This is the fourth and final episode of our mini break to the South Coast. The other reviews can be found here:
- Flying with a toddler – Part 1 – (here)
- Oceanarium and Bournemouth – Part 2 – (here)
- Paultons Park – Part 3 – (here)
I found out about this attraction via Twitter (@NewForestBreak) and with it being 10 minutes drive from Paultons Park, we headed down there on a sunny, but cold Sunday February morning, whilst not knowing what to expect really. Finding the farm is quite easy and there is decent (free) parking the other side of the road, which is fully signposted.
Heidi does like her animals and so it felt like a safe option to spend a couple of hours, and so we went in to see what it was all about. As you go in, there are some toy tractors for the kids to play on, as well as a couple of table tennis tables which were clearly meant for warmer (and less windy days!). However, with our trusty map in hand, we made our way to the animals.
The farm is a traditional farm, in terms of the animals that it has – goats, ducks, cows, horses – pretty much everything Old MacDonald had, except you were allowed to feed them! There are set times to feed set animals so it does help to plan ahead a little and plot your way around the small farm so that you take advantage of these experiences. It would only take 10 minutes to walk from one end to another, so while the farm isn’t huge, it is big enough, especially for little legs!
As a result, we began by bottle feeding the baby goats, which was fascinating for Heidi as she has never seen an animal take a bottle and she was able to feed it herself, which was lovely! After that, we went to the animal petting attraction, where tiny baby chicks to hold, as well as able to stroke a rabbit as well as a goat. To finish off, we fed the adult goats, albeit food from a plate as they are clearly past the bottle phase!!
It was lovely to have the opportunity to let Heidi feed and get really close to the animals as it is all well and good seeing them at the other side of the fence, but it was something else letting her feed them. Interspersed with the activities, there are lots of other animal enclosures to look at including ducks, rabbits, horses and calves.
On a weekend, the little ones are able to ride (for an additional charge) on a Shetland pony, which we took advantage of, especially as Heidi loves to go on the donkeys at the seaside, or use me as a horse in an evening!
There are a number of enclosed (free) trampolines which is a good way to do something a little different and there is also a small, but perfectly adequate (free) play gym, which will keep the little ones busy for half an hour or so, while the adults relax. Even though it was freezing cold outside, it was relatively warm in there, even though the front was completely open! Here (on weekends), there was a facepainter and for an extra charge, children could have their face painted, so the farm got a tiger for an hour or so! Facepainting done by Incredible Faces (http://www.incrediblefaces.co.uk/)
In terms of taking a toddler, it is important to be aware that it is a working farm and so expect to be a bit muddy and cold (in winter!) so clothe appropriately. There are toilets, baby change and feeding rooms, which we didn’t go to, but they looked quite good. There is also a cafe and farm shop, but we had spent all our money on facepainting and horse rides!! One thing to note is that you obviously have to wash your hands after finishing stroking an animal so it might be a good idea to wear short sleeves, or take a spare top for the way home. The water is nice and warm, but after a while, the sleeves get all wet and unpleasant.
After all that, we spent 2 hours at Longwood although we did miss a couple of bits out because of a tired toddler. We would definitely go back, and would perhaps go at a slightly different time so we could do some of the other activities that we missed out on as that is the main part of going here.
For more information about Longwood Activity Farm go to http://www.longdownfarm.co.uk/
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