It’s a rather weird feeling adjusting to life after lockdown. We have two of our daughters back to school and one at home still. Clubs aren’t on, there’s no real need to be anywhere and of course, there’s social distancing to navigate our way around.
At the weekend we were invited to come along to Godstone Farm‘s reopening. It was actually their first day of opening and I was interested to find out about the safety measures that they have put in place to keep all of their visitors and staff safe through these odd times.
This blog post is mainly describing the safety measures put in place, however, I have other blog posts that can give you a better detail of what a visit to Godstone Farm entails; Our first visit to Godstone Farm, a summer time visit and Halloween time for Wiglet’s Spook-er-ree!
Entrance to the farm is strictly pre-booked tickets only. These can be easily done online and you can choose from selective time slots, starting every half an hour. This is enabling Godstone Farm to restrict the number of visitors arriving at the same time. They have restricted tickets to 50% of the usual capacity to help keep to social distancing requirements whilst inside the farm.
When you arrive there is a new sign reminding you how to stay safe whilst visiting Godstone Farm. It’s worth giving them a read ahead of your visit and they can be viewed online.
I loved that the walk down towards the main farm area was full of bright, rainbow-coloured scarecrows. These are there all of the time and get dressed up depending on the season. This time they were wearing motivational t-shirts and welcomed everyone wonderfully.
The photo bench on arrival had been painted in rainbow colours and was a brilliant photo opportunity. Sadly I couldn’t persuade Elsa to join us and we couldn’t ask anyone to take a family photo of us due to social distancing and germs.
We had been greeted at the gate as there was a couple of bloggers attending for the opening weekend. They explained that they were not able to hand out maps anymore but instead had a laminated version that you could take a photo of, these were also dotted about the farm just in case.
This map has a one-way route to follow. Godstone Farm is not enforcing this but more suggesting it so that you can keep safe and make sure you see everything at the farm.
Godstone Farm has taken the sensible decision to keep the tearoom, animal holding, indoor play areas which includes the play barn and Wiglet’s Play Village and the tractor rides closed. These are obviously big parts of the experience at Godstone Farm, especially is wetter weather but it’s important to keep everyone as safe as possible.
Our girls were thrilled to find the little tractor slope was open. I wasn’t sure if it would be as this would be a high traffic touch area, however, I was equipped with hand sanitiser gel and had my eagle eyes on them with regards to hands near their faces.
It’s worth noting that we had arrived for 10 am, for a good few hours there was hardly anybody around until the weather brightened up and more people arrived. We was pretty much the first people using the tractor slope after a lockdown period so felt it would be ok.
Godstone Farm is a working farm so there’s lots of places to wash hands anyway, however, they have installed hand sanitisers everywhere. You can literally find one wherever you turn which was very reassuring.
The main toilet blocks were open (in the farm area and up in the top play area). There was a sign reminding people that it has to be a maximum of 6 people in the building at one time and that they were operating a one in, one out policy. Each time we used the toilets, they were empty and had been clearly cleaned regularly throughout the day.
The Gift Shop was also operating a one in one out policy with a one-way system too. Again, there was a sign to remind you to social distance, only touch things you wish to purchase and use hand sanitiser before entering. The shop is only open at certain times in the day too so it’s worth making a note of those times in case you need anything like animal feed, day trip essentials, souvenirs and toys.
All of the Farm trail was open except the creepy cave. I think this area is far too small to adhere to social distancing so sadly (not really) we didn’t get to see any tarantulas. All of the farm animals seemed so thrilled to see visitors.
The geese took a particular fancy to Freya by the pond, the turkey had a conversation with Eva, the ferrets and Patsy the pig came over for a chat too! I love it when farm animals are interactive and not just sleeping. We had lots of fun wandering around the farm. I definitely missed the tractor ride and visiting Wiglet’s Play Village.
I knew that the tearoom wasn’t open ahead of our trip. It looks like it’s being refurbished as there was some demolition visible. So I made sure we packed a picnic. It felt so odd preparing a picnic after never leaving the house, wondering how much food I needed to take and whether it was too much or too little. Parenting after lockdown is a very strange thing to get used to again.
Thankfully there are some refreshment and food facilities open at Godstone Farm. Down in the farm area, Wiglet’s Play Village cafe is open. You can only access it from outside, there’s a perspex screen across the window. There’s also little queueing stickers on the floor to remind you to be 2 metres from the people in front of you. They serve hot and cold drinks, ice cream, snacks, sandwiches, hot dogs and pizza. So everything you’d need if you forget your packed lunch or need a pick me up treat.
The other place to get some food and drinks is up in the Top Shop near the big outdoor play area. There’s also handwashing facilities to the side of the shop and hand sanitiser too. You are not allowed to eat near the animals but there are picnic areas marked in various locations.
It was very exciting to release our girls into an outdoor play area for the first time in months and months, it was equally as terrifying too. All of the play equipment is open except for one swing.
We would usually allow the girls some freedom to play. To bond with each other and have fun, but Hubby and I didn’t feel safe doing so. It was like having a toddler again and we followed the girls around making sure they were keeping aware of the people around them and staying socially distanced. It was all going good until about 1 pm when it got busier.
I wanted to make a big emphasis on the fact that it wasn’t the fault of Godstone Farm as to why we suddenly started to feel a bit unsafe. It was sadly the other parents. There was a lot of children unsupervised who were quite young and not understanding of the social distance rules. They were getting a little close for our liking so we kept moving our girls away.
Of course, after being in lockdown for so many weeks, I don’t blame the parents for wanting a bit of peace and allowing their kids to run off some steam. However, it’s that kind of attitude that makes me feel unsafe and that had nothing to do with Godstone Farm.
There are signs along the left of the pathway to the Top play area, letting us know that you cannot take food beyond that point and into the play area. This is to help with hygiene and I think it’s a brilliant idea.
The other side of the path is a field area where there would usually be a few picnic benches dotted about. However, Godstone Farm has removed nearly all benches from the farm. So I’d highly recommend taking a picnic blanket and possibly a foldable chair if you can, especially if you are elderly or struggle with walking for any length of time.
After we spent a good few hours in the play area with the girls, we wandered back down towards to animal farm. It was less busy down there. We said our goodbyes to the animals and had a few more turns on the ride on tractors before heading home.
Godstone Farm has done a brilliant job at making sure everybody stays safe. There was staff cleaning the areas regularly including signs and other high traffic touch areas. On the whole, it felt like a very safe day at the farm with lots of wonderful laughs. If you are looking for something outdoorsy to entertain the children, then this is a great option. Don’t forget to pre-book your tickets in advance.
I filmed our day, as always which is below. I’d love it if you could watch and maybe subscribe…