So spring has finally sprung and leapt into summer and with a free Saturday morning, we thought that enjoy the sunshine and fresh air and make our way to Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, for a Teddy and Friends Adventure.
As we have been to Meanwood Valley a few times, it is probably a good start to talk about the farm itself first. The farm is not massive and with a toddler, it will probably take an hour to go round. As you can imagine, it is pretty much all outdoors so you need to be prepared to the weather and as some of the paths on the outer fields are grassy and hilly so taking a pushchair can be difficult. However, there is enough to see without going to these parts.
The farm is a charity and so there isn’t the same mindset as some attractions, which can be seen by the low prices that it charges for entry, but there is a shop and cafe to allow you to financially support the farm if you are able to.
In terms of animals, there are the “Old McDonald” type of animals – pigs, sheep, cows, chickens etc, and if you go at the right time of year, you’ll see the lamb enclosure and be able to get really close to them. Unfortunately, I was unable to get good pictures of the lambs due to Heidi wanting to play Hook-a-duck (not a real duck!)
I don’t think we have had to use the changing facilities, but we have used the cafe and it is quite child friendly and would have no problem going there if I wasn’t taking Heidi! There are plenty of hand washing stations as well, which is obviously very important when dealing with animals.
However, the real reason we went on this occasion was the Teddy and Friends Adventure, which was planned, organised and run by some Leeds Beckett Entertainment Management students (Anna Bowlt, Molly More, Olivia Griffiths and Orli Lewis). We didn’t really know what to expect that the adventure trail sounded cryptically interesting, and there were less cryptic activites including arts and crafts, face painting and penalty shoot out competition.
We paid our money and given an activity booklet with a crossword in it, and the farm was littered with questions to fill the crossword. The questions were at a good level so that a 2 year old could answer them verbally, but an older child would be able to answer and write the answers in the crossword (confession, I had to google one of the questions!) and the questions were all farm/animal based.
The activity booklet also had an anagram puzzle to work out the name of the bear. The farm was again littered with random letters and they made up a name. This one was good so that the children could practice the letters and the adults could spend a few minutes trying to work out the answer! I am getting Heidi interested in letter now and it might have been good to see the letter shown in both upper and lower case, but that is a minor thing that 2 weeks ago, I would never have thought about!
There was no map or plan to follow, but the farm isn’t big enough to go too far wrong. There were bear paws printed along the way so you knew where you were going. It also led to an inspired bit of parenting, with me leading Heidi in singing “We’re going on a Bear Hunt”, probably to the annoyance of everyone enjoying a quiet Saturday morning!!
After completing the trail, we had a go at the “Guess the Name of the Teddy” game, as well as having a go at the Hook-a-Duck where we won some lollies! Because Heidi has a crazy fascination for face painting, we headed inside to get her face painted – the excellent result you can see below!
Actually, it was really good that we headed in as in here was a beautiful cake stall, although after the lollies, we avoided more sugar, as well as a tombola and arts and crafts table. The reason why I said it was good that we headed in was that there was so many helpers (clearly wearing Leeds Beckett hoodies!) and it was so good to see pretty much one-to-one interaction on the crafts table, which is perfect. Obviously, I don’t know how things went in the afternoon, but as we came and went, the car park was full and so it was clear that the event was well supported by the public, although it didn’t feel busy, or crammed.
Hopefully this kind of event will happen again at some point as it was really good way to spend the morning, and clearly it brought many more people into a hidden Leeds attraction with really good ethics – a win-win for all concerned!!