Our Visit to Chester Zoo – A Great Family Day Out

Last August Bank Holiday weekend we visited Chester with the sole purpose of using our Bristol Zoo annual passes for our visit to Chester Zoo. We had caught some of the TV show about the zoo, The Secret Life of the Zoo, and it made us more determined to visit. So, with the long weekend, we drove up and stayed only 15 minutes from the zoo.our visit to chester zoo

We arrived at 9.40am to start our visit to Chester Zoo and quickly found parking, which is free. We headed straight to a staff member who checked our Bristol Zoo annual passes and letter, and she directed us straight to the turnstiles where we didn’t have to queue. It was so easy.

We decided to start from the elephant’s enclosure and waited beside their enclosure until zoo barriers opened at 10am. The elephants weren’t out by then so we started to walk anti-clockwise. We first visited the Butterflies, whose house is like the one in Bristol Zoo but with more vegetation in it. From there we walked through the Spirit of the Jaguar but they weren’t out.our visit to chester zoo

Next on our hit list was the Realm of the Red Ape where we saw gibbons and a huge python. I stayed well back but BattleKid was fascinated.

We carried on around to see the flamingos, penguins and cheeky little otters on our way to the aquarium. I think BattleKid rather enjoyed this as he tried spotting both Dory and Nemo in each tank. He was delighted when he finally spotted them.

From the aquarium we passed the aviary where I was absolutely shocked at the size of the vultures. I had never seen one in real life and really had no idea how big they grew. They are shockingly huge birds!our visit to chester zoo

By now it was 11.30 so we decided it was time for a pit stop. We visited June’s Food Court. We had tea and coffee, and cakes, and got BattleKid a kid’s lunch box which was well stocked. We got two bottles of water to take with us and the total cost of this was £16, which I didn’t think was too bad.

Fueled up we headed to see the lions but their enclosure was being cleaned so they were in their houses. Daddy lion didn’t seem too happy. We then headed over the wooden bridge and managed to spot the cheetahs hiding in the bushes. We also saw deer and for split second I actually thought they were in the same enclosure! We also saw the bongos, tapirs and capybaras. I didn’t know their name and was surprised when BattleDad told me. You learn something new every day!

On the way into the new Islands section, opened in summer of 2015, we saw the Babirusa, an animal I had never seen before and who reminded me of warthogs. We also spotted crocodile and tortoise, saw more gibbon and the orangutans, saw Rhinoceros hornbill birds, which are beautiful and also Warty pigs. The main attraction of the Islands is the Sumatran Tigers and they are just stunning animals. We spotted them through the bushed at the side of their enclosure before seeing them through the viewing glass at the front. Beautiful creatures, so majestic.our visit to chester zoo

I have to say we were very impressed with the Islands of Chester Zoo which include animals from Sumatra, Sulawesi and Bali. They are quite new to the Zoo and are simply beautiful. There is even background noises and music playing which reminded me of the background music you hear at Disneyland Paris. The lazy boat river ride in the Islands looks great too although we didn’t get a chance to do it.

From the islands we headed towards the painted dogs, which were recommended by a work colleague, passing zebra, antelope and rock hyrax along the way. And the painted dogs were worth seeing. Just as we arrived at their enclosure they came towards the viewing windows and lay down right there. BattleKid was fascinated by them.our visit to chester zoo

From there we went to see black rhino and meerkats. BattleKid got very cranky at this stage but refused a nap in his pram just like when we visited Folly Farm. We went in to see the monkeys before heading back towards June’s Food Court to collect a handprint picture we had gotten done earlier in the day.our visit to chester zoo

It is a monkey made using BattleKid’s hands and is framed and cost £18. It’s a lovely memento of our day. As it was past lunchtime we decided to stop for fish and chips and BattleKid ate well. The rain started as we sat eating and the playground nearby quickly cleared. An adults fish and chips cost us £7.25 including any side and a kid’s meal cost £5.50. BattleKid had chicken nuggets, chips and ad rink and they were really nice chicken nuggets too.

