The museum has displays of cider making machinery as well as the opportunity to sample some of the fresh made cider.
Japonica Farm, Mark, Highbridge, Somerset, TA9 4QD
Tel: 01278 641265 „
http://www.farmergiles.co.uk/index.htm Farmer Giles is a working farm Museum of 38 acres, positioned in Teffont Magda a village 11 miles West of Salisbury and the town of Wilton. Here children and adults alike can learn about farming methods, something that sadly may disappear in years to come as building work increases on housing estates. There are animals to feed like lambs and Jersey cows to hand milk. You can see how a milking house works, although the pump is a little loud if your not used to it. There are some pumps which you can put your thumb into to experience what a cow feels when the calf is suckling. There is a pet’s corner with little rabbits and their babies, the animals may sit (or wee) on your lap if they wish. A tractor gives you a tour of the farm at your own leisure; the scenery is stunning with endless rolling fields and thatched cottages. The farm exhibition is very interesting with a look into machinery our forefathers would have used many years ago, including saws, harvesters and a collection of upright piano’s. There is a restaurant called the old barn that has a varied menu, and is catered towards vegetarians, which you may instantly change to after seeing the animals. Everything is home made, and there is a large fish tank in the corner (do they have their own fish as well?) There is also a picnic area in landscaped grounds that has a waterfall and a nature trail well worth exploring, check out the Beech belt Walk. For the children (apart from the animals) there is an adventure playground, bouncy castle and miniature tractor peddle circuit. Wheelchairs are available and there are toilets with baby changing facilities. There are 80 places in the car park and enough room for 6 coaches (should the England team decide to visit), and a gift shop with some great things to introduce you to countryside life like t-towels, key rings, mugs etc. Discounts for groups are available, through yo
u should ring to check first. Opening times are 8am until 6pm March-Nov. Adults are £3.95 with children £2.85. Senior Citizens £3.50, families tickets are £13. Phone 01722-716338
In the Devon and Somerset area there are a large number of cider farms, many of which are open to the public to see the cider being made. During our visit to Somerset we had picked up details of about a dozen of these farms from the local Tourist Information Centre. As we thought a visit to one of these farms would be interesting we went through the leaflets and picked out the one that we thought looked the best. The leaflet showed the cider making process, the cider cellar, a very inviting tea room and a children’s play area. The Coombes Cider Museum was easy to find with plenty of the brown tourist signs giving us directions there. When we arrived at the farm it was obvious that we were the only visitors there. As our visit was on the 1st November we expected to see cider being made as this is during the busiest time for the apple harvest, but there was no such activity going on. We followed the signs into a cold, stone floored room to watch a video about the making of cider, where there were a couple of wooden benches for us to sit on. Although the information was very interesting on this home made video, I am afraid that the quality left a lot to be desired. The video picture had “fuzzy” lines across it throughout the film and both sides of the picture were very curved. Although there is no admission fee for visiting the farm there was a donation box left next to the television screen. Whilst we were watching the video a couple of people from the farm walked past the open doorway, but neither even said hello. After watching the video we followed the signs to the pressing room where there was no activity at all. It did give us the chance to see all of the equipment that was on the video, but we really had hoped to see the cider making in progress. So we decided to consul ourselves over a cup of tea, but a sign on the door of the tea room stated that it was closed for the whole season
. Our last place to visit was the cider cellar. This was just a shop selling cider and one or two other products. Suddenly the staff became very friendly and welcomed us with open arms into the shop. By this time two other visitors had arrived and they also were in the shop. We were given a free sample of the cider, which was very pleasant, but at £3.35 for a pint bottle it did seem very expensive. There is small children’s play area and a collection of some old farming equipment but nothing else at this so called museum. It is always a shame when somewhere produces a glossy leaflet that promises a very interesting visit, but when you arrive the reality is so disappointing. With all of the cider farms in the area I would strongly suggest that if you are planning a visit to one then you pick another one, as our visit to this farm was very disappointing.