Blogging has bought me many things over the last year and half, one of those being my friendship with Iona at Redpeffer. We’ve met up a couple of times now with the kids and when she said they’d be camping down near Chipping Norton over the holiday, I formed a plan. We would spend a day at Cotswold Farm Park with friends.
You may remember that Monkey and I had visited last year in pretty awful weather. We really didn’t get to do much so were looking for better weather to make the most of the facilities. We arrived before Iona and her family, collected our wrist bands and Monkey was off.
I want to see the animals Mummy. Ok, well lets have a quick look before the other arrive and then have a drink. So off he ran to the Touch Barn and Demo barns at break neck speed. We said hello a quick hello to the animals. You can hold little bunny rabbits but Monkey wasn’t ready to sit still.
We decided to have a quick snack and a drink and wait for Iona and family to arrive. There is cafe in the main visitor centre selling hot food, but we went to the little coffee shop to pick up a hot drink and a snack for Monkey. We’d bought a picnic lunch with us (us the weather was behaving) but they sell sandwiches and kids lunch boxes, all reasonably priced.
A text from Iona confirmed that they had arrived and it was time to enjoy Cotswold Farm Park with friends for the rest of the day. Kids being kids of course, they all wanted to go in different directions.
A large part of the Farm Park is open, with plenty of room for children to let off steam. But the site is still small enough that we could go off and do our own thing, but still find each other to look at some things together. It worked really well and the children all seemed to enjoy themselves.
One thing I remembered from our brief visit last year was how much information was available.
There are lots of information points around the Rare Breeds Walk as well as commentaries from Adam Henson too. Plenty of hand washing opportunities too.
A nearly 5-year-old Monkey, still spends most of his time running from one section to another.
But he is starting to ask questions and realise that these boards hold the answers.
The Rare Breeds Walk takes you back through time showing off old and rare farm animal breeds. Monkey loved all the sheep with different shaped horns (we’d get to see more of them later in the Demo Barn) and I’m a sucker when it comes to piglets!
I liked the idea of feeding chutes. You can buy bags of feed at the entrance and shop. Monkey wasn’t bothered on this trip, but I know at previous farms he has been scared to hold his hand out to the animals. The chutes give younger and more nervous children the ability to be involved with feeding the animals without actual contact – great idea in my opinion.
Monkey was having a lovely time, running from one area to the other. Letting go of my hand, enjoying some freedom – did we ever think we’d get to that point!!
There’s a viewing tower half way round the Rare Breeds Walk – a great place to view Cotswold Farm Park and the beautiful Cotswold Hills. I wasn’t sure if Monkey would be up for going to the top, but he was on good form and off he went.
Of course, the British weather being what it is, it chose this precise moment to have a little downpour. Cover found, rain macs done up, but it was over in a matter of minutes and the rest of the day was lovely – phew!
We met up with Iona and her family again. Her daughter was enjoying the Jumping Jack bouncy pillow for kids aged 6 years and over.
But Monkey and Iona’s son were more than happy in the Big Dig sandpit, which is under cover so great to play in whatever the weather.
With all the digging and running around the kids had all worked up an appetite – lunch time. There are picnic tables dotted around, and we found one by the sand pit. A hut selling drinks and snacks was also right by us, so we were easily sorted.
After lunch we headed off to the Woodland Adventure – a wooded area with play areas and a track to follow.
The children played really nicely together and it seemed that each one helped the other over the various obstacles. Monkey appears to have a little bit of hero-worship for Iona’s daughter and her son looks up to a slightly older Monkey. I loved watching the dynamics as they all had fun.
Then we discovered the Conservation Area – great for my little bug hunter. You could try your hand at pond dipping, look at the wormery and see a bee hive up close. We all enjoyed this area. Monkey kept coming back to it for the rest of the day.
Then it was off to the Tractor ride on the Farm Safari. Monkey had been wanting to go on this since we’d arrived. But as we queued he had a typical Monkey wobble. We finally managed to get him sat in the trailer, then he was fine. We went on a loop of the farm with a running commentary from the tractor driver. It was interesting and informative and well worth going through the pain barrier with Monkey. Him being him, as soon as the approx 20 minute ride finished pipes up – Mummy can we go on that again now please! Mummy sighs, and promised that we would go on it again before we went home.
We then headed off to the Demo Shed to learn more about the various breeds of sheep on the farm. Monkey loved climbing up the hay bales to get a good look at the show. We’d missed the start, but he didn’t mind at all.
There had been activities going on all day, including making bug hotels and planting sunflower seeds. We have a few bug hotels already so Monkey decided to plant some sunflowers to take home.
After another tractor-trailer ride it was time for us to head home. Monkey had had a wonderful day exploring Cotswold Farm Park with friends. We spent time as a group, we’d wandered off on our own. It worked really well.
There were so many things that Monkey and I just didn’t have time to do – Tractor School, ride on tractors, wonderful play ground, Jurassic Dig, the Maze Challenge and a number of the displays during the day. It’s definitely somewhere you can revisit without feeling as if you’ve done it all. A dry day is certainly a much better way to experience everything that the Farm Park has to offer. Monkey loved it. I liked all the information, variety of activities (all free!!!) and the layout of the farm. We will be back again I’m sure.
For more information about Cotswold Farm Park why not pop over to their website.
disclaimer: we were offered gift tickets to the Farm Park in exchange for an honest review