The Big Sheep

 It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

No bah humbugs here, we are in the full Christmas swing down in delightful Devon and to get us off to to a merry start, we visited the The Big Sheep, just outside of Bideford in Abbotsham, North Devon.

At this time of year parts of the park are transformed into a festive wonderland. A magical seasonal treat for the whole family over the Christmas period, starting in early December and continuing right through until Christmas Eve. It’s easy to see that lots of thoughtful care and attention has been used to transform the space into a cheerful Christmas experience full of tinsel and fairy lights.

Part of this transformation on the day we visited included a Christmas Food Market, a Christmas Craft Market and Woolys Winter Wonderland which includes a visit to Santa’s grotto.

Inside we also enjoyed an ice rink and snowboarding simulator, I say we but I could not quite bring myself to have a go on the snowboarding machine as I caught a cheeky grin from the elf who was on the control panel, and he was thoroughly enjoying turning the speed up as the children wobbled off the snowboard. The children were loving every single minute of the action… but on this occasion, I did not feel like being thrown onto a huge inflatable!  We did however enjoy trying to keep our children upright in their skates on the ice rink. A whole barrel of laughs whilst enjoying the beautiful light displays and sipping hot chocolate which all adds to the wonderland atmosphere. The outside of the grotto itself was decorated perfectly, complete with sleigh, animated work shop elves and a moving snowman set in his very own snowy garden… and of course Father Christmas!

More about our visit to Mr Christmas later, but for now, those of you who don’t know the big sheep, it was originally a sheep farm and has been in the same family for six generations, the site was transformed into an attraction by owner Rick Turner in 1988. Obviously a very good year for creating things as it is the year I was also born! Now a farm themed family Adventure playground with over 25 years of family fun, they run all sorts of fabulous days out with plenty to do here all year round.

The Ewetopia (sheep themed of course) indoor playground is a fantastic space for all ages, a huge, bright and colourful indoor play area with plenty of exciting activities to keep the kids entertained for hours and for us adults the coffee is great too! The menu is simple but yummy, both generous and reasonably priced. I also noticed on one of the party package leaflets that as well as kids parties they also do evening hire, where they keep the indoor play area open for your enjoyment.  

My children loved the pull along pig ride outside, all pulled around by a tractor and skillfully driven by a very enthusiastic staff member who had my girls smiling and cheering all the way around the farm.

Our last visit was in the summer, it was one of their many themed days, the theme was superhero day where if your children dress up they will get in for free, well worth checking the website pre visit for upcoming events.  They also do a popular “toddler takeover” day, perfect for smaller people.

On our previous visit we also bottle fed lambs, rode ponies, bounced around on giant jumping pillows, rode a rollercoaster, rode on a train and watched sheep racing (a daily occurrence in the summer months) and much much more… They also have something called Battlefield Devon.  Think outdoor laser craze! A bit like paintballing but without the bruises or the paint. A splash zone for the warmer months, a climbing wall and they even do sheep and duck trials!

The Christmas farmers market and craft market days are a great addition at this time of year and are regularly held on the the run up to the big day. The barn that is usually filled with animals is filled with delicious Christmas treats and the added marquee next to Wooly’s Wonderland is full of beautiful handmade gifts.  From great fresh fish stalls to jams and chutneys, decorative wooden ornaments and gorgeous jewelry, a great place for everyone to stock up for the festive season ahead…  We had a lovely time meeting all the talented crafts people and dedicated local food producers.

As I said we are now fully immersed in the Christmas spirit and having young children, the big sheep is a great way to start the holidays, the staff here deserve some real credit as they were completely attentive, jolly and really friendly at every point we met them. It really does feel like a family run farm and the cleverly themed fun all year round makes it a hit with us.

