For the last few days we've all been nursing horrible colds and coughs, which has meant cancelling all our plans - of which there were many, given that we're on the lead up to Christmas and we're into our final month in the UK and we've finally got that whirlwind panic on where you try to fit as many people into each day as possible.
We were supposed to be taking the littlest hobo to see Santa at Bockett's Farm near Leatherhead in Surrey. last Friday with some friends, but Thursday night was spent mostly awake, with her coming down with this virus, so by Friday morning we had to cancel. The littlest hobo was disappointed, but took it in the way that most toddlers do and was happily distracted by a plethora of other amusements, but we still really wanted to take her.
After too many housebound days, and starting to feel like we're heading out the other side of this thing, we decided that today was the day. So we wrapped up warm, picked up our niece, who is always up for a Christmassy adventure, and headed to the farm. My friend had told me after her visit on Friday that it was excellent, so my expectations were set quite high.
I'd heard it was quite popular, and the system is such that you are given a time slot for your Santa visit when you arrive, and then go off to explore the farm. I was keen to get there as early as possible, although we had a slow start to the morning, plus we decided to wait and see how we felt before we decided to go, so it was around 11.30 when we finally arrived. Luckily it was the last day of school in Surrey, so it was pretty quiet. I'd printed a discount voucher off their website, so our entry was reduced. We were offered a choice of Santa slots - we opted for 12.15.
While we were waiting we walked around the farm and fed the animals. It's lambing season, and there were several baby lambs, two of which had only been born a couple of hours earlier; it was quite magical to see. You're encouraged to buy bags of food for the animals and get right up to their enclosures - most of them were really friendly, ad it was great being able to stroke them. There's also a large amount of play equipment, both indoor and outdoor and something to please children of every age from what I could see. The littlest hobo especially loved the trampolines.
|Only a few hours old!|
When our time to visit Santa came, we went to the front of the barn. There was a little trailer being pulled by an elf driving a quad bike which carried approximately 15 kids, and the parents walked alongside. The littlest hobo was a little dubious about getting on the trailer without us, and as it wasn't full they allowed her grown up cousin to ride with her. The trailer ended and we were all lead through the haystacks into the barn. In the first room the elves talked to the kids, asking them what they were going to ask Santa for this Christmas and then playing a game or two with them, which was just as well, because it kept them moving to help ward off the cold! Then we were led through a maze of tinsel decked tunnels into another hay room, where we were greeted by the big man himself.
|It wasn't just the little people who were excited!|
In the car, the littlest hobo had been stiff with excitement, repeating 'I'm excited, I'm excited, I'm excited' as we drove into the car park. I was still a little dubious, given this was the same little girl who had turned blue with screaming when we saw Santa from a good 50 metre distance in Westfield at Bondi Junction last year. And last week, when Santa popped by my parents house on his way to a party at the local nursery school, she was happy enough to be held near him, but struck mute for the entire time he was with us. So I was really pleased when I saw how it worked at Bocketts. we all sat around on hay bales while 'Father', as the littlest hobo calls him, talked to the children. Then he invited them up a couple at a time to tell him what they wanted and get a small gift. This was the perfect introduction to Santa visits for a somewhat timid toddler - she didn't have to sit on his knee, and she stood up there with other kids (and her cousin). She even told him she wanted a Buzz Lightyear for Christmas, which was news to me! Santa and the elves seemed really friendly and good with children, and I was suitably impressed by the whole experience.
|Meeting the big man himself|
The farm also has tearooms, where we warmed up and enjoyed a tasty and warming lunch, and a shop. They were also selling Christmas trees today. We were free to go back into the farm after we'd met Santa and eaten our lunch, so we wandered around for a while longer, seeing all the animals again and playing on the outdoor play equipment, but eventually the cold air got the better of us and we returned to the warmth of our car.
We've been to the farm a couple of times in the summer, and thought it was good then, but I was really impressed by the Santa visit - if you're in the area and have kids i would definitely recommend paying Santa a visit at Bocketts Farm.