Thursday, 4 July 2013

A first Father's Day to remember - featuring Twycross Zoo, Next, Moonpig, NOTHS & Frankie and Benny's

I'm a very organised person and love nothing more than planning special occasions so they are just that - special. As little man was only born in May and isn't old enough to tell Daddy himself how much he loves him, I wanted to make my husband's first Father's Day one to remember.

Planning began about six months ago as I knew life would be a whirlwind when baby arrived. I wanted us to go somewhere nice for the day where we hadn't been before and after researching places within a 45 minute drive time of Birmingham, I chose Twycross Zoo. It was perfect on paper as 1) we love animals, 2) it wasn't too far for us to travel, 3) it had good facilities and accessibility for families, 4) the ticket price was reasonable, and 5) there was a new exhibit, Dinosaur Valley, and my hubs loves dinosaurs.

In the week leading up to Father's Day, I was concerned that the glorious British summer might scupper my plans but we were really lucky on the day; it wasn't overly sunny or warm, but pleasant enough for walking around outside for several hours and hubs even picked up some sun without realising it.

Our day began at 7.30am with Ethan greeting Daddy in bed, dressed in a 'I love Daddy, he's my hero' onesie from Next (£6), and with a nice cup of tea in a personalised mug from Moonpig.com, featuring some of the funny faces of Ethan plus a special message. I also ordered a photo upload card from Moonpig.com and wrote a poem inside to give a little clue as to what we would be doing that day.

Hubs then got to open his other gifts - a picture frame from Mothercare, a personalised t-shirt from Sparks Clothing on Not On The High Street and an engraved dog tag necklace, from Capture & Keep, also featured onNOTHS, with Ethan's birth date details on. Yes, I went a little crazy but I found so many nice ideas and as I say, I wanted to really make the day special and show my hubs how much he means to me and our baby boy.
Source: Next.co.uk
Cuddles in bed


Daddy's gifts
We then got ready and with the car packed up for our first family day out, we hit the road and headed first to Frankie and Benny's at The Fort to fuel up. Hubs loves pancakes and when I saw their breakfast menu, with 12 different dishes all for just £5, plus unlimited tea or coffee for £1.50 (PERFECT for us new parents), I knew this had to be our first stop of the day.  It was so good, we've now made it our Sunday morning tradition - wish they did loyalty cards!

After a little detour to pick up some baby milk, as I'd forgotten to pack a carton (oops!), we were off to Twycross Zoo. When we walked into the entrance building, I was really blown away. The Himalaya building is beautifully designed with food, drink and gifts, plenty of room and an amazing feature in the toilets - a glass worker any display behind the sinks that had me fascinated. The restaurant area is spacious and overlooks the Snow Leopard enclosure. I was really impressed by this welcome area and even more excited to look around the zoo.

Map, Source: Twycross Zoo
I'd prebooked the tickets (prices are £15.95 for adults, £10.95 for 3-16 year olds, £1 for under 3's) and I'd made a note of a couple of the feeds / talks we'd like to see during our visit, including the elephant feeding - the part I was looking forward to most.

We looked around all the monkey enclosures first, laughing at the sound of the gibbons and enjoying various of the other animal enclosures along the way, including the adorable meerkats.

My little chimp meeting the big chimps
We then headed back to the front of the zoo to hear a talk at the Dinosaur Valley exhibit area before exploring the further reaches of the zoo. We only had to make one trip to the baby changing area thankfully, as the toilet door wouldn't close properly and it was a little smelly - but I guess that's to be expected. The last stop for us was the elephants, which have a lovely open space to enjoy with very good viewing points.
Riding a dinosaur, of course
All in all, we were very impressed by our trip to Twycross Zoo. The facilities for families are brilliant. Everything is easy to access with a pram / pushchair, the map and signage is very clear to follow and there's plenty of amenities, with toilets and food and drink stalls and shops, offering a broad range of options at reasonable prices, at regular intervals all around the zoo. The enclosures are nice and the whole zoo is clean and tidy, and all the staff we saw were friendly and willing to talk to visitors and answer any questions. There's a good range of animals to enjoy but being a world primate centre, if you like monkeys and apes, this is sure to be of particular interest to you.

After three and a half hours, we were well and truly worn out and even little man decided he would settle down for a snooze towards the end.

We hadn't eaten during our visit, thanks to our big breakfast, so we headed back into Birmingham for Father's Day feast before visiting Stephen's dad to give him our gifts (which included another Moonpig.com personalised card and mug, which he too loved).

Although a very tiring day, our first family trip was a success and I couldn't have been happier. It really was a Father's Day to remember.

*Note: none of the products or services mentioned within the post are sponsored. I personally chose to buy /  visit the products and places featured and wanted to share them with my readers.
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