Dolphin Cove, Montego Bay

Ok, I’ll get straight to the point with this one. If you ever get the chance to swim with a dolphin, do it. Do whatever it takes to do it. We did just that when we visited Dolphin Cove.

Yes, you may not enjoy it, but you can say that you have done it. This was the highlight of our holiday and is the one thing that Heidi always mentions when she is asked about her holiday.

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We booked the visit, including transport, directly with Dolphin Cove and it felt a bit safer and more official doing it that way. The journey took about 40 minutes from Montego Bay and the driver was excellent in making us feel safe on some very unsafe roads. Our guide for the day told us lots about the local areas we passed through.

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Because Heidi is only 4 and not a brilliant swimmer, we booked the Encounter Experience. This involved stroking, dancing, singing and generally playing with the dolphins. Each person got a couple of minutes as a time with the dolphins doing each activity. As there were 6 in our group, it was quite fast paced, but not at all rushed. I didn’t feel like we had done a “cheap” option.

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Even though we had lifejackets given to us, I felt that it was best to hold Heidi throughout, so she could have the security of knowing she was safe. This meant that she could enjoy it more, as the water was about 4 ft high. However, at no point did any of us feel unsafe.

The dolphin handlers were amazing and were particularly good with Heidi. This is probably because she was the only child in our group and took time afterwards so she could feed the dolphins a few more fish!

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The attraction also has a stingray enclosure, a camel, donkey and ostriches (the shark attraction was closed). However, let’s be honest, it’s all about the dolphins!

A couple of tips which might help if you go…

  • Take a full change of clothes as the last thing you want is to wear your swimming clothes on the coach on the way back to the hotel
  • Budget for buying photos if this is your first time of swimming with the dolphins. The photos are amazing, as I’m sure you can tell, and if you go into the day knowing you’ll buy them, then you won’t have an awkward decision to make.

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This is our first time swimming with them and hopefully, if money allows, we can do it again. If any businesses want to give us a free dolphin swimming session, I won’t say no!!!


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Orlando Science Center

Regular readers of the blog will know that Heidi is quite the scientist, with our regular trips to Mini Einsteins (read here) and almost continual rocket experiments.  So a trip to the Orlando Science Center seemed like a perfect way to fuel this interest whilst on holiday and make sure she was learning a little whilst away from nursery.

Location

Orlando Science Center is around 30 minute drive away from the Disney parks. Located up I-4 near downtown Orlando, and it is a relatively easy drive, apart from the traffic near the parks. There is onsite parking ($5) in a multi-story car park where there are plenty of spaces. However. please don’t make the same mistake I did and park on the top floor – the sun makes the car remarkably hot!!

Activities

Orlando Science Center is a fully indoor attraction (good for rainy days!) and has 4 floors. Our favourite was the top floor with the lab and hands-on experiments. The lab had around 7 little experiments for people to try out. These included testing the acidity of food/drink and testing the strength of structures. We had done a few of them back at home previously, so it was good to know that the science methods were the same on the other side of the Atlantic.

Also on the top floor were lots of hands-on, visual experiments which were ideal for smaller children. The dinosaur exhibit was also on the top floor and for any dinosaur fan, the impressive structures would really help their learning and bring them to life.

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The next couple of floors down were slightly too advanced for Heidi. This was because they were to do with complex structures and space. These would have been ideal for children around 7 years old and older as they would have linked into the school curriculum quite well.

However, there was still plenty for our 3 year old as there was a play area focused around farms/produce. This is where the children could run around and “play” but they could also focus on learning. There was also a lovely wet play/water table area in this area which had a similar effect.

On the ground floor, there was a lovely small animal section. In here are some adorable turtles as well as quite a lot of small water creatures – highlighting the Florida eco-system. Again, for a 3 year old, it was mainly about seeing the animals, rather than learning about them in great detail!!

Top Tip!

The best idea is to play the day around the pop-up activities throughout the day and take it from there. When we went, the activities weren’t well signposted, but the friendly staff went above and beyond to help. Likewise, the staff member in the Lab area (she had ginger hair and was losing her voice!!) took a real shine to Heidi and made a very good visit a little bit more special!

Facilities

In terms of facilities, there is a Subway on site, which is useful for a snack. However, if you’re staying all day, you might need something more substantial. As you would expect Stateside, the toilet/changing facilities are brilliant.

