A couple of weeks ago we were invited to stay in Hampshire by the lovely folk at Hampshire’s Top Attractions. I’ve visited Hampshire quite a few times, but it was a first for Nick and the kids, and I couldn’t wait to show them the New Forest and everything this beautiful county has to offer!
Our journey from Yorkshire didn’t actually take as long as I thought it might – and we stopped off at National Trust Charlecote Park (Warwickshire) en route for a sandwich, an ice cream and a run around before getting back in the car to our final destination.
Hampshire’s Top Attractions had put us up in the Hilton Ageas Bowl for three nights and it was GORGEOUS! We were in a Queen Deluxe Room, which had it’s own balcony over the cricket pitch.
Busby was on the pull-out sofa bed and we brought our own travel cot for H-Bear… there was just about enough room for us all, although next time I think we’ll be requesting adjoining rooms or a suite as sleep didn’t really happen for either child until gone 11pm most nights!
The bathroom was beautifully designed with a massive shower and free-standing basin unit that I continuously lusted over.
After dropping our bags off in the room, we decided to head to Pizza Express in Southampton for some dinner. Southampton seems to be in the midst of a regeneration, so it wasn’t the prettiest city we’ve ever been to, but we found a parking spot fairly easily and, although service was slow, we had a good meal before heading back to the hotel.
I never normally sleep particularly well the first night in a hotel, but Nick, Busby and H-Bear all slept until around 8am! We headed down to breakfast, which was in the Beefy’s restaurant. The decor was absolutely stunning, and the breakfast selection was huge – with something for everyone. Busby loves a buffet breakfast, so kept returning with plate after plate…
We all had showers before heading out to our first attraction – Longdown Activity Farm.
The farm was about 20 minutes away from the hotel, on the edge of the New Forest in Ashurst. There were SO many things to do, with a comprehensive schedule for the day. We started off at the diggers and ducks:
Before heading over to the goats (where I think the children could have spent all day!) and the go carts.
The farm was surprisingly busy for a slightly soggy Monday, so after visiting the horses, ponies and donkeys we decided to sit down in the play area for a picnic and wait for the tractor and trailer ride at 1pm. The tractor ride was great – and both children thoroughly enjoyed it!
We decided to explore the various outbuildings afterwards, and we came across baby guinea pigs which had Busby and I squealing with delight.
Then the highlight of the day – collecting eggs from the chickens and taking them to the shop in exchange for a sticker! This was definitely Busby’s favourite part of our visit to Longdown Activity Farm!
We had a good bounce on the trampolines (I think the adults enjoyed this more than the children) and then headed to the indoor play area as it had started raining heavily. Sadly it was full of school children, so I didn’t get any photos, but Busby enjoyed it… H-Bear was too little compared to the other children and kept getting pushed over, but it would have been fine for him if it was quieter.
We then explored the rest of the farm before finding the Farmer’s Straw Den, which was a huge hit with both children!
A family ticket to the farm is £27.90 (and under 3s are free) and it was a lovely day out for all. I wish we’d seen more of the scheduled activities such as baby goat feeding and bottle feeding the calves, but the children were quite happy exploring and sticking to their own agenda!
Both children were very ready for a nap on the way back from Longdown Activity Farm, so we decided to have a drive around the New Forest towards Lepe Country Park and the beach. I’m so glad we did, as I’ve never seen a beach like it before! It was so green and beautiful, with little rockpools for the children to explore.
Although windy, it was still warm, and the sun sparkled off the Solent.
Busby packed her pockets full of so many shells that her shorts were soaking by the time we got back to the car, and it must have taken almost 10 minutes to empty the shells out into the boot!
We could have easily spent longer than an hour exploring, but tummies were rumbling by this point, so we headed off in search of a pub for dinner (The Empress of Blandings – very good food!) before heading back to the hotel.
Read all about where we went next in Part Two tomorrow!