Guest post by Natalie Trice
While I grew up in the sticks, I always hankered for the bright lights and adventures of the city girl and would jump on the train and head to Kensington Market with my best friend whenever I could as a teenager.
I moved from the sheltered bubble of the home counties at 18 and studied in Leeds for four years, then packed my bags and travelled across the world to Japan where I was an English teacher in the heart of Tokyo for 12 months. With a TV PR career to pursue, London was my next stop and my home for well over a decade with frequent work trips to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Istanbul, to name but a few.
Fast forward to today and today I live in the sleepy backwater of Bishopsteignton. With one of the highest population rates of the over 65s in the UK, the village is a world away from the hustle and bustle of New York, but I am not sure my two sons and two dogs would fare so well in Greenwich village and I know my credit card is far too fragile for Fifth Avenue these days.
Devon really does feel like home and with the beach over the road, Exeter a half an hour drive away and London just 45 minutes by air, I think we have struck lucky and have found the perfect location.
The first time I went into Exeter I knew we had a gem of a city on our hands. With fabulous shops, restaurants, museums, dentists and so much more on offer I was hooked from the start.
Less than a year into our Devon adventure, and decades away from being Devonians (if ever), we are loving exploring the region and as one of the judges of the Exeter Baby Activities Family Favourite Awards, I wanted to share some of my fav places so far.
While it takes me less than an hour to get into town, I start every trip with a coffee and pastry. These days I bypass the American chain I was addicted to in London and instead stop at the quirkier cafés dotted around the cobbled streets. Boston Tea Party is good but I find the upstairs a bit too big, the new café in Waterstones is great as you can sit and read and watch the world go by, and if you want the best flat white in town, it can only be Comptoir Libanais.
We haven’t tried to it yet, but Board, the South West’s first board game café, has caught our eye and we are planning a trip soon and we do love a hot chocolate at Chococo Exeter, tasting is believing.
If you like Gothic architecture, prepare yourself for Exeter Cathedral. As big as it is beautiful, as bold as it is transfixing, this impressive building holds a special place in my heart and I could sit there in silence, or listening to my sons sing in their school Christmas concert, all day long.
For older kids who love tech, check out Tubers. Next to the Mary Arches car park, the slick, contemporary set up is a unique academy for teenagers who want to know all there is to know about becoming YouTubers and learning video production skills with confidence building thrown into. If you have the next Dan TDM on your hands, this is the place for them.
Going back to my student days, I was delighted to stumble across the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery looking for the train station one day. It brings together home pieces with loans and exhibitions from partner museums and the exceptional Victorian spaces and stunning architectural features really brings the place alive. I’ll let you into a secret, I quite fancy a job here…if you know of any going let me know.
We first discovered Exeter’s Quayside during one of our many visits to the city before we moved here. Just 15 minutes from the centre of the city, it is packed with shops, cafes and restaurants and makes the perfect afternoon out by the water. It is also a great place to hire bikes or canoes and get some fresh air and exercise as you explore all the area has to offer.
We haven’t been here yet, but the mobile librarian told me that Exeter’s Underground Passages are worth a visit. They brought clean drinking water into medieval Exeter and today the exciting narrow passages can be explored as part of the guided tour that it interspersed with fun exhibitions and memories of yester-year. They get busy, so guess I need to book for half term soon.
Exeter Library is a monster of a library and jam packed with great books, DVDs and magazines as well as being home to friendly staff, great events and makes the perfect stop off point before heading home for the day.
I could go on, there is so much to do, in what some think is a small city. But as I always say, the best things come in small packages.
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