It’s the summer holidays, so of course I’m looking to do a variety of fun activities with my two children aged 6 and 4.
This week we visited the children’s grandparents in Hampshire to change up our summer holiday routine. The grandparents wanted to take the children out – with me of course – and we settled on a trip out to Manor Farm Country Park, run by Hampshire County Council. I come from West Sussex and it’s generally a good shout to go to one of the incredibly well run authority owned country park or attractions in the area. Sadly this was not the case for Manor Farm.
Upon arrival we paid for our parking (£4), which you’re pretty much forced to pay as there’s no alternative parking nearby. Our entry fee came to £28 for two seniors, one adult and two children. My son spotted the activity sheet which we happily let him have, and then discovered that was a further £2, which we paid. The website talked of ‘hundreds of chickens roaming’ around the farm, so we paid for two bags of chicken feed at 75p each and we made our way in.
The old farm had the saddest collection of animals I’ve ever seen in a setting such as this. A couple of cows, a pig and some piglets, a couple of goats, half a dozen chickens scratching around (there are not hundreds). Oh, and a sheep. We can see more countrylife just by taking a walk anywhere in Hampshire. My daughter was desperately keen to feed the birds, so we did our best to stalk a few feathered friends, but as the chickens were outnumbered three to one by visitors they were overfed and uninterested.
Everything was extra. There was a vintage tractor ride but at £2 per adult and £1 per child we decided against it. We were also expected to put donations in to cover craft materials.
When we joined the feed the animals slot, run by three disinterested staff, we were told not to use the chicken feed we’d been sold for the chickens, but to use theirs. No information was given about the animals, no feedback from staff. Just a scrum by well to do parents to ensure their offspring got a handful of pellets to lob at the animals.
There was no farmers’ wife ‘bustling’ around the farm as described on the website, or farmer doing his rounds. In fact, I was of the opinion we got the places mixed up until I checked online and saw we were where these ‘costumed characters’ allegedly were meant to be.
We had brought a picnic, and went to the cafe for some hot drinks. And despite it being the summer holidays one person was serving which led to 15 min queues.
Overall the visit was a very costly experience in visiting a farm with very little to show for the day. I tend to measure our fun in how many photos I’ve taken of the kids enjoying themselves and as I only took the one I think that sums up the experience. Genuinely I have so much more I can say, but I think you get the gist. Go somewhere else.