Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre in Kington – Our Return Visit

We have visited the Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre before with BattleKid and we thoroughly enjoy it. Last August Bank Holiday weekend, on our way to Chester, we visited again and thoroughly enjoyed our visit.small breeds farm and owl centre

The Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre is privately owned and run, and is located in Kington in Herefordshire.  It is open from 10.30 to 5.00 (4.30 in winter months), every day of the year, even on Christmas Day.

As usual during our last visit, we went clockwise, starting in the incubation room where we saw newly Southern-white faced owls. BattleKid wanted to hold them and was quite confused as to why he couldn’t. From there we made our way through the barn area where we saw my favourite of all the animals at the Small Breeds Farm, the Boer Goats. I love them and explained why in my last post.small breeds farm and owl centre

It took a little bit of coaxing to get BattleKid to help me feed them!

We then went into the small animal’s room which houses rabbits, guinea pigs and chipmunks. The various birds were next to be visited before we turned our attention to the farm animals in the outdoor enclosures.

BattleKid had a great time giving feed to the horses and goats. The Boer goats passed us on the way to their enclosure and one made a beeline for the feed bucket on its way past (see our vlog below).small breeds farm and owl centre

After finishing in the main farm area we stopped at the tea room for some lunch, and as it was such a nice day, we sat outside on the picnic benches to enjoy toasted sandwiches and baked potatoes. BattleKid hogged a whole potato and baked beans with cheese to himself!

Nicely full and satisfied, we visited the Owl Garden to see all the various owls which include tawny owls, barn owls, the snowy owls (my personal favourites) and BattleDad’s favourites, the great horned owls. We had another great visit to the Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre and were so lucky that it was a lovely day weather-wise at the start of that bank holiday weekend.small breeds farm and owl centre

Tickets cost £9.00 per adult and £6 per child*, with animal feed buckets costing £1 each. The Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre is wheelchair accessible and a mobility scooter available to loan on site.

The tea room serves both hot and cold drinks and food and there is a picnic garden and barn, should you wish to bring your own food and drinks to enjoy.

Something that I discovered during our last visit was their owl experiences which are available. There are two, the Owl Experience and Owls by Moonlight.

The Owl experience is available during breeding season (approximately March to July) costing £78pp (age 14 years and above only), which take place between 8.30 and 10.30am and must be paid for in advance. You get an introduction talk with a Senior Owl Keeper, a guided tour of the owl garden before opening and trip to the incubation room. You also get to prepare breakfast and feed it to the owlets. You get up close and personal with tame owls and have access to the rest of the Farm afterwards. You can share your experience with 1 other full paying person.

The Owl Centre also run an Owls by Moonlight Experience, which takes place on certain evenings between 7 and 9.30pm. In this experience you explore the Owl garden by lamplight with a Senior Owl Keeper. There is an interval during which you are served soup and a roll. You then get the chance to get photos with hand-reared owls and have a chance to take your own photos in the softly illuminated garden at the end. This amazing experience is available for those aged 16 years and over for £32pp.

I’d love to return when BattleKid is older to enjoy these Owl Experiences.

The Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre is definitely worth a visit if you are visiting the Kington or Herefordshire area. A visit takes about 3-4 hours to fully enjoy. And it is a great family day out, particularly with younger children, who can get up close and personal with animals of various sizes. Even if you are visiting South Wales (where we live) it is also worth the drive up to visit (it takes us just over an hour to drive there).

If you’d like to get a sneak peek at the Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre, why not watch our little vlog from our most recent visit below.

Thanks for reading.

Cath x

*Prices are correct at the time of writing this post.

