Marie and I visited Longleat Safari Park during our honeymoon, 4 years ago. She has often mentioned revisiting it in the intervening years. However, organising a trip with an agoraphobia sufferer while accommodating your family requires some organising – especially when the weather is also a consideration. However, on Sunday all things were favourable and Marie, our two children Joseph and Orla, my grandson Reece, my adult daughter Colleen and I made the journey to Longleat. (What would I do without a car that seats up to 7 persons?)
One of the monkeys at Lonleat has contracted Simean Herpes B virus. How this happened is a mystery since it is a closed community; but the monkey park – arguably the most popular part of the safari park, particularly with children – was closed.
Despite missing the monkeys, we had an enjoyable drive through the park. We were lucky to have a lioness stroll right in front of our car. Normally all you can see are the prides lazing some distance away. Then 2 wolves observed us for a while from very close quarters – right beside our car! Again, an unusual occurrence. We picnicked beside the wallabies and the warthogs. It wasn't the warmest of days, but bright sunshine and just the faintest of breezes made the weather acceptable for an al fresco lunch.
Afterwards, Colleen took the children to see all the other attractions in the Longleat estate except Longleat House itself, which, best example of Elizabethan architecture or not, would have been boring for the children. Meanwhile, Marie and I drove around the nearby picturesque villages and rested in a sunny forest glade until it was time to collect the tired and happy little ones.
For Marie, it was an extremely enjoyable day – a change from her normal diet of going from room to room at home! Every one else had a great time too...except that I would have preferred to have joined the children going around the other attractions... However, I was extremely grateful to Colleen. Without her, the children's day would have not been nearly so enjoyable – indeed, it is doubtful that we would have made the trip at all.