I take Dexter to a baby group with my friend and her daughter every Friday. It’s a lovely little group and we’ve made some nice friends.
The club is based in the Hampton children’s centre, which sadly, is going to be closed by our local council as they are cutting funding. There have been huge campaigns to try and stop this as they’re actually closing the centres across the city but alas, as a campaign group, we’ve failed to overturn the councils decision, leaving our babies and children only another couple of months to play before it’s taken away from them. I can’t get my head around the decision when there is so much in the news lately about children not arriving at primary school with basic skills. No social skills, can’t hold a pencil, etc. If this is the case, then please explain to me how it makes any sense at all to take away clubs, sessions and children’s centres from our children..‽
Anyway, I digress.
So the baby club had arranged a coach trip to Whipsnade Zoo. It cost £5 for adults and £2 for children so £7 for both of us. Of course we couldn’t say no to that!
So we met everyone outside the children’s centre at 8:15 tuesday morning and waited for the coach. Let me tell you, that many parents wrestling to get car seats positioned correctly and strapped in on a cramped coach is certainly a sight to see, ha ha.
Once we had all clunk-clicked, we were off. It took roughly an hour and 45 mins to get there and was a relatively easy journey as far as all of the babies were concerned. They slept most of the way there which meant they were raring to go when we arrived.
Once off the coach we were all given our tickets and instructions for when to be back ready to leave and then off we went. Dexter and I had already joined up with Jordan and Brook and Naomi and Jake (and Naomi’s dad) so the 7 of us explored together.
First stop was the chimps. They weren’t really feeling the visitors today though so were sat quite far back, making it hard to get the kids interested in them. The Bison and the wolves weren’t up to much either so the first real bit of excitement came when we saw the giraffes. There is a big ramped platform that takes you up so that you are up higher than the giraffes heads.
There was a mummy giraffe stood quite close and she was hiding a baby behind her. You can just see baby’s head poking out of the door. Dexter was fascinated by them, especially their teeth when I pointed them out.
A quick stroll past the meerkats and lions as they weren’t interested either, slowing down at the flamingoes and ducks and over to the cafe for a well earned lunch. We’d all bought lunch with us so I cant comment on the food from the cafe but it was nice weather and there was plenty of room for sitting outside with our blankets.
Once we were all fed and rested, we decided on a little trip on the train. I honestly thought it would be a bit more expensive but £4.50 for adults, £1.50 for children and under 3s went free. Of course we sat at the back of the train where all the cool/naughty (delete as appropriate) kids sit. The back carriage doesn’t have a roof canopy on it so we were a bit naughty and stood up… Until we got told to sit down again haha.
The train takes you on a guided tour passed the farm and through the old engine yard where we could see buckets of coal and parts of other trains out in the wild. We saw wallabies with baby joeys in their pouches, a herd of elephants, also with babies, rhinos, yaks, camels, deer, sloth bears. Sloth bears a really noisy eaters, you can hear them over 100 metres away.
Once back in their buggies, the babies fell asleep and we decided to head towards the hippos. We went via the red pandas (who looked incredibly cuddly) the otters (who like many, animals just didn’t want to talk to us) and the zebras. Most of the zebras were out running about in their field but there was one on his own in what I think was some kind of holding pen. I like to think he was a bit of a rebel and was maybe there because he had been naughty but he really was lovely and looked so bored just kicking his ball around. Poor Mr Z.
We arrived at the hippos with all 3 still asleep. Not wanting to miss out, Jake was the first to wake up. There was a baby hippo inside in the pool and a few outside in swampy looking ponds. I saw one yawn and I’ve got to tell you, their teeth are huge! I would not want to be on the receiving end of that bite!
Off we went again, this time in the direction of the penguins. I thought they were a bit sort of ‘shoved out of the way’ to be honest but I assume there is a reason for that. To get to them we had to walk past the lookout cafe which is on top of the hillside looking out on to some spectacular views of the country side. I could’ve stood there for ages,it was beautiful. Dexter woke up when we got to the penguins. He thought they were quite funny, bless him. Brook really enjoyed them too, they were her favourite animal.
It was almost time to go so we planned just a couple more stops. Firstly, passed the bears. They don’t look as fierce as they are made out to be but there paws are huge so I’d still not want to meet one down a dark ally. As I took a picture, this one started to wee. Their bladders must be huge because it felt like he was peeing for almost 10 mins.
On towards the farm for the last stop on our journey (apart from toilets and gift shop). I’ve been teaching Dexter some animal noises lately so was hoping to see some that he would recognise.
The pig was in a small shed like thing so we couldn’t really see her. I had a conversation with the turkeys. I don’t know what they were saying but they seemed to enjoy our chat. We saw some ponies and some rabbits and we were able to pet some goats, which Dexter was really taken by.
The gift shop was absolutely heaving but we still managed to get served relatively quickly and what I bought, I was expecting to come to way more that £5. We got a pencil and a rainbow rubber for Liam’s desk at work. (they always remind me of school trips and only being allowed to take enough money for things like that) and then I got Dexter a wiggly plastic snake thing and a noisy tube that sounds like one of those Jibber-jabber things (remember those?)
Then it was a little walk back to the coach to wrestle with the car seats again and a nice drive home. I had such a lovely day and would like to thank the staff at the Hampton Children’s Centre for organising it. It really will be a terrible loss when the centres close. They do such a wonderful job and provide a fabulous service and I’m sure I’m not alone in my opinion.
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