Sunny Days at Crackington Haven Beach, Cornwall

Sunny Days at Crackington Haven Beach, Cornwall

Whilst having a random hotel break at the Trethorne Hotel & Golf Club in Launceston back in February, Nathan and I visited the stunning Crackington Haven Beach. Neither of us had ever been to Crackington Haven before so this was a lovely new beach for us to explore together.

Crackington Haven Beach, Cornwall

Crackington Haven Beach, Cornwall

Crackington Haven Beach, Cornwall

Crackington Haven Beach, Cornwall

Sunshine Relaxing

We couldn’t believe how beautiful the views were and enjoyed sitting on the cliff top overlooking the beach for ages! It was so peaceful and relaxing and we said hello to many walkers walking the South West Coast Path.

Crackington Haven Beach, Cornwall

Crackington Haven Beach, Cornwall

Crackington Haven Beach, Cornwall

Crackington Haven Beach, Cornwall

The weather was amazing, so sunny and bright. Pretty magical considering it was only February and normally raining this time of year! It was definitely sunnies weather!

Crackington Haven Beach, Cornwall

Crackington Haven Beach, Cornwall

Lunch Al Fresco

We were even lucky enough to enjoy lunch al fresco at the Haven Cafe which is right on the beach front. We sat outside in the sunshine and enjoyed a tasty lunch and some cold drinks. The place had a really nice atmosphere and the staff were super friendly. I would certainly recommend them for a spot to eat if you’re visiting the beach.

Crackington Haven Beach, Cornwall

Crackington Haven Beach, Cornwall

Another Cornish beach ticked off the Cornwall Beach Beach Challenge list and what a stunner it was! Crackington Haven, we love you!

Crackington Haven Beach, Cornwall

Medieval Fun at Powderham Castle, Exeter

Medieval Fun at Powderham Castle, Exeter

During May half term, we were lucky enough to be invited to the Medieval Madness event taking place at the beautiful Powderham Castle near Exeter, Devon. This was an exciting event based on Medieval times and included lots of medieval-themed activities.  Nathan and I visited on bank holiday Monday and enjoyed a relaxing and fun-filled day at the castle and grounds.

So Many Roses

Well signposted, Powderham Castle is easy to reach and isn’t far from Exeter city centre. We arrived by car and found parking super easy and free. Entry to the castle grounds was easy too and we were warmly welcomed by the staff who helped us pre-book onto the castle tours. First, we decided to head to the beautiful rose gardens which are situated on the castle’s east-facing terrace and offer some incredible views over the deer park and down to the River Exe.

I loved admiring all the stunning roses and loved the range of colours on display. The gardens have such a lovely view that we stopped and sat on one of the many benches placed around the garden for a good 15 minutes. I couldn’t help but photograph all the roses – they were just too pretty not to!

We made sure to pop into the chapel too which was super cute and quaint.

Touring the Castle

Next, it was time to check out the castle! We opted for the open house viewing which is when the castle is open to visitors to wander around freely. This happens daily at 13.15-14.00 and there are plenty of guides situated in the rooms who are more than happy to tell you further information about the state rooms or the history of the castle.

No photographs are allowed inside so apologies for the lack of photos. I can, however, tell you that the inside of the castle and the state rooms are stunning! You will just have to go and visit yourself if you want to see inside! There’s grand dining rooms, posh living rooms and a lovely conservatory room overlooking the beautiful rose garden. There are lots of family photos of the Courtenay family too and as usual when Nathan and visit somewhere grand such as Powderham Castle we couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like if we lived here! We particularly loved the secret bookshelf doors and spotting all the medieval figures dotted around the rooms for us to find.

We also took the Upstairs Tour of the house which offers visitors a chance to explore never-seen-before family bedrooms and see a more personal side of the Courtenay family home. The guide was super friendly and very knowledgeable. The tour lasted about 45 minutes I recall and is included in the entry price which is great.

Medieval Madness

We enjoyed the half term ‘Medieval Madness’ event being put on at the castle. Unfortunately, we were a few days too early to enjoy the Knights of Royal England’s premiere jousting displays. I can imagine these displays would have been really atmospheric and interesting to see and I bet they kept children and adults entertained during their half term visits.

We did, however, get to see a fun and interactive show hosted by the Pocketwatch Theatre Company. Here we got involved in the medieval madness and saw lots of children thoroughly enjoying themselves all dressed up and armed with medieval swords!

