Tuesday, 24 September 2013

East Hendred Park

East Hendred, for some reason, inexplicable even to myself, this is one of my favourite villages. I used to cycle there with friends when I was a teenager. 

The park is small, awkward to get to if you arrive at the wrong time (we arrived just as both schools were coming out), and you're not supposed to park in the village hall car park (I did, nothing happened). 

You get to East Hendred from the Reading Road - the A417 - from Harwell to Wantage, the same road you turn off to get to Ardington and West Hendred. There are two ways into East Hendred, and it really is quite a tentacular village so it's probably best to look at the map. However, if you find Church Street, drive passed St Augustine's Church, follow the road right and continue up the road. You will see Snell's Hall in front of you. The park is in a little dip, is a little bit 'squashed' but has everything there (except a fireman's pole and a zip wire, but you can't have everything).

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

Nice view from the park

Nearby parks

(Towards Wantage) Ardington, West Hendred, East along the Reading Road in the opposite direction: Chilton, Harwell (also Upton and Blewbury). 

There is a shop in East Hendred and it is nice and big. It sells lots of fresh vegetables.

There are three pubs in East Hendred. 
You can access the Ridgeway from this lovely place. 

Other stuff

David and Sam Cameron got married in East Hendred. The church was locked. 

West Hendred Park

West Hendred park is really great. We spent two hours there and my kids were thoroughly entertained. It is easy to get to and there is parking next to the park in the village hall car park. 

To get there, just take the turning off the Reading Road, the A417 (the road from Harwell to Wantage) towards West Hendred. Continue along the same road, The Greenway, and you will see the park on your right. It's really not hard to find and you'll not get lost. If you find you drive passed the church then you have gone too far. 

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

This village boasts and WI, a pub, a village hall. There is no school - but there is one in the next village of East Hendred. 

Nearby parks

Ardington, East Hendred, Harwell, Chilton. 

Stained glass from the church. 

Ardington Park

Ardington is a strange place. It looks like a model village. Very neat and tidy and signs announcing what (seemingly) every single property is called, does, or is used for. The park is very pleasant - mostly aimed at small children, and has much equipment.

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

We spent about half an hour in the park, although in the past my son has spent much longer playing there. 

Next to the park is a restaurant/ bistro , which was really my reason for visiting the village. My children really liked the food and ate the whole lot. It was reasonably priced too. 

Sponsored equipment...brought to you by...Bramley's Nursery. 

Also in Ardington: 

A nursery, a craft school, Ardington House (open for visitors - owned by the Baring family of banking fame) and a pub.

Stained glass from the very Victorian church.

Some nice stained glass from Ardington Church. 
South Stoke 

South Stoke is the epitome of park planning, in my humble opinion. Not only is the park really lovely, but located right next to it is the village shop - which is actually a shipping container and, the crowning glory, the holy grail of all parks - a clean and cared for toilet! I could barely contain my excitement.

South Stoke is about a 15 minute car journey from Didcot. I had never been there and was directed there by a resident of North Stoke village, as we found there is no park there. To get to South Stoke, take the second right off the A4074 as it intersects with the A4130 (coming from Didcot if you turn left you'll be going towards Crowmarsh Gifford, turning left leads you towards Reading). You will pass The Springs Hotel on your right. Continue past the signs for North Stoke for a couple of miles. Turn right at the next junction (the signs direct you off to Woodcote on your left). You will find yourself on Ferry Road. Continue underneath the railway bridge, through the village, bearing left. Drive past the church on your left, the school, and the Perch and Pike pub. Take the next left (the park is signposted) and you will find you are going back under the railway. The park is the next entrance on your left. 

This park appears to have been designed with the knowledge that people will travel there. There is a lot of parking. 

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

This park has a couple of lovely communal features that are at first intriguing. For instance there is a pit that resembles something you might find in the village from the film 'The Wicker Man', and there is a large iron torch planted in the middle, lit on special occasions. I have been told the pit is used on bonfire night. South Stoke is a few miles from anywhere but not that far away! 

The shop sells hot drinks and hot food, in addition to the usual stuff you'd expect to find. In common with most other community shops (Brightwell cum Sotwell, East Hagbourne, East Hendred spring to mind) the ladies who staff the shop are very helpful and rightly, proud. 

Equipment suitable for older and younger children.

Shade and swings

Zipwire easy to use but apparently 'not very fast'.

Communal foci. 

We stayed in South Stoke park for over two hours. My children played with a succession of other visiting children and had a truly marvellous time.

The Church was being renovated so unfortunately I couldn't get in. That and the pub are very good reasons to go back. 

I have since learned that the pit is in fact a bbq. Obvious if you're not me:) 

The village has a school and a very active Facebook page. 

Nearby parks

Ipsden, Woodcote, Checkendon.