England Theme Parks / Zoos National
Middle Farm (Lewes)
January 2013 me and Hollie took our first trip down to Lancing, West Sussex as that is where my partner's family live. We went for a week and the family had planned some days out for us when we arrived. It was awful weather when we arrived as the snow had been settling very well across the country and it had been freezing over over ... night.
One of our first day trips was to Middle Farm in Lewes as his family keep chickens and needed to go get some supplies. It was only a 25 minute drive and we were excited to go see all the lovely animals. When we arrived it was parking at the front and a shop at the entrance selling all sorts of animal feed, bedding and even runs/cages for smaller animals. As it was early, we were all frozen and desperate to have a coffee in their café.
****Middle Farm Plough Monday Restaurant****
The day we went to the restaurant, it was short staffed and the owners daughter was working and she couldn't make a hot chocolate which most of us wanted so poor freezing cold 4 year old Hollie had to have a bottle of milkshake as they had nothing else for children. We didn't mind as we could still have tea and coffee and they had an amazing selection of cakes. I ended up with a scone that was bigger than my hand. The coffee I had was horrible though and I think there was a bit too much coffee put into the machine as it was very strong to the point of not being able to drink it.
It wasn't very warm in the restaurant which was a bit disappointing as we had gone in there to seek warmth and something to drink. It was possibly because it was early and we had arrived only 30 minutes after they opened for the day. The seating was lovely and the room had a lovely inviting vibe. The walls were covered in some lovely photography of places around the area or around England taken by independent artists and they were for sale too which was nice. All in all, the food was nice and although my coffee was rancid, I went back for tea which was very nice and warmed me up ready to go outside to see the animals.
When we came out of the restaurant, the cider and perry store was shut due to bring short staffed so we didn't get the chance to have a look in. Outside the shop was a lovely pop up store with some flowers and veggie plants for your garden, but I chose not to bother buying anything as the weather was so bad that month I knew everything would die and not survive the snow.
****Entering the Farm to meet the animals****
We paid £4 each to enter the farm and look around at all the animals. When we entered, Hollie ran off in the direction of a tractor which children could sit on and feel like a real farmer. It was cold and icy but she still enjoyed sitting on it and having her photo taken. She got a very soggy bottom but children don't seem to care whether they are cold or not when they are having fun.
There was also a child's climbing frame area which Hollie wanted to play on so we had to shovel the snow off the slide so she could enjoy herself. The best part of the play area was the see-saw. I had to have a go but I also managed to freeze my bum off so quickly jumped off.
We then went over to where the chickens and hens were and saw some amazing species of poultry. There wasn't as many as there would be in the warmer months when the hens would roost but we saw lots of different ones with beautiful feathers. In the same area there were rabbits and some guinea pigs too. Who knew they could all live together in the same place!
The weather was a big issue with our day here as the whole site was icy. We all wore wellies but it was terrifying. Walking around the farm was difficult as we had an excited little girl trying to run off into the different barns and sections of the farm, and a very wobbly me trying very hard not to fall right on my bum. I would suggest if you are thinking of visiting this farm, to do it when it isn't snowing or icy as it was just too cold to enjoy it well as it was so cold.
We saw an amazing array of different farm animals. We saw some beautiful horses, big huge pigs, Llamas, donkeys, ducks, swans and geese and all the gorgeous chickens that we saw at the start. We saw a few sheep but I think the weather had meant they were moved to a different barn and the same with cows.
Nearer the the end of our walk round, we spotted some photo boards for us to put our heads through and take some photos. They are all farm themed and we had some good fun playing with those.
****Skies and Scarecrows****
Hollie had thoroughly enjoyed herself and so had we all. We were all very desperate to get into some warmth though so we checked out the skies and scarecrows gift shop which we soon exited as it was heavy filled with expensive toys which Hollie was desperate to have so I abruptly left so I wasn't made to feel guitly for not buying her something. The toys had just few associations with farms or animals so I felt like it was more just a toy shop rather than a gift shop. It also sold some handmade soaps and posh toiletries that I had to look away from too.
The shop itself was beautiful and looked very shabby chic and the typical farm style you would expect. The front was very sweet with cute windows and a farm style door. Mostly decorated with wooden panelling and a few farm cats drinking from a milk saucer.
****The Farm Shop****
We popped in here to check out their cheese selection as we had planned to have a cheese board and crackers for lunch so we chose a few different ones. We had, nettle coated cheese, Wensleydale with cranberries and some lovely others which have slipped my mind for time being.
I also picked up some nice home made biscuits which were chocolate orange flavoured. These were beautifully flavoured and tasted excellent.
