With the sun shining the miles sped past and except for the constant squeaks of the small furry one asking if we were there yet it was a most pleasant journey to our destination for the day. Woolly says – I couldn’t help it I was excited, I’d even refused a snack...only offered to stop me asking and not given in love of course.... we were finally heading to one of the places that I had been most looking forward to. Jo and I had watched a documentary on Manor House Wildlife Park and I was eager to see it for real. The park had been taken over in 2008 by the television interior designer, Anna Ryder Richardson of Changing Room fame, the documentary had introduced us to Steve Gibbon, Tommy Tapir and many more of the wonderful animals that she has now dedicated herself to saving and working with to protect endangered species including Rhino’s. As I tried another bounce to see if we had arrived I spotted the signs just as we turned into the car park. I leapt out of the car and dashed towards the entrance where I then had to tap my
paw impatiently whilst the women sorted out their bags, camera’s and coats, who needs a coat it was glorious weather. With our tickets secured our first stop were the wallabies, walking into their enclosure I gripped the large pellets that Jo had bought for me to feed them tightly in my paw, as suddenly I felt warm breath on the back of my neck, turning sharply I was confronted with a large albino wallaby. He must have jumped a foot into the air as the inquisitive mammal sniffed him over as he stood frozen to the spot, I suggested that the wallaby was probably after his treats just as Woolly throw them at him and dashed behind a tree. Woolly says – It could be a dangerous animal! I stood panting from my new position as Jo and Zoe ohhed and arrrhed over the babies and handed out pellets to all comers, as they didn’t appear to be in imminent danger I slowly made my way over to one of the hides and peered inside only to be confronted by a set of gleaming eyes and bared teeth, time for another animal
I suggested before galloping back to the main pathway and away from whatever it was that might eat me in their lair. As the mammoth departed a small wallaby exited it’s home and jumped over to take our last treat. Woolly says – as we wandered along the shady path I was delighted to see the humps of the parks Bactrian camels who were chomping happily away and obviously enjoying the sunshine. The paddock opposite them was large and my first sighting in it was of the oryx’s which I had watched on the documentary when they had been moved to the park, after their incredibly long horns had been covered by hose pipe to ensure that they didn’t break on the journey there. As we passed the grazing zebra’s I spied a huge grey armour plated body with feet like dish plates, I trotted on to get a better view of the rhino mob that were part of a world wide conservation project. All three rhino’s are boys and they are supplying the necessary for female rhino’s in other countries to have IVF to help ensure that the population continues
to increase and be released back into the wild. I sighed happily they looked identical to the ones on the program! As he skipped his way towards the next habitat I smiled happily at his joy in his surroundings and knowing that the next animal would elicit an even happier response from him. Woolly say – the pathway led us downhill and towards some large pools of water, as I turned onto another dirt track I could barely contain myself, there was Steve swinging on a branch with his wife Lisa and baby Bryn sitting underneath, I called out to them and as their heads turned in my direction I waved ecstatically at them. Steve the Gibbon had been one of the animals that Anna had inherited, he had been found in a twelve foot square cage where he had lived in isolation for the first eleven years of his life. The wildlife team worked tirelessly with him once his new enclosure had been built to help him gain confidence in going outside and learning to swing on the trees as well as finding Lisa as a companion.
