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Chestnuts Roasting on an Open BBQ… Our First Christmas Trip

Mid December and Christmas was fast approaching, with it came the usual festive hustle and bustle so a stay at Longleat Caravan and Motorhome club site was just what we needed.

We arrived on a cold Tuesday afternoon and were informed by the site warden that only one fresh water tap was working because there had been two burst pipes and the rest were frozen due to the -12c temperatures the night before. The site wasn’t busy at all and we drove around to find a pitch, ideally located on the side closest to the safari park as we were hoping to hear some of the many exotic animals housed at Longleat.

After setting up our adventure-mobile we left it to heat up while we wandered around the site. This was the biggest site we’ve stayed at so far and the facilities were great, all of the rooms were easily accessible and the washing up room even had a lowered sink with an empty space beneath it, perfect for wheelchair users!

I was also impressed by the information room, it was a large room with tons of information and a handy lowered desk, which again was really easy to access in my chair.

It was getting dark by the time we got back to our caravan and the background music drifting over from the Longleat festival of light, combined with the twinkling Christmas lights on many of the caravans created a perfect festive atmosphere. The only thing that might improve it would be roasting chestnuts on the BBQ!

After finishing the chestnuts we quickly decided it was too cold to stay outside for a single minute longer. So we packed up and headed inside, where it was a lovely 22 degrees Celsius. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing and looking forward to the day ahead.

We woke up the next morning with the sound of sea lions coming from the lake, it’s not a noise you commonly hear on caravan sites and made you feel like you were somewhere more exotic than Wiltshire.

The last time we went to Longleat was in the summer of 2016, on the most beautifully hot day- this time it was the total opposite, freezing cold and raining. But we weren’t going to let that stop us and we drove the short 2 minutes from the site to the start of the safari. From there we slowly drove around, seeing all kinds of animals, from deer and camels to lions and tigers. They all looked just as impressed with the weather as we were!

We decided against driving through the monkeys this time as we’d previously learnt our lesson. It ended up costing almost £100 in repairs to our old car and we are really rather attached to our VW Transporter – with parking sensors intact!

Just as we finished the safari the clouds parted and a little blue sky started poking through, so we took the opportunity to have a little wander around the park itself before heading back to the caravan for refreshments.

By now it was getting dark so we wrapped up warm and headed out to the Longleat Festival of Light, after a very short walk/roll we were in the centre of the action and were amazed by the atmosphere.

We were whisked away to another world as we came across castles, mermaids, dragons and even a full size horse drawn pumpkin carriage! It was magical and made us feel like big kids.

Once we’d reached the courtyard area we were admiring the huge Christmas tree all lit up when we started to wonder why everyone seemed to be gathered there. Then all of a sudden the lights changed, music started playing, and we realised we’d walked in just in time for the lights show. There were laser lights and a video being projected onto Longleat house, telling a Christmas story.

Until now we’d been very lucky with the weather, but just after the show started it began to rain… and I mean RAIN! We optimistically kept telling ourselves that “it’s just a shower” and “it’ll pass” but it just kept getting worse. We stuck it out for as long as we could but the rain was starting to soak through my jeans, leggings and tights so it was getting very cold! Luckily we’d seen everything we wanted to see, so it was time to head back to the caravan to dry off and warm up. And we got back just in time because as soon as we closed the door it started to sleet heavily!

The rest of our trip was spent with a lovely drive to the city of Bath and cosy nights watching movies in the caravan before we returned home for Christmas.

It was our first ever festive trip in the caravan and it certainly won’t be our last! Despite the weather we both had a fantastic time, the site was great and the festival of light was definitely worth a visit. Just what we needed to get into the Christmas spirit.

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