In leafy rural Bedfordshire is Mead Open Farm, a farm park where you have the chance to meet, feed and stroke cows, horses, goats, rabbits, sheep and guinea pigs, plus there are lots of fun places for the kids to work off any extra energy.
The farm is all inclusive, so once inside you can do everything it has to offer. We started by visiting Jo’s Barn for the Bunny Hop, where rabbits and guinea pigs are placed on bales of straw to be stroked. These rabbits are true professionals, calm in the face of children’s squeals of delight and of being picked up or stroked by dozens of tiny excited hands.
Next up was bottle feeding the lambs, then hand milking a cow, both of which can be tried out by the visitors, under careful supervision of course. In between there was a lot more to do; you can walk up to all the animals to stroke them and even feed them from your hand (a ticklish experience if you are unused to it). Some animals are undercover in barns and some out of doors, so whether you want to stay in or out of the sun and rain there is still lots to see.And if you don’t want to walk you can take a tractor ride around the farm to see all the animals too.
As well as the animals there is a big choice of activities including go-karts which kids and adults can have a go on, and they are great fun I can certainly vouch for that. There is also a lovely 9-hole crazy golf course, an adventure playground and loads of pedal tractors which also went down very well with all the kids.
However one of the big highlights of the day for the younger visitors is Shaggy’s Playworld. This indoor play centre with its huge drop slides, climbing areas, ball ponds and net climbs was hugely popular.There is a gently wavy fairground-style slide and two rather scary looking Astra slides – huge slides which start with a steep drop from 65ft. From the whoops of delight you can tell that kids of all ages thoroughly enjoy them - I’ll take their word for it!
A real highlight of the day is the sheep racing which takes place from April to October. A dozen sheep, chosen for swiftness of foot, run in the ‘Lamb National’. The runners all have the most dreadful puns as names – Red Ram, Lambretta, Woolly Jumper......You can bet on your favourite too, having listened to their current form. Cheer on your chosen mount and his jockey (a teddy bear), as they chase around the track to be rewarded at the finishing line by their much deserved lunch.If your sheep wins you get a badge too.
Mead Open Farm has lots of places to eat serving both hot meals and snacks, as well picnic areas if you prefer to take your own lunch. The farm has plenty of hand washing facilities to use after handling the animals.
There is a programme of special events throughout the year including Easter egg hunts, spooktacular Halloween fun, Santa Claus visits at Christmas, as well as a Reptile Roadshow during school holidays and a Maize Maze in the summer.
Mead Open Farm is a great day out and somewhere you will want to visit again and again. To find out about opening times and current events visit www.meadopenfarm.co.uk.