Gross over exposure

Today’s picture shows Owen, Mrs Tootlepedal’s great nephew, really enjoying a trip to the barber.


Being on holiday and the weather being bright but cold, we thought that the day was made for having fun somewhere organised and with the possibility of getting out of the chilly wind from time to time.  Longleat seemed to meet our requirements as it promised fun for all the family and a reduced entry fee for old people.  We approached it with some trepidation because it was not cheap to get in and we worried in case it turned out to be money ill spent in spite of the promise of fun for all.

We need not have worried.  We had a great holiday day out.  For those of you who don’t know about it, Longleat is a vast Elizabethan mansion belonging to the family of the Marquess of Bath and the previous Marquess had the idea of introducing some lions into his extensive parkland to bump up visitor numbers to his stately pile.  It worked and there is now a full blown safari park and many other entertainments to divert the visitor.  We were certainly diverted.

The house is impressive.



It has some delightful gardens to walk through.

gardens at Longleat

A lot of attention has been paid to making conditions pleasant for the visitor and the painted decoration of the walls of the cafe  in the Orangery caught our eye.


It was a good day to visit, as even on a cold Saturday in April, there were enough people about to make the place look busy but not enough to make it crowded and to force you to queue at any time.

In the grounds round the house, there are many small animal enclosures and we were constantly entertained by new surprises.  Here are a few of them.

red panda
A red panda heads for some fresh fruit.
A marmoset
A marmoset looks back at the visitors
I didn’t always read the information so I can’t tell what this regal bird is.
This one was simples. It’s a meerkat.
A pair of otters dozing in the sun
prairie dog
A prairie dog

There was a butterfly house which I think I enjoyed most.  The residents were fantastic and beautiful.



As is often the case in butterfly houses, there was also a colony of leaf cutter ants at work.

leafcutter ants

As were in the mood for fun, we took a ride on both the narrow gauge railway….


…and the boat trip on the lake.  This latter turned out to be an unexpected treat as we were accompanied all the way along the lake and back by several sea-lions (lake-lions?) who as a reward were fed fish by the passengers.


We also had a fine view of the park’s most fearsome residents grazing on the shores of the lake….

Nobody, not even a lion, argues with a hippopotamus.

…and, for me at least, it’s most charming.


This was a young gorilla braving the cold, having ventured out of his centrally heated house.

The most puzzling animal we saw, was an anteater.


At first sight, it looks like two separate animals and then we had a hard time distinguishing between its feet and its head.  We worked it out in the end.

One of the things that we liked was the fact that once you had paid for a day ticket, there were no other hidden expenses and there was was always a lot going on.  Our fears of not getting value for money were very wide of the mark.

After a light lunch, we embarked on the tour of the safari park.  You do this in your own car and at your own speed.  Although the lions are the headline attraction, I found others parts of the tour more interesting.

We left the car for a while and watched giraffes getting fed.

They had a large enclosure. These are Rothschild’s giraffes

But you could get very close to them.


We walked through the lemur enclosure and watched the youngsters playing around our feet.


I had difficulty in getting a quick enough exposure to slow this fellow down.


And we saw a small of flock of African pygmy goats.


Then we got back in the car and drove through the park.  The open parkland was great; the car windows were open and the animals often came close or grazed by the roadside, indifferent to the visitors.  Everywhere you turned, there was another sight to see.

horned animals
Horned animals of many kinds

There were birds too but being behind netting, they were good to look at but hard to photograph.  The rhinos, on the other hand, stood nice and quietly.


They are very impressive close up.


It was wonderful to drive along unfenced roads among such a miscellany of wildlife.

An ancient people carrier with a more modern one on the background.

Fearing for our windscreen wipers, we avoided the monkey enclosure and headed on to the carnivore section.  This I didn’t enjoy so much as the animals were more clearly caged in and we were too, as we had to go through an elaborate system of electric gates and keep our car windows shut.  There wasn’t the same feeling of contact with the animals.  The tigers were undoubtedly impressive though.

This one was only twenty yards or so away from the car.

The lions were less exciting.


I was pleased to get out of this section of the tour but also sad as it signalled the end of our visit.  We could have taken a tour round the great house but chose instead to walk to the top of Cley Hill nearby.

Last year we walked up this hill with our daughter Annie on a hot sunny day with the hill covered in wild flowers and butterflies.  It was earlier in the year this time, the cowslips were only just out, there were no butterflies and it started to rain as we got to the top.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed our walk up the chalky hill and the view from the top was still impressive as we looked down at the ploughed fields washing against the bottom of the hill like the sea against cliffs.

Cley Hill

Our fun was not quite completed yet as on our way home we stopped to visit Nunney Castle.

Nunney castle notice

We particularly like the opening times although we were sorry that it had been spoiled by the recent modernisation.  It still looked quite old to us.

Nunney castle
It is very picturesque and is completely surrounded by a moat.

I was much struck by a notice on a wall outside the castle indicating the charms of the neighbouring church.

Nunney Church

A civil war cannonball.  Hold me back!

We arrived home, tired but happy, having definitely had fun.  (We let the cannonball go.)

In the field behind the cottage, by coincidence, was another small flock of pygmy goats.

pygmy goats

After a reviving cup of tea, we got the bikes out and cycled a delightful seven mile circuit up and down hill to the local chip shop where we bought two fish suppers.  We sped back down the hill to the cottage and ate them with relish.

The flying bird of the day was a goose on the lake at Longleat.


I’m sorry about the vast number of pictures but you should see the 2oo butterfly pictures that I discarded.










Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

24 thoughts on “Gross over exposure

  1. Well Longleat looks like an utter triumph and I also love the shot of the plowed field. What a grand day oot. The anteater had me flummoxed for a few minutes, though I think the snoozing otters are my favourites. Look forward to reading about more adventures.

  2. Fantastic butterflies, no wonder you took so many. TThe castle looked very similar to Bodiam where we used to visit in our younger days. Glad you had such a splendid day, a trip to remember for a long time I should think.

  3. What a splendiferous day. Glad you enjoyed Longleat so much. It was a treat following you around and seeing such splendid photographs.

  4. A great day on holiday, it would seem. I believe Mrs. Tootlepedal could teach the gardeners a thing or two about their craft, but since you are on holiday I understand why you let them be. I must say I am disappointed not to see the cannonball.

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