So it was with some excitement and trepidation that I returned to Robin Hill, this time with a pre-schooler.
I'd been holding off the visit for a while, as my feeling was that Robin Hill is really better for junior school aged children. The advantage of taking a three and a half year old is that they still benefit from free entry, at least for another four months.
As I am learning, toddlers of that age like to surprise you. Whilst she was a bit nervy at similar parks a few months ago, she was suddenly keen to climb, crawl and slide at every opportunity.
We had a good 20 minutes in the Duckdown Play Village, a painful-on-the-knees crawl through the Rabbit Run, a gawp from the Lookout Tower and then a long play at the African Adventure playground. After lunch, we explored the woods and gardens (probably more of interest to us than her but she didn't complain), tried out another couple of smaller playgrounds, fed some fish and pretended to drive a wooden tractor.
In fact, a lot of the bits which looked dull to me as a 19 year old were exactly what a 3 year old wanted.
She was too small for the 4D cinema (previously the Time Machine) or Colossus. She could have just about gone on the Toboggan Run but I thought she probably wouldn't have liked it just yet. She also wasn't interested in the tame train ride or the tractor ride around the park, both of which I thought she'd go for.
I also noticed that the ice cream hut has undergone a few changes. The ice cream scoops have been replaced with ice lollies and a selection of plastic things for kicking and throwing around the green space below (I do wonder if my rainy day challenge of eating as much mint choc chip as I sold might have had something to do with the change in policy).
There has also been a lot added over the years - no huge great rollercoasters, but lots of small things to keep the park looking fresh and interesting for returning visitors.
I left with three observations from a hot an enjoyable day out:
1. Robin Hill's owners should be commended for seeing the value of gradual and continued investment. Some attractions seem to wait until bits are falling off before spending any money, which seems a bit short sighted to me.
2. A 3 1/2 year old will get plenty from a trip to Robin Hill, as long as they enjoy climbing, sliding and walking over wobbly things.
3. Selling ice creams at Robin Hill is now a much easier job...