I think bringing up kids in London is pretty awesome (as I hope this blog demonstrates) but there are times when it has its drawbacks. The Bear (when he plays with his cars) never races them, rather he stands them in a long line and tells me they are in a traffic jam! There is also the matter of ‘where food comes from’ which can stump many a city child (The Bear assumes that Mr Sainsburys will just deliver it – not exactly a balanced view of the world!). My response to these urban challenges is that at least once a fortnight I bundle the kids into the car and we head out outside of the M25 for some fresh air fun.
Last week we made it to Godstone Farm for the day. Anyone who has visited a commercial ‘children’ farm will be aware that there is a pretty standard formula which involves indoor and outdoor playgrounds, core farm animals and a café. Godstone is really no different but they do offer a few nice extras which I will take you through here.
Firstly the soft play (always a key part of The Terrorists day) is big and has a great section for little ones as well (saving Bollie from trying to bum shuffle through racing 5 year olds!). They monitor the number of people in there and have a coloured bucket system to limit your time to 90 minutes when it’s busy. There are also lots of chairs and a coffee stand so you can enjoy a sit down while they exhaust themselves (if you can avoid being forced through a tunnel yourself!
Secondly they have a new feature of a creepy crawly barn and a Dinosaur trail. Now I must confess I hate creepy crawlies so I made a swift detour past it before The Bear could get hooked and we headed straight to the dinosaurs. This consists of about 10 huge statues which have been positioned around a duck pond complete with full roaring sound effects (quite a few people were taken by surprise and there were some comedy jumps when people got a huge roar). The Bear LOVED it! He is dinosaur mad anyway but he was fascinated by the models, the noise and the huge muddy puddles to jump in en-route and we were there for 45 minutes in the end
Thirdly they have a fantastic area where (all day) they have rabbits and chickens out for the children to stroke and (for the older ones) have on their lap and hold. It is well managed and the children are supervised so the animals are looked after but both Terrorists adore this bit and are always fascinated by the feel of the chickens feathers.
Fourthly they have a nice selection of animals and they are well spaced so you can wander around for an hour or so and often feel you have them to yourselves. The one downside (in The Bears view at least) is that you can’t hand feed them.
Lastly they have 2 huge sand pits which are full of buckets, spades, trucks and other devices to move sand around. This occupied a very happy hour and half over lunch whilst I sat and chatted to a friend at a picnic table over a leisurely take away coffee – all round bliss!
Top Tip – go straight to the soft play when you arrive. We usually get there around 10am and normally have it to ourselves completely until about 10.45 during term time
Time to visit – this can definitely occupy a whole day – especially if it is nice enough to use the huge outdoor playground by the entrance
Highlights – touching the bunnies and chickens and the new dinosaur trail
Getting there – Godstone Farm is just off junction 6 on the M25. Follow the signposts to Godstone and from there you can pick up brown tourist board signs to Godstone Farm. There is free parking when you get there. The website does suggest some public transport options but I imagine these aren’t the easiest
Pushchair access – everywhere is accessible with pushchairs but there are a few hills and it can get pretty muddy so it can be quite hard work at times
Price – the farm doesn’t have a great reduction in price over the winter months (like some of the others we visit) so it can get pricey. That said it is a lovely day out and if you take a picnic you can keep costs down. It is £7.50 each for adults and children over 2, children between 1 and 2 are £2.50 and under 1s are free
Food and Drink – there is a café in the playbarn and a tea room which does jacket potatoes, sandwiches etc. The food isn’t great to be honest but we always take a picnic as there is plenty of picnic space
Other attractions nearby – I haven’t established this as in our case this is a day out in itself
Baby facilities – there is baby change both inside and outside of the soft play and whilst a bit chilly it is always clean. The café and tea room will heat bottles and there are lots of high chairs. There is nowhere specific to breastfeed but there are lots of benches around
Website – http://www.godstonefarm.co.uk/index.php