Last Wednesday was a lovely sunny day, so I had high hopes for the same on Thursday. We were going on a trip to Beale Park, near Reading organised by our local Children’s Centre. I’d looked on their website on Wednesday evening and noticed that they had a lovely paddling pool – right pack, swimming stuff and towel – check!
Imagine my dismay when I woke up to pouring rain 🙁 I unpacked the swimming stuff, put my son in his wellies and waterproof and off we set to meet up with the coaches. Bless him, he got a little confused and thought we were going on a pre-school trip when he saw a lot of his old buddies. Where’s J? he asked – J being his old pre-school manager. Um, she’s on holiday and we’re with the children centre today. Ok, get me on that coach – I want a window seat please Mummy.
Off we set with 3 coachloads of excited families for the one hour journey – the rain had stopped, but it still looked like being more of an April showers kind of day rather than a glorious August summer day. Never mind, we were prepared for the worst and it wouldn’t stop us from having fun on our first trip to Beale Park. In fact, I’d never heard of it before the Summer Trips poster went up at our Children’s Centre (specifically why I picked to go on this trip!).
We arrived, it was still dry and off we went. What to explore first? You get one free train trip with your ticket and I thought my son would head straight for that. But no! Just for a change, he wanted to have a good look round first. A good idea I thought, a) it wasn’t actually raining and b) we could get a grasp of the overall Park.
There are 4 lakes of varying sizes to wander around, we followed the route of the railway and saw some lovely wallabies and farm animals before heading through the Bird Walk. I love owls and there were some lovely owls on show including the ones shown above (click image for larger picture). My son did a bit of bug hunting along the way – his Gramps would be so proud.
We then said hello to the lemurs on our way to the Treasured Toys museum and then headed to the Little Tikes village – a big hit with him.
The sun kept trying to come out and stay out, so we sat down outside with our picnic lunch and looked at our Park map – what should we do next?
Time for a train ride – choo, choo!! Then we headed back to the Adventure Playground and he walked along the rope bridge – a first and very proud Mummy moment. He is not a climber, he loves swings, swings and more swings, but I’ve been suffering from a bad back for the last couple of weeks so lifting him was not an option. I was amazed when he walked across the rope bridge – not once, but repeatedly and he loved it. It was a wonderful moment and one I will remember for a long time to come. He had a great time in the pirate castle and playing in the boat.
There was still lots to see so I lured him away from the Adventure Playground with the offer of ice cream and off we went again. We met some wonderful wild animal sculptures and an Elephant fountain that spurted water from his trunk, stopped and then started again when you least expected it – this had him in fits of laughter.
We saw some wonderful floating Hippos and he stopped for a bit of crocodile wrestling.
We made our way to the Pavilion which houses a model boat and aeroplane museum – another hit.
My son ended the day by making friends with a lion, probably preferable to the ones he’d seen earlier in the week at Longleat!
We had an action-packed day as you can see from all of the photographs. We didn’t try the archery that was on offer or a couple of the other playgrounds, you could also join in with some Animal Athletics challenges around the Park.
If we’d have gone independently to Beale Park, rather than on our coach trip it would have cost me £9.50 and £7.50 for my son (children under 2 are free). There are family discount offers and season tickets available. We both enjoyed the day, there was a good variety of things to see and do, and I’m sure we’ll be back.