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.
  •  

    Winter Opening hours are 10-4.

  •  

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

  •  

    Children aged 2 and under go free.

  •  

    Discounts are available online.

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

Wriggle Exhibition – The Wonderful World of Worms

Last Saturday BattleKid and I were invited down to Cardiff Museum to the official opening of the new exhibition Wriggle! the Wonderful world of worms. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was apprehensive whether the Wriggle Exhibition would be above BattleKid’s age range.

We arrived at 9am and when the doors opened for the invitees, we made our way in and I found a place to stow BattleKid’s buggy and stashed his change bag in the lockers (they cost £1) before we had some of the breakfast refreshments that had been laid on. Once BattleKid had finished his snack, we took a look around the displays that were on the ground floor foyer for the event. Wriggle Exhibition

There was everything from microscopes to fossils and even stands explaining the importance of worms in food production. We had a look around and BattleKid honed in on the microscopes, fascinated with them, although I’m not 100% sure he actually saw anything under them. I explained to him that mama uses them in work, which he thought meant one of them was mine to take away. Eh no.

He kept going back to them time and time again to look through the eyepiece. You never know, we could have another scientist in the making! There was also a fossil-making stand where children could press fossil specimens into clay to take home with them which I thought was a great idea.Wriggle Exhibition

After about 20 minutes we were all called to the bottom of the stairs for the opening talk from Dr Andrew Mackie. All the children were invited to the top and I tagged along to get a front row seat, keeping BattleKid company. Dr Mackie thanked all the efforts from the scientists and teams who put together the exhibition as well as the local Primary School who helped put together some of the ideas in the exhibition. He then invited Dr Rhys Jones, an evolutionary scientist and BBC presenter, to the front to officially open the exhibition.

Rhys was a great speaker, funny and very passionate, and was extremely engaging with the children, particularly one little boy sat beside us. And although the exhibition wasn’t open to the public until after 10am when the museum opened, he managed to sneak us in for a preview, on the proviso we didn’t tell anyone!

Wriggle Exhibition
Dr Rhys Jones officially opening the Wriggle Exhibition

Wriggle Exhibition

Supported by the People’s Postcode Lottery and Western Power Distribution, Wriggle is an innovative exhibition which is both family friendly and interactive. And although he can’t read yet, the displays were enough to capture BattleKid’s attention. Wriggle delves into the world of worms in a number of ways including:

  • Awesome Worms – showing us weird and wonderful worms including the bone-eating snot flowers worm. Yuck! There were lots of different specimens to view, with descriptions alongside their display jars.Wriggle Exhibition
  • Worm or Not a Worm – an interactive wall which acts as a game to help see if we can tell a worm from another creature. Believe me, even I couldn’t tell with most of them!Wriggle Exhibition
  • Worms’R’Us – explaining the worm research going on behind the scenes. I was delighted to see some of the tools used and recognised them from my day job too! I felt right at home.Wriggle Exhibition
  • Wriggle Exhibition
  • From Fossils to Fantasy – looking at worms in popular culture such as books and films.
  • Size Really Matters – exploring worms of various sizes from tiny worms no bigger than a fingernail, to a 30m long bootlace worm. They have a rope you can follow to the display that is as long as one of these and you can’t imagine a worm that long until you see this rope!
  • The Wriggloo – almost like a den, it gives you the opportunity to see the world from a worms perspective and the animals they live alongside, and often need to dodge. You can wriggle your way inside and believe me, BattleKid did just that. He loved this part of the exhibition, spending what felt like ages going in and out of the wriggle holes which were too small for mama which meant I spent my time running around trying to keep up with him. He was also quite taken by the animals in the display holes and the badger inside the Wriggloo. The Wriggloo also houses a real-live wormery.Wriggle Exhibition
  • Wriggle Exhibition
  • Wriggle Exhibition
  • Wriggle Exhibition
  • Wriggle Exhibition

There is so much to see and do in the Wriggle Exhibition and although I thought it would be outside BattleKid’s age range as I’ve said, far from it as he was fascinated by the worms and animals. He spent ages looking at the display panels in the floor and their contents as well as inside the Wriggloo. Wriggle Exhibition

There is quite a lot to see at the Wriggle Exhibition and unfortunately, as I didn’t have BattleDad with me, I didn’t get to spend time reading all the displays. However, that just means I’ll have to return!

