Back in December, a friend I met through an online parenting group posted about Bluestone deals. We had never been before but had heard lots of people mention Bluestone.
When I saw the price for 4 nights (5 days) in January, I thought the offer couldn’t be missed! I quickly phoned my mum asking her opinion. She said book it, you can have it as a Christmas present. Wow thank you mum! I got to booking straight away! Just over £100 I thought it was a bargain. In any hotel that would only get me one possibly two nights stay, and when I’ve heard prices for bluestone being expensive, it was a must. I managed to book the last adapted lodge too!
My children would have to be taken out of reception and playgroup for the week. We only live once and since my eldest is still under the legal age to have to be in school, I thought lets do it. We always make our trips educational and throw in facts in a fun way and they would get lots out of it. It did worry me a little bit about the school police attendance officers and fines. I looked at prices for the summer holidays and they were pushing £700 plus. No way could we afford to go away at this price. I really do believe there should be some kind of cap or difference made to businesses / holiday companies. The difference between school term time and break time is substantial! Of course thinking of any future breaks, we would be sensible. My children, especially my son needs routine. I do believe education is so important and it can be very hard for some children if they miss too much work to catch up on.
Check in time into our lodge was from 4.30pm. Although we could use on site facilities from the morning time if we wanted.
We decided before checking in we could visit somewhere local. We had previously had a good time at Folly Farm and the dinosaur park, but these were closed during the week days in January. I looked up Oakwood theme park just out of curiosity. I had been there many times as a child but my children have never been there. This was closed too. On our summer break back at the end of August to West Wales, I had wanted to take a trip to Anna’s Welsh zoo, also know as The Manor Wildlife park. I looked it up and we were in luck! Open 363 days of the year! (Well this year is a leap year so a day extra!) Their website said it was possible to hire a mobility scooter. Even better! My electric wheelchair doesn’t fit in our car (will do another blog soon as our Motability car up for renewal in March), and I get so fatigued pushing in my manual chair it would really spoil the enjoyment. Weather forecast, rain and cold! Who would have guessed!? But hey I wouldn’t let this put us off! Get lots of layers of clothing on, Wellington boots on, change of clothing in the car, snacks and drinks, sorted! There was a £10 non refundable deposit for using the electric scooter, but for me that was worth paying to reduce the amount of pain and fatigue, and to allow us to get more out of our trip.
On the Annas Welsh zoo website it mentioned the walk through areas with the lemurs and walibies. This really attracted me, as it allowed myself and the children to get up close to the animals. The black and white tailed lemurs are my favourite!
We arrived safely, parked up in gravel shell flooring car park that had a few designated disabled spaces. It is tricky in the wheelchair if you’re pushing yourself, but with help it should be a bit easier. To get from the car park to the entrance we had to cross a road. With very excited children who want to get in there straight away, we went through basic safety with them and made sure they stayed right next to us. In my wheelchair its nearly impossible to hold hands with my child as in my manual wheelchair I need them for pushing my wheels. It can be possible on completely flat even ground, but completely flat uneven ground is rare. Usually I try and get my daughter to sit on my lap and my son to keep one hand on my chair so I know he is safe by me.
At the main entrance a lovely friendly lady welcomed us. She brought the scooter around to me, gave some basic knowledge of how to use it and advised the steepest routes to avoid. I can tell you I am so so glad I hired that scooter, as no way could I have pushed myself around here.
We headed to our first stop, the walk through area with the lemurs. They said the monkeys love to come up to the mobility scooter. I was excited by this, to get so close to them and maybe get a good photograph too. We went through two safety gates. It is quite tight but with my good driving skills managed to manoeuvre ok. We drove in, Cerys and Cody on my lap, and once stopped the monkeys started coming over straight away to have a good smell and investigate. My children held on tight to me. Eventually I managed to cox them off of clinging to me and sat them on a bench next to me. By the way, apart from one member of staff in there, we were the only ones in there. Probably as it was school time and grotty weather (it had stopped raining now though ) it kept people away.
As I had imagined, soon after entering my son wanted to go back out again to use the toilet and get something to eat. Even though I had asked him several times before going in.
When we came back in later, both of them were more confident. When one of the lemurs sat by my son he was amazed and loved it.
We saw meerkats, rabbits, goats, camels, emus, wallabies, rhinos, zebras. The tiger I think was hiding. We didn’t view everything, the children got very cold and tired. We went to see the animals they most wanted to see.
My son started to loose interest towards the end, walking off away from me towards the exit, even though myself and my daughter wanted to go through the wallabie walk through and see the rhinos. The friendly lady on the desk was very helpful and she did try by offering him some food for the wallabies. Although he didn’t feed them, I finally managed to get him to stay with me by sitting on my lap, while Cerys tried to feed the wallabies. I think they were a bit timid because of the mobility scooter and probably from all the noise and squealing Cody was making.
It was very quiet there. What I found difficult was, my children wanted to go into the rabbit walk through with me but there were steps into it. It did say on the gate ask member of staff for wheelchair access. The problem was it took a long time to find someone. We then spotted at least 4 members of staff through a window, I think it must have been a staff room, myself and my son waved them to come out but they didn’t. So I explained to my children they could go up the steps themselves or we would have to come back later when we found someone to help me.
Another problem was the gift shop. It had a step into it and on the door it said to go to the cafe to get someone. The cafe was over 100 yards away, through a couple of difficult doors, and with 2 excited cold children they didn’t really understand that I needed to find someone again to help me. We went over to cafe and called out hello excuse me, but no one was there. I went back over to the shop and still no one there. Then I saw a member of staff over by the rabbits, I asked them and they said ask someone at cafe and I said that there was no one there and she said sorry can’t help. I was hoping she would say I’ll get someone for you. I got the number of the zoo on my phone so I rang them, and the lovely lady from the front entrance answered and I asked her if she could contact someone to come over to the shop. She was very kind about it and someone came over. They put a ramp out for me, we had a very quick look around, as Cody now was started to constantly squeal and growl and wouldn’t leave my lap, and Cerys wouldn’t get off my lap either, so I had trouble seeing where to go (can’t see over their heads now they are taller) and then fighting to go on my different leg. I wanted to have a look at something that involved me manoeuvring the chair and reaching out with my hand, but just wasn’t possible with them playing up. As the till was offline in the shop, I’m guessing this, as she asked if we would go over the cafe to pay. It’s a bit tricky / narrow to get in and I couldn’t open the door myself, Cody and Cerys were still squeezing and wouldn’t move to open door. Thankfully just at this time, my partner turned up and I sent him in. He had been in the car most of the time while I tried my very hardest to get around the whole time I was there, with the 2 children by myself.
It was time to leave as they appeared quite grumpy now, which was probably because they were tired and wanted to warm up.
Overall I would go back again, mainly for the walk through enclosures that allow you to come face to face with some fascinating animals. I had a good time and loved the fact we were the only visitors (apart from one other small family) to have the freedom to go where we wanted. I definitely reccommend hiring a mobility scooter to someone with mobility problems, so you can get more full benefit than worrying about increasing pain due to walking or using a manual wheelchair. It was fairly expensive for 4 of us, costing just under £30 (Cerys was free because of her age). And this was at the very slightly reduced rate for carer and disabled user. As it difficult to get around for people with mobility issues, I think they should follow suit from other attractions that admit the carer (or disbaled person depends where you go) for free. This would definitely persuade me to go back there if they did this in the future.