Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bideford Park

Time to get out in the sunshine again. My children had friends round this afternoon so I loaded them all in the car and took them down to Bideford because a) it really is the best park around and b) its the only park with a Hockings Ice Cream Van right outside!

There are two children's play areas (the one shown says for 4-8 year olds on the gate but it didn't stop the older ones from going in) and they all ran wildly from one to the other to play leaving me out of breath somewhere in between the two trying to keep up. There are slides outside the play areas, grassy banks to roll down, the fort and cannons to play on, and thats without even going near the paddling pool mentioned in a previous post - it was too cold for that today.

When they'd exhausted themselves we found a sheltered spot to eat our ice-creams in. Yum, the first one of the year, now I know summer is on its way!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Gnome Reserve

Out in the middle of nowhere, between West Putford and Bradworthy you will find The Gnome Reserve. Started 30 years ago in the owners garden the gnomes have grown and grown in number and the publicity likewise. £2.95 will get you entry, £2.50 for children. It seems a little over priced to me for what is essentially a walk round someones garden, but the children seemed to like the hour we spent in the spring sunshine.

One area of the 4 acre grounds is the designated gnome reserve where over 1000 gnomes live and can be seen engaged in activities such as the traditional fishing, to playing instruments, flying helicopters and even going to the toilet. To enter this area visitors are encouraged to wear the 'almost compulsory' gnome hats that can be picked up in the admissions area. My oldest daughter asked, "Do you think she washes the hats?" I should state at this point that I was quite prepared to leave my oldest daughter at home, thinking that this was not the place a teenager would be interested in, but as soon as she found out where we were going she was dead keen to come too. Who would have thought?
The other part of the grounds was the wild flower garden. We were given a quiz to answer as we went around which involved counting fairies amongst other things. There are not so many of these, but we had fun counting, although we seemed to count more than there actually were.
We stayed for a cup of tea and a piece of cake. The children had fun playing on the grass. Then we made our way back home. I went today with my dad and was glad he came along, not just for the company but also to give directions. It's not the easiest place in the world to find. Watch out for little gnomes pointing the way planted in the hedgerows on white card.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Lambing at Kipscombe Farm

We ventured out today on possibly THE coldest day of the year to visit Kipscombe Farm. This is a National Trust property and, as a working farm, was open only for today as a free event.

We met in a car park on Exmoor (the lady I booked with over the phone gave me the grid reference but we found it more by luck than judgement, having been given only the vague direction that it was just outside Lynmouth) and climbed out of the car into a howling northly wind that made the outside temperature feel artic. Our guide led us down into a valley that was a tiny bit more sheltered, but only a tiny bit as the farm was built overlooking the sea. It did ofter fantastic views of the Bristol Channel and over into Wales, you could even see the snow on the Brecon Beacons.

Our tour took us into the sheep barn where we met the farmer who was very informative about the ins and outs of breeding and lambing sheep. He had been up at three that morning as several lambs were being born then. We were lured here today by the guidebook's promise that it may be possible to witness lambs being born whilst on the farm. The farmer showed us a sheep he thought might be about to lamb, but nothing transpired so we continued the tour, looking into the cow shed and walking over the fields to see more sheep and thier newly born lambs, becoming ever more frozen as the minutes ticked by.

Back in the sheep barn the children were allowed to hold some of the lambs that had been born that morning, which they loved, although my littlest one was quite surprised at how heavy they were. Another sheep went into labour and was ushered into her own private pen - with about twenty onlookers all holding thier breath. We waited, and waited.... Sheep labour, it appears, it akin to human labour, it just goes on and on. So eventually we could stand the cold no longer and decided to give up and head for somewhere out of the weather serving hot chocolates.

It was a shame, all of us wanted to see the sheep have its lamb, but the elements defeated us. If only they'd served hot drinks we might just have made it. Six hours and later my nose is only just returning to normal.