We gave just got back from an amazing adventure for the day to WWT Slimbridge in Gloucestershire. This is a fantastic place as somewhere to wander freely amongst the wildlife, whilst great conservation is going on as well. It’s also a place for serious bird watchers, as well as for nuturing a child’s interest, and the two types seem to mix well there (other places we have been, a child gets such a black look if they just sneeze in a hide shelter). As Sir David Attenborough has said about it “If there is one place that can be regarded as the birthplace of worldwide conservation, it is surely here at Slimbridge”.
There was a rather dramatic start to the day, with mini man no.2 cracking his eye socket on a hand railing that stuck out a lot on a corner, which resulted in an instant swelling that threatened to close his eye within minutes. This resulted in me dashing through the waiting queue to try and locate an icepack, and when no one could find one instantly for me, I grabbed a cold can from the chiller and started holding it to get the swelling under control while an icepack was located. Once I’d established his eye socket was probably in tact and he had calmed down, we were able to go and enjoy the place! The children picked up Nature Explorer passports, where they could collect stickers from various things in the day, and once they had all of them, they’d get a big gold one for the front. It involved all sorts of activities from watching and listening about the otters being fed, to doing some pond dipping, making a nest for some eggs, to going for a canoe safari to name some of them. It gave us a little structure to our day too in such a vast place. We spent 6 hours wandering the place, and there was plenty more we could have done that we didn’t.
We headed for our new found obsession first of otters, and they were just as delightful here as they were yesterday in the New Forest. Again, we were all fixated and the the mans talk was really interesting and he was very good with the children, getting them involved. We then headed off to build some nests, and learn about what makes a good nest. This was a self led activity, and the children used the sticks, and the straw, and finally some eggs, to make what they thought were lovely cosy nests.
The whole time we were pottering around the children were getting up close and personal with all the various wildlife, and intermittently feeding them from the seed bag that had been purchased. They could get a good look close up, and enjoyed seeing all the different colours and variety there were. Another favourite were the many types of flamingos they have there. Beautiful creatures.
The children were also able to do some guided pond dipping, and as it was so quiet (end of the summer holidays), they had the lady running it all to themselves for guidance and knowledge. This is always a favourite activity with my trio, and today their trays were bursting with life, and to their delight, they all managed to catch some stickleback fish.
We ended the day with a lovely canoe ride (although after a rather large amount of crashes from my paddling, I was sure my four year old twins could have done it better!). But it was a fantastic added bonus to be able to take a canoe out on the water, for up to an hour, around some waterways, with ducks, swans, and chicks paddling alongside you. It was so calm and peaceful too away from everyone pottering around the site (although I’m not sure the wildlife felt the same way after they had to avoid me a few times!). It also means tomorrow we can tick off 2 more things in our National Trust books – go bird watching and canoe down a river.
I have only managed to touch on a few things we have seen today, but it gives you an idea of the scale of the place, and how much wildlife there is to investigate. It’s been a long day, so I am not going to list everything, but I’d definitely say it is worth a visit (and we used our little lady’s blue peter badge for her entry, so we’ve used that three times now).
I’m now off to read some travel documents and sort things out, as I’ll be off to Sweden in about 36 hours! Around lunchtime today, we realised the house we had been bidding on had slipped away from us, and we were running out of options fast. So, we returned our attentions to a house Dadda had viewed previously but looked a little “tired”. He’s not happy to make a decision about this one on his own, so I’m going on a rather rapid trip there and back again, to make a joint decision whether we go for it, and add a little extra work on top of an international move!