Saturday 15 September 2012

Seaton Sensory Garden, Seaton, Cornwall

We often go for a stroll along Seaton beach to see the big waves breaking along the shore, its a shingle beach and dogs are allowed on the beach all year round so more suitable for a bracing walk than a sunbathe.

Behind the car park is Seaton Valley Countryside Park, which is a lovely walk up the valley, and part of it is wheelchair and pushchair accessible, they also have some new fitness equipment along part of the route turning it into a trim trail too.

What we discovered on our walk this time which we have never spotted before is the Sensory Garden. Its a beautiful little garden to wonder around, sit and think and pause for a moment, play hide and seek around the bushes. Sadly its looking a little bit uncared for and slightly over grown, but this adds to the exploring nature for the kids.

Friday 7 September 2012

The Monkey Sanctuary, Looe, Cornwall

We visit Cornwall a couple of times a year but until now never been to The Monkey Sanctuary, and now we are wondering why we haven't been before as it was a really good day out.

 The Monkey Sanctuary is down quite a few country lanes, but very well sign posted. We were surprised by how many cars we were following and so pleased nothing was coming the other way. This being Cornwall what should be a single track road isn't.
Along the walk in were funny little monkey statues that Charlotte would spot amongst the trees and a wonderful view down to the coast. The lady at the entrance gave a quick brief on what you can and can't do and then we were off to explore.

The monkeys houses are built into the hill/cliff side. There are currently 37 monkeys and on the day we went must have seen about 15 of them. Some of them are playful and lively and others a bit more calm and some hiding away not wanting to be seen. Near each monkey house is a keeper to explain about the upkeep of the animals and their history. If you get to stop for a while and listen (Charlotte doesn't let us stop for talks very often) its really fascinating stuff and shows just how much the keepers really care about the animals they are looking after.

We would all love monkeys to be in the wild not in captivity, but things don't work out like that. The sanctuary is a rescue centre for those who have been kept as pets, some were circus acts and others came from zoos. There is a display room that goes into detail of how some of the animals were brought up, some of the foods they had been fed (or taunted with), and the cage that one monkey (Joey) had lived in for 9 years. Charlotte had a go at the monkey puzzle, which was easy for her with her little fingers but not so easy for the rest of us.

There is a bat cave with a night vision cctv so you can pick out the bats, very cool, and a wildlife room that covers the other animals that live on the site (think insects and birds not zoo animals). There is cctv set up in one of the birds nest and we could see the mother blackbird feeding her babies.

There is a lovely garden to walk around and a great childrens play area. The day we went there was a entertainer in the play area doing tricks for the kids. I'm guessing this was an extra put on for the summer holidays, the kids really loved it... and even some of the adults joined in with "boo, hiss, you're rubbish" when he dropped the items he was juggling.

On our way out we were getting hungry so took a look at the Tree Top cafe. We are veggies but other family members were meat eaters so went in with open mind of ok we will head to Looe for lunch if there is nothing carnivores can eat (usually its the other way around). We shouldn't have worried as the selection is excellent and the food was so good I wanted another plateful. They try to use local suppliers where possible, the cider came from Cornish Orchards just down the road and you can buy a bottle or 2 in the shop, which we did. The tree-top part made the cafe a unique experience.

The Monkey Sanctuary was a great find, and if you gift aid you get free return entry for a year so we will be back next time we are down that way. I would recommend combining your day with a trip to Seaton or Looe as its positioned between the two. Seaton has a dog friendly beach and a lovely walk up the valley, or Looe with a family beach, boat trips and shops.

As I said earlier it is built on a hill/cliff side so navigation with babies is not so easy. There were plenty of people dragging stollers up and down the slopes and steps but anything bigger or heavier would not be easy to manage. Its quite a small site so younger walkers shouldn't have too much trouble but i would pop babies into a carrier.