3 October 2016 (Monday) - Cotswold Wildlife Park

I slept like a log and woke refreshed and raring to go. It was a shame that it was 2.10am. I then saw pretty much every half-hour of the rest of the night.
I struggled to have a shave as the assembly which worked the bathroom sink’s plug-hole had me stymied. I *did* try to shave quietly but it was a feature of the establishment that the extractor fans in the en-suites set off the fire alarms. Three times.
Well… "er indoors TM" needed to wake up anyway.

There is a TV show on Channel Four called “Four in a Bed” in which owners of Bed & Breakfasts go round finding fault with other’s B&Bs. It is a favourite of mine, and having watched several episodes I found myself being somewhat critical. Surely a double room needs more than one chair? Admittedly there was some antique stool arrangement, but that was more for show than function? It would *not* hgave taken my weight. And the bed was *far* too low down.
My eyes kept returning to a typed notice leave by the management saying “For emergency phone Ming on …”. I couldn’t help but wonder if we were supposed to phone Ming if we were having an emergency, or if we wanted one.

The breakfast was… probably good when it was first cooked. However you can’t realistically re-heat a full English breakfast much as you might want to.
The Swan in Islip is on the brink of closure. The pub side of the business has long closed down. The B&B side is up for sale. It wasn’t a bad place to stay but the best B&Bs feel as though you are an old friend staying in someone’s house. Last night I felt I was spending the night in a disused pub.
We said our goodbyes and drove off. I was rather glad we weren’t going back.

We went on to Cotswold Wildlife Park. It was really good. We listened to the talks on penguins and lemurs. We saw giraffes and rhinos and camels. We even had a go on the little railway that runs through the place. I even got a photo to post up to CrackWatch.
My personal favourite was the green anacondas; three snakes all of which would have had no trouble in swallowing me whole; they were that huge.
I took loads of photos – I’d just skim the album at most. Over a hundred pictures in which you might be able to make out an animal if you squint.

We stayed in the park for six hours; the plan was to leave to get to hotel #2 before the rush hour traffic. It was a plan which worked. On the way we found a toll bridge. We had to pay five pence to drive over the bridge. Five pence – can you believe it. Buses had a toll of twelve pence.

We got to the Shillingford Bridge Hotel to find loads of old people queuing up at the reception desk to complain. They were whinging about all sorts of trivia, and the nice lady behind the counter was obviously getting stressed. Mind you she did laugh when I asked her for a room about which I could easily find fault.
The room she gave us was excellent. I say “room” – it was more like a small cottage. Loads of space; a four-poster bed and a wonderful view of the Thames.

I called up the geo-map. There were three geocaches within one hundred and fifty yards of our cottage. One of them was found easily; one was a tad like hard work, but the third… Maximum difficulty and maximum terrain. I’m a bit miffed that "er indoors TM" says I’m not allowed to try to get it. Having read the instructions I have worked out that it is in a plastic coca-cola bottle attached by a short chain to a bucket of concrete which is on the bed of the Thames some ten yards from the river bank. The instructions say scuba gear is needed, but reading the logs of people who’ve found it, many have just waded in. I say “waded” – apparently the water is shoulder-deep at the exact spot and then you need to mess about underwater. I’d be game – if only I was allowed.

We had a quick spruce-up, then went to the hotel bar. A pint of “Shagweaver” (!) and a half of cider psyched us up for dinner. Dinner was really good; it was just a shame that we were very obviously the youngest people in the hotel’s restaurant. Having said that I am 100% convinced we were the only ones who weren’t part of some senior citizens’ swingers club. Mind you, dinner was certainly well worth having. Might just eat there again tomorrow night…

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