Around Devon

Out and about Exeter and Devon.

#MySundayPhoto – Rhino Hunting in Devon

The plan was to check out the Westcountry BrickShow, then go find a Rhino or two… Well the two hour queue for the Lego show put us off going, so instead we decided to start hunting Rhinos instead.

The “Great Big Rhino Project”, is a trail of rhinos to go and discover around Exeter, and South Devon.

Our Little One loved finding, hugging and occasionally licking the rhinos we found. Yeah… The licking thing is weird…

We found this a great way to explore around Exeter with the Little One, she particularly enjoyed the underground passages centre. (There’s one down there by the way!)

Armed with a map of Rhino locations, it’s a little bit like PokemonGo, except instead of Pokemon and flat phone batteries, you’re finding Rhinos… And it’s easier to do this in groups without all of you having smart phones.

Check out greatbigrhinos.org.uk for information about why Rhinos are popping up around Exeter and South Devon.

Photalife

#MySundayPhoto – Memories of The Somme

Taken during the Shrouds of the Somme art exhibition in Exeter. It was to remember each one of the 19240 Allied servicemen who fell on the first day of the Battle of the Somme 1 July 1916.

Seeing all the “bodies” lined up was a fantastic use of art to really hammer the human cost of that battle home.

For other Lego Photos please check out The Tales From The Toyshelf on Facebook.
Photalife

Exploring Fyne Court

Every now and then the stars align, and the two of us both have a weekend off at the same time. In a more remarkable twist, a couple of friends of ours from up in Bristol were also off that weekend as well. Being very aware that we hadn’t had the greatest record of going away with the Little One lately, we decided to meet up halfway between Exeter and Bristol. After a brief search for ideas*, we settled on exploring Fyne Court, a National Trust property between Taunton and Bridgewater.

According to the National Trust website:

Fyne Court is a hidden gem in the heart of the Quantock Hills. Explore this wild garden, looking out for the boathouse and folly.

The estate was the home of the Crosse family who lived here until the house was destroyed by fire in 1894. Discover how the fire started and find out where the house used to stand on one of our eye opener tours.

Putting it simply: Fyne Court is a beautiful secret, hidden somewhere in Somerset.

Finding this place was an interesting journey. It probably didn’t help that due to navigation “issues” we took the scenic route, but the scenic route included views of the gorgeous Quantock Hills, a pheasant, and a doe (baby deer) jumping into the road.

The parts of Fyne Court that we explored (we followed a shorter route) was a small forest, nestled in a sheltered part of Somerset. (Although a quick look online, confirms that Fyne court stretches out a fair bit more).  Just next to the car park you will find the the visitors centre, and a small cafe. The cafe seems to sell “light lunches”, as well as a great selection of cakes, and hot and cold drinks. Our Little One made a beeline for  the chocolate crispie cakes they had on sale there. Quality wise, it is a National Trust cafe, it is high quality.

After topping up our energy levels on hot chocolate, and chocolate crispie cakes, we set off to explore Fyne Court via their “20 minute” walking route. It probably takes 20 minutes for normal walkers, with a couple of little people it took longer, but the path was easy enough and didn’t present any particular problems. (Well the 13 month old presented some issues with a nappy, but that’s a different matter).

The entrance to the secret garden

There was fun for the three year olds, in the form of a tree trunk to walk along/climb on and wooden musical instruments along the route, and a spotter sheet to help keep them engaged along the route.  My personal highlight of the walk was the “sky glade”, an area that encouraged you to stop, look up, and take in the sky above.

We took advantage of one of the many picnic spots available. The one we stopped at being next to a duck pond which provided plenty of amusement for the little ones with us.

If you’re in the Somerset area, I would recommend checking out Fyne Court – but make sure your navigator is paying attention when you go there… (And yes – it is free entry)

Check out the Fyne Court website for more information.

(A cheap plug here for my Photography Facebook page which has the below picture taken from the area outside of the cafe at Fyne Court)

The Sleepeasy 2016 Twitter Feed

Well tonights the night of Exeter Sleepeasy. Where a large number of Exeter people are gathering to raise money to help fight youth homelessness in Devon. For those who aren’t able to take part, you can follow the Twitter side of things by following the feed below:

(presuming everything works how it should)

 


Does Devon need school lollipop patrollers?

School lollipop patrollers, the people that annoy some motorists, by ensuring mostly small children can cross the road safely. They have been a staple of a childs walk to school for a number of generations, but does Devon need school lollipop patrollers?  That’s the question that has been asked by Devon County Council a couple of times over the last 12 months or so, and according to the Exeter Express and Echo they are on the verge of not saying no – but that they shouldn’t be funded by tax payers money.

According to “The Echo“:

Despite overwhelming opposition from the public, schools and councillors, a proposal by Devon County Council to cease funding school lollipop patrollers has been approved at its cabinet meeting today.

