Day Trip to see the Lions

We recently got given some tickets to go and visit the Lions at Longleat and as cheesy, commercialised and possibly-slightly-against-my-animal-welfare-principles as that is, we trundled down the A46 to see what surprises might lie in store. The last time I visited must have been thirty-five years ago; would it be the same magical place as I remember?

Well, for a start, Longleat House has changed quite a bit. I don’t remember the blue and pink turrets and I’m not exactly sure why it needs to be tethered to the ground, subsidence perhaps? And to be fair, that Lord Bath has really let himself go (and he was never the prettiest bee in the hive even in his prime). And quite why he needs to carry around that cutlass in his belt is a mystery – perhaps it’s to control all his wifelets? He’s missing a trick – he should be mesmerising them all with that curly ‘tache. We bumped into a couple (wifelets, not moustaches – though there were some unidentified furry things in the safari bit) and they seemed pretty cold towards ole’ Bathy. I sense divorce(s) on the cards.

The grounds around the house seem to have been subjected to a bit of nuclear fall out given the state of the gigantic insects lurking ’round every corner. Most of these jumbo-bugs were chained up in trees or bushes; I did wonder if there was some kind of ritualistic mammoth-beastie sacrifice thang going on à la The Wicker Man. Less Lord Bath and more Lord Summerisle. (If you were born after 1999 you might need to Google it. It’s a cult classic). Christopher Lee would never have consented to that ‘tache though. The pinnacle of radiation damage was the transformation of a tiny lickle diddy centipede into a fire breathing, fang waggling, nostril snorting, lesser spotted fire worm. Luckily he appeared to be incapable of flying – phew.

You can’t go to Longleat without going through the safari park bit. You’ll have to excuse the pictures which were taken through the car windows which clearly need a bit of a clean, but you can certainly get a feel for the dangerous yet exotic, sun-drenched plains of Wiltshire, full of majestic, glorious, oft-vicious, sabre-toothed-carnivores… and a few lions and tigers too. To be completely honest, I can’t remember the order of the tour so what follows is a bit of artistic license (who ME?????).

It starts with the fairly tame animals; some zebras prancing around a crocodile cunningly disguised as a log, or maybe it was David Attenborough disguised as a crocodile, it’s difficult to tell these days, – a stripey-arsed antelope thing, – Annie the elephant who was hiding in her shed (probably heard Lord Summerisle was scouting for sacrificial pachyderms), – and a few glowering rhinos (maybe they’d got wind of the gigantic mosquitoes/crazed Lord of the Manor/boggle-eyed camera wielding tourists over yonder and were anticipating a bit of horn wangling as they speared the blood-sucking, irritating little hooligans. Or maybe it’s just the natural melancholic expression of a rhino).

Anyway, they were all very jolly and not a massive threat to my life so I urged our dirty chariot on to the animals with big, sharp teeth ‘n’ claws. I was thrilled to see the ‘DANGER OF DEATH’ sign in the tiger enclosure – though who knew that Tony the Tiger (They’re GGGrrrrrrrrreat!!!!!!!!) had taken his enforced retirement so badly? Chill out, Tony! In actual fact, what the sign says is ‘Warning! These animals can administer sugary breakfast cereals through stealth, enticement and the promise of a small plastic toy at the bottom of the packet’, I know, pretty sinister stuff. Tony himself, looked pretty sanguine, as if he had come to a discreet arrangement with Kelloggs which included a lifetime’s supply of those mini-variety-pack things that you only really used to get when you were on holiday as a once-a-year treat and you’d fight with your siblings over who would get the single packet of coco pops. I think Tony had necked the lot. He was coco-popped out.

So we moved on to our encounter with the lions and they didn’t disappoint! Well, I say they didn’t disappoint but apparently they had been out partying hard (they got hold of Tony’s Ricicles the night before) and most of them were prostrate on the floor with raging sugary-snack-laced-with-vitamin-D hangovers. This King of the Jungle is either mellow or dead. Hey ho. Got our best pic of the day though, and it summed up all that is marvellous and wonderful about the close social bonds of these stunningly intelligent creatures. Not for them a ‘how d’ya do’ and civil handshake. Nope. The botty is where it’s at with these fellas. I shall henceforth be using this as my new greeting gesture. Watch out if you meet me on a dog walk.

This wolf had been at the same party but had also got hold of some Honey Loops. There was an empty packet of alka seltzer next to him. ‘Nuff said.

And this gorilla told the kids that he was the star of the famous 1967 Bigfoot video and that it had only been made as a wind-up and that he hadn’t expected folk to take it as seriously as they did. I was amazed. I had no idea gorillas were so articulate. He sounded a bit like Benedict Cumberbatch would with a banana in his mouth.

Suffice to say that we were neither mauled nor sugared to death, and the day passed happily without incident. Until the episode of the washing up liquid in the fountain……….. only joking (run to the car, kids, run as fast as you can, we need to leave NOW).

About the Author

Magickal Beanist, busy mummy, committed vegan, ardent recycler, obsessive knitter, recent jogger, animal lover, Cotswold dweller, ridiculous writer, attempts to live a conscious, magickal life by design. Enjoys a large glass of bubbly stuff at the weekend. And I'm not talking about washing up liquid if you know what I mean. Contact me through the website. Your reward will be good karma and a friend for life ;o)

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