“ Sandy Bay, Exmouth Devon EX8 5BU. 10 Miles from junction 30 M5 (follow the A376 Exmouth/Sandy Bay). Tel: +44(0)1395 - 274533. Fax +44(0)1395 - 273457. Open 17th April to 27th October, 10am to 5pm ( 6pm in June to August ) „
The World of Country Life....We were staying in the caravan park just yards away so thought we'd pop in as it was a day out on our doorstep after all the driving on the previous day. It looked small from the outside so we we pleasantly surprised by the amount of land. The highlight of the day was the tractor ride to feed the deer, such beautiful animals who ate right out of your hand-a wonderful experience. There was something for everyone and I found myself as an adult sliding down the bumpy blue slide and having a go on the trampolines (something that I could never have done before in front of people, but I felt at home here!) My daughter fell in love with the goats that took her for a walk and the only problem was that she wanted to go back every day of the holiday and do nothing else!! She had a photo taken with a barn owl which will be a treasured memory and we hope to go back whenever we can. The staff were very helpful and friendly and if you call in to the caravan park nearby you can get discount vouchers on the entry fees. A very pleasant, hassle free, relaxing day with lots of animals to see and a massive wooden pirate ship for younger children to play on as well as soft ball play area, etc, etc, well worth a visit.
We went because it was a miserable rainy day in Devon and the fact the attraction was outside of the camp made it very appealing. However, we found the whole experience really dire; the 'museum' was terrible just a mish mash of what I assume to be old jumble sale items, a few trucks, steam trains and some scary looking mannequins that appear to be the oldest things in the museum!! Had a laugh at Barbie and Ken being used as models for an old saw mill, Barbie looked very fetching as an old fashioned worker! We made our way outside to the 'farm' where I saw about 4 different animals, none of which were unique or interesting enough to warrant the description farm, just a few donkeys and a rhea from what I could see. Then we came to the middle of the attraction, there was a few trampolines, some really old and seemingly handmade go karts, a climbing frame and a wooden, yet empty playhouse. At this point we could see another play room behind us and another in front and behind. There was also a train ride and a falcon display we had yet to experience, however we had had enough. We had paid almost £10 for us adults and over £7 for our child and yet the whole place just had play equipment for children! I'm all for my child having fun yet I really begrudge paying £20 for myself and my partner to watch her! Having been in the park for a mere 20 minutes we decided enough was enough and that we should ask for our money back and go someplace else. However, this is when it all fell apart. I did not think that asking for our money back was unreasonable since we had not experienced everything, we were not trying our luck as it were by trying to blag a free day out we genuinely did not believe the attraction was worth the money they charged, especially as the adult price was more than the childs price when it was barely an adults day out! Unless we wanted to bounce on the trampolines! Unfortunately for us the park has a quite bizarre policy of not giving refunds, perhaps because if it did it would not make a penny! The receptionist was extremely rude, the 'acting' manager had no authority and was at best a parrot just repeating what her manager said and at worst a complete air head, as we complained that 20 minutes was enough she offered us free tickets to come back!! Er... why would that appease us? In case we had a spare 10 minutes another day to kill? I eventually spoke to the manager on the phone who was as equally unhelpful and again just parroted that they didn't give refunds. A very disappointing day out, would not recommend to anyone of any age unless they completely renovate (even a quick trip to B&Q for a tin of paint wouldn't go amiss) or change their prices, a charge of about £5 for children and free for adults would be a more realistic price but even then I would not go back to Devon's most boring attraction to date, I would go to Crealey instead!
