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Mead open Farm (Leighton Buzzard)

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Mead Open Farm / A fun farm and play center for children. Address: Stanbridge Road, Billington, Nr. Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, LU7 9JH / Tel: 01525 852954

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      14.01.2010 15:38
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      One of the better farm parks by far

      Mead Open Farm
      Leighton Buzzard


      Old McDonald had a farm...Perhaps not one like this though!

      As a mum of a toddler I was always on the lookout for new and exciting places to take her. We had been to other farms before and she loved the animals so when my own mum, who still had youngsters, my brother and sister who are 7 and 5 years of age, invited us to Leighton Buzzard to Mead Open Farm, we jumped at the chance.

      Armed with picnic lunches for the children, which had grown in number, we took the easy route to the farm and prepared for a great day out.
      Mead Open Farm is located in Billington, near Leighton Buzzard. It is clearly signposted with those well known brown signposts from both the A505 and the A4146.

      On arriving, I was glad to see a large area for parking (being terrible at parking!) right next to the farm entrance so no need to walk any distance at all which is good news for the excited children. Parking is also free!

      Ticket prices, I would say, are average for this type of outing, yet perhaps a little too high in some ways, though apart from buying food in the farm, there are no hidden costs. A day pass for adult is £7.50, and for a child £6.50 (Children under 2 go free) You can also buy annual passes for just under £40 so if you plan to go a lot, it is well worth it. If you are in groups of 20+ £1.00 is taken off of everyones ticket price. Senior Citizen ticket is £7.00 and disabled persons and carers only £4.00

      Now we have the formalities over and done with, let me take you around the farm!

      On first impression of the farm, I could see that it was well laid out, clean and good directions through the farm, not that you overly need directions as it is not too big unless you count the nature walk which you can go on the other side of the park and into the woods. With two toddlers, we decided on this visit not to partake in this activity (and by the end of the day my feet were thankful too!)


      HANDS ON FUN

      Mead open farm, unlike a lot of farms I have been to, offers a lot of hands on fun with the animals for both children and adults alike to enjoy. The following activities are included at the farm, with more popping up all the time

      At every hands on activity, you will find happy, helpful staff on hand to help out and give you a run down about the animals and how to do each activity. Activities are spread throughout the day at different times, all found on the timetable you are given when you enter the farm, this way, you wont miss the events you want to participate in!

      Milking the Cows
      Ever wanted to really milk a cow the old fashioned way? Well now you can in the big barn. We didn't get around to this activity unfortunately though I will certainly be doing it next time (for myself as well as my daughter!)

      Bunny Hop
      This was the first activity we came to on arriving in the park and it was lovely. Within one of the barns, rabbits were on the haystacks and floor allowing children to hold, feed and pet them. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed this, and facilities to wash hands after was right outside so there was no worries there either. (Hand washing facilities are dotted around the farm)

      Groom Ponies
      Another lovely activity for the children, where they get to comb and pet the shetland ponies. This activity can get quite busy so get there before the time shown!

      Bottle Feed Lambs
      My daughters favourite activity of the day I think, and she is only 20 months and loved it. All the children loved this event, though be careful with younger ones holding the bottle for when the lambs suck on the bottle they become extremely strong - we saw a few bottles being thrown through the air by the lambs when the child let go! All fun though!

      New Babies
      Throughout the year there are always new baby animals being born giving children the opportunity to meet baby animals. At the time we went, we saw some lovely piglets - so cute!

      Sheep Racing
      This runs from April to October and is a lot of fun! All children go to the kiosk to put a free bet on which sheep they think would win. They get a flag (which they get to keep) to bring back if their sheep won, and recieve a winners badge. Watching the sheep is funny for both adults and children - I thoroughly enjoyed it!

      SheepDog Demo
      We unfortunately didnt see this event though looked great with a tower in the middle of a field in which the dogs got the sheep into - great fun!

      Ferret Racing
      Right near the sheep racing there are four long tunnels with obsticals in which four ferrets race. Children are picked out of the audience to let the ferrets out of the starting box. Can get very loud as the children shout for their favourite to win!

      Of course, aside from attending the activities, you are also free to roam around the farm, seeing the animals at your own leisure


      FOOD TIME

      What with all the activities, you are bound to get hungry and thirsty. Prices are quite steep so I suggest you take your own picnic as we did if you dont want to spend a lot of money, yet I couldnt resist getting a fruit cake and hot chocolate from the smaller cafe (which was beautiful!)