We ended our day with the ultimate father Christmas experience. We were greeted by a hardworking and happy elf who carefully checked our grotto tickets! After checking them over and brilliantly entertaining our girls we ventured into the magical walkway to meet with Santa himself! We walked through a magical wardrobe, into a snowy tunnel, then onto the workshop where the elf boasted about his hard work and made sure that the kids were on the nice list…  When we arrived to father Christmas’s living room, he appeared to be having a little nap in front of his very welcoming roaring fire, then with a big yawn and a well rehearsed Ho Ho Ho, he awoke to the beaming smiles of our children.  This was without a doubt the best Father Christmas experience we have found so far, he was great and the girls left with a present each and a wonderfully magic memory that we will all cherish forever.  

As we were leaving, staff were also setting up the restaurant ready for a fully booked “breakfast with santa experience”, a definite must for us next year… we were also pleased to get a free sprig of mistletoe and an entry into a draw for a sheepskin rug!

They really did think of something for the whole family and we are already eagerly looking forward to our next jam packed visit.  

A huge thank ewe to everyone who made our visit very special and to everyone for all the ongoing support I have received for my blogs over the past year.

Wishing everyone a fabulous family Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Back soon!

L x

Don’t Forget What’s On Your Doorstep.

I think we are all guilty of this from time to time, we plan those big adventures and save up our pennies for those extra special occasions or for when we feel the moment or need arises. Yes we are blessed to live in the incredible Dartmoor National Park, but we haven’t always lived here… Before Dartmoor we lived on the south west coast and indeed, we had many lovely times playing on the beaches. We were in fact so close to the seaside that when the weather was bad, the waves would crash against the sea wall and our house actually shook a little.  Still there were times when months went past and the summer was over and we realised we had been everywhere except to the beach that was literally on our doorstep.

If you have been following me recently on social media, hopefully you will have seen some of the nature pictures I have been taking, I have been enjoying taking pictures so much recently I can barely leave the house without my camera. My poor partner has had to stop the car in many weird and wonderful locations over the last few months because I have suddenly spotted, what I believe to be “the perfect shot!” So many of these incredible views, trees, mossy walls, insects, fungi, are all local to me.

Even as a child I remember going to the big adventure parks and the family bringing enough food to feed the entire park. We always had a lovely time, but some of my fondest memories as a child, were not these extravagant days, but the ones at the park behind my house with a hand full of sandwiches and maybe a pack of biscuits. I guess it’s the time old tale of children not remembering the huge effort that can go into these special occasions but the memories that are created.

When you spend hours staying up on Christmas eve wrapping a huge exciting prezzie in the most perfect paper you can find, and the kids then spend most of the morning sat playing in the cardboard box that the toy came out of. The children don’t realise, and nor should they, that you’ve been up all night cooking mini pizzas and creating fruit kebabs for a special day out. They will remember though, the moment that Granny went down that huge slide with them and crash landed on her bum. No doubt granny had more energy than you did that day since you had been cooking until the early hours… Not that I am going to stop making an effort to do lovely things with and for my children, but maybe we can all tone it down a tad and spend more time seeing what is sometimes right in front of us.

We drove all of eight minutes yesterday to enjoy the incredible 360° views from Meldon Hill just behind where we live in Chagford. We then had a short walk to get to the Tors and triangulation point at the top of the hill and we enjoyed every single second. We were out for around an hour just playing in the grass, climbing rocks and snacking on some gingerbread men! Many times we have spent an hour or so packing our bags with sarnies and god knows what else, to then drive another hour to get to our designated spot for the day. This time it was different and I think we all enjoyed it a little more.

Whether it’s a little river bed, a patch of woodland or the top of a hill, we all have those special places near us where we live that we neglect to remember sometimes. So for everyone who’s googling where to go this weekend and looking through pages for discount vouchers… Have a day closer to home, save your energy, pennies and valuable time. Take a day to enjoy the little things that are just outside your door.

