Posted in days out, Gifted, shropshire

Jump In Trampoline Park – Review

Two weeks ago we were invited to our local Jump In Trampoline Park to show off their amazing facilities and put their COVID-safe park to the test. Our local Jump In is in Shrewsbury, Shropshire so the review is based on our experiences at this park.

In order to keep control of the numbers, we had to book our time slot; this instantly eased my mind that it wasn’t going to be busy. We haven’t ventured to many places since the start of lockdown (other than food shopping and work/nursery) but I know it’s so important for Ellie not to miss out on time to have fun and let off some steam – it’s been very clear that she has missed some form of soft play.

We booked our slot to arrive at 10am, just after the toddler open session. We booked a Jump & Play session for Ellie as she isn’t quite 4 yet and a 2 hour Open Session for Daddy and Uncle Zack. We arrived 10 minutes before our slot and found it was a great time to go as it wasn’t busy at all – we were given our wrist bands and a pair of special Jump In socks that are required for health and safety and have grips on the bottom – usually these are separate to purchase if you don’t already own a pair however due to COVID you are given a new pair each time and socks are included in the ticket price.

We sat at an allocated table which was great as it was right next to the soft play/toddler jump area and I was able to watch Ellie at all times. We got settled and Luke and Zack headed off for their open jump – more to come on this further down.

Jump and Play

The Jump and Play area is specifically for under 5s and when we arrived we had complete run of the trampolines and soft play. Of cause, a toddler who hasn’t been to soft play in over 8 months ran straight for it and probably didn’t sit down for longer than a few minutes in the 2 hours we were there.

The trampoline section has 6 trampolines in total and room for an adult to stand at the side of each one. Due to COVID there was a rule of 1 person per trampoline however with the limited tickets available there wasn’t any issues with getting a trampoline at any point during our session. Ellie loved having the freedom to bounce around trying to bounce higher than anyone else.

The soft play was clean and cleaned regularly during our stay and was kept to a high standard – Ellie loved being able to climb, run around, balance and slide. The soft play area isn’t big however it is big enough for under 5s to have a run around if they need a break from jumping and as the tables are so close parents can enjoy a hot cuppa knowing they are safe and in view!

Open Session

As soon as we arrived Luke and Zack headed straight off into the main jump area which is a zone of interconnected floor and wall trampolines. Jumpers were constantly encouraged to keep the 2m distance and everyone did so. There was no more than 1 person (or group) to a trampoline at one time and all touch points were cleaned at regular intervals too!

As well as the trampolines, the men tried out the airbag which I think was Zack’s favourite section! Who wouldn’t love a giant airbag for you to run and jump in to? Zack opted to stick to the lower trampolines and jumping in whereas Daddy felt a big more adventurous jumping from the higher platforms.



The sports zone was also a hit, especially with Zack who perfected a shot in the net backwards after only 3 tries.

Cafe

It would be impossible to stay for a 2 hour session without needing a little energy boost. The cafe was reasonably priced and had a good selection of food and drink on offer as well as snacks. We were able to have a light lunch and Ellie was delighted that they had her favourite slushy drink on offer too! Of cause it had melted by the time she’d eventually joined us from the trampoline and soft play.

Overall, we all had a fantastic visit! Ellie was able to finally burn off all the pent up energy and the men were able to burn off some calories while having fun. They both left feeling very worn out! I was able to enjoy from the side-lines this time, getting a few minutes peace to drink a hot drink in between chasing Ellie around the soft play, watching her be the little daredevil that she is and trying to take a non-blurry snap of them all having fun!

With such a wide area there is plenty for all ages to get bouncing and enjoy the different areas on offer.

Most importantly, our stay felt COVID-safe with reduced capacity by 50% giving everyone the ability to social distance easily. We were so pleased with our visit we are booked in for next weekend too! The whole family couldn’t wait to return.

*Disclosure – We were offered complimentary tickets to Jump In Shrewsbury however as always all thoughts and opinions are my own.* 

Posted in days out, motherhood, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, product review

Nuby Trendz

Ever since Ellie was first born I have loved Nuby Products. In the hospital we used the First Infant Milk Starter Kit which used Nuby teats. Since that day Ellie refused any other branded bottle and on her second day at home we had to go to Boots and buy a set of Nuby bottles for her to drink her formula out of. Ever since then our Nuby purchases have grown; from bottles to bath toys to cups and cutlery. Anything we needed, Nuby has provided!