**We were not asked to write this post.

small breeds farm and owl centre

Our Visit to Chester Zoo – A Great Family Day Out

Last August Bank Holiday weekend we visited Chester with the sole purpose of using our Bristol Zoo annual passes for our visit to Chester Zoo. We had caught some of the TV show about the zoo, The Secret Life of the Zoo, and it made us more determined to visit. So, with the long weekend, we drove up and stayed only 15 minutes from the zoo.our visit to chester zoo

We arrived at 9.40am to start our visit to Chester Zoo and quickly found parking, which is free. We headed straight to a staff member who checked our Bristol Zoo annual passes and letter, and she directed us straight to the turnstiles where we didn’t have to queue. It was so easy.

We decided to start from the elephant’s enclosure and waited beside their enclosure until zoo barriers opened at 10am. The elephants weren’t out by then so we started to walk anti-clockwise. We first visited the Butterflies, whose house is like the one in Bristol Zoo but with more vegetation in it. From there we walked through the Spirit of the Jaguar but they weren’t out.our visit to chester zoo

Next on our hit list was the Realm of the Red Ape where we saw gibbons and a huge python. I stayed well back but BattleKid was fascinated.

We carried on around to see the flamingos, penguins and cheeky little otters on our way to the aquarium. I think BattleKid rather enjoyed this as he tried spotting both Dory and Nemo in each tank. He was delighted when he finally spotted them.

From the aquarium we passed the aviary where I was absolutely shocked at the size of the vultures. I had never seen one in real life and really had no idea how big they grew. They are shockingly huge birds!our visit to chester zoo

By now it was 11.30 so we decided it was time for a pit stop. We visited June’s Food Court. We had tea and coffee, and cakes, and got BattleKid a kid’s lunch box which was well stocked. We got two bottles of water to take with us and the total cost of this was £16, which I didn’t think was too bad.

Fueled up we headed to see the lions but their enclosure was being cleaned so they were in their houses. Daddy lion didn’t seem too happy. We then headed over the wooden bridge and managed to spot the cheetahs hiding in the bushes. We also saw deer and for split second I actually thought they were in the same enclosure! We also saw the bongos, tapirs and capybaras. I didn’t know their name and was surprised when BattleDad told me. You learn something new every day!

On the way into the new Islands section, opened in summer of 2015, we saw the Babirusa, an animal I had never seen before and who reminded me of warthogs. We also spotted crocodile and tortoise, saw more gibbon and the orangutans, saw Rhinoceros hornbill birds, which are beautiful and also Warty pigs. The main attraction of the Islands is the Sumatran Tigers and they are just stunning animals. We spotted them through the bushed at the side of their enclosure before seeing them through the viewing glass at the front. Beautiful creatures, so majestic.our visit to chester zoo

I have to say we were very impressed with the Islands of Chester Zoo which include animals from Sumatra, Sulawesi and Bali. They are quite new to the Zoo and are simply beautiful. There is even background noises and music playing which reminded me of the background music you hear at Disneyland Paris. The lazy boat river ride in the Islands looks great too although we didn’t get a chance to do it.

From the islands we headed towards the painted dogs, which were recommended by a work colleague, passing zebra, antelope and rock hyrax along the way. And the painted dogs were worth seeing. Just as we arrived at their enclosure they came towards the viewing windows and lay down right there. BattleKid was fascinated by them.our visit to chester zoo

From there we went to see black rhino and meerkats. BattleKid got very cranky at this stage but refused a nap in his pram just like when we visited Folly Farm. We went in to see the monkeys before heading back towards June’s Food Court to collect a handprint picture we had gotten done earlier in the day.our visit to chester zoo

It is a monkey made using BattleKid’s hands and is framed and cost £18. It’s a lovely memento of our day. As it was past lunchtime we decided to stop for fish and chips and BattleKid ate well. The rain started as we sat eating and the playground nearby quickly cleared. An adults fish and chips cost us £7.25 including any side and a kid’s meal cost £5.50. BattleKid had chicken nuggets, chips and ad rink and they were really nice chicken nuggets too.

