Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Tamar Valley Donkey Park

The children and I went to this very nice attraction on Monday. It was a lovely sunny day, which always helps, and we had fun.

On the way in, there were some friendly donkeys to pat, then it was in through the gift shop. I had forgotten to bring T's hat, and hoped to buy one, but they didn't sell them. However, the assistant was kind enough to loan us one from Lost Property. As well as this very kind and helpful person, we met a sheep there, which was helping itself to the carrots.

A sheep's bum

We went through the play-barn, which also has an indoor area for donkey rides in wet weather and into the adventure playground, which S had spotted as we went in. She also wanted to stop in the play-barn, but I didn't want to waste the weather, and anyway, we came to see donkeys, dagnamit. There's a huge slide, and some challenging play equipment in this area.

T was happy with the tyre tunnel and trying the wobbly bridge. There were also two loose donkeys, one apparently 48 years old.

Wearing a fencing mask in case of Zorro. Or flies.

We decided we were thirsty so went in search of the cafe, seeing ponies and donkeys and goats on our way. Also a rather phwoar farrier sorting out hooves. There's nothing quite like a muscular fellow who's earned his tan through working with his bare 'ands outdoors. Ahem. Is it hot in here? That was the best view for the ladies, thus far. There was a bit of a rush on in the cafe, but we got our drinks quite quickly. It seemed reasonably priced, although we didn't get any food as we weren't hungry.

And so, out into the smaller children's play area. This kept the two children occupied for ages; it was very well equipped with a variety of slides, playhouses, ride-on toys and even a sand-pit. Some of it looked a bit faded and weather-worn, but that's only natural when it's outdoors! Nearby there were trampolines available, with hutched bunnies & guinea pigs and pygmy goats just outside the cafe.

After a while I extracted the children from the play area, and we headed down to see the donkey rides. Children get one free ride with price of entry. At first S was reluctant to try a ride, but she became enthusiastic once she saw Teddy there. He was a donkey shown on the leaflet for the Donkey park, I think, so it was a bit like meeting a celebrity for her. But even when another child got Teddy, she was happy to go on Connie instead. Once S went, T wanted to try it too, even though he'd said "no-likey" to start with. It surprised me that neither had initially wanted to ride, since they both have ridden (or at least sat on in T's case) ponies before. He got to go on Connie too, but after a few steps Connie decided her day's work should be over and demonstrated a quality for which donkeys and mules are renowned. Ie. being stubborn. I hummed myself some "Delaney had a donkey, that everyone admired, permanently lazy and perpetually tired, a leg at every corner, a-balancing his head, and a tail to let you know which end he wanted to be fed..." We switched T onto Teddy instead, not having a town full of people to carry her to the finishing post.

After the rides, we went down to explore the wooded area in which we expected to find Hensington, Duckingham Palace and PorkMinster. We were a bit disappointed as the coops were empty, and so was the ferret house. It may be that there were ferrets and they were asleep or hiding, but it didn't feel like it. The large rabbit warren was also deserted, since, according to the sign they had an outbreak of myxomatosis a few years back and although they restocked after a couple of years, the rabbits didn't flourish - plus the pig had uprooted part of the fencing at one point, setting any rabbity residents free. PorkMinster did contain this escape-abetting specimen of porcine beauty, called Blossom, and our failed mission to find bunnies at least meant that we could see her up close, as she was snoozing by the fence between her abode and that of her bygone bunny neighbours.

We did actually see a rabbit scarpering in the woods beyond the enclosures, and it was pretty and cool in the dappled shade, so it was a pleasant little walk. I would have liked to have known that many of the animals had been moved or whatever, before we walked down there, as it was a trifle disappointing to find so little there, but maybe I'd missed a sign or something.

After another play in the adventure playground, we went into the play-barn, which had plenty for both of the children to do: some large soft play equipment for S, and a toddler area too. There was also a nice lady offering face-painting, fake tattoos and funky hair on that day, so S had some bright pink and blue hair bits put in.

I'd had enough excitement for the day, so with the promise of lollies on the way out, we made for the exit.

It was a very pleasant way to spend the day, and both children said they'd had a great time. We'd go again.

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