Saturday, October 28, 2006

Barum Gate, Barnstaple

Situated at the entrance to Barnstaple this is the first thing that greets you as you turn off the A361. It is a Travel Inn and Brewers Fayre. The kids love it as there is an enclosed playarea out the side entrance of the restaurant where they can come and go at will, safely viewed by parents through the windows. So to console ourselves after our disappointing visit to the Honey Farm we decided to lunch here (well my husand did - I comfort shop, my husband comfort eats.)

They seem to change the menus quite regularly so the ploughmans lunch I was looking forward to wasn't something they did anymore. The chicken and leek pie I had instead was very nice, although I'm not sure why it needed to be square. The children enjoyed their meals, and only the littlest one ordered chicken nuggets and chips. My husband was disappointed and vowed never to come here again. Don't listen to him, he didn't read the menu properly and ordered the vegetarian burger by mistake! That's fate telling him he needs to be more careful about what he eats.

Quince Honey Farm

It was cold today and threatening to rain. So we decided to visit somewhere indoors. None of us had ever been to the Quince Honey Farm in South Molton before so we decided to give it a go - the leaflet looked quite inviting. We won't bother again - I'm afraid it's the one place on my blog that I have to advise against. The building itself is cold and uninviting, reminiscent of a Victorian mental institution, high ceilinged and echoey. The girl behind the counter in the entrance was miserable. And the cost was not the same as on the leaflet, £3.95 adults, £2.95 children. It most definately wasn't worth it.

Inside you are supposed to be able to look down on the working factory through the glass ceiling above it. It wasn't working. I thought at first it was just our fault for being stupid enough to pick a Saturday to visit, but reading the information on the walls around the museum it seems the honey production only happens during July, when the main hives are actually on the premises. November to Easter only the shop and cafe are open. So why charge full admission price at the end of October when there is nothing going on? It's a rip off.

The only thing interesting to see are the hives behind glass; these are many and varied but honestly, once you've seen one load of bees in honeycombs you've seen them all! PLEASE DON'T GO HERE.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Barnstaple Library

During school holidays there is always something for children going on at Barnstaple Library. They have themed days (pirates just recently), arty things to do, special holiday book stickers to collect, and today Kit Wright the poet.

He was available earlier in the day too, but this afternoon at 4.15 he gave a talk and read some of his poems to a set of children who had all achieved success in Book Track. This is a scheme where children are challenged to read and then discuss with a librarian 100 books. There are badges and stickers to collect along the way but upon receiving your gold badge you are invited along to meet an author and he/she presents you with a special certificate.

My eldest daughter was presented with her certificate today, although in true teenager-fashion she refused to stand up and collect it when her name was read out. She did let me take her photo with Kit Wright afterwards though, while he was signing a book for her.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lets Go Superbowl

Another birthday party at another venue in North Devon that's not my home - excellent! Walk away from the mess and leave it for someone else to clean up. Today it was my youngest's birthday party. She wanted to go bowling - I have no idea why. So we booked two lanes for twelve children of various sizes from 4 to 13.

The place was packed, mostly it seemed with other birthday parties. We were advised to turn up 15 mins early to sort out shoes and things and it turned out there weren't enough shoes of the right size and the people on our lanes before us were in no hurry to get off, so we waited 25 mins before we actually started play. Not impressed with that, or the fact that they lost one of my daughters candles (we had to provide our own cake) so she only had 5 to blow out instead of 6.

Still the kids had a good time. There are other things to do here including the Megazone (a laser shooting game) and an extensive arcade. You can find it at the Barnstaple end of the duel carriage way, next to the Barnstaple Hotel on the Pottington Industrial Estate. I advise booking in advance.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Watermouth Castle

I couldn't get a good photo of the castle so this is my family having fun on one of the rides. Well once they'd stopped screaming for fear that Daddy might capsize the boat that is!

The reason I couldn't get a good photo of the front of the building is that it was covered in marquees. That was because there was an event on called 'It's our Coast' organised by North Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There were stands from just about every organisation you could think of to do with the coast from the Royal Marines to the Surf Life Savers. Some of them were interactive for the children and others were just giving out information. We liked the one where you had to identify the trees from samples of their trunks and photos of their leaves. We weren't very good at it though. The presenters of the BBC Coast programme were there too but we didn't get to see them - by then we were too busy inside the castle grounds.

Watermouth Castle is a Family Theme Park. Inside are lots of displays about life in the building during Victorian times, as well as a model train set, some very old but playable amuesment slot machines, a scary dungeon and a great set of fairground mirrors.

In the gardens behind the castle there is even more to do. The grounds have been divided into zones named Merrygoland, Gnomeland and Adventureland. In these you will find wet rides, fairground rides, adventure golf, a maze (strangely with no centre), Mystical Water Gardens, a shadow room, a very long tube slide and lots of small fat men in funny hats (they're mostly all plastic too). We were there for nearly three hours today and didn't have time to do all of it. The bargain of the day was that entry was free, although we did have to pay £3 per child for unlimited access to the rides. Normally it's £10 for adults, £8.50 for children. If you're interested you'll find it on the coast road between Ilfracombe and Combe Martin.