As Christmas rolled by and New Year celebrations receded, Mrs d4t in her usual hunt for bargains and offers, saw a post for vastly reduced Merlin annual passes. These get you in to Alton Towers, Thorpe and many other theme parks and attractions across the country. As part of our #ThatLondon trip, we'd planned to visit three parks and the London Eye, all weather permitting.
Monday dawned in a rather dull fashion and with such low cloud that we couldn't even see the planes overhead as they screeched out of Heathrow. This place is directly on the flightpath, not that I mind that though. I'm always amazed at how slowly they climb up in to the sky, and I always wonder where they are headed. Always. As we waited for the weather to show it's hand, the kids explored the house further, especially the spinning chair in the conservatory – it's in for some serious usage this week.
Bank holiday or not, food shopping was needed after our emergency dash to the local Co-Op on Sunday evening. Tesco Slough, despite warnings of the loveliness of Slough, was programmed in to the satnav for the short trip.
At this point a nod to the naysayers is required, as they did warn me. Slough is not the most delightful place to visit first thing on a Bank Holiday. The experience, I hope, will not be repeated.
Shopping purchased and returned to SL4, we starting the ever-lengthy packing process for the trip to Chessington World of Adventures, our destination for the day. Short car-hop completed, we trundled across the grassy field that was the car park, strolled past the lines of folk waiting to buy their tickets and went in.
Of all the parks that we've visited, this was by far the most disappointing, or so we thought. The rides seemed rather tame, few and far between, and the oft rude clientèle did little to warm our hearts. We passed several hours meandering between the various themed sections, the kids enjoying the odd ride, us getting wet on a flume (whilst the little one completely covered herself in a protective mac – cheek) and more, but still the park did not set us alight.
The short wait for the sky-ride, which would take us round the park with an elevated view, changed our opinion of Chessington in a few minutes.
We knew there was a zoo but the ride showed us the animals as we motored past, with all of us straining to see more and already planning where we would go once the ride had finished. The post-ride highlight had to be the gorilla enclosure. A baby sat in the far corner of the pound pulling at and chewing on a branch, much to the delight of the crowd that had gathered. As lovely as it was to watch, I can never fail to feel sorry for them stuck in an enclosure far smaller than anything they would wish for.
After seeing the lions, sea-lions, leopards, birds, and lots of others, we seemed more content with the park, more relaxed. Even the rather unpleasant 'lady' who seemed intent on abusing us and her child with unrepeatable words whilst queuing for a ride couldn't put a damper on the day.
We returned to the car as the park began to empty for the short drive back to Ham Island, passing the picturesque Runnymede on the way. A walk there might be a pleasant way to spend a few hours. We will see.
We'd said half-way round that we'd never return to Chessington, but may be we would now.