As we had pretty much seen all we wanted to we decided to end our visit to Chester Zoo with a trip into the gift shop at the entrance. BattleKid got a toy jeep while I got one or two other gifts. Typically, as soon as we left Chester Zoo BattleKid had a danger nap in the car!

Overall our visit to Chester Zoo was a great day out and well worth it. We definitely needed the full day there to see everything we wanted to.

Facts about Chester Zoo:

  • Chester Zoo is one of the UK’s largest zoos at 125 acres.
  • It houses over 20,000 animals which includes 500 different species.
  • It played host to 1.7 million visitors in 2015.
  • It has been featured in the documentary The Secret Life of the Zoo.
  • It receives no government funding at all.
  • They are heavily involved in conservation and also in conjunction with other zoos across 30 countries worldwide.
  • It is consistently rated one of the top ten zoos in the world.

 

Things we discovered during our visit to Chester Zoo for you to consider if visiting the zoo:

  • It opens daily from 10am to typically 5pm. Entry is allowed up to 30 minutes before closing.
  • You are allowed entry to the gift shop and entrance restaurants at 9.30am but the zoo barriers don’t open until 10am.
  • Chester Zoo is huge and buggies, scooters and wheelchairs are available to hire. Bring a buggy for younger children, you’ll need it!
  • We didn’t see all of the zoo in the one day we went, so two days could easily be needed.
  • There is a mono rail and lazy boat river ride (additional costs for these) but we didn’t get to use either.
  • There are 4 main restaurants at the entrance, on the islands, June’s Food Court and the Oakfield Pub. Food is ok for what it is. It could work out expensive for large families so bringing a picnic would be advisable if you want to save yourself some money. There were enough seats at the eating areas both inside and outside for the ones we visited or saw. There are also smaller coffee shops around too.
  • There is a cash machine at the entrance.
  • There is a big gift shop at the entrance and on the islands.
  • Toilets are dotted all over the zoo.
  • Information signs are really good and animal signs are informative. There are also plenty of staff around should you need help or information.
  • There are a few play areas around the zoo but we didn’t go into any. They all looked well equipped.
  • There is free parking at the zoo, and we would advise getting there before the gates open at 10am to enjoy as much of the day as possible.
  • Baby changing facilities, bottle warming stations and feeding friendly locations
  • Various animal talks throughout the day but we didn’t attend any.
  • For full visiting informaiton, please visit the Visiting Chester Zoo website.

Chester Zoo prices*:

  • Weekday term-time:     Ad £24.00            Child £20.00
  • Weekend term-time:     Ad £26.00            Child £22.00
  • School holidays:             Ad £28.00            Child £24.00
  • If booked online there is a saving of 10% so weekday term0time tickets cost £20.00 per adult and £16.36 per child, for example.
  • Families which include 3 adults and at least 1 child can save 16% on their tickets when bought online.
  • Children tickets are for those aged between 3 and 17, children aged 2 and under are free.

We visited on a bank holiday weekend, yet we never felt like it was overcrowded, even when we were leaving at 3.30. There is plenty of space in Chester Zoo, which in my mind make it stand out from other zoos we have visited. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Chester Zoo last year and definitely plan to return in the future when BattleKid is older.

I can highly recommend Chester Zoo as a family day out. There is something for everyone and the number of animals and species to see is incredible. If you do go, make sure you visit the Islands of Chester Zoo. These were definitely our favourite part of our visit.

Thanks for reading. We also filmed a little vlog of our visit to Chester Zoo which is below if you’d like to watch it.

Cath x

*Prices are correct at the time of writing this post.

**We visited Chester Zoo via our Bristol Zoo annual passes. We were not asked to write this post.

our visit to chester zoo

Techniquest Toddler Day – Our Visit in July

At the beginning of July I took BattleKid into Cardiff and we met a friend and her little boy and we took to the two boys to the Techniquest Toddler Day. Once a month, during term-time, pre-school children have the run of the exhibits with activities on a special theme. Activities include:

  • Drawing,
  • Colouring and
  • Making something to take home.

