Monday, 23 August 2010

Days Out In Devon: House of Marbles

Okay, it may be an exaggeration to say that a visit to the House of Marbles constitutes a full day out.  I wouldn't recommend a long drive specifically to sample what this attraction offers unless you're a marble buff (it houses the largest collection in the world). For us, it's just two miles from home, an easy cycle ride, and is a a place where a couple of hours can be whiled away quite pleasantly even on a rainy day. There's also no admission charge which is alway a bonus! It is essentially a large gift shop with knobs and whistles, a glass blowing studio, displays and interactive exhibits. I'll keep mum about how the giant spider may be enticed to move down its web.

Until our visit yesterday, Louis would have said that he liked the marble runs the best. There's three small ones in glass cases but the piece de resistance is a gurt big iron structure on the staircase at one end of the building, the size and complexity of which means that its creator is forgiven for using pool balls rather than glass spheres. However, we have now discovered the outdoor games in the garden behind the cafe. There's skittles, giant chess and jenga, a marble playing area and the conical metal structure pictured above. Louis spent an enjoyable hour playing with other kids whilst I relaxed  and sipped my favourite non-alcoholic tipple, Luscombe's Fiery Ginger Beer, in the shade of the old pottery kilns.

If you're not tempted by the delicious looking meals in the cafe or the homemade cakes, there's a little known spot just down the road at Pottery Pond which would be ideal for a picnic. Continue along the road from the House of Marbles (away from the roundabout on the A382) for about 400 yards through a residential area until you see a house with red shutters. The pond, which used to be the water source that powered watermills for the pottery in the mid 19th century, is just it.  I hope that even for the directionally challenged, my instructions are sufficient to find this haven of tranquility which is refreshing after a visit to a busy tourist attraction.

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