Lily, Ollie and I went along with one of my best friends (and Lily's godmother) on a very hot, but not sweltering, day last summer. The weather in the morning didn't look too great but it was definitely sunny by the time we left.
Beale Park is a wildlife attraction and gardens near Reading. In addition to a range of animals including Lemurs and Meerkats, there's a train, water play park, giant sandpit and fun play area. All the facilities are well appointed and there are some beautiful gardens and sculptures to explore.
We arrived early, just after the park opened at 10am. Parking was easy and we were able to get quite close to the entrance. There was an overflow car park that wasn't necessary during our weekday, term time visit. We didn't have to queue to get in and the ticket price seemed reasonable - both Lily and Ollie were free at the time, we would now have to pay for Lily. Adults are £10 during peak season and children are £8. Toddlers under 2 go free and there are a couple of options for family tickets or advance bookings which can save you money.
The ticket price includes on ride on the train and we headed there first to get a feel for the park. The train takes you past a lot of the animal enclosures so it's a great way of checking out what there is and deciding where to go first!
After the train and a quick reccy, we had a bit of drizzle and so headed to one of the super convenient covered picnic areas for a bit of early lunch. We'd bought a picnic, although there is a restaurant on site that we grabbed ice creams and cups of tea from later in the visit. The food there looked good and I seem to remember thinking the pricing was reasonable. I would definitely consider eating there next time but there were so many areas for a lovely picnic so you're well catered for either way.
A favourite activity for Lily was the outdoors Little Tykes area. I wasn't sure what to expect really but it was very cute to see her driving round the little 'village'.
But my favourite bit of the park was checking out all the animals. There was a much bigger range than I was expecting and I get the feeling that if the children hadn't been flagging by mid-afternoon we could have spent much longer wandering around the animals and exploring the beautiful garden areas.
I had a great day and know Lily did too. Ollie was still tiny at the time and wilting in the heat, but there were plenty of facilities for him - changing and feeding, which is something I don't take for granted!
If you're local to the Reading area and haven't tried out Beale Park yet then I would certainly recommend that you get your skates on and get down there. They're open until November and I'm sure the facilities will still be fun even in a bit of rain. If we had the money I'd buy an annual family pass - at £135 it's great for anyone who lives nearby and can take advantage of unlimited opportunities to visit.
*I have not been asked by anyone to write this review, I just wanted to share with you! All opinions are my own*