Selfies with Dinosaurs at Jurassic Kingdom

On a recent trip to London I was determined to do something a little bit different. When the opportunity to go to Jurassic Kingdom arose, I jumped at the chance. Who doesn’t want to go somewhere with life size dinosaurs? Me, my sister and her boyfriend most certainly did.

When we headed to Osterley Park, ,about 25 minutes outside of central London, we had no idea what to expect from Jurassic Kingdom. We didn’t even know if we were really in the right place until we got right up to Osterley House when signs became a bit clearer. Having never been to Osterley Park before, we were all impressed by how beautiful it was. It’s definitely somewhere I would go back to.

Picking up our tickets at the box office was a bit of a pain. There was a queue of maybe 4 or 5 groups in front of us. No one moved for ages. No one said anything. No one from the box office called anyone forward. It was only when I asked the woman in front of us if they were actually waiting that I was told that they were only waiting because they wanted to pay by card and the machine wasn’t working. The queue system wasn’t handled very well and I hate to think how long I could have been stood there for.

Before going through to Jurassic Kingdom there was a few different food and drink stalls as well as VR systems to try out (extra cost) and somewhere to buy merchandise.

It was an absolutely glorious day when we visited. It was also during the Easter holidays which meant Jurassic Kingdom was pretty busy. We didn’t mind this at all although it was a bit strange going without Erin and there being so many children running around. My sister took on the task of taking part in the fun trail task we were given at the entrance.

Honestly, we all really loved Jurassic Kingdom. I don’t care that we’re all 30+ and didn’t have a child with us. It was so fun seeing which kinds of dinosaurs were there, taking selfies with some of them and also learning a bit as we went.

As you can see, Chris was much better at the selfies than me! The sun was blinding and I couldn’t see what I was taking pictures of. I had to hope for the best.

The stars of the attraction, the dinosaurs, were so impressive! Being only 1 Erin may have been a bit scared but the other children running around seemed to love them and were really excited!

All three of us thoroughly enjoyed our visit and we had so much fun and laughed loads! It may not have been what we would have picked to do on another day but it has made us all want to try new things.

Tickets for the London event were £13.50 per adult and I do think this was a little expensive, especially considering the other locations cost £2 less.

Jurassic Kingdom is moving around the country until the end of October. Check out dates, locations and prices here!

Disclaimer: We received complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own.

 

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My London Getaway!

Last week I did something I didn’t think I’d do for a really long time. I went away for a couple of days without Erin or John. Part of realising that I have PND also meant that I realised that I need some me time now and again. So, I headed off to London for a night to see my sister and her fiance (Nat & Chris). It was also a kind of late birthday present too.

London

I arrived late morning on the Thursday and we started off with a Wetherspoons breakfast before heading off to Jurassic Kingdom (Review coming soon). Even though Erin wasn’t with me, I still wanted to do a couple of things that maybe I wouldn’t have normally done before. We all had loads of fun, especially taking selfies with the dinosaurs. It was a beautiful day as well so it was nice to get out of the city and in a big, open space.

After Jurassic Kingdom I headed to my hotel, the Holiday Inn Express (Review coming soon) in North Acton, to check in and lighten my bags a bit. The hotel was a 2 minute walk from the tube station so that was great. It is about 20 minutes away from central London on the tube but I didn’t mind that at all.

On Thursday evening we had tickets to see Dreamgirls (Review coming soon), which was my birthday present from Nat and Chris. Before the theatre we went to Bills for dinner. Bills is one of my favourite restaurants so I knew the food would be amazing!

I was so incredibly excited about seeing Dreamgirls. Not living in London means never really being too bothered about seeing any shows. However, Dreamgirls is a favourite of mine and I was desperate to see it. Unfortunately though, Amber Riley wasn’t in it on the night we went but that wasn’t a problem. Come back to read the review in a few days!

On Friday we also had quite a few plans. I got up quite early and headed out for a roam about on my own before meeting Nat and Chris again. We were meeting near the Southbank Center so I went to look at the London Eye and to chill by the river. I think I got there at about 9am and it was so quiet and peaceful. It was a lovely place to be before everything opened.

