• With Kids in the Westcountry

Merriott Playground and The Feed Station Café, Merriott (near Crewkerne, Ilminster, Yeovil, Chard)

Updated: Jul 9

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Well well well. I'm not the world's greatest playground fan but I may have just found another playground that I'll actually enjoy going to! And the kids loved it. I’ve just met a friend and her 9-month-old son at Merriott playing fields and as far as playgrounds go, it’s a good one – definitely one for the grand summer holiday playground tour if you’re within driving distance of the Crewkerne and Merriott area.

The playground is tucked away from the main road, behind Merriott Village Hall (which conveniently means plenty of parking available), and there’s lots of safe, open green space for ball games and frisbees etc before you reach the play equipment at the far side of the field. Mercifully the playground HAS SHADE which is something we desperately needed today, seeing as the temperature amidst this year’s Great British Heatwave was approximately as hot as the sun itself.

The play area has plenty of picnic benches, and an impressive array of equipment including a huge climbing cone (I never know the technical term for play equipment!), a zip wire, what can only be described as a hamster wheel, swings, slides, roundabout, trampoline anddddd a wobbly pirate ship amongst other favourites. The range of play equipment makes the playground suitable for tots up to teenagers as there’s something to interest all ages

Another bonus – the large, flat playing field is ringed with a tarmacked path perfect for bikes and scooters to loop around so if you’re visiting, you might like to take the wheels. There’s outdoor exercise equipment over by the pavilion building too for older kids, teens and adults if that takes your fancy.

I didn't clock any public loos at the playground so you might have to take younger kids for a bush wee, or take a potty!

Now, you’ll know by now that for me, no day trip is complete without some sort of refreshment, picnic or snack and today I needed a strategy to lure the girls away from the hot playground and into somewhere a little more interesting for me, so that I could have a proper catch up with my friend rather than shouting across snippets of conversation whilst rescuing the eldest from the top of the climbing tower or bouncing on the trampoline.

A few months ago a marvellous new café opened in Merriott called The Feed Station in the old building that backs onto the church yard, situated on the amusingly-named road ‘Sandy Hole’. I didn’t like to ask about the origins of the road name, but what I can tell you is that the café used to be the old sports hall for the adjacent Merriott First School. It’s now been converted into a café aimed at the general public and to cyclists, complete with bike pump facilities, bike parking, a board advertising planned cycle rides and decorative bicycles hanging from the ceiling, which my youngest finds a novelty.

It’s just occurred to me that families with older children could ride from the playground’s decent cycle circuit over to the café where bikes are most welcome and then extend the day by following one of the cycle routes advertised on the café’s route board. Great idea for an active day out if I do say so myself!

The cafe is a 5-10 minute walk from the playground, mostly on pavement but there is a short section on the road.

We’re not a cycling family ourselves just yet, so I can assure you first-hand that you don’t have to be wearing lycra and a helmet to enjoy this café. Children are well catered for – there’s even a little ‘busy box’ shelf with things to keep the kids amused like storybooks and colouring crayons - great idea!

There’s an amazing array of cakes which my friend and I did well to resist, treating the kids to an ice cream milkshake instead (complete with obligatory blob of whipped cream. Well, they had been tearing around the playground for an hour so I think they deserved it.)

It was just drinks and ice creams for us today but they also do a great breakfast/brunch, lunch menu, and occasional ‘pop up’ evening dining as well. The food is really good and well-priced – somewhere you could go for an everyday outing or for a special occasion. Two adult drinks, two cartons of juice, 2 floater milkshakes and a baby bowl of ice cream today came to a most reasonable £13.

There’s a shaded outdoor courtyard or plenty of indoor seating with highchairs available for tots and I think from memory there are changing facilities in the loo (sorry, I forgot to check today!).

We did manage to barge our way through the cafe with two large buggies, there’s steps to the front door so if bringing a pram you need to enter via the rear courtyard and it’s a bit of a squeeze. But once in, there’s plenty of room to sit and the informal vibe makes for a child-friendly atmosphere - I’ve not worried about the girls getting down from the table to have a little wander during previous visits.

We agreed this would be a park and café combo to repeat over the summer hols and into the cooler months when the café’s ceiling fans will be swapped for the inviting log burner. Check out The Feed Station's opening hours and menus here.