Staying in Cheltenham on our 2 night family break away, we were only an hour’s drive away from West Midland Safari Park. I have been actively avoiding zoos for a few years now because every time I go I just feel sad for the animals. Heroic, I know. However, we decided to give it try. My little boy is currently crazy about lions and we had a nice day when we took our eldest a few years ago.

It’s well worth planning ahead and booking your tickets online. This way, you can save as much as 35% off the full price tickets. West Midland Safari Park is well sign posted so it’s easy to find from the motorway and there’s loads of parking when you get there.

Getting In

We had our A-game on and we got there at (read not long after) park opening. There were no queues so we were able to drive straight up to a window and show our pre-printed tickets. We were advised that we would need to pick up our pre-booked fair ride tickets inside the park.

The parking attendants directed us to a parking space which was right by the toilets which was great. There is a huge and very visible modern toilet block in the car park. So you don’t have to queue to get in while desperate for the loo. Good news for parents of young children who have just driven a long time to get there. Or just me, because I’m always the one that needs to pee. The toilets in this block are modern and clean and there’s loads of them too. When we went in, it was very busy but we didn’t have to queue for a cubicle.

Safari

We went straight to the safari tour. The first animals are the rhino which are Rich’s favourite. We were lucky that when we visited the group had babies with them and they were really cute. I was able to placate my nagging inner voice by focusing on the fact that white rhino are endangered and under major threat of poaching.

West Midland Safari Park baby white rhino

Baby Rhino

West Midland Safari Park - Eland

Eland

Going on we met an Eland. I’ve never seen one of these animals before, a sort of cross between a deer and a cow. They are large animals with horns and they seemed very curious, but placid. I liked them.

We had bought a West Midland Safari Park guide book at the entrance (£5) which I would recommend because it has the names of all the animals in and little tid bit facts about them. Also the kids loved reading it to see what which animal was coming up next. We hadn’t been offered to buy animal food and we could see lots of people in cars ahead feeding the animals. We bought a box of animal feed when we went into the park for £3.50 and we went round the safari again to feed the animals at the end of our day.

The last admittance to the safari was at 6pm. We visited at the end of August in the summer holidays.

Hungry Lions

West Midland Safari Park - Lions

The male lions waiting for their cow.

The safari goes on through to see the lions and all the other dangerous animals but you can choose to bypass this part of the safari if you want to and it is clearly signposted. Some other animals we saw were cheetahs, African wild dogs (a very social animal apparently), and white lions.

There was a very long queue leading up to the lion enclosure. The guide book came in handy while we were waiting here. I read it and shouted out random animal facts which I pretended my family were interested in hearing. You could do the theme park first and maybe avoid these queues by doing the safari later in the day.

We saw a soft top convertible car being turned around as they weren’t allowed to go through to the lions part. The lions are freely running around the cars and it feels like the staff take security and safety very seriously. The lionesses were prowling the fence perimeter as they could see some cows on the other side. The staff were in their jeeps trying to move the cows along and block the lionesses view.

Feeding Giraffes

My favourite part of the safari was feeding the giraffes. I had no idea we would be able to do that. As you drive around a bend into the giraffe enclosure they are just suddenly there and they are huge!

West Midland Safari Park - Giraffe silhouetteWest Midland Safari Park

There was one -I reckon it was an elderly one- who had parked itself in a spot right by the exit so it could get food from every car that went out. It snotted on me! See the clip of it snotting on me on my facebook page here. My daughter who is 8 was most excited about feeding the deer and one of them stuck it’s head right inside the car on the baby’s side (he didn’t even have any food bless him) but he was brave and just looked at it.

The Park Part

West Midland Safari Park - sea lion

After the safari we made our way into the park and caught the sea lion show which was brilliant. Every seat in the auditorium has a good view, so don’t be put off if it looks busy. The keeper explained a bit about how they train the sea lions while showing us some of their skills.

