This is the post excerpt.
Over the last few years, Mike and I have constantly been asked for recommendations of where people can take their children, whether we have found places to be age appropriate for the musketeers and whether we’d go back to places we have been, again. For 6 years, we have dragged our kids from place to place, both great places and some not so great, to give them experiences and get them trying new things. Now we want to share some of the places we love so our friends with younger children can get some ideas about where to take their kids and maybe some places to avoid too. Obviously everyone is different so not everyone will enjoy what we do, but I hope you manage to find some ideas at least for future fun antics!
How is it only 3 weeks until the Easter holidays already?! I feel as though the kids have only just gone back to school, and already we are wracking our brains over how to keep them occupied for a whole 16 days in the run up to Easter. Over the next three weeks, I will try to review lots of different places which we think are perfect for Easter holiday fun so that by the time they roll round, you’ll be struggling to fit everything in ;). Today I have gone for one place we have been to quite a few times over the last 6 and a half years and things we have learnt from our most recent trips. Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are kept on a lead by the livestock and the play park itself is off limits, opening times are 9am – 9pm (or dusk, whichever one happens first).
The park isn’t very far to drive as it is right by the junction for the service station. You can also get there by train from Ashford Station to Sandling station, and then it is a 15 minute walk from the station. It takes an hour on the bus, but again…it is doable if you’d prefer to go by bus.
First things first…park the car…carefully.
Parking at Brockhill is extremely straight forward if the park isn’t busy. There is a relatively decent sized car park for quiet periods but as soon as the weekends and school holiday strike, or the sun decides to show its unpredictable face…parking is a nightmare. Most of the time, the car park over flows onto the grass verges either side of the entrance driveway, and on the grass under the trees just before you reach the car park. Last year, I went with our friends and we took three cars between us and because I was parked slightly on the grass, I got a parking ticket and the other two (parked right next to me), didn’t! I had even spent £2.50 on a parking ticket and everything but nope, that clearly wasn’t enough for the greedy people working in the car park and they tried to con me out of £70. However, I quickly learnt that because it was a privately owned car park, I didn’t have to pay the fine and although it reached over £200 eventually, they soon gave up trying to scare me into paying it and the case was dropped. Providing you park in the right place, parking will only cost you £1.50 on weekdays and £2.50 on weekends and bank holidays, and they use a registration plate camera so they are aware as to when you enter and exit the park so make sure you get the ticket as soon as you get there otherwise they charge you for that too.
There are toilets and baby change right next to the car park and the little café, but these are the only toilets in the park so it might be worth getting everyone to squeeze out a tinkle before you walk further into the park to save any runs back up the hill to the toilets (quite steep and way too much hassle)…or embarrassing squatting in bushes (which we’ve had to just get over and let our kids do many a time, but when a kid needs to go…they need to go!).
The play park
What I like about Brockill, is the fact the play park is right by the car park so you really don’t have to walk very far if that is the only bit you want to go to. There are also some picnic benches just outside the park and a large grass area if you did want to take a quick picnic so you don’t have to go on a massive ramble if you are only popping by for an hour or so.
The park isn’t the largest we’ve ever been to but there is a big slide which the kids seem to go nutty for; and a horribly dark, crawl through tunnel which goes underneath it should you want to check whether or not you are claustrophobic (I did…and I am!) . There are also a couple of sets of swings, a roundabout, a toddler area and a small climbing frame so definitely enough to burn off some energy at least.
Going past the park…
If you want to carry on along the path deeper into the park, you can take pushchairs quite easily, but you just have to carry them down the steps when you get to them. We managed perfectly fine with a pushchair when my son was a few months old, but it might be slightly harder with wheelchairs.
The park itself is beautiful, there are a lot of bridges to play pooh sticks, trees to climb on and lakes to look at. It is a natural park though, and the lakes and rivers don’t have any safety measures around them so again, might be worth making sure the kids don’t run too far ahead. With adequate supervision though, there is a lot to see around the lake and we have often seen kids with fishing nets in the streams catching little fish in their ice cream tubs. The lake itself, the last time we went, is pure green and stinky but it does mean you get to see a lot of insects, frogs and dragonflies at least.
If you continue down the paths and steps to the very bottom of the park, you’ll find the fields where there are sheep and cows, which you are able to walk through and the animals are really friendly but obviously the further into the park you walk, the further you have to walk back. We got lost the first time we ever went, and ended up in the Brockhill school field, it is easily done! We’ve been to the park in all weathers, but prefer it when it’s dry. Take some food and drink with you (the café is quite expensive) and you can quite easily spend a whole morning or afternoon at the park.
