What is it? There are numerous staff at Peke’s, many of whom are happy to help look for baby-sitters. Just ask!

Where? Peke’s has an indoor swimming pool with a shallow end perfect for small children, as well as a Jacuzzi and sauna.

Description: Lots of restaurants and pubs are nearby but we did what most parents do – stay home with the kids and get up early!

Eastbourne and Brighton are short drives away, and there are may local farms and activity parks to keep everyone happy.

That there would be so many toys in The Wing to keep the girls occupied, so we’d have brought fewer of our own. Eva and Doug buy objects of interest at car boot sales, and there were many board games and books to keep them occupied – and even a wooden cat on a string for the youngest. A climbing frame, sandpit and slide in the garden were also well appreciated.

Bring plenty of change for the Jacuzzi and sauna, both of which are coin-operated (pound coins only). They take roughly an hour to warm up, so if you show up in your gear ready to go you’re in for a wait.

“I love the sauna!” exclaimed Josie, 7, who became a sauna addict on a recent trip to Finland. Five-year-old Tilly was less impressed, pouring almost an entire bucket of cold water on her head in a feeble attempt to cool down.

Peke’s Manor is located in Chiddlingly, East Sussex, and is about 12 miles inland from Eastbourne or 18 miles from Brighton. Rates for The Wing, which sleeps six people, start at L480 per week going up to L980 depending on season. Three nights are also available. The Manor house, which has eight bedrooms and sleeps 20 adults, goes from L2700 to L4605 per week. For more information, contact Holiday Rentals. You can also contact owner Eva Morris on 020 7352 8088.

Local activities: I’ve always wanted to stay in an old manor house, so when we received an invitation to Pekes Manor I was over the moon. But when I read the fine print and discovered we were staying in the converted cow barn next door to the Big House, the children were less than impressed. “I don’t want to sleep in a cow shed! There will be poo everywhere!” shrieked Tilly, who at age five has become the most imaginative of our three girls. “Gross! We don’t want to sleep in poo! What type of holiday is it when we have to sleep in poo?” It took me days to calm the girls down, and another few days to convince them that in the decades since the cow shed was converted into the majestically titled The Wing, all traces of manure have, blessedly, disappeared. Still, that didn’t stop them from running into the house and checking all the walls and doors for telltale stains. Thankfully, they didn’t find any. In fact, The Wing was lovingly converted ages ago, and in recent years has had a modern kitchen and bath built in. With columns in the main living area and a large, comfortable master bedroom, it was a great place for all five of us to stay – and the Murphy bed for the two oldest girls proved to be even more fun than the big green bathtub or the fig tree out in the garden. Pekes is in a small town in East Sussex, not far from the coast. Owner Eva Morris grew up here, and with partner Doug, who hails from Canada, decided to convert it into guest houses to pay for the upkeep. The result is quite splendid, with the main house still dustily redolent of days past, with four-poster beds, inglenook fireplaces and original wooden toilet seats. The whole estate is eccentric yet loveable, a lot like its owners, who spend half their time in London yet had time to join us for a glass of wine our first night. For the girls, Pekes was a great place to run around. The gardens are large and safe, with the exception of one pond (that is admittedly hard to get to), and Clementine, two, was more than taken with the topiary hedges cut into the shapes of ducks. “I don’t remember if they were cut like that when I was little girl,” says Eva. “What I do remember is Doodlebugs flying so low they took off roofs.” [garden.jpg] Roger runs the vegetable garden, and is a man who loves his veg. He gave us a private tour for more than an hour and allowed the girls to feed the chickens, pick pears and apples from the trees, and dig up carrots and courgettes with their bare hands. Best of all, they watched a chicken lay an egg, which Josie got to carry back to The Wing. We bought about L8 of vegetables from Roger and spent the next two days drinking fresh mint teas and making fresh omelettes and spaghetti sauce. When the girls weren’t running wild, picking fruit or looking for poo, they enjoyed Peke’s sauna and swimming pool. They also loved Blackberry farm in nearby Whitesmith near Lewes, which has 18 acres of countryside for them to explore. We bought small packets of animal feed and they spent an hour feeding llamas, pigs and goats – and even a peacock or two. When they tired of that (and the animals were fit to explode) we took them on a tractor ride, which was suitably bumpy enough for them to get a thrill. Finally they enjoyed the children’s play area, which has huge slides, swing boats, a bouncy castle and indoor climbing in case of rain. Much better value than our local funfair, which charges L2 a ride! See www.blackberry-farm.co.uk. Cost: Adults L6, kids L5, children under two free. [farm.jpg] Eastbourne was another day out, with a long walk on the beach and along the promenade followed by a hearty fish and chips meal. When we returned to Pekes, it was almost as if we had returned back to another era. One infinitely more elegant and civilised – and poo-less. I heartily recommend it. Wendy Sloane is Travel Editor of entertainthekids.com. She divides her time between writing and taking care of her three small daughters.

Wish we had known: 2007-09-18 14:20:49.787


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