HAVE A GRAND DAY OUT
How to entertain the grandchildren
We live in one of the most unique and beautiful parts of the country which has so much to offer. This month we begin a new series of ‘Grand Days Out’ celebrating life across Norfolk and Suffolk and visiting some wonderful family attractions ideal for a day out with the grandchildren. The series starts with Derek and Bridgette James taking their grandson Gabriel and his friend Sahid to Africa Alive! near Lowestoft.
Ihad just returned from Africa proper when I decided to go back ... and this time the journey took less than an hour and I didn’t need any anti-malaria tablets. Rather than a long and tedious journey by road, air and often river, this was a far more comfortable adventure out to the wild, wild east.
Of course, I had heard about Africa Alive! but I never felt inclined to actually go and take a look for myself. Even after I’d retired.
There was nothing like this in Norfolk or Suffolk when I was a boy. I remember once going to a zoo somewhere to see large animals in small cages and I felt so sorry for them. I found the whole experience very depressing and vowed never to return.
In fact, the only place I remember visiting which I enjoyed were ‘The Snails’ at Great Yarmouth. Not real ones, but those at Joyland. Oh, and the boating lake at Lowestoft, where the man would shout: “Come in number nine. Your time is up”. And then wade out to drag you back if you went in the wrong direction.
Never in a million years did I think I would be wandering around Africa Alive! with my four-year-old grandson running ahead shouting: “Grandpa, look at this. It’s Africa”. And it was. Well, put it this way, I saw more animals and other wonderful creatures in one afternoon at Kessingland than I saw in a week in real Africa recently.
From the moment we arrived I was most impressed with Africa Alive!
I was surprised at the size of the place, the excellent lay-out, how good it looked and how well the animals were looked after.
Africa Alive! and Banham Zoo are part of the Zoological Society of East Anglia which is a charity dedicated to education and animal welfare. From what I could see they are doing a brilliant job. Some of the animals in their care are among the most endangered in the world and they are involved with conservation and schemes to safeguard them.
“This way, Grandma,” said Gabriel as he led us on a guided tour of the park – yes, he had been before and was proud to show us round.
As we started our tour my
thoughts of sitting in the cafe with a sandwich and a coffee while others walked around were put on hold.
Apart from having no elephants, Africa Alive! really does have so much to offer. Rare and fascinating animals in five-star accommodation. They are among the lucky ones, compared with so many I have seen in Africa – dying in the wild. Lions, rhinos, giraffes, cheetahs, buffalo, zebra, primates, meerkats, porcupines and so many more ... they are the stars of this grand attraction.
And what makes this place so special is the way it welcomes children. For example, our young companions loved finding eight ‘stations’, collecting stamps and then getting a medal on the way out.
Africa Alive! has 1,000 animals in 100 acres of parkland and is an absolute joy to visit.
There are lemur encounters, a free road train, colourful birds, indoor and outdoor play areas, daily feeding talks where the friendly staff talk to children, not at them.
During the summer there will be displays by the Mighty Zulu Nation Theatre Troupe and there is an awe-inspiring re-creation of the African savannah where the animals roam freely together.
Oh yes, then there are ‘On the Day Experiences’, such as Meet the Meerkats and Meet the Aardvarks ... and the Discovery Centre. I missed that.
As we were leaving with our grandson proudly clutching his medal, he asked: “Grandpa, can we come back?”
“Yes,” I replied. “I think we should.”
I loved it. As they say: Chirp, roar or squawk - it’s Africa Alive!
For more information, see the website www.africa-alive.co.uk or call 01502 740291.
There is plenty of space to walk and play.
Young Gabriel learning to play the jungle drums at Africa Alive!
Always a highlight - the giraffes at Africa Alive!
If you run out of steam are plenty before your of benches grandchild ren do, there where you can gather your breath!
Reggie the Lion making friends with Gabriel at Africa Alive!
A grand day out. Derek and Bridgette James with grandson Gabriel and his friend Sahid.
Sahid and Gabriel in Farmyard Corner.