As we had pretty much seen all we wanted to we decided to end our visit to Chester Zoo with a trip into the gift shop at the entrance. BattleKid got a toy jeep while I got one or two other gifts. Typically, as soon as we left Chester Zoo BattleKid had a danger nap in the car!

Overall our visit to Chester Zoo was a great day out and well worth it. We definitely needed the full day there to see everything we wanted to.

Facts about Chester Zoo:

  • Chester Zoo is one of the UK’s largest zoos at 125 acres.
  • It houses over 20,000 animals which includes 500 different species.
  • It played host to 1.7 million visitors in 2015.
  • It has been featured in the documentary The Secret Life of the Zoo.
  • It receives no government funding at all.
  • They are heavily involved in conservation and also in conjunction with other zoos across 30 countries worldwide.
  • It is consistently rated one of the top ten zoos in the world.

 

Things we discovered during our visit to Chester Zoo for you to consider if visiting the zoo:

  • It opens daily from 10am to typically 5pm. Entry is allowed up to 30 minutes before closing.
  • You are allowed entry to the gift shop and entrance restaurants at 9.30am but the zoo barriers don’t open until 10am.
  • Chester Zoo is huge and buggies, scooters and wheelchairs are available to hire. Bring a buggy for younger children, you’ll need it!
  • We didn’t see all of the zoo in the one day we went, so two days could easily be needed.
  • There is a mono rail and lazy boat river ride (additional costs for these) but we didn’t get to use either.
  • There are 4 main restaurants at the entrance, on the islands, June’s Food Court and the Oakfield Pub. Food is ok for what it is. It could work out expensive for large families so bringing a picnic would be advisable if you want to save yourself some money. There were enough seats at the eating areas both inside and outside for the ones we visited or saw. There are also smaller coffee shops around too.
  • There is a cash machine at the entrance.
  • There is a big gift shop at the entrance and on the islands.
  • Toilets are dotted all over the zoo.
  • Information signs are really good and animal signs are informative. There are also plenty of staff around should you need help or information.
  • There are a few play areas around the zoo but we didn’t go into any. They all looked well equipped.
  • There is free parking at the zoo, and we would advise getting there before the gates open at 10am to enjoy as much of the day as possible.
  • Baby changing facilities, bottle warming stations and feeding friendly locations
  • Various animal talks throughout the day but we didn’t attend any.
  • For full visiting informaiton, please visit the Visiting Chester Zoo website.

Chester Zoo prices*:

  • Weekday term-time:     Ad £24.00            Child £20.00
  • Weekend term-time:     Ad £26.00            Child £22.00
  • School holidays:             Ad £28.00            Child £24.00
  • If booked online there is a saving of 10% so weekday term0time tickets cost £20.00 per adult and £16.36 per child, for example.
  • Families which include 3 adults and at least 1 child can save 16% on their tickets when bought online.
  • Children tickets are for those aged between 3 and 17, children aged 2 and under are free.

We visited on a bank holiday weekend, yet we never felt like it was overcrowded, even when we were leaving at 3.30. There is plenty of space in Chester Zoo, which in my mind make it stand out from other zoos we have visited. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Chester Zoo last year and definitely plan to return in the future when BattleKid is older.

I can highly recommend Chester Zoo as a family day out. There is something for everyone and the number of animals and species to see is incredible. If you do go, make sure you visit the Islands of Chester Zoo. These were definitely our favourite part of our visit.

Thanks for reading. We also filmed a little vlog of our visit to Chester Zoo which is below if you’d like to watch it.

Cath x

*Prices are correct at the time of writing this post.

**We visited Chester Zoo via our Bristol Zoo annual passes. We were not asked to write this post.

our visit to chester zoo

LC Swansea – Our Visit and Review

Last weekend we were kindly invited* to the Leisure Centre in Swansea, LC Swansea, and received complimentary entry to the Waterpark and also the soft play. BattleDad was originally meant to come along with BattleKid and I but a work trip to India meant he couldn’t. So I invited along S and her son L (of the Bluestone Diaries) to keep us company and to get another person’s opinion as well.LC Swansea

The LC Swansea is located in Swansea Town Centre and is quite a big building with easy access by both car and bus. There is a pay and display car park beside it and the main shopping centre of Swansea Town Centre is across the road from it.

