This weekend we had the pleasure of visiting Paulos Circus at Darts Farm in Topsham. it’s a fantastic setting with plenty of parking and the appeal of coffee, cake, and ice cream afterwards.
We visited when they were there back in 2017 so we knew we were in for a treat – Paulos Circus 2017.
Paulos Circus has been entertaining the nation since 1816. Isabelle’s Tour is a mixture of traditional circus acts presented with a 21st-century twist.
The excitement builds once the Big Top is insight. The walk there today was a soggy one, but it definitely didn’t put a dampener on the experience.
I went with my sister and her daughter. As well as my two. I wasn’t sure if Freddie was going to sit still but he was mesmerised throughout the show as there are so many different acts to see as well as all the lighting and effects.
We wore masks until we were seated. As we were seated ringside, there were plastic partitions between each family group and a one-way system in and out of the tent. There were also hand sanitisers at the entrance and in the toilets.
What to Expect
The show was Go….Go…..Go throughout with act after act providing non-stop entertainment.
The acts included:
Juggling Balancing Aerial Gymnastics Aerial Cube Gymnastics Ladder walking (not sure if that’s the technical term, but you’ll know what I mean) Trapeze Artist A Fairy on a tightrope A Robot and a Spaceship
And not forgetting Poroto the clown who we saw in between each act – he was absolutely hilarious.
There were refreshments available on a cash-only basis so don’t forget to take some cash on the day.
The show lasted around 75 minutes and it went by really quickly.
It is loud in the big top and there are a lot of flashing lights. I did notice a couple of children wearing ear defenders, but my three-year-old and ten-year-old were absolutely fine without.
How much are the tickets?
Isabelle’s Tour is at Dart’s Farm until the 25th July with plenty of shows available and then on to Newquay for the rest of the Summer.
The tickets are £8 per person which is a very reasonable price. Under 2’s are FREE.
These can be prebooked or bought on the gate, but personally, I’m not sure I would risk the disappointment of being turned away. You can book your Paulos Circus Tickets Here.
Right from the beginning, I thought it was well thought out with a one-way system and hand sanitisers available on arrival. The Big Top wasn’t packed full of people, there was plenty of room and in terms of COVID and social distancing, I felt that we didn’t have any issues at all.
The show was fantastic. There was something going on all of the time which just keeps the excitement going throughout. I wasn’t sure if Freddie was going to sit still as he has no experience of sitting in this kind of setting as he was only 18 months old when the pandemic hit. However, he was mesmerised by the lights and the acts. He joined in with the clapping and laughed throughout. My daughter and niece enjoyed it so much and again joined in wholeheartedly.
I love the circus and the atmosphere was brilliant. Everybody was clapping along and laughing the whole time. The performers give 100% to their acts and it shines throughout the acts.
Family Friendly things to do in London – London is the capital of our country and also a really interesting and fun place to take the family. However, like most days out in the UK it can be a costly business so I thought I would have a bit of a rummage around to see how you can experience London as a family which won’t break the bank.
The National History Museum – This would be one of the top things on my list of things to do whether it was a paid admission or free. Meet a T-Rex, experience an earthquake and take a trip to the centre of the earth. For a really special treat (not free) you can stay the night at the museum and experience a torch light tour which sounds absolutely amazing.
The Science Museum looks like it would be a really fun place to visit with loads of interactive activities. Some of these are paid and need booking in advance, but if you pop over to their website there is more than enough to keep the little ones and the big ones busy.
London Motor Museum – If cars are your thing then this is a must see exhibition. They even have the likes of Herbie the Volkswagon Beetle, the original Batmobile and the Ford Gran Torino used in the Starsky and Hutch TV series.
The V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green houses the UK’s national collection of childhood objects, all dated as far back from the 1600’s to the present day. There you will find toys, dolls and games. They also run lots of events and workshops so make sure you check their website before your visit.
Horniman Museum & Gardens – They have lots to see including animals (real live ones), an aquarium, butterfly house, 16 acres to run around and discover wildlife, a hands on base where you can touch and experience various things, a music gallery, a natural history area packed full of taxidermy, skeletons and fossils, a nature base and nature trail. There is a small entrance fee for this but it’s definitely up their in the budget friendly category.
