HAMPSHIRE: Finkley Down Farm

The Saunders family handle the rabbits at Finkley Down lr
The Saunders family handling the rabbits at Finkley Down
By Tim Saunders
Confidence and independence.
Two key qualities that a day out at Finkley Down near Andover gives our children. It’s amazing to see.
Little Henry (3), who when we last visited was literally latched to mummy and had to be carried almost everywhere, is now roaming free. And he loves it. The sense of achievement in his little face is a sight to behold as he says: “I’ve done that myself,” on doing lots of climbing in the indoor play area and going down the big slide all by himself.
Caroline and I can almost relax as Harriett (8), Heidi (6) and Henry run off to the slides, the soft ball area and the big Lego bricks. And that’s just indoors. Outside, and this for me is the main reason of visiting, is a variety of animals, some that you’d expect to find on an English farm such as cows, chickens, sheep, pigs and goats. Others you wouldn’t expect such as snakes, lizards and meerkats, which only arrived in the summer of 2018 so are still settling in.
A smile is raised on seeing some of the names of the pens where these animals reside. We have Cluckingham Palace for the chickens of course and Meerkat Mansion.
Old tractors that are scattered about prove of great interest to Henry, especially.
On arrival the children thoroughly enjoy feeding the goats and stroking them, too.
“Can I hold a rabbit?” asks Henry eagerly. Fortunately, children are able to do just this at 11am and 4pm so we make sure we attend both sessions. He really seems to grow in every way during the day.
What is also enjoyable is that while the site is a reasonable size it is just large enough for little ones – there are no complaints about them being tired at all. Sometimes venues can be too large, we find. The children do so much running around and have to play on everything in sight of course. Outside their attention is first caught by the large sandpit complete with two sinks and running water. They spend a good amount of time here excavating and creating a pond that they hope nobody digs up the following day. They are all very happy to be digging and pouring water. A bench is helpfully located nearby for Caroline and I to rest – we didn’t sleep the previous night, not for excitement about this trip but Henry got up to go to the toilet and had to sleep in our bed afterwards.
Although the weather is overcast for the entire day we are lucky because it doesn’t rain. There are plenty of bench tables from which to choose for our picnic lunch of homemade egg mayonnaise (Harriett and daddy’s favourite) and cheese and tomato sandwiches for everyone else.
Then there are the mini tractors that Henry and Harriett enjoy riding. There is a zip wire which Harriett loves going on, too. Of great interest to her also is the mini golf course. “George at school plays golf and I can now tell him that I’ve done it too,” she says. It holds Henry’s interest for a little while before the ever confident little chap has his own plans and runs off. Daddy in hot pursuit.
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