Thursday, December 28, 2006


Fresh air and exercise were the order of the day today. Get the kids out before they drive me totally insane. After all we haven't been out for a while. "We went out on Christmas Eve," they cried. Well that was ages ago!

So we got out the Jarrold Exmoor walks book to see where we haven't been before. Walk No 1 - Parracombe. That's not too far away, Blackmoor Gate, turn towards Lynmouth then left for about a mile. The book said 'short easy walk, some farm lanes may be muddy.' No worries, it's a nice day and a little bit of mud never hurt anyone.

Well for a mile and a half of the walk we were having a great time. The sun was shining, sheep were frolicking in the fields, the paths were easy to follow and only a little bit squishy underfoot, there were even a few tiny streams to wade through.

Then we hit the path from hell. Mud almost up to our knees and no other way through. We tried climbing the top of the hedge but that only got us so far. Children wailed, got stuck, fell down, became entangled in prickly brambles and had to be carried. But fear not, by the time we'd reached the hole in the hedge which let us into the adjacent field we were all laughing about it; which was a good job because the farmer in the farm at the end of the lane was laughing even harder when we got there.

Just to give you an idea - this was the last photo I took before my camera battery gave out. We had fun but this a walk best attempted in the summer.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas House

Christmas wouldn't be complete without a visit to this house. Somewhere in between Bickington and Instow on the old Barnstaple road this house is now so famous and so popular around here that the police put cones along the roads nearby to stop people parking in front of it. When we arrived there were already at least thirty people stood around. The photo really doesn't do it justice.

At the back of his house (I'm sorry I don't know the man's name) his garage is also as well decorated and full of animated snowmen, Father Christmas's and reindeer. People who visit are encouraged to donate money, all of which goes to charity - usually the Devon Air Ambulance. In the last four years he has raised over £16,000.

My children were fascinated and didn't want to leave. The only thing that eventually got them home was the thought of checking the NORAD website to see whereabouts Santa had got to. As I write he is currently in Italy - nearly here!

Pizza Hut

After our walk we went straight to Pizza Hut in Barnstaple. This is the third year in a row on Christmas Eve. It seems to be turning into a tradition. My motto is - keep them out of the house for as long as possible. Plus if I don't have to cook I don't have to clean afterwards either. The service is fairly crap but we were in no rush. The food was acceptable and they didn't moan too much when I said 'no ice cream' so that was a bonus.

Baggy Point

Travel through Croyde and out the other side and you will find directions to Baggy Point. A narrow country lane takes you to the National Trust car park and from there you can follow the signs to a path that takes you along the very edge of the cliff for 1 mile to the aforementioned point.

It was a bracing walk today and the fear of loosing one or more children off the edge of the cliff into the freezing seas far below was a much more effective hangover cure than the traditional hair of the dog. The walk is circular and coming back we took the route that was less hazardous, across the hills.

I have spent many hours at Baggy watching my husband and others climb the cliff. I've even had a go myself. It's a beautiful place, but you might prefer it when the skies are bluer and the sun more than just a distant memory.

The Park Hotel

It's party time! We came here last night for a lovely three course meal and some dancing afterwards, but there are plenty of places around to chose from. This is owned by the Brends, and there are four other Brend hotels in North Devon. The food was very yummy, the disco good fun, and it set Christmas weekend off just right.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Atlantic Village

It's been a while since I've had anything to report. When winter hits North Devon we tend to hide indoors. Plus the looming presence of Christmas forces the inevitability of hitting the shops and drives everything else from the mind (or at least one as tiny as mine!) So today I dragged my three children around Atlantic Village, a small outlet centre just outside Bideford on the A39.

There are really only a handful of shops, but if these are the shops you like then it's worth coming here to get the discount off the high street prices. There are several clothes and lingere shops - Select, Pilot, Kangeroo Poo, Salt Rock, to name but a few. There are also camping type shops, a toyshop, a bookshop, and - this is quite important - a Cadbury's shop!!! There are a few cafe's too. At the moment there is an ice rink, although only plastic ice, not the sort of ice you can actually go fast on.

Tagged on to the side of the Atlantic Village is an attration for children called Atlantis. A rather tempting looking pirate ship is the first thing you see on approaching the complex. But the last time we attempted to go in it was rather expensive, and we ended up not bothering. They charge prices comparable with the Big Sheep, which is only just down the road, for something which is only a fraction of the size.

So in conclusion, go for the cheap shopping, but if you want to entertain the kids, the Big Sheep is better. I bought a last few bits and pieces this afternoon and have now nearly finished! Yippee! When do the Sales start?