I think the thing I’ve noticed the most over our half term break is just how big Jude has grown recently. I no longer need to look downwards to speak to him and loads of his clothes no longer fit!
I’m not sure I’d say our family week together was great but we survived pretty unscathed. In fact, there were some really nice parts to it and I’m just grateful that the weather held out so we were able to go out and have fun in the sunshine. Nearing the end of the week we took a trip to a local farm as I really wanted to let Emmeline experience something new. Now, as you all know I hate animal exploitation. I hate animals being used as a prop for children to “pet” and screech at BUT I had never visited Mead Farm so thought I’d hold onto my optimism that it would just be a traditional working farm type place. Well…as usual my naivety showed through. My mum came with us and thank god she did or else I would have done a quick U-y and driven swiftly in the opposite direction, the car park was HEAVING.
But come on, what was I expecting in half term? I’m really stupid sometimes, aren’t I?
Anyway, we made it through the entrance. Jude’s HAND card (Herts Additional Needs Database) got us about £5 off which isn’t a lot considering even then it came to over £43 (2 adults, 2 children and bubba under 2 was free). With a HAND card you are normally offered a free carer ticket as is the case with Whipsnade zoo – last time I went there they let an adult in free (as Jude technically needs a carer) and free parking.
Again, I’m no zoo fan so it isn’t a regular visiting place of choice.
Back to the farm! I think we entered at the worst section as there were lots of Halloween events going on so it was crazy busy, saying that the Creepy Cottage was pretty cool – you walk through the cottage and it’s filled with spooky lights, pumpkins and ghouls.
For Jude this was probably the best bit – his senses must have been literally buzzing with excitement!
We found a play area and spent a bit of time there…
But I was getting frustrated as we hadn’t yet seen any animals except one poor lonely horse stuck in a single stable as stroking fodder for the visitors. As we walked back past this horse I saw a teenage girl crying with her mother saying the horse had bit her but what do people expect?? Imagine being stuck in a wooden box all day with people going “Ahhh look at that!” running over and stroking your nose. I know I’d damn well bite a few hands too (Can you see why I should never normally go to these sorts of farms?!)
Here he is…
Even worse than this were the bunnies. Even my mother who really isn’t an animal type person didn’t like how they were housed. There were lots of bunnies in indoor pens inside a barn waiting for their turn to be centre stage. We saw a guy come along and scoop one out and literally flip the poor animal onto a platform circled by an ever descending mass of children and adults rushing towards the little guy (or gal). Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure these animals are treated well, fed all the food they could ever want and as Joe would say “at least he isn’t on someone’s dinner plate.” But for me that isn’t enough. These animals are NOT ours to play with! Elsa said as we walked past, “mummy that rabbit didn’t look happy” so I know I’m not the only one in our family who feels this way.
Anyway…more positively, Jude coped pretty well despite the manic atmosphere that a school holiday can often cause. He even had a fairly good time but didn’t really taking much notice of the animals. It’s like he always has to desperately move onto the next thing so he can tick it off in his mind, relax for a split second before the stress sets in about what we’re going to do next.
We found a huge sandpit with big pulleys and streams of water. We played here for a little while, Jude and Elsa working in cooperation filling buckets and tipping the sand back out whilst Elsa ran around trying to do everything at once.
But then we saw this…and it’s probably the only animal Jude was really interested in…
Obviously where Santa leaves his reindeer for the summer!!! (Elsa’s suggestion)
Overall, we had a lovely time at Mead Farm. We didn’t stay more than a couple of hours but it was enough for me so it was most definitely enough for Jude. T’was nice to show Emmeline some animals…
These pygmy goats were Elsa’s favourite and apparently she’s asking for some for Christmas. Could be interesting.
I won’t bring the children here massively often as it’s expensive so an occasional visit if they ask to come however I’d rather take them somewhere outdoorsy like a forest with streams or an adventure playground because to me, this isn’t a farm. Or it is a real farm but it has too much fabrication around it brought in entirely to make money. But I know this is the norm now for visiting farms – if they want to make money then they have to employ much of the faff that I really don’t like. Perhaps this suggests that actually the setting is perfectly fine but just isn’t for us.