This weekend for a few hours, I played tourist in my home town of Hull. I joined a group of bloggers, mostly from out of town, to experience some more grown-up activities, courtesy of Visit HullRead More…
In August 2019, we stayed at Delamere Forest Camping & Caravanning Club Site, supported by the Camping & Caravanning Club of which we are press members. We had a good few days. Our holiday was sandwichedRead More…
With the school holidays approaching, you may be worried about the expense of keeping your children entertained. Never fear, Kids Days Out Reviews are here to bring you some of the best FREE family days out.Read More…
Chester Zoo, in Chester, Cheshire is one place we’ve been meaning to go for a long time. In Summer 2019 we acheived it! We were staying at Delamere Forest camping and caravan club site, and Chester Zoo is approximately a 30 minute drive away.
Hull in East Yorkshire is a great place for a short break. We were City of Culture in 2017 and for good reason. There is a lot of things to do in Hull. We have numerous festivals including the massive Freedom Festival which is on every September, as well as festivals which hark to our maritime history.
With half-term on the horizon, Lightwater Valley invited us up to have a day out and see what has changed since our last visit (back in 2013). I have to say that while we loved our day out there six years ago, we could see room for improvement. The improvements have been made, and more, and we had another fantastic day out. Thank you, Lightwater Valley!
This is a guest post about The Hawk Conservancy Trust in Hampshire by Emma of Bavarian Sojourn. Emma is a Mum of three, a recent repatriate to the UK after a lengthy stint abroad, and she last visited the Hawk Conservancy when she was around 11 years old (and she’s not going to tell you how long ago that was!)…
Emma and her family were guests of the Hawk Conservancy for the day.
The Hawk Conservancy (just off the A303 in Weyhill near Andover) started
life as Weyhill Zoo in 1966. Between 1980-1981 the decision was made to
specialise in birds alone. It’s now home to a large collection of
raptors, with many having been rehabilitated. It has a focus on European
birds in particular, but there are many from further afield too.
Our visit took place in the first week of the Easter holidays before the
spell of beautiful warm weather. The grey drizzly day meant that
The Hawk Conservancy was possibly less busy than it might have been, but the
weather didn’t detract from our visit at all.
My last visit (my parents ran a village pub nearby) was quite a long time
ago now, so to see how it’s expanded in terms of size and of influence in
conservation fields was really wonderful.
We were given children’s activity sheets on arrival, and these helped keep
our three-year-old occupied throughout the day (with a prize at the
end!). He made his first port of call the bird-themed play area, which
gave me plenty of time to take pictures of a few feathered residents.
Throughout the day there demonstrations and talks aplenty. We
learned all about Vultures and why they are so important (whilst they enjoyed
brunch!). The fact that they are disappearing due to poisoning and
other factors is sad, and worrying for the ecosystem, and the Hawk Conservancy
is instrumental in trying to change people’s opinions on these misunderstood
birds (and helping to rescue those that have been poisoned). We
definitely came away with different views on these hilarious characters.
We then went on to watch them in the Wings of Africa Flying Display, where
we might have imagined ourselves in the midst of some African plain if it
hadn’t been for the weather. Talking of water, take care of where you sit
and take heed of the splash zone warnings if you don’t want to get wet!
We didn’t really mind, the owl almost brushing the top of our heads more than
made up for that!
The secretary bird was also a huge hit with all three children, his super
fierce snake “killing” demonstration was actually very sweet (just
don’t tell him that, I would hate to hurt his feelings!)…
Then it was time for the real highlight of our visit – meeting the
Burrowers. Not the tiny people who lived secretly in the doors and walls
of an English house, but a family of tiny Burrowing Owls hailing from North and
South America, and quite possibly the cutest birds I have ever seen.
Whilst you have to pay extra in addition to the entrance costs for this
VIP Encounter, it’s honestly well worth it in our opinion as you get a decent
amount of time with them inside their enclosure, and as there’s a limited
number of people allowed in each session, it’s a truly unique experience.
We were entranced by these tiny owls who were perfectly free to stay in
their tunnels if they felt like it, but instead inspected us as much as we
inspected them as they ran between our feet, hopped on our laps and perched on
our hands. Whilst the three-year-old was too young to meet them
(the minimum age is 6), my 12-year old and 14-year old were utterly captivated
and even managed to get a selfie or two with their new friends. It’s not every
day you get to do something like that!
After a good hearty lunch at Feathers Restaurant (they also do cream teas
here that looked really great!), we headed over to watch the Valley of the
Eagles flying display (which was also watched by a few wild raptors on the
outskirts!). The grand finale was the flight of an American Eagle who had
started his journey a good few miles away in a demonstration on how fast he can
fly. The Three-Year-old was starting to flag at this point, but we
were able to blackmail him with the promise of a tractor ride on the cowslip
covered meadow dedicated to the Hawk Conservancy Founder – Reg Smith. A
great end to the day!
The Hawk Conservancy is open all year round with the exception of Christmas
Day, Boxing Day, and a short period of time at the beginning of each year when
essential maintenance takes place. We thought it to be very
accessible for pushchair/wheelchair users, and family friendly.
It’s really not your average day out, the conservation, rescue, research and rehabilitation work the Hawk Conservancy do both for birds in the UK and across the world is really humbling, and we found it to be a really inspiring family day out. Plus, where else can you get to meet a Burrowing Owl? Highly recommended.
Disclosure – Emma and her family were guests of The Hawk Conservancy for the purposes of this review. All opinion is their own. Information correct at the time of publication.
This week I will be part of a team trekking 26 miles up,across, and down the Peak District. We estimate it should take about ten hours. The most I’ve walked recently is two hours, and we stopped to have a little picnic halfway through, so this should be fun!