That’s the only way to describe this weekend. The UK heatwave has continued into almost its third week and this Sunday was the hottest day of the year so far at 32oC. Which is lovely. Except if you’re a rare breed of hairy goat or a shaggy-haired Highland Cattle.
Yes, I did feel a little sorry for the rare breeds this weekend at Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park, but at least they had the right idea – lying down in the shade and minimizing all movement. Unlike all the poor parents, charging around after small, excitable children who lurched from one activity to the next, seemingly oblivious to the heat except when they needed cooling down momentarily with ice-cream before disappearing off again.
The plus side of the heat – most people had decided to stay at home. That, combined with the fact that England played their World Cup quarter-final match against Sweden meant that we pretty much had the Farm Park to ourselves. Sure, perhaps if we hadn’t booked ages ago to visit the park for the weekend and camp in their adjoining campsite, we may have stayed at home too, flopped in a paddling pool clutching an icy drink, but here we were in the heat, and it turned out to be a brilliant weekend.
We have visited and camped at Cotswold Farm Park a couple of times before, but it is such an easy and fun family-friendly weekend it has become a bit of an annual event. The campsite is lovely and new and is incredibly well-equipped. Sure, it’s not a wild, natural site like the sort I’d probably rather be staying in, but neither is it trying to be. It’s just catering for the farm park and for that it’s absolutely perfect.
There are perfectly delineated and generously sized pitches (my advice – ask for one of the ‘Buttington’ pitches as these having a big open space in front of them rather than facing other pitches so there is much more space for the kids to run and play).
The toilet block is absolutely outstanding – and believe me, I mean outstanding. I had two showers in one weekend and without sounding revolting, that is two more than I would usually have when camping (though to be fair in this heat I may well have pushed the boat out and used the facilities of even the most basic toilet block). The toilet block has heating in winter and air con in summer and believe me it was a cool sanctuary this weekend. Everything in it is new and to a high spec ,and….. well…..I can’t quite believe I am going on about a toilet block so much. But it’s enough that even if you hated camping you could come here, because the facilities are so good it doesn’t really feel like you are. It’s also worth mentioning that there are new glamping tents, a camping pod and a new shepherds hut so if you wanted to ditch the camping all together you really could.
There’s a small kitchen with a big fridge and freezer, which meant in this crazy heat we didn’t have to rely on our fairly inadequate cool box and just off-loaded everything into the fridge, meaning no dealing with gone-off milk and rancid salad by Sunday. And new this year is a really nice camp shop at the welcome reception, where you can order morning pastries, order freshly cooked pizzas, borrow kids toys (peddle tractors being the firm favourite), and buy fresh cold milk or meats from the farm (not to mention cold ciders, ales and wine).
The campsite is run by the superb campsite wardens/managers Sam and Mark who greet you with a warm smile, cater for your every need and walk around camp at the end of the evening checking everything and everyone is OK. They know what’s going on onsite and they create a really friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
This year we were camping with one other family, who we had visited with the previous year alongside about 8 other families (we pretty much took over the place last year). Our evenings followed a familiar routine: the kids stayed up really late on the first night because they had fallen asleep in the car on the way here and were waaaaaaay too over-excited about being here.
Then on the second night we bundled them into bed at about 7.01pm because they were absolutely broken and completely falling to pieces, which gave us some lovely adult time to sit back, enjoy the beautiful summer’s evening, have a glass of vino and chat…… uninterrupted. Bliss.
We enjoyed two days* in the Farm Park with the first day cut slightly short by the need to watch the England game, which they were conveniently showing in the bar/café within the park.
We spent most of the first day on all the adventure playground bits – electric tractors, peddle tractors, jumping pillow, maze, swings, and in the all-new ‘adventure barn’ with a massive sandpit, JCB peddle diggers and a little track with these super-fast sit-on scooty things, which the kids LOVED. We also watched the cow-milking demonstration and bottle-fed the lambs, which was a firm favourite amongst adults and kids alike.
The second day was more about the animals – we spent more time in the animal barn holding and petting guinea pigs, rabbits and teeny baby chicks, feeding the lambs again, admiring the scrumptious newborn piglets (SO cute!) as well as walking to the top of the farm to visit various rare breeds of sheep, goats, horse, ducks, chickens and other farmyard beauties. We also did the obligatory ride in the tractor-trailer around the expanse of the farm, and took shelter in the cool of the woodland and conservation area.
We hadn’t rushed around at all this weekend: we had enjoyed lazy mornings back at camp, had a few hours in the Park and then back to the campsite for lunch, before returning back to the park for a few more hours in the arvo. It was slow-paced and not stressful at all.
Yes it was ANOTHER farm park and I feel I am pretty done on these types of weekend for a while now and in need of something a bit more ‘adventurous’, but it was a fun weekend, it was super-easy, no effort at all and the kids absolutely loved it.
Would we go back again? Definitely, though not until next year – once a year is enough.
Would we recommend it? Absolutely.
Have I just googled whether there is such a thing as a campsite toilet block award? Yes, yes I have…. Who knew that ‘Loo of the Year Awards’ was such a prestigious event!?!
* a good deal if you are camping is that you get a ‘camping pass’ for entrance to the park, so for the same price as a day ticket, you get to come and go all weekend.