Weymouth 2015

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We have been many places with our Guinea Pigs over the years, some of them our current crew have never been too but one constant is always there, Weymouth.  We first came to Blagdon Fruit Farm in 2007 with our children and it was one of those idyllic summers, sunny days, and time on the beach, mackerel fishing with lines the sort one reads of in Agatha Christies or Enid Blyton novels. It would also be the last holiday we had with our son Michael.  We made the decision that we would return the following year and despite being one short Sheila and Hugh made us so welcome over time they have become good friends.  In 2009 we arrived with our first piggies Sunshine and Flower and we have returned each year ever since.

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This year would see the first appearance of Nova at Weymouth.  Over the last few months she had been introduced into the caravan lifestyle with stays at Bude in Cornwall and Paignton in Devon.  The journey was no problem staying overnight at Acacia Farm then the following day to Weymouth.

Arrival went well and we soon had the run set up.  Nova smelt the surroundings with some trepidation (they have half a dozen Dorset sheep and stables) but the others soon got on with the important stuff, munching grass.  They had been here before and knew how good the grass was.

It wasn’t long before Nova had joined in.

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During the fortnight the weather was mixed a couple of times we had a few minutes of dampness while the piggies were out resulting in them taking shelter.

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We found the clover was particularly good this year and Astro was keen to show how good a lawnmower he was despite only having one bottom incisor.

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They ended up having plenty of tunnels and shelters this year as the local Buzzards were very visible this August although keeping to a great height.  We did however have loads of swallows which swooped and zipped past the run after the insects.

Over all Nova seemed to cope extremely well with her first trip to Weymouth and is no doubt looking forward to her next holiday.

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June / July 2015

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The only piggies we have had that have been to Cornwall were Sunshine and Flower our first two.  We had decided that we were venturing down there again with the latest incarnation of the gang with a week in Bude and a week planned in Paignton.

This would be Nova’s first major excursion.  We had managed a weekend at Hopfest which was entertaining as she couldn’t escape our attempts to grab cuddles.

This next trip however meant a long road trip.  Cosmos and Astro were no trouble and took the journey in their stride, Nova and Twinkle were a different matter.  Without her travelling companion of three years no longer with her Twinkle was a bit muted, twinned with her position as top Sow.  In their travel caddy Nova started and Twinkle joined in, in seeing who could bury themselves in the fleece the most.

We finally arrived in Bude and the site (Ivyleaf Cottage Holidays – chosen entirely at random) proved to be a haven of tranquillity which the piggies enjoyed.  Our main companion on site being a male pheasant who would proceed to march up and down the field showing who was boss.

Introducing Nova to the joys of caravanning was fraught with some issues.  The first making sure that when the cage was open she didn’t try jumping out.  This is usually a problem when we first get up and morning cucumber is dished out.  With the cage on the side the front of it lifts up when opened.  Cosmos has a habit of putting her paws on the cage side and leaning her head out, we have learnt that this is as far as she goes (the first few times it was hands pushing her back in).  Twinkle usually sits on the shelf which is just as bad.  Now Nova was trying to follow by example so it was lift, dump cucumber, drop front QUICKLY!

The next issue arose when she was first allowed onto grass.  She had been getting handfuls of grass to get accustomed, but now she was getting loads of grass time.  She took to it like a duck to water, the only problem as with the others was when it came to get them back inside.  As they say, twas like trying to catch pump water.

We had a great week at Bude and would recommend Ivyleaf Cottage Holidays, Jackie and Stuart made us and the piggies very welcome and look forward to going back.

From their we made our way cross country to Berry Pomery near Paignton.  We had stayed here before and we ended up on a nice pitch, far enough away from others so we weren’t too disturbed.  This second week we encountered the heat, not as bad as if we had stayed at home though (25C as compared to 31C back in the Midlands).  Even so we had be mindful of the heat and employed some new ideas.  Freezer packs on the top of the cage, using physics as it helped draw the hot air out of the cage.  The wind break became employed outside to offer shade to the run as were extra fleeces as covers.

