Friday, 26 June 2015

Rare Breeds Centre fun

 We had a lovely new experience a couple of weeks ago when we went with Toby's nursery on their annual farm trip.  This year it was to the Rare Breeds Centre over the border in Kent.  It was nice timing as Toby has decided outright that he doesn't want to go to nursery so it was a great way to say goodbye to the fantastic staff.  I was as enthusiastic about going to this farm as the kids were because I'd heard so many great things about it.  It certainly lived up to the reports, and then some!
 The Rare Breeds Centre is the base for the Canterbury Oast Trust, "a charity which supports over 160 adults who have learning and physical disabilities" (quote from their website).  They provide a home, accredited training and work experience for many of the folk they support including looking after the animals or growing plants in the nursery gardens.

As a day out for children it is superb.  It's home to the widest range of attractions I've ever seen at a children's farm, including a huge variety of different animals with hands-on opportunities, brilliant play parks, tractor rides, pig racing, a butterfly house, walk-in aviary, a reptile room and much more.

 Picnics are welcome and we enjoyed ours in a beautiful garden, replete with chickens, rabbits, tortoises and information on projects such as square foot gardening and impressive productive vegetable beds.
 The kids were really impressed with all of it, but I think their favourites were the play parks, especially the fort and the tunnel trail.  While Matt and the kids scuttled around the tunnels I went to see the nursery garden and talked to a horticulture tutor and one of her students, who recommended we walk on up to the 'Mysterious Marsh'.

I really loved the Mysterious Marsh with it's challenge of getting around the course without touching the floor, and with a fab outdoor music area at the end of the course.  It's the first time I've done a rope swing from one platform to another in years and was a good opportunity for the boys to show off all the balancing skills they have been practicing at gymnastics.

We visited for three hours, but to do it justice I think we'd need to go back several times.  We'll certainly be looking into the family bird of prey experience which we can book on to when Toby is 5. 

Accessibility and facilities:
The site is really well thought out with respect to accessibility (even the play fort has an accessible entrance) and the staff, volunteers and residents are a really great asset to the farm - the fantastic care that the animals receive is really evident.  The accessible nature of the site means it is ideal for visitors with push chairs or wheelchairs, including accessible toilets.  Picnics are welcome, but there is also a café, shop and other places to buy food including a counter selling teas and ice creams in one of the play parks. 

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