Chester Zoo

As you might have read on a previous blog post, we travelled by National Express to Chester Zoo, and you can read about it here.

Given that Chester Zoo is so far for most, I thought that it would be good idea to come up with some pointers which might help you have a fab visit and hopefully a peaceful journey home with children fast asleep!!

  • Plan what you want to see. The park is so big, you are unlikely to be able to see everything, especially if you have children. As such, plan what you want to see and build the day around that. Either that, or spread the visit over 2 days. There are so many animals to see, from Bats (not suitable for those who don’t like the dark!) to Zebras and Elephants.

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  • Go to the Islands first. This one came from the kind people at Chester Zoo as the boat ride and general attractions in that part of the park gets busier in the afternoon and the last thing you want to do it wait for nearly an hour to go on a boat ride!
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Zebras can be found at the entrance to the Islands
  • Let the kids play! There are decent play areas dotted around and whilst it is easy to want to keep them seeing all the animals, they need a break as well. There is a small water area and so you might want to pack a spare change of clothes (and visit it towards the end of the day!)
  • Consider the refillable drink option. If it is warm, this option will be well worth it, especially as you won’t load your bag up with heavy drinks before setting off. However, I couldn’t find a refill station in The Islands so refill before you head over there.
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Enjoying the refills!
  • Dress as if you’re off on Safari. The park is big and so wear decent shoes and comfortable clothes, especially if it is going to be warm. You probably don’t need to wear the khaki’s, but when in Rome….!! As the park is so big, you might want to see if the old pushchair still works (you can hire stollers, which looked like a good idea at about 3pm!!)
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Hijacking a pushchair! (not really!!)
  • If you’re going to buy a present, don’t wait until the park closes. The queues at the shop at the entrance/exit were huge as the park was closing and so it might be better to visit halfway during the day and drop it off in the car, or visit one further into the park when it comes to leaving the park.

Probably the highlight was seeing the giraffes run for their freshly prepared food, which was pretty special, as well as Heidi playing hide and seek with some animals who thought that it would be a good idea to run in and out of their indoor area!

There are loads of toilets dotted about and they are really well signposted (having had to make a dash following a “I need a wee” call from Heidi!!) and there are enough food outlets around so you won’t go hungry. The BBQ place smelt amazing and that might be the best place to eat (it is near a kids play area!)

Overall, we had a really good time at Chester Zoo, and we were blessed with almost perfect weather conditions. The journey back was very quiet to say the least as we were all a bit tired!!  I do think that if we went back, we would try and go for 2 days and make a weekend of it!!

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PS Does anyone know what these animals are?! They are good at hide and seek!

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Coach Trip …. with National Express

What seems like a really relaxing way to spend a Saturday afternoon with a 4 year old and a 2 year old?? How about travelling across the country to spend the day at Chester Zoo?! (blog post on Chester Zoo can be found here)

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It seemed like a good idea at the time, but with an early start leading to grumpy grown-ups and a new mode of transport leading to overexcited children, it could have been a loooooong day! However, once we all got settled, we had a really comfortable and enjoyable journey to Chester.

So, what did we like about the journey:

Booster Seats – This got a big thumbs up from the little ones, even causing an argument over them!! You cannot book them prior to travel, but the coach going to Chester had 2 available and the one coming back had 1 available and they were very comfortable – apparently!!

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They ended up sat next to each other to compare booster seats

Power sockets – Each pair of seats has a power socket to share between them and so using your phone/tablet is much easier to do. It has a 3 pin plug as opposed to a USB port, so make sure you bring your plug as well as wire!!

Seats – The seats were surprisingly comfortable and not what I was expecting at all. As you can see, they are leather and have a decent amount of legroom.  Each seat has a seatbelt (legally, you must wear the seatbelt) which makes the journey feel even safer.

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Friendly drivers – On the commentary, the driver going to Chester Zoo seemed genuinely excited to be taking a lot of passengers there and he even talked about some of the animals you could see when approaching the coach stop!! We had a folding pushchair with us, and the drivers insisted on putting the luggage into the coach hold – all you have to do is fold it down and they do the rest.

Last and most importantly,

You can sit and interact with your child – Especially being a single parent, when going by car on a  long journey, it is difficult to talk to and interact with your child sat in the back seat. However, as you are sat together on the coach, you can spend some quality time with your little one, have fun, chat, play games and, most importantly, make memories.

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You can’t do this whilst driving!!