When I was on holiday my girlfriend suggested that I invite my best mate and his daughter to Devon, where she lives, so that we could spend the day together. We picked up a load of those flyers you can find on racks in pubs, swimming pools and the like, then left it up to the little girl (she’s 10 years old) to decide where we would go. Ideally we were looking for somewhere that would cater for all four of us. In the end she chose this park because it seemed to have plenty of animals, that she liked and a little area to play in. As you will see in the rest of this opinion the use of the word little was an understatement. The park is situated about two miles outside of Exmouth Town centre on the B3178. The best route to take is come up or down the M5, depending where you’re travelling from, leave at junction 30, then simply follow the A376 Exmouth/Sandy Bay sign, drive straight on without taking any turn-offs until you get into Exmouth, the park is the well signposted from there on. When we finally arrived we were delighted to find ample, free parking. This made a change from the usual queues we had encountered on previous days out. Once we had paid to get in, we set about exploring… The park is 40 Acres in size of which 60,000 sq.ft is under cover, so no matter what the weather, there is always something to do. If it is hot or raining, head for the areas undercover, but if it is dry or you want to enjoy the sun go for one of the other activities. My girlfriend found this mix particularly useful as she generally likes the sun, but if she stays in it for too long she turns bright red. The problem I have writing this opinion, is that if I just give you a guide tour I won’t do it the justice it deserves, so I’m going to categorise each of the main features. ~~The Exhibition Hall~~ Once you’ve paid, the first building you come to is the main under-cover section, which is split into three sub-sections: The first section is a selection of transport and agricultural machinery of yesteryear. A lot of the machinery is displayed working at a tenth of its normal speed so that you can see what it used to do. There is everything from hay-bail making machines, to corn cropping machines. One of the displays made us laugh; it was a log cutting demonstration in miniature using action men figures some of which were in a dresses. The transport section of this display has a real Romany caravan, Royal mail motorcycles of the 1930’s and two scaled steam trains. A great exhibition of what life was like in the day of water and steam. The second section is a Victorian street where you can call into a dress shop, ironmongers, garage (complete with cars, RAC motorbike and emergency callbox) and a pub. Each of the “houses” on the street have been furbished with genuine Victorian items to give a really authentic look. The only down side to this area is the lack of atmosphere; if you’ve ever visited Flambards in Cornwall you’ll know what I mean, but then again it’s not trying to emulate any other attraction so perhaps I’m being a little critical. If I were to improve this area, I’d change the lighting put down a textured floor (cobbles probably), and try and replicate the smells associated with each building. Finally there is a miscellaneous section that shows life in the 20’s 30’s and 40’s, among the features is a display of various bridal bits and pieces to celebrate 100 years of the bride. Further on is a room that you can walk into that’s furnished with various jigsaw puzzles, and opposite this is a fully constructed “Keepers Cottage”. This is where the gamekeeper would live, inside is a collection of guns and fishing equipment, probably used by the keeper to stay self-sufficient, or to provide food and game for the landowner. A c ouple of the exhibits in this section look a little out of place but are still interesting. One is a giant wicker bear and the other is a Cathedral made out of matchsticks. Although I’ve stated the exhibition is split into three sections, there is no actual definition of where each starts and finishes. The first display we walked into was a camera shop but this looked like it was a collection of camera’s documenting the history of photography. Next was a Post Office, it was set out with all the stamps on view, the age of the stamps ranged across several decades and some had King Georges head on so were not really Victorian. These two displays could have been part of the Victorian section but were separated from the rest of the street by the transport section. The exhibition hall was built about three years ago so I would imagine there will be more additions and improvements over the next few years. ~~Adventure Play Centre~~ An area that is partly undercover, the adventure play centre has a large climbing frame area, a bouncy castle and a very large ball pool. In front of the centre you’ll find loads of seating available for the parents to watch their kids, and