      There are two cafe's, the first smaller one with lovely outside and inside seating with homemade cakes, hot food, and hot and cold drinks. The second is in Shaggy's playworld cafe. Ill warn you now - dont go eat in here if you want a quiet sit down as it is combined with a large indoor play area (which I will cover below) Last orders are taken at 6pm daily.


      PLAY PLAY PLAY

      So we have seen the animals, ate our lunch, so now what? Well, as we were hearing all day from the older children, it is time to play!

      The biggest play part within the farm, as mentioned above, is Shaggy's indoor playworld which is named after the farms mascot. It is huge! Totalling over 13,000 sq ft! There are many areas of play including special areas for under 3's and also under 5's as well as 65ft astra slides, brave giant drop slides, clamber over shiver chicanes and scramble Zig Zag net climbers. I just wish I was a child again! I did manage to go down one of the slides, though, with my nephew!
      Also in shaggys playworld is the party rooms which I will ocver below.

      Want some outside play? Then you can head over to the go-carts and crazy golf (not forgetting it is all included in your entrance price!), there is also a log play park complete with sandpit and playhouses for he younger ones, lots of climbing and sliding and loads of fun.

      Tractor and trailer rides are also avaliable, both small tractors for children to drive themselves, and also a real tractor which pulls you along on the trailer. Unfortunately as it had been raining the day before quite heavy, the tractor was not open.

      As this is a farm, there is what you expect there to be - fields with pleanty of space. If we were not participating in activities, looking at the animals, eating or playing, we adults sat down to have a rest whilst the children simply ran around in the grass. My brother happened to find a goal post with a couple of footballs too, so he was happy!

      The newest thing within the farm is the Maize Maze which is just what it says - a maze made of maize! We didnt go in here, though, as although you could go in with pushchairs it wasnt advisable due to lack of space and bumpy ground. It was huge though, so I dont thing claustophobic me would have gone it - I dont think I would have ever have got out again!

      One thing is for sure, your children will sleep well the night you go (my daughter did and so did I!)


      SPECIAL EVENTS AND PARTIES

      Mead Open Farm holds a few special events throughout the year - always check on their website or ring them beforehand to check times and dates, though. For example, some event include ;

      * Goat walking runs where you can go on a long group walk/run with the goats
      * Reptile roadshow where lizards and other reptiles are brought in for show and touch
      * Annual easter egg hunt
      * Halloween sounds great - when my daughter is a bit older I would love to go here then - with haunted houses and rides, it sounds great!
      * Christmas time brings Santa and his toy shop - another time I think I might head over there.


      A lot of competitions are run for prizes at each event too so keep an eye open for that.

      Open Mead farm offers three options with regards to birthday parties;

      Premium Party - £12.50 per child
      Available Monday to Sunday
      Morning parties held: 10.15 am to 12.45 pm, with lunch at 12 noon
      Afternoon parties held: 2.15 pm to 4.45 pm, with supper at 4 pm
      After School Party - £9.95 per child
      Available Monday to Friday during term time
      Parties held: 4 pm to 6.30 pm, with supper at 5 pm

      Toddler Midweek Party - £9.50 per child
      Available Monday to Friday during term time
      Morning parties held: 10.15 am to 12.45 pm, with lunch at 12 noon
      Afternoon parties held: 12.30 pm to 3 pm, with lunch at 1 pm

      Parties include everything in the farm though a lot of it in private groups of party members only - which is great - less chance of loosing a child! Included in the price is also party food and invitations. Adults are admitted free with an adult child ratio of 1-2. Extra adults charged at only £4.50. The downside is a child under two who usually gets admitted free pays a full child price - the adult of this child goes free though.

      The parties, as mentioned above, are hosted in special rooms in Shaggy's playbarn and are all decorated in lovely farm themes


      TO CONCLUDE

      I think you may have guessed from above, I would completely reccomend this farm - it is the best one I have found in a 20 mile radius so far (though I probably havent been to them all!) Children of all ages (and adults!) love this as it is a very family friendly place and am looking forward to going back again for another visit. And a bonus - the children will sleep well that night!


      EXTRA INFO

      Open daily 10am - 6.30pm. Last entry 5.30pm.
      Open 361 days per year
      Open between Christmas and New Year
      Closes at 4pm on 31 December
      Closed 24, 25, 26 Dec and 1 Jan only
      Address
      Mead Open Farm
      Stanbridge Road
      Billington
      Bedfordshire
      LU7 9JH

      T: 01525 852 954
      E: info@meadopenfarm.co.uk
      W: www.meadopenfarm.co.uk

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