Today we went to the birthday party of one of N’s swimming friends at All Things Wild. It’s a shame as they’re not much different in age, but the school year split means they’ll not be swimming together anymore.
N can be a bit funny with friends, saying that ‘Only xyz is my friend’ and that he can only have one friend at a time. Sometimes I wonder if he’ll ever come out with that kind of comment directly to another child. Hopefully not. But today (and yesterday), he kept going on about it being T’s birthday, and how he was his friend, and he’d be telling him ‘happy birthday’. So one excited little boy, and I’m sure T was excited about his party.
We’d not been to All Things Wild before, and hadn’t heard of it, surprising given it’s less than an hour’s drive (through gorgeous Cotswold villages). But we found it’s the perfect place for a preschooler’s birthday party…or of course a general day out.
What’s on offer is a real mix. There’s the animals indoors and out, there’s physical activities like pedal go karts, small soft play areas, happy hopperz, a playground, and more gentle activities like panning for gemstones and digging for dinosaur eggs. An eclectic mix, with something different at every turn.
It’s also feels quite informal, and you can mooch as fast or slow as you want. There’s a couple of places to buy food and refreshments, baby change facilities and a large shop (I was amazed that N walked straight through it on the way out, without even glancing at the toy tractors for sale.
When we arrived we headed towards the party room which was our base for the party. The first room we walked through had leopard tortoises, turtles, giant snails and a girl holding a snake for people to touch if they wanted. N didn’t want to touch it, so I showed him it was ok (I’d draw the line at actually holding a snake, but touching is fine). Instead he wanted to have a quick look outside, so had a go on some of the playground equipment.
He still wasn’t keen and instead wandered off as he’d spotted the pedal tractor room. this is a room which has an area set out for kids to pedal or push along the John Deere tractor toys…all to the dvd of Tractor Ted. Once N spotted that, he only wanted to do one lap of the room then sat and watched. I did manage to get him out and back to the party once everyone else was arriving.
Once all the children had arrived, it was time for our All Things Wild guide Luke to take over and lead the children outside towards the bug area amongst some plum and pear trees. The children were given either butterfly nets or bug boxes, and were encouraged to roll over rocks and logs in the squares to see if they could fill their bug boxes to observe the animals. Slugs were popular, plus a spider carrying its sack of eggs and a millipede. N wasn’t much interested, so ended up pottering whichever way he fancied. The other children really got into it though, being much more interested in what animals were around. I remember using bug boxes lots when we used to be in our the wildlife trust’s local WATCH group. It was great fun.
Amusingly we also ended up with a random family tagging along for the bug hunt – they’d come by and just joined in, not realising it was a party event, but they soon wandered off.
Then it was time to meet some of the animals. As I say, a real mix of animals on display including some more unusual animals like the extremely friendly Coati, some sleeping asiatic foxes, a golden pheasant and this unusual peacock. It’s not officially an albino as it’s not got the pink eyes, but made quite a picture compared with the beautiful blues of the normal peacocks.
There were some chickens roaming, so Luke (who seemed to be quite adored by N and the birthday boy) showed one to the children up close. N seems to like birds quite a lot – I’m not sure if that’s because of the pheasant rearing on the farm, and the turkeys that we have about?
Amongst the trees and as you walk round the place, there’s some quirky little touches. I loved these toadstool seats under a tree. Perfect for little ‘pixies’ although I didn’t manage to get a photo of the children on them.
I loved the names of some of the animals. The llamas for instance, Bart and Homer, made me chuckle. As did the question from one of the children asking why they could only see the head of the dinosaur behind. I bet the workers at All Things Wild get some brilliant questions from children who’re looking round!
We were lucky with the weather, as the sun was mostly out, and although there were a few spots of rain, it wasn’t enough to made an impact, and didn’t last long.
A brief stop at the chickens’ run to see if there were any eggs. Luke duly produced some from the chickens (question from the children ‘are there babies in there?’ and the answer ‘no, because there’s no male in with our chickens) with one being a double yoker. I didn’t know you could tell from the length. In future I shall go rooting round egg cartons in the shop to try and find a double yoker as I’ve never had one before. The children were able to touch to feel how warm they were as the hen had been sitting on them.
Eggs found, we saw various other animals like racoon dogs before heading to the meerkats where we were going to feed them the eggs. Of course, everyone loves a meerkat…except it seems N. I do find it strange, that on the farm he’s really interested in the animals, yet sometimes he’ll not want to participate with all the other children and see what other animals there are.
They were given their eggs, and treated us to some classic meerkat hind leg upright poses, before we headed off to the animal encounter barn. The children were able to stroke a giant rabbit, a guinea pig, a ferret and a tiny chick. There’s a variety of animals in there, and what time you go will depend on which animals are brought out for the children to touch, if you’re there on a normal visit.
Past the giant willow chicken sculpture
and a pause at the meerkat boards so most of the children could have a go.
and then it was time to head to the party room for food. All Things Wild include the buffet lunch or tea, and it was great – just the right type of thing for children. Sandwiches, crudites, mini pizza and sausages, crisps, and chocolate krispie cakes for after. Of course, N was still sitting there eating, well after every other child had finished. He was pointing to bowls or plates of remaining food and telling me ‘that one needs eating’ before popping some more food in his mouth. I swear, one day the child will pop!
After the party, the children were then able to spend the rest of the day. There were still things I’d have liked to have seen and showed N. He’d have loved the go karts, and seeing some of the other animals, plus the new dinosaur area. But in the end , he wanted to head home. I think he was just a bit tired as fell asleep straightaway in the car.
Afterwards he said he really liked it, with the best bit being the tractors (argghh, why do children just like the items they have at home!), and the meerkats. I think it’s definitely somewhere to visit again, especially on a day out with friends.
It’s not been open that long, but is obviously popular as the car park was pretty full as we left. From listening to other people walking round (many of whom had much older children), it sounded like people came back frequently so worth checking out if you’re in the area round Evesham.