Donkeys are brilliant. Gentle, beautiful, stubborn and they love ginger nuts - so no flaws at all as far as I'm concerned :) I've always loved them and sometimes I call them Donkey Kongs for no reason other than I thought the game was funny when I was little... but let's just ignore that!
One of the things we want to do as part of our move is to foster two donkeys from The Donkey Sanctuary - a charity dedicated to making sure donkeys and mules live free from suffering (check them out here). The donkeys live with you, you care for them and most importantly you free up the space for other, more vulnerable donkeys to get the specialist care they might need. As their main base is only an hour from where we'll be living, we visited The Sanctuary again yesterday and spent an awesome few hours in the freezing cold, watching all the donkey characters drinking in their Sunday!
If you fancy a visit get there early (10am is my Sunday early) and you'll see a hairy line up of all shapes and colours, happily munching on their breakfast against a backdrop of sea & sunshine. OK... some days it'll be tipping it down & you'll be standing in a mud bath, but there's always something new to discover & that really hit home yesterday. Having been a few times I thought we'd probably seen it all, but two fresh things will stick in the memory.
The first is The Oldies shelter where, you've guessed, it, the donkeys enjoying later life spend their days. What a collection of characters! After a few tickles with 'Bump', 'Tapestry' & 'Dawney Mona', our favourite little lady 'Champagne Annie' thought it was great fun to reverse up to the fence & get us to scratch her recently shaved back end!!
Lots of laughing with The Oldies was matched by different emotions too, as we walked down the grass avenues running parallel to the paddocks - home to the benches & signs that remember people & animals who've passed away. We've walked past these before but never really looked. Too caught up in other things I guess. Yesterday, in the cold of the afternoon, we stopped to read the simple tributes to loved ones - people who cherished animals & the time they spent at the Sanctuary when they were alive; children who never got to see the beauty of the place at all; firm friends who now have the marker of a personal goodbye somewhere special.
I'm not ashamed to say I stood there like an emotional lump with tears rolling down my face as I read the gentle messages that seemed to be in the perfect surroundings, especially considering donkeys are known for forming lifelong friendships. These bonds are so close that if a bonded donkey is ill his healthy friend goes to the vet as well, as any separation can be too upsetting.
Anyway, it was probably just as well no one could see me & my tears apart from Graeme & the donkeys. By the time I'd finished crying, mascara was smeared everywhere & one cheeky donkey gave me a big toothy grin, as if to make it very clear how funny he found my red & black face!
But what about the swans? I know. I promised swans! Well if you've read to the end for swans (& anyone getting to this point probably has), prepare to feel a bit cheated. Sunday started by waking up at The Swan in Wedmore & it finished watching ducks fly over the water at our soon-to-be home. When the current owner said the ducks looked like mini swans, all I could think was I wonder what the swans or ducks would've made of Champagne Annie & her shaved bum!
P.S. More about Wedmore after a second visit. Beautiful place that needs more exploring first!