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  1. I doubt I'm the only parent of a child who loves vehicles and when my son was young it dominated our conversations and activities.  A few years ago we had a big block of flats being built near us and when they were in the early stages there was several trucks, diggers, escavators ect and I would pick my son up from pre school with a picnic and we’d go sit on a log next to the site to watch them all.  We became such regulars that the guys started saying hi and beeping their horns and honestly he’d sit there all day if I’d let him.  His passion for vehicles rubbed off on me and I knew the names of tractors by their colour and would often shout ‘John Deere!’ when we saw one on the road haha.  When the weather was fine we took picnics to all sorts of places like train stations and the beach when the diggers were laying new pipe. 
     
    There’s also some great events which come up through the year like the Bournemouth Air Festival, the Dorset County Show, the Lulworth Motor Show, Classic Cars on the Prom, Great Dorset Steam Fair and Railway Galas.  
     
    Sam digger beach
     
    The Tank Museum in Bovington brings the history of tanks and tank crew to life with the world's best collection of tanks and action packed live displays.  Additional activities normally run during the school holidays and if you buy a day ticket you receive an annual pass for FREE!
     
    The award-winning standard gauge preserved Swanage Steam Railway allows visitors to journey through six miles of beautiful Purbeck scenery passing the magnificent ruins of Corfe Castle, travelling down to the blue flag beach at Swanage. 
     
    Moors Valley Railway which is found within the grounds of Moors Valley Country Park has one of the South’s longest fully signalled narrow gauge steam railway.  Children (and grown ups too) can take a ride on the train around the play area, through tunnels, along the banks of the lake and into Lakeside Station where you can stop to look in the model railway shop or enjoy a cuppa before catching the train back to Kingsmere Station.  Make a full day of your trip and enjoy the many play areas, trails and special events which are held at the Country Park.
     
    The sit-on Weymouth Bay Miniature Railway circles the park area at Lodmoor and is open to visitors throughout the summer season.  Within Lodmoor Country Park you will also find the SEA LIFE Adventure Park and Pirate Adventure Mini Golf, Sandworld, Leisure Ranch and the Brewers Fayre Lodmoor which has a fab soft play.
     
    One of Dorset's hidden gems, The Luscombe Valley Steam collection in Poole represents a lifetime's dedication to steam, lovingly and meticulously assembled by Richard Knott.  It comprises a five inch gauge, ground-level, passenger-carrying railway, a traction engine, a steam lorry, a full-sized steam car and a 30 ft steam launch, just to mention a few of the attractions.  The owner normally opens the garden to the public 4 weekends a year to raise money for their chosen charity.  Christmas time is especially festive when Santa arrives in a steam car to meet the children.
     
    The Littledown Miniature Railway in Bournemouth runs for 1/3 mile through a wooded area in the Littledown Park.  A variety of different locomotives are used to haul the trains, some belonging to the Bournemouth & District Society of Model Engineers, and some owned by individual members.  Your train may be hauled by a steam locomotive, an electric (battery) locomotive or a petrol locomotive.  The railway is usually open for rides on Wednesdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays from 11am to 3pm.  Within the Littledown Park you will also find a play area and Altitude High Ropes Adventure and if you happen to visit during the Summer months then you’ll also be able to enjoy the paddling pool. 
     
    There are over 50 aviation displays and exhibits at the Bournemouth Aviation Museum including fixed wing aircraft, a double decker bus and a helicopter.  The staff and volunteers are always on hand to answer eager questions and be sure to check the Airport flight times so you can stand on the viewing platform and watch the planes taking off and landing from the Airport.
     
    Based upon a hilltop in the Countryside, Compton Abbas Airfield offers stunning views and is a great place to spot small aircraft taking off and landing.
     
    LAND TRAINS
    If the kiddies enjoy a trip on a Land Train then you’ll find them running from Poole Quay, Bournemouth Seafront, Hengistbury Head and Weymouth Bay.
     
    BeFunky Vehicles
     
    NEAR DORSET.....................

    The Sammy Miller Museum in New Milton houses one of the finest collections of fully restored motorcycles in the world.  This is a living museum with almost every motorcycle in the museum in full running order. 
     
    The Haynes International Motor Museum in Yoevil has the UK's largest collection with over 400 amazing cars and bikes from around the world.
     
    Beaulieu National Motor Museum - From the earliest motor carriages to classic family saloons, the world-famous National Motor Museum has one of the finest collections of cars, motorcycles and motoring memorabilia in the world.
     
    The Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton comprises of four large halls which tells the stories of naval aviation from the first manned kites towed behind naval vessels, to helium filled airships, seaplanes, bi-planes and the carrier borne aircraft of WW2 and modern Sea Harriers and helicopters.
     
    The Watercress Line - Travelling the 10 mile line in Hampsire from one end to the other by steam train takes approximately 40 minutes.  Your ticket gives you all day unlimited travel allowing you to hop on and off at any of the four stations.   The Watercress line is well known for their special events which include welcoming Thomas the Tank Engine where families can shake hands with the Fat Controller and ride on the train.
     
    The Eastleigh Lakeside Miniature Steam Railway runs from the main station at Eastleigh Parkway to Monks Brook Halt, offering the opportunity to visit the lakes and children’s playground. The steam train returns back to the main station from Monks Brook Halt, with the entire trip taking 15-20 minutes.
     
    Experience the sights and sounds of a working narrow-gauge steam railway which is located within the beautiful Exbury Gardens.  Make a day of your trip and enjoy 200 acres of woodland, gardens and riverside walks, adventure trails and play area. 
     