  • The LC Waterpark is the Wales’ biggest indoor waterpark.
  • The LC is the most popular paid-for visitor attraction in Wales, according to Visit Wales.
  • The LC has just won a Vaqas Gold Award. (Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance) from Visit Wales.  
  • One of the LC’s big draws for family visitors is the four-storey aquatic-themed interactive play area. With sensory equipment which triggers fun special effects, this engrossing play area leads youngsters through a maze of slides, bridges, battle cannons and ball showers and ball pits. Like all the best interactive play sites this one is challenging enough to help little ones build their confidence, but safe, secure and well-manned, so parents can relax completely. This play area is ideal for children who aren’t quite tall enough for the LC’s climbing wall and waterslides and babies and toddlers can enjoy its specially-designed area for little ones.
  • The LC is home to Wales’ biggest indoor waterpark and its aqua slides and tubes, waves and Boardrider – the indoor surf machine –  will keep them entertained for hours. There are water-based options for smaller children too, with an interactive pool with a mini slide, tipping bucket and Volcano Bay.
  • The LC has a regular programme of lessons, including gymnastics, swimming and football for children, and the LC instructors are adept at helping children progress and grow in confidence and skill, while making the sessions fun. 

For our visit to the LC Swansea we arranged to arrive at 10am and both myself and my friend got there just before 10. S’s husband W came along to help S with L in the changing rooms and to take over for the soft play as she had been suffering from a nasty cold last week which has hit her hard during her second pregnancy. We made our way to reception after parking in the pay and display car park beside the LC Swansea.

When we arrived to check in the girl on reception couldn’t find our booking. It turned out the lady I had been speaking to had booked it for the weekend before. However, it was not a problem and we were given our tickets for the pool and soft play.

We hit the changing rooms and found two huge family sized changing rooms beside each other and got ourselves ready to hit the pool. We were given bands which allowed us two hours in the waterpark and after stowing our bags, headed for the toddler pools. The waterpark itself is huge and we didn’t get to see all of it as we had the boys (aged nearly two and almost three) with us but the areas that we did see and use were really clean and modern. I didn’t get pictures of this area myself for privacy reasons.LC Swansea

LC Swansea

LC Swansea

The toddler pool entertained the boys for ages. There was a slide which was the biggest hit with them, pipes with waterfalls and a tipping bucket which frightened the life out of BattleKid and I the first time it went but resulted in screams of laughter afterwards. By the end of the two hours BattleKid and L were standing under the tipping bucket’s platform allowing the water to splash around them with giggles filling the air!

We did take the boys into the swimming pool beside the toddler pool for a swim and I had BattleKid practicing the latest Waterbabies moves we’ve been learning this term. He is getting more and more confident in the water, his arms are starting to move WITH his legs and he is now (finally) happy to put his head into the water.

We alternated between the swimming pool and the toddler pool and both of us mums commented that even though we were there nearly 2 hours, none of us were feeling cold. Every time we’ve been to the pool at Bluestone we are all feeling a chill after 40 minutes but all of us could have happily stayed in there a lot longer.

Just before our time was up we headed for the changing rooms and showers and this time I used a large normal changing room which had ample room in it for BattleKid and me. Once we were washed, dried and changed I let BattleKid have a ride on one of the kids’ rides while we waited for the others.LC Swansea

Next on the agenda was the soft play. Now our 1 hour time slot was booked for 12.30 but we were kindly let in half an hour earlier for our hour of play. We found seats and then W and I took our shoes off so we could chaperone the boys in the soft play.

This was BattleKid’s first visit to a soft play and he had a great time diving into ball pits, sliding down soft slides before both he and L became entranced by a ball funnel. We discovered a tube beside it which filled a bucket above our heads and once the vacuum for the balls had stopped it released them back into the corridor we were in, much to the delights and squeals of the boys.LC Swansea

 

LC Swansea

 

LC Swansea

 

LC Swansea

LC Swansea

The boys had W and I run ragged but it was great fun and I can now see soft play featuring in our future, dare I say it. Our visit to the LC Swansea was a success. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and even commented that we would revisit the LC in the future when BattleDad isn’t travelling.

