Mellow Mummy: Marwell Zoo – Lara Comes Face to Face With A Camel : Taking life as it comes...

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Marwell Zoo – Lara Comes Face to Face With A Camel

Choosing a day out for a 1-year old is hard. I want Lara to be up for anything but I know that lots of things are still beyond her. She can't walk without holding our hands and I'm not sure how engaging she finds some activities; I want her to see and do exciting things without pushing her too far.

Recently the Mellow family took a few days off work to spend some quality time together. On Thursday we went to Legoland Windsor which was a big hit with all involved. On Friday we were looking for something a little more peaceful so we went to Marwell Wildlife Park near Winchester in Hampshire.

I was worried that Lara wouldn't be able to see into, let alone pick out any of the animals in their enclosures – it is hard to tell how good her eyesight is at this age. Thankfully, most of the enclosures at Marwell Zoo have a range of different viewing areas at all heights meaning that Lara could see into most enclosures whether she was inside her pushchair or standing.

Lara was certainly able to pick out the animals from their camouflage. She particularly enjoyed looking at the Lemurs and the Big Cats (something that the Mellow household always looks forward to, and which Marwell does very well). At times, Lara clearly recognised the animals; with a little 'oh' she would point towards them. I'm pretty certain I heard her attempt the word 'Zebra'.

Marwell Zoo has lots of large open spaces to pootle around. This is good for the animals as it gives them some privacy and some natural space. It is good for you too because it means you get some exercise! We hit our full recommended 10,000 steps that day (with a pushchair, so that counts as extra, I'll have you know). To make things easier, there are two types of trains (a land train and a mini steam train) that tour the park and pick up/drop off at all sorts of locations throughout the grounds.

Last time I visited Marwell I had recently moved in with Mr. B so things such as baby changing facilities and playgrounds didn't feature high on the list of plus points for the Zoo. Now, these things are important to me. There were nappy changing facilities in some of the toilets throughout the park, but not all. They were fine, but not massively spacious or clean. We saw two large, well-equipped play areas within the Zoo – one of them had a large sandpit which was rammed full of people. We had no problems anywhere in the park with pushchair access.

Last time we visited Marwell in the winter the food provisions were atrocious. Since then they have built a large café that looks out over the 'African Valley'. The food is expensive but palatable and caters for all ages and tastes. There are highchairs and changing facilities here. In the week before the school holidays I would have expected more of the food and drink kiosks throughout the park to be open.

I had been looking forward to introducing Lara to the farm animals that you would traditionally expect at a UK zoo. Sadly, Marwell doesn't currently have a petting zoo so we were a little disappointed. She did however get to meet a camel up close (Lara really wasn't too keen on this). Mr. B. tried to show Lara a tank full of beautiful tropical fish, but Lara wasn't having any of it; I hope she hasn't inherited my fish-a-phobia.

I'd recommend Marwell Wildlife as a peaceful but exciting day out for families with children of all ages.
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