There was also a tent full of crafty activities for children to get stuck in with, including medieval shield painting – something I know I would have enjoyed as a kid!

Making New Friends

As well as having a stunning castle and beautiful gardens, Powderham Castle offers visitors the opportunity to meet lots of animals too which we were expecting. We took a walk through the gardens to the Victorian Walled Garden which is home to the garden play area and pets corner. Here we found ourselves in a world of roaming birds and even a huge tortoise. There were lots of different animals to see including rodents, birds, pigs, guinea pigs and even a horse and donkey. It was a cute area where children (and Nathan!) could get up close and personal with the animals and make some new friends.

There’s a fun looking children’s play area too complete with tractor trailers and the Courtenay Fort – oh to be 7 again! You can also grab a drink from the Snack Shack which has a vending machine featuring all sorts of yummy naughtiness!

We took a walk down to the Forge too and saw the blacksmith at work.

Belvedere Safari

The highlight of our visit for me has to be the Belvedere Safari Tour we went on. This tour gave us the chance to ride on the tractor-trailer and be driven through the gorgeous deer park to the grand Belvedere Tower.

We loved riding through the deer park and I was amazed at how many deer there were – apparently over 450! Our driver told us many of them were due to give birth to hundreds more deer – incredible! The slow-moving and quiet tractor enabled us to cross the park and get pretty close to the deer before they would slowly move away. I love deer, I think they are really beautiful animals with such pretty faces. It was great to see them up close and in such a stunning environment.

After moving through the deer park our driver took us to the stunning Belvedere Tower, which I thought was super striking. Here we stopped for ten minutes to admire the wonderful, far-reaching views over the Exe Estuary and Topsham.

The sun came out for us and we walked around the tower taking photos and peering into the structures inside.

After our pit stop, we took the leisurely ride back through the deer park, passing many more deer and saw some great views of the back of the castle and the rose garden. Apparently, this was the first Belvedere Safari that had been run and it took about an hour. The tour was £3.50 each and so worth it!

Deer Park Safari tours are also available and run a few times throughout the day. These are also £3.50 and enable visitors to ride for an enjoyable 45 minutes through the deer park. There are some stunning trees and lake views to admire too.

Courtenay Cafe

If you fancy a bite to eat whilst visiting the castle then the Courtenay Café has all you need! They serve lunches, cream teas, and ice cream too! We saw plenty of places to sit both inside and outside in the castle courtyard.

There’s also a cute little gift shop too where you can find some lovely gifts and all your usual souvenir bits. There’s also lots of information and models to look at which help you learn more about the castle and the Courtenay family as well.

Visitor Information

For more information about visiting Powderham Castle, be sure to check out their website and check their Facebook page for the latest events – it looks like there’s a lot of cool events coming up over the summer months. Entry to the castle costs £10.95 for children (ages 4-16 years), £12.95 for adults and £39.95 for a family of 4. Tickets are valid for a return visit within 7 days – perfect for those on holiday wanting to return and explore some more.

Final Thoughts

We enjoyed our day at Powderham Castle, especially the Belvedere Safari Tour which I would say is a must to really add to your visit. The gardens were beautiful, the house majestic and the medieval madness event a bit of extra fun! Something for all the family I think and a lovely day out.

*** Our entry to Powderham Castle was gifted to us in return for this review. All thoughts, pictures, and opinions are my own. ***

 

Adventures in Dartmoor National Park, Devon

Adventures in Dartmoor National Park, Devon

Beautiful, rugged and natural Dartmoor – surely one of Devon’s most wonderful and exciting places to visit. I fell in love with it the first time and visited and enjoy it more and more each time I visit. It’s natural beauty, wild landscapes and stunning animals keep plenty of visitors returning year after year.

Back in October last year Nathan and I had a wonderful day exploring Dartmoor and all it has to offer. We kicked off the day by visiting the family-friendly Minature Pony Centre and enjoyed meeting all the super cute miniature Shetland ponies! If you’re interested and want to see more cute pony pics you can read all about our experience here.

After leaving the Miniature Pony Centre in Dartmoor, Nathan and I parked up at the Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre and walked up to Bellever Tor.

It was a lovely, easy walk through Bellever Forest, amid the tall trees and wild landscapes. There were some lovely views along the way too. We didn’t quite make it up to the top of Bellever Tor but enjoyed the views from the bottom of it and all the wild mushrooms we encountered on the way too.

