On Safari…in Bedfordshire

Many MANY years ago I worked at Woburn Safari Park. With the animals? No. Well, sort of. In the kitchens in the restaurant/cafe area. Great fun when you are doing your A levels but not really my long-term vocation if I’m completely honest. Having left there at the age of 18 to begin my career in aviation I have never been back since, despite the fact that Woburn is only 15 minutes from my house.

With Summer having finally arrived in the UK and Linda being at work on a Saturday for an Open Day, it seemed like the ideal place for a Daddy-Daughter day out. Megan loves animals of all sorts, especially from a distance so sitting in the car seems ideal for a 2½-year-old. Being just me and Megan I felt the opportunities for photography would be limited by child-wrangling, so I traveled “light” with just my Nikon D7000, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 and the Nikon 1.7x teleconverter, just in case I wanted to photograph the insides of a zebra’s nose. The D7000 wasn’t for the cropped sensor, although it did boost the zoom nicely – my D600 was in for a warranty repair with Nikon.

First off into the Safari and you are greeted by the Rhinoceros and other animals such as Zebra and Antelope. All seemed supremely unbothered by us pootling round in a car with Megan pointing and randomly hollering “Shoo” at them. Then it’s a trip into the largely fortified area home to the Black Bear and the Lions, before another fenced-off area with the cheeky monkeys. The number of times I’d hear people moaning about the monkeys eating parts of their cars, but following an Astra round with a monkey firmly clamped to the aerial just made me chuckle and be grateful I’d removed my aerial before we set off.

   

The central area of Woburn is much changed from when I was there back in the 90’s. The restaurant is the same building, but that is about all that is familiar to me. There are many more exhibits and areas to explore, and shows to see as well which I don’t remember from before. Megan as usual loved anything with a bouncy castle or a slide in it, so she was easily pleased – and we were even visited while we sat on the grass and ate lunch by a little marmoset monkey. Didn’t get a picture of him, he was off too fast when Megan started pointing and shooing.

If I have a complaint about the Park as a whole, it would be the lack of signs and signposting. The map they gave you was OK, but not the easiest thing to unfold and study with a toddler around. You could wander down a path and not know where you were, there would be an enclosure or an area but nothing to show what it was or how far it was to the next attraction. I guess part of this is that I’m rather more used to tourist attractions such as Disney which specialise in this sort of thing.

Overall it was a good day and Megan and I both enjoyed it lots (Megan will tell you she saw the lions on the second run through the Safari, but she was actually asleep!). I’ll certainly be heading back and spending more time with the camera – 24 shots is a pretty low haul for me on a day to somewhere new!

 


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