Tag Archives: Family day out
On the border of Warwickshire/Leicestershire you will find Twycross zoo, set in more than 80 acres, it’s a fantastic day out if you happen to be in the area.
There are around 500 animals at Twycross zoo, many of which are endangered and the zoo’s nature reserve houses many native species – Twycross zoo really is something special.
Founded in 1963 by pet shop owners Molly Badham and Natalie Evans, after the pair’s increasing zoological collection outgrew their three quarter acre site in Hints, Staffordshire. Twycross zoo is now a renowned as a World Primate Centre and has a wide variety of monkeys, apes and the UK’s only group of bonobos which are our closest living relatives, sharing around 98% of our DNA.
Twycross zoo has breeding groups of many endangered primate species and it was so lovely to see babies and toddlers playing around, unfortunately due condensation on the glass and my camera not being able to cope with going from the winter weather and then going indoors my photographs were not the best when it came to capturing the youngsters.
The animals at Twycross zoo have access to both indoor and outdoor enclosures during the day, it was a very cold and snowy day during our visit and a lot of the animals wanted the warmth of their enclosure and a bit of peace and quiet. We found that if an animal was difficult to spot, popping back after 30 minutes usually meant that we got to see it.
We probably spent the longest amount of time with the Agile gibbons, they have distinctive long arms and use a motion called brachiation to swing through the tree-tops.
These animals are fast, so fast that when we spotted one outside I couldn’t get a decent picture in the whole 20 minutes I spent there as my camera shutter speed just couldn’t cope (or my bad photography skills).
The main threat facing these gibbons is habitat loss, as wild forest is converted into farmland. On Sumatra, the expansion of oil palm plantations is a particular problem. As the forest shrinks, it has become easier to capture them to sell as pets; agile gibbons are regularly seen in wildlife markets.
I’m so pleased that we got to see Twycross Zoo’s all-female elephant herd before they leave for their new home at Blackpool Zoo so the herd can breed naturally with a bull elephant. This will ensure the long-term survival of this beautiful, endangered species.
As a social animal, it is necessary to keep alpaca in herds and a herd of 5-10 can be kept on an acre of land. Alpaca were domesticated for their coat. The fibre was used by the Incan royalty due to its quality. It is available worldwide today and considered softer than cashmere but stronger than sheeps wool.
The Aldabra tortoise is one of the largest tortoises in the world. They have a thick, domed shell with robust limbs covered in scales. The tortoises age very slowly and in 2005, an Aldabra tortoise was found dead in India. Its shell was carbon-dated showing it had reached the age of 255 years old.
The Aldabra tortoise is the only African giant tortoise to have survived in the wild. Their population was severely threatened between the 17th and 19th centuries due to hunting for meat. Now they are struggling against habitat destruction and introduced species. These introduced species include predators such as rats and cats that eat their eggs, and competition for grazing with goats. They are now protected and have conservation breeding programs on the island of Mauritius.
Twycross Zoo is home to the Chapman’s zebra, famous for their black and white stripes there are a number of different reasons suggested to explain zebra stripes, including dazzling predators, thermal regulation and stimulating group cohesion. Arthur was most excited to see the Zebra as he has always missed them on previous zoo visits.
Did you know that the Giraffe’s long necks contain just seven bones, the same as all other mammals (including humans) but the bones have ball and socket like joints that give them much more flexibility.
The Giraffes are very sociable animals and we didn’t see any on their own, they were constantly following each other from inside to outside.
The current threats to giraffes are habitat loss through human development and poaching for skins and meat. Traditionally giraffe were hunted just for their tails – used as fly swatters and good luck charms.
The Miniature donkey was probably the cutest animal at Twycross zoo (in my opinion), I was actually surprised that they were not bothered by the super cold snowy weather and we got the chance to watch them for a long time.
The most impressive thing that I saw during my visit at Twycross zoo was the Leaf-cutter ant enclosure (if you can call it that). Twycross really do use all possible space to display their animals and what better way to display ants than the rope bridge mirror in the toilets. If you look closely you can see the minors and mediae collecting the leaves.
The ants do not actually eat leaves but cultivate them in a garden to grow a particular species of fungus, the root-like structures of this fungus are their diet. The ants also create multiple antibiotics to prevent the growth of unwanted fungus and will use these antibiotics in a similar way to humans to treat infections – impressive isn’t it.
The Humboldt penguins are great little characters and we watched them for a long time, swimming underwater and enjoying the audience watching them.
Humboldt penguins can dive to 150m although they usually stay within 60m of the surface. The penguins are sadly threatened by poaching, over-fishing of their food species and pollution which increases the risk of disease and are therefore classed as Vulnerable.
Don’t forget to visit the impressive tropical Butterfly Forest exhibit, all around you there are butterfly eggs, pupae, caterpillar and of course beautiful butterflies. Don’t forget to check yourself in the mirror before you leave to make sure none have landed on you, I had one on my back and I didn’t realise until Arthur pointed it out.
