Thursday, 28 August 2014

Millets Farm, Frillford, Nr Abingdon.

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

We love it here! It really has everything you need for a day out. There's a playground, farm (animals are in enclosed pens), lots of space to run around, a sandpit, a ride on tractor (enclosed, and you have to pay), two restaurants, a supermarket selling their lovely farm food, a garden centre - selling all sorts of things in addition to plants, a fabric/ craft shop housed in a hut. In the summer Millets' 'Maize Maze' opens up and they have my son's favourite - a carousel. 

Aside from the playground and the animals, I think everything here is extremely pricey. However, because I am tight-fisted we always take a picnic!

Pictures - from spring. It has taken me too long, oops!

This goes extremely fast - my kids love it:) 

Lovely supermarket - if you want to remortgage :) 

This carousel is really good fun - a proper full sized one. 

Lots and lots of seating area outside the restaurant. 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Q Gardens

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

If you want a coffee, a chat and somewhere for your children to play without having to travel too far, then this is perfect. 

Q gardens can be found between the Milton roundabout and Rowstock. It is on the right hand side as you're travelling towards Rowstock and is packed to the rafters with loads and loads of really lovely, locally produced food. They even make their own ice cream. 

The coffee shop is out the back - a conservatory with lots of seating. 

Contact details: 

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Sponsorship Page

I would like to thank Suzanne Goddard, Vice Principal and Yoga Teacher at Yogabellies for her sponsorship of the 'Port of Call' toilet scheme.

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Monday, 18 August 2014

Kidmore End Park

If you didn't know this park existed you wouldn't be alone. It's hidden. I only found out about it because a customer in the New Inn, Kidmore End, told me about it and where to find it. So, where is it? Where is Kidmore End, for that matter? 

Actually, it might sound like the end of nowhere, but it isn't that far from the main road from Benson to Reading - the A4074. Turn left into Horsepond Rd, just before The Packhorse (which also has a playground in its garden - I'm going to investigate when I get time). Take the first right into Wood Lane and follow all around into the village. On your right, at the junction with Toker's Green Lane, you will see a well. Turn right into Toker's Green Lane, continue a little way up and on the left hand side of the road you will see Butler's Orchard, which is a cul de sac. There is a bit of room to park here. The park is right in front of you. 

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

My children really liked this park. They especially liked the tunnel - surprisingly I haven't seen many of these about. 

If you find you need the loo, the kind landlady at the New Inn, Dora, has agreed to display this picture - when it's made into a window sticker  - to show you may ask to use their facilities. 

The New Inn has a lovely garden and some equipment for children to play on. 

The New Inn can be found on Wood Lane. Go back down to the well, turn right and the pub is on your right, almost right away.

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Nearby parks - if you know of any more, please let me know. 

Stoke Row
Gallowstree Common
Sonning Common (yet to be covered)
South Stoke

Monday, 11 August 2014

Donnington Castle, Nr Newbury

We drove here from Didcot. It took us about 25 minutes down the A34, so I imagine it would be quicker from Reading. 

Donnington is about 1 mile north of Newbury. I did get a bit lost going around all the roundabouts, but then Didcot is significantly smaller than Newbury or Reading and I am used to country roads, so don't be off off by me!

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

Not only is there a castle here but also a very obvious recreation ground and park. We didn't visit as we ran out of time, but we will go back. 

Donnington Castle is owned by English Heritage, so there is a big car park. Entry is free. 

The views are lovely: 

We stayed for three hours and the children played for the entire time. 


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Wittenham Clumps

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

You can get here a couple of ways. We usually turn left off the A4130 - the road leading from Haddon Hill, passed Brightwell and towards Wallingford - onto Sires Hill. It is very well signposted.

You can also get there from Long Wittenham , turning towards Little Wittenham at the end of the High Street just before you turn left towards Clifton Hampden. 

You can park in the specially designated car park but it is often very busy. I have often parked in the Earth Trust's Car park though because the wooden posts either side of the entry to the car park look menacing to me!

My children love this place, especially my son, who would always ask to go here after he finished his morning at at nursery. It was the first place I took my children when I passed my driving test at the age of 30. 

You can walk to Dorchester from here, it is about a mile. You will need to walk passed the church in LIttle Wittenham, over the weir and through the fields. 

We really like the woods that slope down from the smaller hill. As you walk in from the carpark (not the Earth Trust one), take the middle path between the two hills. Go through the large gate and follow it down. The woods are you your right. 

Here are a few of my favourite photos of / from the Clumps.

From the top of the bigger, higher hill. 

Of the Clumps, from Blewburton Hill, Blewbury. 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Didcot, Ladygrove Park Playground - Tyne Avenue.

With thanks, once again, to Susan Smith and her children for the details.

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

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Familiarity has made us forget what a great play area this is.  It has the additional bonus that it is frequented by school and nursery friends so I can sit and read a book while the kids run off and amuse themselves for hours.  There was added excitement today as there was a new bit of play equipment.  The only problem is that it turns into a swamp all through the rainy months, with a small lake forming at the bottom of the big climbing frame.

