Wednesday 6 December 2017

Christmas at Noah's Ark Bristol

We recently received an invite to review Noah's Ark Farm Zoo, visiting on Saturday 25th November and I jumped at the chance. A sane woman would say "no I have a Christening tomorrow that I have been planning for months" but no, this was too good an opportunity to turn down and I have wanted to visit the place for 3 years. The fact that the kids would enjoy it was a bonus. The fact that Daddy and Grandma could do all the last minute shopping and errands for the party and buffet in peace... well that was the icing on the cake. So plans were made, cousin invited, alarm set and off we trekked. Oh and the usual prep for any event, Aaron was tasked with watching You Tube videos to get suitably excited and that he did in bucket loads as he was beyond thrilled with the selection of animals he was about to meet. Way more than we've seen in other places recently.... errrm... moving swiftly on.... oh but just look at that tractor above. They loved posing for a pic there and that's right before the entrance so they were delighted with the place before we even dived in or met our blogger group in the Food Barn. Even before that after getting out of the car in the car-park we were greeted with this scene of reindeer. They look quite mature don't they.
But that was not all. Whilst we gathered round chatting, having by now gone through the ticket barrier, the kids ran off to climb on this boat. Before I knew it Lottie was with them, safely climbing up, between cousin and brother and I was greeted with this scene. My 22 month old, gulps, up in the sky, having only turned 22 months that very day:
Clearly instead of telling them to get down I got my camera out and then greeted them (getting video footage too naturally) at the bottom of that yellow slide you see in the pic. To be honest I am a HUGE fan of silhouette photography so when I saw the scene above I couldn't get my camera ready quick enough. Well... clearly I did LOL! They look like they're going on a bear hunt don't they. And funnily enough there are bears in Noah's Ark. That's Lottie in front, cousin behind. then a stranger followed by Aaron taking up the rear. I was so glad that they had this to play on whilst us adults got reacquainted. It's been too long since I'd last seen Jane and Heather. With both ladies I have linked to their Christmas in Bristol posts so do have a looksie if you're local or nosey :-) There are bears at Noah's Ark but we didn't see them, mainly because the soft play area and not so soft (wooden) play areas are exceptional, so we kind of got holed up in there for hours but more on that later. It was now time to go in and meet everyone, so the kids were beckoned into the Food Barn so we could congregate for a tour. I'm actually impressed now with hindsight that they agreed to stop playing and came in. Once in the Food Barn I ordered some drinks and food and chatted with Jane and Heather. I suddenly thought "how come I am not being asked questions by the kids?".... a quick scan of the room and this is what I was greeted with. It was such a serene scene and too good to be true so I doubled up laughing at how very sensible, surprisingly so, they were being. However short-lived...... Again a moment for the camera
We then discovered that our blogger welcome pack had 4 vouchers for Hot Chocolate in it so I think I then got one for me and one for my niece (later giving the remaining 2 to 2 of Jane's ever so lovely boys). The Marketing lady who was our tour guide for the morning arranged with the catering department that we'd have pizza at 12:30 so off we trotted knowing we were building up a healthy appetite. At this point I had no idea just how very delicious that pizza was going to be. Aaron was pretty much on the go all day, whereas my niece was happy to help with Lottie and stay by my side a little more. Of course they were both free range in the soft play but this was Aaron pretty much the whole time we were outdoors. For an outdoorsie boy such as him Noah's Ark is a dream come true. It is LARGE - set in over 100 acres of beautiful countryside. Aaron having met the Emus:
If you're reading this as a blogger who was there that day, 25th November, this moment pictured below was the moment when I got cross. Lottie wouldn't let Aaron move her over at the glass and instead of being the "bigger" person and brother he kept trying to muscle in, on the same centimetres of glass that she was viewing the Leopard Tortoise through. I shouted out for him to stop as she was starting to press her head against his, like a rhino, and had he listened to me that would have been the end of it, but no he dug his heels in and tried to squash in front of the glass even more. I took this photo before what happened next. But he pushed so much that Lottie pushed back and ended up banging her head on the window frame. I was LIVID so if you heard me frustrated and telling him off just after this, then now you know why. I was too embarrassed to make eye contact with anyone after that. But if you are the parent of siblings you probably have the attitude "these things happen". I just get annoyed because he can be so so so very very good with Lottie. A complete Saint. So then I am not prepared for it when he acts SO stubborn and out of character. She's old enough now that she doesn't just back down either. Oh dear. You'd NEVER guess all of this from this pic would you (I think my niece is just looking at them in disbelief considering there is lots of glass to choose from):
Because she had a wee bump on her forehead after this I stayed cross at Aaron for a couple of hours. I can't bear it when she's hurt as a result of his behaviour and I was even more cross knowing it'd happened after I said something rather than before which meant Aaron was really disobedient. Looking back on it I wish it hadn't happened as it is SUCH a beautiful place but luckily the pizza and the soft play solved all problems and we were in very good spirits for meeting Saint Nicholas straight after food. But before food we went on a whistle stop tour of the whole zoo. So we met a donkeygoats and camels to name but a few:
Noah's Ark has artfully told the Christmas story through signage, which is very touching. This rather apt sign was next to the donkey. Visiting this signage is part of the History and Mystery Tour which is an illuminated walk culminating with a visit to Saint Nicholas. It is quite literally Christmas at the Ark. The day we were there he was available from 1-2, so it may be that you don't complete the tour completely prior to meeting him unless you whizz round as fast as we did, leaving soft play (and tractor ride) till later, as we did.
When we went to visit the Elephant Christmas Tree Forest the kids had to first stop to have a go on this. A slide in the shape of an elephant - FANTASTIC. It was cold but as you can see the sky was spectacular. One of those chilly sunny days. Aaron briefly posed and smiled for me below before whizzing down the slide. I guess I was lucky he did as this is sill before the pizza lunch. We must have made up by this point except shortly after this I remember we couldn't get him to join us. Can't remember what he was climbing on or doing by then. SO SO SO much to do there at Noah's Ark, but when he wasn't keeping up that time before lunch, Heather held back to take up the rear and walk with him. Thank you if you're reading this. What a great day out and such good value for what they charge.
I love this pic of my daughter and my niece in the Elephant Eden House. Jesus is safe. Again part of the Christmas story. Noah's Ark is Christian run. It has a magical vibe about it and Jane was lucky enough to meet the owner.
So not long after this we went to the Food Barn for lunch. It was packed despite it being out of season. There was a cheery hustle and bustle atmosphere and we headed for the reserved tables for our pizzas. They were handmade and utterly delicious. I must have had about 5 large slices and the kids had loads too. I didn't do that Instagrammer thing of taking pics before eating as the fresh air had made us too hungry for all of that. Shame though as the catering team deserves me to sing their praises with some beautiful foodie pics. If you go though do try the pizza as even the bases are made on site and they are goooooood. This is Pizza like Mamma used to make.... 
But then with full tummies we were off to meet St. Nic and his trusty Elf.
The kids LOVED the animals but they were laying an egg to get to the soft play and it didn't at all disappoint. I thought Lottie would be frightened being deep in a ball pit but she wasn't phased at all. Even copying her elders and sinking right down into it.
I have BRILLIANT footage of them in the play areas both wooden and soft but not really any photos as they were moving so fast any I did take were blurred. Plus in the wooden play area, while Aaron and his cousin ran ahead I was often with Lottie, so didn't get chance to stop for pics. Can't wait to edit it all into a vlog when I get chance. We did stop for a break though to do the tractor trailer ride which I can highly recommend. I must advise though that it is £2 per person and not included in your admission. The driver did a guided tour of Noah's Ark and it was very entertaining and original. It took us so long to convince Lottie to leave and put socks and shoes off that we missed one ride and met some animals while we waited for the next which would be the final one of the day. Aaron and his cousin were delighted to be able to have animals on their knees and to stroke them. I think they handled 3 different animals in total each.
We had such a good time at Noah's Ark and I wouldn't hesitate if I had the opportunity to go again. Although we were there as bloggers to review it, I do think it's well worth the admission fee. I had 3 children with me of such different ages: 1. 7 and 9 and they'd all give it a huge thumbs up. 