I thought I would round up each part separately after a general run down of our visit to the LC Swansea, so here are some more details about the various areas and facilities at LC Swansea:

Parking at LC Swansea:

There is ample parking in the pay and display car park located beside the centre. The left-hand car park was full when we arrived but there was plenty in the right hand car park. We paid £5 for 5 hours as we planned to go for lunch afterwards. There was even still plenty of spaces left when we dropped our swimming bags at the cars after 1pm on a Saturday afternoon. The car park is also within walking distance of the large Tesco in Swansea Town Centre and you can see The Quadrant Shopping Centre from the car park, handy if you fancy a nose around the shops after a swim/play.

Changing Rooms:

These were clean, modern and seemed to be well maintained. There were a few extremely large family changing rooms as well as standard single and double changing rooms. There were lots of lockers (costing £1 which is refunded) and there were various sized lockers too, with big ones for families too. There were both open and private showers, with at least one large shower cubicle for parents with children which I used with BattleKid. There were also drying machines costing £1, which we didn’t use. What pleasantly surprised me about the changing rooms in the LC was that they had nappy bins in both the family changing rooms and also near the showers, meaning I could get rid of BattleKid’s swim nappy before going to the changing room after our shower.

The changing rooms are unisex from what I can tell and you need to hand your ticket to the pool reception desk before entering. They give you a wrist band of a certain colour which denotes your time slots and you return that when you are finished. All in all I was very happy with the décor, cleanliness and facilities in the changing rooms.LC Swansea

LC Swansea

LC Swansea

LC Swansea

Waterpark/Pool:

The toddler and swimming pool beside it at LC Swansea was clean, warm and seemed to be well maintained. There were ample lifeguards on duty, all visible by their red t-shirts. The LC Swansea operates a no tolerance to inappropriate behaviour and the lifeguards will pull you up if you do something wrong or inappropriate, as I saw when a group of lads got a telling off from one of the lifeguards.

As mentioned we thought the pool and it’s environment was nice and warm and allowed us to enjoy our two hours without any of us catching a chill. There was plenty for the kids to enjoy in the toddler pool, so much so we had to bride them to get out!

We didn’t get to see much else of the pool as the boys were too young but there are slides, various wave pools, a lazy river and the boardrider for older children and teens to enjoy.

Soft Play Area:

As this was our first visit to a soft play I don’t have anything to compare it to but it was clean, well maintained and parents were allowed to accompany younger toddlers as long as we removed our shoes. I made sure to not get in the way of others enjoying themselves, while still being close at hand to help BattleKid stay out of trouble. There were lots of different rooms, slides and ball pits to enjoy, and again we didn’t see all the areas but those we did we thoroughly enjoyed.

We went into the light and sensory rooms, two different ball pits with slides and a corridor with both a ball vacuum tube and a ball funnel which the boys loved. We could have left them in that particular corridor and they’d have happily stayed there for hours. And I’ll let you in on a secret, both W and I also enjoyed that corridor, joining in on the fun with the boys. All in all it was a very enjoyable and successful first soft play for BattleKid and I.LC Swansea

LC Swansea

LC Swansea

 

Other facilities:

We didn’t use any of the other facilities while we were there but there are two cafes in the LC that look nice. There is a viewing platform above the pools or you can see through to the pool area from one of the bistro cafes. There is also a climbing wall for older children to enjoy.LC Swansea

All-in-all, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the LC Swansea and plan to return with BattleDad another weekend with our friends, as I’ve mentioned, and make a day of it. It only took us 45 minutes to drive to it so it is well within day-out distance for us. There is plenty to do there with toddlers, young children and teenagers, and of course the cafes are there if you fancy letting the kids play while you relax with a tea or coffee. The whole centre is clean, modern and the staff are very friendly and helpful. This would be an ideal day out for half-terms and summer holidays to keep the kids entertained for a good few hours.

Thanks for reading,

Cath x

*We were given complimentary entry to the Waterpark and soft play for the purpose of this review. However, all opinions expressed here are wholly my own.