At 11:30 we had tickets for the London Duck Tours. (Review coming soon) I’ve never done a tour of London before and I was so excited about this. This really didn’t disappoint and it’s one of the most fun things I’ve done in London.

Lunch on Friday was my favourite restaurant of all time, Vapiano. There are branches all over the world and they have the best pasta ever.

Vapiano

Of course, we had to do a bit of shopping so we went to Liberty’s and Carnaby Street where I finally got to go to Choccywoccydoodah. I was in chocolate heaven and could have bought everything. I didn’t though. Instead, we went to Bubblewrap Waffle in Chinatown. I had to wait an hour for a waffle but my god was it worth it!?

By this time we were all exhaused but we headed to Westfield Stratford as it’s not far from where Chris lives. He had to pick up some bits as he and Nat were coming back with me for the weekend. Nat and I did some wedding dress viewing and a bit more shopping but that didn’t last long. My poor feet were killing me.

My London getaway was bloody knackering but it was so needed. I got to do loads of my favourite things and also do something new and exciting. I can’t say I felt refreshed but I can quite happily go for quite some time now before needing some time to myself like that again.

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Twinkle’s Town, Norwich

When it comes to doing things with Erin, I like to find new places to take her. On Tuesdays we try to meet up with a group of friends we used to do Baby Yoga with and get the children together but we don’t like to do the same thing every week. A few weeks ago we went to Twinkle’s Town in Norwich.

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Twinkle’s Town is not your average play center. The describe it as ‘a little world for big imaginations.’

As you head up the stairs you are met with a toddler sized town full of amazing things for them to discover. There is a construction site with diggers, a theatre complete with dress up, a shop and a hospital, just to name a few sections. I was amazed by how much thought and time had gone into the design of this place and how much there was to do.

Erin absolutely loved running off and visiting the different sections. She was especially happy eating fake cake!

Twinkle’s Town often runs giveaway on their Facebook page and there are always different themed events going on. We went to an In the Night Garden event when we visited. There was someone dressed as Igglepiggle and In the Night Garden themed toys and songs.

Something I was really impressed by was the baby changing facilities, which are downstairs and located by the entrance. The changing room was impeccably clean and really well thought out. There was two different changing mats and some nappies, wipes and bags to use just in case you needed them. These were definitely some of the nicer changing facilities I have come across.

Unfortunately, Twinkle’s Town isn’t really in a convenient location. If you drive there is barely any parking and if you don’t, it’s a good 30 minute walk from Norwich train station. With a pushchair in tow, it’s a bit of a pain to be honest. I was lucky in that a friend drove us for this visit but we had to park a few streets away and carry our toddlers. Not fun!

Our visit cost £6.50 and included a hot drink but prices vary depending on if you book in advance and what the session is.  Sessions are also time limited. While Erin really enjoyed it, it’s not somewhere we’ll go too often but this is only because of the location. If it was more accessible we’d go a lot more.

Get in Touch:

63 Sussex Street
Norwich, Norfolk

Call 07721 391909

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A family trip to Banham Zoo

Last Saturday lunchtime my sister sent a message asking if we were free that night or Sunday. Her and her boyfriend hired a car for the weekend and wondered if they could come and stay. Of course, the answer was yes. I said I’d find us something to do on Sunday and we decided on Banham Zoo. John and I don’t drive so getting places like this is normally impossible for us.

Banham Zoo is about an hour away from where we live so the drive there wasn’t too bad at all. Erin isn’t really used to being in a car seat but she did amazingly well and even had a little nap before we got there. We visited on a pretty dreary Sunday so when we arrived the zoo was pretty quiet. Tickets aren’t overly expensive at £15.95 (includes donation) for adults under 3s are free. (Prices correct until March 31st 2017) The zoo opens at 9:30 every day except Christmas Day but closing times vary depending on the season.

