Lyme Regis

We had a lovely road trip out to Lyme Regis today. The weather was overcast when we left so a good time for a trip to the beach when you’ve got young children as it’s not too busy and it’s not too sunny. Obviously, as it’s Devon, the sun shone in the afternoon and so it became a little too sunny and a quite busy within no time!

In a last minute rush down to the impromptu decision to go, I pulled together a very quick and a very basic picnic using the leftovers from our daughter’s first birthday yesterday. Thankfully the fridge was full of picnic-friendly food!

It’s only a half hour drive from where we live in Ottery St Mary and a very picturesque journey down country lanes. The girls enjoyed the treat of seeing the Seaton Tramway pass by when we were stopped at the crossing. Note to self: pick a day to travel by Seaton Tramway!

Parking was easy, we found a carpark up the hill but still very central to the shops and the sea was in sight (do you shout ‘I can see the sea’ when it appears on the horizon or is that just us?). There was more parking down on the sea front but only with limited spaces. The parking metre in the car park we used accepted coins but also the RingGo app – essential for us as we never seem to be carrying the right change.

Be prepared for the hill – hold on tight to the buggy/wheelchair on the way down and prepare for quite the push on the way back up! We spotted public toilets down by the seafront but didn’t use them so can’t comment on accessibility I’m afraid.

I loved the selection of shops in Lyme Regis – plenty of independents and plenty of the brands that I love. Along the seafront there’s an array of ice cream shops and bars and further down towards the sandy part of the beach there’s an arcade, trampolining for the kids, kayak hire and more.

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The esplanade was wide enough to fit the people wandering up and down it but also to park your buggy right on the edge of the pavement and to sit next to it just down on the stones. It provides a great little seat then too for those of us who aren’t too flexible and able to sit on the ground.

We had a brief walk around, picnicked on the stone beach hoping to avoid seagulls stealing our sandwiches and then enjoyed an ice cream whilst admiring the coast. A little walk back to the car, popping in to browse some of the shops and it was back to the car in time for the girls to nap on the way home.

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There’s obviously so much more to see but for today, it was a lovely addition to our list of #DevonAdventures had.

 

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Creation Station Exmouth

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe lovely Sam at Creation Station Exmouth very kindly invited me and both my girls along to a session with her last Friday at Ocean on the seafront in Exmouth.

I’ve never been one for messy play and I’m really not very creative so I was looking forward to someone else taking the lead and letting my girls get their hands dirty, literally!

On this occasion, Sam’s class wasn’t at full capacity and so she was able to put on creative activities for the babies and for the older children (my daughters are 1 and 3). Classes are usually for just the one age group, allowing Sam to concentrate on age-appropriate activities for them. Both girls were given waterproof all-in-one suits to wear to protect their clothes – note to parents, wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty as there’s no grown up waterproof suit! If you have a baby to chase after, you’ll be covered by the end, but thankfully in washable paint.

My baby was invited to crawl and splodge through paint and foam all over a roll of paper taped down onto a waterproof floor cover. The baby was quick to show that she wasn’t used to this messy play thing at all and spent the first ten minutes just smiling at the paint and admiring it from afar before crawling around the wet stuff and touching none of it. With a bit of encouragement from me (sitting her in the paint) she went on to create quite the masterpiece, only eating a little paint along the way. Later, footprints and handprints and any other bit of smudged paint that looked remotely artistic were cut out and tied to a mobile made of ice cream sticks and voila, we had a fantastic hanging decoration to show for our work!

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During this time, Sam had been working with my older daughter encouraging her to be creative in a different way. She painted a lovely picture which was then used to create a sail for a sailboat she made from modelling clay, buttons, painted matchsticks and a lot of glitter. She was so proud of her creation.

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Sam was great with both of my girls, encouraging them to get their hands dirty and unleash their creativity. If you do like a bit of messy play and like crafts I would recommend talking to Sam to find the right class for you. Crafty adults will enjoy finishing off their kid’s projects or adding embellishments to crafts made by the little ones – everyone can get involved!

Hosting Creation Station at Ocean in Exmouth was ideal to make more of a morning of it. You get a discounted entry to soft play and so the kids can burn off some energy in there while you enjoy coffee and cake. Perfect.

Sam, thank you – we had lots of fun.

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Chococo Exeter

What a lovely day we have had in Exeter. Our first stop was Chococo Exeter – really child friendly. My 3 year old had a hot chocolate with marshmallows and chocolate buttons (already cooled with cold milk so she could drink it immediately – very important!) and was able to sit at the kid’s table to do some drawing before pegging her picture on the wall. There’s highchairs, baby change facilities and the staff are so helpful, it’s definitely worth a visit and that’s without even mentioning the delicious handmade chocolates!! Tip: the kid’s stuff is upstairs and it’s best to leave your pushchair at the bottom.

After a little bit of shopping, we also had an impromptu picnic in Cathedral Square and were able to admire beautiful Exeter Cathedral in the sunshine before heading home with a quick stop-off at the playground.

Bicton Park Botanical Gardens

I must admit, I’m a big fan of Bicton Park Botanical Gardens and the husband is too. We bought a year’s membership last year and we have used it so much that we have definitely had our money’s worth!

Come rain or shine, Bicton has something for everyone, although you will always get more from it on a dry day. If you just fancy a walk around the grounds, you won’t be disappointed. From beautifully manicured lawns to swans gliding around on the lake, there’s plenty to see and plenty to explore. There are a few fairly steep hills around Bicton so be prepared for little legs to get a bit tired and for it to be a fair push up the hill with a buggy or a wheelchair but they’ve signposted the gentler hills to make life a little easier and it’s not so bad that you won’t be able to catch your breath at the top!

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When we first arrive, our daughter always wants to play in the hay barn – a covered area with hay all over the floor and mini-tractors and wheelbarrows and trailers. You wouldn’t expect that picking up hay and moving it around would be so much fun but our daughter plays for ages in there!

Next we venture down the hill to The Play Barn which is an indoor soft-play. It always  seems nice and clean and buggies aren’t allowed in but they have provided bouncy chairs and highchairs should you need them for the babies. They’ve even thought to designate an area with comfy chairs for breastfeeding. Top Tip: take cash as the cafe in The Play Barn doesn’t take cards and we all need that strong coffee when watching the kids run around soft play. Our one year old loves the perfectly ample baby/toddler space and our older daughter has loads of fun in the other areas. Be warned, the ball pool is deeper than you think (much to my sister-in-law’s dismay as she fell straight in and I didn’t laugh at all, no not one bit!). Toilets and child-friendly food means that you could just visit The Play Barn if the weather was a bit rubbish outside and you’d have everything you needed.

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When you emerge from The Play Barn, you could take the train that takes you around the Gardens (buy your ticket at the shop) and visit the great outdoor play area. With lots of space, a mini-golf (pay to play), huge pirate ship and a set of 5 little-person-sized houses to play in, you’ll be dragging the kids away at home-time.

There’s a shop and a restaurant too and plenty of space in the grounds to take a picnic. Dogs are welcome for £1 but must stay out of the restaurant area, Orangeries and Childrens Play Areas.

If you’re just going to be visiting for one day, the family ticket will set you back £34.95 but compare that to annual membership for a family of four at £49.95, you’ll see why it’s worth buying the membership. With free parking, accessible toilets, pushchair friendly grounds and child friendly meals – we keep going back.

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