If you do want to visit the LC Swansea you can find details of pricing, opening times and special events on their website.

  • The Waterpark costs £7 per adult, £5.50 for Juniors (age 4-15) and £2 per toddler (age 1-3) for 2 hours at peak times. A family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children costs £23.
  • Soft play costs £3.50 (age 1-2) and £4.95 (3+) for 1 hour.

 

Aberdare Bike Races – BattleKid’s First Motorbike Race Meet

On Saturday 30th July this year we went to Aberdare Bike Races. Now BattleDad and I have been quite a number of years ago on a Sunday afternoon and it was really good. We quite enjoyed it and, as it was our first race meet before we went to the TT for the first time, it gave us a good idea of what to expect when going to the Isle of Man. We decided to take BattleKid this year because he is two and a half years of age, motorbike mad and we thought this year would be a good time to take him to see whether or not he would enjoy it.aberdare bike races

We decided to go early in the morning in case BattleKid didn’t enjoy it, as there are still times that he gets a little uneasy when BattleDad starts up his own bike. If he did enjoy it we could stay until lunchtime and still be back in time for BattleKid’s nap at the afternoon, if he didn’t then we could leave early enough. We arrived about 9:30 in the morning and made our way through the gates into the park.

We had booked our tickets online which was really handy. When you first go into the park, if there are bikes going around the track, you need to wait by the gates until the bikes have completed their laps. Only then do the Marshalls let you through into the middle of Aberdare Park where spectators are allowed and where the merchandise stands and food stalls are located.

We waited with everybody else by the gates until the bikes had completed their practice laps and this gave us a chance to see how BattleKid would take to the noise. Lolo was over visiting us from Ireland so he took him up into his arms and made a game of the bikes going around. By doing this, not only did BattleKid get really excited but it calmed any nerves he had. He did get a little fright when one of the bikes backfired but he soon got over it.

Once the bikes had finished their laps, the Marshalls opened the gates and let us through, and the first thing we hit was the playground. BattleKid had an absolute ball going up and down the slides, having fun on the swings as well, all while the bikes were doing their practice laps. The morning session is practice session and race laps are in the afternoon.aberdare park races

After a couple more goes on the swings we decided to make our way to the merchandise stands because BattleDad wanted to see a friend of his who would be on the Institute of Advanced Motorists stand. Unfortunately his friend wasn’t there yet but this gave us a chance to check out some of the clothes stands. I picked up a lovely Honda jacket for him for next year.

We also had time for BattleKid to have his first ever carousel ride on his own. He had a very serious face on him going around. After that we took another walk around the stands, stopping by the quad bikes track for the two boys to have a ride together. I think it was more for BattleDad than BattleKid, if we’re being honest!

BattleKid had a very serious face on him again as he and BattleDad were going around the track. It was quite funny looking at his little serious face with the very big helmet they had put on his head but they both seem to enjoy it.

After that we had another little wander around before walking around the lake and stopping by the side of the barriers to watch some more of the bikes doing their practice rounds. BattleKid had been getting a bit tired before this. However once we got to the side of the barriers he got a second wind and started really enjoying watching the bikes going round and round doing their laps. We watched a few more rounds of practice before we decided to head for home.aberdare park races

aberdare park races

aberdare park races

 

Although we didn’t spend too long at Aberdare Bike Races this year, it was a good introduction for BattleKid and he seemed to really enjoy it as did Mum, Dad and Lolo. We will definitely be taking him back next year when we will probably spend most of the day there as he won’t need his nap. Going to Aberdare Bike Races this year gives us a good idea that BattleKid will enjoy motor racing in the flesh. He enjoys watching the TT and MotoGP on the TV but seeing bikes up close and personal is a different story. This year’s visit to Aberdare Races also gets us excited for when we finally get ferry tickets for the Isle of Man TT, which we haven’t managed to do this year! One year soon we’ll get ferry tickets! They are the hardest part of trying to attend the TT.

