Longleat: the long post

Yesterday we did a District trip to Longleat – 80-odd of us, ranging from Rainbows (age 4), up to my oldest Ranger (age 21), plus assorted leaders and even two Trefoil Guild members.

First stop, the Bat Cave because I like bats and I now love bats. They were so fluffy and so sweet and while I was there, they were fed so I stood for ages watching them squabbling and squeaking over pieces of orange and then flopping around on the floor for the pieces they’d dropped and no matter how many times people said “Oh, they won’t hit you!” while flying around, they do. Not hard and not maliciously but you do so often get clipped in the head or knee by a wing and there were one or two who liked to flutter in front of my face to get a good look at me. I love the fuzzy little batties!

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I also popped in King Arthur’s Mirror Maze – interesting and fun for a couple of minutes but not too challenging and then I ran into the Christmas shop and then it was time to wander back to the car park to meet the coach to go into the safari park. Oh, and I have to show you the dragon! You’ll see it again later but you have to see it in daylight. It’s 70m long and made up of cups and plates and eggcups and spoons and things:

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I had three Rangers and a Guide going – originally two Guides but one dropped out on Wednesday and it turned out one of my Rangers had dropped out too, literally at the last minute. The Rangers were supposed to be on the minibus and the Guides on the big coach but since a Ranger had dropped out and I only had one Guide, she went on the minibus with the Rangers – she’ll be fifteen in a month, so she’s Ranger age and the only reason she’s not at Rangers is that she’s busy on Ranger night. For convenience, I’m going to call the three of them Rangers, even though one technically isn’t. So I got on the minibus too and off we went round the park, seeing the animals.

We missed the monkeys because the coach drivers aren’t allowed in there, spent a long time stuck in the antelopes/rhinos because of some commotion up ahead. It didn’t seem to be either a breakdown or a crash, we wondered briefly if an animal had been hit and to this day we don’t know what happened, only that our lunch was delayed – resulting in a lot of whining from the Brownies on the bus. The Rangers particularly enjoyed the camel with the floppy hump. A Bactrian camel, as it was. What I thought was a commonly-known fact turned out to be completely new to the rest of the bus – that two-humped camels (turn them sideways and there’s a capital B on their backs) are Bactrian. One-humped camels (turn them sideways and there’s a capital D on their backs) are Dromedaries. I was so impressed by the rhinos that I wanted to make a comment that adequately summed them up – and came out with “They’re so… rhinoey!” much to the amusement of the Rangers. Due to the delay we also had to miss the deer but the tigers, lions and wolves were very much in evidence, unlike last time we went.

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After the safari, the younger girls went off to the Santa Grotto while I took my three girls off to do whatever they wanted. We went to the Postman Pat Village (I have lovely photos of my girls ducking through the postbox at the entrance and sitting on the bench with Pat) – I think they were a bit disappointed that it’s not as magical now they’re teenagers as it was when they were small children.

We went to the Chinese Christmas market – I invested in an orange ocarina (cue “It just had to be orange!” from my eldest Ranger in the most admonishing tone I’ve ever heard) which I’m beginning to master. We went in the hedge maze and I decided to separate myself from them – they promptly found the middle and I wandered around like an idiot waving my hand above the hedge while they waited for me to join them. We watched the bird show and I saw something I never expected to see – a parrot on rollerskates! Saw a goat, didn’t see many butterflies, saw degus and chinchillas (apparently chinchilla fur is so thick that if they wash in water, the fur won’t dry properly and they’ll grow mould). We went in the Victorian kitchen shop in the house and then, because we were getting tired and hungry, my girls decided they wanted to go and get a pizza, rather than eat the pasta pots they’d brought. So they shared a pizza and a box of wedges between them. I have so many lovely pictures but they all have my girls in and for obvious reasons, I can’t put them here.

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After that, the lights had come up, Longleat having a Festival of Light around Christmas. Once my two eldest had gone for doughnuts and I’d gone to the sweet shop with the youngest, we all met up again to go round the lights. Photos here, rather than attempts to describe it.

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And then that was it. Back to the coach and back home.