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Top five: Family Days Out Of London

The best thing about having kids is days out and the best thing about being a kid is days out.

The best thing about having kids is days out and the best thing about being a kid is days out. You just need to know where to go, or more specifically where you can find/avoid Peppa Pig. Well, here you go...

Drusillas, Alfriston, East Sussex

Drusillas has come a long way since being a field with two llamas in it. But that was back in the ‘80s when fields were for building Happy Eaters on. And while the roadside restaurants and the free lollipops have all disappeared Drusillas managed to turn two llamas and a couple of swings into one of the UK’s top zoos/days out/experiences and an absolute must if you’ve got kids.

Drusillas is massive now. A proper day out. And while it’s a small animal zoo in as much as you need to really worry if you see a tiger, because it won’t be from Drusillas, it’s a park with a mammoth heart. There are loads of activities for children as they make their way around the enclosures, either by foot or on board Thomas the Tank Engine. A perspex tunnel lets those small enough pop up like an astronaut in the middle of the meerkat’s oasis and, if standing under a cloud of fruit bats wasn’t wild enough, wait until you find yourself actually inside a cage. I won’t give away which animal lives there, but it probably isn’t fast enough to catch you. And even if it does it probably won’t bother nibbling. No, it’s not Peppa Pig, although she will be there on July 25th.

 

Harbour Park, Littlehampton, West Sussex

At Harbour Park the ‘fun never sets’ which either means the fun’s not being cooked right or the fun in Littlehampton has gone all Parmenidean. Maybe fun’s just an eternal liquid.

Littlehampton, or LA as it’s known to the locals, is a seaside resort in West Sussex with something of a reputation. For a start it’s got Britain’s, and possibly the world’s, longest bench! Woooooooooooooooo!

It’s also got loads of fun rides for kids like the Crazy Caterpillar rollercoaster, a waltzer, dodgems, a mini Formula One circuit, flying elephants, giant teacups and watery fun like log flumes and bumper boats. Add some crazy golf, a couple of ice-creams, a sail on the boating lake, a bit of crabbing, a lick of candy floss, a swim in the sea and a sandcastle and you’ve got a perfect family day beside the seaside, beside the sea. Peppa Pig visits on 29 May and 13 July!

 

Paulton’s Park, New Forest, Hampshire

Well you’re not going to believe who lives at Paulton’s Park. Yep, that damn pig. Those kids are addicted. Paulton’s is home to Peppa Pig World! She’s got a whole planet! So if you do have children I don’t really need to say much more. You’re already going, aren’t you?

For the uninitiated, Paulton’s Park is in the New Forest, Hampshire. It’s an animal-family-theme park although the only animal with its own train is Peppa Pig’s granddad Grandpa Pig, and even he’s a man in a suit. Sorry. Actually the meerkats have their own manor. There are lots of birds like toucans and flamingos, some tortoises and penguins and wallabies.

Thrill rides like the Wave Runner, the Stinger, the Cobra and the Pirate Ship keep things exciting; there’s a water world with lots of wet stuff including the Raging River Ride Log Flume; and if your feet start squealing take the Rio Grande for a tranquil train ride around the park. What am I talking about, you’re going to Peppa Pig World.

 

Brighton Sea Life Centre, East Sussex

This is no ordinary aquarium. This is the world’s oldest aquarium. In fact the fish are so old you might spot a few Werther’s originals wrappers floating around the tanks.

As well as the usual old aquarium stuff like fish floating in the walls and ceiling, Brighton’s Sea Life Centre has a new Octopus Garden. Watch the three-hearted brains of the sea drift about aimlessly while Ringo Starr sings from his little castle in the corner.

Ever had a glass bottom boat ride in an aquarium? No, because no other aquarium has ever had a glass bottom boat before. At the oldest sea life centre in the world you can sail out over the deep blue giant fish tanks and almost knock a turtle on the head.

And if knocking fishy things on the head is your kind of fun get over to the interactive rock pool where you actually can stroke a starfish into a star jump and get nipped by a crab.

Plus there’s a behind the scenes tour where you can hear what 150 sea creatures really think of Mr Joe Public.

No Peppa Pig.

 

Beaulieu

Broom broom. Beep beep. How else to start a feature about Beaulieu, the world famous national motor home?

Located in the New Forest, Beaulieu has a stunning collection of metal boxes with four wheels: James Bond ones, Top Gear ones, rally ones, grand prix ones… It’s an historic cavalcade of what JG Ballard immortalised as sex on tyres.

In the largest official collection of Bond vehicles from the last 50 years, Beaulieu showcases the famous, the Aston Martin DB5 and the Lotus Esprit S1, the iconic, the 1937 Rolls Royce Phantom III from Goldfinger and the autogyro-helicoptermajig from You Only Live Twice, and the new, including Daniel Craig’s Honda CRF250R motorbike and the Land Rover Defender 110 from Skyfall. Alan Partridge alert!

As well as all the engines, the Beaulieu estate is also home to a rather wonderful palace and some beautiful gardens where you can eat your sandwiches overlooking the Beaulieu river imagining what Britain must have been like before all the green bits were tarmaced.

Definitely no Peppa Pig.

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