Bing and Flop and Hello Kitty…the pure reasons we ended up going to Drusillas and we are SO glad that we did! We went in February so the weather was quite cold but the kids had thick coats on and the day we went turned out to be dry and sunny, so we were extremely lucky. We paid £64 for 4 of us (2 adults and 2 children, with Perrie going free) by booking online in advance (otherwise would have been £72) and going during the off peak time which doesn’t hit peak prices until the Easter holidays and even then they only increase by £4 for a family ticket. Kids under the age of 2 go free, but understandably as soon as they hit their second birthday, they do count as a paying person as there is so much for them to do. Annual memberships are available for £68 a person with a 20% discount for any renewals at the end of the year. Check out the website for more of their deals regarding discounted animal adoptions and keeper days for annual members.
Driving to Drusillas is always a nightmare of mine as there isn’t a direct motorway route from Ashford and you kind of feel like it’s taking longer than it actually is. It took us just over an hour and a half with traffic, but felt more like 2 hours with the winding roads and driving through town after town. However, a few games for the kids in the car and a good play list to howl and dance to and we were soon there…the journey back however was completely silent as all the kids were completely sparko from the minute we left the car park so every cloud!
Things to make sure you don’t miss in the Farm:
Attempt to milk a “cow”, which isn’t real of course but it gives the kids a giggle and they can see how milk is made and transported.
Interactive information boards about all the animals with flaps to lift, puzzles to do and light up questions and answers with buzzer buttons although there are so many, you would probably be there all day.
You are able to stroke most of the animals, and there are hand sterilizing stations as you walk through the farm so there’s no need to worry about the kids catching anything. I strongly recommend you regularly use these or take baby wipes as Logan once caught E-coli poisoning from a different zoo and was extremely ill with it for a good ten days or so afterwards! I am now one of those completely over the top parents now while visiting anywhere like this, guilty as charged! There are plenty of signs reminding kids to wash their hands though and being able to get up close to the animals just adds to the great experience so it is definitely worth it.
We spent so long looking around the zoo that we didn’t have much time to spend doing the rides and adventure playground; in hindsight we probably would have walked through the zoo a bit quicker as we now know how amazing the other side of the park is. There are so many animals to see in the zoo but apart from a couple of walks you can go on through animal enclosures and the camels; you can see a lot of the same animals in zoos and wildlife parks closer to home. For that reason, next time we go, we will definitely make the most of the rest of the park first by going to the far end and then make our way back through the zoo and farmyard animals so the kids can prioritise their best bits better. Our kids loved the meerkat tunnel, monkey walk through and feeding the birds the best.
When we last went, they did have Thomas land which was brilliant but randomly placed in the middle of the zoo and we didn’t really understand the way the park was laid out. This has since been taken away, which is sad for Thomas fans but it does mean the park layout is clearer and it also means there is room for their new, funky looking safari express.
Throughout the year, Drusillas have special dates to meet characters (usually in the school holidays), this year they have Hello Kitty, Bing and Flop, Chase and Marshall from paw patrol, Peppa pig and George, Danger mouse, TMNT, the Gruffalo, Spiderman, Scooby Doo and a special creepy Crawlies weekend in the Summer. Please note though, dates are allocated to a certain Character so you will have to choose your favourite and go for that day rather than see them all at once. Dates can be found on the website and characters are only out for meet and greets at certain times of the day so you will have to plan your trip out to be in the right place at the right time.
Our biggest regret from the day was not spending enough time at the adventure play area as it is really good and unlike any we’ve been to nearer home. You can easily spend an hour or so just in the play area (which is separated according to age group) and is also right by the café so it is a perfect place for adults to rest their legs while the kids play. As the play area is so big however, it is hard to keep track of your children (especially during busy periods) so you might want to bare this in mind when you’re dressing your kids in the morning and maybe make them wear something super bright! Even myself and Mike managed to lose each other for about ten minutes! This year, they also have the Get Wet water park open from the Easter Holidays until September so make sure you take your swimming stuff, as although we haven’t been to that part yet; the website makes it look amazing! I imagine it to be a lot like the water area of Legoland and we loved that!
Hello Kitty’s secret garden
Our daughter’s favourite part of the day was going on all of the Hello Kitty rides (lovingly accompanied by her older brothers who loved them just as much). There aren’t very many, but there is more than enough to keep any Hello Kitty fan happy, and you can also take pictures in a Hello Kitty filled bedroom too.