So you can just imagine the happy dance I did when Nuby asked me* (*Okay…Ellie) to review their Trendz range. Trendz has everything a child will need heading to preschool, nursery or school in September and the bold, exciting designs will definitely make them stand out with their friends (and be easy to describe IF they end up misplacing them in the dinner hall.)

The first product I want to talk about is the Trendz #Grande Water Bottle. This bottle is a perfect size, 540ml, for days out and dare I say it… for going Back to School (sorry Teachers and TAs!!) I really loved the pop-open spout which is also no spill, Ellie has loved feeling independent enough to open the bottle and close the spout herself and it is suitable from 18months+. We’ve made good use of her new bottle over the past two weeks and I can honestly say it is super durable, odour resistant and it doesn’t stain! There are literally no marks left from the juice unlike other children’s bottles we’ve used in the past. It also comes with unicorns and rainbows on it any anyone who knows me knows how much I love a rainbow design!

We were also really lucky to be sent Nuby’s Trendz Double Lunch Bag. Ellie loves the design as it is covered with sweet treats and it is the perfect size to take on our Summer Holiday picnics.
The lunch bag is insulated keeping the food/drink inside cool for up to 5 hours!! Again, thinking of those children who will be starting nursery/school in September, thats perfectly long enough to keep their sandwiches fresh until lunch time. I was able to fit 4 bread rolls, 3 bags of crisps and a couple of Ellie’s favourite snacks in the two separate zipped compartments which meant we only needed to take the one lunch bag out on our adventures.

Finally the Trendz Mini BackPack with Reins (in the same super sweet Treat design). Ever since the mini backpack arrived Ellie has wanted to take it EVERYWHERE. Any time we need to go out in the car she has filled it with her favourite toys and put it on her back ready to go. She calls it her adventure bag.
She really is so cute!
This mini backpack is perfect for Ellie’s age as it comes with easy to attach reins which means any toddler can have free roam without the worry of them running off. We haven’t used the reins as Ellie doesn’t leave our side when we are out however I love that they are an option if we needed them!
What I really loved about the mini backpack was the reflective strips on the straps which I hadn’t actually noticed until I’d taken a picture of her with the flash on! Its such a simple thing but makes me feel so much safer knowing that if we ventured out in the dark that I could see her and so could any vehicles that may be driving past us.
Ellie has walked around quite happily with her bag on her back; it is light-weight, soft and has padded straps so she doesn’t really notice it’s there. I tested out the pockets by putting her #Grande Water Bottle which fit perfectly in the side and didn’t stop Ellie from wanting to wear her backpack.

I am definitely not ready for this one to start Nursery yet (she doesn’t actually start until January…phew) but she is and she can’t wait to take her backpack and lunch box with her!

Nuby currently has a “Back To School” promotion running on their website and you can get a Bargain Bundle for as little as £20! These items come in the treats design you can see in our pictures or a super cool robot design. Like this one:

If you don’t want to order from their website (currently offering FREE DELIVERY with a spend of £15 or more) then the Trendz range will be available from Morrisons from September 2019 too.

Disclosure: The Trendz Mini Backpack, Lunch Box and Grande Water Bottle were gifted to us by Nuby UK during a Giveaway which I ran over on my Instagram page. We were under no obligation to write a review. All views and opinions are my own. This is not a paid ad.

Posted in days out, shropshire, telford

Shropshire

The Summer Holidays have started and similar to last year I already have a list as long as my arm of new places I want to visit and regular spots we go to every year. Living in Shropshire means there is already so much available on our doorstep so I thought I’d share some of the beautiful places we plan on visiting this Summer.

Telford

Apley Woods (free parking) – http://www.apleywoods.co.uk/
Telford Town Park (£ parking) – http://www.telfordtownpark.co.uk/
The Wrekin (free parking) – https://www.shropshirehillsaonb.co.uk/enjoying-the-shropshire-hills/places-to-visit/the-wrekin/
SunnyCroft (National Trust) – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sunnycroft
Exotic Zoo (admission prices) – https://exoticzoo.co.uk/
Blists Hill (admission prices) – https://www.ironbridge.org.uk/explore/blists-hill-victorian-town/
Enginuity (admission prices) – https://www.ironbridge.org.uk/explore/enginuity
Telford Steam Railway (admission prices) – https://telfordsteamrailway.co.uk/
Wonderland (admission prices) – https://wonderlandmidlands.co.uk/
Hoo Farm (admission prices) – https://www.hoofarm.com/
Airea 51 (admission prices) – https://airea51.co.uk/
Dale End Park Ironbridge (£ parking) – https://www.familiesonline.co.uk/local/shropshire/listing/dale-end-park/

