The school summer holidays will soon be upon us and it’s always tricky to think of ways of keeping children and grandchildren amused. If you are fortunate enough to be visiting this part of the world, then I can highly recommend a trip to the Miniature Pony Centre, just outside Moretonhampstead.
I took my eldest daughter there, many years ago now, and she loved it so much, she wanted to move in! I recently visited again with a friend and her eight-year-old… and I can confirm it is just as much fun as I remembered!
Small or baby animals are always going to be a hit with children, but at the Miniature Pony Centre, they seem to have a knack of making it extra special. Children (and parents) can have lots of ‘hands on’ time with all sorts of animals, from foals to lambs to pigs and more. ‘Eros’ the baby donkey was an absolute delight, utterly cuddleable and with the softest fur (do donkeys have fur?!) you can imagine, and so gentle! The children can get right in among the donkeys and ponies in the barn area, or out in the fields. A pony ride was also on the agenda and the staff are all friendly and knowledgeable.
An added bonus was an excellent children’s entertainer, Professor Bumble, who kept around 30 children utterly enthralled for over half an hour… which left plenty of time for we adults to enjoy a coffee in the very pleasant café! I’d give the Professor a gold star as he juggled, rode a unicycle, made animals out of balloons, performed magic and told jokes endlessly, with all the children ranging in age from about two to 12, genuinely captivated. Talented chap!
We didn’t manage to get to the bottle-feeding session as we were too busy petting a lamb, but instead ended up in the ‘Fort Bovey’ – a sort of indoor assault course that meant going up a climbing wall, down a slide and through various tunnels again and again and again – you have so much energy when you are eight!
At the end of the afternoon, as ice creams were being consumed, we all lined up and shouted and clapped to drive the ponies out of the field and up into the main barn for feeding. This was great fun as the ponies (who know perfectly well where they are going!) all go cantering past at speed to the delight of the watching, and squealing, children!
When asked what she had enjoyed the most, our eight-year-old guest said simply ‘Everything!’ Now you can’t ask for any more than that, can you?