On a sunny Sunday a couple of weeks ago, some friends and I took our boys to the Mohair Centre’s open day.
Ever since, I have been gushing to anyone that will listen about it. And about how much I’m looking forward to Mohair being part of my sons’ every school holiday.
Let me say that every school holiday club and summer school in the Little Lewes Happy Holidays post sounds amazing. As I said in that post’s introduction, Little Lewes doesn’t have a favourite!
However, my children are not at school yet (soon to change!), so we haven’t experienced any school holiday activities.
Mohair is so far the only place I have visited that runs a school holiday club. When my son utilises other clubs in the future, I’ll be sure to write a post about them from a personal perspective.
Drive: 20 minutes
Address: The Mohair Centre, Brickfield Farm, Lewes Road, Chiddlingly, Lewes, BN8 6JG
Tel no.: 01825 872 457
Contacts: Nursery – Liz; Holiday Play Scheme – Sandra; visits, After School Club, Forest School, birthday parties – Stephanie
NOTE: Mohair is not a play farm that is open for visits. It is pre-bookable for parties, school visits and various childcare options.
- Mohair is a working farm on the other side of Laughton when driving from Lewes. AA Routeplanner says the journey is 20 minutes.
- The farm incorporates a nursery for two- to four-year-olds, which will be taking one-year-olds from September.
- They also have a fully functioning after school club, that does pickups from village schools like Firle, Laughton and Hellingly. They say they’ll consider other schools depending on demand.
- Then there’s the Holiday Play Scheme. This runs every holiday – not just the summer – and children can come for one-off days, set days per week, or full weeks. It’s up to you.
- Mohair has two ‘forest classrooms’ and takes groups of children or adults – for parties or just for fun. The whole ethos is about children, young people and adults building self-esteem and independence through exploring and experiencing the natural world.
- Each holiday play scheme week is themed. The full run is on their website, but I love that each week my children could not just learn about but DO any of the following:
- small animals and farming
- ponies and fishing
- forest schools
After a look around everything below, we walked a circular route through a wood to a large camp fire.
Here the boys were given sticks and marshmallows. After cooking the latter until gloopy, they were given two chocolate digestives to make a sandwich with. Heaven.
They then ran wild in a field of buttercups, climbing a large claw-like piece of a fallen tree, before taking off for the woods with my friend’s partner.
Below (after the click-through) is a rundown of what else there was a Mohair.
The baby adored this space. We went back in three times.
It’s a small building, hung with paintings and projects the children have created. It’s open on two sides, with an enormous garden to the rear.
Here there was a sandpit, tyre swings, climbing frame, huge tree for shade… And then evidence of creative play: a stack of giant Jenga-style wooden blocks hand-painted by the children. They were left in a scattered pile on the grass, for small hands to do with what they fancied.
There was also ‘fence weaving‘ – ribbons, twine, sticks and reeds, all threaded haphazardly through the boundary fence.
The nursery is all about ‘self-directed play’ (within the bounds of what is reasonable safety-wise).
To one side of the farmyard the bigger boys went mad for a barn housing hay bales and another, an old tractor and jeep (that I must say in these days of mega health and safety, caused one of my eyebrows to raise – but then to fall again. How refreshing not to have everything over-sanitsed for a change).
Straight across the central farmyard from the Nursery were standing-room-sized hutches that had little painted wooden houses in them – so charming.
One had giant rabbits in it. Literally. GIANT rabbits. They were the size of medium-sized dogs. I found them terrifying; the boys bounded in to stroke and give them bits to eat.
Behind these hutches were pens housing sheep and goats. They were as nosy and curious as the boys.
Further along were more hutches, a colourful ‘boot room’, then to the right, a path to an amazing garden.
This area was derelict only two years ago. But now houses raised beds (created within disused chicken pens using timber from a blown-down barn), a cool rockery, and a patchwork of veg plots.
One area was full of massive tractor wheels planted up as the Nursery’s allotment.
There’s also a ‘wild’ area allocated to encourage wildlife for the children to observe.
As we headed back to our cars, thinking we’d seen everything, the boys discovered a swamp down what appeared a dead-end track.
Over a stile they leapt, and into a dank boggy area, where ropes hung off trees and plastic barrels, a raft, and sort of giant junk modelling bits and pieces begged for messing about at the water’s edge.
Unfortunately we had to drag them away. The open day ran from 11am to 3pm. We’d been there for its entirety!
LITTLE LEWES LOVES
That my sons could have such a place to run free, while learning to love and appreciate nature and animals, and being put to the task of helping out around a farm?
I never dreamt it possible!
Where once, as a working parent, I guiltily wondered what school holidays would do to my one-time wraparound childcare arrangements, now I am excited that there’s somewhere for them that feels like a real adventure. Like a holiday in itself.
Where dens – and confidence – will be built!
For a look at some more pictures of the Mohair Centre, see their gallery.
Mohair is a fully functioning childcare facility. It was awarded a ‘Good’ by Ofsted in 2011.
The centre also offers a massive and diverse spectrum of childcare training and accreditations.