TRAVEL REVIEW: The Cowshed, Dorset

I am totally falling in love with Dorset. It has a sense of serenity for me; a chance to unwind and relax – yes I know, even with children! With just a 2.5 hour car journey from Essex, it is the perfect location to pop away for a short family break.

 

Dorset is a county of contrasts. It offers the best coastlines, countryside, events and attractions, all of which are in easy reach. Dorset also boasts some of the best family attractions around. You really are spoilt for choice and you can find out about some of the fabulous days out we visited later on. There is so much to see and do for families and by the end of this article, you are going to want to go to! We were invited to return to Dorset this October by Baby Friendly Boltholes. This time to stay at The Cowshed which was in the quaint village of Farnham near Blandford Forum.

The cowshed sign

The girls are now at the age to be getting excited by holidays, so when Monday morning arrived, they were up and chomping at the bit to get in the car! We headed south around 10.30 am, waiting for the M25 traffic to clear – we were on our way. As always, we had planned a couple of stop off, run around points in case the twins pushed me to the point of wanting to climb out of the window. We had a successful journey and ended up stopping at Moor Valley Country Park to give the girls a run around and me a chance to feed baby. This was a great place to stop as it had the perfect park for small children and high ropes if you have bigger ones that are a little more adventurous!

We were soon back on the road and entering the village of Farnham. On first impressions, the village was idyllic, with thatched roof, after thatched roof lining the road, a child friendly pub – The Museum, and a park, both within a 5 minute walk. And get this, the park is just across the road from the pub – win win!!

 

The Cowshed

The Cowshed was just delightful. There is certainly no slumming it with twins and a baby! Owned by Claudia Malpas, The Cowshed as it once was, is decorated and kitted out to the highest standard and believe it or not, despite being luxurious, it is great for children.

 

On arrival, there was a fabulous welcome pack with personalised letter welcoming us. In the welcome pack was some chocolate (Claudia definitely gets this mummy thing!), some biscuits, a local pot of jam, a loaf of bread, and a pint of milk in the fridge, as well as fresh flowers around the barn. These little gestures go a long way and starts your stay with that personal touch.

welcome pack from the cowshed in dorset

The Cowshed is set in a good size courtyard and over one level. It has an open plan kitchen and living area, two bedrooms, a double with an en-suite and a children’s room with bunk beds and a cot plus a family bathroom.

The living space

The open plan living space is a good size, with a log burner (which we didn’t use due to glorious weather), two double sofas, dining table, butchers table which is great to store all of your shopping and accessories in and a well equipped kitchen. Highchairs are available on request and yes she does have two!

Talking of baby ‘stuff’. Yes, we all know that I tend to take everything including the kitchen sink away with me, I am not one for being caught out, however at The Cowshed, Claudia is also able to provide everything you need for staying with a baby and children. She can even provide her own babysitter if needed.

 

The bedrooms

Each room is beautifully decorated with luxurious White Company linen. Even the children are spoilt! In the main bedroom, there is a king size bed with just enough room for a crib, which can be provided. The en-suite has a large walk-in thermostatic drench shower and White Company towelling robes and towels.

In the children’s bedroom, there are a set of bunk beds and a cot. Initially I thought this may be a problem as I didn’t think the girls were old enough for a bunk bed. But after discussions with Claudia, we decided that the lower bed was big enough for both the girls to top and tail and this worked really well. They slept brilliantly. A lovely little extra was the books, teddy bear and puppets left for the girls to play with.

 

The Playroom

And now for the best bit – The playroom. The Cowshed has its very own playroom which is just next door to the main living space. You do have to go outside to get to this but it either gave us 5 minutes’ peace or the girls bought some of the toys back in to the lounge. It is totally safe for children to go between the two as the court yard has a tall gate to stop children escaping.

the playroom at The Cowshed in Dorset

There are toys for all ages but they really excel for the 2-8 year olds.

 The Cowshed Yard

In the courtyard which was fenced and safe for children, there is a table and chairs set with sun loungers. You have full use of the BBQ in warmer weather and a sand pit for the children. In the summer, little ones can also play in the paddling pool.

outside at the Cowshed in Dorset

Is it suitable for twins?

The Cowshed is able to provide 2 high chairs, 2 cots, 2 beds and plenty of toys to keep little ones entertained. The only thing I would have to consider having two three year olds was the bunk beds in the children’s room. For us it worked well as we top and tailed on the bottom bunk and for older children this wouldn’t be an issue. The other idea we had thought of was to put the top mattress on the floor but we knew the girls would end up in the same bed so we didn’t bother. Personally, it wouldn’t put me off staying at The Cowshed with twins – it’s gorgeous!

 

If you are interested in a staying at The Cowshed, CLICK HERE to discuss availability with Baby Friendly Boltholes.