The Himalaya Centre is home to The View restaurant which is open until 9pm on Friday evenings, we had a wonderful lunch there and what made it even better was that the restaurant overlooks the Himalayan themed snow leopard enclosure where I managed to briefly spot them.
The restaurant is a wonderful light and airy space that really needs to be visited to be appreciated, the staff are really friendly and of course the food which is the most important thing – it’s delicious. Tables have plenty of space meaning that if you have pushchairs, wheelchairs or prams you will be easily able to fit them in with ease.
Arthur had the kids’ margherita pizza (£5.00), children can have a 3 course meal deal for £7 but on this occasion a pizza was enough. The dough was soft, the sauce tasty and herby and the cheese plentiful.
I had the beer battered fish which was served with chips, tartare sauce and peas (£10.00). The batter was light and fluffy and didn’t swap the fish in anyway. The tartar sauce was absolutely delicious, chunky and tasty, the perfect accompaniment to the light fish.
David had the Spicy meat feast pizza which was covered in delicious chorizo, sliced salami, pepperoni, fire roasted peppers, sliced chillies and spinach (£8.50) Just like Arthur’s pizza, the dough was incredibly light and the pizza had just the right amount of spice to suit David’s love of heat.
It may have been due to the weather or the time of year that we visited but we were so impressed with Twycross zoo, it wasn’t so busy that you were queuing for a long time at the enclosures and we didn’t have to wait at all to see any animal. We had photo opportunities at each enclosure and it truly was a pleasant experience, so much so that we had no meltdowns or tears at all from a very chilly Arthur.
Twycross zoo can be found on Burton Road, Atherstone, Warwickshire, CV9 3PX and is open every day except Christmas Day, 10am – 5pm in winter and 10am – 6pm from 25th March 2017.
If you’re interested in visiting the zoo yourself you can enter my competition to win a family ticket and meal at the view restaurant.
*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated.
How would you like to get your hands on a family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) for one of the days Santa is at Twycross, and a discounted family dinner in Himalaya on a Friday evening (the restaurant is open until 9pm)?
From Friday 1 December, Santa himself will be at Twycross, enchanting visitors at his story-telling sessions, which will take place in the Explorer Café at 11:15-11:45am and 3-3:30pm. The stories, specially written for Twycross Zoo, will be about William the Donkey (who visitors can also meet), and wildlife conservation work in the countries Santa visits annually. There are also arts and crafts sessions and festive films in the Study Centre to be enjoyed by all.
New for 2017, Santa’s Key Tree will ensure that all children have their presents delivered on time – chimney or no chimney! Upon arrival, all boys and girls will be presented with a magical key to be placed on the Key Tree. Visitors can watch Santa collecting the keys live on Christmas Eve via Facebook Live.
All visitors will be able to spend time with Santa at multiple occasions throughout their visit, at their own leisure. From a magical photo opportunity on Santa’s sleigh to seeing him feed the penguins, there are many opportunities to capture that special moment. Twycross is also against the 2-minute Santa visit, allowing children to spend as much or a little time with Santa as they wish.
You can read about our visit to the zoo here
Although Twycross Zoo is open to the public from 10.00 to 17.00 daily, the Christmas activities are only available on selected dates, given below. The zoo is closed on Christmas Day.
To enter the competition please answer the question below and fill in the Rafflecopter
Q: What species of penguin does Twycross Zoo care for?
Terms and conditions/how to collect your prize
Details of the prize winner will be sent to Twycross zoo who will make contact with the winner to arrange their visit to Twycross.
T&Cs – Participants must be aged 18+ and live in the UK. Participants wishing to enter the competition on behalf of a minor must have permission from the minor’s parent or legal guardian. The winner of the competition will be picked at random via Rafflecopter and the winning participant will be contacted directly via email. The winning participant will get one free family admission ticket (2 adults, 2 children) to visit Twycross Zoo on any day throughout December 2017. The tickets must be used by 31st December 2017, no travel or accommodation will be included. If the winning participant does not respond to the correspondence within 24 hours, Twycross Zoo reserves the right to select another winner. The prize is non-transferable and there are no cash alternatives. The prize will automatically be void if sold, offered for sale or if any attempt or offer is made to transfer the prize for value.
Closing date: 12th December 2017
Wellesbourne Airfield is situated about 10 miles from my home in Leamington Spa, Arthur has a huge fascination with aeroplanes and loves to watch them flying in the sky so to start our bank holiday Monday with a happy toddler we took a trip to Wellesbourne, I actually mentioned it briefly during Arthur’s 2nd birthday post where you can see him sitting in a De Havilland DH.100 Vampire XK590.
Let’s not kid anyone, when I said the main reason we went to Wellesbourne Airfield was for Arthur I wasn’t being entirely truthful, the main reason was to get breakfast from The Touchdown Café which gives you a great viewing terrace to watch the planes. The Touchdown Café is very popular with families and bikers as well as people flying in and out so it’s best to get there early. Food is cooked from scratch so it’s not fast food by any means.
