Lets not think about reality but stroke animals we like in the rain.
I do not like attractions aimed at families. They normally seem to feature bad Clipart, an extortionate price for a Ribena Light and a cafe which is unlicensed.
Oh and other families.
This means occasional brittle smiles, small talk and quiet competiveness whilst the Other Children are always over enthusiastic as the Good Families over enunciate and over explain to show what Good Parents they are and frozenly smile when my baby is cheerily hung upside down for perhaps slightly too long.
I am of course just jealous. I envy and bitterly admire their fluid unselfconscious discourse, their nice but not too nice cars and ability to not say ‘Fucking hell’ when seeing the price of the Soup of the Day.
I do not like family attractions where a badly punctuated laminated sign is waterlogged and thus the protective laminate has come free, bellows emptily into the swirling wind and the Comic Sans ink has bled into a red then pinkish swirl.
I do not like the children’s menu being cheap bland fatty shit sans any veg and consisting of battery-farmed animals, the like of which £5.95 has only an hour ago been spent upon petting and loving.
And I totally fail upon visiting petting farms. Other people see cute calves. I see their heads piled in vats in an abattoir. And don’t even mention the chickens. It’s gnarled piles of tangled whorly feet or bloody yards of spiky shards of blue and grey beaks in my head.
It’s like that thing where people taste colours but with misery and death. To be fair I am the same anywhere and can spin a story of glistening spilt organs from a trip to TK Maxx.
Having a car means no looking at the glistening view of the Trough of Bowland snaking foggily into the far horizon but more of all encompassing sense of tragedy as I vividly imagine the death of a cat very soon under the wheels or look back despite my partner barking at me not to, to ascertain from the velvety ears still so poignantly visible from the red mush on the road whether it was a rabbit or a hare so recently killed.
I have been to a few petting farms before and the jolly peeling signs about ‘These male cows will be leaving our jolly farm when they are 9 months old!!!!’ makes me want to pleasantly ask if we can visit them in their new home. I scrutinize eggs so much I pretty much need to know the chickens by their maiden name.
But Docker Park Farm does not feature ‘wellie hire’ in a star shape as one of the attractions as did one leaflet I picked up in Morrisons that made me consider infanticide if my boy pointed at it and said ‘Dat’.
It is pleasingly remote and the shattered tree debris of a shit June litter the road.
It is a £5.50 entrance fee for the adults who would definitely not be here unless it was for their children whose entrance is free. I could labour upon the inherent irony here but I have donuts to put in lunchboxes and gin to drink.
And I like Docker Park Farm. I like it a lot. There are no stupid families who I actually just envy here because some parents think their kids melt in the rain. I am liberated which means I let my toddler get soaking wet and as I am in my own private parkland I thus attempt a climbing wall. I will not do so again.
There are alpacas, my best of animals due to their ‘should not actually exist’ quality. Or when Disney has swept up all the cute bits from the abattoir floor and reassembled them with extra long eyelashes.
I like the goats which if they were rebranded and remarketed as ‘God’s hoofed angels’ would still have people going ‘Satan Satan’. It’s something in the Satanic eyes. I feel like that about Boris Johnson. But I would rescue a goat from a fire first. An unlikely but intriguing hypothetical event.
There is a large soft play area in a barn and we were warned about the puddles beforehand. There is an isolated bouncy castle swinging and banging into itself in the harsh unsummery breeze. I like this very much. The background is blue hills coated in swirling rain heading this way.
The signs about the animals are neat, well punctuated and informative without being patronizing. And in a grown up font with no bad pictures of a cartoon pig with a fork holding sausages.
There is a lake, Shetland ponies, a donkey and her baby and the Millionaires Shortbread is big enough to bury a body underneath. Which is all I look for in a farmyard attraction. And the chocolate is not waxy.
We spend a good few hours here wandering around without being force-fed into a clearly designated track with ‘No Picnic’ signs. My boy loves the plentitude of plastic JCBs, I love the snuffly rabbits and the lack of smiling at other mothers and asking polite forced questions.
We will come here again. But only if it is raining.