Take a trip to Grenwich to see the Royal Observatory, the Astronomer Royal’s house and stand on the Meridian Line. The best way to see all of these is by getting a Day Explorer Ticket where you will have access to all sorts including The Royal Observatory, the Cutty Sark, the Meridian Line and Museums.
The Royal Academy of Art – Run free family workshops and activities so do check their website to see what’s on. Once you’re done you can go and have a play in the fountains outside!
London Zoo – Meet the Majestic King of the Jungle, enter the Gorilla Kingdom and get up close and personal with the Lemurs in their walk-through exhibit. There’s loads of things to see and do at the Zoo. If you’re lucky you may get to experience Zoo Nights on selected dates.
Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace – It’s definitely something you don’t see everyday and is a definite must-do if you haven’t already done so. Once you’re done it’s nice to take a walk through St James’s park.
Spot the Deer at Bushy Park near Hampton Court Palace before wandering through the gardens of Hampton Court Palace. There is a fee to enter the palace but you can wander through the gardens free of charge.
Clapham Common – There is loads of open space to play and run around as well as three ponds, a fishing pond, a duck feeding pond and a model boat pond. There are also two playgrounds, a huge paddling pool and a bandstand café for refuelling.
Timber Lodge and Tumbling Baby Playground at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. There you will find rock pools, sand pits, treehouses and wobbly bridges as well as slides swing and plenty of space for running around or having a picnic.
Coram’s Fields – In Central London is a definite pit-stop. They have Playgrounds, a small Farm, a Café and Sports Pitches. Lots of room for the littles to burn off some energy.
Brockwell Park – Apparently one of the best parks in South London it has a great playground with zip wires, climbing frames and tunnels as well as a sandpit and paddling pool (be warned with water jets).
Centre for Wildlife Gardening – Here you will find mini-habitats, ponds to explore, a chalk bank, woodland copse, herb gardens and lots of bug sanctuaries and hotels.
Golders Hill Park Zoo – Hampstead Heath. Explore and visit their collection of rare birds and animals before heading off for a splash in one of the swimming ponds and lido.
Dukes Meadow Park, Chiswick – With it’s own beach and adventure playground! There are also lots of sports that take place, a kiosk for food and it also hosts the Fine Food Market.
Open Top Bus Tour – A must do when you visit London, but do look out for deals as these can be particularly pricey. Groupon are currently offering a family Open Top Bus Ticket for £49 which may seem pricey, but it’s definitely one to tick off your bucket list.
Windsor Duck Tours – Am I the only person that wasn’t aware these things even existed. Basically it’s a boat with wheels so you start the tour on land, and then it drives into the water and becomes a boat. So cool!
Camden Town Market, Spitalfields Market and Portobello market are definitely worth a visit. Be warned though as it will be extremely busy.
City Cruises – Down the River Thames for the ultimate London sightseeing experience including Big Ben, The London Eye, Tower Bridge and more with various pick-up and drop-off points along the way.
Borough Market – near London Bridge where you can find an array of fresh and organic produce including fruit, veg, meat and cheeses as well as baked treats, condiments and scrummy street food.
Brick Lane Market – Have a good old rummage through vintage clothes, shoes, furniture and bric-a-brac with Sunday being the best day to visit.
Broadway Market, Hackney – here you will find local artists and craftspeople selling unique and unusual clothing and gifts as well as locally produced foods, furniture and more.
Maltby Street Market near London Bridge Station is a foodie heaven with lots f street food on offer including New York Style Sandwiches to authentic Mexican Street food.
Hamley’s Toy Store – Here you will find over 50,000 toys spread out across seven floors to indulge your inner child. Whilst it’s free to go in, you may not be able to get out without spending a penny or two.
Take a stroll along the many areas where you will find some pretty cool Street Art including Banksy. Head to Camden Town where you will be in for a colourful treat, and Shoreditch is up there for ever changing artwork, and there’s even an organised Street Art Tour you can take to ensure you get the full experience. The tours aren’t free but you could navigate through the areas yourself.
