This half term we stayed with family who live closer to London and spent two days visiting the attractions and trying out all sorts of London transport. We live in a small town where buses come once an hour, so it was fun for the boys to travel on a double decker, and we also took the overground train to Camden Road. On our first day we went straight up to London Zoo. J is 10 and K is nearly 7, and I think we’ve reached the perfect age for days out like this. (Their big sister was away ski-ing which makes it easier to find a day out to suit everyone!) Both boys are now able to walk round, carry their own stuff, and it’s only rarely that we have to make a dash to find a toilet! The zoo was just right for the boys, with lots and lots to see: our only struggles were what to see first.
We ate lunch at the Terrace restaurant, because it was a freezing cold day, too cold for a picnic! This is attractively designed, and I think it is new since I was last there. The food was very good, I had a red lentil dahl and rice and a nan, my mother and the boys all had fish and chips. The only issue was that the place was so busy it was hard to find a table … in summer this would be much easier as there are lots of tables outside.
We came out of lunch straight into the penguins’ lunchtime. It was one of the highlights for the boys to see the penguin enclosure, as there are large glass plates so you can see them swim under water. I enjoyed seeing the local herons come down and join in feeding time (see below).
There were two new areas since our last visit, the gorillas and the tigers. The gorillas weren’t enjoying the cold weather so they were indoors which made it less interesting, although the boys were impressed by their size. There is a new baby gorilla which we didn’t see. The tigers made up for this. Although there are only three tigers the enclosure is really well designed so we got lots of chances to see them. A highlight was when the smallest (female?) tiger came up and sat close to the glass, right by where we were standing.
After the tigers we saw the Komodo dragons, and then we went into the Aquarium to warm up again. Finally we picked another warm spot, the butterfly house. It was great to have butterflies flying all around us, and the boys enjoyed holding an empty pupa case, and seeing the pupae hatching and butterflies emerging.
It would have cost £70 approx. for a family of four, booking in advance. Get there early, and there is so much to see that you will feel like you have had good value. We had a number of areas that we had to leave unexplored, and we’re hoping to go back later this year when the new lion area is completed.
Disclaimer: We were given free entry to London Zoo.