After the sea lion show we walked around a little bit but we didn’t do most of the things there are to see. My daughter asked to have her face painted (it was £4 for a face painting and £7.50 with a pair of furry ears). When my 2yr/o saw his sister’s face paint he was that impressed he wanted his done too and he loved it! I asked the artist to just do a very quick version of the tiger for him and he went round roaring all day.

We walked through the night enclosure where there are free flying bats. So don’t go in that part if they freak you out because they do fly right by you. The lizard section was a bit disappointing. I’m not sure if I didn’t take enough time in there but I only saw some fruit beetles and ants.

Theme Park Rides for Kids

My daughter was so excited about going on the rides so we actually bypassed a lot to go straight to the little theme park they have there. You have to queue again at the ticket booths to get your wristbands for the rides and the staff ask you to show them the kids height on the measure pole they have by the tills and the staff have to put the wrist band on the kids too.

West Midland Safari Park kids rides

West Midland safari park has quite a few medium type rides so it was ideal for my 8yr/o because she got to try out a few rides that were bigger than the usual ones she gets to go on but they weren’t massive. We went on a log flume, a circle boat water ride thing, flying hippos, and the haunted house. There were even a few rides my little 2 yr/o could go on too which was great. We didn’t get too wet on the rides but I did see a few soaked people walking round. There is one of those big air dryers for £2 but it was out of service.

Dinosaurs

Some of the things I missed were:

  • Ice age – a walk-through around moving models of animals from the ice age.
  • Dinosaur land – same as above but with dinosaur models
  • Boj giggly park – toddler play park
  • African village – see the goats, meer cats and hippos
  • Lorikeet Landing – walk among flocks of lorikeets
  • Lemurs

West Midland Safari Park - meer cats

Insider Tips

You can also book vip experiences like being a keeper for the day. I’d recommend booking the safari bus guided tour (£6 pp) because the animals recognised the mini buses and went straight up to them for food. They seemed like they would have a good view point too and were able to drive over the grass, bypassing some of the queues.

By the time we’d finished going on rides Rich was warning me that his day-out-o-meter was almost at max and we were all getting a bit weary too. We stopped to grab some food before leaving. The pizza and chips in the fried chicken place is nice (pretty sure it was chicago town pizza) and we spent about £18 for us all to have food and drinks there. We went round the safari once more bypassing the lions and just going around the animals we could feed. I fed a camel and there are no signs but the safari staff announced on their loud hailer for people not to feed the camels so I stopped. I googled it when I got in and there are multiple stories of camels literally biting people’s heads clean off. So don’t feed the camels.

West Midland Safari Park - Camels

Don’t feed the camels!

Price/Expense

We got free entry on a return visit with our tickets until November and I’d love to go back. They also have special events on like Halloween nights and stuff that might be worth checking out. Our tickets for a family of four to West Midland Safari Park (2 adults, 1 child aged 8 and 1 child aged 2) came to £128.50. Under 3’s are free into the safari & park. That price included our wrist bands for the rides although I couldn’t book a wrist band for the rides online for our 2yr/old but still had to pay for him at the booth (£8 I think). I assume that this is so the staff could check his height. Guidebooks and animal feed are available to book ahead of your visit online too.

Woo hoo I hope you have a great family day out! It is a jam packed day so the West Midland Safari Park website is a must before you go. Pack sun cream and rain macs and prepare for a full on day.

This is not a sponsored review. I did not receive any goods or compensation from West Midland Safari Park to write it. I just wanted to record some of my memories of a great family day out and hopefully help anyone else thinking about going because it can work out expensive, but worth it I thought. Just feeding the giraffes was worth it. Let me know what you loved about West Midland Safari Park in the comments section below. Oh and if you want to see part one of our family break in Cheltenham you can watch the vid here. It’s not quite Paris, but it is very lovely. The video of our day at West Midland Safari Park is coming soon!  🙂

Pin it for later:

West Midland Safari Park

 

We were kindly invited along to the press day at Jurassic Kingdom in Bute Park, Cardiff for a preview of the event. Off we set with every weather eventuality covered, wearing wellies and macs but with sun-cream in the backpack (and yes I used both, as is usual for South Wales really).

