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 donkey’s 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.
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 donkey’s 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 goes towards the work that takes place on site and worldwide.
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 donkey’s running and honking towards the food!
They also run events throughout the year so keep an eye on their Facebook Page for upcoming details.
Check out our #SchoolHols2017 page for more great places to go and activities to do in the South West.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On Sunday the sun was shining and we set off down to Plymouth for the Spellbound Fairy & Goblin Festival for a day filled with fairies, story tellers, crafts, music, face painting and much more…
The Soapbox Theatre
The Soapbox Theatre was created by a husband and wife team, Iain and Jacqueline who are both experienced theatre practitioners and community artists. They took over a semi-derelict World War II mustard gas decontamination unit (hmm I had to google it too) in Devonport Park, Plymouth. Huge efforts have been put into raising funds to develop this site through crowdfunding, grants and the local authority. The passion and enthusiasm for this going forward is visible on both Iain and Jacqueline’s efforts to make this a festival to remember.
Iain explained the plans for the future which include a roof-top stage and amphitheatre which sounds like an amazing space for children and families to experience both watching shows and taking part in workshops and projects. Workshops and classes are available for all ages and capabilities making this a valuable asset to the local community.
The programme for the day was jam packed full of activities and we wanted to experience as much as possible. We did what we usually do on a day out, and took a wander round to work out what we would like to do first, second, third and so on.
The whole entire place, which was fenced off for safety of the children was decked out with colourful lanterns strung from the trees, flags and wind socks in bright colours. It was the perfect spot for the festival as it was set amongst a fairy village with houses, caravans and a washing line full of fairy clothes.
There were tents set up all around for us ‘big people’ with various activities. The Big Top had various shows including The Fallen Cedars, Jazz singing, Elfic the Jester and his antics and an amazingly fun Samba band who marched through the park and led a parade around the site.
First off we watched a puppet show which including a smelly creature, a man and a walrus. It captured all the kids attention, especially with the mention of bird poo and bottom burping.
We saw Isabella Necessity Bicycle Storyteller whilst sat atop tree stumps.
We were amused by Elfic the Jester with his juggling antics.
We walked around the various stalls selling all sorts of fairy paraphanalia where we bought a plant pot fairy house to make at home complete with Tinkerbell.
We tasted gorgeous fruit lollies and sat on the grass and had freshly cooked fire baked pizzas (Chicken, pesto and mozzarella).
Isabelle and I made fairy wands and a dream catcher using all kinds of tubing, ribbons, pipecleaners, shells, string, pom poms and glue. Whilst we were in the craft tent, Goblins were running amock and threw bits of mud and grass at us. They were dancing around, going through the bins and generally causing trouble.
Isabelle was ‘Fairy Tested’ to determine if she was a genuine fairy or not with a special wooden dragonfly. She passed the test of course!
We both queued up for face painting but when it was our turn I felt mean taking up the make-up artists time whilst there were so many children waiting. I so wanted a glittery eye. Boo!
There were lots of areas for little ones to play including the Petite cafe and a soft play area.
Children and adults all lined up for the ‘Best dressed Fairy’ and ‘Best dressed Goblin’ and prizes were given to all.
We stayed until the end and we’re really pleased that we did as the Crooked Tempo Samba band played through the park and led a parade through the site with much bum shaking taking place.
What we thought
The Festival gets a huge Fairy Wands up from all of us. The day was filled with lots of fun and activities which were all included in the ticket price. The choice of food was extremely reasonable and very tasty. The atmosphere was very relaxed and everything was family friendly. We even bumped into some family members so we had a bit of a catch up sat in the sun.
Oh and did I mention that we go to meet the Fairy Queen herself.
Whilst the Fairy and Goblin Festival has been and gone for this year, there are lots of activities, shows and work-shops to take part in with the Soapbox Theatre so do make sure that you pop over to their Facebook Page for more details.
*please note that we were gifted tickets to the event in exchange for a review, but all thoughts and opinions are our own.
Isabelle and I had been looking at the pictures on facebook at all the mud covered adults and children. She thought it was ‘awesome’ and I wondered what on earth I should wear!
I opted for gym gear and trainers to make running, jumping and climbing possible.
At this point I should mention that the day before we went it absolutely bucketed down so it was definitely going to be an extra muddy day!
I am usually the bag carrier! Daddy is usually the one who does the physical stuff whilst I look after the bags/coats/picnic, but this time I decided that we were all going to take part and have some fun.
The Bear Trail was easy to find and there was ample parking when we arrived.
The carpark overlooked the trail where all the equipment was laid out in a wide open space with plenty of grass space in the middle, perfect for picnics.
Isabelle was very excited (and Daddy too) and were raring to go. When we arrived there were lots of cars arriving for a birthday party. All nicely dressed. Big mistake!
Inside the Bear Trail.