All in all, it was a very long and tiring day in the sun and it certainly meant that the little ones had a good night’s sleep!! One thing that would have been really difficult was if we had to change coaches on the way home, but fortunately, due to the number of routes National Express operate, it is more likely than not, there is a direct service to the place you want to go.

Would we go again by National Express? Absolutely, especially when it gives you the chance to explore the country at a reasonable price.

Full Disclaimer: We were offered free travel for the purposes of this post, although no influence has been made to alter the content of the post.


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Bradford Ice Arena

One of my main weaknesses is my lack of co-ordination and balance (I’m 6ft 1in tall and not exactly slim!!) As a result, going ice skating isn’t something that I would normally do, especially given our last visit,  which you can read about here.

However, the lure of Frozen and a kiddie-friend get-together meant that ice skating was going to happen. However, with a new girlfriend (you can read about me dating here) who was eager to get on the ice (or eager to get away from me for an hour!) we joined the rest of the Kiddie Crew for a trip on the ice.

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Not sure the shades were needed!!

Truth be told, I didn’t go on the ice, which meant that I was in peak blogging mode and seeing what would be good for a blog post!! From the outside, Bradford Ice Arena doesn’t look that appealing as it is a few floors up a 1970’s city centre office block and as the lift was broken, taking a pushchair up takes some effort. As the building is quite old, some of the interior is a bit aged, but this is made up by helpful and friendly staff.

We went to the Family Session, which is akin to a beginners session and as the weather outside wasn’t great, the place was very busy and there was a big queue to get in. As a result, arrive in plenty of time!!

You need to get your skates on after entering the arena and there is often a queue for that as well, so maybe arrive 30 minutes before the session. At worse, you are sat around watching the session before you.  There are loads of seats (they host ice hockey games there) so no problems on that front!

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The ice is over THERE!!!!

You can hire a penguin or snowman skating aid for a small charge, but they are issued on a first come first served basis and you only have them for an hour (and they enforce that!). To be honest, after an hour, either you’ll have enough confidence to get rid of the aid, or you’ll have given up!!  For more advanced skaters, there are Disco sessions and General skating sessions, but for little ones, the Family sessions are ideal.

There are a good number of friendly marshals on the ice and they are very good in looking after little ones who fall on the ice.

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For an adult and a 4 year old with a penguin aid, it cost £14, which seems like good value for almost 2 hours of fun, especially as it was so much better than last time!!


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Finding a Work/Life/Me balance

I’m writing this blog post in bed on my phone on a Sunday evening just after putting Heidi to bed. In truth, I should be going to sleep because I’m tired. However, after attending a Q&A held by Honest Mum (who can be found here) and The Rainbow Factory (who can be found here), I felt inspired to write…

I’m tired

I am physically and mentally tired… it is very difficult to be a single parent. It is very difficult to have a high pressured job. It is very difficult to keep up communications with your ex for the sake of your child. It is very difficult to start a new relationship. And I am trying to do all of these!!

And this isn’t a “Look how bad my life is” post (I have money, I am healthy and have a roof over my head – life could be worse). This is a self reflection on how I can make things better for myself and Heidi and hopefully give some ideas how you can do the same.

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What we should all be aiming for,,,

Priorities

Being an accountant and previously the main bread winner in a nuclear family, I’ve felt the responsibility to make sure money comes in. Sadly, money is important and I have made sacrifices to get better jobs. Should I keep on doing this? I don’t feel as though I have any option, so I might be spending more time in the car travelling to/from work than at home in the near future.

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This is how I feel most days!

Being Myself

Four years ago, my life fell apart after separation and my life was work and Heidi. That was it. This blog was the first step of me becoming me again. The next step was dating. However, it is so difficult. It is so tiring.

At times I want to curl into a ball and rest. However, I want to be my own person. I need to be my own person. It is a slow process and I sometimes feel guilty for going out without Heidi. However, a happy daddy will be a better parent for Heidi.

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I felt guilty for going to London without Heidi…

Going Forward

So how am I going to make things better? Here are a few things I’ve come up with…

– Be Organised. I’m pretty organised as it is, but there are still times when I don’t know where I’m meant to be in the morning or what time I’m finishing work. That’s not good!

– Say no! This might mean saying no to date night, no to people at work, no to blogging opportunities. I need to learn to say no and be confident to say no.

– Look after myself. Doing my first ever boot camp session this weekend has hopefully given me inspiration to better look after my body a bit better! I could do to lose a couple of pounds!

I’d love to hear your comments on how you manage all the pressures of real life and hopefully other readers will be able to use some of them in the future!!


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