In March (before the Covid19 lockdown), we were invited to The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire for a 2 hour session of skiing. None of us have ever skied before, so myself and my husband were nervous and didn’t know what to expect, whereas Ita was so excited and couldn’t wait to get her equipment on and hit the snow.
We entered the Snow Centre half an hour before our allotted time (it gave us plenty of time to get our equipment and feel comfortable with our surroundings), we checked in and were told to head to a designated waiting area, which was next to the equipment rental area (helmets, boots and skis) and the locker room area.
We then got changed into our thermal outdoor wear, and finally our boots (this was not an easy process). We waited for our instructor to arrive and were then lead to the snow.
Our instructor was amazing, he was firstly so encouraging to Ita and made her feel so safe, he gave her the confidence to do loads of different activities on the snow, like jumping, turning, slowing down, etc.
He also could see our competence levels were quite low and was very accommodating. There was no pressure to do anything too extreme or beyond what we were capable of doing.
We started off by getting our skis on the snow and moving around, we then crab walked up the slope (harder then it sounds) so we could slowly glide down and come to a stop, we then added a jump (which Ita nailed completely), Daddy on the other hand, not so much.
We then used the lift to get us higher up the slope and proceeded to try and do turns and then eventually stop. Again, Ita was brilliant at this and managed to do it with little to no problems, Daddy again on the other hand could not HAHAHA.
The 2 hour session was really hard for us, we were really tired afterwards and our legs were in agony – but as beginners I believe the 2 hour session is essential as we got so much done and became quite comfortable on the snow at the end. My husband was getting so tired towards the end and he kept on falling over, so I think it was the perfect duration for us all.
The Ski Centre has 2 large slopes, one of which is for the more accomplished skier, and the other is mostly used for lessons, which is obviously where we were based. Both slopes are 30m wide, this came in handy with the amount of people doing lessons at one time. There is plenty of room to get used to being on the slope.
The Snow Centre offers a wide range of lessons for the complete beginner to the want-to-be professional. You can get a family lesson booking also which is what we did, the prices vary depending on the amount of hours you want to take and also the amount of people.
Also available are Snow Fun activities which include Snow Boarding, Free Styling and also a potential Birthday Party experience where kids and adults can go down the Ringo Slide (which looks like so much fun)
We’re Gaz, Anj & Ollie. We’re a family from Greater Manchester that are Disney obsessed! We try to get to a Disney park whenever possible. Before COVID hit we were passholders at both DLP and WDW and have been going to Disney Parks regularly for the last 12 years. We had our son Ollie in 2017 which has brought a new magic into our park visits (he’s been to WDW 3 times and DLP twice already) – you can’t beat seeing magic through your child’s eyes.
One of the main decisions you need to make when driving to Disneyland Paris is whether to take the Ferry or the Eurotunnel. We personally prefer the Eurotunnel as neither of us do well on the Ferry due to seasickness. The further you can book in advance for both the Eurotunnel and the Ferry the better as the prices go up closer to the time.
The Ferry is based in Dover and is usually the cheaper out of the two options. The channel crossing takes approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. Here is some information on the types of tickets:-
When you’re booking your crossing time take into consideration that check in closes 45 minutes prior to the time you select. Take the journey time to the port and add this 45 minutes into account before booking your crossing time, we made this mistake and had to get up at 4am to be there for our 6am crossing, not so fun with a three year old! Also if you are aiming to go to the parks the same day as your crossing keep in mind the time difference, France are an hour ahead of the UK and it is a 3+ hour drive to Disneyland.
Once you have driven on board the ferry you have to get out of your car and go upstairs, masks are currently required to be worn. There are on board amenities but please check what will be available on the website as this may change due to Covid19.
The Eurotunnel is based in Folkestone and although the slightly more expensive option the tunnel crossing takes just 35 minutes. Here is the ticket type information:-
As with the Ferry the check in closes 45 minutes prior to the crossing for the Eurotunnel so take this into account when choosing your booking time.
