I love that famous saying about how there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing. And while there are some days when I think no amount of clothing would make me want to leave the house in the torrential cold Welsh rain, there are plenty of occasions when we put on our wellies and waterproofs and head out into the elements, making up our own adventures as we go.
Today – the last day of the October half-term holiday – was one of those days. I’d arranged to meet a friend and her children. We’d said we’d wait until we knew what the weather was doing before deciding what to do… and then we woke up to rain. The words “soft play” were muted but then we remembered how hellish that would be on a rainy day in the school holidays and so quickly decided against it. My friend suggested a walk around Parc Cefn Onn and woods, followed by a visit to see the animals at Thornhill Farm Shop. Brilliant, I thought. A chance for them to burn off some energy and get some fresh air – and without the expensive holiday prices of soft play too.
Nestled on the edge of Thornhill and Lisvane, Parc Cefn Onn is a Grade 2 listed country park, originally designed around 90 years ago in a valley around the Nant Fawr stream. It is such a beautiful and tranquil place and I love to see how the trees and plants change over the seasons.
Today, the oranges, reds and browns of the leaves scattered along the ground had such a gorgeous glow about them. They were too wet for crunching in, but that didn’t stop the six youngsters from walking through them and kicking them about. They also had fun collecting some to make some autumn art works with.
There were tree stumps to climb on and the children had great fun playing “I’m the king of the castle”, not to mention splashing in muddy puddles. We saw squirrels darting around and some little spiders on one of the stumps.
I love how creative children can be when their imaginations are left to run free – and today, they decided one tree with an unusually wide base and a trunk that had become divided into three was a bear’s toilet and another was a door to a train and its leaves the tickets.
We stayed in the woods for around an hour. There’s plenty of place to park, it’s buggy-friendly, dog-friendly, and there are toilets in the car park.
Just a couple of minutes’ drive down the road is Thornhill Farm Shop. They sell a lovely array of local produce in the shop, and you can buy food in the café. Customers of the shop and café are welcome to visit the animals in the paddock behind.
There’s a small play area for children, and it’s buggy-accessible, although it can be a bit steep once you’ve visited the animals and are walking back up to the shop.
We saw the sheep, guinea pigs, goats, donkeys, lamas and chickens. However, today’s favourite was definitely the pig.
She was oblivious to us but we watched her for about 10 minutes as she buried her face in the mud, searching for something to eat. I’m grateful for the fence around her as otherwise I think the children might have been jumping in the glorious mud too. I have to admit, it did look especially inviting and perfect for jumping in.
It’s worth noting that the farm shop is closed on Sundays – apart from in the run up to Christmas when it is open daily for the Christmas Experience. This sees the animals brought inside and the barn transformed into a nativity scene, open to visitors for a small admission charge.
We headed back home just in time for home-made roasted red pepper and tomato soup for lunch – after we’d taken off all our muddy clothes by the door and had a good wash first, though!
Have you been to Parc Cefn Onn or Thornhill Farm Shop? Or are you a fan of muddy walks in the woods? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or you can tweet me on @cardiffmummy