Muscovites hold to the maxim that you work in the city and rest in the country. It is a good way to look at life, and many city dwellers (not just the rich, but ordinary folk too) have a small family home in the country, known as a Dacha, which they return to at weekends. Sometimes, especially when I’ve just done yet another school run by pushing – and occasionally hauling – the stroller through the snow, the daily grind of city life can become wearing, and the snowy weather can feel like an endurance test. So this weekend, we took the advice of our Muscovite neighbours and, in the absence of a Dacha, went to rest in the countryside at Bogdarnya Farm.
Set on the edge of a village between Moscow and Vladimir, the farm is the perfect place to try out winter sports – you can go cross-country skiing, or practice your figure-of-eights on the outdoor ice-rink. And if, like me, you don’t own skis or skates you can hire them. Because our two children are quite small, we spent most of our time just playing in the grounds. Little Pickle seemed determined to climb to the top of every snowdrift and she had great fun simply rolling around in the snow. Both children loved being pulled along on the sledge (it turns out that Mummy and Daddy make ideal huskies) and Beanie-boy was very impressed that the sledge had a proper steering wheel to help it turn corners. There was also an enormous slide which Daddy went down several times (three times with the children but quite a few more on his own!) and Beanie-boy also enjoyed trying going downhill on this tube.
A real highlight for all of us was the horse-drawn sleigh ride around the farm. It’s one of those things that I’ve only ever seen in movies and it was fantastic to get the opportunity to ride on one. I was surprised to find that it isn’t an entirely silent mode of transport. You know how snow crunches under your feet? It turns out the sound of snow crunching under four hooves and a heavy sleigh is a lot louder than you might imagine!
The farm is very well set-up for families. We booked an ensuite family room, which was large, clean and very comfortable. Beanie-boy particularly liked that the children’s beds were in a little alcove off our main room, and we were impressed that the hotel had no problem providing both a cot for Little Pickle and a highchair. It was also a nice touch to find a few toys to play with on the ground floor next to the living room.
Bogdarnya was the ideal place to get away from it all, and the perfect reminder of all the fun that can be had during the winter weather. We also managed to take a little bit of Bogdarnya home with us – John, the owner, makes his own cheese and we bought some – yummy!
Bogdarnya is about 2.5 hours drive from Moscow on the road to Vladimir and is easy to get to by train or car. Hiring skates, sledges, and skis cost extra as does the sleigh ride. You can visit the farm website at http://bogdarnya.ru/en