Longleat Ahoy!

The adventure continues…….. where was I going for my 30th, everyone knew but me! But being in the Wiltshire area, I had an inkling, but it wasnt until we saw the first sign was it confirmed we were going to Longleat! Yes that fabulous safari park that we watched for years on TV! Not only were we going to the Safari Park but we were staying on the estate in one of their cottage, awesome!

A cute cottage but the highlight was definitely the view, through the ¬†garden fence was the Park, giraffes and zebra right up to the garden fence, how amazing. Now I have been on safari in Africa and loved it but you do not get to sit and observe the life of animals like this, they were so close and after the park closes it was magical sitting in the garden with a glass of wine watching animal life unfold. Whats better than watching young giraffe playing chase, the monkey troop going crazy after closing time and keepers trying to herd hoofed animals indoors when it’s all just a big game to the animals.

Just chillin Lemur style

Just chillin Lemur style

Our fabulous vehicle!

Our fabulous vehicle!

Seen as it was my birthday, the being spoilt rotten continued with a VIP tour of the park. This includes going in one of their fabulous zebra print jeeps with a guide and getting to go off-road, up close and personal with the animals. Our guide Steve was fantastic. Having been a zoo keeper for over 20 years he was a font of knowledge and funny! This was a man who enjoyed his job and loved the animals he worked with.

Big kitty!

Big kitty!

Cute!

Cute!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you looking at?!

What you looking at?!

Penguin encounter

Penguin encounter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now as well as the Safari Park, there is an area next to the Big House that houses its smaller animals and Lake cruise. Both are set up to give you full on animal encounters, from walking through the penguin enclosure ( watch out penguin poo is projectile and smelly) to the manta-ray pool. I know some people do not believe in Safari Parks and Zoos, but Longleat was the first Safari Park outside Africa and their work on conservation is vital to keeping species alive especially when maniacs are running around Africa killing animals just for fun or for ‘traditional’ medicine. Not cool! Yes there are places around the world that keep animals in small cages, and they have no form of active life or enrichment but having watched life at Longleat I didn’t see one animal that looked unhealthy or mistreated. Just watching life in the giraffe and zebra field every morning and evening, these were animals going about the life they would lead in Africa and yes they have less space than they would in the Masai or Kruger but they have no threats and enough space from what I could tell for both species to get a good run on.

With Longleats position in Wiltshire its a great base for visiting the surrounding area, one day we went to Bath ( do the park and ride!) and I showed the family around the cute Spa city. But Bristol is also close by and of course you could go to Stonehenge as we did on the way. Wiltshire and the Cotswolds is a font of things to do and see so if you want a base in the area then definitely try here and of course there is also a Centre Parcs.

Bath Cathedral

Bath Cathedral

The fabulous baths of Bath

The fabulous baths of Bath

Fancy a dip

Fancy a dip

Longleat was an amazing treat and definitely somewhere I would want to go back to as an animal lover and now my friends have seen the pictures I am sure someone will find an excuse to celebrate something there!!

The River Cottage Canteen, Bristol

Any trip to Bristol is a good trip to me, and on a recent jaunt to visit my friend she introduced me to the River Cottage Canteen, part of the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall empire.

Now I like a bit of Hugh, a little bit of me wants to live at River Cottage, spend my day making bread and cooking fabulous food grown on my land, but then I suddenly remember I do not like gardening and I get bored easily so me and the countryside only ever have a short romance. Hugh in the city is just what I need.

In this relaxed and open plan restaurant you are greeted by cheerful staff who make you instantly relaxed. Set out on two levels we sat within view of the almost now traditional open kitchen. The restaurant was busy but in this bright and breezy open plan converted 19th Century church it never felt crowded.

River Cottage CanteenRiver Cottage CanteenThe menu is of course seasonal and simple. Not over loaded with too many options but enough that if you came regularly you wouldn’t get bored.

The delightful menu at the River Cottage Canteen in Bristol

The delightful menu at the River Cottage Canteen in Bristol

The menu is set up as small plates and big plates. Small plates are a great size to share. We went with the Merguza sausage and fava bean houmous and the Slow Cooked cauliflower with cumin, yoghurt , almonds and flat bread. They were just the right size before tucking into our bigger plate of pork shin ragu with Orecchiette pasta. I would have prefered the ragu if the pork was smaller as the chunks were quite big and a tad on the dry side but the sauce was bursting with flavour and the wild garlic was so good. Of course after all this there was still room for desert – chocolate torte!

Merguza sausage and fava bean houmous

Merguza sausage and fava bean houmous

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower

Bursting with flavour, Pork shin ragu

Bursting with flavour, Pork shin ragu

Chocolate torte with ice cream and caramel

Chocolate torte with ice cream and caramel

This was a lovely meal. It felt home cooked, it was warming and filling. If you find yourself in Bristol or at one of their other venues then dive on in to River Cottage Canteen for their relaxed and friendly menu.

Enjoy! xx

(ps. since writing this I have been back again- different menu but just as lovely!)