We’ve been away to Torquay, Devon for a few days holiday. It was just N and myself, because it’s calving time on the farm, so the OH was busy. We had a lovely time, shown by the 500 photos I took!
Our first full day there, I decided to take N to Paignton Zoo. I’ve not been to a zoo for years (I suppose Cotswold Wildlife Park is really a zoo, but I never think of it as one because of its name), and N’s never been, so Paignton looked really good to try out. It’s not a long drive from Torquay, and there’s plenty of car parking. The walk down from the car park is quite steep, and even disabled parking isn’t on the flat level to the entrance, although there is space to drop off and pick up if needed.
Of course, N didn’t want to go and look round at first…until he saw there was a train. To placate him, we went on that first.
At 80p a person, it’s the most expensive little train we’ve been on at any days out type of place – mostly kids under 5 go free, and adults are 50p, so this was a bit steeper. It just went round the wetlands area, and we didn’t see much other than birds (and a flicker at the lions). But N enjoyed it, and obviously the trip was for him.
It was a pretty chilly day, so after the train ride, we headed for the desert and tropical indoor areas. N wasn’t that keen, and decided that he wanted to pee – I’m never sure whether he says that to get out of doing something he doesn’t want to do or if he really needs to go. Luckily around Paignton Zoo, there’s plenty of toilets everywhere you turn so you never have to go far.
The zoo is really well signed, pointing to the different animals, and we used them well, rather than just ambling aimlessly. Every time I asked N what he wanted to see, he said ‘nothing’. But then changed his mind once he arrived at another enclosure.
He turned his nose up (literally, smell-wise) at the gorillas, but then spent ages watching them. Maybe he hoped to take notes from the gorilla sleeping upside down on a rope?
There was a new siberian tiger bedding in, but we still got to see her.
The lions however, refused to look in the right direction for photos. They were just snoozing and being lazy.
Being near the coast, the zoo is hilly so with younger children, definitely don’t forget the pushchair. We did manage to get round most of the animals we wanted to see, although N had had enough and didn’t want to see the elephants and giraffes.
The one thing (or two) that he loved were the children’s play areas.
At the moment there’s an area with picnic tables and a big tower with a curly slide. The peacocks were putting on quite a show there for us, and anyone else with a camera.
There’s a new climbing frame are being built elsewhere that we noticed, but the best play area was a a smaller more enclosed area with a wooden ‘obstacle’ course. N loved this so much, we had to return a couple of times so he could play there.
There’s plenty of picnic areas, but we ate in the restaurant. It was busy, being a Sunday, so I dread to think how full it would get during the peak summer months. We didn’t check out the hot food, but if we went back, I’d opt for that over the sandwiches. Kids have the usual lunch box – a bargain at £3.50, but there was no choice, so if you’re dairy free you’re stuck with a yoghurt or fromage frais – I did manage to get it swapped for a piece of fruit. I do prefer a choice of items. Here they only include a small roll (and I mean, a small roll) either cheese or ham, dried fruit, a carton of drink, and the fromage frais. My panini was a shocker. Half of the filling falling out, cut skewed, so it was hard to eat neatly, and although I could see the pesto, it was just bland. No taste whatsoever. So poor lunch on both accounts.
After another go in the play area, we headed back to Torquay for a rest, and planning time for the rest of our stay. I think the zoo visit was a success, and N talked about the animals he’d seen all the way back to the hotel.