Thursday, 27 June 2013

Harwell Park

View of the rec from the mound. Wasted many an hour sitting atop here!

Aka 'the rec'. I spent a considerable part of my childhood in this park and until very recently it remained the same, only about 100 times more tired looking! I was extremely glad to see how much it has improved. My kids loved it so much that we stayed for nearly two hours today. I can't think what this park doesn't have. I must replace some of the photographs that were here. 

Jess said this reminded her of a Hobbit Hole!

Find this park on the google map I made for you. 

Coming from Didcot, that is driving all the way up the Broadway and on to the Wantage Road then the High Street towards the Reading Road (or as it's called on the map, the London Road - A417, the same road Upton, Blewbury and Aston Tirrold parks are off). Continue past the bus stop - on your right - and take the next  right turn into Westfields. Then take the first turning on your left into the car park. There is tonnes of parking. You'll see the Harwell Bowling Club and the British Legion Club. The playground is behind the rugby changing rooms, which are on the left of the car park. 

More coming later...pubs, shop and village hall info. Keep a look out...

Other stuff...

I walked past this church every day.

Some nice views from the church yard. 

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Upton Park

Upton is the first village down from Harwell on the A417 and the village before Blewbury. 

This is another brand new play area that is also just off the London Road, along Station Road. Beeching Close - I'm sure there's no pun intended (not marked on the map) -  is the first on the left, the park is the second on the left. 

Find this park on the google map I made for you. 

We spent a good 1.5 hours in Upton Park on Sunday. The village hall is also located in the grounds and as such there's a lot of parking space, so no worries there. We have been to parties in the village hall and it is ideal. Coupled with the (enclosed) little play ground for smaller children it is a great place for a party. 

The new equipment in the grounds is amazing. We saw several children, of differing ages. Thomas (4) was able to use everything, although he is fairly brave and quite tall. He managed to climb up the ladder and walk along the single trunk (below) before getting onto the slide. I think that perhaps it is designed for an older age group though, and I did hover underneath, much to his annoyance!

I have never seen an assault course like the one here. My children really enjoyed playing on it.

Really lovely button swing. 

And a bike course - looked like a lot of fun!

There are no swings for the smaller children in the bigger play area - these are in the enclosed area next to the village hall, here: 

No fireman's pole but a really great zip wire.

Although there is no village shop, there is a pub, The George and Dragon, along the main London Road on the right hand side. The landlord is very family friendly but does not like dogs in his pub. 

Upton park is a really nice one and we shall be visiting again!

Other things: 

The really attractive church, St Mary's - but no stained glass windows in this one. 

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Long Wittenham

Long Wittenham park is not easy to find. We spent some time looking for it, even attempting to go to the shop to enquire - but were informed that the shop had closed down about five years before, shows what I know! I will spare you the effort of hunting it down for yourself. Driving away from Didcot, along the High Street, take the road to your right that goes off towards Little Wittenham (There is a sign saying 'Little Wittenham 1 mile' on your right hand side just before the High street bends around heading towards Clifton Hampden). Take the immediate left and it is next to Cotsmill Garden Offices - the large green space on the map:) Warning: the track is in an extremely bad state of repair. 

Find this park on the google map I made for you. 

This park is probably more suited to children a bit older than my 4 year old. But Thomas did enjoy the swings - they go really high. 

The usual assortment of climbing equipment. There are a couple of pubs in Long Wittenham, on the main road through the village, as is the school. 

There is another recreation field in Long Wittenham but there is no playground equipment. It's a grassy area with football goals, a small cricket area and basketball nets. Not really for small children. It's on the left hand side of the High Street as you walk into Long Wittenham via the footpath that starts in the Ladygrove. The mobile home site is opposite and Pendon Museum is a tiny bit further down on the left. 

The Plough allows children to use their w/c. 


There is a church in Long Wittenham - St Mary's. Here are some stained glass windows. 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Aston Park

Aston Tirrold recreation ground  is off the same road that Blewbury park is on, the A417. To park you have to go all the way down Chalk Hill (you will see the park on your right) and take the first right, turning into a small lane. There are two entrances to the recreation ground along this lane. There is no car park but room enough for two cars or so, much like alongside East Hagbourne park. 

Find this park on the google map I made for you. 

We discovered this ground last year when I was getting my car MOT'd at the Chequers Garage. It is in the corner of the field and almost camouflaged. 

This play areas has only recently been refitted/ refurbished/ renovated - now I've started this blogging about parks business I'm probably going to have to become au fait with the terminology! - and is about 1,000 times better than the old park.

As you can see, there is plenty of shade.

New equipment: The essential fireman's pole. 

...for younger children

...and older children

The all-important zip wire.

The recreation ground has a basketball court, football posts, and a cricket pitch.  
The village has a community pavilion and a hall (next to All Saints Church). Both can be hired out. I am reliably informed that the parish council is eager to do this more often. 

I am taken with the Astons' Cafe myself. I visited on the 25/04/13 between 10-12 and was greeted by some very hospitable ladies equipped with a large tea urn and delicious home made cake. There are some toys and a small play area for small children.

The Sweet Olive is the restaurant in Aston's local The Chequers Inn. I know a lot of people like it very much. I have only been there once and that was about seven years ago now so I can't comment. However, it is just around the corner from the recreation ground.

There is no school in Aston Tirrold. 


Stained glass windows from St Michael's Church.