At May 2017, it costs $19.95 for adults, $13.95 for children aged 3 and over and under 3’s are free. As well as all the learning, you also get a screening to a “Hollywood Movie” as well as films in the CineDome. We didn’t take advantage of either because, well, a 3 year old on holiday doesn’t want to see films!!! This cost feels about right, but obviously for overseas visitors, the exchange rate plays a part.

Heidi was probably a year or so too young for Orlando Science Center.  We did stay around 3 hours and that is with us being slightly tired after walking round the parks etc.  However, that just means that we can go back again at some point and learn it all again!!


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Alpamare Waterpark

The Alpamare Waterpark opened its doors in the summer of 2016 and given that we are regular travellers to the North Yorkshire Coast, we finally went down on May Day weekend to see what it was actually like.

Outside Alpamare

Alpamare has 2 outdoor, heated swimming pools (one of which is an Iodine pool, which apparently is really good for you – who knew?!) one indoor swimming area, which doubles up as a wave pool, 4 big slides, as well as a toddler wet play area with slide. Also inside is a restaurant and throughout are sun loungers in case you have had enough of the swimming.

 

The “wet side” is entirely cashless so as you go in, you get a wristband which you can use to use a locker and pay for your food/drinks. All you have to do is settle the bill at the end of the session. This means you don’t have to worry about having a £1 coin, and it is really easy to use.

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Decent sized locker

As you would expect, the changing rooms are really clean and modern, as are the lockers. One really good thing is the fact it is really warm throughout. As such,  you don’t feel as though you’re going to freeze when you finish swimming and get changed! They enforce a strict “no outdoor shoes” policy, which was really good to see. Even the electrician fixing an outside bulb up a ladder had to have shoe covers on!!

As the slides are only for those 6 and over, those with little ones are obviously limited in what they can do. Under 6’s are free however. Despite that, we were in there for 4 ½ hours!! The wave machine comes on every half an hour and so I thought that would be our main attraction. However, it was the heated outdoor pools which were the big pull for Heidi!

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Happy swimmer!

The pools are toasty warm and the patterns of bubbles means that it is such a relaxing experience. Because of the way that the pools are designed, you can’t jump in. This might limit some play for the little ones, but it just gives some scope for imaginative play instead. We played mermaids for over an hour!!

However, the main reason for these pools is for a relaxing experience. Heidi was enamoured by the warmth of the pools that she seemingly spent an hour floating on her back saying how lovely and relaxing it was – and I had to agree!!

In terms of food, the menu is what you would expect at an attraction like this – Hot Dog and chips (pictured) was £4.50, and the drink was just under £2. They do children’s lunch boxes, but to be honest, the better value might be a pizza or similar.

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Dinner!

A couple of good things about eating there is the view (pictured below) but also the fact that you can pop to the lockers for your towel and because it is so comfortably warm, you don’t need to get dressed.

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View from the restaurant (not a prison!)

Now, the elephant in the room – the price. If you’ve done any type of research on Alpamare, you’ll know that there are complaints about the price. £19 an adult is expensive. Also, you have to pay even if you’re just going to watch. However, you’re not going to your local council swimming pool – this is different. You can’t swim lengths at Alpamare and you can’t swim outside in a heated pool at the council swimming pool.

If £19 each (small reductions for children aged 6+) for 4 hours entertainment is above your price point, that is fine and I completely understand. However, this isn’t about swimming; this is about relaxation for some and the slides and excitement for others. Compare the adult price to Blizzard Beach in Florida (£50-ish) and Sea Life Centre (£18) and it doesn’t look too bad then. Also, there is plenty of free parking on site. (UPDATE July 2017: There is no longer free parking on site!)

(Full disclosure: I received a free ticket for this blog post, but my views are my own)

However, I am sure that we will come back again, even before Heidi is old enough to go on the slides!!


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12 Hints and Tips for Walt Disney World

Given that there are 4 main parks (plus 2 water parks) within the Walt Disney World complex, I thought that it would be a good idea to give some useful hints & tips which can be used in all of the parks. Think of it as a One-Stop-Shop guide.

Over time, I’ll write more detailed guides for each of the parks to help anyone going in the future.

Book your park tickets in advance

For some reason, they are cheaper in the UK and bought in advance. While you need to be careful who you buy them from, there tends to be some deals on so be a little patient.

