Last weekend we visited Cefn Mably farm as a treat for the 3yo. Quite frankly the little monster didn’t deserve a reward because he failed to gain the required number of stars on his ‘good boy chart’ after a fun packed morning of bad behaviour and hooliganism, but it was either take him out or risk having the house burnt down. So off to the farm-come-cafe-come-play area-come shop we merrily went.
Obviously he fell asleep in the car. Then my husband missed the correct motorway turning, but we got there in the end, both children still out cold. For thirty sweet seconds we discussed just staying in the car and enjoying the silence, or having our own sneaky nap, but then the older one sensed there was a moment to kill and woke with a jolt. Perhaps it was the smell of pig shit outside the car which roused him? It definitely roused me when we got out.
It cost £18 for the three of us, baby went free (whoop…) which can probably be justified if you spend the whole day there, but we were going to be an hour. There’s actually lots to see and do at the farm – animals, pony rides, indoor play area, outdoor play areas, combine harvester, mini diggers – a plethora of enjoyment for children! There were also a lot of chubby children for some reason, guzzling on slushies, ice cream and crisps, whilst their parents sat oblivious to the danger of childhood obesity and absorbed in their smartphones. Of course my son decided he just wanted to rampage on the indoor soft play area. So I sat rocking the baby in his pram whilst he and my husband chased each other for a while then went to see the animals outside in the sun by myself (including a sow suckling a litter of piglets who I instantly had an affinity with). That was fun for about five minutes and then the baby got hungry, so I had to go back in and find a quiet seat amongst the chaos to feed him. By this time the other two were outside. On the diggers. And go karts. And having a pony ride. Spending more money.
We were supposed to leave after an hour but that clearly didn’t happen. Our son disappeared into the soft play area again with a battle cry and a determined look on his face. Whilst we waited for the inevitable sound of another child crying after his challenge to do ‘fighting’ was rebuffed but ignored, a young girl came out of the fighting arena brandishing a pair of underpants and presented them to her parents at the next table to us. They weren’t hers. Just a random pair of pants from the play area. There was much horror and disgusted shuddering from the assembled adults as her parents tried to act normally and encouraged her to take them elsewhere. Her mother and I locked eyes and exchanged a look of weary despair and amusement. That’s when the girl spotted our 10 week old baby on my lap and zoned in to touch him. I tried to say ‘Oooh, maybe you could wash your hands first?’ in a lighthearted way, but my eyes were still on her mother and she must have seen the fear in my eyes and sensed the serious tone in my voice. So she tried her best to de-pant her daughter’s hands with a wet wipe, which was just as well because I was about to whip out the antibacterial gel. The girl then spent 5 minutes pawing at our baby, literally hugging and stroking him on my lap, whilst I ignored every screaming instinct to push her away and made polite conversation with her mother to reassure her that it was fine (it wasn’t) and the girl wasn’t bothering me (she so was). But the girl was 3, and meant no harm, so I had to suck it up. When her parents finally managed to drag her away my husband was beaming at my discomfort and said, ‘That’s the closest I’ve ever seen you come to punching a child.’ Which obviously I’d never do. But I wouldn’t have stopped my son from doing it if he’d suddenly appeared. Which he didn’t, so we eventually had to drag him kicking and screaming from the play area. Too many days out seem to end in that manner…
I resent paying to visit a farm because I come from a line of farmers, so I spent most of my childhood roaming free on a farmyard and buggering about in barns. Even had a pony on loan for a while, which was great fun and hard work in equal measure. But I see the attraction for my children, even if most of the appeal isn’t actually farm related. If I could find somewhere that just has a ride on digger we’d save a lot of money.