I think it might be a sign of getting older, I’ve had too many heavy weekends, or I’m just becoming a boring bastard, but I now really look forward to weekends where we don’t have anything planned. The thing I forget is, long gone are the days where I can lie in until midday, have breakfast about 1 and play on my Xbox until the early evening without even an ounce of guilt entering my body. As parents we have to be on the ‘go’ 90% of the time and have a bit of a plan to do something. Meg’s a lot better at that than I am, so what was going to be a quiet weekend, turned into us going to visit West Midlands Safari Park.
I don’t know about you, but it’s the sort of thing you might do as a date (you can tell I’ve been off the market a while) or something you do as a child, but other than that there’s never really a huge reason to go. That’s the benefit of having a toddler, you have a fantastic excuse to go and do cool stuff all over again.
I’ll never be considered a petrol head, but I do like my car, so I wasn’t buzzing about the fact that I was designated driver for the day. Because if “you’ve been framed”, YouTube, and my memory have served me well over the years, safari parks usually result in two monkey’s getting frisky on your bonnet or ripping anything within reach off of your car. I was reassured they don’t have monkey’s there anymore, but I wasn’t convinced. Fortunately, that turned out to be true.
“Like being in traffic, but with lions”
We joined a small portion of the U.K. in the queue when we arrived, grabbed some food for the animals and quickly made it to the Rhino’s, Zebras and Buffalo. It’s hard not to return back to being a child and getting a bit excited when you see them all for the first time. But as an incredibly impatient individual, it’s also hard not to feel like you’re stuck in glorified traffic. In this case though if you were on the M40, you occasionally see an animal that usually resides in Africa – something that would definitely wake you up in rush hour.
Making our way round – please forgive the lack of specific names, but we saw a lot of cow-looking, goat-looking and deer-looking animals, all of which Ivy didn’t take too much of a liking to, until she convinced herself that if we kept the windows up, “they couldn’t see us”. Therefore I had to become the feeder as we continued along the route.
The wild cat and doc section is amazing for getting as up close andpersonal with the animals as you want to, but 90% of them had chosen to have a nap when we arrived, at which point I was grateful we had a daughter that was delighted to see a pigeon in the Cheetah enclosure. That was the positivity I was looking for when dealing with an otherwise inactive animal kingdom.
Feeding the giraffes is definitely a highlight, not so much when Ivy decided she didn’t want any of the animals in the car, but we definitely enjoyed it and I toyed with all the options of how we could lure one in with food and sneak it home in the boot of a KIA.
No time for toilet breaks!
West Midlands Safari is a great day out, but a couple of points: To state the obvious if you’re the driver and coming from far away, just consider the fact you might be in the car for at least another hour and a half before you can get out, in my case having to tie a knot in it due to my child-sized bladder. It was so bad, I even considered a quick break in the lion enclosure. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and it only came to my mind this morning, that keeping a two year old confined within the four walls of a car for near on three hours, on a summers day is a coin toss of the situation going really well, or horrendously. With little option for escape, fortunately the odds were in our favour, despite Ivy highlighting “I go home”, within minutes of entering the park.
That said, if a tantrum arrives and the cabin fever strikes there is the option to go into the “normal zoo” where you can walk around and look at penguins, reptiles, dinosaurs, and if you’re like us, you can sprint through the bat cave screaming.
So, this summer if you’re stuck for something to do, get yourself down to the zoo.