L x

Autumn Thoughts

We have recently moved to the beautifully picturesque & historic Dartmoor town of Chagford.  A place absolutely bursting with creativity at every turn. From the artisan shops to fantastic studios, Chagford is a creative hub, full of inspiration and people living their dreams.

To enjoy the simple pleasures of a peaceful walk is a real delight and it is easy to see where these many talented people get their inspiration from. 

A simple country walk in the autumn Devon countryside is one of those things that few people don’t enjoy.  I just love to walk at this time of year. Everyone should take time from their busy lives to get outside whenever possible to enjoy the benefits for both your body and mind, and I hope this inspires someone to do so.

I realised today that the children were settled both in School and Nursery, meaning I had some precious free time!  Since being a parent of young children, one of which is yet to start school, i rarely have much time to myself, and to have a few hours of “me time” is an opportunity to be grabbed firmly with both hands.  I quickly threw my wellies on and picked up the camera. Taking pictures with a small child hanging from your leg is not always easy, I am sure that most of the wildlife I encountered would have usually been long gone if i had my two thriving young girls thundering along the country paths with me.  

A walk on your own from time to time, to take in every little whisper of wind, and enjoy the quiet patter of raindrops on your coat, and see the delightful ripples the rain makes when it splashes into a puddle, are all simple but enchanting moments. These beautifully natural scenes that we often need to remind ourselves to stop and enjoy, are something that I really appreciate.

The abundant berries, ever changing leaves and forageable foods are magical in colour and purpose at this time of year. Listening to the songs from happy birds, all full and fattened from all of Autumns bounty was also very pleasing.  I even got the chance to say hello (and thank you!) to a very friendly Robin.  I am aware that the Robin is renowned for being a sociable creature, but none the less, being somewhat of an amature photographer,  I was delighted to capture this lovely bird.  

The awakening breeze and refreshing autumn showers all add to the energising country walk i enjoyed today. With camera in hand I found myself wandering off the beaten track and hunting in the thicker woodlands for lichens and mushrooms, not forgetting to put the camera to one side occasionally and truly take in my surroundings.

I walked through open fields, gazed at the high tors in the distance, met some incredible wildlife and crossed a couple of meandering streams.  As my walk came to an end I pottered back to the town center where I visited some of the artist studios which have been open in Devon throughout September. Glimpsing into the creative spaces of the artists of Devon has been spectacular. If you haven’t visited any yet, tomorrow the 24th September 2017 will be the last day until next time.  I highly recommend visiting some of them.  If you don’t get a chance on this occasion then keep an eye out for any future Devon Artists Network events.

With an energised glow, and feeling completely inspired, I came home to warm my hands around a cuppa, edit the pictures i had just taken and write this blog…. I then enjoyed the rest of my day (and the school pick up!) with a rejuvenated connection to the land and an Autumn spring in my step.

L x


River Dart Country Park

Situated in over 90 stunning acres, the cleverly designed River Dart Country Park brilliantly combines outdoor fun and water based activities alongside the delightful River Dart. With over 40 years of experience in outdoor family fun, River Dart Country Park has been a firm favourite of ours and many others for over 20 years! Myself and my partner came here as children and we both have many fond memories that we are now pleased to be adding to, by bringing our own children here all year round.

This adventure playground really does come alive in the summer months. They host a number of different staycation options from family camping, caravanning with electric hook ups to luxury accommodation. I would highly recommend staying within these beautiful grounds as I couldn’t think of a better place to entertain the kids whilst on your holidays, they also offer a fully stocked camp shop and fully licensed eatery. Be sure to check out these handy camping tips before you go.

Within the grounds is the stunning Holne Parke House, a grand Victorian building surrounded by mature trees and green lawns. They offer a range of accommodation options, wedding packages and luxury conference facilities to suit all.

When we arrived the sun was shining as we made our way into the park, very excited we headed firstly to the ticket hut to grab our water zorb and canoeing tickets. We then got ourselves kitted out in lifejackets and hopped into the Canadian canoes, we were able to take our youngest with us for this activity as the minimum age for cannoning is two years old. We really enjoyed being able to do something all together as a whole family to start the day.

