Animals, tractors, games, water play: they have it all at Odds Farm Park. A great place to spend a day with children who might be in need of entertainment and an introduction to the natural world. With regular formal events and a range of play stations, you'll never be short of something to do.
Every half hour there's an animal event, from stroking the rabbits, to watching a cow being milked, or chicken eggs being collected. Most of these happen in the main animal barn (not egg collecting), where there is also an area of raised seating so that things like cow milking can be watched by many people, easily. Knowledgeable staff talk to you about the animals as they introduce them so that you learn all about the species in general, and these animals in particular.
Tame rabbits are brought out on an hourly basis, with tables spread out so that lots of visitors can approach them. Hang on a few minutes for the rush to go down and you'll get plenty of time to stroke and cuddle your favourite!
After you've fed the sheep, petted the rabbits, watched the cows and admired the odd pig, there's a handwash station at the exit, and plenty of reminders to wash your hands. The whole park has regular places to wash your hands, as well as toilet blocks, and baby change areas.
Right at the back of the park is a new area, the H2Odds water park. Channels and pools of stone and metal are connected through systems of gates and pumps, with boats and other toys there to carry water in or sail downstream. For those who can manage the icy water, this is without doubt a massive hit - splashy fun, with sensible awnings over the channels to protect you from the worst of the weather.
In general, safety has clearly been well considered. Almost all activities are in segregated areas, so as a parent you can also relax a bit, knowing that there's only so far a child can wander. Staff are always around, ready to help and advise.
Outside there are tractor rides, go-karts, lots of separate playgrounds, and even deck chairs to relax in. Mini rovers (small cars) and golf cost extra (£2 and £1 per go respectively), which feels a little unfair given the relatively high entry price (no discount for children), but there's so much to do that you can steer children away from these paid-for activities.
All this playing works up an appetite, and the two things combine in the cafe barn. Generous portions of well-cooked food are available, with sandwiches and salads for those not wanting a large meal. If you want to take your own picnic, there are areas to eat that too. There are plenty of options for children, including organic baby food, and a microwave to heat things up. It's a well thought-out family area, merging straight into soft play. As one small boy said, 'the best soft play area ever', due, no doubt, to the amazing drop slides (for those over 90cm with covered arms and legs only).
Great slides, plenty of other activities, and separate areas for under 2s and 5s make this a fabulous indoor space. Other indoor activities include mini golf, shows (think knights and princesses), or even just some well-managed colouring in.
Seasonal events include a Rare Breeds Month (September) and Easter and Halloween specials. During the summer there's a great enclosure of good old-fashioned games, with a medieval theme, so space hoppers become ofform af jousting, for example.
There's a substantial gift shop with a range of associated toys and other souveneirs, but also lots of home made or local produce. There's a good amount of parking, close to the entrance. All in all, you could easily spend 3-5 hours here, again, and again. Even if you only spent fifteen minutes in any one area (children have short attention spans!) there's so much variety that you'd still fill your time. The website is useful in helping you to plan your day too, and includes a useful statement on access and facilities. I took children aged 2 and 5 and was delighted that they both had a brilliant time. As a one-off, it's quite expensive, but if I lived closer, I probably would be investing in the annual pass and visiting as often as I could! They also cater for school groups and other parties, which could make for an excellent day out all round.