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  • Gareth Ellis

Review: Thrift Farm

As parents we’re always looking for things to do with our children.

Sometimes it can be something simple in the garden or a nice walk, and other times it’s a day out. When they’re babies it’s fairly easy, you get to do all the things that YOU want to do and they come along for the ride.

But as they grow, children have an increasing awareness of what they like and what they don’t.

With Rupert, we can’t often pass a park without him running in or wanting to play, and fortunately, with summer around the corner, he loves being outside.

So, with that in mind, Jess and I organised a day out at Thrift Farm last week so that we could get out and about, enjoy the sunshine, and see some animals too.

For those who don’t know, Thrift Farm is based just outside of Milton Keynes and offers children (and adults) the chance to see some common farm animals up close.

Jess and I have been a few times and loved it every time. We went once without Rupert (although Jess was pregnant) once when Rupert was small – but big enough to be interested in the animals, and on Friday with Ru AND Emilia.

It’s best to pre-book, and actually in these Covid restricted times I think it’s necessary, and once you’re in you can follow a trail around to see all of the animals, most of which are in large, outdoor spaces, easy to roam around in.

Rupert was drawn straight to the smaller enclosures that housed the bunnies and the chickens, and to our delight, some baby chicks too. Rupert’s speech is coming along really nicely, so it’s an added treat to be able to help him practice words on living examples. We can easily ask him what an animal is and what noise it makes etc. I bet he gets bored of that before we do.

The farm itself has always been well laid out. There’s a trail for you to follow so you can flow nicely through the hand washing station, through and round the fenced off areas to look at all of the animals. We went on a Thursday morning, so it was relatively quiet when we arrived, meaning Rupert was free to mosey round at his own pace.

Of course, no trip out with Rupert is complete without finding a park, and Thrift Farm has a wonderful park, with two different sides – for younger and older children to play. It’s surrounded by sand and there are lots of toys for digging and raking and even some trucks to play with too (of course, Rupert did his best to commandeer both.)

And the piece de resistance? A big red tractor for children to sit on and pretend they’re driving. Again, we benefitted from being there earlier as it meant Rupert could get on without having to wait or get off quickly when it was someone else’s turn.

From there, if you follow the trail, you get through to the ‘inside’ part of the farm, where you can feed the goats, pigs and sheep. We’d already pre-paid for a bag of food so we went straight in and started feeding. The animals are gentle (gentler than I thought) and will happily eat out of your hand. Rupert didn’t fancy that part, so it was up to Mummy and Daddy to feed them, but we were happy to do it.

Just outside there was Rupert’s Kryptonite – ride on cars. There are two sections, one with ride on tractors and another with Cozy Coupes, for children to enjoy. Rupert just seemed to enjoy them too much – it was almost impossible to get him off them!

Eventually, after another quick trip to the park, and another look at the chicks and ponies, we were ready to go home.

We stopped at the Food4Thought Café before we left and got a couple of takeaway sandwiches and some Pom Bears (Rupert had been asking for them all day for some reason) before heading home. In case you’re wondering, there is an outside seating area and there are currently limits on how many people can be inside the cafe ordering at one time – to be Covid-19 compliant.

Rupert, and Emi, were very tired on the drive home, which is usually a good sign that they’ve had a great day, and I would highly recommend Thrift Farm to anyone. Again, words of advice would be, pre-book, try and go when it’s not raining and try and go early in the day so your little ones (and you) can get on the tractor.

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