The possibilities are then pretty much endless on what you can do here, there are forts, zip slides, tree top high climbing, indoor climbing walls, cycle tracks, water obstacles and so much more! We have been here on many occasions as I mentioned, and today being a warmer day we headed straight for the fantastic pirate ship that is in the centre of a shallow activity lake. Here we bobbed around in the water, challenged ourselves on family obstacles, built a sandcastle in the toddlers shallow beach area and generally had a lot of fun. Being regulars to the park throughout the whole year, including during the winter months (when the park is in fact open for free) we have longingly looked upon the pirate ship. So today we couldn’t get in the water quick enough!

We then headed over to the water zorbs, where my eldest had a ball! Although she did spend most of her time looking for fish in the water… The staff were friendly and helpful at every point during the day, but especially during my daughter’s time in the water zorbs. They were jumping around on the dock side giving her advice on how to try and stand in the balls all whilst being very entertaining, even advising us the best place to stand to get some great action photos of her rolling around inside these giant inflatables.

After a peaceful picnic in the meadow, and a little bit of fact finding from the information points, we learnt a little more about how water at the park is turned into electricity using the impressive Archimedean screw which can be seen in full flow at the bottom of the park. We then made our way to the top of the park where you can find a very long snake slide, giant spiders web and mini tree top challenge, all perfect for younger children and a great way to eek out any remaining energy they may have before returning home after a great day out.

There is so much to do here, from picnics in the meadow’s to thrilling daredevil activities, this place has it all. I challenge you to get bored even for a moment here at this fabulous family attraction.

Thanks again to Dartmoor Accommodation and the great team at River Dart Country Park for all the hard work you continue to do and making our family memories fantastic.


Family Variety on Dartmoor

The incredible Dartmoor National Park is absolutely central to the running of our family. It is our family playground and is the glue that holds us all together. We had a fantastic day recently that tells a great story of how much variety and enjoyment you can have in just one day on Dartmoor, that satisfies everything a family needs for a great day out full of adventure, learning and great food!

Having a day in the great outdoors is good for everybody for so many reasons and this family day was no exception. We met our guide for the morning, Paul Rendell. Paul is a local historian, moorland guide and editor of Dartmoor news. As arranged, he was waiting for us at Postbridge car park to start our family walk through Bellever Wood and up to Bellever Tor. Dartmoor Paul as he’s locally known is an absolute star, his knowledge and obvious love of this amazing landscape is clear for all to see. He was brilliant with our children and had them completely engaged whilst teaching us lots of new and interesting facts, not to mention us having a few laughs along the way. I would highly recommend his guided walks and I will post his information below.

Guided walks are a great way to explore new places as the route is all planned out for you, this means that you can really enjoy your surroundings without any thoughts of navigation. This was our first visit to Bellever and we were excited as a family to get walking and discover a new area, as with most of Dartmoor, the history and archaeology in this particular area was plentiful. Amongst various monuments there are many stone rows, roundhouses and boundary walls to be seen. There is also a fantastic array of wildlife, this is something we all particularly enjoyed and can now confidently identify many new species of plant and insect life, with thanks to our new Essential Dartmoor Nature book, recommended by Paul and sold in the Visitors Centre… An absolute family must have.

Originally Duchy land, Bellever Wood is now leased by the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust from the Forestry Commission. It is now beautifully managed and cared for by the trust and their all important volunteers. The 26 Pure bred Dartmoor Ponies have the full run of a huge one thousand acre holding. We did just about catch a quick glimpse of them on our way to the top of Bellever Tor, on this occasion they were nowhere to be seen by the time we arrived at the top, but this is of course a great incentive to go back.

