and experts will be on hand to share their culinary tips throughout the two-day weekend on the Garden Stage hosted by Steven Lamb. On the Saturday, visitors can enjoy a mix of chefs, speakers and activists including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, forager John Wright, Bake-Off star Chetna Makan and herbalist Katie from Pukka Teas. On the Sunday, award-winning blogger Ed Smith will take to the stage alongside Satish Kumar, Michelin-starred Adam Byatt and Hugh.

River Cottage Summer Festival

Festival goers can enjoy music throughout the weekend with a variety of brilliant musicians on the line-up. There is live music from midday until 10pm on both days, with entertainment for the whole family. On the Saturday, Sound of the Sirens will headline alongside The Jack Daniels Band, Them Voices Poor, Sadie Horler, Hungry Bentley, Nicky Swann and DJ Diggz. On the Sunday, visitors can enjoy music from The Travelling Band, Mr Tea and the Minions, Melissa Bel, Mark McCabe, Tori Reed and the Troubadours and DJ Diggz.

How much does it cost?

There are various ticket prices available which you can look at the options on the River Cottage website.

How to get there?

Have a great weekend!

Living in the South West or visiting for the holidays then have a look at our oodles of suggestions for #southwestdaysout – Whether you’re looking for local attractions or fabulous beaches and walks.

Lisa x

A Day at Pennywell Farm

Pennywell Farm

All kids big and small love a farm and there’s plenty to do at Pennywell Farm!

What is there to do?

Kids and adults can take part in lots of farm-based fun including egg collecting at Funky Fowl, goat milking the old-fashioned way, and bottle feeding the lambs and goats.

Have a go at pond dipping and Ferret and Pig racing – Miniature Pigs!!!!

Pets Teatime – Have a snuggle with your favourite pet and give them a treat.

Planting – Plant a seed and take it home as a reminder of Pennywell Farm.

Pennywell Farm

Meet the Animals

Heavy Horses – Meet Fusilier the Shire Horse – See how far you have to look up before you see his head.

Miniature Pigs – These adorable little piggies are definitely worth a visit. Keep an eye out for the piggy racing times and feeding times which are a treat.

Pets – Have cuddles with friendly rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, chicks, and ducklings.

Funky Fowl – Meet the many birds in the international poultry collection.

Goats and Kid Goats – Join the cheeky kid goats in their purpose-built goatarama.

Ponies and Donkeys – Stroke and brush the many ponies and donkeys.

Ewes and Lambs – If you’re lucky you will get the chance to bottle feed a lamb.

Tortoises – Pennywell farm has its very own Tortoise Retirement Village for tortoises whose owners can no longer look after them.

Alpaca – Meet Tommy and Toffee the Alpaca. Who can resist their beautiful eyes.

Pennywell Farm

Rides

If the animals aren’t enough for you, there are rides available.

Red Rocket – Launch around the battlefield. Suitable from age 4.

Tractor and Trailer Ride – All the family can take part in this for a ride across the grounds across to Dartmoor National Park.

Rainbow Railway – Take a ride on this miniature train.

Run Rabbit Go-Karts – Race mum and dad on these fun go-karts. Suitable from age 8.

Facilities

If the weathers great take a picnic. If the weather isn’t great you can still take a picnic as there are both undercover and outdoor picnic tables available.

Or if you fancy treating yourself to lunch there, then choose from a selection of locally sourced food and drinks from Henny Penny’s Cafe.

Microwaves are also available for heating up baby food.

How much does it cost?

  • Child Under 3 years old – FREE
  • Child 3 – 16 years – £10.95
  • Adults – £14.95
  • Senior – £13.95

There are also lots of upcoming events which include Elfic the Jester, Animal Yoga, and Poco Drom – all of the details can be found on their Events Page.

Have a great day.

Lisa

Pssst – Don’t forget to have a look at the many other suggestions for the School Holidays. Check out our #SchoolHols2017 page for many great days out in the South West.

*images taken from www.pennywellfarm.co.uk 

Powderham Castle

Powderham Castle

We’re lucky being in Exeter that we’re close to many great places to take the kids. Powderham Castle is a stone’s throw away from us and has lots on offer for the kids to do.

