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An average trip out
Tweddle Children's Animal Farm (County Durham)
Member Name: emmad5689
Tweddle Children's Animal Farm (County Durham)
Advantages: Price, able to feed and pet the animals, good gift shop
Disadvantages: Dull and needs a revamp, all areas were cold even indoors
Tweddle Farm is situated in the rural Blackhall Colliery, we found the farm easily and passed through a built up area before coming to the beaten track for the farm which at first lead us to believe we were in the wrong place as it did not seem like somewhere you would find a farm. The farm is well sign posted from the A19 which was how we approached the farm although you can approach it from the A1 also.
When we got to the end of the track we found a gravelled area for cars to park, the car park isn't very big so I can only presume it doesn't really get too busy and myself and my husband found it very funny that there was a member of staff stood by the gate pointing the cars to the parking when no direction was necessary and wouldn't be needed even on a busier day.
==Cost & Opening==
We visited the farm at the beginning of June taking our daughter for her birthday treat but typically with British weather it was cold. The farm opens at different times depending on the time of year, from November to February the opening times are 10am-4pm 7 days a week and from March to October the opening times are 10am-5pm 7 days a week. The entry costs are pretty reasonable for somewhere you are supposed to spend a whole day, £5.50 for adults and £4.50 for aged 2 to 16 or you can get a season ticket for £22.50 for an adult and £17.50 for a child. A season ticket lasts a year so if you planned on visiting a few times within a year it would be worth looking into personally I think visiting once is enough. You have to go into the shop to pay for your entrance and it would be pretty easy to bypass this and sneak through which I believe is possibly a reason there is a member of staff in the car park to watch where people go. When you pay you are given a map and a ticket for a barrel ride and pedal tractors and of course with all places like this you can buy some food to feed the animals at 50p a bag which doesn't seem too bad but you do only get a small amount.
On the farm you can find all the animals you would expect, there are loads of bunny rabbits which my daughter loved and she thought it was really funny when she sat on the wall and dropped some food in for them and ended up with them being covered in the food rather than eating it. There is an area with Rabbits and guinea pigs in an indoor section where they are only surrounded by a small wall so you can put your hand in and stroke them and there is also a pen where there is a member of staff to let children in to sit on a seat and hole a long haired rabbit. Our daughter was really impressed being able to hold a Rabbit as we have a rabbit at home but he is too big and bouncy for her but this one was small and sat quite happily on her knee.
There are numerous kinds of birds which I personally found odd on a farm, I had expected chickens but not birds there was aviary of mixed birds, Lovebirds, Parakeets and some others. There was the usual animals such as Donkeys, Horses, Alpacas, Pigs, Goats, Sheep and some smaller animals such as Rats and Mice which as in an adventure playground type enclosure and it was really fun watching them playing and nice to see them having plenty of space.
The farm is set out with the main barns and buildings at the top where the car park is and then a stright path leading down to the outdoor play area and birds. There is a cross roads across the main pathway where you find tractors and toilets, the main pathway leads down to a v shape at the bottom. The farm is set out well so that you don't miss anything out but the pathway is gravel and quite dusty.
The baby animals obviously need feeding regularly just like any baby and about once a hour you can congregate near the tearooms and take a turn in feeding them. We were in the right place when the lambs needed to be fed and our daughter got to have hold of one of the four bottles first, the lambs were released and literally flung themselves at the bottles. My daughter enjoyed feeding the lambs but I felt we should have been warned just how much power the lambs would throw at the bottles and it was over in seconds it really is amazing how quickly they can finish a bottle and when they had finished they happily walked back to their pen.
There are numerous areas for the children to play, in the same area as the gift shop there is an indoor play area, it has soft mats down on the floor and a raised area for the children to climb up and then a slide to get back down. Within this area there are some soft shapes and then some tables and chairs for you to have picnics at. There is a larger play area near to the petting barn with a go karting ring inside but this wasn't being run on the day we were there, this play area was a bit bigger and also had an eating area within it. Outside there was a more traditional play area with swings and a dinosaur slide, it really was too cold when we were there to be able to play outside so our daughter played in both the indoor areas instead. I found the play areas shabby, they looked like they all needed a good revamp and lick of paint and the bigger indoor play area is set in such a way that if you sit down you can't really see what your child is doing which I didn't like. Here are also rides on the farm, there are the usual character rides like the ones you find outside supermarkets in both the indoor play areas which I think is just a way of getting you to spend more money and there is really no need to have them there. There is a barrel ride which your entry allows children a go on where there is a tractor pulling barrel type carts and the driver takes the children round in a circle a few times, the barrels are fitted with seat belts and the driver was very friendly, our daughter loved this which I think was because the ride went over rough ground so threw her about a little. There were other activities that weren't running the day we went (pretty poor for a weekend in June in my opinion) such as Donkey rides (£1 a go) dig a hole in the sand (£1 a go) and crazy golf (£2 refundable deposit).
We personally didn't buy anything to eat during our visit but we did have a cup of tea and coffee between us (needed it to warm up), I think they were about £1.40 each and the coffee was very bitter so I believe they were using a cheap brand which at this price I don't think is really very fair.
The toilets are in an outdoor building with wooden animal pictures stuck all around to make them see more attractive. The toilets were clean but without much light getting in they were a bit dingy, the baby changing area was also clean and tidy and I felt confident that it was appropriate to change my baby here although they were very cold and I don't remember seeing any form of heating.
The gift shop was great, there were lots of items my daughter could pick a she was promised a present from the farm. The shop wasn't full of junk like a lot of places and there were some character toys also, my daughter got a Dora the Explorer brush with her name on it which she has used every day since and it is still on perfect condition. For our youngest daughter I was surprised to find a Russ Elephant (not quite a farm animal) with a booklet around his neck to allow you to name a star and this only cost £6.99.
The whole place seemed cold and unwelcoming even though the staff were friendly, all the indoor areas were cold and there did not appear to be any heating on anywhere. I feel that when you pay to visit somewhere like this you do not expect to sit freezing whilst your child plays. If a place like this offers activities such as Donkey rides I think they should certainly be available on weekends throughout the main season and don't really think they should be able to just decide they won't be running on a particular day just because the farm is quiet as that isn't really fair to the visitors. The whole place seemed to be a bit shabby and seemed like it just needed a total revamp, I would give this farm another go on a warmer day when everything would be running and see if they could change my opinion but this is a pretty average place and we ended up leaving early as even the play area were too cold to keep our baby in.
Summary: Will give this another go in the sunshine