Sunday 8 May 2011

Beale Park, Lower Basildon, Reading

My parents used to take me and my brother to Beale Park when we were little, and its starting to become a favourite of Charlotte's too. She can now easily navigate us back to the little tike's play area if we get too far away from it!!!
Beale Park is a mixture of things, it has animals, play areas, swimming pool, paddling pool, ponds, sand pit, model boat shows, gardens, train ride, statues and a small model museum/pavilion. The thing my brother and I remember the most is the frogs, those being giant frogs you can climb on and are part of a water feature.
The play areas are excellent, with different areas for different ages, and an indoor area for when its wet (suitable for under 5's only). If your going in the sand pit you may want to take along a bucket and spade as none are provided. The paddling pool I looks excellent but cold, Charlotte didn't want to come out even though she was shivering, I wasn't brave enough to dip my toe in to see how cold.
There are bird encloses you can go inside, quite a few owls, farm animals, a recent edition is the new meerkat and mongoose area with good viewing platforms. The animals areas are really well spaced out with gardens around, there is a wild flower meadow near the deer and capybara in another garden.
There is a cafe, but most people seem to take their own picnics as there are plenty of spots to sit and eat. We did eat in the cafe, and though the food was ok it wasn't inspiring (we had veggie burger and chips as only meat sandwiches left, portions were very large with a fresh side salad) and maybe next time we will think ahead and take something to eat.
Beale Park is flat and easy to navigate with pushchairs, there are high chairs in the cafe (take an anti-bac wipe to clean it though!) and baby changing facilities.
All in all a good day out with something for everyone, find out more on their website

Hinksey Park, Abingdon Road, Oxford

Approx time: 1 hour
Paths: pavement
Points of interest: open areas, pond, lake, play park, swimming pool and splash area (summer only)
Amenities: parking, toilets, cafe (summer only)
Grading: all type of pushchairs as everywhere is flat
Weather: Good for all seasons

We go past Hinksey Park almost every day either on the bus or in the car and every time Charlotte asks if we can go there, as we are always on the way to or from work its not possible so on a nice sunny day off we went along to find out whats there.
Its free to park for 2 hours, that was a big surprise, make sure you collect a ticket though. The play park is excellent with activities for kids of all ages, lots of sand and some climbing bits we had to drag Charlotte away for a walk round the pond. Across the field (used by football clubs at the weekends) and hidden behind the trees is a lovely duck pond to walk around beside Hinksey Lake. The lake is sometimes used by model boat clubs.
From May - September there is a large outdoor swimming pool and also a kids splash area. It wasn't open when we went but it looks excellent. The splash/fountain area is free.
Its an excellent place to have a short walk, and it also links up to other walks and a cycle route, Hinksey Park has also won a green flag award. Now every time we go past Charlotte says I've been there it was fun.
More information on the Oxford City Council website