On weekends we regularly piled into the car with a picnic and a thermos and headed into the Lancashire countryside. We climbed hills, we paddled in rivers, we explored woods. By the time I was Flea’s age, I had a great collection of wooden swords fashioned from fallen branches, and I could climb a tree – although I couldn’t always get back down!
Flea and I regularly visit Windermere and the Lake District and we’re big fans of the river and woods at Bolton Abbey, and Skipton Castle makes a fabulous day out with kids. But I’m always looking for new places to explore on days out that will give Flea some fresh air and space to run.
Stockley Farm Park in Cheshire is a fantastic new discovery we made thanks to the people at Nutella, who invited us to the farm to do some cooking with TV chef Alan Coxon. Nutella is a new experience for Flea – she has allergies and eczema so we didn’t give her any nut-based products until Annabel Karmel handed Flea a peanut-butter based snack at a PR event last year. I prefer not to dwell on that particular heart-stopping moment in my parenting journey.
Despite being a latecomer to the delights of hazelnut and chocolate spread, Flea has enthusiastically embraced the many possibilities of Nutella, particularly spreading it on a wholemeal tortilla and adding sliced banana, which has the added advantage of increasing her intake of bananas and wholegrains – both things she generally views with utter disdain.
Once the cooking was done, we were free to explore Stockley Farm Park with the other bloggers and their kids. There was a huge open playground with diggers, ride-on tractors, a barn where the kids can get up close with baby rabbits and pigs and lambs, plus there are dairy cows to meet and even a cow-dog (there are no sheep, so Max is a cow-dog, rather than a sheep dog).
There’s a lovely picnic area so you can spend the day at the farm, and a café if you prefer to let someone else do the hard work. There’s also an indoor play area for when the weather’s less than brilliant. There are regular events during the summer where children can feed baby lambs and goats, or watch live sheep racing – this was particularly recommended by Cheshire Mum, who's a regular visitor to the Farm Park.
The highlight of the day was the tractor and trailer that the kids are allowed to ride from the car park to the farm, and back again – the driver obliging as the kids bounced up and down shouting, “FASTER, FASTER!”
Stockley Farm Park opened for the season this weekend, and there are details of special events and activities on the website. It costs around £25 for a family of four, and based on our experience, I’d say that’s great value if you’re looking for a day out in Cheshire.