26 September, 2013

Worth the wait? Most definitely.

I think I was the first to wake up.  It's definite that I was the one running around the house trying to hoosh everyone out of bed "C'mon, c'mon, it's getting late, c'mon, get up. . . . Jesus, will someone get bloody up!!!!"  
The fact that it was a Saturday and we were on our holliers meant no one was staying in bed beyond 8am.  We were off to longleat!!  Finally, after 32 years of wanting to go, we were finally going.  Okay, so I should probably point out that I was finally going.  Himself wasn't that bothered and the kids ..  they weren't alive 32 years ago.
I'd met my gorgeous friend Frances the week previously, told her we were going to London and she said 'Oh, we have tickets for Longleat.  We won't be using them, you want them?'  Do I WHAT?  Yes, yes, yes!!  She duly put them in the post and, a week later, I was trying desperately to hoosh everyone out of bed.
We were finally on the road by 9.30.  Hit traffic at 10.30 and I was asleep by 10.34.  I'd been awake for ages, it was the excitement.  I get sleepy when wound up.  Mind you, I wasn't the only one who flaked out.
We were driving along the M3 when myself and Himself had the most Spinal Tap moment ever.  Stonehenge!!  Just there, at the side of the road.  THE Stonehenge.  Two of us kept going "is that . .?"  "Like, could that really be . . .  Stonehenge?"  "Ooh, smaller than I thought.".  It is small, when you are sat on the motorway but am sure it is suitably majestic when you are standing alongside it.  For us though, it was only 6" tall 

Eventually, (for everyone else as I kept saying "Are we nearly there yet?  Are we nearly there??), we arrived.  We swapped our voucher for tickets (which I kept as I'm a sentimental fool, thankfully we I needed them when we got stopped by a policeman three days later, and we were off.
The kids were given their safari packs and a trail to follow and off we went.  
You know that saying 'never meet your heroes . .  you'll be disappointed?  Well, I was a bit worried that I would be disappointed.  I wasn't.  It was wonderful.  
Wonderful.  Despite the bloody monkeys!!
Myself and the kids were nearly beside ourselves going into the Monkey Enclosure.  You drive through.  At your own risk.  We couldn't wait to see them up close.  
Yeah, that lasted for about 5 minutes.  Oh, how we laughed, as we watched them remove the rubber trim from the car that was in front of us.  We giggled as we saw a car lose one of it's windscreen wipers.  We smiled as two little monkeys hopped onto our bonnet and looked in at us.  Then laughed as they ran across the roof of the car . . . . then looked on in gobsmacked amazement as one of them started wrestling the brake light out of it's housing.  "Turn on the bloody wipers" I shouted.  Yes, that did work, one little monkey fell off.  The other one, though, was made of sterner stuff . .  so we turned on the water!  He leapt off. 

Phew, we thought. Only to have a bigger one leap (pronounced 'Lep') up and yank the light out leaving the smaller monkey to drink the water out of the reservoir through the exposed pipe.  Bloody big monkey sat in the middle of the trail basically giving us the finger and waving my brake light at us.  

The dashboard suddenly beeping and flashing 'Brake Light Fault' didn't do much to improve Himself's mood.  "Brake light fault?" he said "No shit Sherlock"
 If you are unlucky enough to have a monkey make off with part of your car you can go back to the enclosure later that day, around 7pm, when everything is shut down and sift through the detritus that the lovely staff have rounded up from the enclosure.  It's funny actually, you only have to say "..?" and the staff go "Monkeys?" and you are waved on through.
There were many licence plates, lots of rubber trim, a spare tyre, windscreen wipers and a wing mirror but no brake light.  Apparently they like to break those, once they realise they aren't edible.
Bloody monkeys.
What else?  The animals were stunning, the ray did indeed dance and the monkey palace is a joy.  But my favourite bit?  
The Maze.
One of the largest in Europe and Himself nearly had a nervous breakdown when I suggested we go in.  "But we'll lose the kids" he said.  "We'll find them again" I said.  "  "I don't like this"  "Okay, but me and kids want to and . . . aaaaaaaaaargh, kids STAY TOGETHER, COME BACKKKKKKKKK"
They didn't come back but they did stay together.  I went in after them and somehow ended up nearly back where I'd started.  I found Himself 15 minutes later on one of the viewing platforms looking both pained and pissed off. Pained because his head hurt and pissed off because his head was hurting and our kids were somewhere in the middle of the maze.  I gave him some tablets and told him to go find somewhere quiet to sit down and I'd find the kids.  Not 
Yeah, easier said than done.  I just got more and more lost and ended up on another viewing platform.  One that was about 10m away from the one I'd met Himself on 20 minutes earlier?  I love how I walk and walk but still end up where I start.
So, up the platform I went and I got to laughing with a kid, man-child, who was giving his brother instructions on how to get into the middle.  They were both massively tall and it was such a laugh.  When the other brother found the middle he began shouting out instructions to the brother I was with and off he went.  Off I went after him.
The kids think I am the mutts nuts when it comes to that maze.  I found the middle when neither they, nor their da, did.
Once up on the top of the middle bit, so eleoquent huh?, I could see the lads.  They did stay together.  (Who knew?  They sometimes listen to us?!)  Thank God they did as it was a bugger to try and get them to where I was.  Eventually we were all together and there was much whooohooooing and 'Jaysus,  aren't we great?' before we noticed that there is a direct line to the middle from . . .  Ah, but can't tell you.  You might go there  yourself.

The Goal!
Doesn't do it justice
Are they mine? 
 Awww, Harry lifting Arthur up - he was battering him ten mins later 
 Whooopwoop, we made it.

Then it was off to the Hawk display.
Oh wow.
Those lads were amazing.  The birds were amazing.  Having a vulture fly so close to you that you can feel his wings on your nose is one of the best things in the world. We saw falcons, vultures, the teeniest owl and a bald eagle.  That's the second time I've seen a bald eagle fly through forest and valley to land in front of me and I am still in awe of their majesty.
Oh, getting posh now.  That's the second time I used that word in this post.  
Go to this place.  Have fun.  Go see the Rays.  Don't let the monkeys near you but . .  feck it, let them near  you.  I still think it was worth losing the light for the laugh we had.
Especially go see Bridget in the Kitchen shop.  The former kitchen of the house is beautiful and Bridget is one of the friendliest, nicest, most helpful people you'll come across.  We had a great chat about how the thickness of a mug can completely ruin your enjoyment of a cup of tea.  Too thin and the tea cools too quickly.  Too thick?  You dribble!

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