Take the Popitha Tour

 

DISCOUNT DISCOUNT DISCOUNT – £25 OFF

We are also running an amazing offer with Baby Friendly Boltholes. If you book a 4 night or more stay at ANY of BFB properties, you will get £25 off your booking! Just quote BFBPOPITHATWINS

 

Recommended days out with the Children

You are probably thinking, well that sounds amazing, but it is in a good location with child friendly attractions nearby? The answer is yes and there are plenty of suggestions on the Cowsheds website but we also have a few of our own. We were incredibly fortunate that we had glorious weather for October and the sun shone every day. I’d done a lot of research on where to go before we left.

 

The  girls are animal mad so we decided to go to Longleat and Farmer Palmers, both of which were #hosted and we honestly had the best two days. These attractions get Popitha’s vote!

 

Farmer Palmers Farm Park

Farmer Palmers is a delightful family day out for children under 8 and just a 30 minute drive from The Cowshed. Farmer Palmers is the perfect place to take children come rain or shine and there is enough to keep any little person busy. They have a varied program of events which runs over the entire day to give children amazing hands on experiences. From pony grooming, lamb feeding cuddling the guinea pigs, feeding the goats to pig racing, tractor rides and learning how to milk a cow!

I think this is a really important part to an attraction to give children the opportunities to endure real life encounters and it is something the girls really enjoyed. I think the guinea pigs had to be a favourite and the girls were so proud that they held them. These encounters took place in the undercover barn so fun can continue in the event of rain!

twins stroking a goat

As well as an abundance of animals to walk around, look at, touch and feed, there are also several indoor and outdoor play areas including a hay barn.

A maize maze which, yes we got lost in but it was great to have a run about in the fields on the way down!

twins on a statue

A large outdoor picnic area and a spacious café serving a large variety of delicious food.

having lunch at farmer palmers

 

To find out more about Farmer Palmers CLICK HERE.

farmer-parmers-baby-friendly-boltholes-www.popitha.com

Longleat

Longleat is a family day out for children of all ages. It was 45 minutes from The Cowshed so we set off early-ish to make the most of the day. After getting mistaken for being one of Kate Humbles friends (if only), we mapped out our day.

There is so much so see at Longleat that I advise you make a plan before you arrive. Timings are approximate.

  • Main Square which takes 2-3 hours
  • The boat ride which is in Main Square – 20 mins
  • The miniature railway
  • The adventure castle and toddler park – Take as long as you want
  • The farm area – 10 mins
  • The famous safari which takes 1-2 hours
  • The African Village which is by the safari – 30 mins

 

I’d taken advice from a lot of people on my ‘Holidays for Twins and Multiples’ page about which order to do everything in. Some said to do the safari first, some said to do it last, everyone said take snacks! This was also little test for my girls – are they ready to be taken to Kenya yet?!

 

On arrival, we decided to head to the main square first to give the girls a run about. After a 40 min drive, they didn’t need another 2 hours in the car. Looking back, we made the right decision for us.

twins and daddy looking at the map of longleat

 

There was so much to see and do in Main Square. We could feed the Lorikeets, watch the rays and penguins, searched for the monkeys and feed the fish! One thing I was really impressed with was the viewability for small children. The girls could see everything we came across without being lifted up the whole time. This place WAS toddler friendly!

 

 

Our first highlight of the day was taking the jungle cruise up the lake to see the Gorilla Colony and to see if we could spot the sea lions and hippos. Sea lions were spotted! This was such fun and the girls watched in amazement as they jumped out of the water especially at feeding time. You do need to take a bit of change with you as some of the feeding experiences charge a small fee, usually £1. This is definitely worth queuing for, although we didn’t wait too long and only endured one meltdown!

The play parks were perfect for children of all ages. The smaller toddler area was great to allow the girls some free play time to run about a bit. Here are a few photos from our time on Main Square.

 

Next stop Safari!! Now I have been fortunate enough to go on many safaris in my time so was super excited to find out what the girls thought of the experience – they loved it but you NEED to take snacks.

 

The whole safari experience was better than I was expecting. It was like a REAL safari. I don’t know why but I imagined all of the animals to still be behind some sort of barrier but they weren’t. We actually had lions walking next to the car!!!

The only time I was a little freaked out was the ‘Monkey Drive through’. I’d heard about how much damage they can cause! If there were speed cameras around there, I think we would have got a fine! No seriously, no animals were hurt in our rally but we were excitedly nervous in a funny sort of way about the car damage. I know, we didn’t have to run the gauntlet, but we did really!! YES, there is a bypass lane that you can take if you don’t want to go through. Also if you don’t want to go round the whole safari in your own car, there is always the option to take the safari bus which I am told is very good too.

 

Overall,  a fab day for the whole family and if you would like to find out more about Longleat, please CLICK HERE.

 

If you are interested in a staying at The Cowshed, CLICK HERE to discuss availability with Baby Friendly Boltholes.

** We were invited to stay at The Cowshed for the purpose of this review. However, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

 

Please take a look at our other reviews from Baby Friendly Boltholes. You never know, something else may catch your eye too!

North Bradbury Farm, North Devon

Greenwood Grange, Dorset

Top tips for taking a road trip with a baby

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