As a dad with two young daughters I’m often asked for advice on great places to take children for a fun day out in Hampshire and the surrounding areas.
Just last week I had a text message from a colleague who asked where he could take his two-year-old. I then reeled off a long list of child-friendly places that I had visited with my two daughters during the last six years.
They included Staunton Country Park, Stansted Park, Paultons Park, the Pyramids Centre and Marwell Wildlife. All of them cater really well for children but also make the visit fun for grown-ups.
I have a new location to add to the list.
Last week, we made a picnic, jumped in the car and made our way to Ashurst in the New Forest which is the home of Longdown Activity Farm.
It’s a place that made me consider a change in career from radio presenter to farmer, mainly because of the cuteness of all the baby farmyard animals that you get to feed and hold.
After we arrived and queued for our family ticket we were told the baby goat-feeding was about to start, so that was our first port of call.
Apparently, they have more than 100 kids on the farm and they all need to be bottle-fed.
As we waited outside the barn, members of staff walked past with huge buckets full of milk and then proceeded to pour the milk into what looked like oversized baby bottles.
We sat on bundles of straw and were each given a bottle.
The kids were then set free from their pen.
Very quickly it became clear the goats loved milk because they emptied the bottles within a few blinks of the eye.
Both my daughters loved the experience and went on to feed the larger goats, which ate dry food from plates. Our hands got quite dirty in the process but there was soap and water ready to clean our hands.
Our next stop was the chick shed where my daughters and I had the opportunity to hold the tiniest, fluffiest and cutest chicks. Then we moved on to the pig pen where the inhabitants looked very happy bathing in the mud pool.
Along with pony rides, indoor and outdoor play areas, tractor rides and a large grassed area with plenty of room for families to enjoy a picnic, the farm has worked really hard to make it a family-friendly environment in which to spend the day.
Both girls sighed when it was time to head home as they had had so much fun and didn’t want to leave.
I will finish with a bit of advice for you.
If you do visit Longdown Activity Farm avoid visiting the baby guinea pigs. Their sheer cuteness will make you want one.