Shrewsbury

Lyth Hill (free parking) – http://www.shropshiresgreatoutdoors.co.uk/site/lyth-hill-countryside-site/
Haughmond Hill (£ parking) – https://www.forestryengland.uk/haughmond-hill There is currently a Zog Activity Trail for little ones to take part in (£3)
Shrewsbury Quarry Park https://originalshrewsbury.co.uk/visit/quarry-park
Attingham Park (National Trust) – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/attingham-park/

Shropshire

The Mere (Ellesmere) – https://www.ellesmere.info/
Hawkstone Park Follies – (admission prices) https://www.hawkstoneparkfollies.co.uk
Severn Valley Country Park (Bridgnorth) – http://www.shropshiresgreatoutdoors.co.uk/site/severn-valley-country-park/
Shugborough Estate (Staffordshire) (National Trust) – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/shugborough-estate
Wightwick Manor and Gardens (Wolverhampton) (National Trust) – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wightwick=manor-and-gardens/
Wroxeter Roman City (Wroxeter) (admission prices) – https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/wroxeter-roman-city/
Shawbury Fruit Farmhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Shawbury-Fruit-Farm/1459068914331637
RAF Cosford (£ parking – free admission) – https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/cosford/
Cbeebies Land/Alton Towers (admission prices) – https://www.altontowers.com/
Rays Farm (admission prices) – https://raysfarm.com/
Ludlow Castle (admission prices) – https://www.ludlowcastle.com/
David Austin Roses (Albrighton) – https://www.davidaustinroses.co.uk/david-austin-rose-gardens
Bridgnorth Castle Garden https://www.aboutbridgnorth.com/bridgnorth-castle/

Surrounding Shropshire

British Ironworks Centre (Oswestry) – https://www.britishironworkcentre.co.uk/
Chester Zoo (Chester) – https://www.chesterzoo.org/
Blue Planet Aquarium (Chester) – https://www.blueplanetaquarium.com/
Sea Life Centre (Birmingham) – https://www.visitsealife.com/birmingham/
Monkey Forest (Stoke) (admission prices) – https://monkey-forest.com/
Trentham Gardens (Stoke) (admission prices) – https://www.trentham.co.uk/
Ice Cream Farm (Chester) (££) – https://www,theicecreamfarm.co.uk/
Ty Mawr (Wrexham) (£1 parking) – https://www.wrexham.gov.uk/english/leisure_tourism/TyMawrCountryPark.htm

Posted in days out, museum

Cosford

We are incredibly lucky to live in an area with so much history, Ironbridge, Much Wenlock, Buildwas Abbey, I could go on. There are so many beautiful places to visit in Shropshire and I’m surprised by how many I’ve never been to. Cosford is one of those places, I’ve gone past it on the train but never actually visited.

Cosford opened as a joint aircraft unit in 1938 for the RAF. In the Second World War it delivered Spitfires from the base and returned with bombers or fighters. It now homes the Aerospace Museum which is where we visited. I’ve never been and as Ellie has been amazed by aeroplanes and helicopters we decided to take a short drive out (12 minutes away) to explore the museum and see what it was all about.

RAF Cosford

RAF Cosford Museum was established in 1979 and stores a vast collection of aircraft. The museum explores the story of the RAF and of the thousands of servicemen and women who have served in it and highlights their contributions that has shaped the world that we live in.

I was fascinated by all the different planes and engines that were on show and how close you could get to seeing them all. We first ventured in to the Test Flight area, which is where Ellie had the most fun. The Fun N Flight zone is a hands-on experience where kids (and adults) were able to test out activities. It was great as Ellie was able to do most of the activities and had so much fun! It was a great area to start off with.

We found ourselves in the War In The Air collection which homes the world’s oldest Spitfire and lots of other classic, historical aircraft. It was really interesting for me and Luke as we both love history and learning about new things. Ellie enjoyed her echo more than the actual exhibition but it was lovely hearing her laughing and enjoying herself too!

