This week the boys and I went to Coombe Country Park near Coventry – a park that I used to go to quite a lot as a child. It’s changed over the generation in terms of the details like playgrounds and the visitor centre, but overall it’s still the same big country park that I remember. Coombe park is home to Coombe Abbey, which was built as a monastery in the 12th century and later became a royal home following the Dissolution of the Monasteries. For several generations it was owned by the Earls of Craven, and then was bought by the city council in the 1960s and the grounds were opened up as a park. The old building is now a hotel that is a popular venue for weddings.
The park a fantastic space for the boys to explore, including a playground that’s perfect for the two of them, and plenty of paths and open space to run and ride bikes on. Last week I wrote about how Andrew is coming along well with his pedal bike, but when I’m on my own with them both, it’s better for all of us if he’s still on the balance bike, because he still needs help from me for his pedal bike and Joel gets everywhere so needs my constant attention.
The first exciting thing that we came to when we got out of the car in the car park was a load of HUGE puddles! More like mini lakes than puddles really, which the boys of course loved to wade/cycle in. Andrew even got one of his wellies stuck in some hidden mud in a puddle at one point, so I had to wade in and rescue him! Good job I had wellies on too.
There is an impressive long driveway leading up to the hotel, lined on both sides with a row of trees. It was a beautiful sunny (though chilly) day, and we noticed that there were plenty of spring flowers popping up underneath the trees – daffodils and crocuses were what we spotted. The shadows that the trees were creating on the grass were fascinating for the boys, gently swaying as the trees moved in the cool breeze.
The next exciting thing that we came to was the playground. This is new since I used to come here, and the boys love it. They particularly like the little huts to sit down in at the top of the climbing frames. There are also plenty of bridges to walk across and slides to shoot down. It is well suited to their age range, as well as to older children. In the week it’s pretty quiet, and we had this practically to ourselves until our friends came to meet us.
After a good hour on the playground, we went for a walk/ride around the park. I didn’t get loads of photos of the walk this time, because I was chatting to our friends and trying to keep Andrew in sight (easier said than done on his bike!) because there are a couple of lakes and streams. We forgot some bread to feed the ducks this time, but usually the lake in front of the hotel is a great place to do this and the boys enjoy it. This week there was plenty of mud to squelch through in the woods and in the open field at the far end of the park. We all got well and truly covered!
Once we’d made our way back to the visitor’s centre near the playground, it was time for lunch, and we’d decided to eat in the cafe there with our friends. I’ve not eaten there before but it was very reasonable – good simple sandwiches and hot snacks like beans/egg on toast – we paid less than £10 for the 3 of us to eat. In the visitor’s centre opposite the cafe there is a room for kids that has various activities where they can learn all about the wildlife and nature of the park. Andrew particularly likes the game of snakes and ladders with the spinny wheel for dice, and there are lots of things to do like colouring and sensory experiences. It is very well done and we found it hard to drag our toddlers away from this when we had to go.
All in all it was a fantastic morning-to-lunch out – I think it’s a sign that we’ve had good fun when we have to leave our wellies outside when we get home because they are still so muddy underneath despite trying to wash them in puddles! I’m sure we’ll be back there many more times as the boys grow up, just like when I was growing up.
As usual I’m linking up with the lovely #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog – which is particularly appropriate this week on the grounds of names!