The sense of family achievement on reaching the top of a Tor is always something we relish, especially with our children. The views were incredible all around, even on this grey and windy day. Having a breeze to walk in is always lovely in my opinion and the little explorer in my eldest enjoyed working out where the best spot would be to shelter from the wind, and to have our half way snack and drink.

We had even more fun on the way back down, my daughter now becoming the leader with Dartmoor Paul following closely behind to point out track marks, insects, and many more things including heather varieties of which we now know there are 3 types of on Dartmoor, Bell, Ling and Crossheath. On our descent, we enjoyed one the many Dartmoor folk stories from our guide, telling us all about the legends of the Dartmoor Slug and the two sisters of Snaily house who according to the tale, had lived their whole lives by having these creatures as a staple part of their diet.

After a delightful walk we arrived back to the Postbridge car park to spend some time at one of the award winning Dartmoor National Park visitors centres. We picked up our nature guide book that was recommended to us along with some sticky slug toys for the kids. We also received our Otter Spotter Badges on this visit, this means we have successfully spotted 20 or more of the decorative Otters that are dotted around the moor in various great locations this summer, something we were rather pleased with! Upstairs in the visitors centre the kids had the opportunity to dress up in costumes and construct their very own roundhouse, fully immersing themselves in Dartmoor’s bronze age lifestyle.

After our adventure we went along to the lovely Two Bridges Hotel where we enjoyed their friendly and attentive service. The children were sufficiently exercised and weathered and we sat to have a relaxing and delicious lunch together, I must add that the toy slugs played a key role in our lunchtime sitting and kept our girls entertained for ages! The food is truly yummy and beautifully presented and it was a real treat eating here.

The restaurant lunchtime menu was simple and enticing and includes lots of local produce. Two bridges Hotel is set in an idyllic location, so after lunch we went outside to enjoy the scenery. The resident geese were waddling around and we took a moment to throw stones from the pebble river beach under the bridge, into the water. A perfect end to the day.

A huge thank you to Visit Dartmoor for putting together this great day for us. For further details on any part of our day out, please follow the links below.

From pebble skimming, adventure, exercise, wildlife, nature, eating out and everything in between… Dartmoor is always a great day out no matter what you are doing. That feeling of being completely connected to the land is something that we can all enjoy, and I would encourage you and your family to experience it together as often as possible.



Castle Drogo

This gorgeous setting near Drewsteignton is home to the majestic Castle Drogo, with its stunning views over the countryside and its plentiful, colourful and vibrant gardens. We were greeted by friendly and informative staff right from the very start our day. We collected all the helpful information leaflets from the welcome desk, these included maps and entertaining activities for the children such as nature trails and clues for finding different plant species in the gardens. Within the castle we were entertained by lots of interesting facts about the family who gifted the castle and its six hundred acres of surrounding land to the National Trust in 1974.

As you may already know, there is currently some major restoration work going on around the castle particularly with the flat roof. The conservation work is all safely hidden inside a million pounds worth of scaffolding.
Just as you would hope, inside the castle is full of amazing features, architecture and valuables that are steeped in history. This is a modern castle built in 1930 and was the last castle to be built in England. The staff are all very helpful, knowledgeable and chatty and are dotted all the way around this magnificent building.

First you enter the library, always a favourite thing to do for me as I love books and the history of this collection makes the mind boggle, just think of all the people that have read through the pages of these books over the years! I recently watched a BBC program called ‘who do you think you are?’, which included a historian talking about something called jappaning. Jappaning is an old interior design technique and you can find lots of great examples of this at Drogo especially in the library.

We then went on to find out more about the Drewe family, particularly about their five children. The children’s activity inside the castle was to hunt for the five boxes, each box included a unique hat to try on, a riddle to solve and a game to complete in order to discover the name of one the children. My girls had a great time doing this, they found some of the old fashioned names particularly entertaining!

