The Living Rainforest is an amazing experience. Under glass in the Berkshire countryside is a different world. Rain or shine you can experience the heat, the sound the plants and the animals of the Rainforest.
The place is absolutely crammed with plants, a lush green oasis. Orchids flower all year long, banana, cocoa and ginger trees flourish. Plants which are familiar to us as houseplants, Rubber plants, 'Swiss cheese' plants and Peace Lilies become exotic as they grow to sizes impossible in a temperate climate.
Palms and Banana trees grow all year round.
Then there is the rainforest wildlife. Birds and butterflies fly free, and being used to humans, come near enough to see (although they should not be touched). Other animals are displayed in tastefully camouflaged tanks or cages. There are monkeys and toucans, frogs and ants. Motionless sits a dwarf crocodile. Turtles swim in a pool. The largest pool holds tropical fish, waiting for the cover of a giant Amazon Water Lily, which grows from June until October.
This is a great day out. It would be great for any kids who are into animals because you can get really close to the birds and butterflies. Fish lovers and gardeners will love it too, and it's open every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day, so if you just hate the cold British winter you can come here and enjoy a couple of balmy hours.
It's signposted from Junction 13 of the M4. The café serves tea, coffee and cold drinks and snacks and if you want to take a picnic there are indoor and outdoor eating areas. It is wheelchair and pushchair friendly, has baby changing facilities and a gift shop with environmentally aware items.
It is warm, so wear layers and it is also damp underfoot so don't wear canvas shoes! You will have a great day out and you can even adopt an animal.
There are regular events for kids, see their website www.livingrainforest.org for more details.
About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the Editor of eParenting.