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Birmingham Nature Centre
Member Name: chrisandmark
Birmingham Nature Centre
Date: 03/11/03, updated on 04/11/03 (209 review reads)
Advantages: A brilliant kiddies day out, Really cheap
Disadvantages: Laout can be a bit disorientating
I remember going to the Nature Centre with my mum and dad when I was about 5 so I know its been there for at least 20 years and I'd say its been there MUCH longer than that.
I hadn't been for about 10 years and then one day we were trying to think of something to amuse the kids and we ended up at the Nature Centre. Its a smallish looking place on the Pershore Road in Edgbaston right opposite the Pebble Mill studios. From Birmingham City Centre you can catch either the 45 or the 47 from Corporation Street and these both drop you outside the door. Or you can catch the 61, 62 or 63 from Corporation Street (next stop up from the 45 and 47) and walk from Bristol Road past the Pebble Mill studio - its a nice little 5 minute walk and last time we saw Fern Britton coming out of Pebble Mill! If you're travelling in the car drive down the Pershore Road from the City Centre and theres a big car park next to Tally Ho Police Station which is about a 2 minute walk from the Nature Centre.
To get into the Nature Centre you have to walk into an old listed building, through a small gift shop (selling nothing that costs more than £1) and to the Customer Services counter. This is where you pay your £1.25 entrance fee - a child up to 12 is free with every paying adult so us 4 got in for £2.50 As you enter the actual Nature Centre you walk along a pathway and on either side theres pigmy goats jumping about - guaranteed to make a toddler laugh! You walk into a sort of courtyard where theres a pond where the kids can look for fish and tadpoles. And there the choices start.... The layout of the Nature Centre is WIERD, you always le
ave with the feeling that theres something you've not seen. And try to find somewhere again that you've already seen? No chance! There are pathways everywhere, crossing each other, walking round the back of buildings..... but its not bad - its quite cute the way they've tried to organise everything and not made a good job
of it! Anyway, you walk around and eventually see otters, beavers (apparently they're there but I've never spotted one!), polecats, lynx, snowy owl, wallabys, donkeys, a reptile house, an insect house, birds, sheep and goats in fields and a bee house. Its a lovely walk round the Nature Centre cos its set out in a kind of trail and you've got trees on either side and benches to sit down. You go over bridges that cross a very narrow part of the River Rea and then you've got fields on either side of you with more goats and deers, some of them come up to you but there's signs asking you not to feed the animals all over the place. The goats will let the kids stroke them but the sheep tend to stay further away from the fence! Its nice to go just when the weathers warming up cos the sheep have their lambs in the field with them and the kids love that.
At the end of all the animals theres a newly built childrens corner filled with rabbits, pigs, guinea pigs and ducks. The kids are invited to touch these and pick them up by the keepers who are there to teach the children about the animals. If you're lucky you get there at feeding time, although this time varies so theres no way to plan it. Theres benches in the childrens corner so the adults can sit down and have a cuppa (and a fag!) while the kids are wrapped up in the rabbits and theres peacocks wandering about all over the place. This part was my kids favourite, they spent longer in this bit than any other part.
The Nature Centre also holds events during the year. Last year we took our 6 year old to an 'exotic animal' event which they wer
e holding free for children. A man came in with a chinchilla, snake and tarantula and told the children all about the animals and then let them touch the chinchilla and hold the snake. Our daughter loved it and it was a good opportunity for her to do something she wouldn't normally do. We've also been to Christmas events where you
pay £2.50 and make your own Christmas crackers, wrapping paper etc... and in the summer theres donkey rides for the children which costs £1.00 for a ride which lasts around 10 minutes. They hold hunt the Easter egg competitions and night-time walks at certain times of the year. You can find all their events listed for the year in the 'Whats on in Birmingham 2002/2003' booklet in the library.
At the end of it all theres the cafe. And its gooood! Theres a soft play area at the bottom of the cafe (which is supposed to be for kids aged 6 and up but my 3 year old managed fine in there!) and its full of plastic foam shapes for the kids to roll all over. The foods basic but good. You can have cold sarnies and theres always a good selection, hot dogs, burgers, baked spud, chips (GORGEOUS chips), sausage rolls, pasties, cakes, crisps and soft drinks. The menu is blatently aimed at kids, but then so is the whole place. Even the litter bins are shaped like big frogs and the benches are squirrel shaped! When the kids are bored of the play area we have something to eat (costs roughly £5 - £6 for the 4 of us to have a snack and a drink) and sit on the benches outside opposite the snowy owl area. As you leave you walk past the childrens corner (which always results in the kids going back in to say bye to bunny!) and through the pigmy goats again and back into the gift shop. As I said earlier, nothing costs more than £1 in this shop so you can get a couple of cheap little souvenirs for each of the kids for next to nothing.
When you come out you've got Cannon Hill Park right next door and theres a little bar (The
MAC Centre) another cafe, pools, row boats, a brilliant kids play area and apparently its good for a spot of fishing. So you can spend an extra hour or two there having a couple of pints while the kids play. The cafe sell delicious chips in a bag for £1.20 and hot meals too in a posh chrome and glass affair. And my daughter tells me Cannon Hil
l Park is THE best place for conkers and acorns!
If you're local to Birmingham, pay them a visit. We had a full day out including something to eat and a drink and it cost us less than £20. No, I'm not a tight a*se but if you can please 4 people (including one ULTRA picky 7 year old) and have a load of fun for less than going to the pub, I'm up for that! I had to write this opinion as soon as I saw no-one had written about this gorgeous little place. Well worth a visit if you've got little kids, but even when they start getting bored of baby chicks and all things fluffy they still have a good time. The site is fully suitable for disabled visitors and theres minimal baby changing facilities and public toilets. The amount of visitors depends on the time of year, if you go at the end of the season when the kids are at school you'll pretty much have the place to yourself, but during the summer holidays it can get a bit hectic!
The Nature Centre isn't open all year round so give them a call if you're thinking of going and they also close early on a Wednesday. Tel: Birmingham Nature Centre: 0121 472 7775
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