Monday, June 26, 2017

UK Day 4 and 5–In Which There are Donkeys, Fossils, and a Giant Hamburger.


When Travis asked me a few months ago if we could go to a Donkey Sanctuary in Devon, I was happy to go. And so we set off at the crack of 11am (bit of a late start) and drove two hours south west to the seaside town of Sidmouth in Devon, home of The Donkey Sanctuary. As we approached, the excitement in the car was palpable and I had to restrain Travis from getting out of the car before I had even stopped the vehicle. 500 donkeys live here, rescued from various places of misery and brought here to live out their lives in peace and quiet. Well, peace, anyway.

We weren’t the only ones at the Sanctuary – it was actually really busy there. Who knew donkeys would be that popular. Anyway before I knew it I was being whisked off to view this pen of donkeys and that mule and then back over here to see another pen of donkeys that were allegedly different than the first pen. Somehow, two hours passed in what I will admit was one of the most charming and peaceful places I’ve been to in a long time. I also learned more than any one should ever need to know about donkeys, mules, and also hinnies. What’s a hinnie, you ask? Apparently, a mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, and a hinnie is that of female donkey and a male horse. That is sure to come up at Quiz Night so you’re welcome.

The place is full of signs like this which many people were reading with great seriousness. I think some of these donkeys have a fan base – the place is extremely popular and even had an overflow car park.


The good folks at the Donkey Sanctuary want to make absolutely sure there is no way you will get lost while trying to find Walter and Timothy.

There are also many attempts to get you to adopt a donkey (by way of a monthly donation in a certain donkey’s name). They really pull out all the stops with posters like these all over the place:




I’m not exactly sure how Zena’s inspiration manifests itself in all of us but I’ll give it a go.

Much of the walkways around the grounds are lined with commemorative plaques from loved ones of the dearly departed who, I am assuming, loved donkeys. This was my favourite:


I’d like to know exactly what our Leonard was up to allowing so many to have such fun with his physiology. Dorothy certainly appreciated it. Dear old Len.

I’m sure there’s more to be said about donkeys but I can’t quite think what it is at present as it turns out that after a while, one donkey is much like another.


Suffice to say, Travis LOVED the donkeys, especially this one – he was a giant breed (the donkey, not Travis) whose name escapes me just now – you’ll have to trust me.

We finished the tour off with some time with the elderly donkeys and also the blind donkeys. Apparently, a blind donkey will bond with a seeing donkey, who will actually lead the blind donkey around by its collar. I didn’t actually witness this happening but I’ll believe it.

Reluctantly, we said our goodbyes to the donkeys as it was time to move on to the beach.

The coast in this part of England is known as the Jurassic Coast. Huge cliffs line the beaches, revealing 185 million years of geological history in the form of deposits,fossils and geological features. Our destination was Charmouth, another seaside community a few miles east of Sidmouth, where it is easier to find your own fossils.


We are a competitive group and so a race was on to be the first to find a legit fossil.



It was harder than I thought to find a fossil and no one was having much luck. I was happy, however, to find this fossil of…the Lorax? 


Eventually we did come across some fossils thanks to some locals who felt sorry for us and basically put them in our hands.


Zoe was the real winner though as she actually found a real fossil which I don’t have a picture of as my camera battery died.

By now it was getting late so I had to forego my plan to swing by the town of West Bay where I was planning a re-enactment of the scene from Broadchurch where Danny’s body is found at the bottom of the cliffs; I was going to be David Tennant, Zoe was going to be Danny and Travis was going to be Miller, while Terra played Beth. Anyway it didn’t happen and instead we went the wrong way in town and happened to see this building instead so it was all worth while:



Catherine of Aragon being, of course, the first wife of Henry VIII, and King Charles II being, of course, King Charles II.

My life now complete, we headed for home where we had a late dinner which featured, among other things, a giant hamburger that we made to fit the Sally Lunn Bunn that you will recall we had purchased in Bath the day before (keep up, people keep up). It was actually delicious.


It was a bit of a late night but that didn’t matter as we all had a day off today from touring around and spent it embracing cottage life by doing a puzzle, watching Harry Potter, going for a walk through the fields, and getting Indian food takeout. We did have a moment of hilarity at the Indian takeaway place when Travis asked a woman where we could get some groceries in town as everything seemed to be closed. In the UK, a garage is where you buy gas and is pronounced gah-ridge.

Travis: Excuse me is there a supermarket in town that is open?

Woman: Probably the gahridge convenience store is your best bet. The petrol station up the road. Wot you afta?

Travis (not wanting to say toilet paper): Oh just a few things

Woman: yeah the gahridge is likely best. Just go up the road, turn right, then turn left, then bear left then go over the bridge and then turn at the brewery and then turn left and come back over the bridge and turn left and right at the same time and you can’t miss it.

A few moments passed while we try to figure out what she just said.

Travis: So it’s Garry’s convenience store?

Woman (looking confused while Zoe and I cry tears of silent laughter in the corner): Erm…it’s the petrol station…the gahridge? Petrol station? you go up the road turn ri…

Travis (interrupting: Oh ok so Garry’s convenience. Yes I think we have the directions. Thanks very much.

Woman (still looking confused) Right. You’re welcome.

Fortunately our food arrived and so were all saved from further awkwardness although I was laughing so much I could hardly pay.

We’re back in the car tomorrow for a trip to the Cotswolds.

Ranks for teething-



PS – By the way the score for Dead Badger is now Jane 6-Travis 1. Terra still leads in Pub Legs despite some tough competition from Zoe and Travis. Tomorrow will bring fresh territory so we should see some big increases in scores.


  1. Jeez Jane, you are asking us to take a lot of things on faith in this post ;) Other than that building where Catherine of Aragon stayed; that *has* to be the real McCoy. Thanks for keeping us entertained on your trip.

  2. You're welcome, Kimberley :) Honestly you can't make half this stuff up.