If street Art is something that you’re interested in then head to The Rise Gallery in Croyden where they house an array of cool artwork. They also do organised tours of the local Croyden Street Art.
Lewisham hosts over 60 public artworks which you can find listed on the Council Website or you could follow The Line which is a self-guided walking tour linking The O2 and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Part where you will discover artists such as Damien Hirst, Alex Chinneck and Eduardo Paolozzi.
Take a walk along Regent’s Canal where you will see an array of colourful narrowboats overlooked by the aviary of London Zoo you can take in the scenery and chill away from the hustle and bustle.
London Stadium Tour – Take a walk around this fantastic multi-purpose venue which is home to West Ham United and UK Athletics. The tour includes panoramic views into the stadium, a look around the changing rooms, visit the indoor running track and walk down the Players Tunnel. You could also pretend that you’re the Manager from the Managers dug-out.
A self-guided Treasure Trail – Discover a local area and all it’s hidden gems. Either downloads and print or have one sent to you in the post. The trails are full of clues, facts and information on lots of areas including London. Pack a picnic and off you go.
This is just a handful of the fun things that you can see and do in and around London BUT before you go booking or paying for any attractions, have a look at sites such as Groupon to see what Family Friendly things to do in London you can take advantage of.
This also applies to where you stay when you go. If you have children below school age, I would recommend visiting outside of the school holidays as these times will be less busy and you may get off-peak prices as well. However, school holiday deals are also available so it’s always best to check beforehand to make the most of you money.
We haven’t been for a while but Woodlands Family Theme Park is a really great place to take the kids. Although it’s a theme park there are loads of open spaces for the kids to run around.
What is there to do?
Vertigo – New for 2017 (I’m not sure I would be brave enough to go on this) – Minimum height 96cm (accompanied) over 106cm can ride on their own
Sea Dragon Swing Ship – Minimum height 110cm (accompanied) over 125cm can ride on their own
Rock n Roll Tugboat – Be prepared to rock, roll and spin! – Minimum height 90cm (accompanied) over 105cm can ride on their own
Bumper Boats – Get competitive with a go in the bumper boats – Minimum height 90cm (accompanied) – over 140cm can ride on their own
Seascape Mirror Maze – Be prepared for a unique experience. Imagine the deepest abyss in the ocean. You’re not sure what’s real, Secret Passageways stretch before you forever. This is the baffling Seascape Mirror Maze where Monstrous Sea Creatures mysteriously grow and fade. The Quest is to find the elusive Sea Spirit. Children must be supervised
Dolphin Toddler Play – For children under 110cm. Lots of fun stuff for the littles to do including a camper van slide
Jumping Pillow – Minimum height 90cm (accompanied) – Over 120cm can ride on their own
Tractor Ride – Climb up the life-sized tractors and drive around our very own farmyard. Enjoy looking at all your favourite noisy farm animals as you drive past them
Pedal Town – Let the kids get carried away racing against each other whilst you can sit and watch
Safari Adventure Golf – Who doesn’t love a game of mini golf. This 18 hole course has loads of fun features to entertain the whole family
Meeks Retreat – Meet the Meerkat family
Big Animal Barn – Here you will find Charlotte the Shire Horse, lambs, calves, goats and ponies
Pigs Palace – Who doesn’t love a piggy or two
Reptile House – A fave as these are animals that you are unlikely to come across in every day life so are a bit more interesting. They have a Dwarf Caiman Crocodile, iguanas, bearded dragons, turtles, terrapins and a black throat monitor as well as a selection of snakes
Rabbit and Guinea Pig City
Nocturnal House – Do you know what a sugar glider is? You will also get the opportunity to meet raccoons, chinchillas, dwarf mongoose, Egyptian long-eared hedgehogs, rats, and gerbil
Goat Mountain – I’m like a magnet for goats. Maybe it’s my smell but they always follow me or try and eat my clothes
Outdoor Paddocks – Meet the alpaca and emu, llamas and Manx sheep
Parrots Paradise – Full of gorgeously bright coloured birds
Chicken Run – See how many different kinds of chickens you can spot
New Babies – If you’re lucky you may see a baby or two
Titan the Robot – 15th August 2017
He’s worked with stars including Rihanna and Will smith and will make 3 appearances during the day where he will perform some street theatre, comedy, and music.
