Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Big Sheep

Whilst down in Devon we did a fair bit of travelling about. On the Sunday evening we found a lovely old 16th century coaching inn called the Foxhunters Inn where we had a lovely meal.

But the undoubted highlight of the week was a trip to "The Big Sheep", a theme park (if you can call it that) near Bideford.

As the name suggests this place was all about sheep. There was various stuff going on there - different animal shows, tractor rides and train rides for children, gift shops, all the usual sorts of things one finds at these kind of places.

Now that particular day was the one day away when the weather started badly - in fact on arrival at the park it was tipping down and there seemed to be hardly anyone there - about 30 paying customers and that was it. It was before 11am, and I discovered shortly after arrival that the one thing I had particularly come to see, the Sheep Racing did not take place until 3:50pm. How on earth were we going to fill all that time in this quite small place.

We need not have worried. A number of shows were advertised throughout the day, and it quickly became apparent that the entire days entertainment was being provided by just one man, a hugely likeable character who had a voice virtually identical to that of Justin Lee Collins. If you are a fan of JLC (as I am, and as I shall refer to him from now on), you were sorted, he was absolutely fantastic.  The first show was a sheep show, and then an opportunity to feed them, here is Ollie doing just that.

I was also delighted to discover that there was a brewery actually on site, and an accompanying beer and cider making show (again presented by JLC), which in itself was good, but it was followed by a free tasting session of the fayre made on site. Now for once I decided to break with my "no alcohol during the day" rule and sample the goods. And I have to say they were absolutely fantastic - I had six different beers and five different ciders - all awesome. Here are the beers:

Real Ales from Country Life Brewery
" OLD APPLEDORE ALE - 3.7% abv (alcohol by volume) 
" LACEY'S BEST ALE - 4.2% abv 
" POT WALLOP - 4.4% abv 
" GOLDEN PIG - 4.7% abv 
" BLACK BOAR - 5% abv 

Before you question what I was doing knocking back so much booze when a) in charge of children and b) driving back to the caravan, it's probably fair to point out we were given no more than a tiny cup full (probably about 25ml) of each - in total I doubt whether I consumed more than half a pint!

And so the day went on, the weather got better and better and by the time we had had lunch it was bright and sunny. There were plenty of things to entertain the boys, in particular Ollie, here he is on the pig ride.

And so to the undoubted highlight of the show - the Sheep Racing. Now JLC obviously knew his stuff when it comes to racing as he advertised the race as the 3:50 from Uttoxeter. Basically the sheep run all the way down from the top of the hill to the finish line where their food is, jumping 3 hurdles in the home straight. There was even a highly realistic bookies board, here's me doing my best bookmaker impression.

And so the race was ready to run - now for the first time I have attempted to upload a video to my blog but with no joy - it won't accept it - so instead I have uploaded it to YouTube and put the link here so I hope this will work. It's about 6 minutes long and worth listening to for JLC's preamble, but if you just want to watch the race cut to the last minute. It's pretty amateurish filming to be honest and much of it is just of the kids and I didn't get that much footage of the sheep, but worth it for a laugh. Keep your eye on Number 5 - a truly amazing runner who quite honestly took the piss out of the others by getting so far in the lead he decided to turn back and run the other way causing a pile up!

So that was the Big Sheep. Highly worth a visit if you are going to be in the Devon area any time soon.

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Jason xx

1 comment:

  1. Been to The Big Sheep twice in the last 4 years or so, great day out, will probably be going again in July. There is another similar one (bit bigger, with a massive indoor play area, in North to mid Cornwall called Dairyland - good for a rainy day! We liked it so much, we drove from Holsworthy (North Devon) down there for the day, bit of a trek but worth it for tired kids at the end of the day.
    Helen in Ambrosden.