This weekend it was a family visit to Birdworld near Farnham in Surrey.
Like all family days out ours begins with Ros going online and finding a voucher that gives us a discount on the entrance fee while I take firm control of the picnic arrangements….and then compromising my stance to fit all tastes. Ben says he likes egg sandwiches, but actually he won’t touch them, Jocelyn loves cucumber but she will remove it from a sandwich and leave it on the side of her plate, Ben likes Branston pickle, but not the one with large chunks in – only the smooth variety….and frankly everyone knows that is simply wrong, you should always have chunks in your pickle! Once the cacophony of sandwiches are made and packed in the rucksack, Ros will then go about adding a variety of crisps, fruit, sweets, snacks, drinks, tissues, paper plates, napkins……you get the picture – Ros is not a women to travel light – and I’m the pack-horse carrying it all.
Anyway, back to Birdworld! I don’t think you can really say a bad word against it. I mean, birds at first glance may not seem the most fascinating of species, but at Birdworld you are close enough to the action that you can’t help but take pleasure from them. The kids loved the usual parrots, birds of prey and penguins that they could stand within inches of, but they had some real show stoppers beyond them. The Pelicans looked truly majestic, and the Southern Ground Hornbills just seem to be the types of bird that by night actually run an organised crime syndicate…..big, tough, smart and with an inquiring mind!
The great thing about it is you are not just walking around looking in cages. It is interactive. Yes, you look in cages, but the kids can feed said birds with food bought at the shop, and in some instances you are walking through the enclosures with birds flying overhead. Plenty of events also take part with flying displays and bird feeding. One word of warning…if you happen to be the type of would-be alpha male who wants to demonstrate to your family how to hand feed any birds through the bars of their enclosure – pick your beast carefully. All I can say is some don’t have table manners and I was lucky that Toucan didn’t rip my hand-off.
There is though more than just birds at Birdworld. The Jenny Wren Farm saw Jocelyn frolicking with baby goats and stroking the rabbits and guinea pigs. Ben and I occupied ourselves with more sensible issues such as how good does goat actually taste and how many sausages can a pig produce? While Ros just set out to try and minimise the amount of animal poo the kids could physically walk through in an afternoon. There is also Underwater World; a small fascinating collection of aquariums that showcase an impressive collection of fish, reptiles and amphibians (including piranha and miniature crocodiles) from across the planet.
There are coffee shops and lunch options you can buy at Birdworld. I could not comment on their quality or price, but I can say a cup of coffee and an ice-cream does not leave you phoning the bank manager to re-mortgage the house. It took us about 4 hours to stroll around. It is not one of those destinations that you put on your bucket list of places to visit before you die, in fact you probably don’t visit it if you are more than fifty miles away, but a pleasant day can be had by all.