Aberdare Bike Races are held on an 0.9 mile demanding circuit which winds it’s way through the trees in the local town park. First raced in 1950, it has seen not only local racers participate but also TT stars such as Ian Lougher and John McGuinness. This year it cost £12 per adult for a single day pass, or £23 for a full weekend adult pass. Under 13’s went free when accompanied by a full paying adult and children between 13 and 16 years of age cost £5 for a day pass.

There are numerous food stalls, plenty of merchandise stands and some fairground-type attractions for kids. There is no car parking at the park, although there is some limited space for bikes at the entrance. There are car parks in the town, less than half a mile away and you might be lucky to find some street parking around the park.aberdare park races

So if you are a biking family and plan to visit South Wales in July, I’d recommend you visit when Aberdare Bike Races are on. We’ll definitely be attending again next year. I also recorded a little vlog of our visit to the races this year which you can view below.

Thanks for reading.

Cath x

 

Techniquest Toddler Day – Our Visit in July

At the beginning of July I took BattleKid into Cardiff and we met a friend and her little boy and we took to the two boys to the Techniquest Toddler Day. Once a month, during term-time, pre-school children have the run of the exhibits with activities on a special theme. Activities include:

  • Drawing,
  • Colouring and
  • Making something to take home.

The day myself and S took our toddler boys to the Techniquest Toddler Day, the theme was Under the Sea. We arrived after 11am as S had a hospital appointment and when we arrived Techniquest was heaving with toddlers, prams and stressed-looking parents. We paid our entrance fee, parked our buggies in the designated area and put the boys Toddlepak reins on so we could keep them under some control. And in we went to explore.techniquest toddler day

I’d only been to Techniquest once before, 2 years ago, when BattleKid’s cousin was visiting from Ireland and didn’t get to see much of it with a 6 month old. This time I got to see more of it.

We started at an exhibit that released bubbles into a vessel of water and both BattleKid and L were fascinated. So much so they could have stayed there just watching bubbles, and of course pressing buttons. We had to drag them away and onto something else. We moved onto a turntable in which children could release a circular shape onto the turntable and watching it go around before it came off again. Well, S and I could have walked away and the boys wouldn’t have noticed!  This exhibit was very popular and each child, including ours was vying for those circles to release back onto the turntable! techniquest toddler day

We moved passed the ant farm, which BattleKid wasn’t really interested in, onto a dark room, where my attention was caught. We started at the lightening tube and had fun putting our hands on the glass and watching the electricity move with our hands. There was an exhibit with what looked like dry ice but I didn’t get a chance to see what it was all about as BattleKid found something more interesting for himself and L to play at.techniquest toddler day

We wandered around, stopping at another bubble machine for a few minutes before moving into the water-based room. BattleKid and I touched the spinning wet wheel, before he played in the water river, splashing a few other attendees by mistake throwing things into the water. Oops, sorry. BattleKid then had fun at the water waste pipes, spraying water into certain parts and watching it come out somewhere else.techniquest toddler day

After the water area we moved upstairs where a ball vortex caught the boys attention and they spent ages there, finding the balls and putting them back into the vortex. We had a go at making music with tubes, but BattleKid just wanted to bash everything but the tubes with the paddles! What is that they say about not working with children?techniquest toddler day

techniquest toddler day

Next on the agenda was a wind-type machine called Blown Up into which you could place pieces of material and watch it go up and out the top of a tube. BattleKid and L had a ball with this exhibit. Another thing we had to drag them away from!techniquest toddler day

techniquest toddler day

techniquest toddler day

We moved back downstairs, passing by another wind machine which suspends a ball in air and it blew the head off BattleKid and L. It was really funny. Before we packed up our belongings to go, BattleKid and I had to stop by the dragon, his current obsession and took a few selfies with it.IMG_1043

techniquest toddler day

We thoroughly enjoyed our few hours at the Toddler Day in Techniquest, despite how busy it was and I think we may try to go to another Techniquest Toddler Day in the future. The boys had an absolute ball and there was lots to see and do. We didn’t do any colouring or drawing, so maybe we can try do that next time.techniquest toddler day

The Techniquest Toddler Day is a great idea for introducing younger children to technology and science from a young age. It costs just £5.50 per adult with under 4’s going free. Techniquest is buggy friendly and had baby-changing facilities. There are a limited number of lockers if you don’t want to carry a bag or anything around with you and there is a coffee shop if you fancy a sit down but be advised there are no bottle or food warming facilities at Techniquest.