Parking

Parking costs $20 a day (in February 2017) unless you stay at a Disney hotel, and then it is free. You can use the receipt all day so if you want to park-hop or go back to the hotel for a bit, that is fine. Also, remember where you park – the car parks are huge and the last thing you want is to forget where you have parked when you’re hot and tired!

Get there early

The queues for the first couple of hours of the day are pretty small and you can do a good part of the park before the crowds get in. Generally it is the cooler part of the day also, so when it gets too hot and the crowds are too big, you don’t feel bad for going back to the hotel for a couple of hours.

Plan

Have a plan for what you want to get out of the day. Do you want to see the characters, or do the fast rides etc? The parks are too big and it is too hot to be wandering aimlessly around the park and it will only lead to arguments.

Security

Walt Disney World is an amazingly safe place, but generally because of the airport style security. It does lead to queues when entering the park, but it is for a reason. Plan accordingly, and make sure you leave your selfie-stick at the hotel.

Fastpasses are your best friend

Once you book your park tickets, link up the tickets to an account and the app and book your queue-jumping fastpasses. You can generally save half an hour on each fastpass, so use them on the busy rides. Also, use them early in the day and when you run out (you get 3 a day) you can get another one.

Food & Drink

$3 for a bottle of water?! Pack your own drinks and snacks and you’ll save a fortune! If you have a decent breakfast, you’ll be good for most of the day, but remember it does get hot so freeze a couple of the bottles you take so you have ice cold water in the afternoon.

Character meals

If you were to splash out on one thing at Disney and you have a child, do a character meal. It is wonderful to see the child interact with a character and just makes the holiday a bit more special. The best value meals are the buffets, especially the breakfast ones as they tend to be a bit cheaper.

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Character meal breakfast at Hollywood Studios

Photopass

There are a host of Disney photographers willing and able to take photos for you free of charge at certain scenic points/character attractions. These link through to your Disney app and so you generally don’t have to take that many photos during the day. Even if you aren’t linked up the the Disney app, they are happy to take a photo using your phone.

Wifi

The Walt Disney World parks have really good Wifi throughout and so you can remain connected throughout the day. This means that you can access the Disney app and update Fastpasses and look at the photos throughout the day. Just be careful of your battery!

Footwear and Clothing

Make sure you plan accordingly. It will be hot and you will be on your feet most of the day, so light clothing and decent shoes are a must.

Suncream

I think that this is obvious…don’t ruin the holiday by having sunburn! Top up as the day goes on.

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Not a cloud in the sky!

There are loads more and it would be good to hear some other hints/tips in the comments section! Hopefully this will help you enjoy Walt Disney World a bit more!


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Yorkshire Sculpture Park

I know that I am not artistic and not particularly cultural. However, having seen the publicity regarding the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the KAWS exhibit, we finally made our way down to Bretton to see what the fuss was about!

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Part of the KAWS exhibit

We didn’t particularly plan the trip well, which meant a lot of walking and a lot of piggy-backs. Therefore, if you want to avoid that, definitely park in the main entrance car park!! We parked in the “Country Park” car park and while the walk through the parkland was lovely, if you’re not up for a 3 mile round trip walk, go in the main entrance!!

I think that it is pretty much impossible to see all the exhibits in one go. This is even without children in tow and so we focused on the outdoor KAWS work. These were very popular and you had to wait your turn to have a photo with them. However, it is virtually impossible to have a proper selfie with a giant sculpture!

Likewise, it is difficult, but not impossible to go with a pushchair/pram.  As it is all outdoors, you need the weather and paths to be dry. It is certainly not the best place to be muddy and wet with a toddler or baby!!  The changing facilities in the cafe were pretty good, although the signage wasn’t brilliant. However, once you find the main car park, there are enough buildings/people around to ask.

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KAWS Selfie!!

So in terms of the KAWS exhibits themselves, they are quite imposing, but also quite fun to look at. A nervous toddler might be scared.  However, we had a great time looking and pretending to be them as well!

A couple of the more hidden areas which caught the eye as well were the musical installations near the main entrance. If no-one is using them as you pass, you would never know they are there. However, they are absolutely brilliant and very interactive compared to some of the others (even though they look so appealing to be climbed upon!).

