Last week, my friend Mel and I decided we would take our children “somewhere nice”, and hopefully try and fit a conversation in somewhere along the way too.
We decided on Willows Farm, who categorically have not paid me for this review. I wish they had. I’m happy to take cash retrospectively. Just let me know. We had taken EldestGirl about two years ago, and it had been nearly empty. She had loved going on all the rides, which are mostly for really little children. The sandpit was also a highlight last time (until she fell headfirst into a stream and we had to call it a day). I looked forward to introducing YoungestGirl to its delights, and imagined a happy family day out, with one of my friends.
Preparing to go out for the day with two under-5s is a bit like planning a holiday feels when you’re single. The shopping starts about a week in advance – ensuring you have suncream, waterproofs, the right sort of teddy bear-shaped crisps. Then, the night before is given over to trying to pack all the food your children will need for the next day, ideally into a bag that will fit under the buggy. At this point, you try not to think about what percentage of the food will actually end up on the floor or intentionally fed to pigeons. On the day of the adventure, you’re excited and a bit nervous… you set off… and immediately get stuck in a traffic jam.
“Mummy, Mummy, MUM-MY!” shouts YoungestGirl for no reason at all.
“Are we nearly there, Mummy?” asks EldestGirl. We can still see our house at this point.
“No, sweetie,” I say. “It will be about 45 minutes once we get moving.”
“You need to drive faster, Mummy,” suggests EldestGirl, helpfully.
“MUMMY, MUMMY!” shouts YoungestGirl.
We finally get there, and are mugged for the best part of £40. It isn’t busy yet, so we head for the bouncy castles, which I know they will both enjoy. Except, no. YoungestGirl has suddenly and inexplicably developed a phobia of bouncy castles. “Never mind,” says EldestGirl, “we can both go on the teacups together.”
YoungestGirl goes rigid and screams at the suggestion. I bundle EldestGirl onto a sea-themed ride. EldestGirl’s ride has the most annoying music in the world, and lasts for what seems like at least 15 minutes. I let YoungestGirl out of the buggy to have a stomp around. It is a beautiful, sunny day. She finds the world’s only puddle, and wades knee-deep into it, wearing her sandals. Her jeans are soaked. I have no spare clothes. Retrospectively, this was a mistake, remembering how EldestGirl managed to fall into a stream the last time we were here. Luckily the weather is warm.
It is 10.07 a.m. “Can we have lunch, Mummy?” asks EldestGirl.
We go and do the runaway tractor ride. YoungestGirl is massively excited by tractors. “Tractor! Tractor!” she shouts. We get on the tractor’s trailer. YoungestGirl goes rigid and screams; as far as she is concerned, she can no longer see the tractor because we are on it, and therefore she is going to have a tantrum.
Next up on the list is the Peter Rabbit show. “Hop hop!” says YoungestGirl excitedly, before spotting Peter Rabbit and going rigid and screaming with rage that I won’t let her go and touch his feet. She is normally fairly good-natured, so I start to worry she might be ill. After screaming her way through Peter Rabbit, we go to soft play. Everyone loves soft play, don’t they? Well, anyone under the age of 10. Not YoungestGirl. I take her on the slide. She goes rigid and screams. Then she shouts, “AGAIN AGAIN!” I try to pick her up, and she goes rigid and screams. At this point I shove Calpol down her. EldestGirl is hurtling round the place so fast, that I am glad I have put them in matching t-shirts (at EldestGirl’s request) as more than once I have had to ask a member of staff, “Have you seen a child that looks like this one, but bigger?)
Mel is on her way. We are all very excited. “FML,” says Mel, as she arrives. “My youngest has just been sick all down my back, and my eldest has done three poos already.”
And so it goes.
EldestGirl wants to spend the rest of the day in the animal barn holding guinea pigs. Every so often she asks for the guinea pig she is holding to be put back, so she can choose another guinea pig to hold, like it’s some sort of guinea pig pick’n’mix. YoungestGirl is fascinated by the albino guinea pig and I only just stop her from poking it in its red eye. (It was red already, OK?) EldestGirl does not want to leave the animal barn and says she wants to stay there all day holding a guinea pig. I realise I could have bought a guinea pig for £25 from Pets at Home, returned it to them at the end of the day, and even if I didn’t get a refund, we would still have been £15 and a lot of hassle up on the deal. I briefly consider doing this next time.
YoungestGirl wants to go and see the shire horse, but as soon as she does, she remembers she is petrified of horses and goes rigid and screams.
Over the next two hours, it becomes apparent that YoungestGirl is not poorly, not even a tiny bit, but is in fact just being a dick. We are at 21 months, and I think the temper tantrums are beginning to kick in. Luckily – for now – she can be distracted with cake. So she is good-natured for the rest of the day, but definitely risking obesity.
Eventually we decide to call it a day. Mel and I have said at least four words to each other, which is a fairly average conversation once you have children.
We decide to do it all again soon.