World of Country Life, Sandy Bay, Exmouth
Mia and Felix visited with mummy and grandma on Mother’s Day weekend. On arrival you go straight into the Victorian village street in a huge warehouse type building. It is a fascinating walk through local history with tableaux of gypsy caravans, steam engines and curious objects such as a set of stocks and various animal traps. The children were spellbound straightaway. There are also lots of old black and white photos showing Devon in past times that mum and I found of interest.
Once outside you have the choice of lots of different play areas and visiting the animals. Mia particularly liked the pygmy goats, two of which had tiny sets of twins. They were very friendly and loved being stroked. The bird of prey display was in a beautiful arena and the birds zigzagged back and forth over our heads so we got a really close look at them. We saw a Harris hawk, an eagle owl called Echo and Baldrick the bald eagle, all impeccably trained and stunning aerial performers despite a fairly brisk crosswind!
The deer train was an extra cost but in our opinion well worth it. It is effectively a tractor pulling a few carriages into the paddocks housing soay sheep, red deer and llamas but the highlight is getting to feed them. The deer in particular were a joy to hand-feed, we were amazed at how big they were but also how very gentle.
Felix loved the variety of play areas on offer including plenty undercover in case of rain such as soft play and a vast pirate ship surrounded by sand. The giant air cushion was also a hit. One of the funniest events of the day was the ferret racing in a purpose built indoor arena where the ferrets (purportedly from different countries) raced each other along a series of tunnels and ramps mounted on the wall.
After a busy day we decided to go but then found a whole other avenue of the Victorian village we hadn’t yet seen complete with reconstructions of a blacksmith’s forge, old-fashioned dress shops and a pub with bar skittles so we dallied a while longer looking at the displays. World of Country Life has a certain quirky dated charm and we all enjoyed our day. I would say it would most appeal to pre-school and primary school-aged children however if you are a vehicle or steam enthusiast or particularly interested in rural history you will find a lot here for adults too.