The other one to get big belly laughs from Heidi was the installation with the sinks, toilets, baths hanging 8ft in the air. In the eyes of a toilet training toddler, this was hilarious! She took great joy in running between the various parts of the exhibit and wanting to be lifted up to see what were in the sinks etc!! (I forgot to take pictures of these – d’oh!)

I have seen comments online regarding the price of car parking – £8 for more than 2 hours (which you will need). Yes, in itself, it is expensive, but instead consider it an admission fee which covers everyone in the car, as the park itself is free. You can bring your own food in as well and so you can have a picnic in the sun and enjoy some artwork for £8 for the day, which isn’t that bad all in all.

All in all, we had a good morning out in the sunshine at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. However, the fresh air didn’t bring about an afternoon nap, which meant that I had an “interesting” afternoon!!

UPDATE: The KAWS exhibit has gone, but there are loads of other good artwork to see.

Continue reading Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The Fairy Garden

Whilst spending the Bank Holiday Weekend in Filey and the North Yorkshire Coast, we were looking for something a bit different specifically for Heidi.  We stumbled upon the Fairy Garden via Tripadvisor and thought that we would give it a go!

In the main, the Fairy Garden is a cafe, but it is much more than that. While it is not big, it is absolutely crammed with quirky decorations and ornaments. This gives the little ones plenty to look at and explore while the older ones have a nice cup of tea.

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As you approach down the country lane running alongside a caravan park, you do wonder if you have gone wrong somewhat. However, you eventually come to a huge door, welcoming you to the Fairy Garden. As the name suggests, it is completely outside apart from a couple of little covered tables/snugs. The central grass area has toadstool themed seats and tables. Along the edge of the grass are hundreds of fairy related ornaments. Some of which you can see throughout this blog post, but all of which are cute beyond belief.

As there is enough space, the little ones can roam around and investigate and play while everyone else can relax. There is a box of books (mainly fairy related of course!) for the children to read. This is such a nice touch and helps keep the children entertained. For those who are regular readers of the blog, you’ll know about my adoration of The Rainbow Factory (latest review here) and it feels as though it is their little sister. Both are full of all the imagination and magic, but the Fairy Garden is just on a smaller scale.

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Take a book and read!

In terms of the food and drinks themselves, sadly, we had to down ours quite quickly as it was starting to rain. This is one of the downsides of it being outdoors! However, the cakes looked lovely and someone was taking food away, so as a cafe, it must be of a good quality. The food is cooked in a modified trailer, so you do get that street food vibe to it, which is obviously cool.

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As I said, it isn’t huge and I don’t think that there are toilet facilities. You can’t really spend more than an hour there. However, if you’re wanting a break from the beach, or somewhere to go for a bacon butty breakfast, this needs to be your cafe of choice. It certainly is for us now!!

PS How is it only ranked number 22 out of 65 restaurants in Filey?!

Continue reading The Fairy Garden

Longdown Activity Farm

Our trip to Longdown Activity Farm is the fourth and final episode of our mini break to the South Coast. The other reviews can be found here:

  • Flying with a toddler – Part 1 – (here)
  • Oceanarium and Bournemouth – Part 2 – (here)
  • Paultons Park – Part 3 – (here)

I found out about this attraction via Twitter (@NewForestBreak) and with it being 10 minutes drive from Paultons Park, we headed down there on a sunny, but cold Sunday February morning, whilst not knowing what to expect really.  Finding the farm is quite easy and there is decent (free) parking the other side of the road. This is fully signposted.

Heidi does like her animals and so it felt like a safe option to spend a couple of hours, and so we went in to see what it was all about. As you go in, there are some toy tractors for the kids to play on, as well as a couple of table tennis tables which were clearly meant for warmer (and less windy days!). However, with our trusty map in hand, we made our way to the animals.

Longdown Activity Farm is a traditional farm, in terms of the animals that it has – goats, ducks, cows, horses – pretty much everything Old MacDonald had. The difference is that you are allowed to feed them! There are set times to feed set animals so it does help to plan ahead a little and plot your way around the small farm so that you take advantage of these experiences. It would only take 10 minutes to walk from one end to another. So while the farm isn’t huge, it is big enough, especially for little legs!