They do have an amazing selection of different food, home made or bought in. They sell fresh breads, fresh cheeses and milk, vegetables and fruits and every type of preserve I've ever thought of. I did think it was very pricey and we didn't take much cash with us which I was glad of otherwise most of the shop would have come home with us. I did however come away really inspired to make my own jams and preserves as everything looks so yummy. I have since been searching the internet for recipes and have strawberries and blackcurrants blooming in the garden ready for some jams.
I was very disappointed we didn't get to go to the cider and perry shop as I really wanted to try some of their real ales and possibly buy some as a present for my dad but it just means we have an excuse to go back next time we are down visiting. We are also looking forward to seeing a few more animals next time and hopefully some baby animals. We are going down again at the beginning of June so we will try to plan it so we can feed the animals or even give them cuddles.
Even though the weather was so awful, we still had a brilliant time. We will definitely be visiting again and would recommend it to anyone. It isn't just a place to take the kids, it's also a great place for adults to visit and try all their amazing handmade alcohols and foods sold in the farm shops. We all had a brilliant time and took lots of photos and plan to take even more when we go back again in warmer weather. I will still make sure to wear wellies as there are a lot of animals that just walk around freely and wouldn't want to step in any mess!
I've never visited such a lovely farm before and hadn't ever stepped into such a well stocked farm shop before. It was a lovely day out and we all enjoyed the food, the farm and the animals. Don't forget they also sell all the feeds and things for your own animals if you look after chickens or other animals in your gardens. There were sacks upon sacks piled up with feed and beddings in the front stores.
I give middle farm 5/5 stars for being a brilliant day and the staff were lovely and helpful to us.
Thankyou for reading my review!
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Over the past year Chester Zoo seems to have become my day trip of choice. I have been four times in the space of eight months and have enjoyed my trip every time. Luckily my girlfriends, sisters fiancé is a zoologist that runs his own safari tours and there isn't anything he doesn't know about animals, although I'm trying my hardest to ... find something.
Not only is Chester Zoo a fantastic day out it is an important educational tool for children to learn about different kinds of animals and the fight against extinction that some of them face. According to my zoologist friend by the time my son is grown up zoos will be the only place that some species still exist.
Whenever I have been to Chester Zoo it hasn't been that busy. The zoo is open all year round from 10am except on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. It usually stays open until 5.30pm giving you plenty of time to get around the zoo and still manage to see every exhibit.
Adult tickets range from £14.50 to £18.00 depending on the time of year. Discounts are available for students or senior citizens. For children that are three to fifteen years old the price varies from £11.00 to £14.00.
You can also buy group or family tickets. A family ticket is for two adults and two children and are priced at £45.50 to £59.00 so they don't really offer a massive saving and don't help if you have more than two children. You can also book in advance if you have a large group that want to visit. If you buy your group tickets in advance you can receive a discount of up to 30%.
Infants that are two and under get in free.
Tickets can be bought online or you can buy on the day. If you want to buy group tickets on the day you don't get as much discount.
Annual memberships are also available. My girlfriend and I bought a joint annual membership for £118 or it is £69 for a single adult membership. If you buy a membership you receive additional benefits. One of those is members days. This gives you the opportunity to invite up to twelve people to the members day and they can get into the zoo for half the price. In 2013 there are currently three members days scheduled.
A membership card also gets you entry to eleven other zoos around the UK.
The zoo is very easy to find and isn't situated in a busy area. It hasn't been busy when I have gone but I have heard of massive tailbacks on bank holidays so if that's when you plan to visit get yourself there early. As you arrive at the zoo parking is free.
After leaving your car and making your way to the entrance you will arrive at the ticket office and the membership and adoptions centre. There is a gift shop (save it for when you're leaving) and there are toilets just in case you have had a particularly long trip. The toilets are always very clean as is everywhere else around the zoo.
ENTERING THE ZOO.
You will enter through the turnstile and will receiver an information leaflet with a map and other info about different events at the zoo. Make sure you keep hold of this, especially for the map. There is a lot to see and it can be easy to miss something and it might be a long way to walk back.
Everybody else on entrance seems to head straight on or go left. We usually head right through the bird sanctuary because it is a little quieter going that way. Going through the bird sanctuary leads you to two of my favourite animal at the zoo. The painted dogs and the black rhinos. Don't forget to pay the meerkats a visit whilst you're around this area as well.
The other good thing about starting your tour through the bird sanctuary is that most of the main attractions will now be towards the end of your visit rather than visiting them straight away.
