Sunday 7 January 2018

Restaurant review: Ewe Tree Cafe, Cholderton Charlie's, Wiltshire

The middle of winter isn’t the best time of year to visit a farm – but I discovered that if there is soft play, children are happy at any time of year!

Meeting up with my school friends at Christmas, it was decided that we needed to do something during the day to tire out – I mean entertain – the children, as there would be three children aged three and under with us on this occasion. We were meeting up at a friend’s house in Hampshire, not far away from Cholderton Charlie’s (which is near Salisbury in Wiltshire). I remembered this from when it was Cholderton Rare Breeds Farm – it is still home to a number of rare breeds of animals though the types of animals themselves are fairly standard – goats, pigs, ponies, chickens, sheep etc. I’m not sure if as a child I particularly appreciated that any of them were rare breeds!

There’s definitely more here than when I was a child, not least the pig racing (though we were out of season to see it – rates start from February) – apparently the pigs enjoy a quick burst of energy and want to run because they are rewarded by treats at the end. There’s also an outdoor adventure play area, trampolines, nature walk – even a vineyard where you can hold your wedding.

It was a pretty freezing day and by the time we had waited for everyone to arrive and finished lunch, we only had an hour before the place shut – but an hour was long enough. Unsurprisingly a lot of the animals were tucked up for the winter – we saw some but I imagine the place is much more buzzing in the summer. The children really enjoyed the indoor soft play area and I did briefly get to hold a very cold shivering guinea pig before I gave him back to the keeper to put back inside her coat!

We ate lunch at the Ewe Tree Café; the menu looked quite good but it was disappointing they had run out of several things – I asked about the soup of the day and there was none left, and asked for a cheese toastie instead and my friend asked for the quesadilla, only to be told they had no cheese! She then asked if she could have an adult portion of the fish finger sandwich and chips from the children’s menu which the café was happy to do, and several of us (including me) ended up having the same – though I had no chips (a side salad instead, and brown bread with my sandwich) as I am supposed to be avoiding certain foods due to gestational diabetes.

The café was happy to accommodate our various requests and the service was friendly – the same guy was running the gift shop and the café (which was part of the same area), probably due to low out-of-season visitor numbers, and I half expected to then see him in one of the animal pens, but they did seem to have other staff around after all.

Cholderton Charlie’s looked like a nice place to take children of all ages and somewhere I would definitely come back to – but probably in warmer weather next time.

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