Saturday, 31 August 2013

"Staycation" 2013

Father Badger took this week off work. After a lot of deliberating we decided it was daft to spend our money on accommodation a couple of hours away then spend each day travelling to see something, so we stayed at home but planned a different experience for each day. It's been a heck of a week!

Bank Holiday Monday was spent within a few miles of home as Father Badger's band was playing at a local hospital fete. I shunned my Ergo carrier in favour of the pushchair for Badger Cub and headed in with Baby Badger holding my hand to explore the stalls and watch the entertainment. Baby Badger did us proud, being on the most part delightful and happy, especially when presented with an ice cream towards the end of the afternoon!

Tuesday saw us heading south to Longleat Safari & Adventure Park. We started off with the car safari: zebra, giraffe, monkeys (we risked losing bits off our car and survived even though one hitched a ride on the roof), elephants, lions, tigers and wolves. That alone would have made a wonderful day! We then headed off into the Adventure Park for lunch followed by penguins, sting rays, train and boat trips and a marvellous adventure playground. Another highlight was feeding nectar to lorikeets.

I would definitely advise booking in advance (you can do this up to the day before you visit) as there's a substantial discount on the quite hefty ticket price. Having said that, it really was worth every penny.

We had a leisurely start to Wednesday and headed to Blenheim Palace, less than 20 miles from us, in time for a picnic lunch in the pleasure gardens. It was a warm day and it was slightly challenging finding somewhere shady and wasp free, although I think the main grounds would have offered more of a choice of trees to sit under. The rest of the afternoon was spent with Father Badger and Baby Badger enjoying the playground while I strolled around with Badger Cub in the pushchair, pausing for the occasional feed on a park bench.

Blenheim Palace are currently offering a free upgrade to annual pass from a day ticket. We visited last month for their jousting and converted our day tickets, so our trip this week was effectively free!

We headed to London on Thursday to the Sealife Aquarium. The first thing you do is walk along a corridor with glass floor looking down into the shark tank! This huge tank that spans all three floors was amazing: sharks, rays and a vast variety of fish. It's an amazing place, with lots of fish of all colours and sizes, anenomes, crabs, octopus, sharks and penguins, and plenty of small person viewing windows and ledges to climb onto for a better look. There are also published feeding times and talks about different topics, but our littlies were too little to concentrate on these. We finished our day in Covent Garden for a very late lunch before heading for the underground and our train out of Paddington.

Again, we booked the day before for a discount, but also paid extra for Priority Entrance which allowed us to bypass the queue to get in (which was not small given it was the last week of the school holidays).

Friday took us to Birmingham, again after a leisurely start. We arrived late morning and went to Jamie's Italian in the Bullring for lunch. The staff were amazing, making the experience full of fun for Baby Badger, and were joking with me after realising they'd been chatting away to me while I breastfed Badger Cub! Baby Badger had chicken lollipops (chicken on skewers) with a mini kilner jar of chopped vegetable salad (which she demolished). Father Badger and I opted for seafood dishes, both delicious! After lunch we headed to Birmingham Museum for the Julia Donaldson exhibition. The hall was segmented by walls printed with scenes from her various books (Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, etc.) and each area had different props, dressing up outfits and activities themed around the books.

The museum itself is free but there is a charge for this exhibition.

Birmingham is local to my husband's family so we headed over to stay for the night. We had a bonus day trip before leaving them to drive home today: Tropical Birdland! Tucked away in a Leicestershire village is a small zoo full of every imaginable type of parrot, some in aviaries but many of them free flying and happy to take monkey nuts from your hand. It was an unexpected but good end to our holiday week and I'd definitely recommend it.

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