Fizzpop Science Workshop and Show – 11th & 18th August 2017
They will be making gooey slime and teach you about friction, from rubbing your hands together to *Dalek Plungers we learn how friction is helpful for us to ‘get a grip’. They will also demonstrate how they can remove friction by adding blasts of air, allowing us to float a willing volunteer around the floor with their very own hoverboard!
Meet the Woodland Superstarz – Throughout the School Holidays.
Emazad the Magician and Friends – Watch him entertain the kids with his balloon skills – Various dates throughout the School Holidays.
Haldon Forest is one of our go-to places when we don’t have anything else planned. We can take the dog as well which is an extra bonus and Isabelle loves it.
What is there to do?
Go and explore the woods and use your imagination. Try this one on your little ones – If there is a fallen tree with the roots all showing we tell Isabelle that it’s a troll’s house and they’ve popped out for a bit. In other parts of the woods where the Go Ape bits are we tell Isabelle that they are tree people flying through the trees.
She’s nearly seven now so although she knows that the ‘tree people’ are actually people on zip wires, she’s still happy to go along with the troll houses so we’ll go with that.
Follow one of the many trails that they have. Our usual trails are the Butterfly Trail and the Discovery Trail which are the easy routes. There are plenty of things to do along the way such as huge pipes to make your own tune on, huts, and lookouts. The last time we went there horseriders passed us which was nice to see.
Pick out good sticks, leaves, and stones. Play hide and seek and shout to hear your voices echo.
The Gruffalo Trail – Download the Gruffalo Spotter app and have fun spotting the creatures from the Gruffalo and then meet the Gruffalo and Stick man at the end of the trail.
Take the bikes and follow one of the bike-friendly trails.
Go Ape – This is one for kids over 1 metre and there are various different adventures available.
Segway Trails – Suitable for kids over 10 years old. These look really cool but we’ve yet to have a go on them.
Once you’ve finished you can pop into the cafe for refreshments and maybe an ice cream or cake.
How much does it cost?
Visiting the forest is FREE but there is a charge for parking which you can find the info on the Forestry Commission Website.
Get a Gruffalo Activity Pack from the Rangers Office packed full of cool stuff to make your experience in the woods cooler – just £3.00.
We’re long overdue a trip to Morwellham Quay. The last time we went we had to stop half way there as Ryan felt car sick and he used his Nintendo DS as a sick bucket. It’s fair to say that the DS died a gruesome death that day. However, all was not lost as we had a fantastic day.
What is there to do?
Ride the Copper Mine Train – Take a ride on the train and admire the view before entering the George and Charlotte copper mine.
Traditional Crafts – Watch local Craftsmen working in the forge or pottery and rope making in the village.
Chocolate Making – Discover where chocolate came from and how it is made. Take part and make your own chocolate treat.
Victorian School – Experience school life in Victorian times including the strict regime and punishments.
The Brewery – Sample Beer and Cider from the brewery and learn how it’s produced.
Victorian bakery – Learn the traditional techniques, knead some dough and make your own bread roll.
Mining Copper – Smash a rock and see what riches you can find.
Panning for Gold – Kids love this traditional way of searching for precious metals.
The Garlandstone – Step on board one of the last cargo vessels built in England.
Play areas – Let off some steam in the kids play area.
Dress like a Victorian – There are loads of costumes for both adults and kids to try on which is a lot of fun.
10.00am – 5.00pm
Dogs are welcome and there is wheelchair access, but there are lots of cobbles.
Children under 3 years old: FREE
Children 3 – 16 years: £8.95
Family Ticket (2 adults & 2 children): £34.95
If you book your tickets online there is a 10% discount.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.