The Wriggle Exhibition is suitable for all ages, even two year olds, and is both educational and fun. There is plenty of time to visit the exhibition as it runs until 30th September 2017 and the museum will be running supporting events throughout this summer, details of which can be found on the Cardiff Museum website.

Wriggle Exhibition

Although worms are not my thing, I thoroughly enjoyed what I got to see of the Wriggle Exhibition and have no doubt I’ll return, either with BattleDad in tow or on my own. i would like to spend some time reading and exploring those displays I didn’t get a chance to see, due to running around the Wriggloo after BattleKid. Thanks to Cardiff Museum for inviting us to the official opening of the Wriggle Exhibition.

So if you are looking for both a fun and educational thing to do with your children, especially this summer, why not visit Wriggle! the Wonderful world of worms at Cardiff Museum. You might be squeamish like me but I bet you enjoy it and your kids will love it!

Cath x

Cardiff Museum details:

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 5pm.

Closed Mondays except most bank holidays.

Free entry, although there are donation points in the foyer.

Visitor parking is located behind the museum and costs £6.50, exit token available in Museum shop.

 

Cuddle Fairy

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff – Our Visit

Last weekend we were kindly invited down to the Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff in the Red Dragon Centre for a game of bowling and some food. Now, it’s been a number of years since I’ve been bowling and to be perfectly honest I hadn’t been overly impressed by the Hollywood Bowl the previous time I’d been. I was also apprehensive about taking a 2 year old bowling and whether he would get bored with it. But I need not have feared.

Firstly, the Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff has had a complete make over and looks nothing like it did 5 or 6 years ago when I last went with work. Gone is the drab interior and sticky carpets. The Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff is now modern, fresh and really cool now. We arrived shortly before our 11am slot and made our way to reception where we were greeted by our Lane server, Morgan. Also new, and a surprise to us, was the fact we didn’t need to don bowling shoes as we were all in flat shoes so could remain in our own shoes. This was a first and the set of socks I’d stashed in BattleKid’s change bag weren’t needed after all. I think this is quite a good thing, so be warned, if you are in heels you will be required to change shoes, so go in flats of your own ladiesHollywood Bowl in Cardiff

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

After checking in at reception we were shown to our VIP lane, number 26, which is the last lane and was a nice quiet one out-of-the-way. The VIP section consists of four lanes with coloured pins, more comfortable seating than the other lanes and with more professional bowls as well. With them being out-of-the-way they are ideal for families wanting some quiet time or if you want to be away from possible parties. That said you could also hire them for a party if you wanted and they don’t actually cost too much more as I’ll explain later.Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

Morgan put our names into the computer and once we got settled, we were soon all set for our game of bowling. BattleKid wasn’t sure at first but as soon as he saw someone in a lane nearby knocking down the pins with their ball he shout “crash” and wanted to do the same. We used the ball launcher and had the sides up for him and off he went. He couldn’t quite understand why we had to take turns and in the end we let him take most of the turns to save having a tantrum. To be honest we didn’t mind at all, we just had to have patience while he decided which ball he wanted to use, all based on colour mind you, not weight! I have to say I was very impressed with our server, Morgan, as soon as she realised BattleKid was taking all our goes she asked if we wanted the bumpers up permanently and we said that might be best.Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

Each lane, VIP or regular, has a dedicated lane server to get you drinks and food if you want, handy for parents who might not want to leave their children unattended. There are also ample ball launchers for younger children or wheelchair users (there was a wheelchair users using one in a lane near us). The lanes are wheelchair friendly with ramps for chairs and plenty of space around them.

During our game the manager, Keith from Dublin of all places, came over to say hi and to make sure we were being taken good care of, which we were. Morgan had brought us over our drinks and sorted out the bumpers for us without us having to ask. Halfway through our game the lighting on the lanes was changed and it looked mightily impressive, very cool I have to say.

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff
Before the lighting change
Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff
After the lighting change

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

BattleKid thoroughly enjoyed his game of bowling, with a little help from mum and dad at setting up his balls for him. He enjoyed pushing the balls down the launcher and watching the pins being knocked down, all accompanied by shouts of “crash”. He even managed to get a few strikes which was more than what mum and dad may have managed had we been allowed to take our turns. We were both very surprised that his attention was kept for the majority of the game as we were sure he’d lose interest before we’d gotten halfway through. Who knew a game of bowling would be such a hit with a two year old!