You are able to remain in your car on the Eurotunnel and do not have to wear a mask during the crossing however the on board toilets are currently closed. Please check their website for up to date information about their procedures during the pandemic.
Places to stay UK side before Ferry/Tunnel
If you’re like us and a bit further up North you might not want to do the journey in one go. It takes us roughly 6+ hours to reach Dover/Folkestone so we tend to stay in a hotel over night there.
If we are catching the ferry we stay at the Travelodge in Dover which is literally a 2 minute drive from where you go to board the ferry http://kersha.ws/travelodgedover The Travelodge was only £38 for the night and if you arrive after 9pm you dont have to pay for parking. If you do arrive a little earlier then theres a small complex at the side for food which also has a Nando’s on it 👍
If you want to catch the Eurotunnel (which we would 100% recommend) then we stayed at the Premier Inn in Folkestone, this hotel is a little smaller than the Travelodge and we’re not sure how busy it may get in the summer season but again it was reasonably priced at £40 for the night http://kersha.ws/premierinnfolkestone. Theres a cute little pub on the same site as the Premier Inn and a Tesco about 5 minutes away if you want to stock up on anything you want to take across the channel. Don’t put the sat nav in from the website as we ended up at the Logistics Centre.
How do you get to DLP?
Its four motorways or as the french call them ”autoroutes” they are A26, A1, A104,A4 – It’s super straight forward to get to. These roads are Toll Roads which work out to around £50 return. You get a ticket at the first toll point and then pay at the second toll point. They do take cash but we recommend using card, no need to type a pin just insert and it’ll auto charge the card. (keep an eye out for the which lane you need to be in) (insert photo) – dont worry about congestion charge as you dont go near enough to the zone in Paris.
Differences in driving in France
Firstly and the most important – you’re on the right! and they use KM not miles! KM usually shows on the inside of your dial on the car or you can change the setting in your car to KM. There are 2 different speed limits in France which are weather dependant. 110km when it is raining & 130 km when it isn’t. HGVs also have periods where they can’t overtake and their speed limit is less. Some cars in France keep their indicator on when overtaking meaning they will move straight back in after overtaking but not everyone does that. Keep this in mind if you’re overtaking in the outside lane as it can seem like the middle lane is about to move into your lane.
If you want to stop off during your journey France has a lot of “Aires” on average, every 20 kilometres along the motorways. Some offer just a picnic area and toilet block, while the ‘aires de service’ provide something more akin to our British service stations. and if you want a Starbucks the closest one is the junction after moving onto the A1 (wan court East)
If you need to fill up in France you’ll also need to know the fuel types in french Diesel = Gazole & Petrol = sans plomb or Octane
What you need to get before travelling in France – In the Car
A few important things you need to make sure you have with you before you cross the border.
What to pack:
French Driving Kit
• GB Sticker/Number Plate
• First Aid Kit
• Spare Bulbs (unless Zion)
• HiViz jackets – 1 per person
• Light Dimmers
• Breathalyser (not essential anymore but good to have just in case)
The correct insurance – Majority of car insurance cover only covers for 3rd party by default you need to call them to request this and there will be an admin fee to do this. If you have multiple trips planned have the dates for all trips as this will only be one admin fee to pay rather than multiple if you call up each time to request it. You will be sent a certificate from your insurance which you MUST take with you so allow enough time to receive this before your trip.
Check breakdown cover – Make sure you have European cover added to your breakdown policy as breaking down in France could cost a lot.
Parking at DLP
If you have an annual pass parking is FREE – excluding the discovery annual pass (the cheapest annual pass) which can add it on for €60
On site Hotel guests free
Price for non-Annual pass –
Camper vans €45
Also a reserved area closer to the front called Disney parking + which is €45
Alternatively you can park for free at Val de Europe and is 20 minute walk, make sure not to park on the blue lines during weekdays as this is residents parking only.
