The Bath Arms Longleat lrFeeding time for the penguins lr
Left to right: The Bath Arms and feeding time for the penguins at Longleat
By Tim Saunders
A cheetah travels from nought to sixty in three seconds and has a top speed of 70mph. This sounds like one of my motoring reviews but it’s a fascinating fact learnt while on the drive through safari at Longleat.
As we travel around this 8,000 acres Wiltshire estate we see other big cats including lions and tigers. Driving our own vehicle we listen to a CD that tells us all about each animal. It takes about two hours to complete the safari and aside from the heat it can’t be all that different to doing it in Africa.
After the safari we park up and it’s time for our packed lunch after which we make our way round the rest of the park. The rain has, by now, set in for the afternoon but there are plenty of under cover attractions. One of the highlights of the afternoon for me is the parrot show (video on website). “They have the intellect of a three or four year old child,” says their keeper, adding that they also behave like a child of that age. We duly see how temperamental they can be but to her credit the keeper persists and the various tasks are completed. A very entertaining show.
Then there are the penguins that mesmerise little Henry (2). I haven’t known him stand still for so long, as he watches them being fed. To our surprise Heidi (5) agrees to have a cockroach on her hand in the handling area, the rest of us are not so brave. In the butterfly farm we see many large exotic butterflies. We all enjoy the train ride, too. On our way out we see two tiny monkeys being fed.
We stay in Raja, a family room, at The Bath Arms on the Longleat estate. It is well located to the side of the pub and restaurant so that our children don’t disturb anybody. The furniture and fittings pay homage to India, creating a very relaxing environment. There’s a massive four poster bed and plenty of room for the children’s beds. There’s a good sized bathroom. We check in at 2pm and relax in front of the television for a few hours before going for a stroll. Then it’s dinner. We’re lucky that the weather is delightful. So we eat outside.
For starters I have Wiltshire wood pigeon followed by Wiltshire coffee crusted lamb while Caroline has an asparagus and poached egg starter followed by a homemade beefburger. Fish and chips for Heidi, beefburger for Harriett and sausage and mash for Henry. This is a fantastic experience because the presentation of the food is stunning and the quality of the cooking is second to none. We really weren’t expecting such a very high standard. I try a local ale, too. For pudding we have a selection of strawberry and yoghurt ice cream with Belgian dark chocolate and peanut butter fondant and a panna cotta. Eating outside allows the children to get up after each course for a run around the garden.
Time for bed and we all have a blissful night’s sleep. In the morning Henry wakes up first. We make our way to the dining room for breakfast. Again, a fantastic experience. There’s a selection of cereals, pastries, yoghurts and fruit salad and if that’s not enough there’s a variety of cooked options including smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. I cannot resist a full English while the girls and Henry opt for pancakes with berries and crème fraiche. For the first time in my life I even eat the black pudding, a testament to the beautifully crafted dish before my eyes.
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