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tried & tested

When there are so many places to choose from it's hard to know where to visit! In good or bad weather, with very young children or older teens, activity venues or quiet walks, every venue will offer something different with a variety of facilities available. We will add our thoughts on places that we have Tried & Tested so that you are well-informed before you make your decision to leave the house!

Crocodile Fun at Johnsons of Old Hurst

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We have spent the week exploring the near and surrounding areas, and somewhere I have wanted to go since we moved here, is Johnsons of Old Hurst. It always comes up as a highly recommended place on Facebook and I wanted to check it out for myself, so we decided to head there for an afternoon to see what it's all about. 

Johnsons of Old Hurst supplies the highest quality meat, fresh produce and speciality food from their farm shop and tea room, however, locally it is also known as the Crocodile Farm! You might even know it if you are further away because it was featured on a TV programme quite recently!

Yes, Johnsons has lots of crocodiles and alligators within their Tropical House and this is really why I wanted to take the kids. However, I was pleasantly surprised about the whole entire farm, especially because it is completely free of charge!

We went on a Friday in the Summer holidays and it was very busy, but they thankfully have plenty of parking on-site and we actually managed to get parked in the nearest car park rather than the overflow. One thing I will note is that entering the lane and car park is very, very bumpy. I was wishing I had a 4x4, but the kids thought it was hilarious being bounced around! As we drove up the lane, we could already see a flock of deer that were happily roaming around. 

We had arrived at lunchtime and we needed food, so our first stop was the tea rooms (after the toilets!). There was a rather lengthy queue, but that's mostly because only one group can be inside ordering at the moment. There are menus outside so you can be ready to tell them what you want, and then they give you a wooden spoon table number and bring your food over to you. There is seating indoors and outdoors.

There is a steak house on site (pretty pricey) if you are looking for a proper restaurant experience, but otherwise, the tea rooms do everything you need. Sandwiches, jacket potatoes, sausage baguettes, and even breakfasts for adults, and a menu for the kids including sandwiches, hot dogs (proper sausages!), and beans on toast. Littlest had a hot dog (devoured), biggest had the mini burger and chips (devoured and he declared the chips the best he had ever tasted), I had the sausage baguette (seriously tasty), and the other half had a cheese, ham and pickle sandwich which came with salad and crisps, which he thought was super delicious. We also had drinks and treats of fruit cake, flapjack and cookies. Now, our little lot was not cheap, but it would have been if we'd chosen cheaper drinks and not bought the tasty treats. We could have probably halved our bill, but it was all so extremely delicious that it was worth every penny. 

Once we had eaten, it was time to head to the animals...via the first play area! 

 

There were wallabies, donkeys, and goats to start, which the kids absolutely loved - especially as there were some super cute babies toddling around. We then stumbled across another play area which was a big tunnel slide, so they had a play there for a while and we wandered around while watching them. We found the parrots (who say hello lots) and even discovered another eating area which is an outdoor BBQ serving all their finest meat. The other half said it looked and smelt amazing! 

 

We then managed to drag them off the slide and into the Tropical House which is where the fun really is. I mean we were just fifteen minutes away from where we live, but boy it felt like we should have been in America! There are so many crocs and gators! Honestly, they are amazing. We were so lucky because we saw a few of them moving around, a couple swimming, and lots of teeth on show! We all just thought they were absolutely incredible. 

We managed to drag ourselves away after a while, and the kids played a bit more on the slide before we decided it was time to finally pass the little ostriches and head home. 

We loved our time there and will definitely be regular visitors. The fact that it is free is amazing (although donations are always welcome), there are plenty of animals AND play areas, and even a woodland walk if you fancy it. And they are building a whole new enclosure at the moment which they hope to be ready for next Summer (we don't know what is going in it!). They have also just had a pair of Leopard Cats arrive, although we didn't spot them in their enclosure. It feels like they are making this an even better place to see some really cool animals and we can't wait to watch it grow! 

I'm also going to add a random bit here to tell you that dogs are allowed on site too. They can't go inside anywhere but are welcome in any outdoor areas, including the outdoor eating area. Also note that picnics aren't allowed. You can only eat their food on-site, which is fair enough considering they don't charge you to go in! 

I highly recommend a visit to Johnsons. 


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