Family Life Exeter, week one of the Easter holiday

The first week of the Easter holiday was such a glorious one weather wise and we made the most of it and the amazing countryside around Exeter.

family walk on Dartmoor near PrincetownThe week started with a day on Dartmoor, centred on Princetown.  It’s been a few years since I spent any real time in Princetown but after this weekend, I shall certainly be back.

There is plenty of park (sadly buses from Exeter aren’t great so it is a car trip), with super easy access to the Moors.  Depending on your level of fitness and experience, there are several ways to head out.  You can get ideas, maps and advice from the Dartmoor Visitor Centre in the village.

We stopped for a snack at the Fox Tor Café.  It serves good value food and stocks a small range of books, cycling equipment and high energy snacks.  During the winter the fire is very warming and even this high up, coffee is served by a bearded barista.

Fox Tor Cafe family walk on DartmoorThe Fox Tor Café also hires bikes and has a 12 bed bunkhouse, so it’s a great find for the adventurous among you.

After our walk, we headed to the Plume of Feathers for supper.  Sadly we forgot to book in advance so we didn’t get a table in the lovely bar area but the burgers were impressively large and service was very friendly.  There is a children’s play area outside and mini canons too – and try explaining the red ‘phone box to a 5 year old who has known nothing but mobile phones her whole life.

Monday was a little less exciting with a trip to the orthodontist in the city centre.  We are normally NHS all the way so the rather swish waiting rooms and terribly funky lighting were a slight shock to the system but all went off very well.  And it shows just how much we do have to be grateful for – big one will be getting the £3k plus worth of treatment covered which is rather a relief I have to say.

We did manage to get a short play in at Cowick Barton Playing Fields. It’s one of my favourite parks in Exeter.  There are huge fields to run in, a large grass play park with climbing frames, swings, roundabouts and more, loosely divided for big and small children.  There is also the rather beautiful wooded circle built by James Bond and of course the new fitness equipment arranged by local champion, Laura.

Despite the amazing weather, we HAD to try out the new indoor trampoline park, iBounce.  I’ll do a full review soon but let’s just say, we will be back very soon!

Later in the week, small one had a play day at West Exe Children’s Centre, her old nursery.  This Children’s Centre is one of the highlights of living in St Thomas.  The staff are so dedicated and, despite the cuts, the services are amazing.  The jewel in the crown is definitely the beautiful gardens though.  Huge amounts of grassy space, with mature trees, willow benders, wooden play equipment, chickens, cob built story room and hillocks perfect for running up and down.

West Exe Children's centre Exeter- our family week in Exeter

Photo Credit West Exe Children’s Centre

Thursday saw a major milestone for small one – at not quite 6 years old, she went for her first ever haircut.  Up ‘til now, she has always refused point blank to have her hair cut, despite loving coming to watch big sister have her hair cut.

As ever, it was a lesson in going with the flow with children.  Now SHE has decided that she needed her hair cutting, there were no tears or fuss. She sat bolt upright, still as anything and laughed and joked with our lovely hairdresser.  (It’s Amanda at Images on Cowick Street and she is delightful with children if anyone else needs a friendly and gentle hairdresser for children).

It was certainly time to get little one’s hair cut and brushing has most definitely been easier but I am still missing the wispy, floaty hair.  It’s as if she’s grown up overnight and I’m not sure I’m ready for it!

family week in Exeter trip to Ness Cove

Towards the end of the week, the lure of the beach was too much and we had glorious trips to Ness Cove and Exmouth on separate days.  Ness is a gem of a beach.  First the beautiful train ride and then the trip over the river on the black and white boat.  Then the walk through the Smugglers Tunnel and the sudden burst into the sun and that amazing view.

Family Week in Exeter Trip to Ness Cove Sea

Family Week in Exeter - trip to ExmouthAnd add in Café Ode for perfect coffee, the little shop for great ice creams and then the clean loos – what more could you want?

The next day, a very dear friend took us on one of her favourite walks, along the beach from Orcombe Point to Devon Cliffs for a very welcome coffee and ice creams, then up along the cliff tops to the geo needle and back into Exmouth.

I’ve lived in/been to Exmouth lots of times but always shied away from Devon Cliffs – but now my eyes have been opened.  It’s super clean, the staff were lovely and the views amazing.  There’s a little play area for the children and I think swimming pools etc that you can pay to use.  We will certainly be adding this to our circuit of regular walks.

Media entertainment for the week was courtesy of the Picture House and Beauty and the Beast.  I do love the bar at the Picture House.  Big one says they have the best olives in town and I do love sitting on a sofa to watch a film.

One of the staff (Liz?Lizzie?) has made the most amazing stained glass windows in the bar to celebrate the release of Beauty and the Beast – definitely worth a trip up there in the evening to see the sun setting behind them.  My phone camera’s not up to capturing just how lovely it was.

Window display at Picture House Exeter - Family Week in Exeter

Saturday saw a good few hours (much needed) at the allotment.  Despite being lucky enough to have a very good sized city garden, there is something very peaceful and community minded about tending an allotment plot.  This year we are planning to really get to grips with our plot.  It was in a pretty poor state when we took it over last April, but I do have to confess that we weren’t as proactive as we could have been with getting it under control.

Family Week in Exeter - trip to the allotment

Perhaps our attitude is best summed up by small’s cry when she saw the huge rhubarb:  “Oh goodie, you can make rhubarb vodka again!”

Hope you’ve had sun where you are – comment below and let us know YOUR favourite day this week.

Arabella Greatorex, Editor of Exeter Baby Activities. The ultimate guide to family life in Exeter

Family Life in Exeter - what we did to enjoy the sunny first week of the Easter Holiday

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