Additional Tips & Tricks
Save money on food by investing in a Cooler for your car. The one we have purchased gives you the option to cool or to heat which is also great for picking up takeaways when you’re back home!! Our last trip we took ready meals to have back at our hotel room (it had a microwave) which saved us a LOT of money on food. (link to the cooler – https://amzn.to/3jimk5H)
Plug adapters & Extension Lead – Having the extension lead means you only have to have one plug adapter and you can charge multiple items in the room at the same time.
Hot hands for the winter – Hot hands are great for the winter months as it can get quite cold in France if you plan to go around Xmas time. They’re super cheap and last for the entire day in the park.
Snacks – If you’re coming from up North the journey can take some time. We highly recommend having snacks in the car on the journey down.
Music – Downloading the Disney parks playlists on Apple music/Spotify to get the whole family in the mood is a MUST.
Yesterday was a day we won’t forget in a hurry! That’s because yesterday was the day we boarded an old route-master, decked out in Peppa Pig galore, and ate cakes and treats as we were driven around some of the most famous landmarks in London including Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park, Nelson’s Column, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, Borough Market, Green Park and Piccadilly Circus.
As far as I can think, this is the first of its kind. It’s so unique and this is why I think it is such a brilliant concept. For years now, hotels have cleverly designed themed teas for children but none have been as child focused (or as fun) as this one.
Every thought has been given to make sure this children’s afternoon tea is enjoyable as can be. There are tablets on each table to provide a Peppa Pig guided animation of the London tour. Ita absolutely loved the sing-a-long songs thanks to our host and was pleased that she got to take home a special Peppa Pig Afternoon Tea Bus Tour Activity Book.
The food was very typical of what children would eat as opposed to a fancy high tea. There was plain sandwiches, mini pizzas and cupcakes and children could pick between water and hot chocolate to drink. My only gripe would be that you’re paying £45 for the same as your child (£35) which I think is a bit pricey. I also think there should be more drinks options for children but I think the options are limited because of space on the bus and also because your drinks are served in little Peppa themed take away cups. For the adults, it’s worth knowing there is alcohol on board (thank me later!)
Let’s talk Covid. The bus is running at a reduced capacity and there are plastic screens up between each table. The staff wear masks and gloves throughout and although you must wear a mask to board the bus, you can take it off once you’re at your table. The food is also preset out with a plastic box over it which is removed once everyone is seated. You are also provided with hand sanitizer upon boarding and disembarking the bus. You are also requested not to use to toilet onboard the bus so remember this! You can use the toilets at Somerset House. Despite being in close capacity to others, I did feel safe.
We had a really good time at the Peppa Pig Afternoon Tea. Ita loved the theme and the fact that we were being toured around London, and I really liked how unique the experience was. I would absolutely recommend going if you can but because of the price I would suggest awaiting a special occasion. I really hope they continue doing different themes! We would definitely go back!
The Peppa bus runs from Thursdays to Sunday’s. There are 2 sessions per day at 12.15pm and 2.45pm. Departure is from Somerset House and the tour lasts approximately 90 minutes.
On the weekend we were fortunate to be invited to Madame Tussauds in London. In short Madame Tussauds is a museum chain for life-size wax replicas of famous celebrities & historic icons in themed galleries.
I had not been to Madam Tussauds for a number of years and Dominic and Ita had never been at all. First impressions upon queuing were that the staff were very respectful of social distancing and were in PPE. There are marks on the floor too which helps remind people where to stand. We found that scanning the tickets from your phone was also really helpful and well thought out. Even going through security, you are excepted to hold you bag open and assist with searches which again, was really thought out and made me feel really comfortable.
We were also told to keep our masks on walking around but that we could remove them for photos (so long as you put them straight back on after).
Once we were inside, I was so surprised by how much space we had. We took the elevator (one family per lift) to the lower ground to begin our tour. We entered into Hollywood where we met some famous faces such as Leonardo Di Caprio, Kate Winslet and Tom Hardy. There is also a themed bar in this area which I was not expecting! You can buy snacks and drinks here… including champagne.