    Start your journey on the Dartmouth Steam Railway at any of the stations including Torquay, Paignton or Dartmouth and enjoy scenic sea views of the Devon coastline and wonderful towns.  Make your journey extra special and you can go on a boat trip or paddle steamer on the River Dart.
     
    Any train lover will enjoy a fun filled day out at the Devon Railway Centre and Model World with unlimited train rides around the centre, model railway exhibition and museum, Edwardian Model Village and Model Funfair.  At the end of all that you can have a rest while the kids burn off some energy in the children’s outdoor play area, soft play and indoor play coaches.
     
    Given the location of Pecorama which is high on the hillside above the village of Beer, a ride on the railway offers wonderful views over Lyme Bay and along the Jurassic Coast.  There’s much more to do while you are there with gardens to explore, soft play, outdoor play area and crazy golf.
     
    The Seaton Tramway operates narrow gauge heritage trams between Seaton, Colyford and Colyton in East Devon's Axe Valley region.  Travel alongside the River Axe estuary through two nature reserves and see if you can spot any wildlife.
     
    Our nearest Diggerland is located in Devon but there’s others in Kent, Durham and Yorkshire.  Get to grips with real JCBs and 180/360 excavators, enjoy themed rides, play areas and much more!
     
    Phew, that's all I can think of for now!  If you know of somewhere great that we’ve missed in or near Dorset then please let us know.
     
     
    Beaulieu kids
     
    Please note – all offers and specific details were correct at the time of writing.  Dorsetmums has made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this site and does not accept liability for any errors or omission. Please also note that an event or venue may cancel or close at any time and you should consider contacting beforehand.
  2. If you’ve never tried Sri Lankan cuisine before then you’re in luck because there’s a new restaurant in Bournemouth called The Coconut Tree.

    Myself and a good friend visited the newly opened restaurant recently and I can’t rave about it enough.  The thought of trying Sri Lankan Street Food excited me greatly and the second you walk in the door the amazing smell from the kitchen smacks you in the face and we both smiled at each other and knew we were in for a treat. 

    There’s a very relaxed atmosphere inside with lots of space, a big bar area, wooden tables and benches with comfy cushions on, candles in coconuts on the tables and a kitchen roll for those messy fingers.
     
    Coconut Tree Bournemouth 8

    We were shown to our table by a lovely server called T and once we were comfortable he asked if we had ever tried Sri Lankan food before and if we needed any help with the menu.  Of course I said yes because some of the dishes needing explaining to me but also because I was really interested to know as much about the cuisine as possible.

    They have an excellent drinks menu and their specialities are the 15 sweet and fiery cocktails which are inspired by the flavours of Sri Lanka.  We saw some of these being delivered to other tables and one near us was served in a funky vessel with sparklers coming out of it!  I’m not normally one for Mojitos but I saw you could personalise it with coconut chunks, raspberry or passion fruit so I went for the latter which was delicious (so much so that I had 2) whilst my friend had the traditional Mojito.

    T had explained that as the dishes were tapas style it was recommended that we chose 3 - 4 each but this proved a bit of a problem for us when we wanted pretty much everything on the menu.  The good thing about going with a friend who shares your tastes is that we could each choose dishes we’d prefer but share with each other so we could try as much as possible.

    The first dish we ordered was Kotthu which is Sri Lankan hybrid food served all over the Country.   We chose to have the chicken Kotthu which is essentially a stir fry packed with vegetables, egg and finely chopped rotti ( a traditional flatbread) with garlic and a little chilli I believe.  You could also have the dish without meat and/or with cheese.  This dish was actually one of my favourites and I’d quite happily have on it’s own for a quick lunch.
     
    Coconut Tree Bournemouth 2

    We also ordered Devilled Prawns which was cooked in spices and stir fried with banana peppers and chilli, Black Pork slow roasted in spices, Chicken Curry on the bone which was out of this world and fortunately didn’t blow my head off as I expected, Hot Battered Spicy Mushrooms, Tato which is lightly spiced roasted potatoes with caramelised onions and Sri Lankan Flatbread. 
     
    BeFunky Coconut Tree

    T told us that the Hopper is highly recommended and explained that is was a light and fluffy pancake made with rice flour and coconut milk.  We chose to have ours with egg which is cooked in the centre of the pancake and then served with 3 different chutneys.  Whilst it was actually quite nice and something I wouldn’t have normally ordered I did make a note to try it next time as a dessert where they replace the egg and chutneys with treacle and coconut ice cream.
     
    Coconut Tree Bournemouth 5

    Everything was delicious but there was still plenty on the menu that I’d like to go back and try which included a chickpea dish, Brinjals which is lightly friend aubergine and the Clay Pot Fish (only 8 dishes a day are made).  I was also told that the cuttlefish dish is a speciality and a big hit with customers.

    If you are thinking that the restaurant is only suitable for us grown ups then you’re very wrong.  They are more than happy to welcome children in and have highchairs and baby change facilities plus kids under 10 eat free!  (Obviously when an adult orders, just see the menu or ask your server for details).

    This was definitely one of the nicest meals I’ve had in a long time and I can’t recommend it enough.  Myself and my husband don’t get out very much on our own but the first chance I have of a date night I know I’ll be booking a table at The Coconut Tree.
     
    For more information or to book a table, please visit The Coconut Tree.
     
     
    Coconut Tree Bournemouth 7

    Dorsetmums was invited to The Coconut Tree for the purpose of a review however all words are my own.