It was my dad's birthday on Monday, so him, my mum, Annabelle and I went for a day out at the World of Country Life park in Exmouth, and it was one of the best days out that I've ever been on. It had something for all of us, including a small museum, three different play areas, falconry displays, a deer safari, baby animals, goat walking, calf feeding and all sorts.
As soon as you enter you're taken into a Victorian "street", which is basically a massive room that has agricultural machines on one side, and some little steam engine models that children can play on. There were also some caravan models - one which showed a beautiful gypsy caravan and another plainer one which showed a working mans quarters. My favourite part of this section was that they had miniature working models of how the equipment would have been used, and they'd used loads of Action Men toys as the workers.
When you got round to the other side of the "street", you get to the more interesting part - well, it's the parts that interest me more anyway. There's fake old fashioned shops set up, so you can go in and have a look around, as well as displays depicting different fashions and scenes throughout history. There was an Edwardian picnic, an evacuee being dropped off with a new family, a Victorian butcher and loads more.
I really enjoyed looking around the false shops, at the displays of type writers and old fashioned tills, and vacuum cleaners and other things. It's crazy to think that those objects ever belonged anywhere other than a museum. They also had a little Victorian house that you could look in, although it was only two rooms and not set up as it would have been, but rather just a further area to display objects.
Annabelle was (worryingly) very taken with the displays of traps that they had all up the wall, especially the man trap designed to catch poachers. She also really liked the dairy, because there were lots of things that she could pick up and run off with. I got a lot of exercise on Monday as I chased Annabelle around.
After chasing Annabelle around the museum, it was time to get to the part I had really been looking forward to - the animals! Typically, Annabelle didn't pay much attention to the donkeys or the rheas, but she was very impressed with the ducks. We spent a lot of time watching them float around on the water, which was riveting... sort of.
I loved the donkeys. There was white one, who was stood by the fence was quite happy for me to reach in and pet him. And then as we walked around his field, he followed us, trotting next to the fence so we could continue to stroke him the whole way around. We also passed the red deer enclosure, and they were quite happy to be petted too, although slightly disappointed that we didn't offer them any food.
From the animal enclosures, we went to the falconry display, which was when I had expected Annabelle to start getting moany and restless. Fortunately, she seemed to really enjoy it though - especially the bald eage who was enormous! It was quite funny, as the birds kept on losing their concentration and flying to the wrong perches, or else not flying anywhere at all, which was actually cute and endearing. Apparently it takes seven years to become a trained falconer, and there's written exams and all sorts. I honestly never knew that!
After lunch we went on the deer safari, which was definitely the best part of the day. It was a bumpy tractor ride through the deer enclosure, and then the driver comes around with some food and lets you feed them. It was brilliant, and it wasn't just deer who came for a feed, there were three llamas as well. The animals were so sweet - and greedy. No sooner would you have the food in your hand than it would be snuffled straight back out again, which was somewhat gross.
After the deer safari, we went to watch the owl display. Annabelle was getting tired by this point, and was far more interested in watching and commenting (extremely loudly) on passing planes or the location of her dummy that actually watching the display. She also applauded at random moments and screeched out "it's a duck, mummy!" when they bought out the eagle owl. Kids, eh?
The animal nursery was adorable. There were teeny tiny chicks (unfortunately my camera had died by this point), goat kids, calves and piglets. The goats were playful and friendly, although one tried to eat my bag, which wasn't cool. The piglets I found to be frightening, maybe it was just the sheer size of their mum (she was huge!), or that they were really strong for their size. They were still really cute from a distance though.
There was also a really big pen with some goats and sheep in that you could enter to walk around with the animals. We were only in there for a couple of minutes though, because we were worried that Annabelle would step in something nasty.
After we were done with the animals, there was time for a little bit of soft play before it was time to go home. It was a tiring day, but really brilliant. Annabelle fell asleep in the car, which was lucky because we were out for a surprise meal for my dad later in the evening. World of Country Life is definitely somewhere I'd be interested in going back to, because it seems like there's loads to do there whatever age your child is, and it was just a really brilliant day out.