Day trippers #1: Paradise Park

IMG_5641Day trips. Shudder. Most places we visit that require an entrance fee are at best a bitter disappointment and at worst a bitter regret.

Not only have you been robbed of the best part of a “pony”, often much more if you factor in the presence of live animals,  you’re also left with rancid indigestion if you fall foul of the cafeteria and spend the majority of the day ankle deep in urine and loo roll as you trudge back and forth to the loos.

Sometimes these places can be so disappointing, can’t they? We try to take our little ones to exciting places but are often left wondering why we bothered. I’m not sure I’m the right person to write “reviews” of family fun days out but let’s see.

So first up, Paradise Park in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. Our first school trip with BUB.1’s pre school and, in a nutshell, we were delighted by baby meerkats, smelly skunks and an incredible selection of big cats with really, really fantastic close up views courtesy of swanky wooden, ramped walkways.

This park is the perfect size for little legs to run (or scooter) around, and it wasn’t stupidly busy on the Thursday we visited. There were bouncy castles, JCB climbing frames, a playground for kids with special needs and a huge adventure playground we didn’t even get round to exploring.

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But seeing the animals so closely and from the child’s point of view was the best bit. For example there is a tunnel for the kids to climb through one of the enclosures, where BUB.1 got up close to a very interested meerkat.

And the big cats were amazing. Although the white tiger exuded an air of sadness so palpable you could taste it. Which is where any trip to a zoo or wildlife park starts to unravel doesn’t it?

What sticks most in my mind though was a bunch (or a ‘nursery’ or ‘gaze’ if you prefer) of racoons that all at once became really, really annoyed and started chanting loudly, causing quite a fracas among the assembled tiddlers. A very eerie moment that sent us running to the lions in fear and confusion, and demonstrated perfectly to the children that despite the cages these animals are very, very real.

A lesson perhaps we all need to learn.

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