(We took the opportunity to visit Dartmoor Zoo (which the film I bought a Zoo is based on) had a great time and saw a number of piggy cousins.)

Throughout this fortnight Nova was becoming more accustomed to being handled, even to the point of sitting at the window (reminiscent of Star) and learning to become more chilled.  (This has meant at home she is becoming less skittish and happier at being cuddled.)  The confines of the caravan are helping her to become more relaxed around us.

Once back we barely had chance to breathe before we off to the TEAS (The Excellent Adventure Sanctuary) for their open day where we to be guests.  It was a great day even meeting a couple of our fans who were able to get cuddles of the gang. (Next chance will the Potteries Animal Rescue Xmas Fair at Kidsgrove Townhall In November.)

Finally we managed a weekend at our favourite Shrewsbury site, Ashurst, the end of July.

Tribute to Star May 2015

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One of the celebrities of the Caravanning Cavies has been Star, our little Diva, troublemaker and generally adorable class act.

Sadly she was found in her forever sleep on the afternoon of 5th May 2015.  She would have celebrated her 6th gotcha day this coming September and had just started her 6th year of caravanning.

Over the years she had many issues, beginning with scaring us with heatstroke at Bridport in 2010, and then developing full paralysis which she recovered from, only to have a relapse a year later, finally developing arthritis.  She led a full life on her caravan adventures, firstly with our original Queen Sunshine and her sisters Moon and Flower Junior.  Then briefly with Midnight, and then with Twinkle, Astro and Cosmos with whom she enjoyed almost 3 years of company.

With her passing over the bridge we remember her many travels, starting in 2009 with a taster weekend to Clent shortly after she arrived, October 2009 saw her travel to Henley upon Thames.

She returned to Henley in Easter 2010 and October 2010 and 2011.  Other places include Banbury (Whitsun 2012), Berry Pomeroy (October 2012), Blackpool (October 2012), Bewdley Hopfest (June 2014), Bridport (July 2011 and 2013), Cheddar (Easter 2015), Clevedon (Whitsun 2011 and July 2012), Frome (Easter 2012), Isle Wight (Whitsun 2010 and 2013), Norwich and Norfolk (July 2010), Shrewsbury (Easter 2014) and finally Weymouth every August 2010 to 2014.  Not counting the various weekends away this covers 188 nights camping, we estimate she did over 200 nights and 5000 miles of travelling.

We are going to miss her terribly.

However, as we say goodbye to Star we have to keep our numbers at four for travelling purposes (allowing travel in pairs) and so may I take this opportunity to introduce the newest addition to the caravanning cavies – Nova – born on 18th February, “acquired” on the 6th May from Coseley Guinea Pig Rescue.

 

Easter 2015

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This year we have decided to head down to Cheddar for Easter staying at the Camoing and Caravan Club site there.

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Upon arrival at the after set up the ground was too damp to put the run up so the cage was set up.

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Its not long before they start trashing the cage

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while we set up the awning.

As usual they enjoyed their grass time

settling down for their siesta to digest the gourmet grass they have had

although there is always one who will hoover up any left over veggies

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One thing we noticed about the weekend was that a couple of the gang were excreting excess calcium, not a lot but enough to make us remind everyone.  No matter where you go grass is not just grass.  You need to consider the type of ground that it is growing on and what minerals the grass may be extracting from the soil.  In our case at Cheddar the ground would be rich in calcium which leaks into the grass making it calcium rich.  Hence we adjusted the veggies removing calcium rich foods like spinach from the diet for the few days we were there.

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August 2014

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Star and Astro had finally been given the all clear from Simon so we could prepare for our main break in the sun.  The journey commenced with us looking for an overnight stay near to Bristol.  We ended up a bit further on than planned staying at Acacia Farm near Axbridge.  Although only an overnighter it was a very well appointed site, one we intend to use again.

