Visit to Port Lympne (I still don’t know how to pronounce it…)

Every Bank Holiday I like to ask myself: “where are all the people likely to be?”. And then promptly go there, it would seem. So, as I never learn, I decided to take the child and head for a popular family destination in Kent for an Enjoyable Day Out (you know the drill: “you will enjoy yourself, fruit of my womb, for this has just cost me a small fortune and, most likely, slivers of my soul as the day progresses, but at least we will have lots of rose-tinted photographs for Mummy to sob over treasure for whence you have decided independence is your new best friend and sodded off and left me”).

This was my second visit to Port Lympne as I was once made to do a **groan** team building event for work there. As much as that type of enforced fun makes me want to scream, vomit, punch myself in the face and then resign (in that order) it was, however, a step up from the year our ‘away day’ was a theatrical work shop where we were made to do – oh, I can’t go there, it was just too painful. Anyway, I remember really enjoying the park so I decided to take Moo and explore. Notwithstanding the fact that it was Bank Holiday and we had to queue for about an hour for our safari ride, we had a bloody lovely time. Yes, we paid through the nose (like any UK attraction – it’s not cheap), but, we did save 20% by booking the day before so, every cloud.

The safari is a bumpy 45, or so, minute ride through the beautiful Kent countryside (and it is beautiful) to gaze at, well, animals, lol. It’s themed into African, Asian wildlife etc. and there’s a fair few ‘filler’ animals (I mean, no-one is getting their knickers in a twizzle with anticipation at seeing a bloody hog, are they?! No offence to the hogs, I’m sure they’re absolutely lovely). But every now and then the ‘audience pleasers’ appear much to the unanimous exclamations of: “look, it’s a giraffe/zebra/rhinoceros!!!” from child and adult alike. And I must say, hearing my daughter get excited to see her first giraffe did give me the warm fuzzies 🙂

We stepped off half way through the safari as we were feeling hungry and I gleely thought: ‘why not spend the 20% we saved on tickets on over inflated nourishment?!’. When I was a kid it was warm – and slightly limp – ham sandwiches brandished from a Tupperware container that always somehow smelt of chilli con carne or some other frozen left-over meal that had previously inhabited the container. Today though it was vegan pulled jackfruit in BBQ sauce served with wooden cutlery from a quirky little vintage van. All very lovely but very wanky. Next time we do a family trip, I swear I’m gonna treat the child to an 80s style pack-up. She needs that level of intervention, I feel, to keep her ‘grounded’.

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We then walked the rest of the way round the park. The weather was lovely, the park is spacious and there is lots to see so we had a jolly old time. It is very hilly though so be prepared to feel nicely exhausted at the end of the day (I did take pity on those poor parents pushing prams as it is steep!). For fear of sounding very middle-aged, I was very glad I wore trainers and the weather was not scorchio as the place is pretty spaced out (obviously good for the animals). I would say that the park is probably better suited to older children then very small ones for that reason. I also heard a few parents to tiny children moan observe this same thing. Personally, I think this is because the park is a more ‘natural’ environment than, say, a zoo and frequently animals can be hidden from view which obviously means little kids can then miss that ‘instant gratification’ thing they need to keep going.

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Something good for young’uns though was the dinosaur village. Even my tween got stuck in until she literally did get too ‘stuck in’ when posing for a photo in the mouth of some pre-historic creature and somehow managed to scratch a good inch of her stomach on one of its ‘teeth’. Cue a dramatic meltdown I didn’t need.

What I like about this place is that the staff are all very knowledgeable and keen to converse about the animals. After spending a stint staring at a rather forlorn looking gorilla and then feeling all levels of guilt about it, it was really enlightening being able to discuss it with a professional and to put it all into some kind of context. We heard about conservation and the many success stories about reintroducing animals back into the wild. In her words: “we would all like to be out of a job” which, as far as unofficial mission statements go, certainly seemed to underscore the commitment the staff have to the animals in their care. I don’t like zoos, but this place definitely does feel different.

Our final stop was the Palace of the Apes which had a little baby monkey roaming around and the cutest toddler monkey who was tumbling and larking about all over the place. At times the animals could be a little stinky but as my daughter kindly pointed out: “to be honest though, Mum, I’ve smelt worse when you’ve used the bathroom”. Thanks love. Thank you very much. We’ll leave it there shall we?

SoM xx

 

 

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