When it comes to the locality, no-one could deny that Bockett’s Farm Park is a dream day out for most small children.
But still, there are days when you just don’t want to go ‘all in’. Maybe you’re on a budget, it’s too far from Guildford… or maybe you just fancy a quick bit of fresh air and animal action before toddling off elsewhere?
Elm Nursery is a mere stone’s throw away from my house, yet I had no idea until tipped off by a Mum-friend. It’s like Guildford’s best kept Toddler-friendly secret. Oh well. Understandable, given it’s only been there a mere 30 years! Doh!
Here’s the deal: it’s a tiny farm and garden centre, tucked away up Sutton Green Road, (a direction you can miss completely if, like most people, you don’t live in Sutton Green!). You park up and head for the farm shop, where you find a little honesty box that charges £1 for entry to the farm – under 2s go free – and you can splash out on little bags of animal food too if you wish, so the children can get their fingers nibbled by some friendly goats!
You can then explore the farm area at your leisure: the kiddies can take in some chickens and piggies, alpacas and a shetland pony among other furry friends. Oh, and don’t forget the ever-popular guinea pigs. They are moved over to the greenhouse in the winter and their cute little wooden houses are a real child-pleasers so remember to pop your head in there.
The whole outfit is quite small and humble (as you would expect for £1) There’s mud and grime and tyres, and occasionally the chickens are missing feathers. It’s no-frills. And that really is part of the charm of it for me. You can get around it in about ten minutes if you are in a hurry. But we prefer to linger because Eva loves it.
Another reason Elm Nursery captured my interest though is the more recent addition of a cafe (yep, the mention of food will get this Surrey Mum’s ears twitching every time!).
Well, who wouldn’t deserve a cuppa and something sweet after the fresh air…especially at this time of year? And, yes, they do indeed have an array of lovingly homemade cakes. It seems the proprietors used to prepare the food at the pub up the road, and Elm Cafe is their much-longed-for family foray into opening their own eatery. And I had me a damn fine slice of Coconut and Lime cake during my last visit, so I think they’re off to a promising start. Nice savoury snacks are available too (though if you can make sense of the ‘Stuff On Toast’ pricing, you’re doing better than me!) but it’s the sweet stuff that’s the star here …to my palate at least! There are often lovely mini-gingerbread men available for the children too – along with the ubiquitous Babycino, of course. Plus a little spot with picnic tables out front for finer weather, and a spacious baby change/toilet next door.
So, if you’re looking for bells, whistles and go-carts, Elm Nursery is maybe not the place for you. But if you just want someplace where the kids can point at goats and climb on a tyre for twenty minutes, and you can all team up for a slice of something yummy afterwards, then make a mental note of this place. I’ve been there quite a few times now, as you may have figured from the array of different aged-Evas on these pictures. And thinking about that coconut and lime cake is making want to head there again in a hurry!
So now the secret’s out. Here’s the Elm Nursery website, with further details – opening times, etc – For the rest of it, I’ll let the photos do the talking.
Footnote: the cafe is closed on Mondays. Though if you forget, they sell good sweet treats in the farm shop too, so all is not lost!
Elm Nursery, Sutton Green Road, Guildford, Surrey, GU4 7QD