Ita absolutely loved the Marvel area and the lay out was fantastic for photos. It is a brand new interactive experience, where Captain Marvel joins the likes of Spider Man, Iron Man and Nick Fury in the attraction’s Marvel area. We did not get to experience the 4d cinema though and I wasn’t sure if it was closed due to the restrictions or not. There are no staff in this area to ask so we moved along! (I really hope we didn’t just miss it!).
Dominic loved the sports area and Star Wars too. Yoda looked brilliant!
It was here in these areas that we noticed how well Madam Tussauds was laid put for those with disabilities. There is access for wheelchairs especially so this attraction is perfect for an inclusive day out. (Please see below for further details for disability access).
There is also a ‘Behind the Scenes’ area… this terrified Ita! King Kongs huge head and loud roars made her run straight through! She was too afraid to even meet Tinkerbell. Ita is much like me in this respect, she is very jumpy. So if you do have a child who you think might be frightened, be prepared for this area.
My favourite photo however has to be of Ita with the Queen! I believe that in this area usually you can sit down to eat but it’s currently closed due to the Covid restrictions.
I have to say, I was expecting the models to look familiar but I was really so surprised by how life liked they looked. Especially Donald Trump and Kanye West. The work that goes into these wax models is incredible. There is actually an area where you learn about this from none other than Beyonce.
There are lots of food kiosks inside and one had an amazing chocolate fountain and waffle station. This is just before you enter into the Marvel section so hold out for this if you can! (It is worth it!).
There is a reduced capacity at the moment due to covid so you must book on line in advance. It is open daily from 10 – 4.
Tickets start from £28 for 16 years and over, 3-15 years from £24 and children under 3 are free.
All in all, we were only inside for about 45 minutes so if it is not too busy you might find the experience quite a quick one. This however was ideal for us. What I love about London attractions is that you can do combination tickets which really give you a better value for your money. So, if you did decide to visit Madame Tussauds then you could buy a combo ticket to include the following attractions.
Madame Tussauds is right by Baker Street station too which makes travel very easy. As we attended on a Sunday, we decided to drive and parked close to Marylebone Station for free!
There are also some really interesting VIP Experiences at Madam Tussauds. The Birthday Package is £20 and you get a bag full of themed goodies. There is also an Early Bird option where you pay £60 and gain access to Madame Tussauds 45 minutes before it officially opens. I would really consider this if you do have the money because as explained above, you would essentially have the entire place to yourself and be finished before it even opens!
Since returning from Edinburgh, we have had lots of questions about where we stayed. It is only fair that we are totally transparent and state that this was a press visit. Although we received our stay for “free” we were also asked for genuine feedback.
We were very kindly invited to visit the The Adagio Aparthotel in Edinburgh for a little family break away and it totally surpassed all expectations.
Firstly, we have never stayed anywhere like this. We usually opt for a central hotel and have not stayed in an apartment for a number of years. Since having Ita, we have not deviated from hotels but I genuinely believe that the Adagio has changed this.
The Aparthotel sits right on the Royal Mile so was the perfect location in the city centre and we were really impressed with the amenities! It is so close to all of the major historic parts of Edinburgh including the castle and St Giles Cathedral.
Aesthetically, the building is beautiful. It looks so old and the stone walls were just stunning. From the moment I saw the outside I was already impressed.
So let me explain why a hotel will no longer necessarily be our go to!
The Adagio Edinburgh Is an apartment meets hotel and has 146 modern apartments, so is perfect for business trips or for family breaks. As well as its front desk service that is open 24 hours a day, the Adagio Aparthotel offers a variety of other services, including on-demand babysitting, a choice of breakfasts during the week and at weekend. You can even bring pets and Dominic was pleased that there was a fitness room with lots of equipment.
The apartments are equipped including free and unlimited internet access, LCD TV and telephone. The apartments also have a fully equipped kitchen, a work desk and a living area which feels really homely.
As you can see below, the Aparthotel offers a range of amenities including room cleaning, laundry and even a baby sitter services.
