We love our Pets

I have talked about our cats before and how much they mean to me, and the rest of the family. Sometimes I think that Dad M cares more about them than us, as he is known to go out at midnight to try and get them to come in, if the forecast is for bad weather.

Our recent additions to the family have proved a little more tricky. Fish! Ok I know they are not the cuddliest of creatures, but the boy saw some in a tank in a shop and asked if we could get some. We thought about it for a while, before deciding that a small tank might be a nice feature in the dining room.

I will point out that at this point fish don’t sound tricky, but I have past experience of looking after tropical fish. I know its not as easy as it looks with water testing, changing, feeding and general upkeep. These would all be good experiences for the boy, so we bought a small tank and set it up.

So the time came to go to the shop and Red, Blue and Yellow the Platy’s were purchased. There was much excitement as we settled the new additions into their new home. The following morning the excitement turned to tears as Red was found floating in the tank. Its not easy to explain to a distraught child that its not their fault, that fish can die of shock, that there could be chemicals in the water, etc. A phone call and visit to the shop, a refund didn’t help as the boy was trying to find answers. Grief can be all consuming when you are small, and watching him deal with it was upsetting enough.

Over the following weeks we did all we could each week changing water, checking levels, not over feeding, we introduced other fish. Slowly we had a lovely little fish family. But every now and then we had questions about Red, where he was why he had died, and would the other fish follow.

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We love our pets, and like lots of people think they are an essential part of a home. A recent study for National Office for Animal Health showed that 77% of people believe their pet’s health is as important or more important than their own. This can of course include the types of pets that you don’t expect like fish.

The boy now has a little memorial book, where he adds the latest fish who have “gone to be with God” but we will always have a little place for Red, the first fish to spend the night in our tank. Have a look at I love my pet website for care and advice on how to look after all sorts of pets.

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 This is my entry into ‘I Heart My Pet’ 2014 Blogger Competition.

Weymouth Sealife Adventure Park, and park number six on our list

Park number six on our list of Merlin parks to visit was going to be Weymouth Sealife Adventure Park. After a quick skip down the motorway we arrived. The park is located just on the outskirts of the town, with a large car park. After a quick car picnic we headed inside. I have never been to this Sealife park before and was pleasantly surprised that it was quite different to the others that we have visited.
The first thing is that each different environment is in an individual building, so you follow footsteps around the park. You need to go outside, so wrap up warm! This I can imagine would not be so much fun on a wet day, but it was dry but very cold for our visit. There are also some fun splash areas and a mini pool, which I am sure is popular in the summer.

We followed our map through the usual fish, seahorse, shark stingray, and jellyfish tanks. As with the Birmingham Sealife we also had a quiz to follow.
The seahorses at this park are amazing and something a little special. They were defiantly my favorite, and something I would be keen to see again.
The park also has the added extra of a small ride area, Daddy and the boy braved the crocodile splash, but I didn’t want to get wet! The boys favorite ride the jumping jellybean was good and along with a couple of other rides made a nice addition.

The park is celebrating its 30th birthday this year, so there was a nice added FREE tour of behind the scenes. The tour is every 20 minutes and you queued up at a point just past the penguins. They give the first 15 people a quick briefing then whisk you off into the back of the buildings.
For me this was the best part of the park. The guy who showed us round told us a little about the history of the park. Along with details of breeding programmes, release schemes. Animal health and even the naughty octopus!
This tour is short 10-15mins but is so worth while. It was great to learn that all the fish and animals come through Weymouth before going out to Sealife centres all over the world. They health check all the animals before they go anywhere. We were told about how they try to breed all their stock. So less fish are taken from their natural habitats.

This is a great place to visit, and I can imagine is very popular on a sunny day. we gave this park 5/5 as it was so interesting and a bit different to the others we have visited. This park would have cost £22.50 adult and child. The website has some good offers including combined tower and centre tickets

Merlin Challenge and park number six Sea Life Centre, Birmingham

We had already visited three parks on our whirlwind tour of the midlands, and this seemed like a good spot to stop off on the way home.
The National Sea Life Centre, Birmingham from what we could work out is right in the middle of the city. The signage from the motorway was good although it was a little tricky to find the parking, and then once parked finding the building.

