Toddlers and Teens in Devon: Part 2

If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, let me point you to Part 1 of this mini-series: Toddlers and Teens in Devon: Part 1.

On day two we knew that it was going to be one of our warmiest sunniest days (based on the BBC weather forecast) so we decided to make this our ‘beach day’. We had it on good authority that one of the nicest beaches most suitable for the little people in that area was to be found at Teignmouth – about a 20 minute drive away from where we were staying just outside Torquay.

After packing up the million and one things you need to take to a beach with kids (not including food) we set off in convoy and took a scenic drive up the Riviera coastline arriving in Teignmouth at about 10.30am. I found an ideal parking spot right on the roadside but the others had to go a bit further up to the car park. My dad decided to go and track them down and duly disappeared whilst the rest of us found each other outside the Beachcomber Cafe (which was always going to be a safe bet 😉 ) and then we all wondered where Grandad had gone with all our bags!

In the meantime my brother in law had ordered pancakes with bacon and maple syrup for the girls and lattes for the adults. The restaurant was busy but very convenient and we ended up ordering the kids a little packed lunch lunchbag from there later on albeit during a massive embarassing, screamy meltdown from EJ! Here is a view out from the restaurant:

Devon View from the Beachcomber

Pretty scenic!

It was another one of those partly stony, partly sandy beaches and it wasn’t the most massive stretch so it did get very busy up near all the facilities. My brother in law bought a little dinghy which kept JJ and the girls entertained and then they settled down to build a sand fort.

Just across the road was a lovely water play park which EJ absolutely loved although by that point JJ had gotten a little bit wet and cold and he was happy to go off and explore the other play equipment while his little brother got squirted and ambushed by the intermittent jets of water shooting up in every direction!

EJ scaled great heights all by himself as he is wont to do and JJ loved the fact there was play equipment in the shape of a pirate ship!

It really was a lovely place to take little children and I’d definitely recommend it.

On day 3 we decided to do something completely different and headed inland to the lovely town of Totnes. We’d visited here before as a family, two years ago when EJ was just 5 weeks old and pretty much re-visited the same places and did the same things again. On the itinerary was a scrummy breakfast at the unique Barrel House cafe where I had the most magnificent Eggs Benedict and my sister had the Eggs Florentine which looked equally delicious! The children were kept quiet with luxury hot chocolates and eggs on toast.

With full tummies we left to explore and do a little bit of window shopping. Totnes is one of those towns full of interesting one-off boutiques although we spent rather a long time hanging around Mountain Warehouse which EJ decided was the best and nicest shop ever and we ended up playing the ‘yes of course I’ll buy you this camping chair/set of skittles/wind-up torch” before skipping round the back of the display stand to put it all straight back!

Devon The Barrel House

Devon Totnes

We eventually extracted the monkey and headed down to the South Devon Steam Railway. My mum and I took the toddlers and teens on a round trip to Buckfastleigh via the Hogwarts Express (as far as my nieces were concerned!) whilst the other adults hung out at the cafe of the Rare Breeds Farm which is just the other side of the tracks. After our train journey my sister and brother in law took the boys into the farm whilst the rest of us chilled out at the cafe.

Devon JJ Hogwarts Express

Devon EJ Hogwarts Express

My dad at the Rare Breeds cafe looking out across the railway and rolling hills:

Devon View from the Rare Breeds Cafe

Some train portraits (not sure what happened to JJ – he must have been off wandering the corridors!):

dDevon EJ on the steam

Devon Portrait of K

Devon Portrait of C

And later, some more ‘arty’ black and white shots:

Devon Totnes Littlehempston sign

Devon Step back in time

Devon Noisy Steam

(Steam trains are noisy!)

Devon Great Western Railway Notice

Last time we came to this place it was absolutely bucketing with rain so we really had the luck this time round and a lovely day out for all the family.

Look out for the third and final installment of Toddlers and Teens in Devon to discover:

– Blue tongues and chocolate body painting*
– How to entertain two preschoolers with nothing but a small hotel room and a fully inflated dinghy
– When plastic curtains are more interesting than skittering otters (*sigh*)
– And how to (almost) swim with the seals.