The Adagio Edinburgh does not have parking so we parked at the Holy Rood Car park which is about a 5-10 mins walk away and it is at a reduced rate of about £12 every 24 hours. The main train station, Waverley, is also very close and within walking distance to the hotel.
We really enjoyed staying here and would absolutely stay here again. The location alone makes it so worth it but the kitchen was such a bonus and I totally took for granted how handy it was to be able to cook etc for Ita.
They have taken such great precautions for Covid-19 too with one way systems and plenty of hand sanitizer available. The front of house staff were always wearing face masks and there is a barrier to stop you from coming too close to the reception desk. We felt very safe I have to say. Everything was so clean and even seats in the reception area was marked off to ensure social distancing was in force.
The Adagio Group has locations across the UK including Brentwood and Leicester.
To view further information on the complex, here is the link;
Last Friday, on the hottest day of the longest year in history, we headed to Legoland in Windsor.
We last visited in 2018 when Ita was only 2 years old and we found that there were not many rides that she could go on. This time however, there was lots more on offer.
Upon entering we headed straight to the Duplo Valley as this area is specifically for smaller children.
Here we went on a number of rides including the Dino Coaster, Coastguard HQ, Fairytale Brook, Duplo Airport and the Duplo Express.
The Haunted House looked absolutely amazing but wait times were well over an hour and again, it simply was not possible to queue in the heat.
If you do have smaller children, I would recommend heading to this area because we found there was no queues for the first half an hour at least. As such, we got to go on about 3 rides without queuing for longer than 15 mins each time.
This area is very close to the entrance and I believe you have to walk directly through this to gain access to other areas of the park. It is a sprawling display of the world all made out of lego. I love the famous London landmarks including Canary Wharf, The London Eye and Buckingham Palace. Ita of course had to see the Eiffel Tower!
I have to say, it is very impressive! The largest model in Miniland is the Canary Wharf Tower, which is 5.2 metres tall!
We caught Lego Friends in Concert because Ita really likes these characters especially Olivia… because of her glasses. Despite the heat, the show was energetic and Ita really liked the water cannons. The show is on frequently throughout the day. The best place to sit is in the middle as you wont catch much of it if you sit to the left of the stage.
We also saw the puppet show in the Duplo Valley theatre which was held in a beautifully airy tent (you have no idea how grateful we were for the tent!!). It was brilliant and the narrator was really engaging.
Unfortunately we missed the other shows and many of the meet and greets. I would say this was due to a combination of COVID and also the heat. Imagine being in a mascot costume!! I think you have to get quite lucky with the character meets because there were no set times that they would appear.
Unfortunately, this area was simply too hot to enjoy. The slides were burning and even the rubber ground felt like it was melting. There is no shaded area here to sit either so we did not stick around!
It is well thought out however and I imagine it would be really good on a milder day.
We only discovered that the splash park was open the day before we were due to visit and we were gutted to realise that it was a pre-booking system, that had sold out. Luckily, limited tickets are also released every morning at 9am and we managed to book a slot for 12.20pm.
You get a slot for 20 minutes but what is not explained is that you will need to be at the splash park at least 20 mins beforehand otherwise you will not be allowed to enter. The water itself is only on for 20 minutes so our allocated time of 12.20-12.40 meant that we had to be at the gates for noon. This is not too clear when you book and many people were complaining on the day.
The splash park is situated at the back of Duplo Valley.
We were so grateful to have the splash park on this particular day. If you walk down to the changing rooms you will find an area suitable for small children. However, as you can imagine, there is no social distancing here at all. With that said, we did notice that the area was sprayed afterwards.
As you might imagine, this has largely been affected by COVID. We did get lucky however and managed to grab this quick snap which made Itas day!
Unfortunately the virus is still around and picking up speed again and because of this, many things have had to change to allow us back out. Legoland have clearly worked hard to put procedures in place including one way systems and marks on the floor to indicate social distancing. However, it was really very busy and we found that hardly anyone was adhering to the rules. Unfortunately no one was policing this either (I suppose adults should be policing themselves frankly!).
