So on our holiday week as well as going to Sir Harold Hillier Gardens(which we recently reviewed) we went to the Sir George Staunton Country Park in Havant..well I say we Juju was a bit sicky with a bit of a cold so me and him stayed home and Daddy went with Jijah and the grandparents. So this is a guest post by Daddy. Warning! It’s very long!! 🙂
It was the decision of the boys’ grandparents to go and visit Staunton Country Park (in part, I believe, due to the fact that they accept Tesco Clubcard vouchers for the entry fee). They had found out about it online. I hadn’t heard about it before, but Mummy had.
The first thing you come to on leaving the car park is a garden shop, with flowers and plants, etc. The ticket office also contained a gift shop stocking souvenirs, toys and games. Mostly things for kids. They also had buckets for animal feed for sale for £1, but there was no information on where to get the animal feed itself from. We paid the entry fee and (just like Hillier Gardens) they gave us each a sticker to show we had paid. On leaving the ticket office there was a sign saying animals to the left and gardens to the right. Having brought a three year old, we turned left to the animals.
The first enclosure that we came to contained Alpacas. They looked pretty funny, especially as they had been shorn recently, but they were very friendly. Next were the goats who, as always, were eager for anything we had to give them (which, at this point, was noting). After that was an enclosure with one llama and a number of deer. Then we walked past a duck enclosure to the farm’s main yard. In the middle of that was a pen containing a large sow and her five two-week-old piglets (who liked laying in a line right up against each other, looking like a pack of sausages!) Jijah didn’t spend long looking at them as he had spotted the play park, so ran off in that direction. Most of the equipment was a little bit old for a 3-year-old, but he did his best.
Beside the play park there were a café and a picnic area. So we sat down at a bench and ate the food we had brought with us, with Jijah playing in the play park for half the time. A black and white cockerel and couple of chickens were wandering around and eventually wandered under our table in search of food. Jijah found that funny, but Nanny was a little concerned that she might get a pecked toe through her sandal…
Once we had eaten, Jijah took his grand parents (Nanny and Pop Pop) to the “play barn” indoors play area, while I took some things back to the car. There are two halves to the play barn – a babies & toddlers soft play area, and a 5-years plus climbing frame. Jijah, being three, kind of fell between those two categories. Technically he should have used the babies & toddlers area (signed for 4-years and under) but he was adamant that he wanted to play on the big boys’ equipment. He did surprisingly well climbing up the rope ladder with only a little help from Pop Pop (and climbing up the slide on his own!!), but he couldn’t manage the rope bridge. Being a nice day, most children who were around were outside (and it wasn’t busy, being a term time weekday) so there were only one or two other children on the older kids’ equipment for him to get in the way of.
Nanny and Pop Pop also took him to the “pets’ corner” where there were some smaller animals to handle and stroke – if you went there after they rang the bell.
I stopped by the ticket desk to enquire about animal feed. It was 75p for a generous bag of “grass pellets”, which we could buy right there from the ticket desk (there just wasn’t a sign saying that, so we hadn’t asked for them when we first went in). So we took Elijah back to the goats, deer, llama and alpacas, and tried to teach Jijah how to feed them. He did, more or less, get the idea of keeping your fingers together, although he couldn’t really keep his hand flat as the signs tell you to do. His biggest problem was that he kept retracting his hand and dropping it all as soon as the animal came into contact with him! I think he enjoyed it, but got bored of it quite quickly.
We also visited the “kids’ paddock” where you could walk around with sheep, small goats, and chickens. And there were some tropical birds in cages there too. The sheep were even worse at pestering you for food than the goats had been! Jijah kept asking to ride the goat (it would have been about the right size…), probably because he heard us mention the sign explicitly telling you NOT to let anyone ride the animals! After that he spent less time looking at the animals and more time looking at the water trough and trying to find the way into the hen house. (I’m not sure whether he thought it was a play house, or whether he was looking for eggs like they do on Peppa Pig!)
There were some more goats (and other animals, I believe) beyond this, but Jijah didn’t let us spend long looking at them before dragging us back to the play barn – mainly to play on the Peppa Pig car that was in there, instead of looking at the real pigs outside!
After this we left the animals and went to the gardens. The scents coming from various areas around the garden were wonderful. They have a large glasshouse (in which it is VERY hot) with all sorts of tropical plants in, including the Amazon water lily with its HUGE lily pads. Jijah liked looking at the water lily, and the little fish in the same pond, but mostly he liked running round the main glasshouse… until he fell over and hurt himself on the grating on the floor 😦
After that we went to the sensory garden to try & cheer him up, but that was very disappointing. It looks like it needs some work. We skipped the maze, as it didn’t seem like our sort of thing, and Jijah was tired.
We then found this little education area, which looks like it’s usually used for school trips and things, but today it was open. There was a hide in there looking out onto a meadow, and educational signs up around the place. We looked out from the hide for a little while, and tried to point out the birds and insects to Jijah, but his attention didn’t last long.
I think Jijah’s favourite place in the park by far was the old gothic Library. This is the last remaining part of Sir George’s house, and apparently used to house an impressive collection of books, but now it is somewhat a shell. Perfect for Jijah to run round shouting his head off, singing his favourite kids’ TV theme of the day. Prompting me to end the day with a somewhat unusual comment something along the lines of “you can run round the library a few more times, but then we’ve got to go” – not the usual thing you say to your kids about libraries…