The most interesting thing for me about Wellesbourne Airfield is the fact they have a Avro Vulcan XM655 which is kept in taxiable condition. On the 21st June this year it’s the annual wings and wheels event where the Vulcan will complete two high speed taxi runs, this is a must see event for any military aircraft fan.
It’s not just aeroplanes that fly into and out of the airfield, you get Helicopters too!
If you’re a fan of wartime plane and memorabilia the Wellsbourne Wartime museum is worth a visit. I think it cost us 50p each to enter and although it’s not huge it’s filled with the most interesting artefacts. The volunteers are knowledgeable and happy to answer any questions you may have about the planes.
If you’re thinking about paying Wellesbourne Airfield a visit the opening hours are 9:00am – 5:30pm daily. The postcode for sat nav is CV35 9EU
As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, I’m really lucky to live a stones throw away from Warwick Castle and because we have Merlin Passes it means we can pop there whenever we want a change of scenery or a walk and it doesn’t cost us anything. Last Saturday we had planned to go to the Cotswolds or Oxford but the car was making a funny noise so we dropped it off at the garage and were at a loss about what to do.
It’s been a few weeks since we visited Warwick so we decided to have a walk around the shops and pop into the castle to have a stroll around the grounds.
We don’t usually stop to watch the staff demonstrations as there are usually far too many people around to actually see anything but on this occasion we managed to listen to a really interesting talk on the bow and arrow and how each bow was manufactured to suit the particular user to ensure each shot was a hit. David recognised the gentleman doing the demonstration from a medieval night out with the sports and social at work, apparently he was excellent in his hosting skills.
I never get bored of the castle, it’s a magnificent structure and I feel so lucky to live so close to it. Caesar’s tower at the castle is actually the same height as 10 double decker buses (an interesting fact).
We visited Bird of Prey lawn for the first time during this visit, it was so quiet that we actually got close enough to take photographs of some of the magnificent owls, eagles and vultures on display.
Peacock garden is always a highlight of my visit, I found out during this visit that the majority of the peacocks like to hang out on the way to the toilets, I’ve only ever seen a couple in the gardens and now I know why!
We finished our visit in the rose garden where Arthur watched the ducks having a swim, he is fascinated by ducks and birds at the moment so loved the opportunity to sit alone watching them without other people or children getting in his way!
While we were at the castle there were signs displayed all over advertising medieval glamping which sounded amazing. There were two tents on display which I assume are like the ones you would stay in. Prices start at £275 per tent for a night stay and 2 day pass to the castle which is a little out of my price range but would be amazing as a treat.
When the curtains were opened yesterday we were greeted with a frosty reception, the grass was silver, the cars were sparkling, it looked really cold and miserable so armed with coats, woolly hats and the promise of tea and cakes we headed into town.
Our usual cake shop was packed with customers so we decided to get a couple of takeaway coffees from the Co-op which at £1 a cup is the cheapest I’ve found in Leamington Spa, we hadn’t been to the park for a couple of weeks and decided to take our coffee there.
The farmers market was on just outside of the pump rooms and I was drawn to a pastry stall that I hadn’t visited before, we picked up a couple of treats and headed to the park.
David was most disappointed that the man running the pastry stall hadn’t heard him ask for a Sausage Roll, the disappointment soon fell on me when I realised I was going to have to give up half of my cheese and mushroom croissant which was rather outstanding as far as croissants go.
Thankfully both of our sweet treats were present so there was no sharing needed. I picked an eclair which I assumed would be bog standard choux pastry filled with cream and topped with chocolate, I could not have been more wrong! instead of cream I had a chocolate custard filling which was so delicious I nearly cried when David asked for a bite of it!
At this point my phone died and I had to ask David to take the remaining photo’s for me. I’m getting well and truly sick of the Iphone 5, every day I have to charge my phone up at least twice as the battery seems to drain at record speed which is highly annoying and I wish I could find out why this is happening? anyway I digress.
We headed back over to the market to pick up some vegetables, I find nothing more appealing than vegetables covered in mud because you know that hours earlier they were probably still in the ground.
We stopped by a vegetarian Indian tapas stand and couldn’t resist trying a plate of food, at £3.50 it would have been rude not to! The lady running the stall was so lovely and even gave us extra pakora for Arthur, although it had a small amount of heat he couldn’t get enough of it and was opening his mouth for more!
Filled with coffee, pastry and Indian tapas we headed back into town to buy Arthur some tights, he keeps pulling his socks off so I couldn’t think of any other way to keep his feet warm. I’ve not been able to find a high street store that sells boy’s tights so if any readers know of any I would appreciate it if you could tell me.
POSTED IN: Day Out, Family, Family day out, indian, Leamington Spa, Parks, Tapas, Warwickshire