Generally you do not need to wear a facemask apart from on a few rides and inside the shops.
If you book quite a bit in advance tickets can cost £35 otherwise they are £53. You MUST pre-book anyway so it is worth planning a few days ahead to secure the £35 tickets. Adults And children are the same price.
Children under 90cms go free but this is arguably because there really is not much for children under this height.
It is worth noting that an annual pass is currently as little as £49 for the rest of 2020. This is an off peak pass however for the cost you may find it is more efficient to look into this option. The standard pass which allows you to visit on peak days too is still only £89.
From all the places we have visited, this must be one we have been asked to draft a blog for the most. In this blog post we will be talking about our visit to Port Lympne Safari Park.
We attended in August 2019, so this has been long overdue.
My husband bought me the Giraffe Encounter as a Christmas present and due to the location of Port Lympne Safari Park, we decided to stay overnight as driving there and back would be been too difficult.
With so many accommodation options (the link will be shown below), we decided to go for the Pinewood Glamping option
The pod we stayed in had two single beds and a double futon (there is a bigger option that sleeps four called the Shepherds Hut) and heating.
The Pinewood site is located at the top of the park right next to the lion habitat and you can enjoy great views from the iconic steps over the Romney Marsh.
On the glamping site there is a communal games room, where there is a pool table and boardgames and a fire pit to toast marshmallows (unfortunately we didn’t realise this would be there and didn’t bring s ’mores ingredients *sad face*).
When you stay on site, you can access the whole reserve from dusk until dawn at your leisure.
On the day of our Giraffe Encounter, we parked up in the ample car park and headed straight to the pickup point.
On the day, the weather was temperamental and windy, so a lot of the park was on high alert with falling trees causing certain parts of the park to be closed and inaccessible. These weather conditions effected the giraffes when it came to our feeding experience.
We chose the morning session and where lucky enough to driven around in a Safari Truck with a knowledgeable zoo keeper. The driver stopped at every enclosure and the zoo keeper would give us information about every animal that we were able to see. These included being given time to have a look at the immense Gorilla enclosure, the rhinos, the Painted Dog, grey wolves, and the zebra’s enclosures. Along the way we were treated to vast acres of fields with rare animals such as, Przewalski Horses, European Bison’s, Barasingha (a beautiful type of deer), Blackbuck Antelope, Axis Deer’s, etc.
We drove into the enclosure where the giraffes are free to roam and feed from the tall trees. With the weather being so windy, it took a long time for the giraffes to feel comfortable enough to come towards us. When they did though, it was such an amazing experience. They showed us the colour of their tongue (which wowed Ita) and how powerful their tongues are when they pulled the leaves from the branches we were holding.
The whole experience lasted about 2 hours for us and at the end of our safari tour and giraffe experience, we were hungry, so we visited the café near to the drop off to grab a sandwich and coffee to warm up.
There are numerous experiences you can purchase where you can get up close and personal with several different types of animals, such as the Giraffes, Bears, Squirrel Monkeys, Rhinos, Big Cats (Tigers), Gorillas, Primates, Small Cats and Tapir Encounters. They start from £75 and last at least 30 minutes.
As soon as we finished our lunch and coffees, it was time to check in to our pod. We took a leisurely stroll to the Pinewood area, taking our time to check out the Stately Home and other parts of the site. We stayed one night at glamping site (I believe there are deals for extra night’s if required).
We then realised we would be located right next to the Lion Enclosure. This was exciting as Ita loves lions.
All the facilities were located close to the pods, like the toilets and showers and the communal area.
Waking up in the morning to Lion roars was definitely an experience to savour and take it, the male was very vocal and Ita was enthralled with the personal Lion Alarm we had.
There are animal talks which give the consumer lots of information and details, every day on site, which include Lion, Gorilla and Rhino Talks, amongst others.
During our guided tour we could see so many amazing animals that Port Lympne house. We were given extensive information about every animal and all their habits. The zoo keepers were extremely courteous and willing to answer any questions we had.
