Places to Go

Family Holidays: Sheep camels and man-eating chickens

Imagination Playground and the man-eating chickenOn the first day of half term I took my three children to Occombe Farm in Paignton. My wife was ill in bed so I had three children under seven to entertain - Occombe Farm was a great choice. My two year old boy gravitated straight for the ride-on tractors, my five year old girl loved the various animals and my seven year old loved the nature trail. But the biggest hit for all of them was a large pile of curiously shaped foam pieces that fit together. This was called an Imagination Playground and entertained my children for nearly an hour. They made houses and dinosaurs and... man-eating chickens.  There were also pieces that fit together to make a ball run. They found themselves having to work together to solve the challenge of getting the ball down the track.

For us, the great advantage of Occombe Farm over some other farm days out is that it’s free. It’s not as big as some other places but that is some of its appeal. It is a proper working farm which means that not all the activities are available every day. Sometimes the ride-on tractors are moved into storage to make way for the cows. I like that about it, I feel that it adds to its charm. It doesn’t have as many organised activities as some places, allowing children to make their own fun.  My children climbed trees on the nature walk and we all played space explorers on the adventure playground. Even on a Saturday on the first day of half term it wasn’t busy; in many parts of the farm we were the only people there. We had the whole of the community garden to ourselves and played hide and seek amongst the greenhouses, flower beds and yurts for a good half an hour. It’s not tremendously well stocked with animals but the few they have seem very happy with lots of space to run around. As well as cows, sheep and pigs, we saw quails, ducks, goats and Alpacas. My two year old had never seen an Alpaca before and said, ‘look dad - a sheep-camel’.

We had a picnic but there was also a cafe and a well-stocked farm shop. Another thing I noticed was that on many days they organise activity trails. For the next few months children aged 4-12 can go on a Wild Monster Hunt for £2.50. I was already having enough fun with my own three monsters but all my children want to go back so next time we have a family holiday, we might sign up for an activity trail...

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