Ernespie Farm Review- Children’s Park + Safe Play
The Review Starts Here……..
Some people might find the toilet a strange place to start a review but it’s always the first place I check whenever I go somewhere new that serves food. Why? Because if the toilet is not clean then I won’t be eating anything out of that kitchen! Thankfully the entire room was spotless despite it being 3pm and they had been open since 10 am. Excellent start, Ernespie Farm!
My family and I have waited a long time for a place like Ernespie Farm, there are other play parks in Dumfries and Galloway (which I will also be reviewing) but this one is closest to us and frankly was needed in that area.
Castle Douglas is a beautiful part of Dumfries and Galloway – a gateway to some amazing places in South West Scotland – which does host, among other things, a travelling circus, a fish market and a recently established go kart race, the Soap Box Derby! It has lovely gardens, a thriving caravan park beside beautiful swan-filled Carlingwark Loch, nice public parks and even a castle (hence the name) but it is a quite heavily populated town with a large tourist base crying out for some indoor entertainment with style. Ernespie Farm fits the bill perfectly.
We’ve been driving past the ‘Ernespie Farm – coming soon’ sign for what seemed like forever then suddenly one day I was going to the doctors alone and I saw the sign finally said open – woop woop!
I usually take my time at the doctors, I was having some blood taken by the lovely nurse there, but this time I was like “yep, lovely to see you, is that me? mwah mwah, gotta run!”
I made like Usain and bolted out to the car, then Lewis Hamilton-ed my way to Ernespie Farm, not even stopping at Tesco’s!
Someone at Ernespie Farm likes red, all the signs are red, the lovely driveway to the car park has pretty red flowers, red painted fences to keep the red cows safe (ok just checking you were awake still, calm yourself SCPA no one’s painted the cows!) there are red roofs on the buildings and a lovely path to the door of decorative red tiles.
The car park is generous and had appropriately situated disabled parking which I availed myself of – I am a part time wheel chair and scooter user and can only walk short distances with my stick. I don’t have a hoist fitted in my car yet so it was Shank’s pony for me (unfortunately my pony is spavined and broken winded) luckily I was able to manage the few steps to the door, I cannae always but I was having a ‘good’ fibro day.
The car park itself was spacious clean and tidy at 3 in the afternoon (I wondered if someone was up in the wee hours with a vacuum it was that tidy!)
As I stood facing the main building, a big attractive space with lots of light going in through huge front windows, to my left was a large low walled area that will apparently become an outdoor market area selling the farm’s produce. Looking to my right, I could see the massive and completely accessible via cement pathways (cannae wait till I get my hoist!) outdoor play area in the field next to the main building – it had two flying foxes, hay bales, climbing frames, trampolines, mini tractors to ride round a mini farm, a fab assault course complete with a mini climbing wall and tube slide. Also in the field are two BIG barns where your children can feed and pet animals or ride quad bikes and tractors and they’ve converted a combine harvester into a slide – how cool is that! I guarantee you won’t see many of those around.
Another outside highlight which is being made use of over Halloween is Ernespie Farm‘s wood. They are offering a spooky walk round the wood ending with hot chocolate and some night time play in the soft play area – you’ll need to hurry tho’ as it started on Monday (28th) and finishes today (30th) it’s £3 for members and £8 for non members and one accompanying adult (per child) goes free!
At the moment, till 31st October there is pumpkin picking on offer in the field. Your child gets a wee wheelbarrow and yous go into the field, pick ŷour pumpkin, take it inside to the party barn, carve it there then you can take it home with you – brilliant! The price for this is £4 for members and £12 for non members again one accompanying adult per child gets in free.
Wow, all that and I wasn’t even in the door yet!
I walked past a seating area and the lovely metal fences and rails guarding the path that led to the open fields, in through the first set of safety doors and came to a light airy foyer housing among other things a chalk board (of which there are a few dotted around) currently wishing you a Happy Halloween. I carried on through a second set of safety doors and stepped into Wonderland!…..
Oh me, oh my what a delight! I was greeted by a tall smiley very polite blond lad who showed me around. The gift shop area has lots of farm themed toys available, books, candles even clothing and of course wellies – standard on a farm even one that’s being a park whilst still being a farm! So much light and space so well filled – there are two eating areas, a large quieter farmhouse kitchen cafe with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside and a smaller but still well spaced out cafe area behind the safety gates enclosing the Busy Bees soft play/indoor adventure zone. You can order food from the farmhouse kitchen cafe at the wee counter in the Busy Bees cafe or off their own menu which has more kiddy oriented fare both can be eaten whilst in full view of your playing children.
Next Andrew showed me inside the ‘party barn’ which is a large enclosed wooden space furnished with a long sturdy table and seating otherwise left plain so it can be customised for your child’s party. There are different party packages available, check them out on their website ernespiefarm.co.uk where you can also find prices, opening times, contact details for enquiries about school trips and group bookings and much more….
I spoke to two lovely young ladies Chloe and Abby at the reception desk, so friendly and helpful answering my many questions, I left with a sheaf of papers detailing prices etc and couldn’t wait to go back with my kids!
Before I could take my lot there, my 6yr old Chardae received a party invite to go there, she was well chuffed! They had a choice of sandwiches, she picked chocolate spread which we discovered on a subsequent visit is only available at parties, she had a brilliant time came back raving about it leaving her siblings champing at the bit to go themselves!
