A few weeks back we made the effort (after a lot of delays – explanation below!) and got on the train and headed down to the bend in the river to urban farm on the Isle of Dogs. Here’s what happened.
All summer we have been meaning to visit the farm on The Isle of Dogs and never got round to it or as is more often true we were too late to get there! But a few weeks back we decided to make the effort and get on the Silverlink and then the DLR and head down to that bend in the river and to the strangely named part of the capital that is The Isle of Dogs – There are many theories to the origin of the name but it’s a weird connection to the nearby Canary Wharf that makes a weird kind of sense. Canary Wharf is named for the ships that docked there, were usually bound for the Canary Islands, which is derived from the Latin word for Dogs ‘Canari’, (because the islands were over run with dogs and so were termed ‘Dog Island’ and so the isle of land around the dock got the name of the Isle of the Dogs, it’s either that or the Hunting Dogs of HenryVIII were housed there for his hunts in the forest north of the city.
But it wasn’t dogs we were after, we have our own! No it was cows, pigs, chickens and the rest that we were on the look out for.
So on a wet and windy Saturday afternoon in the middle of October we got on the trains and made our way, Mudchute Farm is closest and then you walk through the backstreets, into the farm and round the wrong way to get to the farm. In hindsight going to Cross Harbour, walking through Asda’s Carpark and in that way would be easier, but of course Google Maps doesn’t think so and so we went the long way round!
We got there around 2.30pm and it wasn’t pleasant, the rain wasn’t heavy, it was just persistent and the wind didn’t help. But at least it was quiet,(foreshadowing!) We tried the shop and the cafe for a coffee but it was shut early due to the lack of customers and we wandered around looking at the bunnies and ducks, but for the most part the animals all seemed somewhat reluctant to be out in the rain and were huddled in their pens avoiding the deluge. We were trying to video the sight, but Ash’s ‘Go Pro Mod’ was not playing ball and it kept turning off, when it was meant to be on and vis-versa, basically there is no display on the screen so you can’t see when it is recording. (Maybe a post in the future). So we wandered for a while down to the end of the farm and saw a few pigs and a lot of ducks, but it just wasn’t working so we admitted defeat and headed towards Canary Wharf to find coffee.
But we still wanted to see the animals and so the next week it was suddenly bright and sunny and we wanted to go for a bike ride, so we headed back to the farm again and WHOA! People e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. A little sun and clearly they all thought ‘let’s go to the farm and get ice-cream and chips!’ because as you may have read in the last coffee post the queue in the cafe was ridiculous. So after a 25minutes wait we took our coffee and set out to look for the animals that this time round were out and being sociable. We filmed the wander and this time we didn’t use the GoPro Mod and just took photos and video on our phones.
First things first, we (or more acurately Bob) remembered Monkey nuts, because there are tons of Squirrels that all made instant friends with Bob – as is the case with all animals – and wanted nuts. The first time round she forget to bring her supply, but second time she was armed and ready.
We started again at the rabbits and ducks, there was a Golden Pheasant which was impressive, a number of geese and other fowls and the first of the giant Mallards! Then we went on to see the Donkeys and Shetland Ponies, before heading out to the goats, Llamas and then Pigs and sheep. Unfortunately we encountered more than enough ‘Stupid’ in our wander, adults who don’t know the difference between a chicken and a duck informing their loud and annoying offspring of their misinformation or the middle class brat who never get told to stop, or ‘No’. But it’s what we come to expect these days.
Each area is large, with post fences allowing the viewers a good view of the animals and for them to come close to get as much attention as they want, or run away and be far away if they are shy! Some of the pen areas don’t look too comfortable, concrete and tin huts but none of the animals seemed to mind and they went about their business mostly ignoring the onlookers. The pigs pen down at the bottom of the farm was quite popular, a herd of little pigs was overrun with a mass of people watching and more than enough spoilt children, screaming that ‘I want it NOW’ Mummy and Daddy clearly hadn’t bought Tarquin a pig today and so would be off to ‘Livestock Are Us’ to make sure the annoying, loud mouthed brat got his heart’s desire before the sun would set.
So we ran away from the noise and wandered up to the Wentworth Pig, the rather short legged cows and then to the chicken coops and to the rather funky and stylish chickens with the fluffy feet, these were a clear favourite for the day.
We also found more squirrels in need of nuts, a few magpies and crows and a ton of ducks and geese and more of the giant Mallard ducks, that we think must actually be a cross breed of duck and goose, so technically a Mallard Goose? Whatever they are, they were rather large and numerous.
One random site is in the middle of the farm, a .37mm Ack-Ack Gun, sitting there looking pristine and menacing for no good reason other than because it can. It is not something you expect to see in the middle of a farm! So having seen the animals – avoided the sheep (Ash is allergic to wool) and tried the coffee, we decided to head back home.
Mudchute Farm is better run and set out compared to the other urban farms around London, because they have more space, probably, but it’s a worthwhile visit and one we would recommend if you are on the Isle of Dogs. Just try to go on a day when it’s a little overcast or in the middle of winter, then you won’t have to suffer the screaming children and the illiterate adults!