Mummy Diaries | Celebrating Alfie’s Birthday with Dino Day at Marsh Farm

Boy playing in wooden playground
It had been around (if not, over) 20 years since I’d been to Marsh Farm and truth be told, I don’t remember anything about it. I’d booked the day off for Alfie’s birthday and had planned on coming back to Essex for the day. Alfie loves the farm and he really liked the tractors at The Patch MK, so that was it! He was really excited all week, and on our journey down – and that was before we realised there was a dinosaur theme!

At the moment, tickets are priced at £8.99 for everyone – that was one child (2+), one adult and one senior (60+). I pre-booked the tickets online and the website says it is pre-booking only and there are no admissions on the gate. That wasn’t the case for the woman in front of me in the queue. Probably the only downer of the day, as it made me think, would it be too busy with these extra admissions and how many people would ignore the face mask rule? But I have to say that I did feel safe – there were plenty of hand washing and sanitising stations and I ensured I wore my mask in the area required (the restaurant, hatchery and farm shop).

On arrival

We were given a map, which was so useful – and we ended up just following that. We stopped at most of the attractions that had remained opened. Starting with the playground, which Alfie loved – so much so, he played for ages on our arrival and before our exit. He loved climbing up, going through all the wooden equipment, going down the slide (often headfirst) and doing it all again! It was great to see him gain confidence on the wooden beams, planks and swinging steps – making it across without holding hands!

Despite the excitement of a giant sandpit, he wasn’t interested in the fossil finding area… there were lots of tables set up to be like excavation areas. After hearing there was a prize involved, we managed to encourage him to do it on the way back to the car. And with mummy and nanny’s help, Alfie found four fossils and won a certificate, as well as a toy dinosaur. He proudly tells everyone it’s the “dinosaur from the farm”.

Boy at a fence, looking at the highland cows

Animals and more dinosaurs

Sadly, there were no animal feeding sessions and we weren’t allowed to hold the chicks in the hatchery, which was a shame – especially, when we heard that one of the chicks was only 2 hours old! More of a reason to return. But we did see the llamas and alpacas (who were just chilling on the lawn), the highland cows (who had a lot more energy and were charging about), the kune kune pigs (which were so cute and just kept grunting), as well as the goats and obviously all the chicks. In the hatchery, there were also dinosaurs. We couldn’t get Alfie away from the giant dinosaur egg, which cracked and revealed a baby dinosaur before closing up again… he must have watched it at least eight times!

Boy riding on a blue toy tractor

All the fun of the fair

There was a carousel and teacup ride, both of which are included in the admission, which I found amazing value. Alife went on both and loved it. He went on the carousel first, choosing a hot pink Cadillac as his ride. As soon as it finished, he decided he wanted to go in the pumpkin carriage but as the same man was operating both rides, it was straight to the teacups. I went in with him, just to be safe. He chose the red one. I have to admit, I felt dizzy getting off. And then he decided he didn’t want to go in the pumpkin, and we carried on walking around.

Instead, we went to Tractor Town. It was great because it was so empty – Alfie got the pick of the rides and could just do his own thing. Although his legs weren’t long enough for his feet to reach the pedals, it was still fun. He loved being pushed, going up and down the ramps, through the tunnel and even pretending to re-fuel at the designated station.

After a spot of lunch at the Play Barn Restaurant (sandwiches for mum and I, a kids box meal of burger, chips and beans for Alfie, with a banana milkshake… I have big regrets about not ordering a jacket potato), there was still plenty of time to check out the rest of the site. First, he went to the outside Off Your Rocker area and rode all the rocking horses, before heading to the bouncy pillows. I really wanted to go on them too but couldn’t be bothered to take my shoes off. It was a great excuse for Alfie to burn off some of his energy, although he was a bit shy to begin with. He even told a little boy and his dad to “stop” bouncing. But he soon got the confidence to join and loved rolling around and jumping.

Saving the best ‘til last

And my favourite part of the day (other than seeing Alfie have so much fun)? The farm shop, of course! OMG, I was in my element. I stupidly didn’t pick up a basket and ended up having to head back to the entrance with my arms full of stuff. There was plenty of local produce from Tiptree, as well as all the treats from deli and gourmet suppliers. How I didn’t buy more, I don’t know. But I was happy with my haul. The pick of the bunch – a damson flavoured gin liqueur – which is delicious, and I may even use it to pimp my prosecco. I also got some of the Tiptree pre-mixed can drinks (again, alcoholic), a packet of white chocolate & cranberry biscotti and some gorgeous cheese thins.  

Alfie was too busy sitting outside by the old-fashioned car, enjoying an ice lolly. Surprisingly, he didn’t ask for anything else going around the shop – but I wish I bought him the teddy bear pasta.

In all, it was a really lovely day out and I would definitely return in a post-corona world. Marsh Farm are also gearing up for their seasonal events (Halloween and Christmas), but I don’t think we’ll be returning for those. Whether you’ve got a toddler, or school-age kids, I highly recommend it, as there’s so much to do and it really is fun for all the family.

Love, Lucy xx

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