As you step back outside, there is a giant time line displayed so you can clearly see the history of the castle and family tree going right back to the beginning of the Drewe family. At this point, you have the opportunity to go up and view the ongoing building works… You do have to be of a certain height to do this for safety reasons, hard hats and high visibility vests are provided and must be worn. After climbing the 58 steps to the viewing point, you get amazing panoramic views of the surrounding area and a birds eye view of the current project to make the castle water tight. The scale of the work going on and what is involved in the process is truly a huge undertaking.

A highlight for us whilst visiting the Castle Drogo estate was their extensive and stunning gardens, we headed over to the recommended picnic spot in the orchard where there were plenty of tables to choose from, you are then surrounded by beautiful wild flowers and plentiful wildlife. A real moment of peace and quiet in the great outdoors to enjoy some family time. They have a huge mixture of amazing flowers in the grounds and a really impressive rose collection in the formal garden. We loved walking around enjoying all of the colours, aromas and variety. There is also an adorable miniature bunty house complete with a table and tea set inside for the children to play with, our girls loved this. We then enjoyed more fun and games on the lawn, including tennis, croquet and even a little hoola-hooping!

Overall this is a lovely day out for the family. The estate is well equipped with wheelchairs and an all terrain mobility scooter for anyone who may need a little more help getting around. Baby hip seats are also available for inside the Castle as no buggies are allowed to be taken inside, and all the general facilities including baby changing are well maintained.

The café is also very modern and spacious, it opens out onto a children’s play area with outside seating. The National Trust shops are always full of beautiful items to buy and this shop was no exception. They also stocked a great selection of plants and trees that are actually from the estate itself, lovely to be able to admire something in the gardens and then plant it back at home!

Who doesn’t love a day out in a castle… Thanks again to Dartmoor Accommodation for arranging our visit and keep your eyes peeled for lots more National Trust Blogs we hope to do this summer. 

L x

The All Weather Attraction…

The World of Country Life in Sandy Bay – Exmouth, prides itself on being an all weather attraction for the whole family. We arrived on one of those rather drizzly Devon days and we were not disappointed.

There is so much under cover here you are never short of anything to do and we managed to hop outside in between showers. We ran from our car to the entrance to dodge the rain and after we entered we were immediately transported into another era as we explored their old country life exhibits. We enjoyed our roam down old village road, this is a re-creation of a country street from the past.

We walked through one of the old thatched cottages and had many laughs explaining how things used to be in years gone by to our children, some of which they just couldn’t believe, including an outside toilet that my eldest was not impressed with the thought of! We then travelled through time a little more whilst looking in a shop, watching tiny black and white televisions, looking at old Hoover’s and seeing old butter churns and many other pieces of old farming equipment. There was plenty to keep us entertained whilst the first showers blew over.

We headed over to the big slides where the whole family enjoyed several giggles and thrills on the large bumpy mat slides. As the sun reappeared we headed outdoors to the climbing frames and giant air bouncers. On this occasion we didn’t actually get to see them, but the World of Country life also have an extensive collection of over fifty birds at their Hawkridge Birds of Prey Centre, where they regularly do flying displays.

Whilst it was still dry we went on the tractor train, this cost a few pounds extra but it was an absolute highlight for us, the friendly and enthusiastic staff and their informative and often amusing commentary made it great fun and I would highly recommend paying the extra pennies. The train, pulled by a tractor, winds its way through paddocks with rare breed Jacob sheep, llamas and deer. The animals were so friendly and myself, my partner and the girls thoroughly enjoyed feeding the deer and llamas. They were incredibly fun to be around and they really do poke their heads right inside the carriage with you, I think my eldest thought she was on a safari! The driver and handler was on hand with food for the children to give the animals, feeding and being so up close was a great experience.

We then stopped for some food in one of the many indoor eating areas. We chose to eat in the pirates adventure area where inside the barn is a life size pirate ship for the children to play on. It was complete with pirates, sand and sailors music, this made it very atmospheric and great fun for the children.

