As the weather was looking a bit rubbish on Saturday we decided we wanted to do something indoors. After doing a bit of Googling we decided upon the ‘Sea Life Adventure’ in Southend. I’ve been there a handful of times, not for a few years, and each time I’d come away feeling a little ‘meh’ at the experience. It wasn’t a bad place to visit, just not a GREAT place. Between my last trip there and this trip I’d heard there had been a bit of a renovation and some investment so I was excited to see what they had to offer.
The make over is apparent as soon as you step into the place. The reception area is very swish and open and you can see through to the Souvenir Shop and Café area. Our first stop was the Café as it was nearly lunchtime and we wanted to have some food before it became too busy. There was a party of disabled guests in there at the time, and along with the wheelchairs and buggies, there wasn’t much room to manoeuvre which is perhaps bad space planning! However, we found a spot out of the way and had a look at the menu. It’s pretty standard Café stuff: chips, burgers, baked potatoes, etc.. the prices were fairly reasonable and it was actually pretty nice! Whilst we waited for the food, Loz took J to change his nappy. She was happy with the facilities, but noticed the nappy bin was to the point of overflowing. She mentioned it to some staff who said it would get sorted out.
After the food was consumed we set off into the Aquarium. The experience was a lot better than I remembered with more theming and it looking a lot more ‘professional’ than it use to. There are lots of fish and sea creatures to look at, all with little signs (mostly) next to them showing you exactly what you’re looking at. Along the way there are little ‘quizzes’ on the wall where you have a question and multiple choice answers. These are quite fun and G enjoyed seeking them out and trying to get the answers right. Even J, at four months old, seemed to enjoy looking at all the colours and weird and wonderful things around the Aquarium.
A lot of the higher up tanks have little steps in-front of them so smaller children can get up and have a peek in. The whole place feels very children-friendly which is sometimes lacking in places for children! Near the end of the tour there is a rock pool with a staff member where children are able to hold a little Hermit Crab, and stroke a Starfish. G was a little anxious of the crab, even with it hidden in the shell. She held it eventually!
When we’d finished looking around the Aquarium I came out feeling a lot happier about the experience. It was fairly short, but thoroughly entertaining. The staff we encountered were all very bubbly and friendly and engaged with G too, it’s fantastic to see! The only slight bugbear was when Loz went to change J again she’d found the ‘sorting out’ of the nappy bin was basically squishing down the nappies to make more room, rather than empty it of the full nappies. Doh!
We left the Sea Life Adventure and had a mooch along the sea front. Admittedly I wanted to go home, but Loz dragged me to the Arcades. I’ve no idea which one we went into, it was a pretty standard Seaside arcade with not many video games, lots of ‘tuppence pushers’ *snigger* and Fruit Machines. G was awesome at Super Mario Kart Arcade – she kept coming first! She also loved the ‘tuppence pushers’; they fascinated her and she had some good luck on them too. Every time something came out she’d punch the air with a satisfied ‘YES!’. I also got G to play the very old ‘Jurassic Park – The Lost World’ with me – it was just as fun as I remember, but the aging display made it difficult to see what the hell was going on at times.
An hour and £10 later, we decided it was time to make our way home. We went back to the Sea Life Adventure for a quick drink and to give J a feed (the wristbands allow you to come and go as much as you like in a day!) The Café was much quieter now and we had a nice peaceful drink before heading home. I had a really lovely day out at Southend, and actually it was much cheaper than I thought it would be. The Sea Life Adventure is well worth a trip if you’ve got little ones!