There is just one thing I would advise if you are planning on attending a Techniquest Toddler Day – arrive early. As mentioned we arrived after 11am and the multi-story carpark opposite Techniquest was completely full. I got lucky at the car park beside St. David’s Hotel and so did my friend but parking was at a premium at that time of the day. And if you do park at the hotel carpark ensure it is within a correct bay. When we returning to our cars after lunch there were ticket inspectors checking tickets and all those not in a proper bay were ticketed. Also, ensure you have change for the ticket machine as it doesn’t take cards. I had to give one man my last change from my purse because he had none himself. Good dead for the day.

Techniquest is a great day out and not too expensive in my opinion. One TripAdvisor says:

“Great day out for my two children at the toddler day… good value and great atmosphere all round.”

and I would agree.

There are four more Techniquest Toddler Days coming this year:

  • When I grow up: September 16th.
  • Around the World: October 7th.
  • Get Spooky: November 4th.
  • Winter Wonderland: December 2nd.

I can highly recommend the Techniquest Toddler Day if you want somewhere different to take your toddler and there are, of course, lots of nice restaurants in Cardiff Bay for lunch afterwards.

Thanks for reading,

Cath x

techniquest toddler day
Pressing buttons at the Techniquest Toddler Day

Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo – Our Visit and Review

While on a recent long weekend away at Bluestone in West Wales, we visited Folly Farm for the first time. Now I’ll admit when I first heard the name Folly Farm, I automatically assumed it was a small petting farm similar to Cefn Mably or the Small Breeds Farm, and when it first opened back in 1988 I wouldn’t have been far off.

However that assumption is now way off the mark as Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo, to give it its full name, is a hell of a lot more than the name Folly Farm suggests. Winner of the “Best Day Out” in the National Tourism Awards Wales in 2015, and a 2015 Traveller’s Choice on TripAdvisor, Folly Farm is an amazing place situated in Begelly in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, not too far from Tenby or Bluestone.Folly Farm

It is not only a farm but also has a full indoor vintage funfair, an award-winning zoo with over 200 species of animals and extensive indoor and outdoor adventure attractions and play areas.

On our visit to Folly Farm we arrived shortly after its opening of 10am, parked our car and made our way to the entrance where our friends sorted out our tickets, courtesy of Tesco Clubcard vouchers. We passed the huge gift shop, which both of us mums commented we’d visit on the way out, and out we went into Folly Farm itself.

First stop was the Jolly Barn & Farm, an indoor barn that houses farm animals including pigs, sheep, goats, donkeys, chickens and the most magnificent Shire horse. He was amazing and very majestic looking. BattleKid had a great time running around shouting “oh piggy, oh chicken” while doing the noises they make. I even got brave and touched a rat during the “meet a rat” time although BattleKid was having none of it at first until the handler said he was going away and then he just had to touch it!Folly Farm

Folly Farm

Folly Farm

Folly Farm

folly farm

folly farm

folly farm

I then showed BattleKid how to milk a cow which he thought was hilarious as he squirmed milk (water) over himself and me.

From the Jolly Farm we decided to visit the vintage Funfair as it was getting close to lunchtime. We got change and tokens and then proceeded to get frustrated trying to win Batman teddies on the grabber machines from the boys. £5 later we were still empty-handed despite getting them in the grabbers a number of times. The arms just let go too easily. This was our only disappointment of the day. BattleDad was sure we’d get one after spending £5 but no! After this we wandered around the amusement rides and us mums took the boys on the Ghost Trains. I’ve never been one for these types of rides but I’m fast coming to the realisation that I have to start doing them for BattleKid’s sake. I was also a bit apprehensive about how BattleKid would react to it but I just made a fuss of the flashing lights and the ‘dragons’ and he was fine, shouting “peep peep” ala Thomas the Tank Engine. After the ghost train I took BattleKid on the carousel which he really enjoyed. We didn’t get to see all of the Funfair as it is huge and our bellies were rumbling.folly farm

We decided to have lunch in the Funfair Restaurant and my jacket potato was tasty, while BattleDad thoroughly enjoyed his fish and chips. BattleKid ate his garlic bread and only picked at his pasta Bolognese, too distracted by the lights and sounds around him. He is also not a huge fan of pasta shapes, preferring spaghetti instead.