*Not as exciting as it sounds…

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

What memories are made of?

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In September 2010 JJ turned one and the hubster and I got married. The year before we had visited the Isle of Wight with my family (I was about 6 months pregnant at the time) but we hadn’t been anywhere abroad since October 2008 so we took him to Menorca with us for our “honeymoon”. When JJ was about 20 months old I went to a holiday village in the New Forest with him & my mum for a week in June (it rained. Heavily). The hubster wasn’t involved in that one as he claimed it wasn’t worth trying to go on holiday with a toddler as it would be too much hard work. It was a lot of hard work but it was still a holiday. Last year I went away with my family to Devon (see this post) when JJ was nearly three and EJ was five weeks old). Hubster didn’t make that one either as he was involved in stuff to do with the Olympics (professionally – not as an Olympian!).

This year I took the boys to the Isle of Wight with my mum and dad (hubster didn’t get time off work but came down for the tail end of the week). Now we are finally booked in for our first proper “family” holiday – a week in a lovely toddler-friendly cottage in Bude, North Cornwall in October. In considering this it has occurred to me that maybe this is a bit of a frivolous way to spend our money (which is being squeezed every day by austerity measures within the – public serving – organisation for which we both work [me part-time]). Then I realised that, for me, some of my most vivid, happy memories are of holidays. I guess that stands to reason. I tried to think of other great memories from my life. The things that immediately spring to mind are either parties or holidays. Some of my time at College and University.

Holiday highlights of my life (other than those fab childhood memories I have covered in this post and this one) have been an amazing trip to South Africa when I was 20 to stay initially in Cape Town with my Aunt & Uncle & cousins (who were living out there) and then travelling with them across the country, driving the ‘Garden Route’ and going on Safari for three days.

I re-visited Cape Town twice since that time – once on the honeymoon after my first marriage (more on that another day!), and once when one of my best friends won a trip for herself and 5 friends to be flown out by BA and stay there in a four star hotel for a week – incredible luxury!!
The other holiday I consider to be one of a “lifetime” was my trip to Australia for five weeks in 2005. I was between partners and before kids, between jobs but had some spare cash so I opted for a backpacker style trip up the East Coast with Trek Australia from Sydney to Cairns. This included a sailing boat tour round the stunning Whitsunday Islands, a boat trip out to the Great Barrier Reef for snorkelling, white water rafting on the Tully river, a bumpy landrover drive round sandy Fraser Island and a tandem parachute jump from 14000 feet over Mission Beach (if you’re going to do it anywhere, do it there!). I made some lovely friends on the trip and Jack Johnson formed the soundtrack to the adventure (how very ‘mid-noughties’!).

skydiving mission beach

I know holidays won’t be like that any more now I have kids. But a whole new chapter of holidays has opened up and I am extremely keen to have holidays which we can all enjoy.

So is it worth the money? As part of the rich fabric of our lives it can only be a resounding yes!

Holidaying with a five week old!

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Sharing this one with What’s The Story? Linky at Podcast Dove and newly discovered Magic Moments at The Oliver’s Madhouse.

I love this picture because it is probably the first picture of me with both my boys together in a little (minus daddy) family portrait. It was taken near the beach at Salcombe in Devon where we went on holiday for a week at the end of August 2012 when EJ was just five weeks old. We went with my mum and dad, sister and brother-in-law and 12- and 13-year old nieces and it was so lovely to be surrounded by family who were all happy to entertain JJ and muck in with the baby. It was also nice just to be out and about after five weeks of watching everyone else abuzz with Olympics fever – I never even managed to watch one of Mo Farrah’s races but EJ will always be remembered as being an “Olympics Baby”.

In a week’s time we will be going away again, minus my sister’s family as, sadly for us (but great for them!), they are off on the other side of the world in Australia visiting their antipodean relatives. This year we’re off to Ventnor in the Isle of Wight with Mum & Dad and looking forward to some fun days with the boys.