The word on the street is that donkeys are stubborn! But after a recent day in the company of donkeys – we can tell you that it’s just NOT true! Like other animals, they can fill your heart with joy.
We were living like locals in England – when we learnt about these fascinating animals. They were a short drive to the east from where we were house sitting.
Donkeys are surprisingly affectionate – as Neil found out when Bonnie was very attracted to this handsome Aussie!
If you find yourself anywhere near Sidmouth in the English county of Devon, put a few hours aside to meet some donkeys. You to might be lucky enough to get a very personal encounter.
The Donkey Sanctuary was one of the most fascinating places we visited on “Village to Villa” – 1 year of pet and house sitting.
It all began in 1969 when Elisabeth Svendsen did something amazing. She founded a charity after seeing 7 small donkeys housed in appalling conditions.
Today it’s Britain’s richest charity with an annual turnover of 22 million pounds!
Their mission is to free donkeys from suffering and improve the quality of life for donkeys worldwide – mostly through promoting an understanding and support. They have made a profound difference to the lives of donkeys, here in England and in other countries.
The Sanctuary provides Donkeys for assisted therapy for children.
Anyone can “Adopt a Donkey” to guarantee its future well-being.
This awesome Bird of Prey is the BALD EAGLE… national animal of the USA. There are though to be around 150 thousand of them in North America, their native country. They’re seen near large bodies of water from the north of Mexico north to Alaska.
See our video of HOLDING this magnificent bird at the Hawkridge Bird of Prey Centre in England.
They swoop at speeds of more than 140 kph to catch a fish.
Then they eat with both hands.
Bald Eagles don’t start producing until there about 4 years old, but they will live for 20 years in the wild… twice that in captivity.
The eagles have a wingspan of 2 metres. Baldric, the male bird that we both held, weighs around 4 kg and I struggled to hold him on one arm! The females are even heavier. That doesn’t stop them flying at 48 kilometres per hour, even carrying a fish. Baldric started his training at around 6 months. It typically takes 2 months for the bird to trust you as a handler.
We were incredibly privileged to see Baldric up close and VERY personal, when we visited the Hawkridge Bird of Prey Centre near Exmouth in England. We were house sitting nearby near Ottery St Mary.
These highly trained aerial hunters have been closely associated with humans for thousands of years. Falconry was a way of life and provided food for families.
It went out of fashion for many years, but is now back as a sport practiced all over the world.
You can find the Hawkridge Birds of Prey Centre at Westdown Lane, Sandy Bay, Exmouth EX85BY.
At the Game Fair In Scotland, we met the 28th Laird of Craufurdland Castle near Kilmarnock. He kindly invited us to stay for a few days with his lovely family.
Such an extraordinary invitation comes along rarely… so of course our answer was “We would love to… thank you for asking”!
Guinness – the dog with 3 legs had a set of wheels so he was able to go walking with his brother Scrumpy.
The 2 Setters are treasured members of the family. Guinness lost his back leg after being hit by a car… but this hero dog hasn’t let that stop him from enjoying his walks. Scrumpy keeps close watch over his brother and patiently waits
Everyone loves and admires Guinness for his fighting Scottish spirit!
He won our hearts during the few days we spent living like locals in a Scottish castle!
This family home near Kilmarnock, dates back to 1245!
Like most of the large estates in the UK- the family has had to diversify to keep the place viable. They’ve dedicated one half of the castle to B&B style accommodation. Guests enjoy luxury accommodation – surrounded by history.
There’s a large lake on the estate – filled with trout and tranquility. It’s the perfect male meditation and occasionally the day will produce supper!
The family backyard is 600 acres of Scottish countryside. And we were absolutely delighted to discover that humans are not the only guests having sleep overs at Craufurdland! Boarding dogs are allowed to run freely off lead – to have a good sniff in the woodlands and some take a dip in the lake.
Some months after our return to Australia, we were sad when we heard from the family, that Guinness was not able to keep up this exhausting effort to sustain his life on three legs.
Guinness – we will always remember how lucky we were to share a few days with you and your kind family.
From an African Pygmy Hedgehog to a pure white horse!
That is the range of Village to Villa’s Amazing Animals – encountered during our year of living like locals in 4 countries. For us, one of the attractions of house and pet sitting – is the animals.
During our Village to Villa year long adventure in 4 countries, we came across a collection of animals that gave joy to us as well as to their owners. It was amazing how quickly they become attached to us, as we settled into their homes and routines. With their owners away, they needed us to give them more than meals. They also needed the love, affection and security that they are used to having. And the more we gave, the more they gave back.
Here are some of Village to Villa’s amazing animals – met during our house sitting in AUSTRALIA.
Near Sidmouth in the UK there is a what could be described as Heaven for Donkeys – a sanctuary for these amazing four legged creatures.
During our journey of living like locals…we’ve seen lots of animals close-up – but nothing prepared us for the experience of a donkey close encounter. Donkeys are widely misunderstood creatures with most people believing they are stubborn.
Donkeys are really smart, curious, affectionate and love being patted.
Getting set up for an interview, a couple of the more friendly donkeys definitely wanted to be in the action!
Neil had a very memorable DONKEY CLOSE ENCOUNTER with Bonnie, one of the favourites at the sanctuary. Here’s a video clip of that encounter!
AS one of Britain’s most generously-funded charities, The Donkey Sanctuary has arms spread world-wide to rescue and care for donkeys. There are more than 40 million donkeys in the world, many of them in servitude…these lucky guys are definitely in Donkey Heaven.
There is a purpose for their life. They’re lucky here in here England – they enjoy the lovely green fields and go to lovely foster homes where someone lovingly cares for them. But donkeys abroad need to be a working animal for the family.
With around 500 formerly displaced animals housed at this facility, it allows you to get to know donkey breeds and understand their quirky personalities.
The Donkey Sanctuary supports donkey rescue in locations around the world.