As I’ve mentioned the new decor is brilliant and the Hollywood theme is evident throughout the Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff, with Hollywood stars on the lanes and floors, and pictures of famous actors and actresses decorating the VIP section.Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

As we neared the end of our game Morgan came to take our food order to ensure it would be ready once we’d finished our game and were ready to move to the diner. We were given the option of eating at our lane but we thought it would be best to sit at a table with BattleKid. The diner in the Hollywood in Cardiff is called Harry’s and has a good number of seating available with booths as well as comfy chairs. Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

We were seated in a booth and our food was with us in minutes. It was nice and hot when it arrived and looked great. BattleDad chose a Sloppy Joes Burger while I went for a Chicken Caesar Salad and we asked for a children’s chicken nuggets and chips. I have to say the food was really tasty and fresh. BattleDad’s burger was delicious and BattleKid’s chicken nuggets were really yummy, made from fresh chicken too. BattleDad commented that his fries were tasty and the burger and bun were really good quality.

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff
BattleKid’s lunch
Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff
BattleMum’s lunch
Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff
BattleDad’s lunch

Another plus was our drinks. BattleDad and I went for lemonades and were glad they actually tasted of lemonade, while BattleKid had an apple juice. They weren’t watered down like some fast food chains. Another thing I’ll say about the food at the Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff is the menu is quite good and the portions are generous, they don’t skimp on food quantity. While my salad was nice and tasty I ended up wishing I’d gone for the Empire Burger as recommended by Morgan, but there’s always next time (and there will be a next time).

After we finished our lunch, and after we had high-fived the Hollywood Mouse (see below), BattleDad brought BattleKid into the arcade while I spoke to reception to get some information on prices (see below). We had promised him a ride on the car at the entrance so off the boys went while I got the particulars. Once I’d spoken to the girl at reception I joined the boys and did one car ride with the boy before we headed to the Lightening McQueen car for BattleKid to have a go in before we headed home.Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff

What we liked about Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff:

  • Great, fresh, modern decor.
  • Regular and VIP lanes which won’t break the bank.
  • VIP lanes have coloured pins and pro-bowls and are perfect for quiet family games away from the crowds, or for intimate parties.
  • Can wear your own shoes provided they are flats.
  • Plenty of lanes (26) and ball launchers too.
  • Wheelchair accessible.
  • Parking is free within the Red Dragon centre car park and there are plenty of spaces.
  • Diner has also been redecorated.
  • Food is tasty, fresh and with generous portions.
  • Soft drinks are not watered down like in other fast food retailers.
  • There is a bar serving alcoholic drinks for over 18’s.
  • Each lane has a dedicated lane server meaning parents do not need to leave children unattended.
  • Arcade area to keep kids and adults entertained before or after your game of bowling.
  • Value-for-money.

What we didn’t like about Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff:

  • Nothing, we had a great time!

I have to say our experience of the Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff was nothing like I’d envisaged and was a thoroughly enjoyable outing for us. We hadn’t been sure of what BattleKid would make of it all, given he is only 2, but he enjoyed himself and to our surprise his attention was kept throughout the game of bowling. He was really well-behaved and even got a strike sticker from Morgan for his efforts. Stickers win all the time.

We came away very impressed by both the service we had received and the decor of the revamped Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff, and now that we know BattleKid will enjoy it, we can see us returning in the not so distant future. I can highly recommend the Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff as a place to spend a few quality hours together as a family having fun!

Thanks again to everyone at the Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff for a very enjoyable first game of bowling with BattleKid.

Cath x

Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff
High Five!

 

The Caerphilly Castle Dragon – Our Bank Holiday Weekend

Visiting the Caerphilly Castle Dragon

Last weekend was our bank holiday here in the UK and we decided to start with a visit to see the Caerphilly Castle Dragon. My youngest sister had surprised me with a visit from Ireland, arranged with BattleDad without my knowing, and she mentioned that she’d never been to Caerphilly Castle despite us living in Wales for over 10 years now! So although BattleDad, Lolo and BattleKid had visited the Caerphilly Castle Dragon the week before, we decided to go again this bank holiday weekend.

