When Grace turned 8, just over a year ago now, one of the gifts she received from Ross and I was a chance to get up close to some of the animals at Bristol Zoo. There were a number of choices including the lemurs, the red pandas, the penguins and…Grace’s animal of choice…the meerkats.
With the year being as it was, it kept getting left until, finally, I booked it back in September – however, the only date they had left was 22nd December. We knew that the Zoo was likely to be quiet but we also knew that we might not be so lucky on the roads! During the festive season, people tend to drive rather erratically and with all the stress around at that time of the year we really didn’t want the hassle.
So, up stepped Blacklane to solve all our travel woes. I booked them to collect us at 9.50am, returning at 4.15pm. It was very straightforward to book both the outward and inward journeys on line and then I received a confirmation email. In fact, they kept me very informed right up to, as well as on the day itself. I received a text message as soon as the driver had arrived, which included his name.
Not only were we grateful not to have to deal with the traffic, but we didn’t have to handle the weather conditions either. They were fine on the way there, but, on the way back it was tipping it down! Not a nice drive on the M5.
Paul introduced himself to us and was very chatty and friendly. In fact, we all had a lovely conversation with him both on the way there and way back – so much so that the Christmas CD Ross had recorded for us was left unplayed until our driver reminded us of it on the way back. Paul also provided us with bottles of water and the ride was a comfortable one in his latest, top of the range, silver Mercedes.
Arriving at the Zoo, we were dropped right outside the front entrance which made a lovely change from having to find a parking space.
We arrived at around 12pm and Grace had her Meerkat experience booked for 1.30pm. This gave us a great chance to have a good look around the zoo. The animals included lions, red pandas, flamingos, gorillas, penguins and sea lions.
Having never been to Bristol Zoo before, all 3 of us were really impressed. It was not overwhelming and not at all busy (I am sure it is a different story during the summer). We liked the way it was laid out and it wasn’t too big.
We arrived at reception around 15 minutes before the experience started and we were really pleased to see that Grace had the keeper and the enclosure to herself. The keeper’s name was Kath and she was great at putting Grace at ease and explaining to her how it all worked.
Grace disappeared off into another room with Kath and Ross and I stayed the viewing side of the barrier.
Click on the images below the main one to view the gallery.
Grace loved every second of it. She showed no fear – even when one cheeky meerkat decided to try and bite her boots. At one point there was a very loud bang and all the meerkats scarpered off behind their rocks and did not come out for at least 5 minutes. When they did, it appeared as though Grace was the meerkat whisperer as they wanted to follow her every where! During the time that she was in the enclosure, another keeper came to present a talk to the other guests so Grace had a bit of an audience. This did not phase her at all. One of the children on our side of the barrier was complaining that he wasn’t allowed in and I overheard his sister saying that only professionals were allowed in there!
After meeting the meerkats, we had just enough time to look around the reptile house (I chickened out!) and the butterfly house.
The rain had started by this point and, even though we were not booked to return until 4.15pm, we were able to text Paul and ask him to collect us at 3.30pm. He was there waiting as we exited the zoo, so we got straight and set off for the journey home.
Our Thoughts on Blacklane
I have to admit to being disappointed that we didn’t get an actual limousine to take us to the zoo, just a normal Mercedes! That said, the service was fabulous and our driver was the absolute best, such a lovely guy who also chatted to Grace on the same level as he did with us. It certainly made our experience that extra bit special and meant that we weren’t stressed out with the driving to Bristol just a couple of days before having to travel the country to see our families for Christmas.
Disclosure: Blacklane provided us with the transport to and from Bristol Zoo in order for us to review their service. Please note that all words, images and opinions have been formed by the owner of this blog and have not been influenced in any way. Please do not reproduce any of the content or images on this post without prior agreement from Verily Victoria Vocalises.