For those of you that read the blog regularly, you will know that on Friday it was our baby’s first birthday. As Mr L is working away through most of January we didn’t feel we could manage a party (particularly since I haven’t even put the Christmas decorations back in the loft yet…does that mean eternal damnation or just back luck or, more likely, a simple sign of lazyitis?) so we decided instead to take a family trip to The Blue Planet Aquarium in Ellesmere Port.
Initially I was open mouthed- no, not at the fact that the Aquarium holds an amazing 4,000,000 litres of water (in the principal tank alone) and features a 71-metre (233 ft) underwater tunnel, but at the fact that you had to pay for parking. Pardon me?
I was astounded by this since its location (near Cheshire Oaks outlet village) makes it easiest to visit by car and, though it is accessible by bus, I am sure they are aware most people will drive and take advantage of that. Humph- not a brilliant start!
Admission prices are also steep (£16.00 per adult and £11.75 for 12 and unders) but, kids under 90cm go free and there are a variety of offers online so it is always worth checking that out for savings.
There is also the option of an annual pass which, in the end is what we plumped for. It offers FREE car parking (should be free anyway but I won’t go on) as well as many other discounts in the cafe, shop etc.
After over coming those two hurdles, we had a brilliant time!
Friday afternoon was the perfect time to visit; obviously, as both our girls are pre-school, it was easy peasy to take them on a week day and it meant that we basically had the run of the whole place so, for a
slummy laid back parent, that means that your child can crawl and cruise without fear of being crushed and, you don’t need to battle with a buggy and lifts and the whole bloody palava that is sometimes a day out. Perfect.
The aquarium is broken up into various sections and the majority of the tanks have viewing windows almost down to the floor which makes it easy for little people (and children) to see what’s going on without you having to bench press them for the afternoon.
I find fish really mesmerizing and could happily watch them for hours (well- minutes at least) and the girls seemed to feel the same.
Once we got over BG’s attempts to count them all which, when you sort of lose it after number 7, is a bit of a non starter- especially with moving targets; after that, the whole experience was fab with lots of kissing the glass (calm down, I was partly raised on a farm with lots of germs and muck etc and I’ve turned out ok…do not comment on this), pointing, chattering, babbling and giggling which was the whole point really.
I suppose one of the main attractions of the Blue Planet is the 71 metre underwater tunnel which allows you to see the rays and sharks swimming over head. It is fantastic. On busy days there is a moving walk way to prevent a backlog but, on a weekday afternoon we were able to amble through taking pictures, doubling back and taking as much time as we wanted.
It isn’t all about the tunnel though, you can see the fish being fed and, if you are old enough you can head on in and help out which sounds brilliant (in leu of a trip to the Great Barrier Reef of course!)
There are also crocs, jelly fish, turtles, frogs, spiders and meerkats to spy on.
I imagine with older children and, in sunnier weather, it would be easy to make a real day of it as there is outside space with a ‘Pirate Playground’ and ‘Otter Attraction’ BUT; be prepared, there are extra places to shed cash everywhere, from a Barney ride on car thingy to the vending machines not to mention the gift shop so, make sure you take snacks, drinks and a toy that they haven’t seen for a while, to entertain them as they pass through the gift shop to the playground…no one needs a semi precious stone or a ruler that also flicks around their wrist to make a crap bracelet. they just don’t.
The reason we went for the Annual pass in the end is that you only need to go 3 times in a year to get your money back in terms of on the door ticket prices and it makes you feel less like you need to spend the whole flipping day there. It makes a two-hour mooch more plausible, not excessive.
All in all, a really excellent way to spend an afternoon because there are exhibits to suit people of all ages and levels of interest and understanding.
I am particularly thrilled to have squirreled away a few new geeky animal facts so I am now able to drop bombs like this into conversation…’I mean, yeah, sure a piranha’s average life span is 25 years but, they can live for far longer’.
If you are thinking that this would make me a boring person to invite to a dinner party, you would be totally wrong; I also have facts on any number of other interesting topics such as the history of Neighbours (the soap, not Barb and John) and the people you meet on public transport!
Hope you have a whale of a time.*
*There are no whales at the Blue Planet.