I love Easter time; lighter evenings, streets lined with blossom-laden trees, fresh starts and new beginnings. Even though I’m 28 now I still make the effort to celebrate the occasion in any way that I can and I’m lucky enough to have a family that understand the importance of it too.
Gareth and I spent this Easter in Paris so we couldn’t eat chocolate eggs, cook a roast dinner or do any of the things we usually might. When we got back from our trip we decided to have a nice day out with my family and do the most Easter-inspired, Springtime thing possible and feed the lambs at Barleylands.
Barleylands Farm Park is situated in Essex on the outskirts of Basildon. It’s a popular attraction for families with small children because there are lots of play areas and hands on experiences with the animals – at Easter time it’s even more chaotic than usual as there are lots of fun egg hunts and Spring-themed activities to entertain the kids.
Gareth and I had been to Barleylands prior to this visit and had really enjoyed ourselves – but my family hadn’t; I knew they’d enjoy bottle-feeding the lambs and wandering around the farm as much as we had.
On the day we visited the sun was shining weakly but it was cold and blustery. This didn’t stop the masses from descending on the farm however and it was as packed and noisy as ever. Entrance in to the farm cost £12 per adult.
Upon entering the farm we were handed a timetable of events going on in the day. We don’t tend to stick to timetables though, much preferring to do our own thing, but we definitely noted down the times of the lamb-feeding!
Our first stop was at the lamb barn as we wanted to see the cute little things before feeding and before it got a bit manic in there. Obviously much cooing was had over them as they were completely adorable!
After much fussing and photo-taking we left that barn and moved on to the next. The Discovery Barn is filled with exhibits of vintage machinery and tells the story of rural life in times gone by. It’s also linked to the reptile house so whilst some of us were busy searching out the lizards that were experts at camouflage others were hopping on to tractors and re-living their youth!
As Gareth had purchased some animal feed we walked around the park looking for hungry animals. The goats were very eager to be fed but became really greedy and aggressive toward each other in a bid to eat all the scraps.
The park itself isn’t very large and it doesn’t feature any exotic animals but it’s well laid- out, the enclosures are spacious and the animals that they do have are well-looked after. In addition to the goats and lambs, Barleylands is home to chickens, ducks, pigs, cows, rabbits and alpacas.
Inside the Animal Contact Barn you can get a bit more hands-on with some of these creatures and feed them as well as stroke or touch them. We had a wander around the barn for a little bit before heading to the outside aviaries to see the birds of prey.
The aviaries are home to different kestrels, owls and falcons. These are flown on the farm at various times throughout the day. Gareth and I have seen plenty of flying shows not to be too fussed about missing out on another one, but we all enjoyed seeing the birds of prey in their downtime.
And finally, it was time to feed the lambs!
We made sure to get to the barn nice and early and with plenty of time to spare. When we got there it was pretty much empty, but as the time wore on it became extremely packed with pushy mothers elbowing in and shoving us to the side We actually didn’t end up getting to feed any lambs at all because it became so busy there was not enough bottles to go around! This I felt was a let down, but mostly because the staff didn’t handle the situation very well. Obviously everyone wanted to feed the lambs but I feel a ticket service on a first come first basis would have worked much better than the chaos that unfolded! If there is one thing I would tell potential visitors it would be not to get your hopes up in that department!
After that I felt a little disappointed but at least we’d got to see the lambs earlier on which eased the annoyance a little. We headed off to the sweet shop in search of some treats and had a wander around the Craft Village instead.
After a little browsing and photo-taking we decided to call it a day and head to a restaurant for dinner. All in all we did have a lovely day at Barleylands and it did feel like a suitable Easter celebration. However, that said it was a little sad to miss out on the lamb-feeding as we had so hoped we would be able too! Perhaps on another visit next year?