We were fast tracked in as pass holders, and quickly found the route through. The boy was given a scratch card but no map. We were told we wouldn’t need one, we found out as we walked through that this was because there is a one way system.
The scratch card had question numbers and coloured answers and we quickly found the right question. You then scratch the panel to see if you are right. Now I will say, we had no instructions with the card, and not being quite sure of the answers gave it our best guess. Not realising that all the boxes have stars (right or wrong answers) we carried on looking at the amazing exhibits, and open rock pools. You wind your way up the purpose made building, through different continents, waterfalls and ponds. there are animal touch pools, and information boards everywhere.

we enjoyed the shark tanks, and the stingrays are a family favourite. there were otters, turtles and even a fun 3D cinema which was great fun. (apart from the staff member who kept opening and closing the door, all the way through) I love watching fish, and I loved this sea live the centre. You can tell that they have thought about how the visitors move through and it is nice and easy, but you can’t really go back to see something you may have missed!

At the end you pass through a shop, and there is a play area, which looked a bit dirty with some vending machines and some plastic tables and chairs. It’s a shame there isn’t a nice café, as I think that would do well here.

We handed in our scratch card, but had found out we had got answers wrong, as some stars have happy and some sad faces. The lady on the till however just handed us an explorer medal without even looking at the card. This all seemed a bit false, but the boy was happy as he had another medal.

We left to find the car, which in itself is interesting, as you come out of the opposite side of the building and this disoriented us all. The canal bridges as you leave are fun to explore and I would imagine on a sunny day it is nice to stop and watch the world go by. We were in the centre for about 2 hours, but I would imagine half a day would be as long as you would need to spend.
It would have cost us £15.00 each, and parking is extra here about £3 for 3hours but discounts can be found on their website

We gave this Sealife Centre 3/5 our favourite is still Brighton as it has a better atmosphere, and the staff were more helpful.

A lovely day out and park number one of our challenge

Sunday was a lovely day out…
The first day of our Merlin pass and one that has been in the planning for a while now. Thanks to Sterimar baby for their brilliant name the dolphin competition and for choosing us as the winners.

So we started our year with a visit to the Sealife Centre Brighton
It normally costs £16.20 for adults and £11.40 for children, visit the website for discounts and offers.
Its one of the more expensive of the sea life centres so we were looking forward to a good afternoon.

The entrance is opposite the pier so easy to find and you get a feel of the 140 year history as you enter the gate guarded by stone fish. Dropping down to the entrance, you enter the usual sea life styled entrance. Once we had been photographed and checked in we proceeded through the double doors into the most amazing vaulted corridor. The lighting makes the atmosphere amazing and changes colour, dad was surprised at the size, and the boys amazed at all the tanks lining the walls.

Lots of fish as you would expect, but huge spider crabs! Something I have never seen before. The boys ran from tank to tank shouting out their finds and calling us over. At this point I will say this building is old, so lots of levels and lots of steps. The boy was the first to trip, and has a huge bruise to prove it!
Next the tank of things you can hold, the boy held crabs and touched sea anemones, his friend was reluctant but did join in. Then more tanks of stingrays, fish, turtles mixed exhibits and question and answer boards with interesting facts.

We had booked a glass bottom boat ride (additional £1.50 per person) and made our way to the shark tank. We left our bags and popped on shoe covers to get on the boat. There was only one other family so plenty of time to ask lots of questions and the man on the boat certainly knew his sharks from his fish! Its thrilling to see all the sharks turtles and fish under your feet, and we even know their names.

We stayed to watch them feed the shark’s and then made our way through to see the rest of the tanks.
Just seahorses, octopus and even guppies… time speed by and before we knew it was closing time. There seemed lots we didn’t do with quizzes, and colouring in and hats. There is a behind the scenes area (additional £3.00 per person) and a pottery painting area, cafe and coffee shop.

This is a hidden gem in Brighton and I know we will be back, if only to see the new octopus exhibits. I would recommend this as a great place to visit with any age kids, as dad loved it too. The boys both said it was brilliant so I think they had fun…now which venue next…

Thanks to sealife,sterimar.