Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Of Cows and Clotted Cream

We have just arrived home from our blissful weekend in Devon. if you have read my blog for a while, you may be familiar with our previous holiday disasters, ranging from a vomit covered flight to Antigua to an altitude sick baby in the Alps. We decided to never, ever get on an aeroplane with our daughter again (well, at least not until she could speak), and thus have taken to visiting idyllic locations in the UK. Devon holds a special place in my heart, as my parents took me every year (I fear they may too have abandoned flying with their vile, vomity daughter after one hellish trip too many!). The one year that they 'surprised' my brother and I, by taking us to the airport for a trip to Disney World rather than the expected Devon, resulted in the mother of tantrums at the check in desk (from me, not the check in lady), with screams of 'I want to go to devon, I hate Disney World'. I would have left me at the airport personally.

Anyway, last year Mr. G, Fifi, Grandma H (the saintly Grandma, who didn't leave me at the check in desk) and me all headed down to the south coast of Devon for a wedding. It was a blissful week, with a stunning wedding on the beach (breath-takingly beautiful!) and hours sat on pebbly beaches eating fish and chips. We decided to return to the same cottage (on a secluded beach, totally isolated, but a 5 minute walk to a village with a good pub....Mr. G is happy!), and had another amazing few days. Obviously it was helped by good weather (but hindered slightly by the hateful A303 ensuring the journey took nearly 6 hours, we got through every nursery rhyme in history, but it turns out Fifi like LMFAO better than Old Macdonald), but the wonderful thing about Devon, aside from the clotted cream, is that there is so much to do if you have a young family. Here are my picks....

Blackpool Sands Beach: We were staying near Torcross, which has a great beach, Blackpool Sands, 10 minutes along the coast, is geared up for family and children a little better, with a sandier shore line and a good cafe, not to mention a shop selling every variety of bucket and spade known to man! It's also a bit more sheltered than some beaches, so if it's a little breezy, you'll do better here than anywhere else.

Paignton Zoo: An fabulous zoo, in the heart of South Devon, with every animal you could need. Totally geared up to children, with a great cafe, gift shop and elephants, tigers, rhinos and everything in between.

Living Coasts, Coastal Zoo: Another zoo, but this time a coastal version, where you can enjoy penguins, seals, otters auks and lots more. I have a soft spot for penguins, and this was a great place to watch them in a great setting. Fifi was captivated, watching them swim under water!

Pennywell Farm: You may notice a theme here, we like animals. Pennywell is my most favourite place to visit in Devon, as children can touch and feed all manner of farm animals, ride ponies and play in the great playground. Fifi took a liking to a micro-pig, and Mr. G, who is not such an animal lover (he still resents me for forcing him to get two cats years ago) started enquiring into buying them as they were so cute. Cue panicked mummy (I have a toddler, I do not need a pig adding to my never ending list of things to tidy up after) and thrilled Fifi ("pig home", was her next statement, followed by "Fifi pig'). Luckily they weren't for sale, and the rabbits, which were for sale, did not hold the same charm for Mr. G or Fifi. Phew.

Dartmouth Castle: A wonderful, picturesque castle in the gorgeous fishing town of Dartmouth. Built as a fortress to defend the Dart estuary, you can stand on the top, looking out to sea, and imagine cannons firing and ships approaching years ago. A great place for children with active imaginations. The ice cream is also pretty good, I can personally vouch for it!

These are the places we have visited over our last two trips, but I can also recommend Buckfast Abbey (home to Benedictine monks who make their own honey and wine, sounds like a nice life!), Buckfast Butterfly Farm and Otter Sanctuary, Kents Cavern (lots of caves, great for a hot day), and Castle Drogo (the last castle to be built in the UK). I haven't visited these for a while, but have very fond memories of them!

Blackpool Sands Beach, on the A379 between Stoke Fleming and Strete

Paignton Zoo, Totnes Road, Paignton. Tickets £14.45 for adults and £10.20 for over 3's. Under 3's free.

Living Coast, Torquay. Adults £10.90, Over 3's £8.25.

Pennywell Farm, Buckfastleigh.

Dartmouth Castle, Dartmouth. adults £4.80, children (5-15) £2.90.

Buckfast Abbey, Buckfastleigh

Buckfast Butterfly Farm and Otter Sanctuary, Buckfastleigh. Adults £8.25, children £6.25

Kents Cavern, 91 Ilsham Road, Torquay. Adults £8.25, Children £7.95, under 3's free.

Castle Drogo, Drewstiegnton, Exeter. Adults £9.30, Children £4.70, under 3's free.

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