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We had two of our grandsons staying for a weekend visit (6 year old Harrison and 2 year old Joey). It was a beautiful sunny Saturday and so we decided to take them to a nearby ‘Petting Farm’ which had horses, ponies, goats, sheep, pigs, llamas and a variety of other animals, plus tractor rides and a large playground area.

When we arrived, the first thing we did was buy the boys a packet of feeding pellets for the goats, which were kept in one of the fields. The children were allowed to feed the goats through the fencing wire by holding the feed in their hands. Joey took a bit of encouraging at first. Then, when he realised that the goats wouldn’t bite his fingers of, we could hardly drag him away.

The boys were really impressed!

We wandered round the various other fields and paddocks, allowing the boys to marvel at the various animals on show – they were especially impressed with llamas and the miniature ponies. Next up came a ride on the tractor (well, in a trailer pulled at high enough speed around a bumpy field to make us all cling on and get a real thrill). After that, to quiet them down a little, we took them over to the play area, where there were climbing frames and swings and slides, etc. Harrison’s favourite was the ‘zip wire’.

Harrison made a beeline for the sandpit

We then took them for their first ever horse ride. Yes, even little Joey had a go (on a really cute miniature pony), which they both enjoyed very much. By now it was getting on for lunch time and, of course, they really enjoyed our outdoor picnic. As we walked over to the shop/café to buy our picnic lunch, we passed a sandpit. No one was taking any notice of because of all the other attractions, but Harrison did. As soon as lunch was over, Harrison made a beeline for the sandpit and he and Joey spent the best part of an hour making sandcastles.


He couldn’t get the hang of it at first, simply because it was such a warm sunny day and all of the top sand was dry (so would not stick together to make sandcastles of course). I showed him how to dig down to the damp sand underneath and he quickly cottoned on, and then taught his little brother the proper technique. Harrison and Joey soon attracted the attention of several other youngsters and, while they were there, the sandpit became one of the most popular attractions for a short time.

Harrison was disappointed in St David's 

Later on that summer, Harrison and Joey were taken for their annual summer holidays to the same place where I used to take his dad and uncles and aunt (my sons and daughter): St. David’s, on the far west coast of Wales. When they came back his dad (my middle son Robbie) told me that Harrison was disappointed on their first visit to the beach because it wasn’t raining! ‘Why do you want it to rain Harrison?’ ‘Because you can’t make sandcastles out of dry sand.’


Meet The Author...
Jimmy Bates
Who Am I?

A grammar school boy from a working class family, Jimmy Bates has had a chequered career. Before becoming a writer he worked in a variety of jobs, then graduated with an honours degree in electronics, emigrated and became a scientist in Canada and then a director of the same hi-tech company in the U.S.A. He returned to England in 1980 and spent 25 years as a management consultant and held directorships of several high-technology companies before retiring and taking up writing full-time. His interests are history, sociology, science & technology and music. He was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, spent all of his school years in Stoke-on-Trent, is married has six children (all grown up now), four grandchildren and has lived in Herefordshire for the past 25 years. His books ( include:

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