On the search for a new place to try, Mrs M suggested Little M and I should have a look at Piglets Farm near York. I was keen to have some boys time the day before Fathers Day and although slightly above my ideal price point (free), Piglets Farm looked like a great place for exploration.
The day was always going to be successful following Little M’s announcement that he wanted to see a tractor earlier in the morning, so with a packed lunch, we set off for our mini adventure…
Before we arrived, however, I did have some concerns. Primarily as it had such great reviews! I was worried that it would be too child-friendly, soulless and pre-fabricated… an outdoor soft play centre that would entertain him but not give US valuable time together.
All quite deep for a 10-minute traffic jam on the A64!
The first mega-success and day changer, was that on entry the lovely lady at the entrance gave me (and all dads) free entry as it was almost fathers day! She stated that they did it for Mothers Day so it was only fair they did it for Father Day. I was back onboard! She then provided a map, virtual tour and sent us on our way.
We took a brief look around, and I was curious how such a small space would keep us entertained, but with dry and fairly warm weather Little M and I had 5 hours of enjoyment from this cleverly constructed playground.
Before the farm, there is a play area that has several areas which provide a range of activities. The thing that makes Piglets impressive is that all the areas seem to be thought through, done properly and provide a mix of individual and group play.
This sounds odd, but hopefully, this short list will make sense.
The climbing frames are suitable for a range of ages, but all have a story to tell. I spent a good 15 minutes on the back of the tractor while Little M pretended to drive to the fields or join him on the combine harvester. I also chased him around his castle.
Together we overcame our fears of having sand in our socks and built some sand castles (I built, he knocked down) and filled, moved and emptied the wheelbarrows. Little M also went down another slide and then we brushed each other down. It was like being on the beach on holiday, but with all the tools to do the job.
Little M and I played four or five holes… I won! Again, because it was all easily accessible, we were able to jump on, have a go, enjoy it, not get in anyone’s way and move onto the next zone.
I have a checkered history with GoKarts, but as these were peddle power, I knew I would be relatively safe. Unfortunately, there is only one tandem, but we battled on the single seater and had a good few laps before I had a lie-down.
Still recovering and again battling with sand, we bounced on the toddler pillows and Little M continued to laugh and giggle, while I frantically moved around so he didn’t bounce off into space.
Tractor Road Course
With Brian from Confused.com (robot of the day) in the back of a trailer, we negotiated a road course with a small bridge. My efforts to instruct left or right directions while pulling along a toddler more interested in whether Brian was still standing in the trailer was amusement to several other visitors.
All of these areas provided something different and something that we could experience together. There was a little danger, challenging tasks, energy sapping bits and creative imagination moments.
It wasn’t as I had been concerned, somewhere that I would either have to get involved in to keep Little M engaged or a venue where I would sit on the sidelines and watch.
After all this, we still haven’t been to the farm, on the tractor (which we did to twice) or on the most exciting trip of his little life!
The tractor ride again was different to any I have been on before. Not just because the driver was full of energy and seemed to genuinely love what she was doing (throughout the whole day), but because Piglets had somehow made a 10-minute short circuit educational and engaging for the children with a voice over and a couple of garden animals!
The highlight, however, was the Piglets Barrel Roll. Only open for an hour, but by far Little M’s most enjoyable moment of the day. His little smile as he was driven around a short mud track was the smuggest I have ever seen!
With all the excitement and returning to various activities, we had a late lunch, which we ate under a tree by ourselves, although there were picnic tables and two food outlets. We then had to make a trip to the toilets, which were the only real disappointment of the day. A changing table was in the male toilets, but it was very exposed, and I did feel aware it wasn’t the cleanest, but I was in a field in a porta cabin. The second trip was made inside the restaurant area (where we also found a small soft play area).
Finally, it was a visit to the animals. Again, it was the small details that made Piglets great. Windows in the pigsty so toddlers to see at their level and steps or low barriers for them look into the animals homes.
We were even encouraged to brush a pig! There are also feeding and petting opportunities, but we were keen to check out the Highland cow, donkeys and goats.
Having the farm separate from the ‘play’ area worked as well. It was like entering a new world crossing the bridge and although not a huge farm, the access to the animals made all the difference.
Our day out at Piglets wasn’t the biggest adventure we have been on, but it was one of the most enjoyable. You pay for what you get, and you get a lot for all ages. Little M loved his day out at Piglets, and the obvious net result was that I did as well.
The objective of #DadDaysOut is to discover unusual and exciting adventures for parents and their toddlers.
Piglets may fall into the category of ‘pre-fabricated’ play zone, but it does it without removing the need for parental involvement or engagement.
Everything is done properly. There are hours of entertainment for children of all ages and perhaps most enjoyable for friends with children to meet up and relax with the knowledge that there is so much to engage everyone invited.