It is a nicely thought out fenced play area, with lots of trees for shade particularly around the toddler equipment, and also lots of hills to run/roll down.  I’ve never driven here, but there seems to usually be plenty of parking on the road outside, and the nearby Hungry Horse pub is big enough to sneak into to use the toilet.  

Baby swings which you can watch the trains from (known in our family as ‘the train 
swings’) and a pedal roundabout.  You need to be about 5 to reach the pedals.

 A second set of (smaller) baby swings, and a few things-on-springs.

A huge climbing frame.  

Stuff aimed at the older kids, so of course mine head straight for it.

The brand new roundabout.  It can fit 8 children and still goes very fast!

A very good swinging basket as it both swings in circles and spins.

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Didcot Loyd Rd Rec – Brasenose Road

Details courtesy of Susan Smith

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

Free app for this blog.

Loyd Rec play area has some nice stuff but is clearly in need of a bit of TLC, with peeling paint and bits missing from play equipment.  However it has a nice variety of equipment.  The play area is fenced off from the rest of the park, parking is on the road outside, and we didn’t notice any nearby toilets.  My kids weren't all that impressed with this one but we still stayed 25 minutes. 

 Climbing frame #1 with different levels of challenge for different ages.

A very slow and heavy see saw – no use for a 3 and 5 year old!  Climbing frame #2 is a bit smaller than the first and more aimed at toddlers.  There is also a large slide, 2 baby swings and 2 normal swings.   

A strange climbing net thingy, and one lonely lion on a spring.

Climbing frame #2 from the other side – some nice bits to climb up but mostly for little’uns.  

Didcot - Great Western Drive Rec – Foxhall Rd

With thanks to Susan Smith for these details, compiled during an epic park crawl!

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

Free app for this blog. 

I know this park quite well as it is right next to All Saints Youth & Community Hall.  We spent about half an hour here before a sudden downpour stopped play.  There is one big climbing frame aimed at older kids but the rest of the playground is very toddler-friendly.   It is fenced off from the rest of the park, but there’s no shade at all in the play area (although there are some trees outside in the park).  The play area is quite noisy as it’s right next to a busy road, and there’s nowhere nearby to go to the toilet (the hall isn’t generally open unless it’s been booked for something).   Unfortunately the hall aren’t keen on you using their car park, but there is usually plenty of parking on Great Western Drive. 

Slide with a hill instead of steps, and a little tunnel.  

Big kids climbing frame – this was way to big for my two to attempt.

A floor level roundabout which is a bit slow and noisy.  

Nice toddler seesaw – most seesaws are still too big for my two but this one works well and copes with their difference in size!

Bog standard swingy-basket.

The sandpit has two little horses on springs and a bucket on a chain. 
There are also two baby swings, and a zip wire which was broken this visit.  

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Rollright Stones

How is a bunch of stones stuck in the middle of a field interesting to children?  I guess that depends on how you sell it to them and how old they are. My children are OBSESSED with Minecraft and so from beginning to end this trip was filled with statements like "We could built a temple when we get home - the villagers need somewhere to pray" and "We could do Parkour on the stones" (I drew a line at this). 

My son counted the stones and we sat in the middle of the henge and talked about what they could've been used for. Yesterday we saw a sundial at Blenheim so my children are familiar with the concept of using the sun to tell the time, and they know that the earth's passage around the sun causes the seasons.

My daughter decided to record the henge on an old camera, providing a commentary, a la Stampy and Squid, and pretending to interview archaeologists. She knows that Stone Henge was built at the same time as the Egyptian Pyramids - it was nice to show her that people have always been building things and that we have monuments as old in out little country.

So, how do you get there? The National Heritage site is really not helpful on this. It says they are in 'Little Rollright' but that's not quite true. Little Rollright is a tiny little hamlet in a field, which you have to drive over a cattle grid to get to. You will see that the village is on the left of a little unnamed road. Continue north until you get to the junction. Again, if you zoom in you will see that on the second field on your right there is a little lighter green circle. This is the henge. Turn right at this junction and park in the layby. 

Find the stones on the google map I made for you. 

So, why would you even visit? I guess it depends what you're interested in and how much time you have. I wanted to do a reccy because husband decided after our trip yesterday he wants to go to a Falconry centre - there is one 2 miles away near Moreton in the Marsh. My children did what they always do - ran around pretending and not complaining. This counts as a result in my book!

There is a Fairy Tale farm near Chipping Norton, which we drove passed. This is on the A44 - the same road you take to go to Blenheim. It caters for children with wheelchairs and the owners market the sensory experiences on offer. 

Also there is a Children's Farm and Waterfowl Sanctuary neat Banbury. 

These places will take less than 50 mins to get to. 

Gorgeous view! 

One of the three groups of stones. 

These stones have been repositioned. They were thought to have been arranged about 5,000 years old. 

We went to Little Rollright Church. It is about 800 years old and smells more of 'old church' than practically any other church we've visited, and we've seen quite a few. There is a spectacular tomb, carved for what appears to be a knight. I wonder who it was? The inscription is too faded but it must've been someone of some importance. 

If you were to have visited this church today you would have heard my 5 year old deliver a sermon on the importance of giving children chocolate every single day. Church is an extremely serious business.