Before we left the Funfair the adults tried their hands at the Side Stalls, knocking tins off shelves and Duck Bingo. BattleDad actually knocked all his tins off during one of his goes and won a large blue dragon for BattleKid. He tried his best to repeat it to win our friend’s son one but ran out of tokens.

With lighter pockets and satisfied bellies we made our way to the zoo and first up was some monkeys and the lions. BattleKid loves lions from his “How to Hide a Lion” bedtime stories and didn’t want to leave their enclosure. We then saw the Tapiers, Giant Tortoise, Meerkats (Kalahari Critters) and the camels before making our way to the Rhino enclosure.folly farm

folly farm

folly farm

folly farm

folly farm

To our surprise there were not one but two Rhino enclosures and they were huge. After the rhinos we went to show BattleKid the pen-pens (penguins) and flamingos. He loves pen-pens as some of you know from our Oliver Jeffers book “Lost and Found” and I literally had to drag him away.folly farm

folly farm

After the penguins we quickly made our way to see the giraffes. I’ve always found them to be majestic looking animals, so graceful.

folly farm

From the zoo we went to the outdoor adventure area where BattleKid made a beeline for the pedal tractors, picking the largest one he could find. He is still learning what pedals are all about and usually goes backwards more than he does forwards, as you do when you’re two. folly farmFrom there we went to the sand diggers while we waited for the Big Dig attendant to return and BattleKid loved them. He actually managed to operate the two levers on his own!folly farm

Once the attendant was back the Dads handed over their tokens and spent the next few minutes living out their dreams of operating diggers. Boys never grow up. However BattleDad didn’t get much hands-on experience as BattleKid kept swiping his hands away shouting “no dada, Ada do it”. Al I could do was chuckle as I filmed it.folly farm

After the diggers and another quick visit to the sand diggers we started thinking about heading for home. We passed by the go-karts ad BattleKid had an absolute canary fit when we explained the cars were too big for him. He was both hugely disappointed and overtired, having not napped all day. We said he could do them next time but it’s unlikely as well be back before he’s old enough.

We stopped at the gift shop and got some pick’n’mix and I got one or two other little things too. BattleKid only then fell asleep in his buggy, pooped after a big day out. It was 4.30pm so hardly surprising he couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer.

I couldn’t believe that it was 4.30 before we headed for the cars. I certainly hadn’t anticipated spending the while day at Folly Farm but it’s so easily done!

As I’ve mentioned Folly Farm outdid my expectations and I was pleasantly surprised by everything Folly Farm has to offer. It is no wonder it is an award-winning day out. There is plenty to do and see for all age groups and lots of places to eat too which we thought were reasonably priced. There are extra charges for certain things like the Funfair and diggers but they are reasonable.folly farm

Folly Farm is family friendly as you’d expect and also wheel chair accessible. There is free parking there, baby changing and feeding facilities and a large gift shop too. Prices, as shown below, are great value-for-money in my opinion and, as our friends did, you can use your Tesco Clubcard Vouchers towards Folly Farm tickets.

We will definitely be visiting Folly Farm in the not so distant future. So if you are based in South Wales or are visiting Pembrokeshire on holidays, such as Bluestone, then I can highly recommend a day out at Folly Farm, especially if you have children!

Cath x

General Information about Folly Farm:

  • General Opening Hours are 10-5.
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    Winter Opening hours are 10-4.

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    Adult £13.95, Concession £11.95 (concessions are for child age 3-15, Senior citizens or disabled patrons).

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    Children aged 2 and under go free.

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    Discounts are available online.

folly farm
BattleKid loved the tractors in the Jolly Barn and did not want to leave them!