Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ardmore Open Farm, Co. Waterford | Review ♥

Today I did something I've never done before - I drove to another county all by myself! You might be thinking that I'm a newly qualified driver and God love me, but no, I've had a full license for almost ten years... for shame. Now that I've done it once though - and on my own with two young kids, there's no stopping me now and I'm already planning our next inter-county outing.

Today's adventure took us to beautiful Co. Waterford and to Ardmore, a gorgeous little village nestled into a very scenic bay. We had passed Ardmore Open Farm on our visits to Ardmore before but had never gone in and with Tyler requesting to visit a farm again after our lovely visit to Leahy's Open Farm earlier in the week, I thought it was high time we gave it a go.

Ardmore Open Farm opens at eleven, and having got there around half eleven I was surprised to see the car park quite empty - although I was pleased that we might be able to enjoy the place without crowds of people.

My lovely friend and fellow blogger Louise from Tattooed Lady With A Baby and her son Luke came with us - he's Tyler's best friend and I'm so glad I had someone to go around the farm with because honestly, we were both left feeling rather underwhelmed with the experience.

Admittedly, I found myself having high expectations for Ardmore Open Farm to be great after our visit to Leahy's Open Farm because honestly, how different can open farms really be? The answer is very. Taking into account that Ardmore Open Farm is €1 more expensive than Leahy's and that this day out was costing me the best of €20 (Beau was free to enter as he's under two), I was expecting a lot for my money, because I think €20 is quite expensive in the grand scheme of things.

The first thing that hit me about about Ardmore Open Farm is the lack of beauty around the farm itself. There's a gorgeous view of the bay and the coast from the farm, but the farm itself is very much just a farm with paddocks for the animals and a pathway to walk around.

There's no scenery, no seating areas or little sections to explore along the walk around the farm, it's literally just the paddocks, the animals and the paths - which is great for kids who are really into animals, bad for kids who like to have a play then see the animals, then play some more, so on and so forth (this is Tyler by the way).

I did love seeing Tyler take an interest in some of the animals though. Usually he only wants to go and play when we visit these kinds of places and although he was itching to go to the playground as soon as he saw it, he did take some time to pet the animals and we even found his animal twin in this alpaca!

There's a large selection of animals on the farm from Clydesdale horses to peacocks, prairie dogs (who we couldn't actually spot) to Shetland ponies and it was lovely to see them all up close - the Shetland ponies were especially lovely, the little one had a curl to it's mane which reminded me of my boys hair!

We finished our walk around the farm animals quite quickly and then the boys had a bit of a play on the peddle tractors, before venturing into the maze - which we couldn't find the way out of so we just had to go back the way we came in - don't judge us!

From there we went to see the birds of prey and the parrot. The snowy owl was especially beautiful and there was also a little barn owl who was tucked away inside his house. The duck pond was closed off during our visit.

The kids were disappointed to see that the barrel ride wasn't in operation when we arrived. I read that it only began at 2p.m. and having completed our walk around the farm less than an hour after we arrived, I knew we wouldn't be there for it to begin at two... I thought this was such a shame and it would have been great for this to be running whilst we were actually at the farm, we did pay €9.95 per ticket after all. However, the price of the barrel ride isn't in the ticket price and is €2 extra per ride - something to take into account if you're visiting.

There's also a zip line and go carts on the farm which is great to see, as these other activities are really helpful to keep the kids busy and entertained when the walk around the animals is done. Our boys didn't go on these however, they were just looking to go to the playground.

There's a little playground at the front of the farm and the boys had great fun playing there whilst Beau had a go on the baby swing.

It was blowing a gale so we retreated inside to eat our lunch. I had packed a picnic having been less than impressed at the food in Leahy's earlier in the week. I did order a scone with jam and cream though and this was €2.50 which I think is quite reasonable.

There's an indoor play area at Ardmore Open Farm - a big section for older kids and a smaller section for babies and toddlers. I was pleased to see this as I don't want Beau to be missing out when his big brother is playing.

After our lunch we left the farm, we had seen everything it offered within the hour for the time we were there (it seemed as though the activities such as petting the animals and the barrel ride happened much later in the day, which isn't very fair when we're all paying the same ticket price) and we weren't going to hang around just for the barrel ride.

Although Ardmore Open Farm wins when it comes to the variety of animals it offers for visitors to see (which you can probably argue is the whole point of an open farm anyway), I much preferred Leahy's Open Farm for the experience, there was just a whole lot more to do there and the place is much more scenic.

It's safe to say that Louise and I were quite disappointed with Ardmore Open Farm. It was lovely to see the animals, but I guess we were just hoping for a whole lot more to do and a better experience - perhaps if we had arrived later in the day when the activities were taking place we might have had a better time, but in reality, these activities should be happening throughout the day to give everyone the experience, not just those who arrive at the right time. We had driven 30 miles from Cork just to go to the farm and we were surprised that we saw it all in under an hour.

The highlights of our visit were -
Seeing all the animals upclose
The beautiful view of the coast below

It was a shame about -
The barrel ride not running while we were there
Not having more experiences available for the kids
How quickly it took us to make our way around the farm

We decided to take a trip to the beach down in Ardmore itself and treat the boys to an ice-cream to make our trip to Co. Waterford worthwhile and we actually had such a lovely time down there. I'll be sharing some pictures and thoughts from our time down there in another post.

I did read a lot of positive reviews on the Ardmore Open Farm Facebook page though, so maybe it's just us who were left feeling underwhelmed. As I said, it's a great place if your kids are really into animals. It's a shame to say we won't be returning anytime soon but we will definitely be visiting Ardmore village itself again someday.

*This is not a collaborative post and I paid for our visit.

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Fiona
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