Family fun to suit every taste... all in one place!

Not very dry mother and baby Hamadryas Baboons get court in a thunder and rain storm at Flamingo Land, North Yorkshire. The baboons originate from Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen, preferring rocky desert and sub-desert regions. They are an endangered species due to loss of habitat. The storms have hit the UK after the recent heat wave. (Jonathan Pow/Ross Parry Agency)
Not very dry mother and baby Hamadryas Baboons get court in a thunder and rain storm at Flamingo Land, North Yorkshire. The baboons originate from Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen, preferring rocky desert and sub-desert regions. They are an endangered species due to loss of habitat. The storms have hit the UK after the recent heat wave. (Jonathan Pow/Ross Parry Agency)

IN these inflationary times there’s often hard decisions to be made about how to spend all too rare family time – and where offers the best value for money.

One young voice that wants to see the animals at the zoo, is quickly drowned out by an equally insistent voice that reckons zoos are boring and we need an adventure.

Personally, I fancied a quiet weekend break away from it all with essential mobile phone coverage only – and with a team of crack children’s entertainers on 24-hour standby. My requests were quickly dismissed as nothing more than a never-to-be lived out fantasy.

But how about a trip to somewhere that ticks off at least two of the must-haves?

Flamingo Land, near Malton in North Yorkshire, combines a theme park with white knuckle and family rides and a well-stocked zoo. And as well as on-site camping and caravan facilities, it now offers log cabins, for those who fancy spending their away days in something a little more luxurious.

Our trip hit the mark all round. At first I wasn’t sure about the theme park/zoo mix. I can understand the diversification to cater for a wider family market but establishing a reputation for one leisure attraction, does not necessarily mean being any good at the other.

But this park has obviously grown organically and where some of the inhabitants, the lions in particular, are actually within the theme park and can be seen from rides, to my untrained eyes they all looked happy, relaxed and unfazed by what was going on around them.

Plus, threatening to chuck a disruptive seven-year-old to a pride of man eaters lurking near the swinging cable car was an excellent way to calm fraying nerves. The lions wouldn’t have stood a chance.

For thrill seekers there are seven extreme rides, including Mumbo Jumbo, officially the world’s steepest rollercoaster boasting a 112 degree vertical drop. For those wanting something a little more sedate there are excellent family rides, children’s and scenic rides, including the lost river ride which is in turns relaxing and pulsating

For animal lovers there’s a plentiful supply of favourites from penguins, to giraffes, gibbons, magnificent Siberian tigers and the new chimps on the box, meerkats. Oh, not forgetting the flamingos of course.

Our log cabin was the perfect home-from-home, with a double bedroom and ensuite boosted by two twin rooms and a family bathroom. The well fitted kitchen and comfortable lounge with freeview TV added nice touches to the relaxing feel.

While there’s a wealth of eating options inside the park from breakfast to evening meal, we decided to head out and see what rural North Yorkshire had to offer.

The hamlet of Beadlam, near Helmsley, was just one we drove through that looked traditional enough, but its local curry house, has a burgeoning reputation.

The Desi Spice Club is a multi-award winner and obviously a very popular local favourite as early on Saturday it was packed out. No wonder, the mix of eastern spices and herbs with local fare such as pheasant and venison is a winner.

Back at base and we still had another day of exploring which allowed us to take in the 4D cinema show, the daily sea lion acts and cram in a few more rides. After that, our travelling party retired happy and temporarily tamed for the two and a half hour journey home.

David Helliwell

* For more hit www.flamingoland.co.uk

* For all there is to see and do in Yorkshire, go to www.yorkshire.com

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