Banham Zoo

Now, looking at the map, Banham Zoo isn’t the biggest in the world but that’s a good thing in my eyes. Erin is only 1 so she doesn’t have the concentration for somewhere like London Zoo yet. As you can see from the picture above, we started having fun as soon as we got to the zoo. These picture props are all over the zoo!

For a smaller zoo, there is a surprisingly good selection of animals to see. Each section we visited was really interesting and most of the animals were out! I thought a lot of them would hide away because it was miserable but I guess they didn’t care. Each of the enclosures looked to be really well thought out and plenty big enough for the animals which is so important.

We managed to get to see one talk during our visit and that was about the giraffes, John’s favourite animals. Erin was AMAZED by them. We got her out of the pushchair so she could see better and she kept trying to get closer to them.

Our absolute favourite part of the zoo was the Farm Barn. This area had sheep, donkeys, rats, rabbits, goats, llamas and pigs. There is a strange gate system to get into the area and this meant goats escaping everywhere. There are warnings but we were not quick enough. Trying to herd them back together was hilarious but my sister got butted a few times in the process. Here, you could buy food for the goats and llamas which is what made them all a bit crazy.

We also learned that Erin could apparently talk to goats. Every time they made their little noises, she would do it straight back. Clever girl!

I won’t go into detail about every animal but here are some extra pictures.

In the middle of our visit we went to the Parrot Pavilion cafe for lunch. It was actually the only place open for food. There are a few outdoor stalls but I guess they’re only open during the main season. The menu is pretty much what you’d expect from a place like this. Most of the food is already cooked and served as you ask for it.

Children can choose from 5 cold items or a hot meal (fish fingers, sausage, veg bites, jacket potato or pasta) with a drink and dessert for £5.95.

Adult meals vary but there are options like fish finger sandwiches, chicken curry, beef lasagne, beef chilli and pasta (roughly £5-£7 a meal) or sandwiches are also available. Now, you’ll notice something missing here. There are no vegetarian or vegan options apart from a jacket potato or a portion of chips. There is a gluten free menu but nothing on there is vegan. You also have to wait 15 minutes for anything from this menu to be cooked. This obviously means that you cannot eat at the same time as the rest of the group.

The food, honestly, was terrible. We paid about £20 for a chicken curry, chips and beans and a children’s fish fingers. My sister had a fish finger sandwich, her boyfriend a curry and a drink for about the same price. My sister could not even eat her food. The chips were so greasy and the fish fingers were black inside. Having worked in a similar kind of place (soft play) I know that you don’t have to use the absolute cheapest of ingredients to make money, especially when you get as much footfall as you do in a zoo. Erin, who normally loves fish finger and chips wouldn’t eat hers either and she’s not that fussy.

If we were to have another visit here, there is not a chance that I would eat here again.

We were at the zoo for about 4 and a half hours so the entrance fee was well worth the visit. We all had an amazing day and even Erin stayed awake the whole time. I’m sure we had more fun that she did!

A family trip to Norwich

John and I don’t go out very often. Money is pretty tight now that I earn less a month than when I was on maternity leave and we don’t often have much ‘free’ time. However, I recently got my last pay from my old job and thought we should treat ourselves. We headed into Norwich yesterday and spent the whole day together as a family.

Going into Norwich means getting the train. Erin seems to LOVE the train. She was so excited by everything passing us by and also being able to see our reflections in the window.

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We had a fair bit of shopping to do in Norwich. I had a £20 gift card for Boots so I picked up 2 new cups for Erin to try, some food and some baby grows. We then headed to intu Chapelfield for lunch. John was much better than me and had something from a noodle bar while I tucked into a McDonalds. Erin tried to steal my burger but she had to make do with a jam sandwich. After lunch Erin had her very first go on a ride and she enjoyed it so much. I am so glad we got to do this as a family.

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Family

After lunch was more shopping and upgrading my phone. I was so set on FINALLY getting an iPhone but the cost stopped me. I managed to get a Huawei P9 and a tablet for the same price as an iPhone 6S. Maybe in 2 years I’ll get one! This took such a long time but Erin was so good and only started to get a bit annoyed half way through. John took her for a walk and was fine again after that.

