Saturday, 3 September 2011

A Brilliant Brummie Birthday Outing!!

Yesterday Ian turned 43 years old...a fine age for a husband who is ageing to perfection!  To celebrate we went for a hotel break with 19 year Megan along with Ella, Kizzy and Freddy.  Our location was not the most exotic of places...a Park Inn off the M6 next to Wallsall FC football ground, purchased as a Groupon Deal from a while back.  But we packed in two day trips and a shopping spree, making it a full on way to enjoy his special day.

My Birthday Boy!!
After our previous visit to West Midlands Safari Park we had free return tickets (it is such a great offer...2 visits for the price of one!) so we had another encounter with nature's finest from the comfort of our car.  Our first drive through was a bit of a nightmare.  The place was so busy it took us nearly 3 hours to negotiate the traffic which was as snarled up as the M25 on a bank holiday weekend.  The animals seemed unimpressed with the constant stream of cars belching out fumes and stalling on the million and one hill starts that were necessary given the flow of the vehicles through the enclosures.  We saw three cars broken down, overheated by the experience...thankfully (for their sake) not in the Lion Enclosure.  Their sorry plight did however lead to us pondering about the prospect of a Final Destination film set in a zoo, where we imagined grisly endings to the characters involving electric fences, elephant tusks, deer antlers and hungry wildcats.  How the imagination runs wild when stuck in a car for 3 hours!

Traffic jam in the drive through!
It was a relief to escape and stretch our legs in a wander around the other exhibits.  The new African Village area had a Goat Walk, the Lemur Woods and a Meerkat enclosure.  We had some real close up animal encounters with a family of gorgeous Ring Tailed Lemurs.  Freddy was particularly overjoyed with seeing the creatures jumping around trees and running around our feet, because he loves the film Madagascar.  Seeing King Julien and his minions in the flesh was a real treat for him!  Ella became a goat whisperer surrounded by Pygmy Goats all intent on licking her hands and nibbling her hoodie.  She was a real magnet to them...I'm thinking she may be a modern day Heidi!  At the end of the day we braved the drive through again.  This time it was virtually empty giving us free rein to stop and look at the animals, who had now woken up and were much more interactive.  We had giraffes, cattle, deer, zebra and camels coming right up to the car having  areal nosey at us through the windows.  Megan was overjoyed to stroke a huge giraffe who bent his majestic head to peer into the car and give her outstretched hand a cheeky lick!  My highlight was two of the cutest baby camels who took a shine to our car and enjoyed being petted so much that they chased after us when we drove away.  They were so soft and cuddly...but I was afraid they might spit at me and the green frothy goo collecting at the corners of their mouths did not look like the sort of substance I wanted in my face!  I'd definitely recommend a late in the day drive was absolutely lovely!

The next day we visited Cadbury World with free pre-booked tickets as part of our Groupon package.  The place was incredibly busy so having our tickets pre-ordered was a godsend allowing us to jump the 2 hour long tour queue and go straight in.  We were given Curly Wurlies, Crunchies, Dairy Milks and pots of molten chocolate on our way round so the kids were pretty impressed.  We sat through various film shows, walked through parts of the plant, pressed buttons on machines, watched nostalgic adverts from my childhood (remember that smutty Flake in the bath ad or Frank Muir's Fruit and Nut case song??) and took a ride on a little car that drove through scenes of dancing cocoa beans which Freddy loved.  We played in a cool play area and made our own concoctions in Essence with melted choccie and sweeties (which I couldn't eat due to the intense pain it gave my sensitive teeth!)  It was a lovely few hours but had I paid full price and had to wait two hours and then queue up for everything inside, I don't think I would have been as impressed.

We ended the day with a trip to the Bullring, grabbing take out food to eat in the sunshine in the Cathedral Park.  It was lovely.  I hope Ian enjoyed his birthday outings...tomorrow we'll be going to Drayton Manor with my last freebie tickets of the Summer.  The last six weeks have been non-stop and lots of fun!  The kids going back to school will undoubtedly put me on a bit of a downer...we've loved having them around and have enjoyed their company so much.


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