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As a result, we began by bottle feeding the baby goats. This was fascinating for Heidi as she has never seen an animal take a bottle. Being able to feed it herself was lovely! After that, we went to the animal petting attraction, where tiny baby chicks to hold, as well as able to stroke a rabbit as well as a goat. To finish off, we fed the adult goats, albeit food from a plate as they are clearly past the bottle phase!!

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It was lovely to have the opportunity to let Heidi feed and get really close to the animals. It is all well and good seeing them at the other side of the fence, but it was something else letting her feed them. Interspersed with the activities, there are lots of other animal enclosures to look at including ducks, rabbits, horses and calves.

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On a weekend, the little ones are able to ride (for an additional charge) on a Shetland pony,. We took advantage of this, especially as Heidi loves to go on the donkeys at the seaside, or use me as a horse in an evening!

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Lovely Shetland pony

There are a number of enclosed (free) trampolines which is a good way to do something a little different. There is also a small, but perfectly adequate (free) play gym, which will keep the little ones busy for half an hour or so, while the adults relax. Even though it was freezing cold outside, it was relatively warm in there, even though the front was completely open! Here (on weekends), there was a facepainter and for an extra charge, children could have their face painted,. As a result, the farm got a tiger for an hour or so!

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There’s a Tiger!

In terms of taking a toddler, it is important to be aware that Longdown Activity Farm is a working farm. As such, expect it to be a bit muddy and cold (in winter!) so wear appropriate clothes! There are toilets, baby change and feeding rooms, which we didn’t go to, but they looked quite good. There is also a cafe and farm shop, but we had spent all our money on facepainting and horse rides!!

One thing to note is that you obviously have to wash your hands after finishing stroking an animal. As such. it might be a good idea to wear short sleeves, or take a spare top for the way home. The water is nice and warm, but after a while, the sleeves get all wet and unpleasant.

After all that, we spent 2 hours at Longdown Activity Farm. However, we did miss a couple of bits out because of a tired toddler. We would definitely go back, and would perhaps go at a slightly different time so we could do some of the other activities that we missed out.

Continue reading Longdown Activity Farm

Oceanarium

Our trip to the Oceanarium in Bournemouth is part 2 of my write up of the mini break we had on the South Coast.

The other reviews can be found here:

  • Flying with a toddler – Part 1 -(here)
  • Paultons Park – Part 3 – (here)
  • Longdown Activity Farm – (here)

Getting to the Oceanarium

So after landing in Southampton mid morning, the plan was to drive to Bournemouth and basically explore a bit and have a bit of a seaside day. So after driving 45 minutes, we arrived in Bournemouth. The drive was a lovely, relaxing drive through the New Forest. However, due to roadworks, took a bit longer than anticipated. I hear that in summer, this journey is a bit of a nightmare due to traffic, but certainly not a problem in late February!

So after approaching Bournemouth, we followed the painted (and sometimes worn!) sandcastles on the road down to the beach and picked up signs for an “Oceanarium”. Having not done any research previously, I was putting two and two together as to what it was and we decided to go for it.

Located right on the beach, the view is perfect out to sea. However, I imagine that the location also means when it is busy, it is difficult to get to. However, we found a car park very close by and made our way in.

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The Oceanarium itself

It turns out the Oceanarium is a marine animal attraction, similar to The Deep in Hull. It has penguins, fish, sharks, turtles and a crocodile, as well as a walking tunnel so you feel as though the animals are all around. Our favourites were the lovely large turtles. Due to their swimming style, you can tell the little ones that they are waving!

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We stayed for about 90 minutes and caught most of the penguin feeding show. This was quite intimate as well, and not in a bad way. Unfortunately with a toddler, you never quite manage to see all of the show. However, they are something to plan the visit around.

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Facilities

In terms of child friendly facilities, there is a very small soft play area. This will give the adults 10 minutes rest as there is only 1 climbing frame so there isn’t much to explore. We didn’t check out the changing facilities, and with most of these kinds of places, navigating with a pushchair would be difficult. This is because it is on a number of levels and the lighting isn’t brilliant as it needs to be dark-ish for the animals. However, navigating carrying a 2 year old toddler isn’t that easy either!!

A couple of things that stand out for the Oceanarium are the beautiful views from within the venue. There is a balcony with seating and an ice cream kiosk at the back of the penguin viewing area. This is beautiful and would be fantastic in summer, although a bit nippy in winter!