The day myself and S took our toddler boys to the Techniquest Toddler Day, the theme was Under the Sea. We arrived after 11am as S had a hospital appointment and when we arrived Techniquest was heaving with toddlers, prams and stressed-looking parents. We paid our entrance fee, parked our buggies in the designated area and put the boys Toddlepak reins on so we could keep them under some control. And in we went to explore.techniquest toddler day

I’d only been to Techniquest once before, 2 years ago, when BattleKid’s cousin was visiting from Ireland and didn’t get to see much of it with a 6 month old. This time I got to see more of it.

We started at an exhibit that released bubbles into a vessel of water and both BattleKid and L were fascinated. So much so they could have stayed there just watching bubbles, and of course pressing buttons. We had to drag them away and onto something else. We moved onto a turntable in which children could release a circular shape onto the turntable and watching it go around before it came off again. Well, S and I could have walked away and the boys wouldn’t have noticed!  This exhibit was very popular and each child, including ours was vying for those circles to release back onto the turntable! techniquest toddler day

We moved passed the ant farm, which BattleKid wasn’t really interested in, onto a dark room, where my attention was caught. We started at the lightening tube and had fun putting our hands on the glass and watching the electricity move with our hands. There was an exhibit with what looked like dry ice but I didn’t get a chance to see what it was all about as BattleKid found something more interesting for himself and L to play at.techniquest toddler day

We wandered around, stopping at another bubble machine for a few minutes before moving into the water-based room. BattleKid and I touched the spinning wet wheel, before he played in the water river, splashing a few other attendees by mistake throwing things into the water. Oops, sorry. BattleKid then had fun at the water waste pipes, spraying water into certain parts and watching it come out somewhere else.techniquest toddler day

After the water area we moved upstairs where a ball vortex caught the boys attention and they spent ages there, finding the balls and putting them back into the vortex. We had a go at making music with tubes, but BattleKid just wanted to bash everything but the tubes with the paddles! What is that they say about not working with children?techniquest toddler day

techniquest toddler day

Next on the agenda was a wind-type machine called Blown Up into which you could place pieces of material and watch it go up and out the top of a tube. BattleKid and L had a ball with this exhibit. Another thing we had to drag them away from!techniquest toddler day

techniquest toddler day

techniquest toddler day

We moved back downstairs, passing by another wind machine which suspends a ball in air and it blew the head off BattleKid and L. It was really funny. Before we packed up our belongings to go, BattleKid and I had to stop by the dragon, his current obsession and took a few selfies with it.IMG_1043

techniquest toddler day

We thoroughly enjoyed our few hours at the Toddler Day in Techniquest, despite how busy it was and I think we may try to go to another Techniquest Toddler Day in the future. The boys had an absolute ball and there was lots to see and do. We didn’t do any colouring or drawing, so maybe we can try do that next time.techniquest toddler day

The Techniquest Toddler Day is a great idea for introducing younger children to technology and science from a young age. It costs just £5.50 per adult with under 4’s going free. Techniquest is buggy friendly and had baby-changing facilities. There are a limited number of lockers if you don’t want to carry a bag or anything around with you and there is a coffee shop if you fancy a sit down but be advised there are no bottle or food warming facilities at Techniquest.

There is just one thing I would advise if you are planning on attending a Techniquest Toddler Day – arrive early. As mentioned we arrived after 11am and the multi-story carpark opposite Techniquest was completely full. I got lucky at the car park beside St. David’s Hotel and so did my friend but parking was at a premium at that time of the day. And if you do park at the hotel carpark ensure it is within a correct bay. When we returning to our cars after lunch there were ticket inspectors checking tickets and all those not in a proper bay were ticketed. Also, ensure you have change for the ticket machine as it doesn’t take cards. I had to give one man my last change from my purse because he had none himself. Good dead for the day.

