A family visit to Livingston

I was a bit worried about the “oldies” as I call them, on a recent day out to Almond Valley Heritage Centre in Livingston. By the oldies I mean my daughter Eve and her best chum, also Eve (both nine). I thought they might have outgrown the place, but I know that it ticks all the right boxes for Hope (six).

We started at the museum, where the girls enjoyed virtual fossil hunting, and learning about the area’s geology. They also got to build an archway out of bricks and examine some of the old-fashioned items from days gone by.

We all stopped for a bit of a breather with colouring-in and spring crafting and the chance to peek at some fluffy Easter chicks before heading to the inflatable bouncy castle cow to burn off some energy with spectacular spring bounds. I am now officially terrified of the Easter bunny, having seen the size of the giant rabbits in pens all over the farm.

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The oldies couldn’t resist having a go at milking the life-sized plastic cow in the milking byre before heading over the bridge to the trampolines. As energy levels were dropping we fuelled up on our picnic lunch, before making an assault on the “nutty bouncer”. I’m not sure how to describe this inflatable air pillow on which you can jump and run about. It’s situated in a large sandpit to cushion any tumbles. There was a massive amount of giggling and crazy running manoeuvres, but it was the highlight of the girls’ day.

Sadly, we were all too big for the tractor ride, but the pedal go-karts more than made up for that. The girls all managed several laps of the course and finished up breathless and happy. We made a full circuit of the site, to see the sheep in the bottom field before heading back to the “bones and stones” area. My Eve struck lucky, finding a pound in the sand, which she managed to spend in the shop on the way out. Best chum Eve was delighted to see one of Monty Hall’s pigs in the animal barn, while my two loved the goats, especially the one squeezed into the roof space of its shelter. We timed it right and got to see Morgan, a very well-behaved goat, being milked by hand, and learned about the animals from a member of staff.

We managed to squeeze in a bit more playing time at the farm-themed playground and the quaint play mill, plus a wander out to gaze at the highland cattle, Mary and Morag.

In a scene reminiscent of The Railway Children we did a spot of waving at the passing miniature train, then popped into Morag’s café for a biscuit before heading home.

I had worried unnecessarily about the oldies – they had a ball from the minute we arrived.

• Almond Valley Heritage Trust, Millfield, Livingston, EH54 7AR. Tel: 01506 414957, click here for www.almondvalley.co.uk Admission is £5.50 for adults, £4 for children aged three-17 and senior citizens. A family ticket for two adults and up to two children is £17. Tractor and trailer rides cost 50p per person and train rides £1. Half-hour play sessions in Morag’s Meadow soft play area cost £1 per child. For more details, click here for visitwestlothian.co.uk

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