The Most Amazing Birthday Surprise: The Marwell Zoo

A Birthday Weekend at The Marwell Zoo

On Friday night, I headed up to Julia’s house to go to a party that her roommate, Beej, was throwing. We hung around for a few hours and watched the Olympics with them before snoozing.

Saturday: Surprise Presents!

Saturday morning was rainy and cold. Because we’re troopers, we woke at 7:30 for breakfast and the 5K in The Common. While we sat in the kitchen, the rain continued to get worse and worse before we finally just decided to climb back into bed and enjoy the storm.

When it magically lifted around 8:30, we crazily decided to risk it and head to the 5K. We got there just in time, and managed to run the 5K in 28:40, which I thought was pretty good for my first every 5K! I’ve been training for a few months now to be able to run a 10K and have just reached around the 5K mark but had taken a few weeks off of training since my knee started acting up. It was a pleasant surprise to see that time, let alone finish the race at all.

After racing, we pumped out a yoga session to stretch out, made some lunch. While we were sitting there after lunch, Julia stood up from the table and announced, “Okay, I want to give you your surprise now.” I hadn’t been expecting a surprise. I hadn’t even been expecting a birthday present, as I was just happy to get to take the whole weekend off from the dissertation (and her from work) to get to spend it together. I closed my eyes, and she placed a piece of paper in my hand. When I opened them, I immediately teared up: she was going to take me on a trip to Marwell Zoo and had booked us a night in the Marwell Zoo Hotel the night before. It was too much. Much too nice of a present for me! I couldn’t contain my excitement!!

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Saturday:  Cobbler-Making

After I finally was able to stop crying, we headed up to The Range to pick up some bits and bobs for my birthday cake. We had decided to forgo the carrot cake that I wanted to make originally after seeing the ripe blackberries growing in The Common and headed up that way to gather a bucket full of them.

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Even though the berries were knocked over by a rogue dog and a rainstorm was just on the horizon, we managed to gather enough for the cobbler. We spent that evening making the cobbler from scratch and staying up very late to get to eat it.

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After letting it cool, we loaded the candles in, began to light them, and then realized…they were melting into the cobbler!

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All of the candles had begun melting from the bottom up, and our precious cobbler was now full of wax from 24 tiny candles. It’s too bad that my camera was too full of memory, because Julia was going to film me lighting my candles and making a wish and would have captured that “OH NO” moment. 🙂 We always manage to make the most of it, though, and after a bit of a whine from me, we got out our spoons and started scooping out the wax. And we still ate the cobbler! Who would pass that up?

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Sunday:  The Marwell Zoo Hotel and Spa

Each day of my birthday weekend just kept getting better. Sunday morning, Julia popped out to get us birthday coffee, and I managed to pack up my things for our trip to the hotel. We bopped our way through town, picking up things for a spa night and a tapas dinner. At the hotel, we were surprisingly upgraded to an executive suite and moved to a balcony room with only trees out our window.

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The rain started falling once we arrived at the hotel, but we just made some cups of tea and enjoyed it. After a while, we donned our swimsuits and headed down to the pool.

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When I was packing for the UK, I brought a swimsuit, but I hadn’t used it yet! We spent a long time just enjoying the pool, hot tub, and sauna. After the pool, we enjoyed an amazing birthday picnic dinner.

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We finished up the night doing the grossest, slimiest, black face masks before going to sleep. By the way, sleeping in this bed was like sleeping on a cloud. It was heavenly!!!

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Monday:  The Marwell Zoo

We slept in late on Monday morning after a restful night’s sleep, barely waking in time for breakfast. Breakfast was a full English buffet, complete with creamy yogurt, fresh fruit, and mini croissants, which I put Nutella on. I was in heaven! After breakfast, we headed into the zoo.

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There was so much to see there! I’ll have to let the pictures speak for themselves. My favorite things that day were the  pigeon-catching leopard, the baby giraffe, the three (three!) baby tiger cubs who came right up to the fence and went swimming with their mom,

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the very sleepy and cute red panda, the tiny iguana baby, the Parula snail collection, the melty ice cream,

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the macaques, the orxy that really hated trees,

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the pigmy hippo (whose bum was the only part I saw), the lemur pile,

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the tapir pooping in its swimming pool, heck…it was all amazing. Julia could not have planned a more amazing weekend than this. Once we got home, we were absolutely exhausted and collapsed on my bed for a nap. We rounded off the weekend with vegetarian bangers, mash, and sugar snap peas while watching The Terminal. I am so happy!

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Be kind to one another,

Natalie

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