After my parents threw me a party for my 18th, I knew I wanted something a bit more relaxed to celebrate my 21st birthday. Don’t get me wrong I’m very thankful to them for throwing the party for me and I especially loved my Buffy cake(!). 😉 But wanted a more chilled 21st. Especially as I haven’t been feeling too well lately.
As luck would have it my Auntie Val was planning a trip to the UK over my birthday, so my mum and I decided to go on a few day trips with her. My auntie lives in the USA (Georgia to be exact) so we don’t get to see her very often. Ironically the last time was after my 18th birthday in Germany – go figure.
Since my auntie hasn’t been to the UK in approx. 5 years we decided to take a little trip down memory lane by visiting the Cotswold Wildlife Park. Which is somewhere my Grampy always used to take us when we were little.
The Cotswold Wildlife Park
The Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens is home to over 260 different species of animals with over 160 acres of landscaped parkland and gardens. So expect to do a lot of walking. 😉 The park itself can be found near the Cotswold town of Burford (Oxfordshire).
We arrived mid-morning and planned to see the penguin feed and talk later that afternoon, because, penguins. 😍 But there are various talks and animal feeds throughout the park. You’re given a free leaflet on arrival letting you know what events are on that day.
One of my favourite enclosures (besides the penguins, of course) is the Madagascar walk-through. Where you can get up and close and personal with the park’s lemurs.
There are signs throughout the enclosure warning you not to feed the animals and that they can bite! So keep that in mind before reaching to pet one. I actually saw one Lemur land on a man’s shoulder but didn’t have my camera ready to snap a photo. The man was, startled, to say the least!
The park is relatively flat with well-maintained footpaths, making it easily walkable, but there is also a land train should you wish to use it. The land train takes you past some of the larger enclosures and is a lovely way to see the park. We decided to hop on the train and walk our way back afterwards.
Here are a few of my favourite photos from our trip.
What I love most about the Cotswold Wildlife Park is the size of the enclosures for their larger animals, such as the rhinos and zebras. I didn’t feel that they were cramped and had plenty of room to roam around. Something I find very important in a place such as this.
We stopped for lunch in the on-site cafe and my Auntie picked up a wolf t-shirt from the gift shop. But there are also plenty of designated areas available should you want to bring a picnic. It was a lovely nostalgia trip and I’ll definitely be back again in the near future.
The seaside town of Weymouth is one of my favourites in the UK and the perfect place for a relaxing 21st birthday staycation. We popped down there on the 7th of May (my actual birthday), arriving just before lunch. As it was early May the weather was a lot cooler but it also meant the town was quieter too, which is always a bonus.
Our first stop was to see the ‘sandman’ who creates various sand sculptures on Weymouth beach. You can find his sculptures in a small hut found along the beach (near the arcade). It’s always interesting to see what new designs he’s come up with – this year we saw Alice in Wonderland, The Tin Man, a dragon, dolphin, and an ammonite.
We stopped for lunch in my favourite cafe – The House on Pooh Corner – although it had changed names, before exploring more of the old harbourside. I indulged in a cheeseburger and a chocolate milkshake.
Funny story: I tried a coke float here once and made such a mess(!), that my dad banned me from ever having one again. 😅 To be honest I still don’t think I’ve had another one since!
The staff were very friendly and wished me a happy birthday. My mum and Auntie had gotten me a 21st birthday badge to wear for the day, lol. I popped it on my handbag!
The old harbour
One of the things I loved about Weymouth as a child were the boat trips across the harbour. So I was very happy to see this was still available and hopped in one of the boats for a ride across. The other option is to walk around, but I’d rather support the local community and the old men that work on the rowboats. They always have interesting stories to tell.
We went into Brewers Quay (which is a shopping centre in the old harbour) to see how it had changed and stumbled upon a craft shop. There were various arts and crafts classes to try out from painting to glasswork, definitely worth a look if you’re staying in Weymouth for a few days.
While we were exploring Brewers Quay I picked up a leaflet for Monkey World which was a short drive away. We hadn’t planned to stay overnight but that quickly changed! Luckily there were plenty of B&Bs along the beach to choose from and, being off-season, plenty of vacancies too.
We managed to book a triple room for £20 for the night including breakfast and planned to go to Monkey World the following day. The room was equipped with one double bed and a bunk bed, along with a nice sized bathroom. Breakfast was delicious! <3 Perfect start to the next part of my 21st birthday staycation.
Before bed we had an evening stroll on the, very deserted, beach and I was happy to see the iconic clock was still standing. I picked up some shells to remember our trip and we had a chippy tea at a chip shop near the beach.
Monkey World is an ape and monkey sanctuary and rescue centre, found near Wool in Dorset. Which is roughly a half-hour drive from Weymouth. The centre itself is home to over 250 rescued and endangered primates from gibbons to orangutans. and works with governments around the world to stop the smuggling of primates from the wild. Refugees of this illegal trade and those that have suffered abuse or neglect are rehabilitated into natural living groups.
Besides penguins, orang-utans are one of my favourite animals so I was looking forward to seeing them in real life. As well as helping such a great cause! The centre relies on some donations of food and toys for their primates.
I’m happy to say the orang-utans did not disappoint! They’re very cheeky creatures and smart too. I enjoyed watching them eat and play while their keeper gave a talk about these wonderful animals.
Of course, the orang-utans weren’t the only species we saw, they were simply my favourite. We also watched the chimpanzees and smaller monkeys playing around in their enclosures. Along with a recent addition to the centre, a golden-cheeked gibbon who happened to be called Kim(!). Coincidence? 😉
We had a wonderful day learning about the different primates and enjoyed a few talks with their keepers. Monkey World has a couple of cafes and various food kiosks on-site, but also plenty of places to stop for a picnic. We had lunch on-site and popped into the gift shop before leaving, where I picked up a pressed penny for my collection. Along with an orang-utan stuffed toy.
I had a lovely 21st birthday, thanks to my mum and auntie for coming along with me.
Have you been to one of these places? How do you like to spend your birthdays? Let me know in the comments.