What to do on arrival at an animal sanctuary with a three-year-old child to find it is closed because of bad weather conditions.

1. Explain the situation to the animal-loving toddler and divert their disappointment.

2. Google other venues in the vicinity and book tickets.

3. Hooray for the ‘Tamar Valley Donkey Park’ at Gunnislake.

4. Don’t be put off by torrential rain.

We were set for our day out, and on arrival at the donkey sanctuary, squelched through the muddy car park, instantly being enchanted by two little ponies grazing in a field on the way to the indoor recreation barn. The climbing equipment with a variety of slides and soft play area were a tonic for our little person who had spent longer in the car than intended.

The café there is handy; we lunched, dried off, and waited for a break in the weather. Which didn’t happen, so purchasing donkey food, we ventured outside with other visitors with the same idea.

The donkeys seemed happy to see us. Four came over to the stable window, but even they looked damp and bedraggled as they wandered in from the yard. One handsome pair came and posed, as if making conversation over a garden fence, before starting to bray loudly to more donkeys in a paddock at the bottom of the park. The hee-hawing between them was comical, bringing a smile to everyone’s faces.

A nanny goat with its kid snuggled on hay in the animal house. Next door, two long-eared mountain goats heads bobbed above a wooden gate with a curious glint in their eyes.

In the ‘small animal’ enclosure, the ducks were having a heyday flapping around and nibbling waterlogged grass and grubs as we stopped briefly, then headed off to see more donkeys on the other side of the outdoor play space before leaving at the end of an unexpected and inspiring day.

Bye for now.
Sue. X

PS. I won’t dwell on the flooded roads and mudslides encountered on the way home – I’ll leave that for another time.