Living in deepest, darkest, estuary Essex it can be hard to imagine much countryside around here. Sure, we have the seaside, which I am eternally grateful for, but having grown up on the other side of the Thames with fairly easy access to fields I like to be able to take my son out to somewhere where he can run around in a field and see some ‘proper countryside stuff’.
Hadleigh Rare Breeds Farm is the perfect place for us, it’s about a fifteen minute drive from Southend, and only costs £2.50 for people over three to get in. A quick calculation definitely puts me in that age bracket. The farm is owned and run by The Salvation Army. It’s a commercial farm that also works as a training centre for people for people with special educational needs, and if you needed any further convincing on it’s general greatness then all you need to know is that there is a tea room. And I love tea rooms.
The Toddler, obviously, adores it there, especially yelling ‘BAAAAA!!!!’ at the sheep as loud as he can. You can buy bags of food to feed the animals for 40p which is also a huge winner with him and means that he can get up close to pat the animals in a way that, say, I wouldn’t let him do with people’s dogs around my way. If you’re a bit ‘hmm’ about letting your small child near the more bitey of animals with their lovely chubby fingers then there are some brilliant drainage shoots that they can throw food down for the animals to catch at the other end. Or they can jut yell down them at the animals. I imagine this depends on how many chocolate buttons they’ve eaten that day.
To find out opening times and all that, the Salvation Army’s proper website is over here.