The Zoo is quite large and can involve quite a lot of walking. Everywhere is quite flat and all attractions are accessible to pushchairs and wheelchairs. All paths are clearly marked and well sign posted. Although there is a monorail that takes you on a birds eye view of the zoo I've never been on it but I'm sure its worth the ride.
THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS.
The painted dogs are always a must see. Sometimes they are up and about and feeding time in interesting but sometimes you will catch them indoors when they are having a bit of a siesta. If they are indoors they can be a little disappointing as the small huy can get quite crowded. Nonetheless I think they are beautiful to look at.
The black rhinos are also a good attraction. Last time I went a baby rhino had been born so I managed to get some pictures of mother and baby together. Again depending on the time of day and sometimes the weather the rhinos can be either indoors or out. Even if the rhinos are indoors you can still get some good pictures.
There are the Asian Elephants. I usually go here more towards the end of my visit. The elephants have a huge paddock to walk around in. Again recently there has been a couple of new additions. It's always nice to see the babies walking around with the huge elephants. Not only can you watch them outdoors there is also a tropical house that you can walk around and get closer to them.
If you don't like the dark or more to the point, don't like things flying around your head in the dark then don't enter the fruit bat forest. Hundreds of bats are housed in here. Like I say it is dark and you can lose your bearings slightly and trust me some of the bats to come a bit close as they fly around you. I would recommend you go in though.
Once you go into the realm of the red ape you can't help but fall in love with the orang utans. Sometimes they will come over to the windows to check out the people that have come to visit them. Access is up a walkway which is quite difficult to walk up if you have a pushchair or wheelchair with you but an elevator is provided. The realm of the red ape also houses a variety of amphibians, reptiles and other mammals. The huge reticulated python is a must see. The ape house does get very busy so take your time going through because there really is so many good things to see in there.
The Jaguar house is an exhibit that I can take or leave because I have been disappointed nearly every time I have been in there. What I will say first of all is that the Jaguar house includes a sloth. I find them fascinating. I don't know why, they really don't do anything but I find them quite calming to look at. They really don't have a care in the world. I have only ever seen the Jaguar once on my first visit. It was running around going mental. An absolutely beautiful creature. Chester Zoo claim that the Jaguar House is the biggest and best in Europe but if you can't see the Jaguar then what's the point. Maybe I have just been unlucky.
Other attractions are the lions, the chimpanzees that can be quite mischievous and make sure you visit the giraffes. There have recently been two baby giraffes born at Chester Zoo and they really are quite beautiful. The red pandas are also a personal favourite of mine.
I have only really touched on a few of the animals around the zoo but there is so much more to see I would be here all day trying to tell you about them all so apologies to all those animals I haven't mentioned.
Chester Zoo belongs to a number of UK, European and international organisations, including the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).
These organisations co-ordinate to create breeding programs for endangered species from all around the world. When you consider that I have already mentioned Orang Utans, Giraffes and Black Rhinos that have been born at the zoo this year you will realise just what good work the zoo do.
It is good to know that not only are you buying entry into the zoo you are helping with conservation work that takes place all around the world. Without orginisations like Chester Zoo a lot of species will become extinct so I think they should be proud of the hard work they do all over the world.
ADOPT AN ANIMAL.
I couldn't finish without mentioning the adopt an animal scheme. At Christmas I adopted the red pandas for a present for my son, you can buy either an adult or junior adoption pack. For the price of £50 you adopt the animal of your choice for the period of one year. This money goes towards the upkeep of the animal over that period. Ajunior adoption pack includes:
* Two Admission Tickets that can be used at anytime during the year of adoption (each ticket is valid for one adult or two seniors/children)
* Cuddly toy
* Your name displayed on a 'Thank You' plaque near your adopted species (by 20th of following month)
* One complimentary copy of our Z magazine, packed with conservation news and zoo updates
* Thank you letter
* Thank you card
* Animal stickers
* Image of your adopted animal species
* Personal adoption certificate
* A fact sheet full of amazing facts about your chosen animal
* A puzzle sheet.
PLACES TO EAT.
Around the zoo there are plenty of places to have something to eat or grab a drink. Unfortunately I find them to be too busy and too slow. Last time I went to the zoo we popped into the main restaurant I it was hammered. People were literally pushing in front of one another to get to tables.
My recommendation would be to take your own food and drink. There are picnic areas and table dotted around the zoo or you can eat on the move. Far more convenient and less chance of getting into a punch up. (I'm exaggerating a little there). Not to mention the money you will save by making your own butties.