One of the things I really wanted to get from the city was an amazing unicorn dress from Zara. It was a bargain at only £9.99 and I picked up some other bits too. I also got a few bits from H&M. Erin is all set for winter now and she’s going to look awesome!

Zara Kids

H&M

We also took a quick trip to the Disney Store where Erin made a new friend who we just had to bring home!! John and I also got a couple of treats from Krispy Kreme for us as well!

Olaf

Krispy Kreme

Poor Erin had a nap in the morning until 8:30 but then she didn’t sleep again until 4pm! Whenever we go into the city she always struggles to nap because there’s so much going on and so much to see!

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I had such a nice day with John and Erin. I wish we could have family days more often but this day will carry me through for a while!

A trip home to Grimsby!

This past weekend John, Erin and I took a trip back home to Grimsby for a couple of days, along with my sister Natalie and her boyfriend Chris. John and I haven’t been back since Christmas 2013 and Erin had never been before!

Natalie and Chris (who drove) hired a car and drove up from London to pick us up on the way. It was absolute hell! It took us forever to get to King’s Lynn where we stopped at Wetherspoons for lunch. Erin had her very first meal of her own. Unfortunately, she was more interested in everything else that was going on.

Natalie and Chris left their house before 8am and we didn’t arrive in Grimsby until about 7pm. If I thought it was a long day, I can only imagine how they felt. Erin would normally have been in bed at about 630 but she was so excited to see my mum that we let her stay up late, which NEVER happens.

On Saturday morning me, John and Erin went for breakfast with my sister which was lovely. Erin had a stack of American style pancakes to herself and LOVED them! She’s a bit of a fan of getting her own meals while we’re out now. After that we went to see my dad and step-mum and their dogs Leo and Scout. We also managed to see my step-sister and her boyfriend for a little while and also my step-brother’s 1 month old daughter! Saturday evening was much more chilled out with some quality time for Erin with her Grandma!

On Sunday we had booked a meal at Millfields Hotel for all of us and also my Nanna and Aunt. There will be a full review to come over the weekend but it was super disappointing for various reasons. However, it was lovely to see family and for Erin to finally get to meet them! The rest of the day was really chilled out and was spent with a lot of playing with Erin!

Monday morning and time to leave came around far too fast. It honestly felt like a bit of a whirlwind trip. I wanted to see Jenny from Accidental Hipster Mum but I knew I wouldn’t have had time. I never thought I would ever find another blogger from Grimsby so I’m quite sad I haven’t been able to meet her. Next time I go home it’s a must! It took us a long time to get back home, leaving at about 8:30 and getting in at 1:30. We were all exhausted but it’s also nice to get back to normality as well.

This was Erin’s first really long trip away from home and it wasn’t too bad. I think we could have done with maybe a few more stops in the car just to break it up for her but otherwise, she was so good! Now to plan another trip!

Dog, babies and beaches!

Since moving to Norfolk something I haven’t taken advantage of is the beautiful coast. Part of the problem is that John and I don’t drive so some of the beaches are hard to get to.

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Yesterday we headed to a beach in Overstrand with some of the family. John’s brother and his girlfriend came round for a bit first with their gorgeous dog Roxy! Ever since we got Jackson I wanted him and Roxy to be friends but this is the first time they’ve met! Roxy followed him around while Jackson ran away as much as he could to stop Roxy from stealing his ball!

After some dog introductions, we took them to the beach. This was the first time both Jackson and Erin had been to the beach. John is a bit of a worrier when it comes to taking Jackson somewhere new because he is a bit of a terror. He also sometimes doesn’t listen to us when he should. When we opened the boot of the car, Jackson made a run for it down the slope… and Roxy followed! Luckily, after a little chase, we did get them back and on leads quickly.

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Windy!!

It was a bit windy at the beach!

