Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dartmoor Zoo

The trip tp Dartmoor Zoo is a long one from North Devon, but one you may be willing to make it if zoos are your thing, particularly Hollywood-famous ones. This is the zoo on which the film 'We Bought A Zoo' is based, from Benjamin Mee's book of the same name. Except that in the film they all live in California. The real Dartmoor Zoo is in Plymouth's backyard in a tiny village called Sparkwell. We drove down via the M5 and A38, it's long in miles but quicker in time as you don't have to go through all the windy Dartmoor roads.

When we arrived there was definately no California weather. It was chucking down and crowds of people stood at the paying kiosk just waiting for the rain to stop. We walked on by with my second daughter muttering, "We're British, we don't mind rain." It wasn't long, however, before they were suggesting we have an early lunch in the Jaguar Restaurant (yes, that's what its called in the film too). The panini's were very nice, although none of us were very impressed with the range of cold drinks.

After lunch the weather was kinder to us and we spent a good few hours wandering around. The bears were nice, the wolves were in hiding, we enjoyed the reindeer but everyone's favourite was the big cats. Dartmoor Zoo has the biggest collection of big cats in the South West: two tiger enclosures, cheetahs, lynx, jaguars and a lioness. The lioness was have a good roar when we were there, then she had fun running round her enclosure and playing with a log on a rope. We went back to see her being fed and that was a bit disappointing. They 'hid' her food, which wasn't actually very well hidden at all, far away from the waiting crowd, then she went even further away to eat it before disappearing altogether. They could at least have hidden it nearer to us.

There are plenty of talks and other feeding sessions throughout the day, some of which we caught. There is also an enclosure you can walk through with wallabies, ducks and goats. The girls enjoyed petting the goats and thought it hysterical when the goats nibbled their fingers. If the weather had been nicer we may have stayed longer. Benjamin Mee was due to make an appearance at 3.00 to sign copies of his book. But really, after about three hours you've pretty much seen it all, and we were getting cold, so we made a quick trip in to Plymouth to do some retail therapy, then drove home to watch the film again.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Glasshouse

The Glasshouse is situated above Clayton's bar in Barnstaple. This is a photo I pinched from their website. We went here last night with some good friends to celebrate (belatedly) my husbands birthday. I've been before, during the day some years ago, when the menu was quite different, but equally as nice. The choice during the evening seems somewhat more limited - about five each of starters, mains and desserts, but it was all very very lovely. There was a lot of fish on the menu, but I had lamb, and my husband had steak. All the meals came out looking like works of art, the service was excellent, the waiters very polite, and the chocolate brownie dessert to die for. The restuarant itself is beautiful with a high glass roof and an outdoor seating area, although the weather last night precluded us from using that. A three course meal and a drinks came to just over £60 for the two of us. For a posh restuarant and top-quality food I'd say well-worth it.