Sunday, 31 March 2019

Sarah Visits | Lake District & South Lakes Zoo

Last week I went on a girls night away with my bestie and it was just what I needed. I had been so stressed out with work and it came just at the right time. Sometimes some quality time with your mates is the best medicine right?!

Back in January for my Birthday, my friend Adele had bought me a Giraffe feeding experience and a Red Panda experience at South Lakes Safari Zoo in the Lake District and we had booked to do it last week so we decided to make the most of it and have a girls night there as well. We stayed in a gorgeous boutique hotel called Aphrodites Lodge which was a small cute hotel in Bowness-on-Windemere, just a short walk from Windemere Marina, and the ferry terminal on Lake Windemere. Our room we stayed in was called the Orchid Suite and was really big with a huge circular bed, a double bath and private hot tub just outside, which was under shelter in case it rained. A perfect touch as let's be honest it normally does in England! It's a spa hotel and has a big lovely pool and a pretty little bar (only open until 10:30pm though!), but we didn't really use any of the amenities in the hotel as we were only there for one night and were leaving early the next day.
The only thing I will fault about the hotel is that there wasn't a restaurant. They had bar snacks you could order as room service but this was more like nacho's, bread and oil, etc.. and nothing really for an evening meal. There are restaurants dotted around the local area but most restaurants/takeaways were a 20 minute walk from the hotel. Not ideal when we had already cracked open the gin and couldn't drive. We ended up ordering a pizza to the hotel and spending the night drinking in the hot tub and watching films. If that's not a good girls night then I don't know what is! Let's not talk about Adele screaming in the middle of the night that there was a girl floating above us though shall we... hahahaha! Actually nearly shit my pants! I think a mixture of lots of gin and an extremely warm room was to blame for that one though!

Before we spent hours turning into prunes in the hot tub, we went for a wander down to Lake Windemere and Windemere Marina and I have got to say, some of those boats docked in the Marina were impressive!! We spent about half an hour wandering around them all picking which one we will buy when we win the lottery! Because I swear it will happen one day. One day those "we have news about your ticket" emails will be telling me I have won more a couple million more than the usual £4.50 I am sure of it!

The Lake District is so beautiful. Look at those views!! When you live in a big city like Liverpool, sometimes a trip to somewhere so different like the Lakes and breathing in the fresh air is just so relaxing and chills you out so much. I love just getting away for a day or two to places like this, it honestly makes you feel a million miles away from the stress of the office! I really want to see more of the Lake District when the weathers a bit nicer as this was only the second time I had been. I really want to visit places like this more and be in the great outdoors a little more. As Belle once sang, "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere!"

The next day it was the day I had been excited for since my Birthday when I got the present and time to do something I had always wanted to do. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love animals and absolutely adore Giraffes and I had wanted to do Giraffe feeding experience with them for SO long. And today was the day I was finally going to live out that dream! I was so so excited I can't even begin to explain!

We had our experience with a lad called Simon who was so friendly, chatty and told us so much about the Giraffes. He told us all about the food they ate, about the actual Giraffes that lived there, some facts about Giraffes and how they do amazing work alongside other zoo's around the world to try and help prevent extinction. There was only me Adele and two others doing the experience that day so it felt so much more personal and made the experience so much better as we got so much more time each feeding them.
The feeding was amazing, I felt so overwhelmed and like my heart could have burst! They are such beautiful animals and were so gentle when they were taking the food, they let us stroke them and when we were talking, they kept popping their heads down to our group as if they wanted to be part of whatever we were talking about! We fed them carrots and in total we spent about 45 minutes with them. It was such an amazing experience and something I would highly recommend. I have loved Giraffes all my life and to finally get so up close and personal with them really was a dream come true!

As it was a weekday in March, the zoo was quite empty that day which meant we could go ages without seeing anyone and it was so much nicer than the usual crowds you have to fight through during Summer or weekends. As there wasn't many visitors, straight after our Giraffe experience, Simon asked us if we wanted to go and see the Rhinos. Obviously we weren't going to say no! He took us over and he spent around 15 mins with us talking about the Rhinos and he even let us stroke them! AS IF I have stroked an actual Rhino! They felt so strange, the body feels just like you would expect, hard and coarse, but their faces are so squashy and soft. It was such an amazing little extra we were so lucky to get!

The penguins are free to roam around their enclosure and the public are able to walk through and be so close to them which I have never seen in a zoo before. They do feeding experiences throughout the day for £3 but they only take cash and we only had our bank cards so unfortunately we didn't get to feed them. We did get to walk through and hang out with them for a little bit though and some of them even let me stroke them! Adele wasn't so lucky though and one did try and bite her finger off haha! They are such funny little characters waddling along! 

Our Red Panda feeding didn't go to plan but every cloud has a silver lining! We went over and they were in their mating season so they were more interested in each other than us and would't come out the tree they were in. The female Red Panda, Tinkerbell was asleep and the male Red Panda, Pan (how amazing are those names!), was too busy being a horny devil and trying to get his wicked way with her and unfortunately for us, at that time the food just wasn't as interesting as having some Panda fun with Tinkerbell! We decided to give it half an hour and try again as the other two people on our experience had a Sloth feeding experience booked too. We hadn't seen the sloth yet so we went over with them to see him while they were feeding him. We just sat to the side while they did their experience and half way through they asked us if we wanted a go of feeding him! We said no at first as they had paid for this experience and we didn't want to use some of their time when they had spent their money on it, but they insisted so we also got to have the amazing experience of feeding Stanley the Sloth as well! He was absolutely adorable and loved his grapes we fed him. I couldn't believe the kindness of the couple offering some of their experience to us. We were so grateful!

The second try of the feeding experience with Pan and Tinkerbell still didn't go to plan, however we did get to feed Pan even if he was still refusing to come out of his tree. We fed him their favourite food Bamboo and just seeing his little face looking down at me while he was chomping on his leaves was enough for me.

Thinking back I honestly can't believe how lucky we were to get so many little extras throughout the day. I highly recommend South Lakes Safari Zoo for a fun day out, it's not as big as other zoo's I've been to but the fact you can get so close to the animals was just the best experience! We had the best day there and I am so happy I had one of my dreams come true finally and fed my all time faves! Plus ticking things off my bucket list I didn't even know were on there!


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