Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Fun in the New Forest

Since we've been parents our holidays have mostly been staycations. One reason is that I just can't face travelling through airports with small children. Even allowing for the long drive our trips to Cornwall take less time than the overall journey time to go to a mediterranean destination when you factor in the time you leave for the airport, the waiting, the flying and the transfer time. Another reason was that we couldn't travel with our youngest until his adoption was finalised so we have made the most of holidays closer to home. Finally - and most importantly - we have so many wonderful places to visit in this country and my in-laws live right next to one of them. The New Forest is a beautiful setting and we usually spend at least one week of the year here with Granny and Grandpa's house as a base. This week I've brought the boys to visit their grandparents for a few days before they go back to school next week. We've come without Hubbie so he also gets a bit of a break. 

The weather has been so lovely that we've enjoyed the great outdoors and today we visited the New Forest Wildlife Park - where Hubbie used to work as a teenager when it was the Butterfly farm. The park has grown and now has many animals as well as two adventure playgrounds for different age groups. Baby Boy loves animals so he really enjoyed seeing otters, bison, deer and polecats. He wasn't too taken with the butterflies, but they took a shine to Grandma and one sat on her top. There are specific times for feeding animals and you can meet the keepers and ask questions. At one point we spotted a keeper sitting on a bench holding a hedgehog in a towel and children were taking photos with it - all the while the hedgehog who was being safely held by a keeper. There is a strong conservation element to the park so visitors are encouraged to learn about the animals and their habitats. This is a great way for children (and adults) to appreciate the natural world while also enjoying a day out. 

Taking time to do some colouring 

After we enjoyed a picnic lunch the boys loved sitting down to colour in some animal pictures and the lady who was supervising the activity also shared some interesting facts about owls with us. Did you know it's only Tawny owls that say twit twoo ? I'm not sure the rest of what she told us was true, but it made the boys laugh. Big boy isn't as much of a nature lover so he was persuaded to come when we told him there was an adventure playground. There are actually two with a mini one designated for children under 6 and another larger playground for children over 6 (and adults). Despite running up to get on it Big Boy was a bit put off by the speed of the zip wire - although I saw a little girl in an amazing floofy white dress who looked like a supercharged angel as she zipped past ! Grandma and I decided to take the boys to their respective playgrounds and it was great fun for me to do a bit of daredevil stuff with Big Boy. Baby Boy did some pretty brave climbing too ! 

My climbing boy 

The best thing about staying near the New Forest is that most trips take you through the forest itself and you never know which of the animals that live there you will see roaming around. Before we had kids I was always amazed to spot cattle lying on verges in Beaulieu, horses and ponies crossing the roads wherever they feel like and grouse running past the car. On our drive home we spotted horses with their foals and lots of cows with their youngsters too. Baby Boy even wanted to get out of the car to take a look and said hello to the cows. It was the perfect end to a lovely day in nature. 

Look Mummy, cows 

Plan your visit and find out more about what you can see and do at New Forest Wildlife Park