My little boy had dinosaurs on his coat and wellies which wasn’t intentional they are just everywhere when it comes to things for little boys. I parked in the long car park off North Road and Jurassic Kingdom was easy to find as we walked into the park.

There is no mistaking where the event is as you are greeted by an enormous T-Rex as you approach. It roars and moves, much to my kids’ delight. My little boy stopped to shout ‘Dinosaur, roar.’ at the top of his voice and off we went in.

Jurassic Kingdom T-Rex

 

The food stalls were not open today and the teams were still setting up ready for opening day tomorrow (Saturday 11th August 2018). The dinosaurs roars were really loud. Some were not yet switched on. We were happy to creep past a few silent ones.

The models are really very impressive. Close up you can see that no detail has been missed and they look as if they could be alive. My 2yr/o would agree I think as he got a little bit frightened at some of them. They move and roar. Some are set up into scenes like two raptors attacking a brontosaurus and one where a t-rex and another raptor were in a stand off as if about to fight (this one seemed particularly loud). One of my favourites was two raptors in a cage with their heads poking through the bent bars. It looked like a scene from the Jurassic World movie. I kept my eyes out for Chris Pratt just in case.

jurassic kingdom brontosaurus

There were so many different dinosaurs to see from all across different time periods I’m sure if you have a little dino buff they will be able to meet their favourite dinosaur here. I even spotted a couple of sea dinosaurs.

The stars of the show were the gigantic models. Of these we saw the T-Rex as we entered, a diplodocus, a brachiosaurus and a brontosaurus. They are absolutely huge! The size of them made it easier to imagine a time when they were around. There is an area at the back where there are some amazing looking trees and alongside the dinosaurs it does feel as if you are exploring through a Jurassic world.

Jurassic Kingdom

Jurassic Kingdom Cardiff

The models have added little features. Some of their eyes open and close while they move and some of them look to be breathing too. I imagine it will be quite exciting when it’s all fully open as lots of people walk past the models all at the same time it will sound amazing.

Although I didn’t see it, some other bloggers found a sand pit for little ones where they can excavate dinosaur bones and we found a shell the kids could sit in. Overall a great day out and something unique that the kids will remember for a long time to come.

It is a touring exhibition so don’t miss out!

Open August 11th-August 27th 2018 in Bute Park, Cardiff. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Adult ticket is £13 on the gate or £11.50 if you book in advance online. 2’s and under 2 go free. Children from age 3 tickets cost £11 at the gate or £9.50 when booked in advance online. You can currently use the code EARLYBIRD to get 20% off tickets. More info here: http://www.jurassickingdom.uk/cardiff/

Have you ever seen those boxes at the tills in McDonald’s and wondered what they are for? All the donations from them go to the Ronald McDonald House Charity. RMHC provide accommodation for families near to specialist children’s hospitals making it easier for families to be closer to their children when they are seriously ill.

I think there is a bit of a stigma attached to this particular charity because lots of people think that McDonald’s run it and could afford to fund it. RMHC is an independent charity whose biggest corporate supporter is McDonald’s. So, all those pennies in the boxes at the tills mean a lot.

Happy Birthday

I was kindly invited to their Cardiff house’s first birthday party celebrations. It was a great feel good community event, with lots of returning families as guests. There was loads of great stuff for the kids, all free and we had a lovely afternoon. I actually felt a little emotional as I recalled our family’s own journey in the early weeks of my baby’s life when he was in neonatal intensive care and I thought about what the families who use this charity could be going through.

The house is very impressive, a true home from home. Everything has been thought of in order to lift as much of the mental load as they can for the families that stay there. All the décor is a nice high quality and the design is thought out so that the place feels light and airy and modern. The rooms downstairs are accessible to anyone with limited mobility and one bedroom has a hoist that goes through to the bathroom. The downstairs kitchen is designed with access in mind with lowered counter worktops. The finer details are taken care of like a laundry room and household amenities like washing up liquid and shower gel.