We ended our visit in the National Cold War Exhibition. This exhibit tells the story of the Cold War and was breathtaking; , Tanks, Planes, Missiles, so much history in one place. There are plenty of interactive hot-spots and kiosks that pick out key aspects of the Cold War.


Unfortunately our visit ended sooner than we’d have liked, a tired toddler who had already ran around a beautiful rose garden in Albrighton, and had walked around the different exhibits had become a cranky, moaning little madam who really just needed to go home.

The Museum is free to enter and relies solely on donations (there are plenty of opportunities to leave a donation if you wish) however parking is quite a hefty £4/£5 depending on how long you plan on staying. However again, due to being a free place to visit the parking charge in understandable to make money.

For anyone local to Cosford, or just happen to be in the area I would highly recommend a visit!

Posted in days out, ironbridge, ironbridge gorge, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, museum, parenting, telford, Toddler Development, Toddler Play

Blists Hill – Telford

Place yourself in the year 1900. Queen Victoria is on the throne and Shropshire was at the heart of the industrial revolution.

One of our trips this half term was to Blists Hill in Ironbridge (Telford, Shropshire) another one of the fantastic museums in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site. Blists Hill is an open air museum that recreates the sights and sounds of a typical Shropshire Victorian Town.

Walking through the doors to the town you instantly feel like you’ve gone back in time. No cars, no TV;s but a lot of fun awaiting! With 52 acres of land to explore there was so much to see and do throughout our visit. This recreation makes you feel like you are actually walking in a Victorian town; the shops, the houses, the bank where you can change your money to “old money” and the townspeople who truly make your visit feel authentic.

Each house had a different story, whether we were in an old doctors surgery or a typical families house with their shared, cramped bedrooms and bedpans under the bed! Whether it’s walking in to the chemist with their traditional remedies, or to the bakery where you can buy freshly made bread, rolls to either eat straight away or take home there really is something for everyone. If you aren’t interested in those there is a traditional sweet shop or the amazing chip shop selling authentic fish and chips cooked in beef dripping. (Spoiler…they are to die for!!)

Ellie loved having the freedom to run around and explore but didn’t stray too far away. All the townspeople were fantastic with her, not pushing her to interact but all with friendly faces and a world of knowledge of their “character” and the way they would have lived in the Victorian era.

Blists Hill is also home to a section of the Shropshire Canal, which going back 100 years or so would have transported boats up and down the 207ft incline to coalport and back. Wherever there is water, Ellie asks to see the ducks. She loves ducks and walked carefully down the canal side watching the ducks in the water. Along with pigs and Shire Horses (with demonstrations throughout the day and horse and cart rides!) there are many chickens…this was possibly the highlight of Ellie’s entire day!

As I have said in a previous post; we purchased the Annual Passport for all 10 museums which gives us unlimited entry for an entire year. We paid £53 for two Adult annual passports as under 5’s are free to all museums. Entry to Blists Hill alone for 2 adults would have been £20 just to go for the day. Although this isn’t expensive for a trip where we stayed nearly 3 hours and only left because E needed a nap and would have screamed the entire place down we live a 5/10 minute drive away from all of them we will make the most of the year-round entry especially in the Spring/Autumn months – a family of ginger-haired beauty’s don’t do well in too much sunshine so we tend to hide away in the Summer months.

Posted in days out, enginuity, ironbridge, ironbridge gorge, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, museum, parenting, parenting after loss, telford, Toddler Development, Toddler Play

Enginuity – Telford

We visited Enginuity, which is a science museum in Ironbridge, (Telford, Shropshire) during this half term and is one of ten museums in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site. We are incredibly lucky to have these museums on our doorstep and since Ellie is now a fully grown toddler we thought she might enjoy some of the aspects of these museums.

Enginuity

Ellie is a very curious toddler and loves learning, whether it be through videos or active learning she is always keen to be doing something. Enginuity is perfect for anyone who is curious about science, design and technology and provides a range of stimulating activities for children of all ages. I would say that for a small toddler Ellie found it tricky accessing all the different parts but was able to with a little bit of help.

Looking around there wasn’t a single child who didn’t look like they were having fun and enjoying themselves. I mean who wouldn’t love pulling a real 10-tonne locomotive with their own hands? Actually…there were quite a few adults who seemed to be having quite a lot of fun testing themselves too!

