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Beavers and Birds

No it’s not a new lads mag or something for the top shelf, this is after all a mummy blog. But this week I visited 2 places that I felt sufficiently strongly about to write about them here. Not bad going really since I rarely get off my metaphorical blogging arse to write reviews about things I’ve done with the girls.

The first was Beaver Water World near Westerham, Kent. Yes really. Only that is slightly, well actually it’s very misleading. We saw one Canadian Beaver, well I say we saw him, we saw one furry side of him across the pond and he was asleep. However, that’s by the by really because beavers are not really what Beaver World is all about. First you walk into the aquatic shop, which as anyone with small children knows is a sure fire way of getting great excitement. Lots of fish, lizardy things, water monitors, tortoises and more fish. The girls loved it. They were running around telling me all about it. The great thing about this place is that there weren’t loads of people there and the staff are incredibly friendly, the combination of which creates a very child friendly environment.

Looking at something in the shop

So after you get through the shop you pay the admission to go into Reptile World and the rest of the ‘World’ (it’s a word used liberally at this establishment). And here’s the thing, the admission is really good value. Tilly was free as she’s 2, my entry was £4 and Eliza was £3 which when you consider all there is to see the fact that they rescue mistreated creatures like snakes and alligators (I was rather naive about this but apparently lots of tropical animals are really poorly kept) it has charitable status is actually really good value.

Looking at something lizardy

After the reptiles, which are pretty impressive, Bearded Dragons (a very big one), Caman Crocodile (one called Colin), lots of turtles and tortoises, then the snakes. There was a huge white python that scared the life out of me, and one smaller python that Eliza and Tilly got to stroke (eek!).  So after this we went outside to ‘Beaver World’.  As I mentioned the Beavers are scarce as I think they are nocturnal, but there were some super-cute Mountjac deers and a tiny baby one that my girls thought was very sweet. There’s Meerkat Manor and Lemur World. Then there’s a profusion of different sorts of birds including a Snowy Owl.

Meerkat Manor – they must be hiding…

We had a picnic but we could have eaten in the well priced cafe, where we ended up having an ice cream, naturally.

All in all it was a lovely day out.

So by contrast Birdworld near Guildford was okay, but not so great for my girls.  I mean I should have guessed that birds weren’t exactly the most interesting things to a 2 and 3 year old, but credit where it’s due, they do know quite a bit about birds. And bats. Comes from having a father who is a closet ‘spotter’. Plus Birdworld has Underwater World (what is it with the word ‘world’?) and also Jenny Wren Farm.

We arrived and the heaven’s opened. This is not Birdworld’s fault. But it did make the experience less enjoyable than perhaps it might have been.  For a start after paying the eye-watering entry fee (£14.95 for me and £11.95 for Eliza, Tilly was free) I then had to buy waterproof ponchos for us all, which again is not their fault and in fact it was lucky they sold them since the girls’ little raincoats and my sweatshirt were rather inadequate.   Then when you add the price of the plastic fish and snake that were perfectly positioned, along with all the other toys, at 3 year old eye and hand height you’ve already maxed out the credit card before you’ve even seen a goldfish or sparrow.

My look how much fun they’re having?!

Anyway the fishy bit is okay, but the walkways around the tanks are extremely narrow which is not much good for a Phil & Ted’s (double buggy).  Also it was a very quiet day, I imagine on a busy one it’d be overflowing with frustrated parents and stroppy kids all trying to see the fish.

Bit of a disaster as we left there too as Tilly was dawdling behind and the automatic doors shut behind Eliza leaving Tilly stranded in Underwater World with nothing but a squid for company.  She was too little to set off the sensor and so had to wait there crying for me until a kindly mother came to the rescue  and opened the door for her.

Anyway not a mother who likes to be defeated we ploughed gamely on and navigated yet another shop full of bright, plastic things and made it through to the Bird Park.  What can I tell you. It was wet and dreary and even the birds were pissed off.  There did seem to be a good variety though and there are many planned events to watch (penguin feeding, heron breeding or at least I think so, flamingo dancing or was that flamenco? I forget. Feeding other birds etc etc you get the picture). We walked about a bit getting drizzled on, naturally once I’d bought the sodding ponchos the rain abated and we saw lots of noisy parrots that the girls loved, some turkeys, ditto, lots of other brightly coloured feathered friends and many ducks.  To be fair to Birdworld it was a terrible day to go, and I’m sure we’d have enjoyed wandering about more in better weather.  But the weather meant we couldn’t have our picnic, that Eliza had helped make, so we had to eat in the cafe.

We had 2 small plates of chips and baked beans (I know, CRAP mother but there was seriously limited choice for kids), some carrot sticks and a cold sausage, 2 tiny yoghurts and a baked potato for me with a can of Sprite.  That little lot came to £14.95. By that point I was past caring on the wasting money front.

To their eternal credit my girls were little stars. They didn’t whinge (much) and they tried very hard to have fun.  We all did.  They were bundled back into the car and we set off home, about 2 hours after we’d arrived.  Roughly £32.65 per hour. I haven’t really got the hang of this frugal living thing…

So my recommendation would be to venture out to Beaver World every time.  Birdworld is better if you a) like birds and b) have a nice day and c) are loaded.

Later this week I will be reviewing the gorgeous Avon Pink Ribbon Baking Set we got sent.

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