Families

As much as the house has little details included the finer point of this charity is the person-centred approach they have. Over and above the design and mod cons is the needs of the families they serve. Volunteers and house staff facilitate parties for special occasions. Mother’s Day and Father’s day were both marked at the house last year with treats for the mum’s and dad’s like having a hairdresser visit. Birthdays are celebrated. They openly accept anyone who is part of the family’s support network to stay with them. They have waffle Wednesdays! Every Wednesday they hold a communal breakfast of waffles which everyone at the house has the option of joining in with.

Community

The house is open 365 days a year and there is no limit to the amount of time you can stay there. The hospital refers families to the house and it’s completely free to stay. The Cardiff house is right opposite the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital at the Heath, so families can feel as close as they can without sleeping in a chair on the ward.

RMHC understand that they need to build more than just a house, and they are building community. When you are going through the worst times of your life it’s a huge thing to feel part of a community.

I’m blown away by the thoughtfulness of the Ronald McDonald House Charity and I urge you to pop your 15p change into one of those boxes the next time you visit McDonald’s. Or you can donate here: https://www.rmhc.org.uk/donate/

Or if you prefer something more practical here is the Amazon wish list for the Cardiff house.

Thanks so much to RMHC for inviting us along to celebrate with you it was a lovely day and a great event, and a cause I’m proud to support.

RMHC Cardiff

Family Fun Day

Family Fun Day

The Tree House

Meeting Space Available For Hire

An Accessible Bedroom With Hoist

I’m going to London this weekend. Ooh just writing that down made my belly do a mini flip with excitement! I will be in London ready to attend Blogtacular on Sat June 16th. On my own, with no kids, like proper on my own. Eeek! I’m excited and nervous  all at the same time.

Online Creators

I booked my ticket way back in January. I think it was even on New Years Eve I booked it, which would make total sense because I always get the London itch when I watch the New Years Eve fireworks. It’s such an exciting place and I feel like it’s within touching distance of me here in South Wales yet I can’t remember the last time I visited. One of my 2018 blog goals was to go to a conference. There are a couple to choose from but Blogtacular really caught my eye, marketed as a conference for ‘online creators’. That covers a lot of different creative people and I want to meet them! It’s not just for for bloggers but for anyone who creates content for an online space. There are indie business owners going,craft bloggers, fashion bloggers, sewing bloggers,and all kinds of people.

Blogtacular

Photographs © Will Ireland, Piers McDonald & Kat Molesworth for Blogtacular

Workshops

There are two keynote speakers and lots of workshops throughout the day. Some of the workshops I’m particularly interested in are about podcasting and how to write a good blog post. But there are workshops about SEO (search engine optimisation), photography and marketing. I think it will be really difficult to choose which workshops to do.

I’ve heard the food is amazing and the goody bags are great too. Overall though the general consensus is that the atmosphere is really friendly and there seems to be a lot of other people attending by themselves as well – not just me! There are fringe events to attend on the Friday before, a photo walk around London which I’m really looking forward to and then a meal arranged in the evening with some fellow attendees. I just hope I can find my way around O.K.

Going Solo

I’m generally alright going places on my own. My run-away thoughts are rarely quiet long enough for me to have time to feel out of place, and I usually find chatting to strangers quite easy to be honest. I find forced conversation hard, those situations where you feel required to say something *shiver*. This is a full day conference, and it really is a full-on day 8.30am – 6pm so I know there are going to be plenty of breaks and I can just imagine sitting there eating lunch by myself like a lone ranger feeling really anxious. I am a bit worried about that to be honest but I am stepping out of my comfort zone and let’s see if something great happens. Hoping I get to meet lots people and who love blogging as much as me.