On returning to the car park we popped into the Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre – a great place for local information, maps for walks and lots of other Dartmoor souvenirs. We enjoyed reading all about Dartmoor and it’s wildlife.

After a quick rest and a cup of tea, we decided to pop to Postbridge where there is a real Dartmoor beauty spot to explore. Just a short hop from the main road and you are greeted with the bubbling river and famous Clapper Bridge  – the perfect spot for a picnic! We sat by the river eating some snacks and enjoyed watching visitors of all ages enjoying the natural beauty of the area and paddling their feet in the water. This is certainly a very Instagram-able spot in Devon – one of many that is!

Driving home we passed through the centre of the National Park and were amazed to stumble across all the wild animals on the side of the road. We saw hundreds of lazy sheep chilling in the sun and saw lots of gorgeous horses and Shetland ponies grazing in the long grasses.

Best of all we witness a herd of highland cows crossing the road in front of our car and later blocking the entrance to the parking area in which we had stopped to have a cheeky hot chocolate! They were so beautiful and I could have stayed watching them all day – especially with their cute calves.

Final Thoughts

We had the best day out exploring Dartmoor! It started with fun at the Miniature Pony Centre before we enjoyed a hike across Bellever Tor and earned a relaxing sit down by the river at Postbridge. We finished the day by driving through the heart of the Dartmoor National Park and experienced the wild cows, sheep and ponies that roam the moor. What a lovely day exploring the county in which I am lucky enough to live. Take me back any day!

Making Friends at the Miniature Pony Centre, Dartmoor

Making Friends at the Miniature Pony Centre, Dartmoor

On a sunny Sunday in October last year, Nathan and I visited the delightful and family run Miniature Pony Centre in Dartmoor, Devon. Situated deep in the Dartmoor National Park the Miniature Pony Centre is a great family attraction, fun for all ages and perfect for pony lovers!

We managed to get our hands on discounted entrance tickets to the pony centre through Groupon. The offer was for half price adult entry, meaning the tickets cost just £8.95 for us both. I can imagine if using Groupon to get tickets for a family this would really help save quite a bit of money.

Miniature Shetland Ponies

Inside the centre there is a huge herd of miniature Shetland ponies to see, some in paddocks being fed and others roaming free in the main paddock. Here visitors can make friends with the mini ponies whilst wandering around the paddock and seeing the cute little Shetlands up close. This was something neither Nathan or I had done before so was quite a fun experience.

It’s perfectly safe for you to stroke the ponies and there’s advice on how to do this. The ponies soon make it clear if they aren’t up to any company and simply walk away from you – a sure sign they aren’t interested in being petted at that time. Nathan and I found that trying to take some miniature pony selfies was harder than we anticipated!

There are also some horses residing at the pony centre which were beautiful to look at and clearly looked after very well. There’s even a unicorn present too which was a bit different!

Plenty More to See

Animal lovers will be so at home here as not only can visitors see the cute miniature Shetland ponies and horses but also see alpacas, mules, foals and goats. Various birds including peacocks and chickens can be seen roaming around too. Apparently, some rather different type of animals can be seen also – cockroaches and giant African land snails – we missed these during our visit which I think on reflection I am quite pleased about!

We noticed there was lots for children to get involved in – tractor rides, pony rides and talks on the animals too. I found myself wishing I was small enough to able to try riding a pony! I don’t think I ever did this as a child and now I feel hard done by!!

Tickets and Visitor Information

Further information and the option to pre-book ticketed can be found on the Miniature Pony Centre website. The centre had free parking, is well signposted and has it’s own café – the Paddock View Café serving a variety of hot and cold food and drinks. There’s a gift shop, parkland, and gardens to wander around and both an indoor and outdoor play area for the kids too. I quite like the sound of a pony care day too – the perfect solution for a pony mad child who wants to learn how to look after ponies and get up close and personal with them. Why isn’t this open to adults too!

Final Thoughts

The Dartmoor Pony Centre was a lovely place for an afternoon visit and we enjoyed seeing a real icon the Dartmoor National Park – the miniature Shetland pony. We enjoyed being able to see the ponies up close and having a leisurely walk around the garden areas too. I can imagine this is a great place to visit with children and with regular offers on Groupon it would be even better if some money can be saved – more spare pennies for ice cream in the centre’s Paddock View Café!

