Kiri and


Icecream and crackers

July 18th, 2019 (by Steve)

“We’re still at the stage where a dry cracker has just as much draw as an icecream”. That was the last time we went to Cotswold Farm Park two years ago. Oh, how times have changed. This time it was ALL about the icecream. And we had better weather.

When you go camping as a family of four, there’s a lot of stuff you need to take with you. When you live as a family of four, there’s not much time for writing a list of stuff to take. So, after a quick scout around the house to pick up random important things we just about managed to squeeze into our car alongside all the essentials (like giant marshmallows), hoping that we’d got everything. We remembered the children (I’m told that’s the main thing) and the oldest was determined to “help with the mallet”. Once on site, it turned out that the youngest was determined to eat mud. Great start.

There wasn’t room for food in the car, so once we’d pitched our tent we trotted back out to the supermarket for food, then picked up some supplies in the farm shop, choosing duck eggs as they were just as cheep(!) as chicken eggs. After being told “Daddy, you’re not allowed to play with the frisbee because you’ll get it stuck in the tree again” (fair point), we had a quick camp dinner of reheated leftovers from our freezer then went to see the sheep before bed.

Bed. That thing that normally isn’t too much of a problem. After 2 hours of trying to coax a pre-schooler to sleep, you get slightly delirious, so the phrase “Mummy. You have beautiful eyebrows” seemed hysterical at the time. Eventually both were asleep and we realised what we’d forgotten. A pack of cards. With nothing to do but drink beer, Kiri and I had a proper “date night” and it turned into a blessing that we had no activities to distract us from proper conversation. Well… apart from overheard snippets of conversation from a tent nearby – the typical kind of thing you might expect from a group of teenagers. Fascinating insights… but we never heard the conclusion as our other child woke. Lovely.

When we chose our camping pitch, we deliberately chose a spot in a far corner so that the children wouldn’t be disturbed by other campers. What we didn’t bank on was rooks choosing the same corner for the same reasons… only they have a different idea as to what constitutes a sensible time to wake up. Rooks wake at 5:20, children wake at 5:20, we wake at 5:20. Caws and effect. Coffee was much appreciated at breakfast as were the fried duck eggs and finally, 4 hours and 40 minutes later the farm park opened.

Highlights of the first day:

  • Kiri being asked “do rabbits eat humans?” as Kiri held one on her lap. Kiri answering “no, but some humans eat rabbits”. Not sure who looked more horrified; the other visitors or the rabbits
  • Missing the tractor “safari” and the same little one who was placated with a dry cracker two years ago saying “let’s have an ice cream then”. I mean, it’s good logic, so it was only right to reward the reasoning (and consume one myself)
  • Seeing a sneezing sheep. It must be terrible to be a sheep with hayfever; “I’m so hungry, let me put my nose down to eat the…” *ATISHOO*

It was an easier bedtime with both kids asleep by half past seven, so Kiri and I cracked open the wine and once again put the world to rights with some quality time.

Following a quiet night, the rooks were at it again soon after 5. Joy. But the new day brought reinforcements in the shape of Kiri’s parents. With tent number 2 erected (this time a leak-free tent), we headed back into the park. By my estimation, our little one must have driven at least 4 brands of tractor on this trip, including an electric one, one left on our camping pitch, a John Deere and a JCB. Kiri matched that. I only racked up 3. To be fair, the target audience were children…

The target audience for the bottle feeding of goats was probably children too. The target audience for the huge inflatable pillows was probably children too. But hey, we are still children, right? I mean Kiri brought her parents with her, so we count as children!

Following a sheep fashion show (particularly appreciated by my Welsh Father-in-law, although I’m not sure his heritage is related to his appreciation), ice cream number two happened, as did our youngest being introduced to it by a naughty Nana. Plans of dry crackers being sufficient for months to come melted as quickly as the ice cream in the summer heat.

And then back to camp for a perfect evening – a camp carbonara cooked with local lardons and duck eggs with their huge yolks. Silky, salty, cheesy goodness. Once again we visited the sheep and goats before bed and the children were asleep by half past seven again. Out came the beer, chocolate and canasta. I really didn’t want to like the Rare Breed ale that’s produced from grain grown on Adam Henson’s farm as it was sure to just be a gimmick, but… well… actually, like everything else associated with Cotswold Farm Park, it’s a quality product. A very drinkable beer.

Perfect mornings follow perfect evenings. But only in story books. In reality, rain in the night wakes your children at 4am and you end up with 4 people in a double sleeping bag with 2 of them desperately trying to get back to sleep. And then the cafetiere turns out to be cracked, but you risk it all the same with hot liquid because you need the coffee. But then you realise that you’ve got milk with “cream off the top” from a glass milk bottle which reminds you of your childhood. And then you cook up the remaining duck eggs with bacon, and manage not to burn any of the eggs and you realise you’ve cracked it (the frying of duck eggs, not the cafetiere – that was nothing to do with me, and definitely nothing to do with dry crackers). And then when washing up in the camp kitchen, a retired lady walks in, seductively says “good morning”, then proceeds to hand wash her underwear in the sink next to you. And suddenly it’s all right. And then you stop talking in the second person and starting your sentences with “and”.

Now I’m not saying that the day was planned around replacing the cafetiere but… we decided to go to Stow on the Wold. If only there were a homeware shop there. Great Scott! Scott’s of Stow! Cafetiere purchased. Tea shop visited. Charity shops emptied. Barbecue bits and pieces bought. With all of that stuff (and the wold) all stowed, we returned to campsite for a barbecue and the chance to finally toast those giant marshmallows; a highlight of the holiday for a certain young ‘un!

This time we went into the farm park with animal feed so the sheep, goats, piglets etc were more interested in us than previously. And we were fairly interested in them. At different points dotted around were solar-powered speakers with bits of information. Now I don’t know whether it was the rain affecting the power output, or just that Bob Bunny had been tucking into the Rare Breed ale, but he seemed to be struggling to get his words out to explain the animals around him. By the time we’d finished the trail, the ice cream place was shut, so we packed the kids back off the campsite for an early night; this time they were asleep by half past six.

That left us to have adult tea, then coffee and canasta on the coldest evening so far. Kiri and I were winning by the end of 8 rounds and would have won the ninth (and therefore the game) had it not been for a threat of being mooned by my Father-in-law. I didn’t want to risk it, so played on instead of “going out”. My parents-in-law may have won the game, but (and it’s a big butt) I like to think that we claimed the moral high ground. There was no moon (well, there probably was behind these clouds…) as we crashed out soon after 9pm.

4:30am is slightly more humane than 4am and by now we were in a nice routine of zipping the kids up in the tent compartment with us as we tried to sleep whilst being climbed upon. This was going to be a 2 coffee morning. Once camp was struck (so much easier with 4 adult pairs of hands to occupy the 2 child pairs of hands), we headed into the park for the last time and the kids made a beeline once more for the bouncy pillow.

We were the first customers of the day at the icecream stand and as the different sizes of icecreams were explained, “two shots for adults, one shot for children”, I couldn’t help but wonder what they would be shots of. Whatever it was, the youngest one had a taste for it. Target identified. Target locked. Heading towards Nana. Icecream consumed. All gone. New target identified. Target locked. Heading towards Daddy. No icecream being given. Abort. New target identified. Target locked. Heading towards older sibling. Hmmm, moving target. Must follow.

Fuelled by coffee to offset the early mornings, we departed the farm park wearier than we entered, but with smiles on our faces after a genuinely lovely time. But the holiday hadn’t quite finished… we had another stop to make on our way home. Might our next adventure be a slightly different shape…?

Leave a Reply

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.