As a family with three small children; for the last six years, I have been a regular visitor of farm parks. There is actually one 5 minutes down the road from us which I honestly feel I could now navigate my way around with my eyes closed (in fact in the early days of trying to juggle a newborn and a toddler I’m sure I probably did indeed do this). Whilst it’s great to have a family farm so close to us; to stop the kids becoming bored I often try and mix it up a little (I know, wild aren’t I) and visit other farm parks too.
Therefore, when Godstone Farm got in touch to see if we would like to review the farm we jumped at the chance.
Although lets face it, without them the attraction would probably have to reconsider its marketing angle; for my kids, the animals are always the least anticipated part of any farm park trip. For many years I would stand fake grinning and using that annoying high pitched tone that only slightly irritated parents of non compliant children can muster, and shriek ‘come on girls, lets go look at the pigs!’ ‘Lets feed the goats?’ Only to be met with unenthusiastic grunts and demands to go to the soft play.
Since the baby came along though, the animal appreciation has been completely revived. And whilst she greets any animal she sees with the same over excited holler of; ‘cat!! CAATTT!!’ (we are still working on our animal differentiation) the joy she gets from seeing (and touching, much to the dismay of our long suffering moggy) animals is clear to see.
At Godstone Farm not only do they have the normal array of farm animals which you can look at (and feed) there is also a petting room, where you can go and hold an array of small animals. This was a total hit with my three (yes even the older two) who loved stroking the rabbit and especially the three week old chick. The staff were also on hand to chat about the individual animals and seemed to have a genuine fondness of them all which was lovely.
The Soft Play
As we all know, no self respecting farm park would be complete without a soft play area and well, this place has one of those and more. I’m not usually one to over-egg my soft play enthusiasm but seriously, both my husband and I agreed that Godstone Farm had nailed this area. The main reason for this? Let me explain…
Having three children, aged 6, 4 and 1, it can often be tricky to find a play area that is suitable for all. On the most part, the baby gets to gaze longingly at the other two having the time of their lives in the ‘big kids’ soft play whilst she has to make do with a small padded area with a few threadbare soft blocks, that the big kids come and charge around in anyway.
Godstone Farm is very different, in fact it is clear that this place clearly has the youngest guests at the forefront of their mind, as every area aimed at this age group is as good as the section for the bigger kids.
In the main soft play barn the toddlers have their own, large dedicated area, featuring not only a smaller version of the play structure for them to clamber around in, but also lots of different built-in playhouses, as well as a large amount of age appropriate toys.
Equally the main soft play structure is just as impressive, with my older two (literally) having to be dragged out of it after over an hours worth of play.
Opposite to the soft play barn, there is the new Wiglets Play Village which, in my opinion is a great addition. With a ball play area to keep the bigger kids amused, my youngest was in her element in the baby area. There is also a number of different role play sections including a vets a café and a building site.
The Outdoor Play
Wow. Where to start. The outdoor play space is probably the most impressive I’ve ever seen at a farm park. From zip wires, to climbing frames, to slides and even a swing that can sit both a baby and a child (I personally loved this as it meant that my 4 year old could sit on it and swing her baby sister – nothing like a bit of child labour…) The outdoor area really is massive.
My eldest especially loved the sledges, whilst the baby loved the sandpit area (once she got over her initial aversion to sand- turns out living near pebble beaches has a downside!). There are numerous areas to climb and slide all aimed at varying ages. As this outdoor play area was our last stop of the day, we didn’t even manage to get round everything. Cue ice cream bribery when it was time to leave to avoid major meltdowns!
No farm park would be complete without an obligatory tractor ride and of course Godstone Farm has one (extra charge for this). For the smaller ones there are also a number of ride on tractors to practice peddling skills!
My girls were also over the moon when they spotted the fairy trail- a lovely little walk through the trees with lots of little fairy surprises dotted around (admittedly being the stereotypical girly girls, they turned their noses up at the prospect of the dino trail but from what I saw, this too looked fab!)
Having a whole crew of mouths to feed, we are usually a picnic family at these sort of places and there are loads of nice picnic spots at Godstone Farm. Even on a rainy day, you should be able to find somewhere undercover to eat your marmite sandwiches. That being said, for our trip to Godstone Farm, we decided to go wild (see we are on a roll now) and not pack a picnic, opting instead to visit the tea room and eat there.
The food was reasonably priced with a good selection to chose from such as jacket potatoes, salad, chips etc. as well as a number of different specials. The kids menu included sausages, chicken nuggets and chips among other options and for a change my children actually ate it which believe me, means it must have been good! As the weather was fairly mild, we ate in the cute undercover outdoor area which was decorated with butterflies and pom-poms, much to my girls’ delight!
This place is a good 35 minutes away from us and we have a one year old who tends to scream in the car if she is not sleeping or eating (that 6 hour trip to Cornwall in the Summer is going to be fun) but we absolutely would come back. If it was up to my girls we would be coming back next week.
If you are looking for a family day out which wont break the bank but is also jam packed with things to do especially for toddlers, this really is the place to go.
*We were offered free entry in exchange for this review but the thoughts expressed are our own – no bribery involved. (That being said – I’d be more than willing to march up and down Brighton Beach wearing a Godstone Farm sandwich board in exchange for an annual pass?? er… no?