As many of you know we live in South Devon, Torbay in fact, and love our family day outs. They are normally days out to the beach, the countryside or the moors. So when we were asked to explore Exeter as a family we jumped at the chance.
Now Exeter holds a dear place in my heart. I went to college and business school there and spent a lot of those college/uni years experiencing the night life, as you do! I also liked to make the most of the shops, as we didn’t have access to many national chains in the seaside town of Teignmouth which is where I lived at the time. The Real McCoy in Fore Street was a firm favourite and I am so glad to see it’s still thriving now.
As a family though we actually haven’t spent a lot of time there together. I’ve been up on shopping trips minus the kids, but the idea of taking the kids with us around the shops wasn’t appealing.
Our day out started just before 10 am at the Underground Passages. Now this is a place I had heard of, even back in my college years, but had never taken a tour. I was also interested/anxious about how the girls would find them. This would be their first time experiencing something under ground.
The Underground Passages are run by Exeter City Council. The main entrance can be found right in the middle of the city centre. After collecting our ticket at reception we started our journey down under the Princesshay development. On our way we learned all about the history timelines of the tunnels.
The passages were designed and built in the 14th and 15th century for the purpose of bringing clean drinking water into the walled city from natural springs outside the city. The water came through lead pipes and tunnels were built all the way into the heart of the city. The pipes sometimes leaked and needed repairing, just like today. But to avoid disruption to the streets the passages were vaulted and this is where we were taken on our tour.
The visitor centre, where we waited for our tour to start, had some great interactive activities for the girls to get their hands on. It gave them a good understanding about how water supplies work. The maps and the video tours were all really informative, and it sparked some good questions from the girls.
The tour of the Passages only took about 25 minutes and our guide, who was great at telling the stories of the Passages, gauged his information well for the girls. He did mention he did tone down some of the stories! We all thoroughly enjoyed exploring the tunnels and learning more about the history of the city below the streets.
A top tip if you do this tour, wear clothes and shoes you don’t mind getting dusty. The tunnels can get a bit narrow and you wouldn’t want to scuff your best outfit.
After our tour we made our way out back to street level and headed to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) which is based on Queen Street. It was about a 10 minute walk which included a cheeky coffee stop to keep the adults energy up!
Now I have never visited the exhibitions at the RAMM. I’ve been to an event there but never had the chance to take a look around. But both the girls have been with hubby during the school holidays, and little one had also visited on a school trip. They couldn’t wait to show me around.
The museum is free to enter, how fab is that! All of the exhibitions have great interactive activities for the kids to take part in. I also thought it was a nice touch having little stools everywhere so little ones could get up to a height to enjoy the exhibits.
When we visited on Saturday a new exhibition had just started – Sea Life: Glimpses of the wonderful. As soon as we entered the main room of the exhibit the kids spotted the dressing up baskets and literally threw themselves in. What came out were some fab creatures of the sea.
The exhibition is a mix of drawings and photography. The photos of some of the fantastic sea life that can be found off the Torbay coast were amazing. The exhibit also has a number of hands on activities. Little one loved looking at the shells through the telescope and my eldest enjoyed creating a plankton design.
We also spotted these fab buckets which held activities and were available in all the rooms. The girls loved trying on the hats and playing with the contents.
The Sea Life: Glimpses of the wonderful exhibition is running until the 17th September. If you are around and have an hour to spare do pop in and check it out, the kids will love it.
We only spent about an hour and a half in the museum, but we could have spent so much longer. But we had a lunch date booked at Boston Tea Party, literally 100 meters up the road.
Boston Tea Party are a modern independent British cafe who’s mission it is to serve good things in great spaces that nourish the body & warm the heart. I first got introduced to one of their cafes by my sister in Barnstaple years ago. I instantly fell in love with their brunch and coffees.
The cafe looks small from the outside but when you venture upstairs there are loads of large tables and cosy areas to sit down and enjoy each other’s company. After we found our table, and the girls discovered the colouring, which is always a good hit, we surveyed the menu.
The hubby ordered the ultimate burger, which was new to their menu. He was a very happy man! I however stepped completely out of my comfort zone and ordered another new item, the Vietnamese Banh-Mi Sandwich. It included something I had never tried before, Jackfruit! The manager explained to me that it is a meat substitute but has the same consistency as pulled pork. And I must say I agree with him. It was served with a spicy chilli sauce, in a toasted baguette with pickled vegetables. It certainly had a kick, but in a good way.
The kids menu also had great choices and both of the girls found something they fancied. Little one tried the pasta with chicken meatballs, which tasted delicious. The eldest went for her usual cafe treat of a burger. She demolished the lot!
After leaving the Boston Tea Party we made our way to our final experience, and the most eagerly awaited. We had been invited to a lovely crafty shop on Fore Street called Bunyip Crafts. The plan for the afternoon was to decorate some tote bags. Alright, the hubby wasn’t overly keen but the girls were beyond excited to get all crafty.
At Bunyip they believe crafting should be fun and everyone can be creative and enjoy flexing their artistic muscles. They stock funky and unique buttons, bright beads along with all sorts of exciting charms, exclusively designed kits, beautiful handmade jewellery, findings, pliers, wire, threads, and everything you need to make your craft life fulfilling. They also run lots of different workshops, love hosting parties (for big and small crafters) and have a jewellery mending service too.
When we arrived we were met by Rachel who showed us to the craft table. Rachel explained that we could use any of the supplies laid out to decorate the bags. She explained what they could use to create their design and then stood back while the girls literally dived into the material.
Rachel was so patient with the girls and really helped them create their tote bags of dreams. I mean she had them engaged for nearly an hour and a half. For my two to focus on one creative project for that long is awesome, and unheard of in our house!
And here are the final creations, modelled by the girls. Little one went for an eclectic mix of materials, buttons and whatever else she could get her hands on. While the eldest created a cute owl. I loved the way she mixed up the patterns.
Bunyip run a range of workshops and courses, for kids and adults. So if you fancy a crafty session do check them out.
As we left the shop everyone said how great and enjoyable the day had been. In fact when I asked the girls what their best bit was, they couldn’t decide and just said ‘all of it’. We finished our day by visiting a few shops to refresh the girls summer wardrobes. They loved putting their new purchases in their newly designed tote bags.
I thought I knew Exeter city centre, but it is continually evolving. And from what we experienced, it just gets better. I love the mix of national chains and independent stores, it makes the city centre feel more vibrant. There really is something for everyone, whether you are a visitor or a local.
To find out more information about all the businesses in the city centre and the best place to find out what’s on in Exeter visit: www.inexeter.com In Exeter can also be found on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.
Have you visited Exeter before? What do you like about the city? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear about your experiences.
Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post with In Exeter and part of their Explore in Exeter campaign. As always, these are my own opinions and thoughts on our day out.