Ellie’s favourite part was the machine that made balls float in the air (can you tell i’m not very sciencey?) and with Daddy’s help she was able to make enough wind power to get the balls floating in the air.

During this half term, we were fortunate enough to take part in the Pop-Up Planetarium they have, which was absolutely out of this world! We managed to get tickets for the first showing of the day and it didn’t disappoint. We were asked to crawl inside a big black dome and sit on the floor and then the dome went very dark. I wasn’t sure how Ellie would cope but the two people delivering the talk were great and accepting of anyone who needed to leave before the show was over. The show was called “Our Earth, Our Sun, Our Solar System and Our Place In Space” and featured a hands-on demonstration. I learnt so much about the stars and how to spot constellations in the night sky and how people in other time periods would spot them. There was so much to take in. Of cause Ellie didn’t learn a thing…it was never about that but she is genuinely interested in the sky and the stars that she loved just looking at the stars surrounding the dome and I guess I felt a little bit closer to Jason by learning something too.

There was also a drop-in workshop where you could make a space-themed pop up card (or anything really!). We tried Ellie with scissors for the first time as they were on the table and she was VERY keen to grab them. She actually did quite well seeing as she’s never held scissors before and my hair is still in tact (she won’t be using them any time soon though.)

The drop-in workshops, planetarium and everything else going on was all included in the admission price which I thought was great. We decided to purchase the Annual Passport tickets which gives us unlimited access to all 10 museums for an entire year (not during evening or special events) as we had already planned to go again and wanted to take Ellie to Blists Hill too (blog post up if anyone wants a read.)

For anyone thinking of taking toddlers and young children, Enginuity has a soft play area too! The colourful space is a fair size and has lots of soft play blocks to build and climb over. Ellie loved building with the soft lego shaped bricks, I think her Dad’s passion for Lego has passed down to her. The soft play was clean and suitable for young children and perfect to get a 5 minute breather from all the stimulation Enginuity offers.

You can visit their website here to find out more or to buy tickets!

Posted in 2 years old, days out, mental health, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, parenting, Positive Wellbeing, telford

Half Term

This first half term of work has been a killer. A new teacher, new routines, it felt like starting a new job, it’s been 7 weeks since we started back after Christmas and it has felt long but things have settled and seeing as I started the year off feeling completely lost and in need of a change, I am back to enjoying my job and feeling worth-while again.

It’s so important for me to be able to have a good work/life balance because when it isn’t balanced my mental health takes a massive hit and I start to feel down in the dumps. I finally feel that my mind is taking a more positive approach to life and I’ve come out of my slump. I am enjoying life again, enjoying work again and not struggling as much to get out of bed in a morning. I’ve really been bothered about this, I am a morning person and if a morning person is struggling to get out of bed there is a problem.

I have been looking forward to this half term for weeks, not only because we have all needed a break and time off together for a while but also because the weather is slowly picking up and I am wanting to do more with Ellie. Nothing too extravagant; some walks, maybe a bit of shopping, trips to the park that sort of thing along with a meal out as I was treated to a Pizza Hut voucher for my birthday so will treat the man and the girl to some unhealthy food. We are planning an afternoon at the cinema for just Luke and I, Ellie wouldn’t sit long enough for a film and we really want to watch The Lego Movie 2 so while Ellie spends a day with my in-laws we will be enjoying that!

The only other thing I am really wanting to fit in this week is a trip to the farm, there are quite a few local farms we could go to so it’s really just based on money and the weather as to which one we decide to head off to. Ellie is fairly good at walking now and that means we don’t need to take the pushchair as long as one of us is willing to carry her a little bit (she’s very lazy!)

Since breaking up, I have already kept up with my want to take Ellie on more walks as the weather was absolutely beautiful and so I dragged her to one of our local National Trust places for a little walk, which turned in to quite a long walk and she did so well. We headed off to look for the deer but they were too far away unfortunately but Ellie wasn’t bothered, she loved having the space to run around and be outside.

Posted in days out, life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, mummy blog, North Wales, parenting, parenting after loss, Uncategorized, Wales, Welsh Mountain Zoo, Zoo

Welsh Mountain Zoo

Whilst on holiday we chose to visit the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Conwy. The drive from Pensarn was easy along the A55 towards Llandudno the only problem we had was that the SATNAV took us to a private estate without the zoo grounds so we had to follow the signs to find the entrance, I must add this was really easy as the signs were clear.