The beach was really quiet and we were able to let the dogs off their leads safely, without the risk of them running off to other dogs or children. Jackson loved it! He was so happy running around after his ball, with Roxy not far behind him. He also discovered sea water which he thought tasted lovely!

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Erin wasn’t really too bothered about the beach to be honest. She’s been poorly and was tired. We had to carry her too and didn’t take anything to sit on. Unfortunately, she didn’t really get to do much at the beach

. She was quite happy watching the dogs run around though. I am excited to take her to the beach properly next summer though when she can really play.

Hopefully, by then, we can get Jackson bus trained so we can take advantage of some of the other beautiful beaches in Norfolk.

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It was so nice to have Erin’s Auntie and Uncle round and to go to the beach for a bit with the dogs! Hopefully this is something we can do more often. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it (and Jackson was worn out)!

Family Friendly Norfolk: Harriet’s Cafe Tearooms

This Family Friendly Norfolk post is all about Harriet’s Cafe Tearooms in Norwich.

Family Friendly Norfolk

On 8th July, while my mum was here to stay for the week, my sister came up from London for the day. We all love afternoon tea and had walked by this place the last time we were all together. We’d made the plan in advance to see what this place was like. I called in advance the day before to book a table, letting them know at the time that we would have a pram with us.

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Our table was booked for 12:30 but we arrived a bit early but this wasn’t a problem at all. We were greeted with a warm smile at the door. After mentioning our booking we were shown to a table at the back of the room. Now, at the time, this felt like we were being shoved out of the way. However, we really weren’t. Another party came in with two prams and sat near us. The back area has a lot more space for prams so I guess more comfortable for everyone.

I was absolutely amazed to be sat next to a piano player. My mum plays piano so she was happy and the setting was absolutely wonderful. Who would complain at afternoon tea with real piano music being played. The cafe decor matched the feeling from the piano player. The whole place is beautifully decorated and even before ordering anything, I was enjoying myself.

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All three of us chose to order the Special Afternoon Tea, priced at £19.95 each. This consists of any tea or coffee, smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese and ham sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, miniature patisseries and handmade macaroons. When Erin is older I will definitely be getting her a child’s afternoon tea. I think it’s amazing that Harriet’s do something like this. I haven’t seen it anywhere before. Other children’s meals are offered too at really reasonable prices (£2.35 and up).

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We asked for a couple of alterations on the sandwiches due to dietary requirements (and me being picky). My sister is the tea drinker of the family and she was really excited about the options available. To start with she had Rose Chocolate Tisane and later had Russian Caravan. My mum had coffee while I had orange juice because I don’t drink hot drinks. Nothing was too much trouble!

Our visit to Harriet’s was Erin’s first time in a high chair that wasn’t her own. She is small for her age still and doesn’t actually fit in generic high chairs. I had to pad her into one with blankets etc. I had with me but this isn’t the fault of Harriet’s. I was glad that Erin was happy enough sitting in the chair so she could have her own lunch at the same time.

Our afternoon tea was amazing and by far the best I have had so far. As three of us were eating everything came out on two sets of tiered plates and it looked so nice. We all commented immediately on the cakes and how good they looked. Honestly, everything tasted amazing. We all struggled to finish everything but we did, slowly. You get so much for your money with this afternoon tea and I was thoroughly impressed.

Erin managed to try some herself, as she was pretty desperate to when sat on my lap for a bit. She’s in that place now where she wants to try everything and scone with jam was her pick for the day!

My only real negative about our visit to Harriet’s was the facilities for Erin. At the back of where we were sat was the toilets, one male and one female. There was no accessible toilet and there was no baby changing. I thought I might have been missing something but there was no where else these could have been. While the ladies toilets are probably the most beautiful I have seen, I wasn’t happy about changing Erin on the floor. Luckily, I had a portable mat with me but it is not comfortable or easy. I also felt like I was in the way of other people coming in.

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Harriet’s not only serve afternoon tea but they have a regular menu as well. We saw some meals come out and they looked so good. Next time (there’s definitely a next time) I will struggle to decide what to order!