Powderham Castle

Opening Times

11 am – 4.30 pm Sunday – Friday (Not open on Saturdays).

Dogs are allowed on a lead in parts of the grounds. Not in the Deer Park or Walled Garden.

What’s On?

Between 30th July – 4th August the Pocketwatch Theatre Company are going to be there telling magical tales of Knights, Dragon’s, Witches and Wizards. The sessions run for approximately 45 – 60 minutes and are aimed at 5 – 11-year-olds. Tickets are available on the day.

A Guided Tour of the Castle – Take a guided tour inside the castle where you will explore the many beautiful rooms and listen to stories of the Courtenay family and the history of the castle.

The Walled Garden Play Area & Pets Corner – Housed in what was originally a Victorian Walled Garden is now home to many animals and a play area for kids.  Here you will find a donkey, pot-bellied pigs, goats, chickens, sheep, guinea pigs, and apparently stick insects. There’s a large picnic area with seating and the Courtenay Fort.

Powderham Castel

Themed Days – As mentioned above they have a Knights and Dragons event, but listed on the Powderham Castle Website are many more:

  • Knights & Dragons – Sunday 30 July – Friday 4 August
  • Faerie Folk – Sunday 6 – Friday 11 August
  • Robin Hood – Sunday 13 -Friday 18 August
  • Pirates & Mermaids – Sunday 20 – Saturday 26 August
  • Wonderland – Sunday 27 August – Friday 1 September

These are all provided by the Pocket Watch Theatre Company and Clive PiG so it’s likely that whenever you visit there will be something a bit special happening.

Birds of Prey – Running from 23rd July – 1st September Devon Bird of Prey will be holding demonstrations twice daily (1pm & 3.30pm) and you may even get a chance to hold one of the birds.

The Potting Shed – I’m not sure if this is a new addition as I haven’t noticed this before, but your kids can have a go at planting something which they can take home with them.

Deer Park Safari – Hands up who has a competition to see who can spot the deer first? My in-laws live in Starcross so we always look out for them when we’re on the train (a better view). If they’re sitting out on the grass it’s a sign of a nice day. Not sure how true it is but they always sit out on the nicer days. Take the Safari Tractor Train ride which takes approximately 35 minutes around the grounds to meet many deer (approximately 600) and other wildlife. There is an additional charge for this of £2.50.

Nature Trails – There are two nature trails which you can follow and daily nature craft activities are on offer in the Nature Nook.

How Much Does it Cost?

  • Adult tickets start from £8.50
  • Children (4 – 16) start from £6.50
  • Family ticket from £23.50

The full-priced ticket price does also allows you to return for free within 7 days if you get it validated on the day.

How to get there

Oh and don’t forget to try some of the many yummy cakes that they always seem to have.

Have you been to Powderham Castle? Share your thoughts below in the comments.

For more inspiration of places to visit in Devon, please take a look at our Devon Days Out page. 

 

 

The Donkey Sanctuary

The Donkey Sanctuary

Have you been to the Donkey Sanctuary? We were there on Sunday for the Family Farm Day but unfortunately, it poured down with rain. We did, however, make a trip round to see the many donkeys and grab an ice cream.

The Donkey Sanctuary was founded in 1969, by Dr. Elisabeth Svendsen where she dedicated her life to rescuing abandoned and mistreated donkeys. You can read more about her amazing story and life’s work on the Donkey Sanctuary Website as well as info on how you can help.

A Donkey from the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth

What’s on?

During the School Holidays from 21st July – 3rd September 2017 they are running an Around the World Trail. You can pick up a trail sheet for £3.00 and can collect your ice cream prize at the end.

Entry into the Donkey Sanctuary is FREE as is the car park.

There are loads of donkeys to see along many trails including the giant Poitou Donkeys.

Discover the path to the beach through the Field of Dreams or follow the guided walks.

Take part in the twice-daily donkey grooming and lose yourself in the maze.

They also have a newly built restaurant called The Kitchen serving locally-sourced hot and cold food to suit both adults and children.

All proceeds taken at the Donkey Sanctuary go towards the work that takes place on-site and worldwide.