behind is a picnic green. A great area for the kids to let off steam and give their parents a quiet five minutes. ~~Hall Of Transport~~ The Hall of Transport is another section that’s under-cover, and in here you’ll find a fascinating collection of restored cars, buses and traction engines. Each of the displays has a plinth with the history of the vehicle and in some case the history of restoration. Apparently all the vehicles are in working order and some are regularly entered into rallies and competitions. You’ll even be able to see the very first mass produced car the “Ford model T”, the car famed for being available in any colour as long as it was black. Something I learnt looking at the history plinth… the reason for it being black? Well that was the only colour of fast drying paint that was produced in those days. ~~The Reg Imray Collection~~ This is a “walk around building” that has been built like a giant display cabinet. It’s the home of a collection of classic and novel motorcycles. It’s not a comprehensive collection of makes and models, but more of a look at bikes you wouldn’t normally see on the roads. One bike from the States is massive, how they keep it up, (so to speak ;0) ) I’ll never know! The best novelty bike is the Pink Panther, a three-wheeler that’s designed a bit like the car you see Pink Panther getting out of at the start of the cartoons. You can see a fold-up motorbike that the owner rides around on dressed as a Gorilla, he’s also available to hire for events and special occasions. ~~Falconry Outdoor Arena and Centre~~ This is tough one to write about mainly because the day we visited was the first time most of the birds had been put on show in the outside arena, so we didn’t get much of a flying display because the birds were being lazy. To make up for this they arranged for the children to go back to the centre where the birds are kept so they could have their pictures taken holding a European Barn Owl. During the show the Falconer gave a talk and answered questions, but being hard of hearing it was impossible to hear what was being said especially with the kids screaming and shouting in the front, even my girlfriend found it difficult, a PA system wouldn’t go amiss here. The advantage of sitting in the arena is the beautiful views of Exmoor and you can see wild Buzzards hovering in the distance if you’re lucky (we saw two or three). At the centre are cages housing a variety of birds - including Snowy Owls, Buzzards, Kestrels and Golden Eagles, so if you don’t want to watch the flying display you can still get to see the birds. ~~Steam, Tractor and Wagon Shed~~ Yep! Another under cover section housing yet MORE vintage machinery. This one is dedicated to farm equipment or rather the vehicle that drags your plough and such around. Not my cup of tea but never the less still interesting and once again everything has its history on a plinth. If tractors are your kink then you’ll love this shed. My girlfriend saw a tractor like the one her granddad had on his farm in the Isles of Scilly! ~~Pet Centre~~ This large barn converted into a rabbit run, complete with logs for the bunnies to hide in and ladders to climb to safe areas away from the kids. They’re kept company by chickens and ducks and the kids can enter the area and pick the rabbits up or just chase them around, it’s all well supervised and both child and animal are safe. There’s even a washroom for cleaning in afterwards. The front section of the barn is a series of paddocks each housing a miniature Shetland pony, normally you can take them for a walk on a lead but they are trying to keep animal movement to a minimum at the moment due to foot and mouth. ~~Animal Nursery~~ Fluffy bunnies, baby chicks, ickle ducks and dwarf hamsters. This is where they keep the animals from the pet centre that have given birth. Many of the domesticated animals are for sale. I’m more than certain if she had a big garden, my girlfriend would have gone home with one of those bunnies. Under no circumstances bring your children in here unless you want a new addition to your family… you have been warned!!! ~~Adventure playground~~ I mentioned previously the indoor playground, but this is a vast site of activities. The area is mainly dominated by a giant slide, which is a bout 20 feet high. Along side are three or four large walk-in trampolines, swings and a variety of obstacles to climb around on. Our favourite was a giant tyre that had been suspend on a frame like a swing. I made the mistake of sitting in this tyre and my so called best mate and my girlfriend started to spin me around, great fun for a while *smile*. At the entrance to the playground is a sandpit and wooden Wendy house for the smaller kids to play in, and just in case you do manage to have an accident there is a first aid building along side the toilets. There is another play area on the site, especially designated for under seven