Spring, Smurfs and safaris


I’m really not dreaming of a white Easter – I usually can’t wait to get out to play in the snow but waking up to blizzards when it’s almost April Fools’ Day is no joke. I want to ditch my thick tights and duffel coat and start rediscovering little tops and flip-flops. It’s Easter, for goodness sake – time to hide eggs in the daffodils and plant sunflower seeds, not sprinkle salt on the front step and scrape ice off the car!

Still, there are still four days to go till the schools break up, time enough for the weather to turn. I could really do with a heatwave because it’s exam season for the older girls, which means absolutely no time to have two little ones rampaging round the house, putting them off their revision. So hurrah for our local community centre which, against all the economic odds, has managed to put together a holiday playscheme for £10 a day including trips. That means we can still splash out on a couple of day trips during the second week. I’ve got my eye on Chessington World of Adventure (chessington.com) after enjoying the spectacular press launch of their new Zufari Ride into Africa (http://www.chessington.com/zufari/) the other weekend.

The ride – an adventurous safari drive through a spectacular African landscape plonked in the middle of Surrey, complete with zebras, giraffes and rhinos – was fabulous, and the kids adored it, especially the bit where we all got splashed (I wore the hooded rain cape and apparently looked like an indignant Smurf, though happily all photographic evidence has been destroyed).

But for me, the best bit was waking up on Saturday morning after a lie-in (thank you fresh air, late night safari adventures and Comic Relief for zonking them out), coming down to breakfast and looking out on acres of hilly grassland where ostriches, giraffes and zebras were sauntering about enjoying their own version of muesli and fruit salad (followed by a fry up). It looked great in March – I can’t wait to see it in the sunshine, especially when the flamingos arrive.

We spent the rest of the day at the zoo, being entertained in royal style by the sea lions and the penguins. I’ve never seen such glossy, contented-looking tigers. We were given a pre-season sneak preview, but Chessington World of Adventure opens this week, just in time for the Easter hols, and that heatwave I’ve booked. The kids are already campaigning for a return trip, so I might see you down there – I’ll be the one not in the rain cape, no matter what the weather.

Let me know what you’ve got planned for Easter – and if you clamber aboard the Zufari truck, let me know what you thought of the ride by leaving a comment below or tweeting me @AmandaAtCandis.

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