One of the best things about living in a tourist area is that we can take advantage the holiday facilities for more than one or two weeks per year. While some attractions close for the winter months, many operate, albeit on a limited timetable, year round.
And when it comes to swimming pools - we get the best choice. As well as the council-run pools in Dawlish, Newton Abbot and Exeter, which are great for swimming lengths, we also get plenty of outdoor and indoor pools with fun stuff like slides and inflatables, jacuzzis and saunas. I should add that Teignmouth does boast an excellent outdoor pool, the Lido, on the seafront, but this is only open in the summer.
So, when Mr Seaside Belle decided at the weekend, after yet another week of rain and wind, that we should all go swimming, he was met with shrieks of delight from all three baby Belles.
We opted for the pool at Lady's Mile, a holiday and caravan park at Dawlish Warren, which is open at weekend through the winter. As well as an outdoor pool with a water slide and toddler paddling pool, Lady's Mile has a very warm indoor pool with water slide, another toddler splash pool, a sauna and a hot tub.
As soon as we arrived, I headed straight for the water slide with 6 year old Mr E and 3 year old Miss B. While the slide is never going to compete with the scarier water rides at specialist water attractions, it's long enough and fast enough to offer a frisson of excitement for all ages. Plus, it's easy enough for a 3 year old to cope with and you can even take smaller children down on your knee (as long as you remember to hold them up in the air when you plunge into the water at the end). Even 18 month old Mr W enjoyed it when Mr Seaside Belle took him down.
Because it's a holiday resort pool, there is not always a lifeguard on duty. But to be honest, that makes life easier when you have three small children between two adults. You know there is no backstop, so you have to watch them like hawks, but it gives you the freedom to not always keep to a particular ratio of adults:children. This meant that Mr Seaside Belle could take some time out to enjoy the sauna while I held onto Mr W and kept an eye on the older two as they went on the slide again and again and again. I personally hate saunas - they make me feel very claustrophobic. So he gets some quality peace and quiet on his own.
I love taking the children swimming and we really don't do it often enough. Mr E goes to swimming lessons on a Tuesday evening and he was keen to show me how well he can swim. So when Mr Seaside Belle returned from the sauna, Mr E proceeded to swim 10 lengths of the pool. And Lady's Mile pool is not small - I reckon it must be about 25m!
Going to the pool also gives Miss B confidence in the water. She wears arm bands and a floatable jacket. The bonus of the slide is that when she drops into the pool at the end, she then has to 'swim' to the steps to get out of the plunge pool and go back onto the slide again. She doesn't even realise she is swimming because she is having such fun. It's just amazing how self sufficient she is and what a water baby she is becoming.
The only downside to our time at the pool was the showers, which were cold. I think all the heating must have been used up in the pool, which was blissfully warm. Baby W managed a good hour without looking chilly at all! In fact, the changing facilities at the pool are pretty basic - although they're not as bad as some other pools I've been to.
The other disadvantage was that swimming had made us all ravenous. But, because it's winter and off-season, the resort shop was closed and the bar and restaurant were shut as they are being refurbished for next season. I'm glad the pool is still open though.
I'm thinking of writing more posts about things to do with kids in Devon. Let me know if you have any requests.
A day non-resident's pass to use the camp facilities costs £3.50 for adults and £2.50 for children.
Lady's Mile Holiday Park,
T: 01626 863411