The fate of the future of the service will now be decided next Thursday at a meeting of its full council.

The reason behind the cost cutting plans is to save £250,000 a year from the county council budget. Instead the cost will transfer to schools, with the patrollers themselves employed by a third party that would deliver the service on a full-cost recovery or commercial basis.

If schools decide not to fund the cost of their patrol, the alternatives are for it to be run by volunteers or to lose the service.

In other words, if a lollipop patroller service disappears, the council will say its the local schools fault for not sorting it out.

Is this David Camerons Big Society being played out? People needing to volunteer, because the state doesn’t want to find the money to help small  kids, and hassled parents to cross the road?

There is a campaign going, to try and save the crossing patrols, if you agree with what they’re trying to do, please sign their petition at change.org.

Finding Stick Man at Haldon Forest

Stick Man Trail in Haldon Forest, Devon - Near Exeter

I have to admit, we were late to the Stick Man party. We didn’t see Stick Man on TV over Christmas, instead it was our little one bringing Stick Man home from PreSchool, that introduced us to the character. Long story short, we soon had cries of “I’m Stick Man!” echoing around our house. When we realised there was a Stick Man trail at The Haldon Forest in Devon, we felt we had to go and find him.

As we both had a day off from work, we figured we would take advantage of going up to Haldon Forest on a quieter “school day”.  After a 20 minute drive from Exeter, we found ourselves in Haldon Forest on a damp January Friday. Much to the Little Ones frustration we didn’t run to find Stick Man, but fuelled ourselves up at “The Ridge Cafe”. (While Mummy also ran to pick up the “Activity Pack” from the rangers office.)

After food was eaten, we were off. Armed with a map from the activity pack… and help from the signs pointing us towards Stick Man, we went to find him. There were a number of characters from the book to look for, and challenges to take part in, while walking around the trail, (sadly due to the dampness we figured we should skip the challenges). After 10 minutes or so, we found ourselves with a giant Stick Man!

A giant Stick Man… who wasn’t too far way from a Gruffalo! In an attempt to show that the Gruffalo wasn’t something to be worried about, I ended up giving the children’s monster a giant hug. While our Little One still wasn’t impressed, I found the experience oddly relaxing.

We took her unkeenness at seeing the The Gruffalo (and the incoming storm) as a cue to go home. We’re planning on going back on a nicer day to really take a chance to enjoy it, and the play park equipment they have there.

If you or your Little One enjoys the adventures of Stick Man, I’d strongly recommend the Stick Man Trail at Haldon Forest. For more details of this, and other Stick Man Trails around England check out the Forestry Commission’s website.

The Stick Man DVD is now available from Amazon.co.uk – And its well worth a watch!

Exploring The Devon Railway Centre 

Do you remember what it was like to enjoy trains? Did you ever think of them more then just a way to get from A->B? Is there a little one in your life that still likes trains? There’s a little place called the Devon Railway Centre next to the gorgeous Bickleigh Mill, that can be found somewhere between Exeter, and Tiverton that might be the place for your little one.

The Devon Rail Centre describes itself as a popular Devon tourist attraction, and I can see why. The Devon Rail Centre isn’t on the largest site, but there are plenty of attractions squeezed in there. The main one that got our attention as we made our way in, was the steam train that takes you around the park, where the driver gives kids of many ages the chance to punch tickets, to be the train guard, and you are not just limited to one journey. Handy if you have a little one that’s keen on trains!

Within a couple of train carriages, you’ll find a number of model railways, and outside you’ll also find a model village. Both the village, and the railways have push buttons that activate trains, trams, and other things, which seemed very exciting to our almost 3 year old. There is also a stack of stools for the children to use to see the displays.

There is also a play area found within the train carriages, which has an area for the under 3’s-with ride on bikes, a brio train play area, a MASSIVE sand box, and (in the words of our toddler) a “deep” ball pit.

There is also a soft play area, which from the map looks pretty big, but we decided to avoid this, as by the time we would have considered it, it was highly likely to be heaving and the inevitable ‘being dragged around’ did not sound like fun!

There were 3 outside climbing frames, one by the entrance, one near the picnic stop half way through the stream train journey and one near the cafe. We only went to the latter one, which was definitely enjoyed by our little one, even if it meant repeatedly helping her get up via the more difficult routes.

It’s definitely worth a visit with a train fan, especially if they are under 3 years, so they get in free. If your child is really keen, but pennies are limited, then ask the retired grandparents to take them, so that they can OAP rate! There is also an annual pass, which looks like a good idea if you would consider visiting a few times. There are plenty of places to sit and eat a picnic, or there are a few basic snacks/meals for sale in the cafe.

The important thing about this place, is that it’s fun, and if you’re with a little one who finds it exciting, you may, just for a moment, also find trains exciting again.

The Devon Railway Centre Website