Dear mummy, what is it with the man in the red suit? Father Christmas, Santa Claus and Saint Nic. He’s the same person right? Today we visited Marwell Wildlife to see the man in question….I don’t know why and I’m too young to understand. All I know is that he passes judgement on little children, gives them presents if they have been good and rides a sleigh with flying reindeers! You can see why I’m a bit bemused.
Every year across the world people celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. This I understand. So today we are going to meet Father Christmas in his grotto at Marwell. I’m a bit nervous, he seems quite intimidating, being a world authority on present giving and naughty lists. I hope he can remember me helping mummy clean the floor after my breakfast this morning. My mummy booked tickets to see him and the elves back in November, it can get booked up very quickly and Marwell Wildlife have been listed as one of the top places to see Father Christmas in the UK. So I’m expecting it to be good.
We are booked into the 2.45pm slot and the ‘Christmas Experience’ takes over an hour and a half to complete. It involves having a story read to us by Mrs Claus, being greeted by elves and having festive treats, crafting a large cracker for daddy and making Christmas decorations and seeing Father Christmas. Included in the price for £33 is a fabulous gift from Father Christmas, all crafting materials and a gift for inside the cracker, mulled wine, mince pies and a train journey to and from the gates of the zoo to Marwell House across the other side of the park.
Unfortunately when we arrive, late as usual, we miss the train so mummy sprints with the buggy and me across the park. By the time we reach Marwell House the other visitors from the train have arrived and are being guided by a festive elf. The costumes are fantastic and the place is beautifully decorated. My mummy downs a mulled wine *hiccup* which thankfully isn’t strong or she would have been on the floor and we chill out in the waiting room filled with twinkling lights ready to be greeted by Mrs Claus.
Mrs Claus was very animated and friendly telling us the story of the Snowman. All the little children sit on the pillows on the floor while the adults are perched on stools looking on. There are not many of us I would say about 10 families max, which is nice and not over crowded. In the next room elves ‘Glitter’ and ‘Sparkle’ greet us with warm smiles and help us to crafting tables where we make Christmas crackers for loved ones. We get to choose the gifts for the centre of the crackers which are decent soft plush animals. My mummy picks a penguin for daddy and I decorate the cracker with pen scribbles and glitter. It has pre-printed zoo animals on and I do my best to colour them in for daddy. He’s not here as he’s at work, you see it’s a Monday and we’ve decided to go midweek so it wasn’t busy at the zoo.
Suddenly children and their families are being called and disappearing into the next room one by one. The elves have a clipboard and are sending the visitors to see Father Christmas. When our name is called I’m a bit scared as mummy leads me through a winter maze of fake snow and ice. It’s very pretty and as we walk around the room we see, in the corner, Father Christmas sat in his big chair. My mummy tries to coax me over to meet him, but I’m not having any of it and make a dash for the door which I can see. He scares me. Mummy thinks he is very convincing and looks the part. Ever the professional, Father Christmas diffuses the situation with his soft voice and gentle smile. I stop long enough to stare him in the eyes and receive my gift. My mummy exchanges a couple of embarrassed words with him and pleasantries and we have our photo taken. I’m not so sure. As we head out of the room, I notice my name on the ‘nice’ list. Phew! I think it could have gone very very wrong. I’d hate to think what he did with naughty children *GULP* The second scare of the day was the large fluffy reindeer. At this stage I’m worn out and side step around him. While my mummy gives him a ‘high five’.
A quick pit stop to pay for my professional photo with Father Christmas (the only thing not included) at £7 and we’re off catching the train back to the entrance. This is the best bit and I smile and giggle all the way home. Wind in my hair and looking around at all the animals in the late afternoon sunshine. It’s definitely been an experience perfect for an older child my mummy reckons. Give it a couple of years and we will be back when I’m less of a scaredy cat.
A beautiful setting and great attention to detail the elves were very friendly, we loved the crafting and the train ride, well worth the money. And as for my present that Father Christmas gave me? I sneakily opened it when I got home and it was perfect for me, a magnetic fishing rod game and a baby giraffe… To go with Jeremy (daddy giraffe) which I had got on my last trip to Marwell…what a spooky coincidence?!? Maybe there is something in this Father Christmas business. He knows all.