Techniquest is a great day out and not too expensive in my opinion. One TripAdvisor says:

“Great day out for my two children at the toddler day… good value and great atmosphere all round.”

and I would agree.

There are four more Techniquest Toddler Days coming this year:

  • When I grow up: September 16th.
  • Around the World: October 7th.
  • Get Spooky: November 4th.
  • Winter Wonderland: December 2nd.

I can highly recommend the Techniquest Toddler Day if you want somewhere different to take your toddler and there are, of course, lots of nice restaurants in Cardiff Bay for lunch afterwards.

Thanks for reading,

Cath x

techniquest toddler day
Pressing buttons at the Techniquest Toddler Day

A Fun Saturday in May

Last weekend we had a fun Saturday morning as we took BattleKid to Funky Little Chickens in Cardiff for another haircut. Once again Alana was amazing with him and he was quite good, only once looking strangely at her as if to say “whatcha doin”. I’ve reviewed Funky Little Chickens on the blog before and still highly recommend it for baby and toddler haircuts in Cardiff.funky little chickens

Afterwards we decided to visit Cafe Junior as it is free for patrons of Funky Little Chickens. Café Junior was Cardiff’s award-winning café, bistro and party venue exclusively for 0-5 year old and their families, and is situated in an old converted church on Fanny Street in Cathays. Sadly it has closed down.

There is a large play area full of toys to capture young children’s imaginations and, as only 0-5 year olds are allowed to play in it, it is safe for toddlers, even the wobbly ones. There are comfy chairs for mums, dads and grandparents, and Café Junior can provide breastfeeding supports for mums such as pillows.cafe junior 4

Cafe Junior 2

We spent an hour in Café Junior and BattleKid had a whale of a time playing, particularly with a ride along car, and going down the slide. BattleDad, Lolo and I had tea and cakes which were reasonably priced (2 teas, 1 coffee, 1 banana and 2 slices of cake cost us £10.50). All in all, I think Café Junior is a great place to enjoy a tea or coffee while younger children play.cafe junior 1

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After an hour there we headed into Cardiff itself as we’d booked Jamie’s Italian for lunch. We had time to kill beforehand so popped into the Disney shop to treat BattleKid. We don’t do this very often but our luck was in as all the Good Dinosaur toys were on sale, many were 50% reduced, and there was a further 20% off in-store that day. BattleKid got an Arlo teddy bear, he picked out two figurines and I got him two drinking beakers with straws. His Lolo bought him another Good Dinosaur figurine set and he picked something up for BattleKid’s cousin too to take back with him.

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Eyeing up ALL the toys in Disney

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cafe junior 13

From Disney we headed to Jamie’s and were seated on the ground level. We gave our order and BattleKid’s mini burgers arrived with our starters, Italian nachos for me and crispy squid for BattleDad. They were both delicious!cafe junior 12

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cafe junior 10

For mains BattleDad and Lolo had the burger, which was yummy, and I had the spicy sausage casarecce which was delicious. I asked for a small portion and it was the right sized portion for lunch. Unfortunately I was too busy eating to remember to take a picture of the mains.

BattleKid ate the meat from his burgers but didn’t touch the mini buns. He’s going through another picky stage with food. He did however help himself to some of my nachos and pasta! It was a really nice lunch and BattleKid was mostly well-behaved on his third visit to Jamie’s.

BattleKid slept the whole way home from Cardiff as we’d expected. Although it rained for most of the day we had a pleasant morning, making it a fun Saturday, and we had quite a lazy afternoon once we got home.

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Catching flies on the way home!

Cath x

Cefn Mably Farm Park – BabyBrainMonday

Last weekend saw us visit Cefn Mably Farm Park on the outskirts of Newport. Not far from Junction 28 of the M4, it is a farm park with lots to see and do.