I==S IT WORTH IT.==
Although I think it is quite expensive for a one off visit you can't complain about the variety of animals that are housed in the Zoo. You will definitely spend the full day there and I can guarantee you'll enjoy it. I find it harder to believe that there are many better zoos in the world, never mind the UK.
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Sea Life Centre (Brighton)
We wanted to take my nephew somewhere for his 6th birthday and as the weather hasn't been brilliant for somewhere such as Paultons Park we decided that we would visit here as some of his favourite characters from The Octonauts would be here the day we were going. The Sea Life Centre = = = = = = = = = = = There are ... currently 14 Sea Life Centres in the UK and the one I am reviewing is Brighton. Brighton Sea Life Centre offers a wide range of different animals to look at. This particular Sea Life Centre has certain features and attractions that other Sea Life centres don't have. The Sea Life centre is only about a 40 minute drive from where we live so we were going to go early and make a good day of it. As well as watching and learning about the animals in the Sea Life Centre they have a new Octopus Garden, Glass Bottomed Boat, Interactive Rockpool, Feeding Demonstrations and a Cafe where you can purchase hot & cold drinks, snacks sandwiches and cakes. Although I have visited 2 different Sea Life Centres before I always find that they are always very different so I was looking forwards to visiting this one. There is parking at the sea life centre which is rather pricey at about £8.00 for 3 hours; how-ever there are other car parks which are approximately a 20min walk away, which is where we parked.
When we arrived at the sea life centre there were 2 separate queues, one of which was for pre-paid tickets which had been purchased online and another queue for people who need to purchase tickets. Although these were separate queues they actually went to the same till area which consisted of 3-4 tills where you purchased your tickets. After paying for your ticket and helping yourself to a map of the centre you walk past an area in which you can leave your buggies if you don't wish to take them with you. As it was half term week this area was really busy and there were lots of buggies there already. My younger nephew didn't want to get out of the buggy so we decided to take it with us.
Inside the Sea Life Centre
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When entering the areas which contained different creatures I was quite surprised at the layout. The first area is actually called Victorian Arcade which looks kind of old and has glass tanks down each side containing different animals. This area was quite large so we weren't really sure where to start. We decided to walk down one side and then do the other side afterwards. The glass windows to enable you to see into the tanks are quite big and there is a small wooden platform by each tank so smaller children can climb up and get a better look into the tank. The first thing I noticed about this area is that it was quite dark and the tanks were rather dark too. You could see various different fish in the tanks, how-ever not as well as I had hoped. I was planning on taking some pictures; how-ever they ask you not to use flash, so because of this the pictures came out looking very dark. In previous sea life centres I have been to I haven't used the flash on my camera but the tanks have been much brighter so I was able to get some good pictures. In this area were various different fish including Lionfish, turtles, a very large spider crab and more. The tank which had the spider crab was very dark which was a shame as I would have liked a decent picture of it. In the Victorian Arcade is also a cafe area with table and chairs so as you can imagine this area gets quite busy and rather packed. I personally thought it was a silly area to have a cafe and expected the cafe to be in a separate area. There was some information next to each tank about the creature in the tank, how-ever there wasn't as much as information as I had expected. This information was also quite low which was great for children to look at but not so good for adults.
Interactive Rock pool - This is in the Victorian Arcade and here you can see a wide range of familiar creatures such as crabs and starfish. You can even hold a grab or touch a starfish if you wish. The rock pool is open all day. This area sounded really good and I was looking forwards to maybe touching a starfish (I certainly wouldn't be touching a crab that's for sure!) I was so disappointed when I found this area which was a small round area which contained some sea urchins. I couldn't see any other creatures in here such as crabs. There was a few starfish which you were allowed to touch. I did this and was surprised that the starfish felt rather rough to the touch.
Ray Pool - This is also located in the Victorian Arcade and contains some rays swimming around. You can walk around the whole of this area and see the whole tank. You can also go up and see a view of the rays from above the water. I didn't do this as there were some steps and the area was also quite busy as well.
Ocean Tank/Auditorium - The only way we could find our way to this area was to go up and then down some steps. We were a little surprised by this considering that this it states disabled access is available in the sea life centre. We couldn't find any ramps to get to this area so it took two of us to carry the buggy down to this area. This tank is huge and contains various different sharks, fish and a huge turtle which you can see swimming around. This also contains the glass bottomed boat which was rather busy so we didn't go on it. This is apparently the UK's first glass bottomed boat in an aquarium which gives people the chance to see everything in the water. On the boat you get a snorkellers eye view of their huge turtles, tropical sharks and colourful reef fish. The glass bottomed boat does cost extra money that isn't included in the entry price to the aquarium. You cannot purchase these tickets in advance nor book a time slot to go on the boat. Tickets for the boat must be purchased on arrival at the reception. I personally didn't think this actually looked like a boat as it was very square shape & just went up to one end of the tank and back again. I'm not sure how long the ride is but it didn't look very impressive. In this area there is lots of seating and a lot of people were eating their lunch here.