Places to Eat
There are numerous places to eat on site, especially if you are staying overnight. We chose the closest option to our stay which was the Pinewood Café, it was easy to get to considering the weather, we had a picky 3-year-old to contend with and the price of food was reasonable.
We really enjoyed our time at Post Lympne Safari Park, Wild Animal Reserve & Hotel. It was a truly unique experience especially with the safari tour, feeding the giraffes, staying in a camp pod and finally being woken up by lions in the morning.
I would definitely recommend visiting Port Lympne, we as a family had an amazing experience and are looking to visit again when we get the chance.
Yesterday we were invited back to ZSL London Zoo for their (Home) Schools Out for the Summer event!
We have visited a number of times before and have always enjoyed our visits but we were quite keen to see how the new social distancing rules would be implemented in a zoo!
Lets start with the basics that London Zoo have implemented.
You now MUST book in advance and are broken down into specific times. Morning slots allow entry between 10am-2pm; Afternoon slots allow entry between 2pm – 5pm. (The zoo closes at 6pm).
There is a restriction on the amount of visitors the zoo will take to assist social distancing.
There is now also now 3 new one-way routes around the Zoo.
Keeper talks and animal experiences will not be running.
Masks are advised and are mandatory in some walk-through exhibits and indoor areas. (We were asked to wear them to see the lemurs but not the birds area). So don’t forget your mask. If you do, you can purchase one from the zoo for £5. There are stands outside of the enclosed attractions as well as the at the gift shop.
The introduction of the one way route is a very good idea because it really does mean you will not miss out on certain animals. In fact, we saw far more in this visit than we had done before. We had never noticed the giant tortoises from the Galapagos Islands as we usually go towards the kimono dragon. We even braved the reptile home which usually we avoid. Equally, you can safely avoid certain animals by simply walking on and re-joining the route else where.
If you have visited for the festive animals after dark event, you will see the similarities in how the route is laid out. We particularly liked that it was more streamline around the gorilla’s for example, with far less people around because the system naturally encourages you to look ahead.
However just because safety measures have been implemented, there is still a role for visitors to play! We found that by the kimono dragon area and by the penguin area, people were huddled together without a thought for social distancing. It was really frustrating to even walk past safely and one lady actually approached our nieces buggy to appear inside. The zoo has gone to such efforts to implement these rules and I feel like people should be more accountable in following them!
The giftshop is also one way and allows a very limited amount of people in the shop at any one time. All staff here were wearing masks and were good at explaining the process for being inside. You can now exit the zoo without walking through the gift shop too by taking the exit to the right of the shop.
The restaurant has also reopened and also has spots marked for social distancing. We decided to bring our own picnic and eat on one of the many open areas of lawn at the zoo.
There is a car park at London Zoo, which is slightly up the road from the entrance (the post code is NW1 4SX) and costs £14.50. There is also street parking too. We paid approx. £7.20 for 11am – 2pm and parked right outside. Given the new time restrictions is works out better to park on the street.
London Zoo is still one of the best days out in London (there is no room for argument here!) and I would thoroughly recommend visiting over the summer. If you feel uncomfortable please do tell staff and I am sure they will do their best to assist. We have always found the staff to be friendly and approachable.
The past few months have been tirelessly difficult for everyone, but places like this, have lost out hugely and suffered significant financial impact.
We have donated a few times during lockdown and would urge you too also if you can.
Ad – A month or 2 ago, MyFirst contacted us to ask if we would review one of their child friendly cameras. They sell a number of different cameras including instant printing ones but we decided the best option would be their original camera because of how compact it is.
The camera is packaged well with no excess or unnecessary wrapping. The box itself is also quite small too at approximately 7 inches long and 3 inches wide. We’re really quite conscious of excessive wrapping and waste when it comes to packaging so I was pleasantly impressed.
Inside the box was Itas pink camera of course, but also a charger, memory stick and stickers to decorate your camera with. The camera itself was much smaller than I was expecting however, Ita found the size very comfortable. It is light-weight (2.3oz / 65g) and portable that fits in the palm of your child’s hand nearly.