We had ordered our tickets online the night before as they were slightly cheaper, 5% I think. I am glad we did because the kiosk to pay is on the way the car park which we hadn’t anticipated and meant I had to try and find the code on my emails whilst still in the car. I found this a very unusual way of paying as for me the kiosk was on the passenger side and I was lucky Hubby was in the car to talk to the member of staff. There was plenty of parking available which I liked and it was directly in the middle of the zoo which meant we didnt have to take everything with us unlike most places we have visited.

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The zoo itself was far bigger than I had expected and had a huge variety of animals. I had assumed it was slightly bigger than a farm but it was huge. We took the pushchair so that Ellie didnt have to walk everywhere. The zoo was great for pushchairs with plenty of ramps to get around.

Ellie spent the first 50 minutes obviously feeling very overwhelmed as she cried non-stop…again! Which meant she missed seeing the wallabies and the deer but after her initial meltdown she enjoyed looking at the other animals and running around. She had so much freedom as there is plenty of green space for her to explore. We spent a long time watching the cheeky penguins and the very noisy sea lions (which amazed me as ive never seen sea lions!) Ellie loved watching them swim under water and kept woofing at the sea lions 😂.

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We saw as many animals as we could but didnt get to see them all sadly. I was surprised at how many animals the Zoo had compared to other zoos I have been to and loved that you can get quite close to some of them.

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For me I loved the views, we were surrounded by beautiful hills and it made me feel so peaceful as did the Zoo Gardens which was surrounded by hardy and tropical plants giving the gardens a vibrant colour we strolled around letting Ellie explore a bit more to find two bears casually lying in their enclosure not too far away, spectacular!! Ive never seen a bear so close before.

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We took a small picnic so cant comment on the food however I did venture in to be nosey and the café looked very clean.

To finish our day Ellie raced off to the little woodland play area to let off any energy she had left, the smaller park was great for younger kids with swings, a see saw and a climbing area with slide.

The zoo was clean and easy to navigate which gave me peace of mind that Ellie was safe to wander around (even if sje wont let go of our hands when she is walking) and we had a lovely family day out.

Online price was £12.68 per adult and Ellie was free as she is under 3 so it wasnt an expensive day out at all and I felt it was worth the money for a nice family day out.

 

Posted in Chester Zoo, days out, life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, mummy blog, parenting, parenting after loss, rainbow baby, telford, Uncategorized, Zoo

Chester Zoo with a toddler.

On Tuesday we took a drive out to Chester Zoo, it’s just over an hours drive from Telford and we had pre-booked our tickets the night before. Tickets purchased online are actually cheaper than paying when you get there and can be purchased right up until 9:30 the morning you are planning your trip which I thought was pretty good. We had asked both our brothers if they wanted to come too so spent the day with them which Ellie loved. With my brother having Down Syndrome it also meant that as his carer for the day I got in for free (which we then halved the price of the ticket so he didn’t pay full adult), as a family with a disabled member I find it makes me want to visit more places when they allow for the carer or a discounted price for those with the special needs. I thought as his DS isn’t as obvious as others we might get questioned but they let us through without any hassle.

I have to say that for the entire journey it rained…no it didn’t rain it poured! I was seriously considering going home and wasting the money we had spent because the weather was so bad but knowing we had planned for bad weather and packed accordingly we knew the weather wasn’t going to stop us from enjoying Ellie’s first trip to the zoo.
Due to the weather and timing we were able to park on the main car park, which is FREE! I’d forgotten to bring any change with me so was grateful when we realised we didn’t need change for parking. We loaded up Ellie’s pushchair and made our way to the entrance, there was no need to queue as we’d already got our tickets so we went straight through, it didn’t seem to be very busy but i’m guessing that was because of the weather however it did stop raining and although it was dull, we were dry! The Zoo hires out buggy’s and other mobility services (wheelchairs being free too!) which if we hadn’t have taken our own we’d have needed as Ellie decided to nap half way through the day but after all the walking she did I’m not surprised!

Chester Zoo has such a special place in my heart, we go there at least once a year and I’ve been with a Jason bump and an Ellie bump which I guess is why I feel such a family connection whenever we go.

We were provided with a map (which I can never quite get my head around) and downloaded the free app to help us find our way. I found the app so useful as it had an interactive map that showed you where you are in the park at any time, it also had all the daily activities listed such as animals talks which if Ellie had been older we may have listened in on.

