Down on the farm
Let’s face it: taking kids out for the day is often a selfless task with little enjoyment for parents (who can say they honestly enjoy pulling over-excited children out of a ball pit or mopping up gloopy chocolate ice-cream?). So when I come across something that is fun for both parties, I do a little internal dance before telling everyone I know – parents or otherwise.
Wroxham Barns is one of those rare finds that makes everyone happy, with its crafty emporium (parents), crazy golf (kids), deli (parents), mini train (kids), restaurant (parents), junior farm (kids) and café (both). And nothing eases the pain of a chicken pecking seed from your hand better than the thought of a Sunday roast and pint by an open fire when you finally manage to cajole everyone inside.
While entrance to everywhere but the junior farm – including the car park – is free, the animals costs £6.25 to visit, which is a little steep but worth it to watch your child delight in feeding milk to lambs and food to greedy sheep.
£55p will buy you a bag of seed or a bag of food (we bought both), while visitors in the market for some fresh eggs can pick up an egg carton and fill it when they get to the hen house – you don’t get much fresher than that. Each egg costs 20 pence and is payable via an honesty box.
Given the impossible task of not dropping the eggs, my daughter carefully walks between sheds, handing the box back when it’s time to stroke a chick, hamster or rabbit; feed a cow; or give milk to lambs (the cutest thing ever). Then the responsibility resumes and it’s off to see someone else.
When she tries to get into the pig style, I call time and hustle us inside for a spot of shopping. Despite rarely buying anything, food emporiums fascinate and delight in equal measure – and Wroxham Barns does not disappoint. Scrummy Pig sells over 200 different types of chutney (so the nicely designed brochure tells me), real ales, Norfolk sausages and a wide range of stuffing and rubs. There is also a cheese deli and olive oil counter, where large vats of flavoured oil are dispensed by tap and sold by weight.
When it comes to shopping, little wooden huts house independent outlets selling everything from clothes to homewares and cider to fudge. A coffee and piece of rich chocolate cake in the café provides a suitable pit stop before heading to the craft area to watch potters, sketchers and wood gravers in action. Want to give it a go? Head to Made By You and try painting some pottery yourself.
And when the much-awaited roast and pint is finally on the horizon, we are *both* happy punters (memories of cute animals for child; imminent meat and alcohol for mum!). Can Wroxham Barns accurately be described as the best of both worlds?
Wroxham Barns, Tunstead Road, Hoveton, Norfolk NR12 8QU. Tel: 01603 783762. wroxhambarns.co.uk