We were there till closing, such a good time we were having. Being 25th November it was dark when we left. Good night Noah's Ark.
Definitely add Noah's Ark to your list of things to do in Bristol. It's well worth a visit, such a large and beautiful place. This Christmas they have various things happening. The below is from Noah's Ark website, see

Saturday 9th December: Ark Angel choir performance at 2pm in the Ark Arena. Come along and join in with some festive favourites as our Zoo Keepers sing some tunes to fundraise for the Crisis Centre.
Saturday 16th December: Come and watch a festive perfomance of the Christmas story with real animals. The Portishead Brownie group is kindly putting on a Christams Nativity for you all at 2pm in the Ark Arena. The nativity showing is included in the entry price.
Saturday 23rd December: Come along and get involved with your very own Christmas Nativity with real live animals. At 2pm in the Ark Arena we're inviting you to get involved and tell the Christmas Story. All props and script will be provided just turn up on the day and get involved.
 Do you belong to a local school or community group? This year our traditional Christmas Nativities featuring real animals are returning and we would love for you to get invloved. Please note booking is essential to take part and performance dates run from 4th - 22nd December 2017.

Disclosure: I visited Noah's Ark as part of a bloggers' experience arranged by Bristol Bloggers, therefore our admission was complimentary. I do however remain honest and haven't been told what to say. We truly LOVED our day at the zoo farm and can't wait to visit again. You'll see truly how much fun we had when I publish a video, as soon as I get time to edit it that is.

Bye for now, Liska xxx

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