Monday, 14 July 2014

Collaboration Post: Pip and Becky Go to Longleat Part #2

This is part 2 of our collaborative post - Click here for part 1 if you missed it! 

Camelgate Written by Pip
Camels do not know road safety. Or have any spacial awareness. After feeding the deer, we were about to leave this area of the safari when straight ahead were two camels, one of whom’s head was in a car.
“Haha, look,” I said. “Those camels are really close to that car! His head is in it!”

Silly me. As they approached, I noticed a certain look of intent on their faces, so shut the window just in case. We all assumed they would walk past. Two minutes later, we’re surrounded. All we can see is camel. I was frantically beeping my horn while the others laughed (mainly Becky); I don’t want to say I was panicking, but I could not move the vehicle. One of them tried to move his/her leg and kicked the car! Then there was the suspicious sound of a camel taking something off my aerial -  I think you know where I’m going with this. Andy stuck his hand out of the window and took a photo – no more aerial bumblebee. As I drove off, once they’d effectively mugged me (I felt mugged), I’m pretty sure I ran over a camel hoof. Becky reassured me that they tread on each other’s hooves all the time, so my car would do no harm. Thanks Becky.

B: You are most welcome ;) This was literally the FUNNIEST thing. I don't think any of us have been so close to a camel in our whole lives. Let alone three of them...It was unnerving, but I still couldn't stop laughing.

Big Cats Written by Becky
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! (actually, no bears) 

I was really looking forward to the big cats section. Although, to be frank, I didn't think we were going to see much. I was most certainly wrong about that! 

Firstly we came to the tiger enclosure. We were slowly creeping through and we spotted a tiger in the underbrush to our right. As we swung past slowly around a corner, there was another tiger on the side of the road. It decided it was going to have a wander, directly in front of us. We were all quite excited and crazily snapped away as the tiger approached us. I was in awe, the tiger headed straight towards us and walked around the left side of the car. I could have touched it if I had been stupid enough to open my window. Believe me, a big part of me wanted to! The tiger then headed around the back of the car, and peered in at us. Amazing is the only way I can describe this, just amazing. So unbelievably close! 

Next up we had the lions. We were all straining around to spot them, and I managed to see one half hidden in the tall grass to our right. As we followed the track around, we saw more of them, including some super cute cubs! We came around to the exit gate, and noticed a lioness stalking towards the keeper's 4x4. The 4x4 sped up, and the lioness made chase - trying to grab onto the car as it went. I dont think I've ever seen a lion so active before - usually they're asleep when I've seen them at zoos! I can tell you now, they are fast. And magnificent. And maybe a little bit scary. 

There were two lion prides, and another enclosure which looked to have only very young cubs inside with an adult female. The cubs were very cute and playful - we could just catch a glimpse of some of them playing at the back of their enclosure.

Once we had passed the Lions, we entered into cheetah country. Unfortunately, we did not see many cheetahs. We saw one, who was sitting on top of a wooden shack surrounded by tall grass. We tried to get some pics, however the chain link fence was completely in the way...this was a little bit of an anti-climax, but I'm glad we did actually see one! 

Unluckily, the same non-activity held true for the wolves as well. We did see them, they was all grouped together having a snooze near the fence of their enclosure. All we could see was some cream, white and grey lumps of fur half hidden by grass. I felt a bit bad for Andrew at this point as wolves are one of - if not his absolute - favourite animals. We had been so lucky with all of the others until this point! 

The safari drew to a close, and we headed back to park up and have a nose around the huge manor house.

Pip: Your eyesight is better than (name a superhero with excellent eyesight?? Can't think of one) - as soon as we entered the enclosures you said "over there" or "in there". It was impressive just how fast you spotted the wildcats (and wolves). I'm really glad you didn't put your hand out the window... Cleaning up deer food is fine, but I'm not so good with mangled limbs. Going through these enclosures was thrilling, and I think we all thought the tiger was going to climb on the car at one point!

B: Hawkeye. ;) 

Longleat House Wrtten by Pip

Your first glimpse of Longleat House is after driving along a two-mile, tree-lined drive. Once you come out of the trees, there it is, nestled among beautifully landscaped gardens.

Longleat House is not dissimilar to other grand old English houses in that it is enormous, ornately furnished and boasts a lengthy history of richer-than-whichever-deity-you-choose-to-worship owners. However, on entering the hall (bigger than most people’s houses), there is a somewhat more personal feel – the Marquis of Bath does actually live in the upper floors, which probably has something to do with it, but there are traces of him throughout the (many) rooms. Photos of him enjoying the safari, with his face painted, or with his children, are scattered, so that while you admire his ancestral home, he is very much there too. 

Perhaps my favourite thing is that, among the beautifully executed portraits of his forebears, are portraits and photos of him in garish and colourful jumpers! Something I’ve never noticed before were the authentic portraits of Henry VIII, Charles I, Charles II and his wife Isabella. To a history fan, that was pretty cool!
We found out from one extremely knowledgeable guide that there are over 40,000 books in the House – which are cleaned, every year. Having a library was a sign of wealth centuries ago.

I know some people feel that big old houses are a bit boring and the same, but I really feel Longleat House is much more personal. You can wander around in an hour or linger in the fabulously over-the-top dining rooms, smoking room and bedrooms – just don’t miss it out.

B: I can't fathom how huge the place is. I mean, my whole house could fit into the entrance hall. Insane! It was really interesting to look around at the mixture of old and new - granted the old overpowered the new, but who could overlook the modern portraits - some of which were done in a very different style to the old, traditional paintings! I was desperate to see the library, unfortunately it was not to be. I had to be content with the huge volume of books lining the walls in the rooms that were open to the public. I really enjoyed this trip, it was a lot of fun.

The four of us had a really good time at Longleat, I highly recommend going if you get a chance - and don't forget you can get 15% off for booking in advanced online! It is worth every penny.