Throughout the day, announcements are made over the Tannoy system informing visitors of the upcoming events. After lunch we heard that it was time to go and meet the smaller animals in the nursery. We had the usual lovely guinea pigs and rabbits to cuddle and a rather unusual stick insect, a little tickly but very interesting none the less. We also spent time petting some other very friendly goats and sheep in a nearby walk in paddock.

We then ventured into the large indoor soft play area which included lots of slides, big ball pool and a bouncy castle. The ball pool was equipped with a couple of air machines that vacuum the balls and fires them into the air. Very entertaining for little ones, I don’t think my two year old did anything else except putting balls into the shute in the soft play area for a full half an hour.

Finally we had a wander around their classic motor museum and viewed some of the fantastic old machines that they have in their collection. These included a vintage police cart, massive steam fairground engines and early fire engines. There really is something to interest the whole family here, young and old.

We were really impressed with our first visit to The World of Country life and thank you to Dartmoor Accommodation for organising this day out, we will certainly be going back to visit again, this is definitely one to remember whatever the weather.



The Little Zoo with a Big Heart


We were warmly welcomed at Dartmoor Zoo this weekend by the very friendly staff. As you enter the park and walk up the hill the excitement quickly starts to build as you begin to see the large open spaces and interesting animals. We also really enjoyed the animal facts along the way, this was a great way to encourage our little ones imagination. To avoid the hill there is parking up by the cafe for people with mobility difficulties and wheelchair users. We did just about manage this attraction with a buggy but I’m not sure I would class it as particularly wheelchair friendly. At the top you have lovely views over the valley and lots more informative signs to point you in the direction of the different animals. As we arrived we were given a timetable of all the feeding times and many talks you can enjoy throughout the day.

We went into the café first and grabbed a quick coffee whilst we decided which of the events we would like to see during our visit. The café is a really large space with a shop on one side and a bright and colourful children’s play area on the other.

A little bit about the zoo to start with. Many people may have seen the film We Bought A Zoo, a lovely family film, well worth seeing if you haven’t already. Benjamin Mee is the Director of Dartmoor Zoo and the author of ‘We Bought A Zoo’, the bestselling book that then went on to inspire the blockbuster film starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson. In 2006, the Mee family fell in love with the wildlife Park, although it had a poor reputation and huge financial problems they realised the animals would have been destroyed if someone had not purchased it. They saved the animals, and re-opened in 2007, naming it Dartmoor Zoological Park.

I know that zoos are a bit like marmite, you either love them or you hate them and there is a rather controversial sign left behind in the grounds by the previous owner…

The bottom of the stone reads… “Here’s to those who wish me well and those who don’t can go to hell!” 
The park is now a newly formed charity doing great conservation work and carrying out constant improvements, it is a really unique place that benefits from a rural setting within the grounds of a country house. It really does have the feel of being in someone’s garden, with the odd tiger hanging around of course!

After me and my partner had topped up on caffeine we went to see Honey and Fudge, the two bears that they have here. Whilst the bears enjoyed some fish we enjoyed being told all about what the animals got up to during their day and how they both loved a jam sandwich!

We then went on to the close encounters area where you can see and touch some of the smaller critters. This includes tortoise, snakes, big spiders and colourful frogs, again the jolly staff are on hand with lots of facts and information about how they care for the animals.

We took a picnic, and found a lovely spot to eat our lunch. A fantastic eating area situated in the middle of the park with a view of the cheetah’s and monkeys. Watching big cats whilst you sit and have your lunch was great, not something you get to do everyday! Although we didn’t eat In the café on this occasion the food looked nice and they can also cater for birthday parties. Whilst we were eating we saw a party group being guided around the zoo by staff members, the children in the group looked like they were having a great time and the staff were especially good at keeping them engaged from one enclosure to the next.