Next day with piggies fed and watered we continued on our journey to Weymouth and ……………………. ……………………………………….zzzzkkkkpppt……………………………………gggg.ttttt………………………………………..nnnnn……………..control……………………..has.………………..wheek……………………….been………………………achieved……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Comrades lend us your , wheek, ears.  This is her esteemed majesty Star, Queen of the travelling Cavies, we has rested control of this, wheek, device that allows our slave to communicate to other slaves.

You have heard him describe our travels but you have not heard our side of the story, rumble rumble.

Hear then from our esteemed lips (and they are indeed such cute piggy lips) the summer journey as described by Queen Star, His Lordship Astro, Princess Twinkle and Bouncy Cosmos.

As usual for a long journey Slave bundled us into these blue boxes, yes we had nice comfy fleece to lie on and yes we had some juicy cucumber.  So to the routine of a snooze while we were bounced about in the big metal box that moved.

After two sleeps and some goodies placed in the box by slave we stopped.  I recognised the smells, this was a place I had been to many times before.  Slave calls it Blagdon Fruit Farm, I calls it grass heaven.

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We were unceremoniously dumped into out green outdoor cage while slave set up the big white box we stayed in at night.  Now this isn’t such a hardship as the outdoor pen has no floor see, so we can get lots of nom nomming on the fresh grass and clover.  I roll my eyes in delight at the memories of those lovely tasting leaves of clover.

(Short break whilst I nibble a juicy bit of poo, have a scratch and a quick wee)

Where was I, oh yes, wheek, after slave had finished we were allowed some more time outside until it started to get cool, then we were placed into our inside cage.  Now although its a little tight we all seem to manage in the cage and we all get on very well.

Astro here, yes we get on just so long as you don’t get in my way when there are fresh nuggets.

Shut up Astro, its me they want to hear from, Star, Diva of the Midlands, Charmer of Dudley, for all who see me fall under the charm of my beauty.

Anyway we ended up having two weeks enjoying the grass at Blagdon Fruit Farm near a place called Weymouth (although slave never took us to see it, something to do with too much water).

We did cause some mischief though, slave didn’t think it funny with us playing chase during the night and slave told us off for causing too much noise.  I must admit though Astro was really lazy while we were away (oy no I wasn’t) as can be seen from some of the pics I have included.

From the pictures you can see we had a lovely time away and look forward to next years travels.  It would be nice to meet some of you as well and we will be at the Kidsgrove xmas fair on the 17th November.

I must sign off now as the slave is on his way back, until next time when we can tell cavydom our plans for the revolution and uprising.

July 2014

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Well we decided to start the summer off by venturing to Bewdley in June to attend Hopfest (Beer and Music festival).  We chose a site nearby (Yewtree Farm Caravan Park) so the gang could soak up the vibes (and the grass to the sounds of music on the breeze.

All was going well, the gang were running rampant in the run with the inaugural cavy run grand prix which involved negotiating various tunnels and snuggles.  Then we had rain.  So the run was set up in the awning and they were able to munch grass.  Now on the previous outing one of the loops on the run snapped off so it could be pegged down on three sides.  Astro seemed to have discovered this at some point.

Suddenly the run became Oflag IV-C  (Google it) and Escape Artist Astro perfected the tunnelling out.  We happened to glance in the run to discover only three piggies, panic ensued until we heard the munching the other side of the run.  Astro had decided that the grass the other side was nicer.

Suffice it to say they remained under close scrutiny for the rest of the weekend.

On our return home we had Astro and Star booked in at the Cat and Rabbit Clinic, both for checkups, Star for her metacam and Astro for a Dental follow up.  It turned out they both seemed to have abscesses.   It was arranged that they would stay with Debbie at The Extraordinary Adventure Sanctuary after the ops and for the follow up checks.  (It transpired Astro did have an abcess and Simon sorted it but Star’s was a blood clot caused by a burst cyst, both have recovered).  All I can say was that they were well spoilt at TEAS despite Star performing her “Death Sleep” to worry Debbie. (She curls up on her side, rolls her eyes and looks all the world as if she has passed on, but at the mere sound of lettuce she is alert instantly.)