The second is the fact that you can come and go as much as you want during the day. We didn’t take advantage of this due to having a tired toddler. However, given that it is about 10 yards from the beach and pier, you could easily spend all day in the same location, rotating between the Oceanarium, the beach, the pier and the other seafront attractions.

Bournemouth Seafront

We did briefly venture onto the gorgeous beach, which looked clean. However, more importantly, it didn’t look like good sandcastle-making sand! We also went on the pier, which had amusements and a cafe, which we didn’t go in. Instead, we favoured fish and chips eaten in the car (classy!)

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All in all, a very pleasant couple of hours spent in Bournemouth. This set us up nicely for the rest of our break, but also left us wanting to spend a few days (when warmer!) to explore Bournemouth more.

Continue reading Oceanarium

Knowsley Safari Park

A foggy, dark autumn Sunday took us to Knowsley Safari Park, just on the outskirts of Liverpool for a day out which turned out to be a highly enjoyable day!

While it sounds like a long way to go, it only took 40 minutes from the Yorkshire/Lancashire border of the M62. The Park is well signposted and on the main roads and so if you avoid rush-hour during the week, it is a really easy drive.

Entry into the park was a little slow as only 2 payment windows were open (Drive through style). As such, if you’re the only adult, make sure the payment window is at your side!! We went when it was half price and so we paid £9-ish. As H is under 3, she was free, so pretty good value for money. (Prices as at November 2015).

Upon entry you have 2 options; drive through the safari (you can do this as many times as you like) or go into the animal park. We did the animal park first and everything was surprisingly central. This allowed Heidi to walk most of it herself. This is a bit different to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park which seems to cover much more land.

Animals

In terms of the animals, there were giraffes, which you could get very close to due to the elevated viewing platform. This was a hit, especially as they seemed to like the attention of people looking at them! There were also elephants, but they were a bit less sociable, as well as the usual meerkats etc.

A couple of surprising ones were the sealions and the bats. The sealions have a show which we missed. However, the venue was busy, so it must have been good.  (Update: we have been since and the show is brilliant!). The bats attraction was where you could go into the bats habitat (akin to a cave!) and they were flying free around you. The little ones will either love or hate this. However, if they hate it, the exit is next to the entrance!!
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We didn’t see any of the talks/shows, which I should have factored in, if I was planning properly. But it leaves something to do next time!

Because it was relatively quiet, you didn’t feel as though you had to ‘move on’ after looking at the animals. We spent about 20 minutes looking at an owl, which Heidi thought that she could control and make it whistle by doing a dance for him!
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We had a spot of lunch, which was the usual kids lunchbox. However, there was quite a good range of food for both adults and kids and the prices didn’t seem too bad. There were also vending machines and with these, you could pay by card, which was a first for me!

In terms of nappy changing facilities, they were pretty much standard. However, it would have been good to have a toilet in the same room as the nappy changing mat. This makes it so much easier for single parents!!!

Safari

After seeing the animals in the park, we went on the safari. Because of the low speeds, a lot of parents had their children on their laps so they could see the animals. If you feel comfortable doing this – do it. The kids see much more and it helps pointing animals out to them. You never get out of second gear and it is a once in a lifetime experience! The safari takes around an hour (please note if potty training!) and obviously you can’t get out, as there are lions, tigers and all sorts of other animals on the safari. Most of the animals can get up to the car which can be wonderful for the little ones. However, it is also wonderfully terrifying, so it is a test of parenting and driving skills to make sure they are comforted!

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The “highlight” of the safari is the monkey enclosure. As my car is about to be scrapped, I decided to drive through. But if you have a car that you like, please don’t go in!! You can drive along the outside and see the monkeys, but obviously going into the enclosure, you get really close to them! This is perhaps the most memorable part for Heidi as she mentions the monkeys now with such accuracy and enthusiasm, although she did get scared a little bit. It isn’t every day where monkeys climb on the car!!
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Rides

After the safari, we went on the amusement rides. For £10, you can buy an unlimited ride wristband so you can go on the rides. The best part of this is that parents can go on for free if the kids are little, so you aren’t paying twice. The rides are just right for toddlers/preschool children and the attendants are great in keeping the children entertained (and sat down!). They are good in knowing what little children are like in terms of not knowing what car/boat to go on etc! I have to say thanks to Gemma and Jess for putting a big smile on Heidi’s face when she was going on the roundabout! I am sure the queues would be huge during the summer holidays, but we had free run on the rides!
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So, after 4 hours there, we headed back home after a hugely enjoyable day. You could stay longer if your child had more stamina/was older. However, Heidi was asleep soon after joining the motorway on the way home, which was a bonus!

