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Willows Acitivity Farm is to Coco, what sunning myself on a white sandy beach whilst drinking a fruity G&T and eating Dairy Milk Oreo is to me. Paradise. Imagine everything an excited toddler may want in one space and this is pretty much it – bar maybe Peppa and Elsa from Frozen.
Now I wanted to do a review for Willows Farm as we had such a great time there, but I have to fess up straight away and say that this piece will be far from comprehensive. The place is just so enormous that it would really take a full day to try out everything on offer, and with a two year old and an overtired seven month old it was going to be a bit of a stretch. However we gave it a good go.
Now we didn’t get off to the best start. I had every intention of leaving nice and early so we could get there to ‘Feed the Animals’ at 10.30am, but Raffy decided to poo poo that idea but doing an obligatory crap just as we were walking out the front door. So instead, we abandoned any set itinerary and decided to free style, first with a trip to the loos, which I’m pleased to report were lovely and clean.
Second stop was to check out the animals. Under a roofed area we found homes for the ponies, horses, cows, bunnies, goats and their babies, pigs and their even cuter babies, and an abundance of bunnies and guinea pigs. The guinea pigs were being dished out for strokes and cuddles, and even though I was keen, Coco was not. Coco, for some reason, was also not too impressed by the cows, but was delighted to meet her namesake, Coco the Alpaca.
Next was a mad dash towards the bouncy castles. Castles plural in that there is one for the little ones and one for the larger kids, plus an enormous inflatable slide. Fantastic if you’re one of those parents who fear their kid’s head will be bounced on by some 11 year old brut. Due to the slightly shifty weather we pretty much had the run of the smaller castle, much to the kids delight. In this area there are also several small fair ground style rides and some swing boats, which perhaps my have been better for slightly older children, or certainly ones that are braver than mine.
Coco and her pal Charlie amused themselves in the sandpits for quite some time (there is more than one!), which are filled with diggers and toys. The whole of Willows Farm is in fact littered with playground equipment cunningly disguised as diggers as well as the usual swings sets etc, plus more farmyard animals hankering after some feed.
As the weather began to make a turn for the worse, we decided it was time for lunch, which we had in the Curly Café. The prices aren’t cheap (over £5 for a jacket spud, beans & cheese), but there is a good choice and some healthy options for kids. There are also plenty of picnic tables dotted around the farm so if the weather is good and you’re organised enough to pull together a picnic lunch (well done you!), that would be a good option.
Lastly, but by no means least, we decided to check out Toddler Town. Essentially a make believe town with a vets, a post office, a train station…you get the drift. The kids loved it and spent their time running from building to building holding fake groceries and phones. Each building has a gate along it so the kids are kind of contained and there are benches and tables for bored parents to sit whilst their offspring run riot. There is also an enormous soft play area (that we didn’t really get to try), but as I am often a solo mum of two, I was particularly enamoured with this area. This being for the simple reason that Coco could not get stuck up the top of a large slide in Toddler Town, I wouldn’t have to ask a stranger for help as I tried and failed to struggle up to the top of said slide with my ten ton baby in my arms, and I wouldn’t most likely rip my jeans, fall over or suffer any other kind of other hideous embarrassment. Instead, here, I could have a much needed catch up with my best mate and keep an eye on the kids with the very handy camera screens displayed on the walls.
Just as the sun started to shine, eyes began to be rubbed and Raffy’s moaning reached fever pitch, so we made the executive decision to leave the rest of the park until next time and head home. Not of course, before heading out through the gift shop and buying Coco a fluffy, pink, ride along unicorn. Spoilt, much.
In short, although pricey, Willows Farm is a great place to visit come rain or shine. Just off the M25, it is easy to reach, and from East London it’s approx. 40mins – probably the maximum amount of time any person can stay sane on a motorway as their deranged toddler shouts “look at me, look at me” whilst simultaneously squashing their cheeks together like a loony.
- Weekend adult prices are £14.50 and Coco’s ticket was £15.50. Raffy went free as he’s under 2yrs. It is expensive, but you do get a lot of bang for your buck and you can save money by booking online or going mid-week during term time (if your kids are young enough)
- You can buy animal feed on the gate. We paid £1 for two bags.
- Car parking is free so no need to worry about change
- Check out ‘Today’s Programme’ listed on the Willows Farm website to see the timings of the extra activities going on at the farm, such as rides of Tristan the Runaway Tractor
For more info visit… http://www.willowsactivityfarm.com
Hope to see you there soon!