For many families, teenagers and children, September saw the return to school. Summer was officially over when the backpacks were slung over shoulders, homework diaries and textbooks stuffed inside and the school bell was rung. For some it also marked their first time at school, either entering primary or stepping up to the ‘big school’ of Secondary education. My nephew was in the camp of those starting school for the very first time. Having just turned four years old in August, he smiled out at us all in his first day of school obligatory photo graph – big, rosy cheeks grinning, too big school jumper slipping off his shoulders and the little bear backpack I got him for his third birthday, now proudly upgraded to school bag status. The first week consisted of half days to warm them up to the full time commitment of the education system. For the last few days of his second week of school, I stepped in and took over the childcare to give my Sister and Brother in Law the chance for their own mini break. Armed with a shoebox full of crafts my partner and I took care of the boys for two school days and two weekend days. Friday morning and the four year old pipes up, “actually, I don’t think I will go to school today.” In his head, it was like a nursery and a purely part time commitment, a little fling, a frisson of A,B,C’s and the 1,2,3’s. Alas, no chance buddy.
I remembered then why children need a half term break. It is an intensive environment at school and their academic pressures and constant tests are unrelenting. One teacher complained that her Year 2 students had not done enough school work over the summer holidays. That’s six and seven year olds who are being criticised for not working harder and for being children. That criticism stems from the pressures put on the teachers but the trickle down collateral is the children. Even as adults we need time to play and rest and adventure and to breathe. Dorset Adventure Park is loved by children and adults because we all need an opportunity and an environment for fun! As some of the last trip advisor reviews show: “So happy that we booked this place. We’ve been to similar places as a family before but this was the best by far. Such a fun, family day out. Our children were aged 5, 10, 11 & 15. Each of them found it enjoyable. The staff were all really friendly, helpful and fun themselves too.” Be it bouncing across the inflatables atop the lakes, battling through the obstacle course or the very muddy mud run – you get to have fun. We need fun in our lives, we need room and space and permission to play and explore. So, if you are looking for fun activities with kids near me, here is a guide to some great activities and things to do in Dorset this half term.
Pick Your Own Pumpkins
I can’t think of anything more wholesome and perfectly autumnal than picking your own pumpkins! This is perfect if you and your family are looking for outdoor activities near me and fun things to do in Dorset. There are a number of different pick your own pumpkin locations. These include:
- Bincombe Bumps Pumpkins, located on West Farm, Bincombe. Open at 10am – 4pm, from October 9,10, 16,17 then 23 – 30 October. The farm also includes a Haunted House, Witch’s Way Walk and a Scarecrow Maize Trail.
- Farmer Palmers, Organford. Based near Poole, this is a family run ‘farming attraction’ and so I think family fun activities is a real focus here. Half Term activities will include: Soak-a-Spook tractor ride and pumpkin picking. Running from October 23rd – 31st, tickets must be booked in advance to make sure everyone’s little witches, wizards, goblins, ghouls and ghosts get a slot.
- The Cat and Fiddle Farm, Hinton, on the A35 Lyndhurst Road, 2 miles from Christchurch. Available throughout the whole of October and no need to book for this patch! Simply turn up and pick your pumpkins, pay for what you pick and then enjoy a cup of tea and a slice of cake at the cafe – the perfect adventure farm.
- Bickton Manor Farm. Found on the edge of the Newforest between Sailsbury and Bournemouth, Bickton Manor Farm is hosting a huge array of ‘spooktacular’ experiences. Pick not just pumpkins but from either a daytime or twilight turn around the maize maze. This event is running from October 8th – October 30th.
- Lenctenbury Farm, Corfe Castle. Is there anywhere more hauntingly beautiful and perfect for Autumn than Corfe Castle? The farm is open for pumpkin pickers 10am-5pm, from the weekend of October 9th–10th and then every day from October 16th until all the pumpkins are picked!
Corfe Castle will be holding special spooky October half term activities (as well as pumpkin picking)! Running from Half term 22-30 October, 2022.
Take part in Secrets Of The Sappers Family Quest: ‘explore the ruins and learn how the deceitful sappers under the command of Colonel Pitman went about destroying Corfe Castle’. An unexpected option when looking for things to do in Dorset, will now include the opportunity to ‘bring your own teddy or borrow a furry Corfe Castle veteran and get involved with the teddy bear zip line. Discover the gruesome story of King John and his wicked ways as the teddy bear Knights escape the Keep via zip line.’ Do you dare zipline your brave bear? You can also play dress up and explore the creepy castle dressed as a King or Queen. Just don’t forget to add the royal wave, or heads will roll.
Halloween Fun at Northe Fort
Northe Fort will be spookily transformed this October half term. Open10.30am – 4pm, 22 Octnd – 30 Oct. Adventures at Northe Fort include: Hunting the ghosts around the Fort, snapping a selfie in the vampire photo booth, having a go at pumpkin golf or the witches hat hoopla, attending wizard school in their 1940s classroom and making a lollipop spider!
Halloween & Autumn Trail Walled Garden Moreton
If you are on the hunt for more outdoor activities in Dorset, try the beautiful walled garden at Moreton. Spiteful Halloween and Autumn adventures are available from 8th – 31st October. Dress up for the spooktacular Halloween and Autumn Trail, complete the quiz to win a prize and learn about nature.
Whatever you decide to do this October Half term, I hope that it is fun, full of adventure and you get the chance to play.
Words by Olivia Lowry