 

Why Devon is a Great Place for Your Summer Holiday!

Why Devon is a Great Place for Your Summer Holiday!

It’s official; more and more people in the UK are choosing to spend their holidays in this country, rather than travelling abroad. The UK has loads of beautiful locations, but undoubtedly one of the most popular places to visit is Devon.

If you’re thinking of spending your summer vacation in this gorgeous county, here’s some information that might convince you to book your stay now.

Why stay in Devon for your holidays?

It’s got amazing beaches

If there’s one thing Devon does well, it’s beaches. In the north of the county, you’ll find endless stretches of golden sand at Woolacombe, plus some amazing surfing opportunities. Down south, there are fantastic locations like Dawlish and Exmouth, which both cater excellently for holidaymakers. Branscombe beach, though pebbly, has stunningly clear waters – ideal for cooling off on a hot day.

City life

Cities might not be the first thing you think of when visiting Devon. However, spending the day in historic Exeter is a definite must. The RAMM (Exeter’s museum) holds great events throughout the year, and the cathedral is regarded as one of the best in the country. Plymouth is also well worth visiting. This nautical city’s best-loved area is the Barbican, down by the sea.

Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, Devon

Dartmoor exploration

Dartmoor is one of the UK’s most visited locations outside of London. When you get there, it’s not hard to see why. The endless rolling moors and quaint little villages are picture-postcard pretty, and the dramatic craggy tors provide perfect the social media photo opportunity. Hiking is the most popular activity around here, though children often love the chance to go for a ‘wild swim’ in one of the many secret pools or rivers.

Eating out

Devon’s culinary scene is surprisingly impressive, as Exeter’s annual Food Festival proves! There are plenty of highly-regarded fine dining establishments, which give you and your partner the chance to get your smart clothes on, a dab of designer (or copy) fragrances, and make an event of it. However, if you’re working on a budget, be assured that there are also plenty of other great places that offer locally produced food at reasonable prices.

The Coombe Cellars, Combeinteignhead, Devon

Enjoy the attractions

If you’re holidaying with kids, you’ll probably want to devote at least one day to visiting a major attraction. There are loads of good theme parks in Devon, such as Crealy, Watermouth Family Theme Park and Woodlands, not to mention plenty of outdoors-based activities. For example, Go Ape in Haldon Forest is a big favourite, especially if you love swinging through the tree-tops!

Make the most of the National Trust

National Trust members will be thrilled at the number of places to visit in Devon, particularly in the south of the county. The walk to Castle Drogo from Fingle Bridge is one of the best-loved strolls in the area, and historic Buckland Abbey is also not to be missed. Greenway (Agatha Christie’s former home) is another highlight, with its incredible views of the river below.

What’s your favourite thing to do in Devon? Let me know in the comments below!

Votes for Women at Killerton House, Exeter

Votes for Women at Killerton House, Exeter

I love visiting Killerton House in Exeter, it has to be one of my favourite National Trust properties. It has often changing exhibitions and I enjoy visiting all the new ones to see what area the focus is on and where is having a light shone.

At the end of last year, Killerton hosted a Votes for Women exhibition which was all about women’s fight for female suffrage and their determination to get the vote for all.

It was such an interesting exhibition and reminded me of the passion the suffragettes had and the fight they put up for us women today to have the vote. I can’t even imagine what it would be like for men to be able to vote in the general elections and for me not to be able to just because I was a woman -it wouldn’t feel right at all!!

The exhibition is a National Portrait Gallery touring the exhibition and whilst it is no longer at Killerton (yes this post is super super late) I hope you can appreciate it’s clever and thought-provoking nature and you are reminded of an important part of social and political history.

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As you can see even Nathan enjoyed it too!

After enjoying the exhibition we spent some time walking around the rest of the house. I always love seeing how it’s decorated and enjoy imaging what it would be like to live there!

We had a nice walk around the gardens too and popped into the chapel at the top of the hill – such a cute little church which is always nice to take photos of.

Votes for Women was another very successful National Trust exhibition hosted at Killerton – one that was really memorable and really got me thinking. I always love the exhibitions that are done here and always really enjoy their Christmas events such as the Wind in the Willows display back in 2017.

Have you ever been to Killerton? What do you think about this Votes for Women exhibition? I’d love to hear your views!