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  1. Our recent Dorsetmums Meetup was held at Kingston Maurward Animal Farm and Gardens which is near Dorchester and very easy to find just off the A35.  When we arrived we were met with quite possibly the friendliest welcome from a gentlemen who clearly loves children and was eagerly asking his little customers which animal was their favourite.  I had planned to stay at the door to welcome any families who were coming to join us however my son’s superhero eyesight managed to see the Play Park through the trees and he was off like a flash!  When I did manage to bring him back and fully introduce myself to the staff I was told there was a marquee set up with some toys, free squash for the party plus after lunch they had a hawk display, guinea pig stroking and pony grooming planned!

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    So off we set with our animal food and I tried to say hello to every family I met to welcome them to the Farm.  I was actually quite surprised at how many animals we found and we tried to feed the cheeky Alpacas but they were making funny noises and through cries of laughter I eventually poured some food for them on the grass rather than holding out my hand.  We also found gorgeous little Shetland ponies, donkeys, pigs, goats, calves, birds, guinea pigs and THE biggest bunnies I’d ever seen in my life!

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    We spent quite some time visiting the animals but my son was desperate to get to the Play Park again so off we went.  It might not look huge but it kept him and plenty of other children amused for a long time and it gave me a chance to say hello to some more Mums.

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    After some time I told as many families as I could that we were off to explore the gardens if anyone wanted to join us.  The path we took by the Play Park had a few steps but I’m told there is a pushchair friendly route which I’m sure the staff will be happy to show you.  I utterly loved exploring the gardens and could of spent all day there if my son hadn’t noisily announced ‘I need a poo’!  So off we went to the main house and found some toilets there which he could use.  I really wanted to go down to the lake and find the walled garden too but it was starting to rain a little and I wanted to get back to the Farm in case families were starting to leave. 

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    Back at the Farm we decided it was time to eat in the Café and found plenty of choice including sandwiches and toasties, soup, cake and children’s lunch boxes.  The prices were incredibly affordable and so we sat in the conservatory with a Cheese and Tomato toasted sandwich and drinks to share.

    As we were finishing lunch we noticed one of the staff preparing for the hawk display which we excitedly rushed to watch.  After this we were able to stroke the guinea pigs and groom the ponies which all of the children enjoyed. *Please note that the dsiplays are not on every day.

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    Sadly by now the rain was getting harder and looking at my watch I hadn’t even realised we’d been there well over 4 hours and it was probably time to go home.  As we got in the car I asked Sam what his favourite part of the Farm was and had to laugh when he said ‘milking the cow’.

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    All in all, we had a fantastic day and would thoroughly recommend it to others.  The staff clearly enjoy their job and we quite liked the non commercial feel of the Farm.  Most of the Farm and Gardens are outdoors so probably not enjoyed so much on a Great British rainy day but you could always run inside for a cuppa while a shower passes. 

    Please visit the Website for Admission Prices and keep an eye out for a money off voucher in their leaflet.  Annual Passes are great value for money at £21 for a Single Ticket, £37 for a Double Ticket and £50 for a Family Ticket.

     

    Nice to know….

    Car Parking is Free.

    The Café has a microwave which you can use to warm baby milk and baby food.

    There are colouring in pictures and crayons in the conservatory to keep the children entertained.

    The Café has plenty of food and drinks however there is a larger restaurant located at the House serving hot meals.

    The toilets have baby change units.

    There is an outside area to wash your hands but it’s advisable to carry baby wipes and anticbac gel.

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    The beautiful Gardens are set within 35 acres of grounds and staff will be more than happy to tell you about the history of the Estate.

    The leaflet we were given states there is a Nature Trail around the Lake so please ask for details on arrival if you are interested.

    You can buy bags of Animal feed for 50p.

    There is a nice small gift shop for all of the good little boys and girls and the prices are not highly inflated like some popular Attractions.

    Kingston Maurward have lots of family Events throughout the year including Lambing Weekend, Easter Egg Hunts, Fairs and the popular Family Fun Day.

    Please keep an eye out their Facebook page for news or follow them on Twitter.  If you would like to know more about Kingston Maurward then please visit the Website

    Big thank you to everyone at Kingston Maurward for such a fantastic day and for putting up the Marquee, providing the squash and animal displays.  We’ll see you again in Spring!