Aside from the trail itself there is a barn with inside seating, a kiosk selling hot drinks, sandwiches, cakes as well as freshly made wood fired pizzas, changing rooms, toilets and a shower area.
There is also a play area for the littles with a sandpit, but there is no age limit on any of the equipment. The ethos is that if you think you can do it – give it a go. You know your own child’s capability.
Not forgetting in the far corner there is a pen with some alpaca and ponies which when you’re having fun could easily be overlooked, but we went over and gave the ponies a stroke.
The trail has a selection of rope climbing frames, swing ropes, bridges, zip slides, tunnels, hay bales, stepping stones, tyres and more, all with a huge puddle of muddy water either before, after or underneath.
Off we went, and at first I think most people make some kind of attempt to stay out of the mud, but once you go in – you get stuck in. Isabelle had no hesitation and was a mud slick in minutes. Daddy closely followed whilst I lagged behind shop fresh clean.
After passing a fellow blogger who had got stuck in with her two boys I felt a bit of a wuss and with the help of Isabelle managed to get covered in mud. Squelchy feet and all.
You can go around the trail in order, but there were certain bits that we preferred so we made up our own route.
Some families set up picnics and had blankets and food laid out where the adults congregated and the kids were let loose to play. As it’s all open plan you can give the kids that bit of freedom.
We went round the trail for a good couple of hours before showering off and getting changed before being treated to a lovely lunch of a selection of wood fired pizzas, cakes and drinks.
About the Bear Trail
The trail set in Cullompton, Devon is about to celebrate it’s first birthday and was set in motion by Ben a former Army Man.
The trail is evolving and new obstacles are in the pipeline, as are better changing facilities. We thought lockers were a good idea to eliminate the trips back to the car.
The trail is kept as basic as can be – no flashing lights, music or bright colours. It’s all about getting outside and having good old fashioned fun.
All the obstacles have safety nets but it’s very much up to the individual’s capability. Isabelle is six and was capable of taking part in every part of the trail and made the most of it.
It’s an all weather day out. If it rains, you get muddier!
The trail is open from 10 – 5pm. There are no time restrictions – you can stay all day.
Tickets are available at the entrance or online. If it’s the school holidays I would recommend booking beforehand to avoid disappointment.
Over 1 metre – £7.50
Under 1 metre – £4.50
Don’t wear your best clothes – they will get muddy.
Take spare clothes, shoes, towels and a bag to put all the muddy clothes in.
Food is available – the pizzas are awesome, but you can take your own. There are plenty of picnic tables and grassy areas to sit.
All in all we had a great day so The Bear Trail gets the thumbs up from us.
To celebrate their first birthday they are having a Colour Bomb Run where you will be showered with the colours of the rainbow as well as mud – This is taking place on 23rd July and booking is advisable.
For you lovely readers we can offer 5% off the usual ticket price if you book online. Just add the code: BLOG5 at the checkout.
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.
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.
1. Egg-citing Easter Dinosaur Egg Hunt 1st – 16th April – Seaton Jurassic.
£1 for a clue sheet – Just complete the trail and claim your prize!
2. 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.
3. 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).
4. 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!
5. 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.
6. 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.
It doesn’t mean that we get a lie-in but it’s so much nicer not waking up to the sound of the alarm and having to immediately jump out of bed and get ready. Non-alarm days or weekends we’re usually woken up by Isabelle climbing over us so it could be a misplaced arm, let or elbow that awakens us.
It was a great start to the week as the sun was shining, albeit it the wind was biting. Up we got at a leisurely pace and off we went to Wildwood Escot for a day of Creepy Crawly Welly Walking, walking in the woods and eating flapjack (which I’ve posted separately about).
We were really lucky with the weather as the following day it poured down with rain so we headed off to soft play in Exmouth. If you’ve been to Exmouth before then you will know that when it’s cold – it’s flippin freezing there! Isabelle had a really lovely time. We bumped into several people from school including Isabelle’s teacher. It ended with the filling in of an accident form as Isabelle got herself a lovely slide burn on her back and her arm.
We finished off that day with MacDonalds and a trip to a local farm shop where the Ostrich took a slightly liking to me and followed me backwards and forwards. I tested this theory by running up and down and it copied me. I only received a couple of odd looks.
Wednesday we had a lazy day at home and made cupcakes and Carrot and Lentil Soup.
Thursday we met up with a dog walker friend who is hopefully going to have Charlie when we go on holiday in August. This will be first time that we’ve left him so I’m a bit nervous as I don’t want him to think that we’ve left him. He had to meet the other dog that will be there at the same time as him to make sure that they would get along. I knew that Charlie would be fine as he’s such a friendly boy. He’s never shown any aggression to any other dogs or people, and just loves to play so I knew that he would be fine.
