Mixing it up a little with some animal life!

Hello everyone!

I hope this blog finds you well. It’s that monthly time (or kinda around that time) where I post a blog as I rumble through the photography archives.

The weather here is…wet. Mind you, we can’t complain of late. It’s been getting a lot warmer and all the Spring plants are emerging as the sun grows stronger. Dad has planted a plethora of snowdrops in the garden and our daffodils our beginning to cover the bank in front of the house….we have even undertaken the first lawn cut of the year! I have been able to get out in the car without having the windscreen wipers on constantly and also done 100 miles or so on the new bike. It’s still cold enough for me to have to wear a fleece and thicker tights (yes, tights) but we are getting there. I hope that things are moving on with you; at the very least you are appreciating the longer days!

Well, to the pictures. As I said, a little bit of a diversion from the norm here as I am posting some pictures of a visit I took when visiting Longleat (http://www.longleat.co.uk/) and Cheddar with an ex-girlfriend a while back. Now, apologies, I don’t usually get personal and mention that kind of stuff, but it’s only polite to acknowledge her, as she did buy the weekend as a birthday present for me and did all the driving (a significant distance from Pembrokeshire).

Anyway, moving on. This isn’t an exhaustive list of whats in the Park by the way, there is only so much room I can post pictures so I have chosen some of my favourites to share with you. Firstly, there is this cheeky monkey…who isn’t a monkey. I think everyone likes a lemur don’t they? Those mad prehensile tails and mischievous nature are quite a draw!

I wish I had a tail I could hang from branches with.....

I wish I had a tail I could hang from branches with…..

After the lemurs, there were larger paddock areas you could drive through; there were others breeds of lemurs and small mammals but the weather was a bit crap to be honest, so there was a certain amount of hibernation going on. Can’t say as I blame them, they are used to much warmer climes. In the first paddock, there was a certain amount of looking up to do…

Getting a good view from up there?

Getting a good view from up there?

As well as the giraffes, there were herds of deer that wandered about. You couldn’t drive much more than 5 mph really for fear of either frightening them or missing one that decided to cross the road in front of you. You could feed the deer too by buying these bags of pellets but I’m not into that kind of stuff, personally. I see these parks as a necessary evil, rather than an excuse to hand feed wild animals…plus the deer seemed fine mowing the lawns!

Talking of hand feeding, the next route headed into the monkey enclosure. This part was gated and there were many signs basically saying that a) if you cared about your car, think twice and b) don’t feed the monkeys, it only encourages destructive behaviour. Needless to say, most people ignored this and there were many monkeys attached to cars…one family even threw fruit onto their bonnet to get a closer look!

I don't know whether this little scamp expected milk form the nozzle or what....

I don’t know whether this little scamp expected milk from the nozzle or what….

Escaping from the monkeys (we sustained no damage, but had a close shave when a youngster used the underside of the car as a hiding place, frightening the crap out of both of us), we headed back to the paddock where we had a close encounter with a gorgeous mature rhino. No other option but to give way to this beast, it probably weighed more than the entire car!

By all means, you first...

By all means, you first…

Once you had cruised the paddock, you could park up and head indoors to see all kinds of creepy crawlies (if you are in to handling snakes, spiders and hissing cockroaches that is) as well as some penguins, complete with their own outdoor basking area, fibreglass cliff and underwater viewing panel. This one seemed to fascinates the children more than anything..

One more flash photo and I'll jump!!

One more flash photo and I’ll jump!!

Now, I like my butterflies, so I made sure I included a picture of the one that stayed still long enough for me to get an image of! There were many more around but they staff had recently put honey pots and oranges out for them to feed on, so it was a bit of a frenzy of fluttering wings….I guess this guy had just had enough.

A gorgeous iridescent butterfly resting away from the madding crowd

A gorgeous iridescent butterfly resting away from the madding crowd

Further on, there was a queue. Very mysterious. Eventually, we discovered this was for a boat, but…a boat to where? Well, it appears that Longleat have a family of gorillas. This family of gorillas, for reasons that probably include escape and all sorts of others risks, are housed on their own island in a huge lake on the property and this boat cruises around the island so you can get a view from all sides. I hope that they didn’t want any privacy. Anyway, to add the the journey, there are sealions in the lake! Yes, sealions! You can buy fish on the boat to feed them if you wish and boy, did they know it, performing for a meal as we chugged along…

Drop the darn fish! If I only had thumbs, I'd come up and get it!

Drop the darn fish! If I only had thumbs, I’d come up and get it!

The gorillas. Hmm, less into performing. I have only included the picture here of the younger and/or female members of the group as there was a silverback but he was uber grumpy. He had obviously become aware of the route of the boat and was sat in an area where all you saw was his back. Well, in the same situation I’d probably feel like that too, so no surprise. It was an very impressive silver back though.

The more "sociable" gorillas watch us pass

The more “sociable” gorillas watch us pass

On the way back, I managed to snap a nice panoramic view of the house with no crowds in it, so that was a bonus. There was a cafe nearby so that was the next stop. If I recall, the coffee was pretty decent. Expensive but decent. Me like coffee.

Longleat House

Longleat House

There were lovely gardens surrounding the property but again, due to the weather not being on our side and the season being all wrong for too much to be in flower, I shall only pop a single picture up. Come the Spring and Summer, this place would be awash with colour judging by what I saw and hopefully they have bee hives nearby to take advantage of all of it! Maybe I should suggest that….

A taste of the very nice gardening around the House

A taste of the very nice gardening around the House

In closing, the weather had got significantly worse so I could only get a few pictures of the Gorge at Cheddar. Lovely area but we were a little pushed for time so couldn’t stay long. A shame as I wouldn’t have minded having a bit of a climb or a rumble around the caves…however, such is life. You never know, I may pop back sometime.

I think I shall name this "The Long and Winding Road"

I think I shall name this “The Long and Winding Road”

Well, I hope you enjoyed the whistle-stop tour of South West Englands finest tourist spots?! No, seriously, it’s worth a visit if you are in that area any time, not enough people appreciate places such as the Cheddar Gorge as much as they should be appreciated for their geological wonder.

Thanks for dropping in again as ever and all the best to all my regulars readers (you know who you are). See you soon!

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