A couple of people stroking a donkey at the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth

As well as being family-friendly, the Donkey Sanctuary is pram and wheelchair-friendly. You can also take your four-legged friends with you as long as they are on a lead.

The Donkey Sanctuary makes for a great chilled-out day. Ruffle the heads of a donkey or two and make sure that you stay for feeding time where you will see all the donkeys running and honking towards the food!

They also run events throughout the year so keep an eye on their Facebook Page for upcoming details.

For more great places to visit in Devon, take a look at our Devon Days Out Page for more suggestions.

•Images from www.donkeysanctuary.org.uk 

Devon Days Out- The Orange Elephant

The Orange Elephant

Yey we’ve ticked another one off the Family Bucket List as we visited The Orange Elephant today.

The kids have both been before but with grandparents so this was a first for both Chris and I and it definitely won’t be the last.

The Orange Elephant

It wasn’t a long journey for us and excitement got the better of Isabelle as the signposts signalled our closeness.

Pulling in there was plenty of parking which is always a bonus.

The view of the entrance and the Meadow was lovely, and then the smell of the pig, cow and sheep pooh took over confirming that we were indeed on a working farm.

 

What is there to do?

Isabelle wasn’t interested in having a look around at all. All she was interested in finding was the ice cream selection, all the while wondering what toppings and sauces they had!

She wasn’t disappointed.

There were loads to choose from including Lemon Pavlova, Muddy Green Wellies (you’ll have to visit to find out what that one is) and Mango just to name a few. There was a choice of cones, toppings, sauces, and an impressive selection of ice cream sundaes.

With all the amazing flavours and the time she took to choose, she chose a plain cone with vanilla ice cream, strawberry sauce and marshmallows.

Admission to The Orange Elephant are extremely reasonable and we decided to get a season pass for £12.00 which admits five people (adults or children). The season ends at the end of September, but I’ve got a feeling that we will be making use of the pass.

After paying we were given our orange stickers and our maze map and off we went to find the Summer Meadow.

The Orange Elephant

We encountered sheep, pigs, chickens, and cows. The sheep weren’t really bothered with us, but the pigs were quite nosy and we got a great snout picture. A calf came to greet us and the chickens were very friendly.

If you look in the chicken pen, you can see that these are special chickens that lay green eggs!!

We went around the Maize Maze with Isabelle’s excellent map reading skills and then headed for a play in the park.

The Orange Elephant

The Orange Elephant

The Orange Elephant

The Orange Elephant

There were plenty of picnic tables and grassy areas to sit for a picnic.

There were plenty of swings and slides to go on, and an assault course which Isabelle really loves to do.

The Orange Elephant

When she’d finished playing we headed back to the cafe as us parents hadn’t had a chance to taste the ice cream!

The Ice Cream

We chose the  (Award-Winning) Lemon Pavlova and the Chocolate Brownie Sundaes which we shared and little cheeky minx managed to wangle another ice cream.

The Orange Elephant

The Orange Elephant

I didn’t take a picture but I loved the signs on the toilet doors – Heifers (ladies) and Bulls (Gents).

After finishing our sundaes (very filling indeed) we had another go in the park to round the trip off.

The Orange Elephant

But not before asking about the possibility of having Isabelle’s birthday party there.

What we thought

So in summary The Orange Elephant is definitely worth a visit. It gets both adult and kid thumbs up, and I would recommend a season pass as it’s somewhere that you can nip to if you have a spare couple of hours to let the kids let off some steam and finish it off with a cheeky ice-cream.

Visit the Orange Elephant Facebook Page to keep up to date with opening times and News.

Lisa x

 

11 Easter Activities in the South West

11 Easter Activities in the South West

It’s Easter Holiday time and definitely time to get out and about with the kids. The weather should be a lot better, although Saturday was definitely a cinema day with torrential rain. Here are 11 Easter Activities in the South West that I’ve found.

Easter Activities in the South West

We have a half work, half time off Easter Holiday’s this year but here are some great ideas to get out and about with the kids in the South West.

Easter Activities in the South West

Egg-citing Easter Dinosaur Egg Hunt 1st – 16th April – Seaton Jurassic.

£1 for a clue sheet – Just complete the trail and claim your prize!