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We decided not to sit in the house on the Saturday morning and had been meaning to find and visit this farm park so thought it was as good a day as any to visit. It took us about 40 minutes to get there from our house and when we arrived at around 11am, there was lots of space in the car park. We made our way into the farm park building, paid our entrance fee (more on that below) and found our bearings. Inside the building is the coffee shop/bistro, the soft play area that has a section for babies and older children, the toilets and the farm shop. From here we made our way outside to explore and see what animals we could spot.

We first passed by the indoor animal pens which included sheep, goats and lots of rabbits. These rabbits, of all shapes, sizes and colours, are pets which have been rescued and need adopting. It was quite sad to see how many they had, and although I felt like this we didn’t crumble. I know from friends having had rabbits that I have enough on my plate looking after the two BattleDogs. We had bought a bag of animal feed when we paid our entrance fee and I fed the animals as BatteKid was having none of it. I guess he’s still a little young and wary of the various animals.

After this area we ventured outside and passed some horses which BattleKid was fascinated by. We stopped to play in the small play area. The Farm Park has two play areas, this small one and a much larger one too. We pushed BattleKid on the swings and then he had a ride on one of the many play tractors they had around the Farm Park. He didn’t want to get off it but I had to play bad cop and let another boy behind us have a go too.

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There were lots of various farm animals including pigs, donkeys, sheep, goats and horses.

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2015-09-26 11.36.54Ducks roam freely near their pond, and the horses are clever animals. If they see a brown paper bag of animal feed in your hand as you pass by they run their hooves on the ground to attract attention. Clever! I couldn’t resist feeding these ones. They’re not stupid.

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We spent about an hour wandering around but BattleKid was starting to get a bit tired and cranky so we didn’t hang around much longer. We passed by the pony rides which cost £2 per go on our way back to the farm building. I’ll definitely be taking BattleKid on one when he is older. The pen for the ride is long enough so I feel £2 is a fair price.

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To exit the farm building you pass through the farm shop and we took a few minutes to browse the shelves. They have everything you can imagine from chutney and jam of all flavours, to fresh vegetables grown locally, to a butchers selling meat produced on the farm itself. We couldn’t resist buying a few things including sausages and rashers for Sunday morning breakfast.

2015-09-26 11.55.58We also bought some of their lamb and mint burgers and their award-winning beef burgers. We’ve yet to try them but I’ll report back once we do. I can tell you that their smoked back rashers are extremely tasty.

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All in all we had a lovely Saturday morning at Cefn Mably Farm Park before heading for home where the reason for BattleKid’s crankiness became apparent. As it is quite close to home I think we’ll be visiting this more as BattleKid grows up. However, I do feel it doesn’t beat the Small Breeds Farm Park in Kington that I’ve written about before. That farm park remains our favourite, although it’s much further away!

Cefn Mably Farm Park is a great place to visit with children of all ages. Open from 10am to 5pm, with last admission at 4pm, it has lots to see and do. It costs £4 per person during weekdays and term time, and £6 per person during weekends and non-term time. There is an additional charge for animal feeds, pony rides and for actual farm diggers (which BattleDad wants a go of next time we visit). As mentioned there is a coffee shop and bistro, indoor soft play area, which we are yet to partake of, and a farm shop. You can touch and hold animals in the indoor area and pet the various farm animals through their pens in the outdoor area. They’re all very friendly and none of them tried to eat my fingers!

There are plenty of hand washing stations dotted around the park to keep both little and big hands clean and free of germs. You can buy animal feed at the admissions desk and parking is free of charge. As I’ve already said we arrived around 11am on a Saturday morning and there was plenty of parking, but by the time we left at 12.30pm the main car park was full and arriving visitors were starting to park in the overflow car park. It takes approximately 10-15 minutes to get to from Junction 28 of the M4 and I’d recommend it to anyone in South Wales as it’s a great place for little people to get up close and personal with farm animals of all shapes and sizes. We enjoyed our morning there and I am sure we’ll be visiting again soon.

Baby Brain Memoirs