We left just after 8am with the intention to have breakfast in Caerphilly before going to see the dragon in the castle. Just as we were headed for the car park in Caerphilly, BattleKid decided to cough while sticking his fingers in his mouth, not a good combination. His yogurt and entire bottle came up like something out of the Exorcist, destroying himself and his car seat. I’d put him in nice clothes for pictures and put a new coat on him and it was covered! Thankfully I had spare trousers and a t-shirt in the change bag but had no spare jumper or coat. Cue me going to Morrisons to buy him a jumper while the others ordered breakfast!

We had a lovely breakfast in Glanmor’s Cafe before heading to see the Caerphilly Castle Dragon. We paid £6 per adult entry and BattleKid was free as he is under 3. The Caerphilly Castle Dragon was made by the people behind the rugby ball in the sides of Cardiff Castle, Wild Creations. He was discovered outside the castle in time for St. David’s day this year. He moved himself to reside inside the castle walls on 7th March and there he plans to remain until this summer. You can see him if you step inside the entrance without having to pay but to see him up close and personal I highly recommend you go inside the castle!caerphilly castle panorama

caerphilly castle

caerphilly castle dragon

Well, BattleKid was amazed by him, even second time around but still wouldn’t touch him, even with Lolo and BattleDad trying to coax him. It didn’t help that every now and then he breathes smoke. The Caerphilly Castle Dragon really is an amazing creation and worth a visit if you can manage it before he leaves in the summer. BattleKid eventually went into his claws with BattleDad but didn’t stay long!

caerphilly castle dragon

caerphilly castle dragon

We had a lovely stroll around the castle and for the first time ever I got to see inside the great hall as every other time I’ve been there has been a wedding on so it’s been closed to the public. We let BattleKid wander on the walls with the help of BattleDad and he even dropped money into the well, which we told him was the dragons home. He was thrilled with himself! We stopped by the gift shop so I could get our Cadw membership and BattleKid picked out a dragon, princess and knight, as you do!

After our visit to the castle we quickly got BattleKid’s feet measured and to my surprise he has gone up a whole size, not a half size. Cue mummy guilt! So two new pairs of shoes were bought in Clarks before we headed for home, a certain little boy sleeping the whole way there after his adventures in the castle. We had lunch when we got home and my sister and I disappeared for a few hours to go shopping while the boys sorted out the front garden, albeit with their little helper as you saw on My Sunday Photo! It was a lovely Saturday and I even got myself some treats on my shopping trip, which is rare as I usually only end buying for BattleKid!

Sunny Sunday in the Garden

Sunday saw Lolo accompany BattleKid and I to our Waterbabies lesson so he could see how BattleKid is progressing. Unlike the week before he was very good the first half, but didn’t want to do anything for the second half. He slept on the way home and we got home just before BattleDad arrived back with my sister, who had been out on BattleDad’s bike (in my gear!). It was her first time on a motorbike and I think she enjoyed it!

lil sister
Little sister in my gear on her first ever bike ride

While we had showers Lolo started mowing the back garden and I finsihed it when I got back downstairs. We had brunch and then put out BattleKid’s castle tent that he received for Christmas. He thoroughly enjoyed it, shooing away the BattleDogs when they stuck their noses in the doors. He’s well able for our German Shepherds! We got BattleKid down for a nap at 2pm as he was getting tetchy and I sat in the clean garden enjoying the sun with my sister.

garden fun

garden fun

Lolo sparked up the BBQ and when we got BattleKid up at 4pm, we had a lovely dinner. Shortly afterwards I drove my sister to the airport, her visit having come to an end. It was lovely seeing her, especially as it had been a surprise. I told her she can do that any time she wants!

bbq

Bank Holiday Monday

We had a relaxing morning and enjoyed an Irish breakfast before letting BattleKid enjoy himself in the garden again. It was so nice having it clean and tidy for him to enjoy it so much. His tent came back out and so did his tractor (ride along caterpillar). While he napped after lunch  I enjoyed some quiet time in the garden with a magazine and some rock shandy, kindly imported by Lolo. Again we had dinner outside and enjoyed the sunshine while we could.

garden fun
Quiet bank holiday Monday afternoon

This bank holiday weekend was a really nice one, made even better by the fact we had glorious sunshine to enjoy. We packed alot into this weekend and had some really nice quality family time. And BattleKid has been enjoying the garden every evening after nursery ever since. Think this means I’ll need to keep on top of the grass cutting! A mother’s work is never done, hey!

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend too.

