visiting the pumpkin patch

Taking a Toddler to a Pumpkin Patch: Expectation Vs Reality

Remember two years ago, when I randomly decided I was going to become an Autumn Person by diligently working my way through a bucket list of wholesome sounding autumn-activities, absolutely none of which sounded even remotely like something my cold-hearted, autumn-hating self would do? (The post about it is here, just in case you’re wondering…)

Then, remember how I totally failed to do ANY of those things?

Well, prepare to be amazed, people, because last week I managed to cross, not just one, but THREE items off my autumn bucket list, with a trip to Craigies Farm, near Edinburgh.

Pumpkin Picking at Craigies Farm, near Edinburgh, Scotland

Now, the good news is that Cragies is absolutely wonderful. As well as the pumpkin patch, which was satisfyingly huge, there’s also a giant orchard, plus opportunities to pick various different fruits, depending on the season. Oh, and they have goats. You gotta love a place with goats, right?

The bad news, meanwhile, was that we’d unwittingly booked our tickets (Due to Covid safety restrictions, they’re limiting entry at the moment, so it’s essential to book first…) for what was to become known as The Day the Water Died: as in, not just our shower this time, but ALL of the water supply, to our entire street. By the time we set off for the pumpkin patch, Terry and I had been attempting to deal with this situation all day, so we were feeling just a little bit fraught. (And also kind of grubby, really, due to the whole ‘no shower’ situation…) Max, meanwhile, had decided that this would be a good day to completely skip his afternoon nap, and then point-blank refuse to leave the house, and that, I guess, was the moment I realised that my expectations for this outing were going to diverge somewhat from the actual reality of it. And I was right. For instance…

pumpkin picking


Crazed excitement from Max at the prospect of getting to run around in a field filled with pumpkins. Like, seriously, WHAT COULD BE BETTER?


A sand-pit, apparently. A SAND PIT could be better, and, just to make this point extra-clear, Max spends the duration of the car ride talking about how much he wants to visit one, while Terry and I exchange nervous glances, knowing that the farm has many, many attractions, but, unfortunately, a sandpit is not one of them. Gulp.

Visiting the pumpkin patch


Still, when he sees the pumpkins, he’ll forget all about the sandpit, won’t he?


WRONG. On the way to the pumpkin patch, we pass a small playpark. It immediately becomes Max’s life goal to visit it. He deeply resents our attempts to interests him in the pumpkins, instead. Because, I mean, sure, there’s a whole field of pumpkins right there, but it’s not as good as the exacts same slide we have in our own back garden, and which he refuses to go on, is it?

Visiting the Pumpkinn Patch at Craigies Farm, near Edinburgh


Everyone likes goats, right?

feeding the goats


Well… almost everyone. To be fair, Max did spent a couple of minutes trying to talk to them, before being once again diverted by the thought of the playpark. I very much enjoyed the goats, though, so I’m calling this one a win.

Max and daddy go apple picking


He’ll love apple picking, though, surely?


Terry has to carry a loudly protesting Max all the way to the apple orchard, with the promise of a visit to the playpark afterwards being used as a dangling carrot. Er, apple, rather. I tag along behind them, smiling apologetically at passers-by, in a bid to reassure them that Max is not, in fact, being kidnapped and tortured, even though it very much sounds like it.

Once there, however, I’m pleased to say that he did actually enjoy picking the apples, which were huge and plentiful:

apple picking with a toddler in autumn

Apple picking at the farm

Toddler Max picking apples at the farm

How do ta like them apples? “NOW can we go to the playpark?” he asked, once he’d filled a basket with apples, and started munching his way through one. Resigned to our fate, we headed in the direction of the playpark. We had just one stop to make on the way, though: the big moment when we would pick our pumpkin!

visiting the pumpkin patch with a toddlerEXPECTATION:

Max would really enjoy inspecting the pumpkins, and would spend a lot of time picking out the perfect specimen, which he would probably name, and talk to all the way home, as is his way.


Max has found a stick to play with, and is still enjoying his apple, so I pick out a pumpkin myself. I name him Bill. No one cares.

picking out a pumpkin

Finally, Max’s goal is achieved: we make it to the playpark!


I will now get to sit down with a nice hot coffee, while Max plays on the tractors and other equipment.


Having been relentlessly sunny all afternoon, the heavens open as soon as set foot in the playpark. Because we’ve promised Max he can play there, we have to stay anyway. Still, at least it makes up for the lack of a shower? I guess?

red hair in autumn

And so ended our trip to the pumpkin patch. Here’s what I learned: :

01. At 2.5, Max is probably still a little bit too young to fully appreciate the finer details of the pumpkin patch. Like the pumpkins, say.

02. We will definitely be going back next year, though, and, tbh, I’d go back again tomorrow if I could. I mean, goats, apples, pumpkins: what’s not to like?

03. It’s always, always a good idea to lower your expectations before embarking on a day out with a toddler.

04. No matter what you THINK you’re going to be doing with a chid this age, you will, in fact, end up in a play park. You could save yourself a lot of time and money here by just going DIRECTLY to the playpark, really.

05. You won’t, though, because, if you’re anything like me, you’ve seen so many Instagram shots of happy children picking perfect pumpkins in soft, golden light that you’re now WAY too invested in #makingmemories, and creating a fun childhood tradition, and you WILL do it, no matter what.

06. Instagram is totally fake, by the way: hth.

07. Goats, though!

Oh, and as for my three autumn bucket list items, I would like to submit the following:

ITEM # 1: Visit a pumpkin patch – CHECK

ITEM #4: Go apple picking – CHECK

ITEM #6: Take some long walks – OK, I’m including this one purely because, even if walking around the farm doesn’t count, taking long walks is pretty much ALL we’ve done this year, so at least one of them HAS to count, right?

Finally, I’m also happy to announce that running water was restored to our house later that night, so we were finally able to shower, and feel like humans again. So at least that’s something…

P.S. I write a weekly diary which goes out every Friday to my subscribers. Sign up below to get on the list...

books by Amber Eve
  • Donna


    The memories we hope to make are never quite the memories we actually get! But they’re even more precious because of that.And hopefully provide us with a few blackmail opportunities for when they become teenagers!

    October 15, 2020
  • Brenda


    Oh, I feel you on this!!! I learned to lower my expectations pretty quickly with my kids, especially my daughter. She’s 20 now and although she has grown up a lot (obviously!), I still have the bar set to a much lower level. I kind of think that until their brains are fully developed (current research says age 25), we need to keep the bar fairly low. Sigh. But we love them, regardless.

    October 15, 2020
  • Merry Pruitt


    When things don’t go according to plan usually makes for the best stories! How lovely that you and your husband went with the flow (as if you had a choice)!

    October 16, 2020
  • Lynn Jones


    The stresses of balancing one’s hopes with the reality. This seems very familiar ???? Who really wanted to go to the pumpkin patch? ???? FWIW, I think we paid quite a bit of money to see some alpacas…. Only to find that they preferred to hide at the top of the field which we weren’t allowed in. Still, Child 1.0 found a huge tractor to inspect, so you have to work with what you have.

    Have you carved Bill yet or if he staying au natural? ????

    Psst: “the map to the sandpit playground is hidden in the pumpkin!” ????

    October 17, 2020