It turns out that the north is much further away than I remember it. Complicated by a backlog caused by a plane diversion, meaning Husband returned way past dinner time from the land of beer and schweinshaxe, I assumed it could take 4 hours. 5 1/2 hours later, at 2:30 in the morning, we crawled into the Wirral. It’s never a good start when travel plans are ‘step 1 : Husband flies from abroad, step 2: have dinner with kids, step 3: drive north for a long long time’. Tired we were, but we were determined we would make it to Chester Zoo on this trip since it’s supposed to be so good. It was tempting, as we passed it on the way at some god-awful hour, just to camp out in the parking lot and get a nice kip. As it was one of those ideas you should never pay attention to, we continued our drive for another half hour.
Unexpectedly, and despite being a Bank Holiday Weekend, it was sunny and warm, woohoo! But Weasel is Weasel and refused to take her thick jumper off despite all the other children there running around in shorts. She also enjoyed taunting her sister with her ice cream. Given the size and speed of Ninja, I suspect she’ll regret it one day.
Animals: A pretty awesome variety of animals, with all of your big animals to keep the kids happy. The highlights of our trip were the otters mucking around with a rock and the new baby giraffe (born in March this year) called Millie.
Not that it happens much, but what if it rains whilst you’re visiting the zoo? There seem to be plenty of indoor bits to the zoo, as I think they might be used to the odd pitter patter of rain. The giant bird shed thing, properly named ‘The Tropical Realm‘ (anyone with a bird fear might want to steer clear, they are very free range) was well worth a visit. The new bat exhibit was the best I’ve ever seen, and the first that didn’t stink of 10,00 years worth of rotting guano. You could actually see the bats really well and they weren’t swarming your head at 90 miles per hour.
Facilities and Access: All you would expect from a big zoo – unisex baby changing throughout the zoo and pram access everywhere.
Food: Having been warned the zoo’s food was expensive, I was excited to discover it was about half the price I was expecting. If you too live in the the greater London area, you may find yourself piling extra food and drinks on your tray and shouting ‘whoop, whoop!’ because it’s so much cheaper and with larger portions.
Verdict: It’s not like I need to big up this place, everyone knows it’s brilliant. We’ll definitely be going back. I do hope they manage to build the Heart of Africa project, which looks like it’s been shelved due to funding, as it looks amazing.