Thinking of what to do on the one afternoon a week that we look after the 4 year old twin grandchildren is always a challenge.
A couple of weeks after Easter, someone suggested the Aquarium at Tynemouth.
As you drop down to the seafront of this Northumberland town, the Bluereef Aquarium dominates it.
I’m glad that I looked at their website the evening before our visit as I discovered that there were significant savings if you buy tickets online in advance. Consequently it cost us £27.00 for the four of us instead of the Door price of £33.50.
Unfortunately, if you intend to spend 3 or 4 hours here, which is quite possible, it will cost you £1.20 per hour in the nearest Council owned Pay&Display Car Park.
The building itself is ready for a bit of care and attention, both inside and outside. The North East coast can take a bit of a battering from the winter weather.
The website encourages you to sit and relax in the Blue Reef Cafe, but the Cafe is not very inviting on a cold and windy day on the sea front, with an obvious lack of any heating, not enough staff and a price list which was too high for what you got. They advertise Children’s Birthday Parties here, but judging by the lack of heating, I wouldn’t consider it until the weather warms up a bit.
The Aquarium itself however went down very well indeed for our wide eyed and excited young charges, as it was the first time in their lives they had seen some of the exhibits like the Cow Nose Rays, the distinctive and colorful Clownfish [made famous by the Disney film ‘Finding Nemo’], Lionfish, Stonefish and shoals of other species.
Every hour or so from 11.00am until 4.00pm there are different talks, displays and feeding times. We managed to catch the feeding time of the two resident Asian Short Clawed Otters named Indra and Gizmo and the Sea Lion Show, which suffered from some microphone problems but delightful for the kids just the same. Unusually for an aquarium there are also some very cute Marmosite Monkeys which always draw a smile.
The whole experience was a long way short of Florida Sea World standard, but on the whole it was a memorable experience for the little ones and an expensive outing for Grandad. Still, it’s only money!