Marwell Zoo

Marwell Zoo

Marwell Zoo has been a firm favourite of ours as a day out since Harry was a baby. It is only a forty minute drive from us and houses so many varied species it makes for a fun day out with the kids and even us adults find it interesting so that return visits are looked forward to. Zoos have always been popular with children and the wonder of seeing exotic animals they have read about in books makes it a magical day to remember. On this particular visit Harry and Teddy’s Nanna came with us as a mini first birthday celebration for Teddy (the big ONE!)

Marwell Zoo

Marwell Zoo

Harry (the train obsessed oldest son) always likes to go on the small train which takes you around the park on a 15 minute ride which helps gain a sense of the layout. There are also tractors pulling carriages if feet get weary on the way around – or you can sit on it for a full 35 minute tour! There are 140 acres of zoo and parkland to explore and discover so there is no time to get bored.

Marwell Zoo

Marwell Zoo03

Animal-wise, there is so much to see. From the inquisitive meerkats to the various species of cheeky monkeys; from the graceful giraffes to the majestic tiger. Harry’s favourite animal is still the giraffe and he loves seeing them stride along. I always adore seeing the tiger – he is so beautiful to look at and having the opportunity to see such wonderful creatures makes me realise how lucky we are to have such a diverse world to live in.

Marwell Zoo

Marwell Zoo

Marwell Zoo

There are many picnic stops (including covered areas in case of less than favourable weather) as well as a cafe which caters for young and adults alike and on our visits the staff have always been very helpful. On good weather days we usually take a picnic to enjoy the outdoors. There are also plenty of places for your own little monkeys to play and swing about in the dedicated recreational areas. Harry loved the open space to run about within the safety of the zoo.

Marwell Zoo

Marwell Zoo

Marwell Zoo is a well laid out, easy to navigate zoo which is undergoing a series of major projects to expand it even further. One such project is a brand new enclosure exhibit called “Wild Explorers” which appears to be built to allow for a complete interactive experience with hidden grass cameras, an elevated boardwalk and a discovery zone complete with a safari vehicle resting by the water hole. This new project is aimed at aiding conservation of the white rhino, scimitar-horned oryx and Grevy’s zebra – from what we could see of the plans at the zoo it looks as though it aims to be a mini safari just outside of Winchester! It is due to open Summer 2015 so yet another return visit is a definite must.

Marwell Zoo

There is, of course, a gift shop with a coffee shop inside. On this visit Harry and Teddy were allowed to pick a model animal each. We chose Teddy a tiger whilst Harry chose a small family group of meerkats and as Nanna was with us he was spoiled rotten by being allowed to also bring home a digger like the ones he watched putting the new Wild Explorer zone together. The day was loved by all with two very tired minis and two rather worn out grown-ups – all with some fun memories to take home.

Westonbirt Arboretum


For those interested in plants and trees, then Westonbirt Arboretum could be the place for you. With over 15,000 labelled specimens from around the world it will definitely keep you busy. And for those that simply enjoy the fresh air and having somewhere safe and vast for children to explore, then the Arboretum with its 17 miles of accessible nature to roam is the place to go.


Located in the Cotswolds and only three miles from the Gloucestershire market town of Tetbury (which is worth a visit in its own right if you like your antiques) Westonbirt Arboretum is a great place for a family day out. It has well maintained paths, all the family facilities you need and a lovely restaurant which is open daily.



Westonbirt Arboretum consists of three main areas. The Old Arboretum, Silk Wood (a more rural woodland compared the landscaped  avenues of The Old Arboretum) and the Grade I registered Downs which is the perfect location for a picnic. The added bonus for children is that the Arboretum is also home to one of 15 giant Grufflo sculptures.



The Arboretum hosts numerous events through the year. Some of its most popular being Forest Live concerts in the summer. Some of the acts lined up for 2015 include The Vamps, Tom Odell and Paloma Faith. The more family oriented Treefest which is held over the August Bank Holiday includes exhibitors, arena shows, live music, traditional woodcraft demonstrations and fun activities. Lastly, the Enchanted Christmas event during December features a spectacular one mile illuminated trail, highlighting the striking structures of Westonbirt’s trees as they are illuminated against the winter night sky.



From now until May-time there will be new blooms popping up all over the place. So don’t miss out.



Do let us know if you have enjoyed Westonbirt Arboretum before or plan on taking a trip there anytime soon.

Katie & Georgie

Visiting the snowdrops at Welford Park

We are lucky enough to have Welford Park not too far from us, so when the sun was shining on a glorious almost-Spring day last week Harriet and I decided to visit the snowdrops display in the beech wood. Welford Park country house and estate is a private residence built on the site of a monastic grange belonging to Abingdon Abbey and is located near Newbury in Berkshire. It is believed that it was the monks who planted the snowdrops in Anglo-Saxon times and they remain to this day. For over 50 years now, the estate has opened its doors for the month of February to enable visitors to view the magnificence of the snowdrops display.



From a distance the carpet of snowdrops at Welford Park looked like snowfall. We were amazed.





As one of the first signs of the end of Winter, snowdrops are such a beautiful nod to the coming of Spring and a visit to the display is a must if you enjoy open spaces and beautiful scenery.

An added piece of trivia for any fans of The Great British Bake Off – the estate was the location for filming of the 2014 series.


Free outdoor fun – nature reserves and national parks…

We are lucky in the UK to have so many Nature Reserves and Country Parks available to us. With a heathland and woodland site not far away from where we live, Harriet and I will often head over for a meander through the woods, go stick hunting, den building and see how many of the wild ponies and cattle we can spot.
Being a free activity, it also helps me to keep an active 3 year-old occupied over the course of the colder months.

I thought I’d share a few pictures of a recent adventure we had. Being autumn, we obviously had to go hunting for conkers and horse chestnuts and came home with absolute pockets full – finding a last remaining one in the pocket of her coat yesterday was what reminded to write this post!

A favourite game last autumn was also to see how many different coloured mushrooms we could find.

Nature reserves and the like are such a fabulous way to encourage your children to enjoy wildlife and the great outdoors – and to help them understand the change in the seasons through the year. I will admit to being somewhat of a more indoors type before becoming a mum, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the change in lifestyle since then and I revel in watching Harriet search for bugs, dig through leaves and of course, jump in muddy puddles!


The Wildlife Trust has a map of all of the Nature Reserves they manage, and details of the parks run by National Parks UK can be found on their website.

Links to all of the above and more (including RSPB, AONB) and all other National Parks and Nature Reserves in the UK are on the website.