We have an annual pass for Chester Zoo and we spend quite a lot of our time there as a family. So when I saw that Channel 4 had made a programme about The Secret Life of Chester Zoo I immediately had it on series record. I have always been fascinated about what goes on behind the scenes and the programme does not disappoint. Last weeks programme focused on transporting the tigers to their new enclosure on the Islands and the stresses and planning that went in to it. So this weekend we decided to pay them a visit in their new home.
As it was Valentines weekend we invited Harry’s best friend along for a (play) date. It is lovely to see them together because they are very caring towards each other, playful and – on occasion – mischievous. Both were extremely excited about being together and also about going to the zoo, so today they were more animated than normal.
Thankfully the weather was kind to us – albeit on the chilly side – so we wrapped up warm and set off. When we arrived at the zoo car park it appeared that every other family in the Northern Hemisphere had the same idea. The overflow to the overflow car park was already in use when we turned up.
Parts of the Islands are still under development and I wasn’t sure how many animals had been re-homed, but there were more than I expected. And luckily for us the animals had all been brought out by the crisp dry weather. We got to see so many of them up close – African painted dogs, Orang-utans, Sumatran tigers, Crocodiles, Giant Tortoise – and the Macaques. My favourites were the Aardvarks. They were all asleep and cuddling together right up by the glass viewing window. One was on it’s back showing all it’s under carriage to anyone that wanted to look. I would have loved to jump in with them and join in for a cuddle and a quick tummy tickle.
Dotted around the Islands are little stations that the children can go in and explore. Hollie and Harry dived in to every one of them to see what they could find (and to pose for a couple of photos). There is also a meditation room for the adults but I didn’t go in as it would have been too tempting to stay in there.
The highlight for me was seeing the Aardvarks, my husbands was seeing the Crocodile, and if their squeals were anything to go by then theirs had nothing to do with the animals and more to do with the thick cord ropes that hang down from the doors in the Monsoon Forest. They are there to prevent the birds from flying out but that was by-the-by to Harry and Hollie. They liked the feeling of running through them and the fact it was dark when they were in them and they could lose each other.
Our day to the Islands at Chester Zoo was really enjoyable and a lovely way to spend Valentines Day. We probably spent close to three hours on the Islands – 45 minutes of which was in the Monsoon Forest. We didn’t get chance to go on the lazy boat river trip because Hollie and Harry had tired themselves out by then with all their running around, so we will have to go back soon and try it out. Who knows, perhaps we could double date again!
Harry’s Honest Mummy x
We have just got back from an overnight stay at the Alton Towers Hotel. We stayed on a mid week deal that included bed and breakfast and free entrance to the waterpark, all for only £65. Check-in is from 3pm but when we arrived at midday we were told that our room was available. We had a standard room to sleep 4, which consisted of a double bed and a single bed with a pull out. This was the perfect set up for us as we didn’t have to worry about Harry falling out of anything. The room was spotlessly clean and it had all the basics you need for a stay over – towels, ironing board, kettle, hairdryer, and TV (although I could not fathom out how to work the remote control – possibly just a sign of my age?!?!?). We dumped our bags and set off for the pool with a very excited toddler in tow. So, at £65 for the three of us, was it too good to be true?
- Variety of things to do for kids of all ages – even those over 40.
- Rapids – Sit on a rubber ring and drop down a water chute in to the water below. H went on this with Hubby, but only the once….
- Mega Blaster – Not for the faint hearted. I had a few issues with my swim suit on this one. It is a must for all adults.
- Lazy River – We pushed H around the river on an inflatable ring.
- Jacuzzi – I saw it, but I didn’t get a chance to go in it – such is life.
- Climbing frames – H “its a playbarn swimming pool”.
- Ample seating available around the pool area. We were lucky that we went when it was quiet as I can imagine that I might not be making this statement in school holidays. To combat people “baggsying” seats you are advised to hang towels up in cargo netting, but this wasn’t enforced whist we were there, probably because it wasn’t busy.
- Lots of lifeguards on duty.
- Warm water – not always the case in some swimming pools.
- Different pool areas to suit all swimming abilities.
- Allowed to take photos.
- Plenty of floats, buckets and toys available to use.
- Child life jackets available.
- Kiosk inside the pool area to buy food.
- Plenty of room in the family changing rooms (all included a fold away changing table).
- Even though we weren’t in the Splash Landings Hotel it didn’t matter because the two hotels are connected, meaning you don’t have to venture outside in to the cold to get to the waterpark.
- You have to take your room card with you, or have money with you, to buy food by the pool. It would be good to have some sort of wristband that can be scanned and then charged to your room so you don’t have to go back and to the lockers.
- When checking in I wasn’t told that in order to charge things to my room I should have put extra on my credit card (at the point of checking in).
- I didn’t see any of those machines that spin dry your swimming costumes to get the water out – I have no idea what they are called.
We enjoyed the waterpark experience so much that we paid an extra £5 per person to go the following day (H was free because he is under the age of 3). This was a special rate because we had stayed at the Hotel. When you consider that most standard municipal swimming pools cost that to get in, then this was well worth the money – even though it did mean putting on slightly damp swimming costumes.
I can’t comment on the choice of restaurants because only one restaurant – The Secret Garden – was open due to it being quiet season. The choice of food in the evening was good and the breakfast was excellent.
Thankfully our trip away really wasn’t too good to be true. It turned out to be an absolute thumbs up from all of us. As you might have guessed, another trip is most definitely on the cards. Who knows, we might see you there!
Harry’s Honest Mummy x