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Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…. – Scarborough Edition!

As the temperatures begin to warm up, it is time to start heading to the coast! There is a wealth of things to do on the North Yorks Coast and having thought about this post for a few days, I would be doing it a disservice to try and fit it all in one blog post, so I have decided to concentrate on Scarborough today.

The inspiration for the blog post was that on Tuesday, me and Heidi spent a daddy-daughter day in Scarborough and we both had a wonderful, if exhausting time! Having got parked up at 11, we left at 4 and by 4.01, Heidi was asleep on the way home!

First things first – Scarborough is a nightmare to get to on a summer weekend. The A64 is a slow road after York and so it may be best to go on the M62 to Goole and go up through Howden and Driffield. Take plenty of entertainment for both the big and little ones!!

If you have never been to Scarborough, the sand beach is probably half a mile long from end to end and even at high tide, there is beach available to go on. The town is just above the resort area (South Bay) and accessible via the steep hills/lift cars (approx £1 single). About half a mile away from South Bay is North Bay and while it is possible to walk between the two, it can be tiring.

There are a number of must-dos which have been particular highlights for me and H

South Bay

Scarborough Spa Orchestra – http://www.scarboroughspa.co.uk/orchestra-welcome

During the summer period (July and August) the orchestra do a Monday morning performance called ‘Teddy Bears’ Picnic’ which is aimed at toddlers and young children, but I am amazed at the number of adults without children who turn up. It is quite interactive and a different set is played each week. As the show is aimed towards the little ones, singing, dancing and clapping is encouraged! It is only £3.50 each and lasts for 90 minutes and is brilliant entertainment. I have already booked the first and last shows of the season off work so we can attend. The show is held outdoors (in good weather) so hat and suncream are necessities. Also, they did a Christmas show which was absolutely brilliant!

Fish and Chips

The south bay is filled with fish and chip restaurants, ice cream stalls and arcades. Probably the best one is the Fish Pan on the front (it has a blue front) and the prices are reasonable to sit down and eat and they welcome babies and toddlers. When I went, they didn’t have a changing table, which proved to be a problem. Perhaps a bigger problem is the seagulls on the front, as they are quite large and vicious and they are prone to attack for food, so it is probably best to eat in a restaurant or have someone ready to chase them away. In terms of ice creams, the favourite is the Harbour Bar, where they do lovely ice creams and milkshakes, all set in a 1960’s diner setting. (http://theharbourbar.co.uk/)

North Bay

Sea Life Centre – https://www.visitsealife.com/scarborough/

Full disclosure – we haven’t been here yet, but from the outside, it looks like a good half-day activity and something a little bit different to the usual seaside activities. However, check for 2 for 1 deals or early booking deals.

Peasholm Park – http://www.peasholmpark.com/

Peasholm Park is on the north bay and as part of the park, there is a boating lake as well as miniature golf and on certain weekends, there are events on, in particular dragon boats! It is a really good place to stroll around with the pushchair, as well as being a good place to let your toddler toddle towards the end of the day when it is a bit quieter, although beware of the big ducks and swans!!

Openair Theatre

Across from Peasholm Park is the openair theatre, where they get a number of good acts during the summer season. However, there is also a miniature railway where big and little ones alike can go and have a ride.

Scarborough Cricket Ground

One more for dads rather than tots, but the Scarborough Festival occurs usually in August where Yorkshire CCC play a County Championship game at the cosy ground. The crowds are good so you may have to get tickets beforehand.

Out of town

Mini Monsterz – http://www.minimonsterz.co.uk/

This indoor play area is a bit of a hidden gem, located in an industrial estate in Cayton. The play area is fantastic (I am becoming quite an expert!) and one good thing is that they don’t allow the place to get too full, so everyone has a table and there is enough space in the play area. It is a little bit pricey, especially as they charge for adults, but it is worth the money and the food is good also. They have a similar complex in Whitby, which is just as good (and a bit quieter). As a result, I would head there early in the day and stay for lunch!