A few weeks ago Ellen announced that she would like to go to Mead Open Farm http://www.meadopenfarm.co.uk/. Ellen seems to be going through a retro phase at the moment, as this is somewhere we used to visit occasionally when she was much younger. Enquiries revealed that they don’t let carers in for free but that during term time the carer and disabled person get reduced price entry from £9.75 to £5.50 each. Always galls me a bit when adults have to pay to go into these places at all still, today was a sunny day and I predicted the place would be nice and empty – wrong again! The place was packed, with at least one coach load of primary aged children adding to the mix of toddlers and pushchairs.
Mead Open Farm these days seems less about the animals and more about entertaining the kids. There are a few lambs, a handful of cows, pigs, chickens and goats, all looking very contented, but the main attractions are the massive indoor and outdoor play areas. We tried to do a bit of coordinated animal feeding but none of them were particularly hungry, even the goats weren’t that bothered about about the kibble we were throwing into their pen.
We stood watching the Highland cows for a while as Ellen was waiting for one of them to get up. It was quite relaxing standing there watching him (or her – hard to tell when they’re lying down) swishing his ears, flicking out his tongue, but when he failed to be roused by our intense scrutiny we moved on for a whistle stop tour of the other animals – scattering our feed as we went – before entering Shaggy’s Play Barn.
We spent a happy couple of hours in the barn, Eloise (lovely carer back from Uni) and I taking it in turns to don our hired socks and accompany her around the equipment. This was great from a fitness point of view and being fairly quiet inside there weren’t too many witnesses to the fact that after Ellen had whooshed ahead without me I had to do a rather embarassing solo slide !
One of the things Ellen enjoyed the most about the day was sorting out the gift shop. Packed with small pocket-money type gifts it had obviously been fairly comprehensively rifled and many items were out of place. Not after our visit they weren’t. We spent at least twenty minutes finding homes for the rubbery octopus and the mini torches with Ellen very carefully put everything back where it should be. Having recently read the wonderfully inspiring story of Jackson West http://jacksonwest.org/jackmail and his courier service, it made me wonder whether working in a gift shop might be a future possible job opportunity for Ellen…