Now, we’re all agreed, are we not, that farm shops are a good thing. They sell quality food, generally serve delicious meals and give us a chance to do our bit to help local farmers and producers of jams and whatnot.
However, having been to many of these establishments over the years I often feel they are missing a trick when it comes to creating a space where families can enjoy themselves. Muddy Boots, just off the main road between Glenrothes and Cupar, could be the template for the farm shops of the future.
After lunching in the really rather nattily converted barn, I handed over £13 and my daughter Ellen and her friend Ruth were free to try out the various activities on offer a few yards from the cafe and shop.
First they headed to the jumping pillow, a sort of huge bouncy castle without the turrets. Even I lumbered on for a few moments until I felt a bit queasy. Then they scooted up the hill to the trike run and whizzed round a small track on go-karts. Beside this was a large sand pit which they luckily didn’t notice as my car is messy enough already without having the seats covered in sand.
The grass sledging employs little contraptions with caterpillar-type wheels, and the girls launched themselves from the top of small wooden slides and bumped down the hill.
In the next field was a huge hen run where chickens happily pecked and scratched their way around just like they are meant to do. The eggs are sold in the shop so no worrying about food miles here; free range they certainly are – especially the escapee that was marching around outside the enclosure. Beside them eight pigs snorted and snuffled their noses into the mud.
As we were there in February the zorbing (where children seem to insert themselves in huge bubbles and roll around) and quad tours weren’t operating, but both look like they would be a lot of fun.
A huge shed houses a soft play area aimed at pre-schoolers, but that didn’t stop these Primary Seven girls having a whale of a time. There is also an activity area aimed at little ’uns, with swings, a smaller jumping pillow and mini cars and tractors.
It was quite an effort to drag the girls away – only the promise of ice- cream from the shop actually persuaded them. Next time I’ll allow for longer, maybe take a book and relax while they live a little bucolic pipe dream.
• Muddy Boots, The Old Manse, Balmalcolm, Cupar, Fife, tel: 01337 831222, open Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-5pm.