Whipsnade Zoo

I went to Whipsnade Zoo this summer with my sister and her family. It’s partnered with London Zoo I visited a few years ago. Whipsnade Zoo is huge so we started from one side and made our way round.

The animals are sectioned according to the continent they came from, so we started with Africa. The first animals we saw were chimpanzees. They were a bit far away but I liked that they had a lot of space to move around. We then moved onto the penguins which again I was pleased to see had a huge space and also a great view of the English landscape.

As we made our way along the path we suddenly spotted an animal that was outside like us! After a closer look we saw it was a wallaby hiding in the long grass. Did it escape?! Turns out no; there’s wallabies and Maras (like giant Guinea pigs) that are allowed to roams free. My 2 year old niece had fun chasing after the Maras, much to our amusement.

Getting over our surprise we next visited other animals typically found in Africa; rhinos, giraffes (my favourite), lions, ostriches, meerkats and zebras. Lions apparently sleep up to 20 hours a day so I didn’t hold much hope in seeing them running around. There was a cheetah too but they were hard to spot sleeping in the tall grass.

Walking along leaving the Africa section we turned a corner to see sudden bright pops of pink! Flamingoes!

Their pink feathers looked so lovely against the greeny water. There were flamingo chicks, their feathers stull grey, pelicans and herons all surrounding the same pond.

After stopping for lunch and a rest we made our way to the next section, the Asian continent. Here we saw elephants and tigers. The tigers were also pretty sleepy, making little movement. Nearby was an area dedicated to dinosaurs. There were various shaped and sizes, some growling and moving. My niece of 7 enjoyed making scared faces at them and digging for fossils.

Next we ventured into the aquarium and butterfly house. The kids enjoyed seeing the various fish and it was nice to go at a slower pace. By the time we reached the butterfly house my youngest niece was fast asleep and the older one didn’t like butterflies so didn’t stick around. I’m not fond of flying insects in closed spaces myself but I did manage to take some nice close up photos of some of the calmer butterflies.

Last stop was the farm, here they had a striking long haired Poitiven donkey, cows, ponies, alpacas, hens, rabbits and my little niece’s favourite baby goats! Feeling refreshed after her nap she spent her time petting, chasing after and hugging them.

I always feel conflicted when visiting zoos as I feel sad that animals are kept in smaller spaces than they would be in the wild. But the truth is that zoos can play an important part in conservation and survival of some animals. Seeing them in large, open spaces in nice and I’m glad that they seem to be well looked after at Whipsnade.

The Old New Inn Model Village

I’ve always wanted to visit a model village, but have never been able to until now. On the way home from the Confetti Flower Fields we were passing by The Old New Inn Model Village so we decided to stop and take a look.

The model village is the only Grade II listed model village in the country and was first open to the public in 1937. Thee village is made up of older building and has been updated to include new shops as the times have changed.

The shops have have a lot of detail, you can see products in the windows and people sitting at mini tables. To give an idea of scale I asked my sisters to pose next to some houses.

There was a church model that when you got close enough to you could hear a choir singing, a mini zoo with penguins splashing and a little greenhouse with a gardeners and lots of mini pots and a barbeque. There was also a model famous red phone box, which was lovely to see.

One of my favourite things in the model village was a replica of the model village, which also had another replica of the model village!

There was also a model replica of the author Thomas Hardy’s cottage which is is the area (Dorset). He was born in the area and stayed to write a number of novels.

The details that had been put into the model buildings was impressive. Shops windows with products, gardens with plants and one that even a real mini pear tree that had pears growing on it. It’s nice to see that the attraction had been maintained for so many years and that it was well looked after, reflecting the town in modern times as well as old. It was an enjoyable visit and a fun detour.