As the mammoth jumped up and down, squawking ‘Steve, Steve, it’s me Woolly’ his little face was one of total bliss as Steve stopped swinging and looked in his direction, appearing to raise a long arm in greeting. Woolly says – My happiness couldn’t have been greater and as we walked on I kept glancing back to see Steve still waving at me. The Llama’s and Rhea’s seemed most content in their area as I tried to spot Tommy the Tapir who appeared to be missing or hiding from me, the tigers next door were also absent and I voiced my concern to Jo that maybe they had eaten Tommy and they were sleeping of their meal! I chuckled at his scenario reassuring him that even the tigers would find it tricky to get out of their pen and that Tommy was probably having an after lunch snooze in his house which seemed to appease him. Woolly says – lunch sounded like a great idea and having sat enjoying the warmth on my fur as I munched through my sandwich I debated if Jo would allow me to
go in the domed play area, maybe if I smiled sweetly and promised not to push any children out of the way I might be in with a chance. As we gathered up our rubbish Woolly appeared to have wind given the grimace on his grubby face although he said not and we followed Zoe into the play zone. Woolly says – oh the joys of the ball pit and possibly the biggest bouncy castle in the world, I triedd to ensure that I had seen every part of it before the adults grew bored and raced round, coming down slides, climbing up ladders and diving into the balls beneath me. All to soon I could hear my name being called and debated playing hide and seek with them before deciding that given the size of the play area I might actually end up lost for real! Outside once more I was intrigued to see a sign for Hoppington Green and happily followed the girls through the gate and into the path of the biggest rabbit in the universe, the giant Flemish rabbit is the largest known bunny and could weigh in
the region of thirty to fifty kilo’s in weight, that would certainly make an awful lot of stew....not that I would of course, they were far to cute. Behind the giant bunnies lived the Kune Kune pig who was happily dosing in the sun as were the Cameroon sheep although the pygmy goats were happy to see us and ran over for some fuss and attention. As we walked around the African village that housed them all I was delighted to see the small huts that they lived in and pondered if Jo might build me one to play in one day, maybe for our own goats in the future, I put it on my mental list to suggest when she is most likely to say yes to me! The last of the animals were the lemurs and with three different species we were able to get up close and watch them sleeping by their various house’s, none of us had seen a red ruffed lemur before which was an added bonus to our day. Woolly says – I was reluctant to leave all the lovely animals behind, although not a
huge park it is truly wonderful and well worth a visit if your in the area. The inside of the car was oven like, as we lowered the windows I was looking forward to the next part o the day. A couple of miles away was the costal town of Tenby and a place that none of us had been to before. Tenby is a walled seaside town on the western side of Carmarthen Bay, in fact it’s opposite our campsite and is known for its four kilometre sandy beach and it’s 13th century medieval town walls, there might also be a chance of ice cream! Pulling into the car park I was enthralled to see the town’s walls which reminded me of Evora in Portugal, I wondered if they had been built by the same person! As I led the way towards the beach the beautifully painted houses were a delight and the flat sandy beach was divine, even Zoe the sand hater was eager to walk along it. We joined the lobster looking people on the beach and sat happily licking our ice cream. Woolly says – why does sand
get everywhere! Two licks and I had sand on my cornet, I tried to wipe it off but the sand and some of the ice cream then stuck to my tummy which resulted in more sand adhering to the ice cream on my belly, I sat down in the hope that Jo wouldn’t spot the mess I appeared to have got myself into but her eagle eye was to quick for me and with a few tut’s the wet wipes made an appearance. With the sea being out, we admired the rock faces and what seemed to be a huge number of giant jelly fish that had been left by the tide before turning our attention to St Catherine’s Island. During the reign of Elizabeth I, the Earl of Pembroke was the owner of the Island and for many centuries a tiny church was the only building on the land. The remains of the church were demolished when St Catherine's Fort was constructed in 1867. It served as a zoo for a number of years, in April 2014 the island was opened to the public for the first time since 1979. In 2016 The Final Problem, the third and last
episode of the fourth series of the BBC TV series Sherlock was filmed on the island, with it standing in as a maximum security prison. The fort looked quite fearsome and unfortunately for us it wasn’t open, but then were used to things being closed. The steep steps led us from the beach and up towards the remains of the town castle. Woolly says - The castle was founded by the Normans during their invasion of West Wales in the 12th century. A stone tower was built on the headland's highest point which was protected by a curtain wall. The walls had a gateway and several small towers on the landward side. Although not much is left the view was outstanding and having taken the required pictures of the ruins and the moment that stands next to it in honour of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort, I trotted down the path and into the quaint streets of the town itself. So many independent shops lined the roads selling all things seaside with fish restaurants separating them. Turning a corner I found myself inside the Five arched barbican gatehouse which formed part
of the towns walls, I’m not sure why they needed five arches but it did make for a rather unique building and was conveniently opposite the car park where our trusty stead was parked. A glorious town to visit and as we set off back to the site I wondered if Jo might consider us living there, hmmmmm maybe I could drop it into conversation at some point oh and the need to own a giant rabbit, I’m sure she’ll agree once I’ve convinced her!
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