This was a great test to Ellie’s Tresspass Reins (click for my review) and they meant she was able to walk without us worrying about her wondering off. I must say taking a 17 month old to the Zoo was a tall order but the zoo is so spacious and well planned out that it didn’t feel overwhelming at all. I was a little bit worried that we were wasting our money on a day trip just for Ellie to see the animals but as she is so inquisitive she was quite happy just looking at the animals and walking was enough to make her happy.

We took our time visiting the animals and got to see all the ones we wanted to. At busier times certain animals were harder to see because of people crowding (the red ape realm, jaguar enclosure being the worst for getting a toddler to a window to see). Our first stop of the day was the elephants, I love their enclosure and since Jason died I have linked elephants (Dumbo in particular) to him so they were my favourite part of the day by far!

We saw one elephant feeding and a few baby elephants too which made my heart feel so much love. (Disclosure – I am not an animal person, I don’t want pets, I’m not keen on dogs and I don’t watch David Attenborough because I find him boring so to feel so much love for an elephant baffles me but I did.) We strolled off to find some other animals and was excited to show Ellie her favourite animal “Ra-Ra” that is a lion to you and me. I don’t think Ellie had realised that the lions were RaRa as she was more interested in the giant puddle near the lion enclosure and spent a good few minutes stomping and getting wet in the puddle. While walking around we encouraged Ellie to look at the animals we thought she might recognise and made the noises to help her associate them with her books and little toys.

I love that you can take your own picnic in to the Zoo, which for us meant it would be a much cheaper day out and I could pack Ellie’s lunch with her favourite fruit pouches and snacks. We were planning on buying ice creams but it was far too cold and now I regret it! There were plenty of places to buy food and drinks from dotted all over the park with quite a large variety too however as you could expect it wasn’t cheap, a small tray of chips and curry sauce was £2.50 where as it was around £7-£9 for a meal.

I was a bit nervous at having to change Ellie in public, we tend to avoid it as much as possible as she hates getting her nappy changed; however I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was there plenty of baby changing facilities but they were in both male and female toilets! They were clean and spacious and made the change much easier…even if Ellie did cry throughout the whole thing and the other Mum’s in the toilet area gave me a look as we toddled out with tears down her face.

We eventually saw the Giraffes and the Congo Buffalos which I think were Ellie’s favourite animals of the day, I’m not sure why but she kept dragging us back to them. I loved the Orangutan and the monkeys and were so lucky that two came up close to the window and Ellie was able to get a good look at them. However, as mentioned before, the Red Ape Realm was quite busy so we didn’t get a great look at the Apes in there but that was to be expected.

Hubby was feeling brave and wanted to take Ellie in to the Fruit Bat Cave, as my brother is petrified I decided to stay with him while Hubby and my brother-in-law took her in. I was expecting them to come straight back out because she was screaming yet they took their time and Hubby says Ellie was constantly looking around. He did say it wasn’t as dark as it normally feels so they were able to see the bats a bit more clearly which I think helped. I still don’t think we’d have got my brother to walk through though!

Due to Ellie walking for most of the day we didn’t get to visit the whole 110 acres and I think in hindsight we could have used the Zoo’s monorail to get around more of the animals. There is also a water boat ride but Ellie’s not quite old enough for that yet so thought we’d give it a miss this time. I do wish we’d have gotten over to the Islands part as I think she would have loved the animals there but we will do that part first next time!

The whole day was mesmerising, from the moment we got there Ellie was so happy to be out in the fresh air, splashing in the puddles and conning Daddy out of money at the gift shop (already!! We spent £30 in there!) I was slightly disappointed that we couldn’t find the Dinosaur exhibit that we saw when I was pregnant with Ellie but we could tell there was lots going on to make the park ready for the Summer and I’m expecting we will be going back in the 6 week holidays for another visit! The sheer amount of animals you could see is enough to go back, from elephants and lions to sloth, bats and butterflies! There really is something for everyone and if the walking doesn’t tire the little ones then the play areas certainly will. I’d have loved to have let Ellie have a wander but they were busy with much older children and I was scared she’d get squashed!

Overall we had a lovely family day, making memories and although the admission price was still pricey (£21 each!) with the Carer being free and Ellie being under 2 we all got in for £43 which really wasn’t that bad! I would recommend it to anyone wanting to visit a clean and family friendly zoo.