As seems to be usual with a little one (well, that's my excuse!), we didn't get away 'til nearly 11, but it was only a 10-minute drive. We got out all our picnic and baby stuff, paid £2.10 to park all day, and walked across to the play area. It was absolutely packed with screaming kids, and David, in particular, wasn't keen to stay there, but there was so much that Iona could play on if we were prepared to wait for our turn. First we had a go on the see-saw, with Mummy on one end and Daddy holding Iona on the other. Then, after a little wait, Daddy pushed Iona on the swing. I've been to the park with her a few times, but this was Daddy's first time to do so, and I think he enjoyed it. We also gave Iona a couple of goes on the smallest slide, as she can just about go down on her own now.
I'd brought a lunch, which we ate in a shelter by the duck pond, then Iona was very keen to have a go on the panda ride. She'd never tried one before, as I wanted David to see her first time, and all of them around here seem to cost a pound. They also say the minimum age is 3, but nearly 2 years seems a very long time to wait for her to have a go, and this one was only 20p, so I persuaded David to let me try her on it, with me holding her tight. Once she got used to it she really enjoyed it, humming "brrmm" as she rode, and even starting to sing.
Afterwards it was back into her pushchair then we walked through a much quieter part of the park, towards the craft village. There was a lovely view as we crossed a bridge over a little brook:
A little beyond it there was a lovely open space with benches where people were sitting and feeding the ducks and geese, so we joined them. Iona enjoyed watching the birds. although I think she misheard me saying "goose" and insisted on calling them "mmm" (i.e. "moo")! The craft village was lovely, with a honey shop, a gift shop, and some other shops that we didn't go in, such as "Paint a Pot". We passed through, then went to the tea room at the Orangery and bought some ice creams. We sat in a shaded spot by a lawn and enjoyed some lovely soft ice cream, David and I in cones and Iona in a bowl.
Iona then had the chance to crawl around on the lawn, although she preferred to sit, smile at the lady behind us and look cute!
Iona and I have been looking at, and talking about, trees lately, and she's even begun to call them "tr", so this was an ideal opportunity to reinforce it. She pointed at one while we were sat on the lawn, so I reminded her it was a "tree".
By now Iona was beginning to get tired, so we headed back to the play area, where we went past the donkeys and had a look at them. Iona has lately begun to click her tongue in a horse's hooves sort of way when she sees pictures of horses and donkeys, so I thought she'd like them, and she did. When I pointed out what they were she joined in clicking her tongue with me.
I changed her into a swim nappy and tried to get her into the, by now incredibly full and noisy, paddling pool, but as soon as she felt the cold water she screamed and insisted on getting out. She wouldn't even sit on the side with me, but flung her arms around me and wasn't happy 'til she was up in my arms and going back to Daddy at the bench. We were all feeling the heat now, so decided to give up and go home after a coffee. However, there was the world's longest queue at the kiosk, so I suggested we go and have a look at the farm and cafe we'd seen on the way.
Iona was pretty sleepy, but perked up at the cafe, when I gave her her milk. We then walked 'round the farm, which only cost £1 each. It was quite small, though, and smelled really acrid. The animals were lovely, and Iona loved them all, especially the cows (she's always saying "mmm" for "moo" when she sees a toy or picture of a cow). We also saw some gorgeous piglets, one of whom was very lively and mischevious - it jumped up at the sty wall when I held Iona up to it to look over, and almost got her. I don't think it would have bitten her, as it kept sniffing and nuzzling at me, but it certainly surprised us all! We also saw a wonderful, huge Shire horse and her young foal. She was very friendly and happy for me to fuss both the foal and her, but David was quite nervous of me touching such a large creature who towered about a foot and a half over me!
By half past 3 our parking on the road was up, and we were ready for home. We were exhausted, but Iona enjoyed a great day out (as did we), and hopefully learned a bit more about the natural world in particular, as well as improving her physical abilities.