Travel: Where to play piggy-in-the-middle

See performing cows and sheep; make friends with a chicken. Louise Duffield on an unusual family day out
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The Independent Online
Down at the farm and a day out at the beach are two great attractions for children, and at the White Post Modern Farm Centre you can have both - all the more surprisingly since the farm centre is in the middle of landlocked Nottinghamshire.

The centre at Farnsfield is a working farm. Alongside the traditional inhabitants - cows, sheep and pigs - are rheas, llamas, crayfish and deer. Children are encouraged to get to know the animals, and even have the chance to hold baby rabbits, guinea-pigs, chicks and ducklings. Watch out for parents who are keen to muscle in on this one.

Each barn holds a different treat. There's the popular hatching centre, where you can watch a chick take its first glimpse of the outside world, the farrowing shed full of newborn piglets, the night-time walk where owls stare as you saunter past, and the house with its albino toad, display of busy ants and unusual reptiles.

For children who fancy an alternative to animals, the beach barn offers a simple, covered area full of sand where youngsters can kick off their shoes and socks and have a good dig. Outside, a play area features an unusual slide, sit-on tractors for children, plank races, a water tower and a straw barn.

At certain times of year the farm's owner, Tim Clark, puts on a unique show using some of his sheep, goats and cows. Each animal comes on stage and makes its way to its own spot on a specially built pyramid, as Tim tells the audience a bit about that particular breed.

The visitors

Claire Milton, a teacher from Nottingham, went with her son Alex, six, and daughter Briony, four.

Claire: It's paradise for children. There are a good four to five hours' entertainment here, with something of interest for everyone - for example, the beach barn is a good idea because children love playing in sand.

Everything is labelled, and the information is excellent, though some of the signage looks a bit tired. Whoever wrote the signs has a good sense of humour. They even talk about rabbits getting married and having babies, which uses language that children understand.

There is a lot of active involvement and good exposure to animals. I liked the show because it was informative. The animals seemed happy, well looked after and loved. When you see the hatching of the chicks, it's like a little miracle at work.

Alex: I would like to live here because it has got really good things that you can read about as well. I want to come again. There was a really good show on, with cows, goats and sheep. We sang "Old MacDonald Had a Farm". The show was the best bit, when the animals came in one at a time.

I'm going to tell friends about the really good sand pit and the really good playground. I went on a big slide. It was as high as a very old oak tree. I liked the toys in the shop. I bought a tape measure.

Briony: I thought it was lovely. My favourite things were the pigs, because they were little. I clapped at the show. The man got different animals in. I sat next to my mum and I had a little chick held in my hands. I thought it was wonderful. It didn't bite me - it liked me.

The deal

The White Post Modern Farm Centre is at Farnsfield, Nottinghamshire. (01623 882977). Open daily, 10am-5pm weekdays, 10am-6pm weekends.

Admission: adults pounds 3.95, children (4-16), senior citizens and people with special needs pounds 2.95, under fours free.

Access: 95 per cent access for wheelchair users. Free wheelchair hire. Sign language guides by prior arrangement. Special needs parties catered for.

Toilets: Plenty and adequate. Baby-changing facilities.

Catering: Lunch barn and tea rooms.

Shop: Two gift shops, plus pet centre selling animals and accessories.

Education: Special deals and tours for schools. Resource pack for key stages one and two of the National Curriculum.