Ocean Tunnel - This tunnel was a lot smaller than I imagine in width and in height. In you are a very tall person you would most likely need to bend down slightly in order to walk through here. There are wooden benches on the side so children can climb up and get a better view, this makes the width of the tank slightly smaller and it was so busy and compact in here that we just walked straight through. This area was also extremely hot as well. There are lots of colourful fish and different sharks which swim over your head though. This is actually the Ocean Tank above you which you will have seen from above where the glass bottomed boat is.
There are various other areas in the Sea Life Centre including Tropical Lagoon, Harbour, and Kingdom of the Seahorse. Although these areas contained a few different creatures they weren't that impressive. The area where they had the Octopus, although they had a good 3-4 tanks, there was only 1 tank with an octopus in which was rather disappointing. There was a small section with poison dart frogs in and other Tropical creatures. On the map we noticed there was something called Jellyfish Discovery and unless we somehow missed this area the only jellyfish we saw were in a small tank with a few coloured lights on them. There were more jellyfish in the other sea-life centres I have been to.
Meet the Octonauts
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During our visit here which was the Easter Holidays children had the chance to meet some of their favourite characters from The Octonauts including Captain Barnacles and Peso. You can join in the fun and activities with your favourite characters and even have you photo taken with them as well. If your children choose to join in the fun they can become an Octonaut roaming the ocean in search of adventure and fun. You can help take part in exciting missions and join in with the Octonauts activities. Children can take part in the Quiz Trail and will receive an activity pack and your own hat which you can take home with you. My older nephew wanted to have his picture taken with Captain Barnacles so we joined a queue to wait. There were at least 15 people in front and we still had another 30mins to wait. In the end my nephew got bored of waiting so we decided to leave the sea-life centre. I imagine a few people were frustrated by this as the queue for this actually blocked the views of at least 4-5 tanks so people who hadn't yet seen in these tanks wouldn't be able to see in them until the queue had gone.
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You can purchase tickets at the door on the day or you can purchase them online where you will save some money, because you are buying your tickets in advance. I would also advise to keep a look out in any newspapers as they sometimes have coupons and offers that you can use.
* Adult Ticket - £17.40 walk up price or £12.40 when booked online
* Child Ticket - £14.10 walk up price or £9.10 when booked online.
* Groups (10+ people) - £17.40 walk up price or £9.00 when booked online.
You can also purchase Birthday packages and a Sea Life Annual Pass which is valid for 12 months. Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by and adult. Children under 3 and carers are both free entry.
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I was really looking forwards to visiting this Sea Life Centre after visiting various others in the country. I was unfortunately disappointed by my visit here and was unimpressed at the range of creatures here. The tanks seemed very dark to me which made it hard to try and spot some of the creatures and it meant that I couldn't get any decent pictures either. The Victorian Arcade is set out in a very strange way and you don't really know where to start. This area also looks rather old and in need to a good coat of paint and a good tidy. As the cafe was in this area it made it a little chaotic and rather busy and also very noisy, you could just hear an endless noise of other people's chatter. I was really disappointed by the rock pool as this was nothing compared to the one in Weymouth. The Ocean Tunnel was ok, but wasn't as spacious as others I have been too and there seemed to lack space in here due to the wooden benches that children can stand on. Although it states that this centre is suitable for disabled access we seemed to come across a fair amount of steps and couldn't see anyway other way to avoid them unless we happened to miss some ramps somewhere! I didn't think there was a lot of information about the different creatures next to their tanks which was a little disappointing as it's always interesting to learn about the creatures. Some tanks there wasn't any information at all just the name of the creature that was in the tank. Due to visiting here during the Easter holidays, it was of course very busy, how-ever I don't think this would have made nay difference to my visit even if I had visited here when the schools were back. In terms of value I don't really think it's worth the £17.40 for an adult ticket. In fact I recently visited the Portsmouth, Blue Reef Aquarium and thought this was much better than the Sea-Life Centre in Brighton and it only cost me £10.00 to get in. I won't be visiting here again and it's not really a sea-life centre that I would recommend to others.
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Sea Life Centre, Marine Parade, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 1TB
Phone: 01273 604234
Opening Hours: Mon - Fri: 10am - 5pm
Sat & Sun: 10am - 6pm
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