Isabelle had a playdate with a friend in the afternoon so I had a bit of a catch up with sorting washing and a little bit of blogging.
Friday was another dodgy weather day so Isabelle invited one of her friends over to play. It was the first time that her room wasn’t turned upside down and inside out. They sat and played pony hairdressers.
On Saturday we went to the cinema to watch the Trolls movie which we hadn’t got round to watching due to illness/being busy. I gave her a choice of pic n mix or Ice cream, and she chose ice cream. She opted for a two scoop tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. What flavour did she want? Phish Food, Caramel Chew, Double Chocolate Brownie? Nope she wanted vanilla. Really said the man serving. You just want vanilla? He tempted her into having one scoop of vanilla and one caramel honey.
The film was fab so we need to get it on DVD.
Today we went to Budleigh Salterton Beach with the pooch. The whole beach is just pebbles, no sand.
It’s really difficult to walk on pebbles as they move so running is almost impossible.
Charlie wasn’t keen on the beach to start with, but I think it was because the waves were quite fierce and they make a lot of noise going back and forth over the pebbles. We walked down as far as the nudey beach, and thankfully there were no nudists for Isabelle to point at and laugh at (luckily for us).
By the time we made it off the beach it felt like we were walking on fluffy clouds.
Wildwood Escot – We used to be frequent visitors of Escot when Ryan was younger so it’s nice to be invited to take Isabelle, especially as she seems to quite like mud, walking in mud, squishing in mud, poking sticks in mud……..just mud.
We started off in the Anglo Saxon Village which was really cool. It was all set out as a proper village with a kitchen area, bedrooms, fire places and is used as part of the Camp Wild setting which offers holiday camps for children aged 7 – 12 years.
The Welly Walk
This February half term they have Creepy Crawly Welly Walks running twice a day which are definitely worth going on. We had a lovely guide who showed us some rather strange looking dried animals and skulls. Isabelle didn’t seem phased by the flat squirrel or hedgehog.
We stomped through the park to a pond where we dipped to see if we could find any creepy crawlies lurking underneath. We found some little ‘slug like’ bugs on the leaves and further on we found some frog spawn which Isabelle thought looked like snot.
You know the saying that you learn something new everyday?
Well at Wildwood Escot they have a deadly predator laying in waiting.
It doesn’t have claws, sharp teeth and it doesn’t growl.
It’s called Hemlock Water Dropwart and is poisonous if eaten.
We then took part in making mud creatures using mud, twigs, leaves and anything else that we could find on the ground.
Isabelle made a squirrel, a squirrel house with a fire outside the front and an antenna on the top for the TV.
It was amazing seeing all the other children using their imagination to make creatures including an alien and a fairy.
Exploring the park
After the welly walk we went to explore the rest of the park. There are some amazing climbing trees with really gnarly intertwined branches.
It was a lovely sunny day but the wind was quite biting so unfortunately we didn’t see the squirrels, but we saw the Lynx being fed by the keeper. There was one at the back, and we finally spotted the other one which was hiding in the giant tree trunk in it’s enclosure. They really are beautiful. I could just imagine one curling up on your lap.
The Wild Boar were all foraging for food and some were outstretched in the sunlight.
We went over to the Death Slide and Isabelle was really up for having a go. That was until she reached the top and looked over the edge, and then we came back down again. Ha ha. I was totally going to show her how it’s done but I had to help her back down the steps!
I really wanted to go and watch the Otter feeding, as they’re really interesting. They obviously know exactly what time feeding time is as they were all by the door that the keeper comes in whining in unison, and running round as a group waiting for their food.
The otters were given a selection of food including turkey meatballs and cherry tomatoes which was thrown all around the enclosure so that they had to look for it. They work really fast at getting the food!
A hanging type basket filled with straw and bits of food was hung up so that they had to rummage through the straw to get the food. It was really funny to see them find something like they were dipping into a lucky dip, run over to the water to wash it before eating it.
We spent some time in the outdoor play area where there are plenty of things to climb on, and then had a go on the rope swing where I very nearly took out a child. Oops.
Coffee and cake is usually quite high up on the list of things to do on a day out but we opted for flapjack which was so yummy and chewy (big thumbs up).
Isabelle found a tree where there were loads of wine bottles hanging. We told Isabelle that that’s where the witches lived and that they hung the bottles on the branches when they finished the wine.
There are loads of picnic tables or open grassy spaces around the park which is what we would usually do in the nicer weather.
Wildwood Escot is the place for you if you like being outdoors where the kids can explore, use their imagination and play.
Wolves are moving to Wildwood Escot shortly which we can’t wait to go and meet. Wildwood Escot is a registered charity and your admission is treated as a charitable donation. You can support this further by adopting an animal to help ensure that the animals are cared for and fed as they should. It also ensures that the park can be looked after for years more enjoyment.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.