Easter Activities in the South West
Easter Egg Hunt – The Miniature Pony Centre 14th, 16th and 17th April

As well as all the usual fun stuff to do at the pony centre including pony rides, indoor and outdoor play they are holding an Easter Egg Hunt with a fancy dress theme and entertainment from Dan the Hat and Jack’s Zoo.

Easter Activities in the SouthWest

Easter Activities at World of Country Life – 1st – 17th April

There’s loads of stuff going on at the World of Country Life including Easter themed arts and crafts, meet the Easter Bunny, Ferret racing, an Easter Egg Hunt and The Chicken Run (which is a surprise event).

Easter Activities in the South West

Crealy Mega Easter Egg Hunt – 14th – 17th April

Once you’re in, collect you map and go and find the stamps. Find all the stamps and receive 1 of 10000 eggs that they’re giving away!

Easter Activities in the South West

Exeter Racecourse Family Day 11th April

Lots of family fun including meeting Sid and Scrat from Ice Age, Dartmoor Ponies, Children’s races, facepainting, meet the jockeys and lots more.

Easter Activities in the South West

Easter Fun at Pennywell Farm – 15th – 17th April

Join in the Giant Easter Egg Hunt, Egg Rolling, Egg Tossing and guess the weight of the Easter Egg as well as meeting and feeding the animals. If you go on Good Friday before 11am you may be lucky enough to get a free hot cross bun with your cuppa.

Easter Activities in the South West

Easter Egg Trail at Powderham Castle – 14th – 17th April

Join in the Easter Egg trail and receive a chocolaty treat from Chococo!

Various Kids Activities in Exeter City Centre 11th – 14th April 

Join in with Easter Crafts, street food, face painting and balloons at various places including Sidwell Street, McCoys Arcade and Harlequins Shopping Centre. Many of these are FREE as well.

Easter Egg Hunt at Poltimore House – 9th April

Enjoy walking round the grounds, hot cross buns and let the children go and look for the chicken’s and eggs.

Easter Activities in the South WEst

Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt at Killerton House – 1st – 20th April

Search the grounds for the eggs and collect your Cadbury treat at the end. Don’t forget to visit the cool bear house!

Easter inspired crafts at Bunyipbeads – 4th – 13th April

Enjoy some Easter inspired decoupage, cross stitch and bracelet making. Booking is required and recommended age group is 6 – 16 years.

Whatever you do make sure that it’s Egg-citing!

Lisa x

The day we found the Gruffalo at Haldon Forest

The Day we found the Gruffalo at Haldon Forest

We’re quite lucky in the South West that we have a lot of places at our disposable to take the family. Although it gets a bit tricky having a 3 year old and a 15 year old, and now with the pup thrown into the mix don’t make for an easy family day out.

Thank goodness for Haldon Forest park!

We didn’t take the teen with us this time as he had other plans but off we trudged with Isabelle and the dog in our boots and armed with coats, umbrellas and treats for the dog.

When we got there, we had a little surprise as the Discovery Trail (the easiest at 1.5 miles) had been set up as a Gruffalo hunt with clues and things to do along the way. This was the easiest of trails so perfect for Isabelle and a nice walk for us.

Isabelle and I standing by the snake from the Gruffalo trail
We found the Snake!

There were loads of families there and lots of people whizzing up and down on bikes for the different tracks (none of which I would try).

 

There were ample places to stop if you were to take a picnic and pleasingly we didn’t encounter any rubbish, apart from one poo bag (why do people go to the effort of bagging it up only to leave it there!).

 

#southwestdaysout

It was dog heaven for Charlie who saw lots of other dogs along the way including a huge group of Shar pei dogs (belonging to several owners ? dog group).

We saw the Gruffalo’s den and met Mouse, Snake, Fox, Owl and sat on a singing seat. We also played on some giant wooden xylophones and hid from Daddy and Charlie in a maze.

And did we find the Gruffalo?

Yup and he wasn’t scary at all.

#southwestdaysout

We ended the day with a gorgeous ice cream and a bowl of water and treats for Charlie, then home for a roast dinner.

Think we’ll go for one of the harder routes next time.

Lisa x

Originally posted 15.07.14