One of things that I have always loved and enjoyed being around is nature. Nature is a constant inspiration to my fabric choices and colour palettes for A Bag Less Ordinary. And there is no doubt that my time spent in Devon over the years has influenced my love of quaint cottages, the seaside, florals, and period homes! This summer we had a little trip to Exeter to visit my aunt. I've been going to Devon since I was a baby as my aunt has lived there most of her adult life. I have a lot of treasured childhood memories from my 2 week summer holidays each year in Devon, finding the best play mate in my cousin and the fun never stopping! I was born in London and love it but do struggle these days with the lack of space, clean air and countryside. But how lucky am I that I can visit my aunt at least once a year? Here are some of the lovely places we visited and thankfully these spots have satisfied my need for green and space for a while.
We were staying in Exeter and visited the below places by car - all less than an hour away from Exeter.
KILLERTON - National trust house and gardens
Killerton is a lovely place to go if you like pretty gardens, a bit of history and a good old house snoop. As with most National trust places there is an admission price and if you are going with a family it can be expensive. I would recommend taking a packed lunch to enjoy in the stunning gardens if it is warm enough.
I loved the peachy house against the green surroundings, the garden is vast, the surrounding countryside breathtaking and sheep are just relaxing in a field as you walk past! The 18th century house is really interesting and it wasn't that long ago that the Acland family lived in it. In 1944 Sir Richard Acland gave the estate to the national trust as he didn't feel comfortable sitting on that amount of wealth.
And before you leave there is a lovely gift shop (I can never resist a hand cream) and a garden shop which is so pretty in itself.
A beautiful and peaceful place to visit that is kid friendly and a short drive from Exeter.
I have been to Exmouth beach a few times now as it is one of the nearest beaches from my Aunts. It's a very pretty, long sandy beach. We went on a day that was really sunny and warm but not warm enough for me to swim, although my mum did as she is a bit more hardy than me! I was happy to soak up the last of the summer sun and enjoyed a quiet walk along the promenade whilst my son was napping. I walked all the way to the more touristy bit where the is a Ferris wheel and some shops and restaurants, but all pretty low key and not too tacky.
I loved the colourful beach huts that were set back from the beach across the road. With the sky being so blue it really made the primary colours pop. Me and my family were discussing whether we would buy a beach hut if we could afford it but decided that we would prefer one that is directly on the beach and possibly a little bigger!! We don't want much then! :)
BICTON PARK - botanical gardens
Another great family day out, Bicton park is fun for everyone with the most stunning grade 1 listed gardens, historic green houses, a cafe, a little railway, and lots of play areas for little ones. Again I would recommend taking a picnic if the weather permits as it's expensive once you have paid for your entry ticket and the gardens are the perfect place to dine alfresco.
At the bottom of the gardens there is a lovely church....
I personally loved the palm house which inspired the glass house at kew gardens and was built in the 1920's. The smell was just glorious and it was an uplifting space to be with some very impressive palms.
There are other green houses too which are just as lovely and I loved the one that had lots of cacti and succulents...
My son enjoyed the train ride that goes through the park which you catch from the little station at certain times throughout the day. It's a great way to see the grounds and learn more about the history of Bicton. There are several play areas around the park but the little farm area with toy trucks and tractors was definitely a hit.
And a few other places I recommend visiting in or near Exteter.
Exeter fabric centre - This is the most amazing fabric shop with a huge range of furnishing fabrics which are great for making bags! They also had lots of lovely craft fabrics with stunning prints which caught my eye. I could of looked for ages but had to be quick as I had my son with me and there is only so long he will tolerate me browsing materials :). I found the staff friendly and efficient and very knowledgeable.
Exeter Quay - A nice chilled place to grab something to eat or drink, have a little mooch around the gift shops and then take a walk down the canal and end up at the Double Locks pub which is a great location looking over the canal. It has a kids play area, decent food and tons of outside space.
Devon railway centre and model world - If you happen to have a train mad kid like me then this is the place to take them. It's train heaven for little ones and has enough to keep them occupied for the best part of a day. Bickleigh Mill is next to the railway centre where you can get something to eat and there is a great gift shop.