I wrote the other day about our UK holiday plans this year, and I am delighted to say they have been 'firmed up' a little. The big planning adventure is for when my best friend and her boys come to stay in August - a proper 'holiday at home' for us. Steve has taken time off work and everything!
Of course, the various local beaches and all the traditional sea front activities are inevitable. After all, crazy golf, ice creams, amusement arcades, sand castle building, piers, paddling, beach games, picnics, fairground rides and chips will never go out of fashion for small people! But a few 'proper' days out are necessary too, methinks. Peppa Pig World is fab, and we're sure to go there; there are a couple of great farms not too far away; and the cinema and soft play for if it's wet. (Surely by August there won't be any rain left?!)
But the place we are most excited about taking our friends is lovely Drusillas Park over in East Sussex. We reviewed the park about 18 months ago and loved it, so much so that we have been back several times since - not something we would say for everywhere we review! Deservedly winning the accolade Visitor Attraction of the Year in 2010, it has the perfect combination of children's fun and educational potential. I can see it being a great Home Ed resource for us in years to come too.
A huge play area awaits crawlers and walkers to tweens and teens, with indoor and outdoor zones, huge trampoline, paddling pool, and much more. There is also a Thomas the Tank Engine train ride, big picnic area with character visits during peak times, and much more, including a new Hello Kitty Secret Garden from May this year. But the best bit for us is the animals, who are all extremely well kept with clean, modern enclosures and plenty of space and fun activities. With everything from mice to monkeys, snakes to lemurs, there's something for everyone, and all the children you see there are utterly enthralled by them.
My personal favourite are the lemurs, but the tiny Squirrel Monkeys made a serious bid for all of our hearts on our last visit. Wandering back through the animal area close to closing time, we had it entirely to ourselves. As we passed the squirrel monkeys they were all over in their enclosed bed area eating and, seeing Lara and Sophia munching on fruit and rice cakes, they started tapping on the window to get our attention. When the girls responded by smiling and chatting through the glass, several of the monkeys happily sat down and started eating socially with the girls. It was SO cute!
Drusillas is only a small place by many standards, but it offers a fantastic day out and I am sure we will be back again several times this year. It's a shame that these smaller places often get overlooked, so I was really impressed with this interactive map of Britain's Hidden Gems, where you can add any of your favourite local places for others to seek out and enjoy. It's such a great idea, and if enough of us join in and add our favourite local spots it will be a great resource for planning days out and weekends away countrywide. Where would you add?
What's your favourite hidden gem? Head over and pop it on the map for others to enjoy.