We did the proper English thing this weekend and made the most of the fleeting sun by staying outside as much as possible. This including, yes, going out in the midday heat. In a car. With the windows up. In a lion enclosure.
We paid a visit to the West Midlands Safari Park on Saturday – Anna’s first visit, and Dan’s first he can actually remember. We are not ordinarily big fans of zoos, and for sure seeing leopards – bizarrely relegated to the less than stellar theme park on the site – trapped behind glass took the shine off a little, but the park has a deserved reputation for by and large being better than that. Its four mile safari trail snakes through a good-sized reserve with an impressive range of animals roaming about. Many are critically endangered in the wild – from the striking Addax to the simply breath-taking white lion – and whilst it’s by no means Kenya, this plot of land just outside Bewdley in Worcestershire provides some rare treats for the animal lover. Importantly, none of the animals look depressed or listless and all have lustrous coats and bright eyes. We were particularly taken with Gaz the giraffe, who was more interested in stalking between the cars than responding to his keeper’s frantic calls and offers of bananas. (Dan was less taken with the Ankole cattle who decided to bash the side of the car with their horns.)
On Sunday we spent some very pleasant hours strolling around the grounds of Dudmaston Hall with Dan’s parents. The estate has been in the same family for 850 years, and the current house dates from the 17th century. The centrepiece of the grounds is its large lake (complete with a boathouse), and it was this we strolled along in the glorious sunshine. We didn’t make it into the house – which apparently houses a rather fabulous collection of art – but we did see grazing National Trust cows again. This time we didn’t feel at risk.