On the way out we stopped to look at the teas, cakes and macaroons available to buy separately. My sister, who cannot come to Norwich without buying tea, did so.

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Harriet’s was so close to being very family friendly. Had there been baby changing facilities, it would have been the perfect day out for me.

Harriet’s Cafe Tearooms can be found at 38 London Road, Norwich, 01603 614848. 

Grandma’s Visit

Last week we had a visit from Erin’s Grandma.

I’m originally from Grimsby, where my mum still lives. She doesn’t drive so it takes her about 6 hours and a pretty expensive train ticket (there are never any cheap advance tickets) to get to us. It doesn’t matter though. On nearly every one of her weeks off from work she comes down to see us and to spend some time with Erin.

We had such a fun week and did some really exciting things with Erin.

Tuesday didn’t quite go to plan as Erin has been teething so we didn’t go to Baby Yoga like we normally would have. We went for a bit of a look around town and to a local cafe for lunch though.

On Wednesday we met John and took Erin to the zoo for the first time. She was still grumpy because of her teeth but she was very interested in the crocodiles!

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Thursday we had a bit more of a chilled out day.

Friday we went into Norwich and met my sister who came up from London. Erin was so excited to see her Auntie Natalie. She’s her favourite teether at the moment! We went to a wonderful place called Harriet’s Tea Rooms for afternoon tea which was amazing (review later this month).

Mum went home on Saturday evening but we did manage to go to a local summer fair  in the morning. Unfortunately it chucked it down and we couldn’t stay long. We did manage to look at a few of the stall and I got to hold a real owl. I’m terrified of anything with a beak so it was a pretty big deal for me. I also picked up a couple of things for Erin’s bedroom from some craft stalls!

Owls

We’ve all loved having my mum to stay for the week. I love that Erin got to spend some quality time with her. She has really enjoyed getting used to the feel of her two new teeth by chomping on mum’s hands, tops, hair… anything she can reach really.

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It’s really important for me that mum and Erin get this time together when she does come to stay. Living so far away means that mum doesn’t get to see Erin as much as she would like, and she’s her only granddaughter. Erin absolutely adores her grandma and seeing the smiles she gave her was amazing.

We already can’t wait for the next visit.

The Husband Files: Erin’s zoo adventure

Yesterday we took Erin on a zoo adventure.

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Due to my work schedule I don’t get to go on fun days out with Erin so I was really excited. I was able to take a half day off from work to go and meet Lyndsey, Erin and Lyndsey’s mum at Amazona Zoo in Cromer. It’s only a mile away from where I work so I was able to get there quite quickly!

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Erin has never been to a zoo before now so we weren’t sure if she would even like it. However, although Amazona Zoo is not the biggest there are some cool animals for a 6 month old to look at. To begin with, Erin wasn’t interested in animals as she just wanted to stare at trees! She seems to like the greenness.

Erin is teething at the moment and also the time we arrived at the zoo was her lunch time so she wasn’t best pleased.  Luckily we were all hungry so as soon as we arrived we headed to the cafe for lunch. Erin had a pre-prepared two course baby meal. Lyndsey’s mum had a cheeseburger. The food for the adults was great and the portions were very generous for the price. For three adult meals and a drink each it only cost £16.50.

Unfortunately, Erin is very predictable and we knew it was only a matter of time before she was snoring away.

It then became a bit of a case of speed zoo to try to show her as many of the animals as possible. She saw ducks, flamingos, warthogs, monkeys, spiders, snakes, and a few birds and others I can’t remember.

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She wasn’t all that interested until she saw the crocodiles, which she was fascinated by. That is my girl – interested in the nice, gentle creatures. Honestly, who likes crocodiles over everything else?!

Once Erin was asleep we went round the rest of the zoo and saw some pumas, cheetahs and parrots. Erin eventually woke up while we were in the gift shop, smiling away having slept through her first trip to the zoo.

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Lyndsey’s mum was extremely generous and bought us yearly passes as a gift. At least now we can take her back when she’s a bit more alert and will enjoy it more. Hopefully she can stay awake next time.