Monday 23 October 2017

Wild Place Project for Halloween Half Term | REVIEW

Yesterday we were a little tired from Pumpkin Patch hunting the day before but we headed off to Wild Place as they were expecting* us! 
*More on that later.
That little kiosk you see behind us above is the ticket desk - I don't know was it closed because we arrived at 13:45 or because it was quiet but either way we headed for the souvenir shop which you have to go through to enter. I cheerily said "I am on the guest list for today" as I was there in a blogging capacity to review Wild Place and it's half-term SPOOKTACULAR Halloween activities. I kept my greeting that brief as I was conscious there was a queue behind me. Seems we weren't the only ones who wanted a lazy Sunday morning. Or perhaps they were annual pass holders who pop in for half day visits each time.
As we left the souvenir shop the first thing we saw was Leap of Faith (which was busy) and the climbing wall, but we looked around 360 and happened to spot an indoor play area (the Fun Fort) in a shed, tucked behind the shop, so decided we'd head for that in case we didn't pass it again on the way out. You'll see it properly when I edit and upload my youtube video but it's basically like an adventure playground, with one climbing frame for 0-5 years (perfect for Lottie) and another perfect for Aaron, although Aaron kindly stayed on the little one. In there there is lots of seating for parents so it's perfect. Perfect place to hide from the rain till it clears off.

Upon exiting the Fun Fort I asked Aaron would he like to do the climbing wall now, to which he said "no I want to see the animals first". He's a huge animal lover which is becoming more evident the more zoos and farms we go to. He has a bravery, affinity and confidence with animals that he doesn't get from me or Daddy.
The path we walked along next, had several of these scarecrow pumpkin heads on it, up on the grassy bank. They were all pointing in the same direction which made all of us giggle and made a straight stretch of nothing quite fun. PURE genius whoever came up with it. Full brownie points for them. Lottie kept pointing and saying her baby version of "look look look!". At the end of this path is the giraffe enclosure which was very welcome as we haven't seen any since we visited Folly Farm when we stayed at Bluestone over 2 years ago.

The first entrance you come to takes you in at ground level, as per this pic above. You're greeted with 3 amazing chalk drawings showing the anatomy of giraffes. 

We could see people on a balcony above us, literally at eye level with the giraffes, but had no idea how to get there. Upon exiting the building you see a staircase to a door, so Daddy offered to stay with the buggy whilst us 3 went up. It was only once we were on the mezzanine floor that we realised there was another entrance (on a different face of the building) accessible via a long wooden ramp, so we phoned Daddy to come join us. There needs to be signage making it known that this access point is available. As it is another 50-100 metres walk before you naturally stumble across it. Someone with limited mobility could do with knowing about it before having gone through the challenge of the staircase. I've triple checked the map and there's no mention of it.
After exiting the giraffe enclosure we were in in Central Africa Benoue National Park. I don't know whether to say the Land Rover or the guinea fowl were Aaron's favourite as he enjoyed them both equally simultaneously as they were together. I thought they were pheasants and Daddy thought they were turkeys so we were both wrong LOL! Sometimes he was chasing them but other times they were chasing him bit always as a gaggle of birds, with one body but multiple heads. I don't know what a gaggle of guinea fowl is called but God they were cute. The only issue here was Aaron and Lottie both wanted the steering wheel but luckily we (and the guinea fowl) distracted Aaron often enough that Lottie did indeed get a look in. We passed this area again a couple of hours later as we looped back out home and we couldn't get Lottie off it, till we said Goodbye and pretended to leave without her (as if we would LOL)!

Just look at the 3 very different facial expressions here - says it all really LOL.

They really make an effort with the authenticity of your surroundings at Wild Place so there are lots of photo opportunities with backdrops like this, if you want to imagine you are in far flung places.
The minute we went through these gates below, I should have known animals would be roaming free. The presence of two gates with an almost airlock in between is a right giveaway. But I wasn't prepared so just needed to tour the place quickly and get out of dodge as soon as possible. Although a lemur did brush passed my leg while I was filming at one point and one hopped on Aaron's foot. If you like getting up close and personal with furry creatures then this is quite literally the Wild Place for you:
There are actually THREE types of lemurs in this enclosure. The ones that ran around visibly the most were the Ring Tailed, as pictured below, but the fluffy brown teddy bear type were cute too, but apparently you don't let them scent you my rubbing their bum on you or your belongings. They had their beady eye on a little girl's teddy but luckily one of the two zookeepers present warned her. We were told that the lemurs weren't normally as active as they were when we were there. But yesterday they were very excited and very playful. Perfect as Aaron adored the spectacle they created. I did manage to film some of it. Which was brave of me as I'm normally quite on edge when furry creatures are near me.

To recover from all that activity with the busy playful lemurs Aaron had a wee lie down bless him. Very brave considering the Halloween witch could have been anywhere nearby.

Next we found the Witch and the Barefoot Trail simultaneously. She explained to us that we COULD leave our shoes on PHEW, as it was quite muddy. I did video her but forgot to get a photo so leave you with this:

Another chance for a photo opportunity, below. We did complete the Barefoot Trail. It's just a chance to walk on different surfaces like sand, bark chips etc... Our favourite by far was walking on the sawdust but all three of us kept our shoes/boots on. Daddy then even used an outdoor tap to rinse off his boots from the muddy bits near the barefoot trail.
Near here was a Tower in a field and this would be a perfect fair weather spot for a picnic. Daddy wandered over as he loved the architecture of the tower. I wasn't fussed as it didn't look like you could enter or go up in it. It's clearly a very picturesque spot on a sunny day though and it has featured in the pictures of friends who have visited Wild Place.