Sleeping Alone – Bliss

I’m looking forward to spending a day with other bloggers and creators and hearing about their businesses and getting inspired. I’m looking forward to just being in London, and being on my own. Like proper on my own. I’m looking forward to cwtching up in a big hotel bed to myself and sleeping all night long but I do wonder if the reality of that will be a bit lonely rather then fun. We will soon see.

Blogtacular tickets are almost sold out but if you want to get one of the last 20 available tickets be quick and order through my link. It won’t cost you anything more but I will get something back for it. Blogtacular tickets

So wish me luck and come and say hello if you’re going too!

I might get to connect with some brands while I’m there too. Check out which brands I have been working with in this post.

If you are looking for ideas for afternoon tea in the Newport and surrounding areas then you’re in luck. I asked my friends for some recommendations and they came up with this awesome list. This is not a sponsored post so if you find it useful I’d love it if you left a comment to let me know.

The Parkway Hotel Cwmbran

The lunch here is always really nice so I imagine it’s worth a visit for the afternoon tea too.

 

afternoon tea

St David’s Hotel Cardiff

With Vegan and non-gluten options available they cater to everyone.

St David’s Hotel

Crepe Escape Cardiff Bay

I’ve never been but I bet they have great views of the Bay. Worth ringing up before going to ask about their afternoon tea packages.

Crepe Escape

The Celtic Manor Newport

This just needs no introduction. On the more expensive side but comes well recommended by more than one person.

Celtic Manor

afternoon tea macaroons

Miss Jones Whitchurch Cardiff

If you fancy the idea of a gin infused cocktail in your teapot instead of tea then this is your place. Sounds lush to me.

Miss Jones Cardiff

White Castle Tearooms

I can’t find a link for this one but may be worth a look if you know where it is! I think it’s CADW.

Patisserie Valerie

This is the one I booked in the end for my Mother’s Day treat because there was a brilliant deal on Groupon – £19 for two people. With a brand new one opening up in Cwmbran and one already well established in Debenhams in Newport Friar’s walk I’m spoiled for choice.

Patisserie Valerie

Llanyravon Manor

Such a nice atmosphere here, a little hidden gem just behind the boating lake. Get your afternoon tea at The Raspberry Tea Rooms here.

Llanyravon Manor

Parc Pantry

Choose from their flagship cafe in Malpas or book at the victorian tea room within belle vue park. Just make sure to book 2 months in advance as stated on their website.

Parc Pantry

vintage tea cups poster

The Coffee Mill Risca

This looks like a lovely little independent cafe. To find more info, search for their page on social.

Truly Scrumptious Pontypool

Looks like another independent cafe up the other end of the valley. To find more info, search for their page on social.

Angel Hotel Abergavenny

It comes as no surprise that their afternoon tea is award winning, this place has been recommended to me a lot for afternoon tea particularly. I saw a few bloggers went to an event there recently too and they also do a cheese fondue which looked amazing. I can see they have allergen info listed on their website so awesome thumbs up from me for that. If you choose this one I’d love to know what you thought.

The Angel Hotel

Season’s Coffee Rogerstone

I popped in here for a coffee recently and the staff were so lovely and they do soya milk too. Check them out on social.

Bryn Meadows Golf Club Blackwood

Photo’s look beautiful and unlimited tea and coffee with your afternoon tea.

Bryn Meadows

Barker’s Tea Rooms Cardiff

Boasting a selection of fine teas from all around the world this might be one to try if you like exploring new tastes. Check them out on social.

Farmer’s Arms Newport

This venue is well known for serving lovely food but I didn’t know it was an option for afternoon tea. Check them out on social. Their pictures of their afternoon tea look scrummy.

Thanks to everyone who contributed their ideas. I’m glad I wrote them all down for myself to refer to later. I love a good cup of tea and there’s something about dainty cakes and finger sandwiches that just makes them more enjoyable. Let me know in the comments if you have had afternoon tea at any of these places and if you would recommend them yourself.

Pin it for later:

 

Afternoon Tea in South Wales UK