“Devon is fantastic for preschool holidays,” says today’s guest blogger, Robbie from Holiday Park Guru, who shares his experience of taking a young family to South Devon.
My wife and I have concluded that the key to surviving parenting during the early years is keeping it simple. We consider the day a success if our three-year-old has at least made an effort to eat a vegetable or two and hasn’t drawn anything on the walls.
And so, when we were looking for a hassle-free holiday for three families, it didn’t take us long to decide on Devon. My wife and I grew up in different parts of the country but we both had memories of happy holidays in Devon – her in Sidmouth and me in Branscombe.
After months of negotiation we concluded that the party would need to split in two to keep everyone happy, with four adults and two children staying at Sidholme Hotel whilst we stayed at Stoneleigh Holiday Park.
Personally, I love the freedom of holiday parks and self-catering lodges. We had plenty of green space so our daughter could run around in circles for hours on end and we weren’t tied in to hotel meal timings. We also had a small playground for her to clamber up and down and gorgeous distant sea views for me to gawp at.
The others in the party didn’t really consider it a holiday if they had to cook every meal, so we happily split in two.
With several pre-school children in tow, we attempted a single outing each day, including The Big Sheep and Sidmouth’s Donkey Sanctuary. Both of the attractions were ideal for younger visitors and I even managed to sneak onto a couple of the bigger slides at The Big Sheep.
Of course, we also had several trips to the seaside, including Jacob’s Ladder in Sidmouth. As many parents have discovered, a bucket and spade is enough to entertain a toddler for several days.
Thanks to some shared babysitting we attempted an evening out and I took the opportunity to have a nostalgic trip to Branscombe. After a meal at the Mason’s Arms we headed for the beach and I was pleased to see it was as charming as I remembered it.
My dad’s side of the family holidayed annually in one of the beach chalets for literally decades and we joined them on a handful of occasions for some coastal walks and for lobbing stones into the sea. On one trip I remember lying in bed in one of the chalets listening to the waves crashing and dragging the shingle up and down the beach.
We also had time for a quick jaunt to Beer (pictured top), which I had vague memories of, and was utterly taken with. I managed to persuade my sleep-deprived wife to clamber up to the cliff top to admire the view – before we finally headed back to rescue the babysitters.”