Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Dorchester Upon Thames

Dorchester is about 20 minutes drive from Didcot. To get to there, drive along the Abingdon Road towards the village (through Clifton Hampden, Burcot and left into the Dorchester - the sailing club will be on your right). Take a left turn onto the Oxford Road, then the immediate right turn. The park is a little further on. There is space for a couple of cars immediately outside the gate. The car park next door is only for fishermen with permits.

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

My children very much enjoyed this park and we stayed for a good hour. It has equipment for both small and big children.

There are climbing frames for bigger children...

Dorchester is one of my very favourite places to visit. It has everything: free parking, with public toilets located right next door. There is a passage to the river, too. All this is within sight of the Abbey. The High Street has everything you could need for a short visit: a co-op, should you feel the need for an ice-cream break, a pub (with its own parking), a restaurant. Unfortunately the post office is now closed. 

We visited the Abbey yesterday and it is magnificent. Entrance is free. It has a children's corner with activities. My daughter decided she liked the look of the colouring page for the story of 'Daniel in the Lions Den'. My son is now so used to these visits to churches he actively points them out and goes looking for the font...brain washing is a subtle thing, haha! I know, I'm a cruel Mum:)

We visited the museum today. Although it is very small this is good  - there isn't so much the children get bored. They had a teacher's gown which my daughter enjoyed dressing up in, and a gas mask my son thought was superb, along with an assortment of other artefacts - civil war cannon balls, sculpture from the Abbey, old school desks, Romano - British archaeology (roof tiles - I was excited I could identify what these were from my  limited excavation experience of Gatehampton Roman Villa in Goring with the South Oxfordshire Archaeology Group) etc.

Right next door to the museum, in the same building, is the tea room, which also sells cake, scones and tea loaf. Tea: 60p for the first cup, 40p for the second and 20p for the third, and free thereafter. Brilliant should it be raining. Orange and lemon squash is 30p (I think, but certainly inexpensive). It is open Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 3-5pm (seasonal opening - check the website). 

We shall definitely visit again. 


Lovely roses.

Lots of nice stained glass windows

Some very old ones. This one is c.1225 - nearly 800 years old! Amazing. 

The museum and the tea room...

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Woodcote Church

Woodcote is about a 20 minute drive from Didcot. Take the first turning signposted into Woodcote, which is on your right as you're travelling on the A4074 along the road to Reading. You will turn into the B471, which is the Oxford Road. Take the first left into Tidmore Road. You will see a village hall and the park which is immediately behind it. The school is on the other side of the fence to the park. 

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

There's plenty of parking, as you can see (above). 

Woodcote Park has absolutely everything - except any shade. We visited on an extremely hot day last week, and it was sorely missed. Consequently we didn't stay for as long as we usually do in a new park. 

Our trip was made more pleasant, however, by the presence of the Post Office which sells everything. 

Probably the oddest piece of equipment ever! You hold on to the bar. It rotates. 

The park has equipment for children of all ages. The (above) piece is suitable for very small children. 

These swings are the total opposite to the extremely low ones found in Steventon Park!

My children had a fantastic time on this climbing frame. 

However, they were decidedly unimpressed with the zipwire, which they called the 'world's slowest'! 

Woodcote park is set in a large recreation field. There is a pub and a restaurant on the opposite side of the road. It appeared to me that the village hall was usually opened, but was having repairs, so the loos were out of action. 

Here's the usual picture of totally unrelated things: 

Woodcote Church (St Leonard's) stained glass. 

Monday, 22 July 2013

Nettlebed Park

Nettlebed is about 20 minutes drive from Didcot. It's on the way to Henley on the A4130, the High Street. Drive past The White Heart on your left and take the next left into Watlington Street. The park is a little way further up on your right. There is a specific car park.

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

This park has the most shade I have seen. Lovely. And conveniently placed benches.

The longest monkey bars I have ever seen!

We spent two hours in this park. It isn't huge but my children really enjoyed themselves.

Afterwards we went to The White Heart. The children's main menu is good value - £5.00 - and my children ate the lot. I had a George Osbourne Special - a great gourmet burger with some fantastic wedges. It is a lovely pub, quite busy, but good service. The staff also let my son have a toilet break from the park - nice people. 

There is a school in Nettlebed, a few shops. 

Fans of James Bond will know Ian Flemming's family home was here. 

There is every chance we'll go back to Nettlebed park, perhaps on the way to/ from Henley. 

Monday, 15 July 2013

Culham Park

Culham park is extremely easy to find. Turn into the village from the Abingdon Road. If you're coming from the Sutton Courtenay side, it's the next on the left from the car park for the lock. Take the first right - signposted 'school'. Drive up to the top of this road and you'll see some double gates. There's a little bit of parking space along the approach to the park. 

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

Culham park has an enormous recreation ground. 

Some good swings, very high off the ground!

Nice worries about falling off from a great height!

The bizarre tubular thing appears to be some sort of basketball post. 

Assault course provided some entertainment for quite a while. 

We probably spent about 30 minutes in this park. It was not busy, we shared it for about 20 minutes with another family.

It is apparent that some work is due to be done on the park. There were two large bags of some sort of plastic material waiting to be laid. We shall visit again soon to find out. 

The only other thing in the village (apart from the pub on the corner and of course the Lock) is the church.

Steventon Park

You can get to Steventon park several ways. You can drive along the A34 link rd (the one with McDonalds and M&S on near the roundabout), taking the second exit towards Steventon, or you can drive out of Didcot along the Abingdon Rd, turning left towards Appleford, through Sutton Courtney and Drayton and taking a left at the roundabout at Drayton (the right turn takes you towards Abingdon).

We parked in the village hall car park, which is next to the large village green. It was only when we returned I noticed parking is reserved for the users only. There is a long road adjacent to the Causeway, but I have an aversion to parking outside people's houses. 

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

To get to the park, cross over the road and walk along the Causeway: 

It looks a long way but it's really only about 400 m. The school is down the same road so you could just follow the signs for the school. 

The park has a few things for smaller children: 

And a large climbing frame for older ones, incorporating lots of activities, including monkey bars, a fireman's pole, a beam (about 6 feet off the ground), a climbing wall, a slide and a wobbly bridge. 

My son is rarely intimidated by anything and had a good go with most of the equipment...However, the fireman's pole defeated him. It was an intimidating good 5.5 feet off the ground. We didn't go near the monkey bars.

Bizarely, the swings are incredibly low, leaving little room for feet to swing underneath. Actually, they were so low it was impossible, at least without scrapping leather off trainers or hurting feet in sandals. This applies to both the smaller children's swings, and the older children's which were set at the same height. 

This park doesn't really know who it's for. Yes, there is equipment for very small children, but the bigger activity frame is really quite intimidating for those children who are too big for the little children's things, and the swings not very practical at all, for anyone. 

It's a shame that such a lovely village, with so many amenities, has such a strange unco-ordinated park.  

There are quite a few businesses in Steventon. A lovely, friendly printer, a take-away and a co-op, as well as a couple of pubs.

St Michael and All Angels, has some lovely stained glass: