As parents, it's not too often that we get to go off and do what we want. We do try to enjoy a night away in London once a year but we wanted something different, an adventure that we'd never usually get to do.
A few week's ago Red Letter Days got in touch and asked us if we'd like to take part in their Bucket List campaign and was there anything we'd like to do.
My wife is a huge animal fan and I am too so we had a look and booked up the Giles Clark's Big Cats Afternoon Tea and Tour for Two.
It mentioned that this was at a place near Ashford and as we have family in Ashford we would have thought that we would have heard of this but this isn't open to the public plus it's not for children. Already this is counting like a perfect day out for us.
I was going to try and keep this as a surprise for my wife but she kept asking and we needed the girls to stay at their grandparents for the afternoon.
The week leading up to the day was pretty horrible and we thought we'd need raincoats and boots but we were lucky enough to have the nicest day of the year arrive. The sanctuary is just outside of Ashford set in the beautiful Kent countryside and to be honest you'd never know it was there. And you'd never know what was hidden behind the gates.
Upon arrival, you check in at the gates and head off to the main cabin for tea and biscuits before a quick safety talk and then an education by Giles Clark. On the day we arrived he was filming for the BBC so we had the parks operations manager talk to us (you are told a week before just in case Giles isn't there).
The talk goes on for 30 minutes where they educate you on the cats, what they do at the sanctuary and things like that. Things we didn't know and also about the breeding program they run there. It was all stuff that we both found interesting.
They have over 50 animals and around 15 species, some of which only have about 50 left in the wild. They also showed us this video about what happened when they moved wolves back into the Yellowstone National Park and they think the same effect would happen if they reintroduce cats into the wild.
After the presentation, we split into groups and with a tour leader headed out into the park. It's worth noting that at most there is only ever 30 people there so the groups are roughly 14 - 16 big so it feels like a personal tour.
Each animal we were told about its history, where it had come from and what the plan was for it. We visited on a glorious day so got to see most of the animals apart from the snow leopards. One treat we did get was to see the tiger getting fed which was quite a sight.
In total, we probably spent around 90 minutes walking around and seeing all the cats and also learning about them. The guide we had was for informative and you could see his passion, this wasn't a job for any of them but something they enjoyed.
Once the tour was over we went back to the main hut...walking past the sleeping huts which you can book for a night stay at the sanctuary, if you do that you can feed the animals and you get woken by the Lions
On to the afternoon tea which was a welcome sight. Tea, sandwiches and cake what's not to love. Before leaving we were given a goody bag each and also a discount voucher to spend in the gift shop.
To sum the day up it was amazing, a day out that neither of us with forget and you certainly get a much more personal experience than you ever would at a zoo.
If you'd like to know more about this Red Letter Day experience then please pop over to their website.
Here are a few more photos of the day, I would have taken more but to be honest we were more interested in learning and experiencing the whole day than taking photos.
We were given a voucher for the purpose of this post, all thoughts and opinions are our own.