This time last week we decided to take a trip down memory lane and visit Wroxham Barns. Many years ago when I was a teenager I went on holiday to North Walsham with my Mum and visited Wroxham Barns all those years ago. It was somewhere that had always stuck in my memory so I wanted to go back and share that with Little Bean and Beanie Boy (though he obviously won’t even remember it next week!).
It had expanded quite a bit from what I remember, the biggest addition being the Junior Farm but first things first, lunch!! I’ve never been the best time-keeper in the world but since children I’m even worse so never tend to get anywhere until lunchtime. There were benches all around the central courtyard so we were able to feed the children without too much distraction. There were also some lovely looking restaurants and cafes but Mum and I were saving ourselves for fish and chips later.
Once the children were satisfied Little Bean wasted no time in pointing us in the direction of the Junior Farm. We were each given a wristband that would allow us to come and go from the Junior Farm as we pleased. I think this is a fantastic idea where small children are concerned because they tend to rush around things and want to go to back to them again later. Once inside the Junior Farm there was a large board detailing the feeding times of the different animals so that you could plan your visit around feeds if you so wished. I was most looking forward to Little Bean having the opportunity to bottle feed the calves so we made a mental note to come back later.
We had looked in one of the local “Things To Do” brochures and had found a voucher which entitled us to a free bag of animal feed. Little Bean loves feeding the animals, by this I mean, Little Bean loves telling me which animals to feed as she doesn’t want to get her hands dirty!! So I had the fun job of holding my hands out whilst the sheep licked the palms of my hands as if their life depended upon it. Every now and then Little Bean would randomly throw a handful of food at the sheep but that was as close as she would get. Little Bean said she thought the sheep had funny faces and sounded like Beanie Boy when he’s trying to go to sleep!
Also keen to make our acquaintance were the goats although there were signs asking us not to feed them, so we felt a little sorry for them.
After the sheep we made our way to see the birds and the ponies. The birds weren’t too excited to see us but the ponies followed us everywhere we went. Little Bean found this most amusing as she ran back and forth at the side of their pens.
Before long it was feeding time for the pigs and so we headed over to watch. Little Bean was quick to point out that the pigs seemed a bit greedy with their food and were making a lot of mess. She thought the small pigs were ‘cute’ and she loved their curly little tales but she thought it was very funny that she could see their bottoms!! Just as we were walking away from the pig enclosure we were faced with a pig who was not in his pen, it would appear that someone had left the gate open and the pig took the opportunity to go on a walkabout. Thankfully the staff were swift to return him to his rightful place before the pig or anyone else came to any harm.
Within the grounds of the Junior Farm is a small soft play centre which was a welcome break for the children to let off a bit of steam and have a run around. Beanie Boy was a bit apprehensive of the ball pit to begin with but by the time we were ready to leave he took some persuading to get out again.
Mum and I decided that we had now earned the time to spend on a little retail therapy so we visited some of the craft shops which were all laid out beautifully but in all honesty were a little on the expensive side. I understand that handmade goods generally do cost a little more but many of the products were items that could be found in normal high street stores and department stores at a fraction of the price so this was a little disappointing for us. Wroxham Barns was very busy with coaches of visitors and I wasn’t surprised to hear a few people when talking to fellow passengers that they hadn’t bought a thing because it was way overpriced. Perhaps this is something that the retailers need to consider in the future?
Unfortunately the pricing was not the only downside for me. Mum and I were in need of a coffee (after our early awakenings from the children) and so we went into the small cafe (not the restaurant). There was no-one serving at the counter when I arrived so I pushed the bell for assistance. At this point I was the only customer waiting to be served but moments later a lady arrived at the ice-cream counter on the opposite side to me. When an assistant finally came she headed straight to the ice-cream counter without a word to me. I’m quite a patient person so I let this slide but when a queue formed at the ice-cream counter and she continued to serve them and ignore me, I became a little agitated to say the least. When she had served three people and still ignored me, I asked her if I was stood in the wrong place to order a drink to which she replied “no”. I asked why she hadn’t served me and she said “because I’m doing the ice-creams”. I then pointed out that I had actually been then long before the people at the ice-cream counter and was told “well I only do ice-creams”. If there is one thing I can’t stand it is bad customer service so I told her that I thought her service was extremely poor to say the least. She shrugged her shoulders and continued with her ice-cream! Lesson learned, don’t expect too much here, this was not a busy time and they clearly didn’t have the staff to cope.
As the time approached for calf feeding we headed back to the Junior Farm and took our place in the cow shed. When the staff arrived with buckets full of bottles of milk I was surprised by how quietly Little Bean sat and listened to the talk. There were 4 calves in the shed and they were being bottle-fed because their Mums were all dairy cows. The calves would have been breastfed for the first two weeks before transferring to bottles of which they would have 8 bottles a day. Little Bean was very excited at the prospect of feeding them and couldn’t believe how fast the milk disappeared from the bottles.
Once we had fed the calves we finished off our visit to Junior Farm by seeing the donkeys who were lovely and very funny. One of the donkeys became quite jealous if the other got too much attention and would headbutt the other donkey out of the way, and if that wasn’t enough jealousy for one day, whilst we were busy petting the donkeys the small pony behind us began kicking the fence as is to say “oi what about me!”. Little Bean found this very amusing indeed.
On our way home from Wroxham Barns we stopped off at the small town of Hoveton and treated ourselves to Fish & Chips from Ken’s Fish & Chip shop. If you are staying in the area you really must give them a try, they were by far the best Fish and Chips I have had for a long time (so much so I wanted to go back the next day).