The camera has a 1.5″ color LCD Screen. The quality of the screen is not the best but Ita didn’t complain. We took the camera with us to our day out at Audley End and the long-lasting battery lasted the entire day. In fact, we are yet to charge it!
Ita was really happy that the camera came with the option to add funny frames and stickers on top of the photos she took. We are yet to print some of her snaps so when we do I will update this post with details on how well the photos print.
The camera is suitable for 4 years + but I would say it is very easy to use. They also do a slightly bigger camera for children 6 years and up too.
Just before lockdown was imposed, we were due to visit Audley End Miniature Railway to see their new play area. But then the dreaded Covid struck and had us stuck indoors for months. All our plans were put on hold!
Having visited a number of times before, we knew it would be a brilliant day out and Ita always becomes so excited to see the teddy bears in the woods, so we agreed with Audley End that we would visit as soon as restrictions allowed us to.
First things first, you must book in advance and it’s only fair that you arrive on time. Audley End have put so much detail into the planning of your visit to make sure you have the best day. The interactive parts are more or less one way but you do not feel guided or hurried. We knew that we wanted to experience our first proper day out with as little people around as possible. With that in mind we decided to book the 10am train ride. This is one of the highlights of a day out here and is possibly Ita’s favourite part!
You now enter where the gift shop is usually located and queue to board the miniature train. Little logs with green leaves have been added to help abide by social distancing rules and we found that they were really helpful. There is a number of staff to assist with the boarding and each family is provided with their own little carriage.
The journey through the woods is such a highlight. There are hundreds of teddy bears positioned so creatively such as swinging on trees or having picnics. New to this visit was the unicorn and the dragon. You also go through 2 small tunnels! (Worth knowing!)
The train journey is about 15 minutes long and you can only ride once per visit, at an allocated time.
Once we departed the train, a fairy greeted us and guided us towards the crafts area. Usually you can sit here and make your fairy want but they have now provided take a way bags.
Next, you walk through a beautifully bright floral arch and enter into the magical fairies woods…
The fairy trail is stunning. Absolutely gorgeous. I cannot explain how aesthetically amazing it looks. The effort that Audley End puts in is truly like nothing I can compare it too. It’s not a short little trail either. You can spend quite alot of time walking around. Again, the logs with green leaves were laid out but we did not feel crowded at all and there seems to be a lot of space to navigate around others. My favourite here is the Christmas fairy! They have added a cute trolls bridge and a little photo opportunity too!
After you exit the fairy trail you walk into the huge field with lots of new additions. There is now a really big and spacious play area as well as new fairground equipment like the hoop toss and catapult area too.
The field has plenty of picnic tables but the area itself is perfect should you want to bring your own picnic and find a quiet spot.
All around the play area is cleaning equipment for you to clean the surfaces down once your child has finished playing. It was because of this that I felt at ease with Ita using the slide for example. On top of this, we saw lots of “clean up crews” doing their best to keep everything clean and everyone safe. (Huge shoutout to these people!)
Food is served by the play area and is well thought out. There is more than enough space between you and the people serving and again, the logs are there to make sure that when queuing, there is plenty of space between.
After playing for a long while, we headed over to the fairy story telling area. Usually there is a show here but given the issues around distancing, Audley End have cleverly changed this to a story telling session instead. Seats are already set up in a spaced out fashion and we felt completely safe here. The story session is about 15 minutes long and the fairy encourages the children to get involved from their seats.
Afterwards we headed back to the play area and it still did not feel too busy!
Our visit yesterday was just what we needed after such a long period of lockdown. It’s totally changed how I feel about going out again and has given us the confidence to be out and about.
I really do believe that so much planning has gone into this day out. Again, I want to stress that we did not feel hurried or guided and the staff were all so friendly.
I have uploaded an IGTV of our visit so you can gauge how the day goes and see if you feel comfortable in visiting (I would never suggest it if I thought it did not work well).