The heat of the previous weeks was both a blessing and a disappointment for our trip. ‘Why’, I here you think?
The joy of public transport bought the ten of us together and then whisked us way out West and the delights of Dudley.
The long twisting journey through the multicultural suburbs was helped by conversation stimulated by both reminiscences of, and hopes for the city. Eventually, the towering ruins of the castle appeared proudly flying the cross of St George against the clear azure blue of the summer sky.
Despite knowing that the venue was not the pinnacle of Zoological exhibits, we hoped that the combination of the castle ruins with its rich history, would give the visit something for everyone.
The steep ascent to the main attractions could be by a slow but long walk, although for those that could, we took the chair-lift; personally, I closed my eyes and gritted my teeth as I’m not good at heights or rather the drops into the baboons below!
Once at the top, it became obvious that the heat would play against us for the appreciation of the wildlife; you forst had to find it to appreciate it. Overhearing that most of the animal activity came around dusk didn’t help, but we pressed on although it was clear that there would a game of ‘spot the animal’ in most enclosures.
Having broken up into smaller groups, progresses was at various paces to suit each and we didn’t all meet up again until lunch-time at the top of the hill.
This was the closest encounter with any of the residents and the displaying Peacock was a spectacular backdrop for a bite to eat and a much-needed drink. Topped off by ice-cream for most, lunchtime chat was fascinating as usual.
The afternoon bought out a few more animals which improved the interest and, for those who reached the top and the castle ruins, its rich history punctuated with mice and ratdisplays to accentuate the delights of living at the zenith of its age.
A final gathering for those who had not already had to leave us, had a shared drink and welcome sit down.
Sealion feeding next to the picnic area was short but at least a degree of action from the residents of the pool.
A last downhill stroll saw various exhibits with the cute and the not so homely, again with most taking shade from the still intense sun. With the required exit through the gift shop, merchandise was perused, picked up and mostly put down again but with the odd purchase, the bus stop was calling us home and those that were left, left.
A hot and equally long alternative route home brought us back to the city centre and departure on to our various homes.
There was lots to consider if you are a conservationist or a historian with both positive and questionable thoughts bought to the fore, all of which we hope will stimulate the group in one of the aims for the day, to be inspired to write.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the day.