Next we went to a small Walled Garden area which I found quite underwhelming but thankfully soon after there was a wee playground with 2 slides and a spider climbing frame which the kids loved. What am I talking about?! I've just looked at the map and the meerkats were in the walled garden! They are like MY favourite animals, EVER! I do apologise.

From the playground above you can see through to the climbing wall. I still had it at the forefront of my mind that Aaron very much wanted to do this which is why we went around the whole Wild Place so very fast. I saw an instructor putting several helmets away (and mumbling something) so I rushed over leaving Aaron Lottie and Daddy on the slides. It was about 3:55. I chatted with the instructors and they explained that they only accept climbers on the hour so the last climb was at 3pm. I explained that one of the reasons we'd agreed the review was that Aaron was very excited to climb the wall. I explained that if the place closes at 5pm the last climb would be at 4pm. I looked at the time on my phone ready to explain that it was now 3:55pm and was shocked to see it was now 3:59pm. Upon telling him this he said "no it's 5 seconds to 4pm" bit of an argumentative position to take but hey ho! He then explained as it wasn't busy they made the last climb 3 pm. I begged him to let Aaron do it at 4 and said we even came round at 4, rather than 4:30 as despite not knowing it was on the hour we weren't taking ANY chances with coming over so close to closing time but he remained unsympathetic. SO this is as much as we saw of it :-(

This next pic really makes me laugh. We are, by now, in the area called The Secret Congo (which we'd whizzed passed in favour of the climbing wall but went back to after that disappointment above) and we stumbled upon an enclosure of three different types of Okapi. Aaron whose favourite humour is toilet humour, with all of the wee, poo and bums, was a little confused at the 3 pics of the three different types of Okapis. I had to capture his little perplexed face. Too funny! He was like "so I am supposed to identify them.... from their.... bums!!!!" Cue shocked face below:

We had a good look around here and really enjoyed looking at these graceful and calm Okapi. We found all 3 of them and each of them had a wooden plaque detailing their date of birth. It was very sweet that they all seemed to be approximately a year old like my little Lottie.

As we followed the path onwards we came to this viewing area, where you can see the zebras and giraffes but by now from the far side of the park. There are only 2 telescopes but it was heading for evening so we had them to ourselves and they're not coin operated so that was super. We spent quite some time here:

From this vantage point you can see that long wooden ramp, below, that leads to the giraffe enclosure. Perfect for wheelchair and buggy access. Don't attempt the stairs with a buggy, in order to get to the Giraffe mezzanine floor.
Then it was time to get some photos as we departed. As I had hogged my camera all day I needed to pass it to Daddy so I could actually be in some family pics myself. I love the ones he took with more authentic backdrops.
I've noticed that I haven't at all mentioned the Wolves, the Cheetahs or the Reindeer or the Baboons. I think with the wolves and the cheetahs it is mainly video coverage that I have, rather than photos. We really enjoyed both though. The reindeer were adjacent to the carpark so we spent lots of time admiring and talking to them before we got in the car to leave. I am ashamed to say that we didn't at all see the Baboons as I didn't once look at the map whilst we were there as I was too upset from what happened on our arrival, so when she gave it to me I just shoved it in my bag.

It's only looking at the Guide Map now that I see where we'd have needed to have gone to see the Baboons. I've also obviously read reviews before writing mine and discovered they even have a glamping area near the baboons. It's even called Camp Baboon and you can book to go glamping there. Wow! I only discovered Camp Baboon as I read this: Hello Magazine Camp Baboon Wild Place review when I was looking at Twitter for tweets about Wild Place late last night.

I won't go into the why and the where fors. But basically what happened was the assistant on the desk in the souvenir shop, taking care of admission, said I was not on the guest list, even though I was down to review Wild Place yesterday. When she begrudgingly went to write my name in the diary, my name was actually already there, so the whole thing could have been avoided had she done the professional thing of consulting the diary immediately upon my arrival. I was not the only guest detailed there. It seemed she would only do so if "somebody had told her about it". What happened to using your initiative and remaining professional. What helps you do that in the absence of training to that effect is a philosophy of "the customer is always right" something my Mum taught me when I was very little. Had she just assumed that I was right in my assertion that I was on the guest list she would have gone into investigative mode and would have either consulted the diary or a colleague. Instead her first reaction was to say I wasn't on any guest list and that she knew nothing about it. Not great in a customer facing role. Yes, it did tarnish our visit, but only from my perspective as I held it all in and let Daddy and the kids enjoy themselves, which as you can see from the pics they very much did. Even more so, once you see the video of the day. I stayed up till 1 a.m. to edit it, but was only half way through and needed some sleep. Even writing this (and editing the photos) has taken 5 hours without a break (we've not had lunch yet) so it may be a few days before the video.

What with the greeting person's disposition and that of the guy on Leap of Faith it seems all personnel we encountered yesterday were having a funny five minutes. Luckily ALL of the zookeepers without exception were ACE!

SPOOKTACULAR is currently on at The Wild Place for Halloween Half Term and the admission is very affordable for what you get in return. Kids' admission is only £5 each if booked online each with a full paying adult and it's on from 21st to 29th October. The Witch is fabulous and is there all week. I didn't get a photo of her but did manage to video her :-)

1 comment:

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