So we decided to add to the excitement and spend a day out at Willows Farm Village – full of not only animals, which you would expect at a farm; but also pumpkins, zip wires, playgrounds, soft play barns and giant tractors that drive through giant puddles.
In fact, it turns out that the ‘farm’ bit really is an aside from the other things going on. After getting through the entrance, the Wee Man immediately spotted a zip wire (having recently discovered how much fun they can be in Bewilderwood) and the animals paled into insignificance.
Bubby D, on the other hand was far more intrigued by friendly donkeys, sheep, goats, horses, rabbits, hens… lots of friendly farm dwellers for her to wave hello to and watch being fed (you could buy feed at the entrance, but we didn’t get any thinking it would probably be on sale later at the feeding area too…in actual fact it didn’t seem you could get it anywhere else. But luckily Bubby D wasn’t too keen on the idea of feeding the animals herself, anyway).
Next we headed to the soft play, to let the kids burn off a bit of energy whilst the adults had a bit of a break. Wee Man was incredibly excited by the many different slide options available, and Bubby D was happy in the smaller and more sedate under 5’s area which was thankfully a bit quieter too. Being half term, the soft play area was completely rammed full of kids, pushchairs and accompanying adults – but even so it didn’t feel too crowded and we still managed to get a seat (for two minutes anyway, until Bubby D needed help over a too-tall step again).
Thinking they must have worn themselves out a bit, we decided to try the Zootacular Animal Show – which showcases animals more likely to be found in a zoo than on a farm. My visions of lions, elephants and zebras were soon squashed flat however when we were introduced to a snake, a skunk, a bearded dragon, a lizard and a meerkat. The kids simply wouldn’t sit still through it as there wasn’t much audience participation and climbing around the seats proved far more interesting for a four and two year old. Although as an adult I found the talk about the animals interesting, I wouldn’t take young children to this show again – it’s really better aimed at older kids.
Luring the kids away from their seat scaling acrobatics with the promise of curly fries, we decided it was lunchtime, and headed for one of the cafe’s. The menu was pretty reasonable, with various options on offer; and the food came nice and quickly. Curly fries were soon in front of both children and achieved what the zoo animals couldn’t – five minutes of contented quiet. And, having need to check out the facilities shortly after, personally I was very impressed with the toilets – each cubicle was clean, family sized and big enough for a pushchair to fit inside, and there were sinks at child level as well as clever hand towel machines that dispensed tissue automatically. Almost as exciting for the Wee Man as the zip wire!
Fed and happy, we decided it was time for some pumpkin carving. There was the option to head to the pumpkin field and pick your own, however the kids were keen to get going so instead they chose a pre-picked pumpkin each and – armed with a bucket, knife and spoon – sat down to get started.I have to say I’d forgotten how long it takes to get all the gunk out of a pumpkin. The kids were intrigued to see all the seeds and goo coming out, and it all took a bit long for Bubby D who decided that inspecting the scary spiders on the walls was much more interesting for a while. The decorations all around the farm were really quite impressive – there were lots of little halloween touches that made the pumpkin festival something special.
Finally the pumpkins were ready to be carved, and it was time to get stabbing. The knives provided were standard blunt ‘eat your dinner with them’ knives, and so they needed quite a lot of pressure put behind them to achieve any kind of effect. Nevertheless, the kids (with a bit of help from myself and Auntie Tooie) managed to end up with two scary pumpkins and they were very pleased with them.
So it was back to the outside, and time to play in the playground areas for a while. Bubby D loved the toddler park with scaleable combine harvester, and the Wee Man was back to clamouring to have more goes on the zip wire. Eventually we convinced them to move on to the fairground rides, and they very much enjoyed a couple of trips around the teacups ride before giving (fake) cow milking a go, and then getting on the tractor ride. Despite protesting vociferously that ‘I DON’T WANT TO GO ON THE TRACTOR’ the Wee Man actually ended up really enjoying it, as did Bubby D. The tractor went around a short trail which passed some lazy looking cows and sheep, sploshing through giant puddles on the way, before meandering through a little halloween village scene and a view of the pumpkin patch field.
Sheep racing! We placed our bets, went to watch the sheep being saddled up with their stuffed jockeys, and then cheered them on as they thundered around the track. Wee Man was ecstatic when number 3 crossed the line first, and very pleased to be rewarded with a badge when he handed back his winning number 3 token.
There was still plenty of the farm we hadn’t really seen – Bubby D was intrigued by the Toddler Town and Wee Man liked the look of the Frisbee Golf – and as we headed for the exit (via the gift shop), Wee Man said happily:
‘Mummy, I LOVE this farm. Pleeeeeeaaase can we come back tomorrow?’
I don’t think we will be back tomorrow.
But we definitely got our money’s worth (Adults are £13.75 and children £14.75 during the pumpkin festival), and I’ve seen that Santa is paying the farm a visit from 23rd November – so I’ve a feeling we may well be back pretty soon!