Cath x

Our Visit to Bristol Zoo

Having not spent Easter with BattleDad we decided to take BattleKid to Bristol Zoo on the first weekend of April and today I’m sharing with you a round-up of our visit to Bristol Zoo. I looked into buying tickets online and decided to buy annual tickets as we would probably be back a few times in the year seeing as BattleKid is older and starting to become more interested in animals, so it would work out cheaper to get an annual ticket.

Armed with a printout of our confirmation email we set off before 8.30am on the Saturday and headed over the Severn to Bristol Zoo. We arrived around 9.30 and made our way to the membership desk to get our cards. The lovely lady at the desk explained our membership pack, took our pictures and we were set.

First stop was the flamingos, BattleKid’s aunties favourite. BattleKid looked on in awe as we watched one stamp the ground at the water’s edge before gobbling up whatever he or she had been after.

our visit to bristol zoo

our visit to bristol zoo

We then headed to the lion enclosure where BattleKid exclaimed “oh lion” before giving a roar as he does at the right parts in our ‘How to Hide a Lion’ story books. Imagine his delight when he realised there were two big cats in the enclosure.our visit to bristol zoo

We made our way clockwise around the zoo from the lions, passing the red pandas and giant tortoise which BattleKid thought was a dog! We then went into the reptile house and showed BattleKid the lizards which we called dragons for him and he loved them. BattleDad and I had a leopard gecko until a few years ago so we’ve always had a fondness for lizards, although I don’t like them all and definitely won’t have one as a pet again. BattleKid also enjoyed seeing the different types of frogs in the reptile house.

We decided to have a pit stop at the food court, so BattleKid tucked into fruit and a yogurt I had brought with us while BattleDad and I had cake and tea. It cost us £10.50 for two of each, which considering the size of the slices of cake we got was actually reasonable in our opinion. BattleKid had a little bit of cake but soon lost interest much to our delight. We polished them off and got on our way again.

Next on the agenda was the gorilla enclosure to show BattleKid one of his favourite animals. He is mad about monkeys ever since George entered his life nearly a year ago. Zoos can be a little bitter-sweet for me having been born in Africa but at the same time I do think they are a good place for children to see and learn about animals they would only see on TV, and if they help with conservation then all the better.our visit to bristol zoo

Soon after the gorillas we arrived at the highlight of our visit to Bristol Zoo for both BattleKid and us: the penguins. He has loved penguins just as much as monkeys, particularly since we started reading the Oliver Jeffers book “Lost and Found” which features a ‘pen pen’.

One particular penguin came over to BattleKid and he spent ages looking at him and talking to the ‘pen pen’. I think if we could have taken that penguin home with us BattleKid would have been overjoyed. It was lovely just watching his little face light up when the penguin came over to him. It is like it knew what it would mean to this small boy to interact for a minute with him.

our visit to bristol zoo
Watching the penguins swimming

our visit to bristol zoo

our visit to bristol zoo
Saying hi to the “pen pen”

BattleKid eventually prized himself away from that penguin to watch others swimming in the water, still truly fascinated by them. We then saw the seals swimming in their pool before going underneath to watch them in the water. It never ceases to amaze me how graceful a creature they are in the water. In the aquarium section we came across an interactive sensory feature that combined bubbles and different coloured lights which BattleKid did not want to leave. He spent a long time just watching the bubbles float upwards while the light changed colour. We had to remind ourselves that this was the first time he had ever seen anything like this and to be patient while he discovered it in his own good time. He also watched the seals through a port hole.

our visit to bristol zoo
Sensory Lights and Bubbles
our visit to bristol zoo
Peering through a port hole at the seals

Soon after the penguins and seals, little legs started to give way and a small boy asked to get into his buggy. We decided to wizz by the meerkats and through the butterfly house before heading to the car, having spent the best part of two hours at the zoo by that stage. We didn’t see all the animals but as we now have annual membership we can return at our leisure and maybe go anticlockwise next time to ensure we see the animals we missed.

We had a lovely few hours during our visit to Bristol Zoo as a family, spending quality time together amongst the animals after missing spending Easter together. Needless-to-say a small boy slept the whole way home and then some! And he loves his new ‘pen-pen’ we picked up in the gift shop on our way out.

For details on visiting Bristol Zoo and ticket prices, please visit their website. We’re looking forward to our next visit to Bristol Zoo already!

Thanks for reading,

Cath x