It was Tori’s school trip last Thursday and luckily there were enough spaces on the coach for all of us to go. It was a beautiful day and we had lots of fun exploring Hoo Farm Animal Kingdom which is only half an hour or so from home!
After the usual ear-splitting, mind-numbing bus journey that accompanies any school trip, we pulled in to the car park, disembarked and set off on our adventure.
The first thing we were met with was a pair of goats, happily wandering the yard and saying hello to everybody (they continued to wander the yard and get attention from everyone all day, despite being picked up and returned to their pen countless times over by the farm staff!) – Tori and Arthur weren’t sure at first but they soon made friends with the cheeky creatures and couldn’t wait to find all the other animals.
We started by visiting the paddock of parrots (I forget what it was actually called) – they were all very noisy and some of them said hello when you talked to them and had little party tricks they did for attention. The kids loved their colours but weren’t so keen on the big macaw’s screeching so we moved on fairly swiftly!
We wandered along a path that lead us between enclosures and paddocks containing foxes, coatis, raccoons, peacocks, meerkats, pheasants, porcupines, owls and hawks before coming out into a large field of rare breed sheep and lambs and Dexter cows with their calves. Through this field we went into a wooded area filled with little figurines and models of all the creatures you can find in British woodlands (and the odd gnome and faerie too!) – the Smalls enjoyed spotting these and naming all the animals as we went along.
At the other side of the woodland there was a red deer paddock and some donkeys, chickens and alpacas. This loop brought us back to the main yard again where the kids had a break from the sunshine and walking by exploring the play barn for a while and then lunch in the on-site cafe.
Well rested and recharged we headed back to the yard in time to watch the lambs being fed and to join in with feeding the goats. Then we explored the barns around the yard and discovered everything from snakes and terrapins to a caiman! There were guinea pigs and rabbits, degus, gerbils, fruit bats and iguanas – many of the animals are rescued or rehabilitated too, which is great.
By this time it was the ‘Exotic Meet and Greet’ session in the main yard and we got to say hello and stroke three animals. The kids were a bit unsure at first but the adorable 9 week old ferret won them over and they were then happy to meet a bearded dragon and, more excitingly, an albino skunk called Blossom! (I was quite impressed to have stroked a skunk too, I’m not going to lie!)
This done, we set off on the footpaths leading out of the other side of the yard, into another woodland walk through the home of the three little pigs (who were lazing in the shade of the trees) and into a little woodland village of faerie tale houses that you could peer into and identify the characters of everything from Beauty and the Beast to The Elves and the Shoemaker. There was a wooden castle to run round and play in and Billy Badger’s house if you needed a sit down. The kids loved having a romp in the castle, finding sticks to use as swords and reliving our recent visit to Warwick.
Then we headed on past paddocks containing various types of pig, water buffalo, emu and ostriches before settling in the main yard again to put down 50p each on a sheep in the sheep race! There was just enough time afterwards to go play in the big outdoor play area with swings and other play equipment for all ages and for me to nip into the shop and buy a tractor each for Tori and Arthur to remember their visit.
Then we piled back onto the bus home – Arthur was so worn out we had to carry him off the bus and all the way home in his car seat because he was fast asleep!