Saturday, 1 March 2014

A day out at Knockhatch

I hadn't been to Knockhatch, near Hailsham in East Sussex, since I was 21.  On that visit I was taking a group of Girl Guides who were all over the age of 10 and quite happy to entertain themselves.  It was also summer.
So I wasn't sure what to expect of Knockhatch on a wet February with a gaggle of toddlers (what is the collective name for a group of toddlers?).
It took a while to get inside because Little Owl was loving playing in the puddles in the car park!  Talking of the car park - plenty of space for cars.  Bays weren't marked out which meant you were able to give yourself space to get toddlers out (we had two in our car). 
Its free for under 2s to visit Knockhatch, and as today was classified as a 'Yellow Day' the adult entrance was just £1.99 - what a bargain!  Yellow days are the cheapest, Green are next and Orange are the most expensive, but also the days with the most going on.   The website has a calendar clearing showing the colour for each day right up until April 2015 - so plenty of opportunity to plan!

We arrived in a gap between rain showers and had time to take a quick looks at the animals.   There was an area for petting animals - where a guinea pig and rabbit sat apparently quite happy to be stroked by our toddlers! I was impressed that there was an area to wash our hands afterwards!
Next we went in the barn where there was lots of different animals.  Its easy to forget how exciting animals are to toddlers, they kept moving from pen to pen, looking at the different ones but leaping backwards when the goats came for a closer look!  It would have been nice if there were signs telling us what the animals are - one of the mum's thought the reindeer was a 'baby cow' and I must admit to not knowing the difference between alpaca and llamas!
We had lunch in the big barn where the soft play area is too.  I was impressed with the prices - £2 for a sandwich or £3 if you wanted it toasted.  Homemade pizzas and jacket potatoes were on the menu too.

The highlight of the day was definitely the soft play!  It is one of the largest, and nicest soft plays that I have visited.  There was a completely separate area for little ones and another area for toddlers with a small slide.  The only fault I found was that the slope to climb up to reach the toddler slide was far too difficult for any toddler.  Meanwhile the slope to get up to the massive slide was easily scaled in no time at all by Little Owl!

Being term time, the soft play was very quiet, and over half of the kids had parents running along behind them which made for a very pleasant atmosphere. I was really impressed with Little Owls ability to climb, and also surprised by her no fear attitude!  The soft play was big enough, with plenty that the toddlers could access to keep them entertained for hours!
I think soft plays are a fantastic opportunity for kids to test their skills and even as toddlers, start to make their own risk assessments in a safe environment.  I also think they are a good workout for parents and can't understand why someone hasn't introduced them to the adult fitness industry!

Before we left, we had just enough time between rain showers to take another quick peek at the animals and even have a go on the 'Quadapillar Barrel Ride' - we sat in a barrel on wheels (in the photo above) and were dragged along on a bumpy ride by a quad bike,  it was better than it sounds and Little Owl thought it was hilarious! 
We had a great day at Knockhatch and can't wait to go back again!  I know there is lots more to the park which we didn't get to see and given that its such great value for money I'm sure we'll be back lots!  Little Owl had a great day, in fact the only time she looked unhappy was when I told her we had to go home!

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