    Love

    Dorsetmum

    Xxx

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    Please note the prices and details given were correct at the time of writing and Dorsetmums always advises readers to contact a venue before travelling if you have any queries.

  2. We visited Monkey Madness for the first time today as a friend of ours lives on the other side of Christchurch and we always love an excuse to go somewhere new.

    It’s not the most impressive building on the outside but don’t let that put you off.  As we went in we were instantly met by a welcoming smile and after paying and a quick chat with the gentlemen we went in to find a seat.  There was so much choice on where to set up camp with plenty of sofa areas and dozens of tables and chairs.  I especially liked that the tables ran around the perimeter of the soft play so you can see the frame at all times plus there were lots of tables in the café area too.

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    My son who recently turned 3 is now a perfect age for the larger soft plays as he can climb up and down on his own and after a few years of chasing him around I now quite enjoy being able to relax and watch him instead. 

    There is a small enclosed play area and frame which is for under 4’s plus there’s a larger play frame suitable for over 3’s with multi levels, slides, walk ways, tunnels and more.  The part I loved the most was that you can walk under the middle of the play frame and see the children above your head, which is great if you're worring about the location of your little one!

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    I do like to be nosey when visiting somewhere new and asked if it would be ok to have a quick look at Laser Madness which is upstairs.  Having never been in one before I couldn’t believe how cool it looked and knew all children (and many adults) would have a whale of a time in there.  I quite like that you don’t need to wear an uncomfortable vest and you just grab your gun and go.  The game is played in a purpose built arena with pirate ship, passageways, fog, lights and sound effects.  Sadly the minimum age is 6 so my son will have to wait a few years but you can enter either with friends for a casual game or book a birthday party. 

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    While we were at Monkey Madness we decided to have lunch and found the Menu had a huge choice of hot and cold food plus the children could either choose from a lunch box meal deal for £4.50 or a hot meal from £3.50.  My son wanted the box meal which included a choice of sandwich, crisps, biscuits or yoghurt, fruit and a drink.  I quite liked that the sandwiches weren’t pre made and we only had to wait a few minutes before it came on a plate with cucumber and carrot sticks.  Other food on the Menu included sandwiches, baguettes, ploughmans, salads, breakfast, platters, burgers and much more all at a very affordable price.

    After our lovely lunch my friend had to leave so I thought we’d stay for 5 minutes and then go but Sam made a lovely little friend and they had a great time racing each other to get to the top of the big slide.  I did eventually manage to coax him out and on the way to the car I asked what his favourite part of Monkey Madness was and he said he loved the ‘wobbly slide with the balls at the bottom’.  

    5 minutes later he was fast asleep in the car seat. :)

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    Good to know………….

    The Car Park is Free.

    Inside Monkey Madness there is a secure gate in and out which the staff need to operate so you know a little one can’t escape without an adult.

    You need to hand over your child’s shoes when you pay so don’t do what I did and head into a blind panic when you can’t find them under the table at home time!

    The music is fairly low which was nice although I’m told the children’s screams of laughter and joy can be quite loud on a weekend!

    Baby Change facilities are in the Ladies, Mens and Disabled toilet plus there’s little stools for the sinks.

    Monkey Madness have many Party Packages which include Play Time, Hot/Cold Party Food and Unlimited squash.  Other packages also include a Party/Disco, Make a Bear and Face Painting.  If your child has a few friends with Birthdays near each other then you could consider exclusive hire which is from £150 for up to 100 children!  (Specific days and times apply.)

    Admission prices are slightly higher than other local Soft Plays however it is larger than most of them and worth it in my opinion.  If you are local then you should consider a £10 membership card as this gives reduced entrance fees throughout the year plus seasonal offers.

    At busy times the play may be restricted to 90 minutes.

    There is a lovely side room which is available for hire.  If you are looking for children’s groups and classes then you’ll find regulars like Tiny Talk, Creation Station, Club On Y Va, Music Bugs, Tip Toes Dance Academy, and Hartbeeps visiting.  You’ll even find Belleru Boutique occasionally dropping in at Monkey Madness to sell their Pre Loved children's clothes.

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    Thank you very much Monkey Madness for a great couple of hours.  You may be a little trek from home but we will most certainly be back with more friends soon.

     

    Love

    Dorsetmum and Dorsetson

    xxx