Sunday, April 30, 2006

62 The Bank

Today we managed to get one of those mythical items - a babysitter! So, on an evening still bathed in warm sunlight, we ventured into Barnstaple to a restaurant called '62 The Bank.' This used to be a bank, strangely enough, and is now owned by the hotel next door, the Royal and Fortescue. It's a very stylish restaurant with oak panelling and lots of plants, and its worth looking up to the ceiling if you step inside. It's domed and decorated with reliefs which have been there for centuries.

The food was delicious if slightly expensive, two courses and some drinks came in at around £23 per head. The company was fabulous and a great time was had by all. (And for those of you on conservatory-watch, my conservatory now has a roof and glass in the walls! I am a happy bunny!)

Sunday, April 23, 2006


This afternoon we went swimming. There are a number of Leisure Centre's in North Devon but we prefer to go to the Ruda Holiday Park in Croyde. They have a swimming pool called Cascades with lots of slides and a big blue tube called, strangely enough, Big Blue. There is also a current stream that whizzes you around at high speed. My littlest one spent the whole hour just going round and round that bit.

They won't let you take photos inside Cascades so I had to take a photo of the ice cream shop in Croyde where we stopped on the way back home. Almost as nice as Hockings, they do different flavours and will put a big dollop of clotted cream on top for a small extra fee.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Picnic on Exmoor. We drove out to a place called County Gate, a parking spot exactly on the Devon/Somerset boarder and had our lunch at the picnic tables there. Then, after a quick game of frisbee we went for a walk.

A narrow path took us along the top of some very steep hills and then down into the valley for a walk along the East Lynn river to Malmsmead in the heart of Doone Valley. The walk was quite tough in places and we were all puffed out by the time we got back to the top, but the scenery was lovely, we played Pooh sticks on the bridge into Malmsmead and we even managed to see a snake slithering into the undergrowth in front of us. The cafe in Malmsmead was very nice and they had a very friendly dog who brought us stones to throw for him. The children took thier shoes and socks off and paddled in the ford. Once back at the car we had a quick attempt at kite flying and then came home in time for Dr Who.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Jungleland in Barnstaple is worth a visit if you have a spare hour to kill and you like plants. It's actually part of St Johns Garden Centre. You have to go through the Garden Centre and you'll find Jungleland at the back. The walk round will only take you fifteen minutes and that's if you walk slow. But the kids love the animated cheetah who growls loudly as you walk past. There are fish, turtles, birds and chimpminks to look at too (real ones). Then there's another lovely cafe, plus, you're right nextdoor to Tesco if you need to go shopping.

I took the children here today to distract myself from the fact that my husband had taken the day off to work on the conservatory and had spent most of the morning doing somebody else's instead! It was very calming.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Children need lots of fresh air and exercise after over-indulging in chocolate so today we came here. This is Instow, a small village near the mouth of the river Torridge in between Barnstaple and Bideford. It's long stretch of golden sand is a great place to blow away the cobwebs. The wind was up this morning bringing with it a wonderful smell of salt water and seaweed. The sun warmed my face and made me dream of long hot summer days, just around the corner now!

After our bracing walk we treated the children to Hockings ice-cream (made just across the river at Appledore and THE best ice-cream in the world - ever.) Then we stopped off in a pub called 'The Bar' for a drink of hot chocolate. Did I say 'over-indulgence' earlier? I don't think there is such a thing really.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Bideford. Once known as the Little White Town on the Hill, one the of the things Bideford is famous for is its bridge. Every arch is a different size because they were paid for by the residents of the town. The bigger the arch the weathier the family.

Today we came to visit my parents. Two egg hunts, a lovely tea and a viewing of 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' later, and we returned home full and with very sleepy children. And of course no Easter tea would be complete without Christmas crackers (we're nothing if not crackers in my family). If you're reading this, Mum, can I have my spinning top back?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Arlington Court

Arlington Court, once the home of the Chichester Family, now National Trust property. It lies seven miles into Exmoor from Barnstaple along picturesque country roads and around a very sharp bend known as Devils Elbow. This was our destination today. They offer different rates of admission depending on whether you want to go inside the house or not. There is a very pleasent tea room; you can sit inside or try your hand at bird spotting at the tables outside - just as long as you don't feed the peacocks.

Today we went on an Easter Egg Trail. A bit different from the usual Egg Hunt this trail led you around the gardens following clues that helped to answer ten questions about animals. We visited the Bat cave, the stables and the Victorian kitchen gardens, saw new born lambs and a white peacock. The end of the trail led us back to the shop where we had our answers checked and recieved a bag of small chocolate eggs each. (Well the children did.) We had to settle for a cup of tea and a slice of chocolate cake from the afore mentioned tearooms. Yum!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Playtime Adventure

Today I've been out for coffee/hot chocolate with my friend. Where do you go for coffee in North Devon when you have children? Well to one of these soft play/ ball pit areas of course. There are millions of these in North Devon, well a fair few anyway. This is Playtime Adventure, the best one in Barnstaple. It has very well thought out security to stop your little darlings escaping and plenty of tables and chairs for grown ups to sit and chat at. They even offer you the daily paper to read if you happen to go there on your own.

My children are all now completely worn out. I, on the other hand, am completely relaxed. Hopefully I will get some uninterrupted sleep tonight - it will make a nice change.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Bideford. A small market town ten miles out of Barnstaple. It used to be part of the main route in and out of North Devon but is now bypassed thanks to the building of the new brigde seen here in the distance.

We came here today for my nephews birthday party. Mostly it rained but the sun finally came out towards the end of the day. We had our fill of birthday cake then travelled home with a car full of balloons and those horrible party blower things that make very loud noises. Deep joy!

Monday, April 10, 2006


There are blue skies over Barnstaple again today. There is also a chill wind such that I began to wish I hadn't put away my winter boots in favour of bare legs and little shoes. So we didn't stay out for long.

Barnstaple is the biggest town in North Devon and people travel in from all the local towns and villages. Many years ago a railway linked it to the outlying settlements but now the only rail line left takes you to Exeter, and the other lines have become cycle tracks. The High Street, as you can see, is pedestrianised, but traffic in Barnstaple is a bit of an issue to put it mildly. This is being dealt with by the building of a new downstream bridge and bypass system.

Nevertheless, Barnstaple is still a favourite destination for all in North Devon who wish to partake of that most popular of hobbies - shopping!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

First Post

The dark and dreary winter days have finally given way to spring and the skies over North Devon are blue. Hooray! After many long, cold winter months with nothing to do but hide from the weather I can finally look forward to getting out and about.

This morning I ventured as far as the end of our road and found the neighbourhood cats sunning themselves on the roofs of cars. My husband made it as far as the back garden and managed to unpack our conservatory roof - a first step towards actually building it. Double hooray!

So, in anticipation of a glorious summer to come, I will attempt to keep this blog updated with news of all the things that happen in and around this peaceful part of the world, and all the places there are to visit in it. Beaches, moorland, towns and villages - sooner or later you will find them all here.