The 'end of summer' bank holiday Monday turned out to be a bright sunny day with temperatures in the mid-20s. It presented the perfect opportunity to soak up the last of the summer sunshine before we relapse into the cold of autumn and winter.
To make the most of this most elusive British sun we decided to head out to Dunham Massey. It is a rather delightful National Trust site, and J was very excited at the prospect of seeing some deer. We were about 2 minutes from Dunham Massey, when we, rather I, had a change of heart. So I turned the car right instead of left (at this point M would argue that I just did what he thinks women drivers do - confuse their lefts and rights), and we ended up at Red House Farm instead.
I am not sure if Red House Farm is a working farm, but I suppose it is as we saw a farmer on a big red tractor ploughing the fields the last time we were here. They are also not a petting farm, and have little in the way of animals (their words, not mine). But there is plenty to keep little ones interested for a fantastic day out in the sun. The big bonus for parents is that there is ample free parking even on a busy day. So you can turn up at any time through the day and still be assured of a reasonable place to park your car.
The Farm is absolutely free to visit and enjoy if you do not opt to go in for any of the seasonal activities. And if you can resist the £1-a-ride temptation of the kiddie tractors and diggers. This may be a tad difficult when you have a child who has seen too many tractors and too many diggers in his years, and now wants to experience them first hand.
The main courtyard of Red House Farm houses a children's play area with swings, slides, see-saws, ride-on cars, playhouses - a blend of what a park and a toddler playgroup usually has on offer, but in a more rustic setting. It abuts the sandpit and the aforementioned mechanical machinery, and leads to the more open bit of farmland with all the seasonal activities (read bouncy castles, arts and crafts, barrel trains, a maize maze).
The locally made ice-cream is to die for. It is by far the best, creamiest, most flavoursome ice-cream I have ever eaten. Enough to give Thorntons, Haagen Dazs and Ben and Jerry's a run for their money. We ended up buying two large tubs from the farm shop to take back home.
Halfway through the day M asked me a question, "Why do you think people come here instead of going to a park?" I can think of at least ten reasons, if not more. The rural setting, the fresh country air, the sandpit, the tractors and the digger, the tea rooms, the divinely delicious ice cream, the playground, the special seasonal activities, the chicken coop, a place where the kids can have fun. While you relax and watch time stand still.