Blewbury Park

Blewbury park is my children's most favourite park. Like Appleford park, it is easy to find.  It is off the A417 London Road. It is directly opposite Savages garden centre (teas, coffees, breakfast, lunch available) and next to the graveyard. There is a large car park a little way off the main road just outside the park grounds.

Find this park on the google map I made for you. 

When we went last Sunday there was a portaloo in the park grounds. I am not sure if this is for public use or just for cricket spectators/ players (the cricket ground is set closer to the main road). 

Blewbury park is really quite something. It probably has the best zip wire of all the parks we have thus far visited. It has some amazing swings - of four varieties - and the best climbing pyramids I have ever seen. There is a lot of shade from the purpose built wooden gazebo, a climbing frame/ fireman's pole/ slide and also a large skate park. This park is most definitely not for small children, on the whole, as the equipment is on the 'chunkier' side. 

Large gazebo

More swings

Still more swings.

There is another park in Blewbury - for smaller children. It can be found at the opposite side, near the post office. I shall visit shortly. 

There is a school, too.

Blewbury has a very active village society and is very 'arty'. A number of local artists live here. 

Between Blewbury and the Astons there is a very noticeable land mark - Blewburton Hill. It is accessible and offers great views. Behind the recreation ground there are paths towards Chilton - ideal for walkers and cyclists. 

Pubs in Blewbury

There are two pubs in Blewbury. The Red Lion and The Barley Mow. I haven't been to either yet but one day I will!

Other things: 


Appleford Park

We had driven passed Appleford park innumerable times before deciding to make it our fourth stop and practically our own fiefdom. Thomas had two observations (i) we were the only people in the children's playground (ii) it would take one hundred days to pick all the daisies. 

Appleford park is on the left hand side of the main road (B4016) coming from Didcot. You can't really miss it. There is ample parking.

Find this park on the google map I made for you. 

We went early afternoon on each of our three trips and you can see there is plenty of shade. 

There is a variety of equipment for children of all ages. There are two baby swings and two swings for bigger children. 

Thomas is four but this fireman's pole is a bit small for him. 

However the zip wire is just perfect:

There is also a climbing frame for smaller children and a large slide.

There aren't that many facilities in Appleford. There is no village shop and the village pub closed down last September. However, it is possible to hire the village hall.

There is a brewery. I emailed them once to find out where I could buy their beer, but received no reply. Perhaps you will be more successful. 

There is also a church. If you like stained glass windows check back later and I may have posted some photographs of them. 

This park doesn't just have equipment for children - it also has outdoor gym equipment for adults.

I had a go myself and can see why it appears so well used:) 

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Park Life

I have two children: Jess, age 7 and Thomas, age 4.  They get bored visiting the same park again and again and there is nothing more they enjoy than exploring a new one. I have often been asked where the good parks are and, with these two things in mind, my purpose is to inform parents about parks in South Oxfordshire: where they are, who they are suitable for, access, nearby facilities etc. 

It can sometimes be a welcome break to visit a lovely family pub at the end of  a hot day, and I endeavour to include relevant info.

Please leave a comment. If you have any suggestions I hope I can cover those, too.

You can get this blog as an app, for free, here.

Travelling to parks

Please find the Thames Travel bus time table here. 

Brightwell-Cum-Sotwell (Part I)

There are two parks in Brightwell. The first one can be found down Mackney lane. It can be reached by turning off the A4130 (the road out of Didcot towards Wallingford) into the Didcot Road. Continue following this road until you come to The Red Lion on your right and the turning to Mackney Lane is immediately to the left of the pub. A short drive takes you to the park which is on the left. There is plenty of parking.

Find this park on the google map I made for you. 

There is a large playing field and Scout Hut, and some football posts. There is a little stream along the edge. 

This is the climbing equipment. That it has a fireman's pole means that it's a winner in my son's eyes! 

There are also swings, for younger and older children, and a bigger slide:

We were at this park for about an hour. It was a lovely sunny day, but as you can see, there is not much opportunity to seek shade. 

The equipment, apart from the see-saw (which is a little big) is the perfect size for my two. 

If you fancy a drink or some snacks, there is a village shop  which stocks local Brightwell honey. I bought some and it's delicious. The shop is staffed by really helpful, lovely ladies. 
If you are interested in local history (as I am) you can buy local history research published by the Brightwell History Group.

St Agatha's Church has some nice stained glass windows, if you like that sort of thing:

Brightwell-Cum-Sotwell (Part II)

Brightwell-Cum-Sotwell Park (II) 

Brightwell (II) is lovely! It is set in a large square field. It has lots of trees for shade, interesting humps for rolling down, two enclosed parks: one for older children, and a smaller one with two swings for little ones. There are two tennis courts (I don't yet know if they are open to 'the public' or if you need a key, as in some villages) and wooden football goal posts. 

Despite this, my son was not impressed (well you can't please everyone!). His chief complaints were there are no conventional swings and no fireman's pole. 

Find this park on the google map I made for you. 

Not this lane...

It is not obvious where this park is. It is off Church Lane and accessed by following quite a long lane. But beware: the lane is lined with stinging nettles at the moment. I am sure there is another way to get there, given it is right next to the village school. However, we parked next to the war memorial, opposite the village hall and the Village shop on West End. Church Lane is opposite the war memorial. The lane to the park is the second lane on the right. 

The first one is a cycle path (above)

...but this one

Pictures to follow.

The Red Lion's landlord allows children to use their w/c.