We enjoyed seeing the variety of animals they have here, the big cats included Tigers, Lions, Cheetah’s and a Jaguar. There was also the Bears, Monkeys, Wolves, Emus, Wallabies, Meerkats and much more. We then went on to enjoy the large open field with free roaming animals, something I don’t think many larger zoos have. This is a nice chance to pet some of the more friendly animals like the goats, wallabies and deer. We then ended our day in the outdoor play park, a fun area with a mixture of climbing obstacles, fun tubes and tires to play amongst. A peaceful place and a lovely end to a relaxing day.

We have loved every minute of our work with Dartmoor Accommodation and in the past few weeks myself and my family have met an otter that will only eat Sainsburys beef burgers and a Bear that loves a Jam sandwich! A sentence I wouldn’t of Imagined in my wildest dreams I would be writing. So another big thank you to the team at Dartmoor Accommodation and again to the smiley staff at Dartmoor Zoo.

L x

Miniature Pony Centre

This week we visited the very lovely ponies, horses and donkeys at the Miniature Pony Centre on B3212 between Moretonhampstead and Postbridge. This is a great place for children to interact with the animals and there is so much to see and do.

We arrived just in time to catch the first pony rides of the day, a very popular activity with my two girls at the moment and they were delighted to be riding again. They also both received a rosette when they were done, a very nice touch.

The outdoor play areas here are really spacious, they are suitable for all ages and have lots of different obstacles and slides for them to enjoy. My eldest had a great time on the climbing wall and ride on tractors. There are also trampolines and several indoor play areas. The pony and horse theme runs all the way through the attraction with beautiful rocking horses and large bouncy soft play horses to play with.

I also noticed they had a nice sized party room for birthdays, something I may be using soon! The food was yummy, we didn’t have to wait long for our food to arrive although they were clearly quite busy. The cafè is equipped with high chairs and some great outdoor seating with stunning views over the pony field. There are also lots of birds and to see and hear whilst having your lunch, and a useful sign telling you about all the different species. I myself love birds but I am not particularly good at telling the smaller ones apart, so the descriptive sign was very helpful. We had a pleasant lunchtime listening to the lovely tweeting of the many small birds.

After lunch we went along to the stable talk, we were informed of the talk by one of the staff ringing a bell. Another great idea, with young children you can easily be distracted and we found the bell to be a very handy reminder of the events going on that day. During the stable talk we listened to lots of facts about the animals on the farm including the very lovely larger horses. We as a family were totally blown away by these incredible animals. I have never seen such enormous horses, among them was Buster the Shire Horse and the endangered Suffolk Punch Harris. This is a very rare chance to see these magnificent animals as there are only around 20 breeding pairs left of the Suffolk Punch. There is also the chance to sponsor the heavy horses if you wish, something I will no doubt be looking into. We were extremely taken with the lovely Harris and it would be a huge loss to see them disappear.

There are some great opportunities to appreciate the animals. We enjoyed grooming and relaxing in the paddock with the ponies. The great open paddock field with large trees is a great space to enjoy the miniature ponies company. There are clear rules as you go in to remind the children how to behave around animals, and hand sanitation for the way out. We spent nearly an hour in the paddock petting and sitting with the ponies, and for the photographers out there, this is a great chance to get some lovely shots.

Finally we had a we very peaceful walk around the pretty lake and enjoyed seeing all the ducks on the pond. It’s a short stroll just beyond the lower play park and it will only take a little while to walk around, here you can enjoy the sound of the water feature and plentiful wildlife. We found this to be a nice little wind down for the children before we headed back to our car.

There is an open day at the centre on the 17th of June. You can go and enjoy the park on the 17th with free entry. There is lots of entertainment planned including a bouncy castle and barbecue. We will certainly be going back for this event, we had a really lovely time and another big thank you to Dartmoor Accommodation for arranging our day out. We are lucky enough to be just down the road from this one and we look forward to our next visit.

A great day full of memories.

L x