A change of scenery was overdue this week.
It’s not that there is not enough to do in and around Dundee during the summer holidays – I can’t believe the number of camps and attractions at hand.
But a day out normally requires a lunch or snack stop – and staff at our favourite child-friendly cafes with play areas might be starting to see my kids more often than their own.
And so we headed to Edinburgh Zoo.
Like many people, the word “zoo” makes me anxious – conjuring up images of caged animals which should be wandering free.
Maybe you’re a regular and don’t need a rundown on the capital landmark but in case you’ve never made the trip – or like me, have only a vague childhood memory that needs an update…
It felt open and huge, with trees and plants everywhere. Information boards explained that many of the animals were endangered and breeding programmes at the zoo were boosting their numbers.
Lions, tigers, bears and so many other animals keep you wandering (up a very steep hill) for hours.
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Then there is the penguin parade which is so famous a woman told me she had travelled from Birmingham to see it.
On top of it being a haven for animals, it has loads of playparks and right now it’s a Lego-lovers dream with a brick marquee installed for summer with an actual “brick live” pit – just like the plastic ball pools you’d dive into as a kid but full of Lego – or another brand which seemed every bit as good.
A love of animals – or for that matter Lego – is not confined to kids.
A close friend (over the age of 35) still gets a box of bricks every Christmas.
Another pal has just married a man who creates miniature buildings to relax while she watches Love Island.
We’ll be back soon enough to Camperdown Wildlife Centre which holds its own charm (and I can’t wait to visit the park’s giant inflatable park in place over summer with two-hour sessions which run three times a day) but the scale of Edinburgh’s offering is something else.
Ticket prices are not cheap at about £40 for an adult and two kids but you can keep the costs down by taking your own food.
You’ll also fill a whole day, have brilliant memories and the kids will sleep like logs.
So if you too have noticed the waitresses’ smiles wearing a teeny bit thin, you know where to go.