They say you should never work with children and animals - but that particular combination has brought joy to generations in Skegness.
Hardy’s Animal Farm in Ingoldmells is 25 years old this summer - and has been a destination since the day it opened for many families who have no idea what life in the country is like, as well as local mums looking for a party venue guaranteed to leave children smiling and exhausted.
Isaac the kid goat was chomping through a photograph donated for a news page when I was attempting to take a picture of a family from Norfolk who had popped in during their stay.
His brother Ethan had his head in the food bucket on the back of the pushchair and we had been laughing so much we hadn’t noticed Isaac’s head was looking for treats in my handbag.
“Animals running around is what everyone remembers from when we opened,” said Stuart Hardy, who was just a boy when his father John and brother Geoff decided to jump on the bandwagon and diversify. “It’s changed now because of health and safety laws, but sometimes the animals get out. But the aim is still for families to have contact with animals, rather than make it like a zoo.”
Along with a pig unit, there are cows in the fields and sheds full of all manner of farmyard animals.
The Play Barn and cafe provides somewhere for families when it rains and the outside play fort is as popular today as 25 years ago, although that is next in line for a major refurb.
Other fun activities include a nine hole pitch fork and put and a pony derby. Stuart said: “We like to keep things fresh and introduce new things each season. It’s what keeps bringing people back.”