Oh my goodness, Santa just came down the chimney. Like, actually came down the chimney.
One shiny black boot appeared first, then the other, then the big man in red himself landed with a thump.
The kids have all gone crazy, shaking the jingle bells handed to them by the elves in celebration as Santa smiles and waves.
I’m at Cannon Hall Farm with Royston Saint John the Baptist school’s reception class who have arrived at the South Yorkshire attraction for a Christmas day out and the schedule is utterly action packed. The family-run farm, in Cawthorne, is hosting schools from across the region throughout the month who are coming to check out its Christmas experience.
After a rousing version of Jingle Bells, led by Santa and his jolly elves, Santa - in an unmistakeably Yorkshire accent - asks: “So who’s been very good this year?” and dozens of little hands shoot up in the air (along with a few teachers). The children then all go up one-at-a-time to receive a present, and have a photograph taken with Santa, who stops regularly to compliment jazzy festive jumpers. Once everybody has a gift, and has personally had the chance to high-five Santa, we head out to explore the rest of the farm.
There are three schools here today, and the four and five-year-old children in my group wave at every group of little people they pass, who all wave back. The atmosphere is jovial and Christmas spirit is in the air, along with Jack Frost who is seriously nipping at my nose. But as we’re all togged up against the cold, our next stop is the Tractor Trailer Ride, where our guide, a jolly farmer called Darrel, takes us on a ride. We see the cows, and the sheep, the barns and the other farmers hard at work, who all stop to wave. We also get to take in the amazing view from the top of the farm, as we trip down the property’s edge, nestled in the heart of the Yorkshire countryside. Darrell is a full of interesting facts and tidbits of information about the farm’s many animal residents - such as the week-old lemur he insists we need to stop by and visit, the fact that cows drink a bathtub of water a day and have tongues the size of the kids’ arms, and the farm’s four grumpy daddy pigs, that - between them - are responsible for keeping the farm’s 70 mummy pigs happy. Yikes!
After a quick break for a picnic lunch, the rest of the afternoon is filled with running around the children’s amazing hamster maze, and meeting the farm’s many animals - including handling mini beasts in the reptile house, and stroking cuddly rabbits and guinea pigs - before diving into the awesome adventure playgrounds. Fantastic; a truly merry festive day out.
Cannon Hall Farm run school visits all year long to give children the chance to experience life on a working farm - but my vote definitely goes for a Christmas visit! Visit cannonhallfarm.co.uk to find out more about booking tickets, for your family or your school, to visit the South Yorkshire farm.