year olds, but when we were there most of the younger ones were having just as much fun in the older kids area’s. ~~Golf and Quad Bikes~~ Not much to say about the golf other than it looks like an average crazy golf set up. The quad bikes on the other hand were great fun to watch, my mates daughter decided to venture onto the circuit and was all alone at first, but then she was joined by another child who, after going around the circuit once, went back in and asked for his bike to be adjusted to go faster. He fancied himself as a formula one prodigy no doubt, but then he went out again, cutting corners and almost turning his bike over, and finished his session by crashing the bike into the garage at speed. His father and the attendant were not happy as he broke the bike and his father had to fork out £50 for repairs! My mates daughter however really enjoyed going around the circuit (at the normal speed) and later said she couldn’t wait till she’s old enough to drive a real bike/car. ~~Restaurants~~ We visited one of two restaurants on the site, there’s a wide selection on the menu, ranging from snacks to full meals. Everything is reasonably priced which was surprising, and the food was served in decent potions, which were freshly cooked and hot. If you’ve ever been to Alton towers or Blackpool Pleasure Beach, you’ll know not to go into the restaurants because they are usually expensive or serve horrible meals, but here we really enjo yed the food and the service was pretty good too. Seating is available inside, or outside on a wooden balcony over looking the adventure playground. This provides another opportunity for the adults to rest, have something to eat or drink and still be able to keep an eye on their nippers. ~~Coffee Shop~~ The coffee shop is a part of the reception building, where you can relax with a cuppa before going home, or you can look around the gift shop. The gifts are mainly aimed at children but there are a lot of novelty Devonshire presents you can pick up if you’re from up the country. For example, you can buy mobiles (the hanging variety, not the phone type!), cuddly toys (unrelated to the animals that can be seen there), stickers, badges and lots of Winnie the Pooh things. ~~Conclusion~~ Believe it or not there is loads more to this place than what I’ve listed above. A lot of the animal areas are closed until further notice due to foot and mouth, but I’m sure that as soon as the all clear is given, these popular areas will re-open. Perhaps if someone goes there when these areas are open they can write a comment here and let me know. The things that were sealed off were; paddocks for Red Deer Stag, Soay Sheep and Llamas. Also, there’s normally a Safari train that takes you around all the paddocks. Another area is the farm animal’s shed and because this is closed, the large aviaries next to it are also affected. On a “normal” day you can walk a pigmy goat on a lead or have a picnic in the sheep paddock. We did manage to spot some Rhea’s and Wallabies and a group of ducks being chased around a pond by a keeper, so that was a bonus. The site is very much aimed at keeping the children happy at the same time as being interesting and entertaining for the adults. Facilities on site are excellent, all the toilets have baby changing facilities and there are several marked first aid points. As well as the restaurants on the site you are also encouraged to bring your own food and have a picnic. This is a great value for money day out for all the family and can cater for all ages whatever the weather. ~~Prices~~ You won’t find many attractions around that offer so much for so little here is what to expect… >>>Single Person Entry<<< Adult £5-75, Children (2-17 years old) £4-75, Children (under 2) free, OAP £5-00. >>>Family Entry<<< Family Ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children) £19-50, Family Saver Ticket (permits 3 family visits in 14 days, ideal if you’re staying in the adjacent Haven holiday centre) £38-00. >>>Group Tickets<<< A group of 20 or more can get in together on the following discounts. Adult £5-00, Child £4-00, OAP £4-25 >>>Season Tickets and Specials<<< A season ticket that allows entry from 9th April through to 26th October is available at, Adult £17-00 and Child £12-00. Disabled entry is excellent with ramps and view points for those in wheel chairs, if you require an escort or helper to get around the site you can both gain entry for £5-00, that’s for both of you so it’s worth asking about other discounts on the day. ~~Contacts~~ So now you’re interested in going how about finding out more: Website: www.worldofcountrrylife.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: 01395 274533 Fax: 01395 273457 What do you mean you want to write them a nice letter? OK! Address: The World Of Country Life, Sandy Bay, Exmouth, Devon, EX8 5BU Have a great day out and come back here to tell us what you think! ~~K~~