(PurpleLioness’ BFF – Big Family Fact
With 5 young children and my disability to take into account – I have found indoor entertainment outside the home to be sparse and costly both in Scotland and the rest of the UK)
Finally a day came where the kid’s behaviour coincided with my finances and we were off! We arrived in the car park after 3pm (I don’t do mornings, I’m physically better the later in the day it gets) I parked in the nearest disabled bay, turned the engine off and all my kids shot out of the car, except my 3 yr old Tyrian who was strapped into her car seat, leading the charge was Chardae wielding the full authority of having been there before “Come on yous the ball pit’s over here!”
When I eventually made it inside with Tyrian some of the lovely staff had shepherded my lot into a corner behind the safety gate where they helped them remove their shoes while I paid the entrance fee at the reception desk. Because we were there after 3 pm I paid the after school play price which was £4 per child. It was a miserable day so we weren’t going to use the outdoor play area, I went into the Busy Bees cafe, claimed a large table and watched my children disappear in all directions before I even sat down, lol!
I took the opportunity to visit the ‘facilities’ then when I came back I had a chance to look over the menu. There is a wee chalkboard on the wall with a few items and also the WiFi password in case you want to get online which I did, as well as menus on the tables with a pretty flower arrangement. Two smiley young lassies, Evie and Victoria were (wo)manning the till but Evie came to my table so I could order a pot of Earl Grey for myself. I just let the kids drink from the water urn provided so they wouldn’t get a stomach cramp from all the running and jumping about.
Whilst at the reception desk I met the lovely owner Rebecca, told her I was doing a review and asked if I could stay behind after everyone had left to take a few pictures for it. She gave me her email and told me she would send me the professional photos she’d recently had taken which was fantastic!
I sat at the table watching my kids happily running and jumping around inside the adventure zone and logged into my website, minutes later a lovely, very tall young man Niall was standing there holding my tea. Having recently watched the movie ‘Tall Girl’ I asked him if he was bothered by ‘tall’ comments but he said it was a conversation starter and he didn’t mind at all, displaying the lovely manner present throughout the staff here that seems to come from genuinely liking working there which is always good IMO.
The tea was lovely and very welcome, I drank and surfed undisturbed by the many children playing feet away from me including my own. Of course that situation couldn’t be allowed to continue so when my sweaty, ruddy cheeked wee cubs finally got hungry and came charging back for food we had a look at the kids menu. Food ordering stopped at 4pm so we quickly ordered a lunch box each for the kids and I had a Goats Cheese, Med Veg & Basil Pesto Panini without the pesto because I’m not keen.
Those of you who have read my previous articles will know I am quite partial to a McDonald‘s Toffee Latte! There were other speciality coffees on the menu so I asked about having a toffee latte made, Niall went foraging came back with all the kid’s lunch boxes, my panini and a passable attempt at a toffee latte made with caramel because that’s what they had!
The kids fell upon their food like it was prey! I had to take a bit longer because I’d made the rookie mistake of not checking what was in my panini before I ordered it. I love onion but it hates me and my panini, side salad and homemade coleslaw were riddled with it. I picked out as much as I could but couldn’t resist the coleslaw so I only had myself to blame for the aftermath! My caramel latte was nice but quite heavy going because it was made with semi when I usually only have skimmed. I asked but they didn’t have any but said I was welcome to bring some next time and they would use it to make my drinks – that’ll do me!
When they’d eaten my kids decided they wanted a different treat to what came in the box and Niall was good enough to let them change it. They wandered about in the cafe area which was starting to empty as it was approaching the 5pm closing time, they started touching a lighted wall I’d noticed at the back of the cafe, I told them off and said to stop touching it but Niall told me that it was a sensory light wall and they WERE allowed to touch it! It was amazing, light follows your hand wherever you touch the screen, I’ve never seen anything like it before v cool indeed. Tyrian and my 4 yr old Jai had a great time chasing each other’s hands all over it.
I’d had a word in the car on the way there so when it was time to leave the kids exited with minimal fuss – they are fully aware of Mama’s criteria for a return visit and very much want to come back soon – Tyrian (aka lightfinger) swiped a toy so I paid for that, they said I didn’t have to but I insisted so I think they put the money in their charity box which worked for me.
On the way home before they nodded off, I asked them what their favourite part of Ernespie Farm was:-
10 yr old Tiger loved the rainbow and cow slides and the ball pit, 8 yr old Violet had a lot of fun with a swinging punch ball, Chardae was all “ball pit, ball pit, ball pit!”, Jai liked the bumpy slide, the swinging punch bag and joined the unanimous vote for the ball pit! Tyrian who was asleep before we even got out of the car park later voted for “all of it!”
The journey back was quiet, punctuated by the occasional snore as my tired, happy cubs dreamt about their next visit to Ernespie Farm when we’ll hopefully get to review the outdoor area too.
Hope you enjoyed reading this review and you’ll pay Ernespie Farm a visit really soon (please tell them you read about it here) If there’s some place, item or service you’d like me to review pls leave me a message with a few details in the comments below…….
Next time here at BabyBore.co.uk – PurpleLioness and family will be visiting and reviewing Barend Holiday Village
*You may wonder what you have to press to see the photos I was talking about, I’m afraid as a bit of an online noob, this is my 1st proper review, somehow I managed to publish it when it was only partly finished and before I could get the photos and full disclosure I’m not sure how to put them on anyway! I’m still learning but if you stick with me I’ll get better and so will my blog. To see photos of Ernespie Farm go to their website above or if you can wait till I learn how I’ll put them on here, TIA krs PurpleLioness.
I’m back! What do you mean you hadn’t realised I was gone? Well, really! No one missed me? I might as well go then ……. nope I’m too excited! This is my new improved (kinda) website, it’s got my previous articles and a couple of new ones that I hope you’ll enjoy and I’ve been learning again – I won’t go into the whole sorry story but behold the few pics I finally managed to put on here!