Soon it was time to venture into new territory, well for the piggies anyway, Wales here we come.  Popcorning apart, the gang we quickly loaded and almost asleep before we set off.  A longish journey from the  Midlands to New Quay south of Aberystwyth on what was turning out to be the hottest day so far this year.  Air con in the car was on max and at the stops cucumber was top of the menu.

We arrived at a fantastic site (which the wardens were quick to point out was Piggy and Rabbit friendly) – The Camping and Caravan Club site at Cardigan Bay.   However, I caught site of our first problem, a pair of circling Red Kites – right so the net would be going on the run then.

After checking the weather for the week it became apparent that shade was going to be a necessity, so all of the snuggles and tunnels were dug out in readiness.

Over the week they all found ways of keeping cool.  Astro managed to commander a pile of hay all to himself, diving into it in a shallow leap with such precision that Tony Daley would have been proud.  Once ensconced within the centre he proceeded the laborious task (it had to be done) of eating his way out.

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Mid way through the week we allowed Twinkle and Astro some cuddle time but this soon developed into window gazing and schmoozing (key them from Love Story).  They spent a goodly amount of time nose rubbing and grooming while enjoying the view.

Not to be left out Star and Cosmos, commanded the tunnel excursions, each one taking a turn at ruling the major tunnel allowing access to the better grass.  Despite the abundant Red Kite population the gang were not to be denied their opportunity to rape the welsh countryside of its grass.

Like the biblical plague of locusts throughout the week they proceeded to strip the welsh grass from its soil, the run having to be moved every few hours to fresh pasture.  Even so with the heat the tunnels became a refuge. At one point I took a fresh water bottle out to them and Star was happy to lie stretched out lifting her head to drink from the water bottle I held for her.

But all too quickly the week was over, with sad hearts (and full tums) we journeyed back to the midlands having fully loved our stay in wales.

We will be back wales, you were so welcoming.

Easter 2014

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Five go to Shrewsbury (Second Attempt)

It was with some trepidation that we began our preparations for our Easter getaway. Even the piggies knew something was up.  We had managed to get some respite care for Sue’s mom, so this would be our first holiday in the caravan without her for 11 years and any holiday without her for 7 years.  We were also looking to return (or actually complete) the holiday at Shrewsbury that we had attempted last year before snow stopped us.

Well we sorted out Sue’s mom, got her all packed up and away and got round to getting the van ready.  The gang knew something was going on, the excitement and the chattering began.  Four pairs of eyes, constantly peering from the cage bars.  Before long we were away, making our way through Shropshire towards our destination, all the while the sounds of quiet munching of cucumber coming from the carry cases.

The site was superb, with great facilities.  We can recommend Ashurst at Cruckton as a high standard caravan site for those who are members of the Camping and Caravan Club.  Very Piggy friendly and the grass was top notch.

We were joined by my son and daughter in law who were staying in their tent for a couple of nights.  The weather was actually kind enough to allow them plenty of time on the grass, indeed Cosmos was expert and the tunnel grab and munch manoeuvre, running along a tunnel before darting out and grabbing a mouthful of grass before sneaking off somewhere else.

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Star took command of the new Squbes we had acquired, commanding the gang like the Diva she is, viewing her domain.

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As  the gang became fully re-acquainted with the joys of outdoor munching  they quickly adopted the persona of Cavy Demolition Team number one.   There was almost formation munching with various manoeuvres that the Red Arrows would be hard done by to carry out.

Obviously all this hard work eating resulted in one thing. The desire to sleep.  As you can see they made the most of their holiday cage.

Now they have created a new game in the caravan, called squeeking in harmony for breakfast. With all four up the bars they can see breakfast being chopped.  They render a barbershop quartet harmony with Astro hitting the baritone notes and Cosmos the Alto, creating an almost musical wheeking harmony. This would be fine in the house but in the caravan we have yet to find the volume control.

Unfortunately the long Easter weekend went so quick and we returned home. However, the holidays were not yet over.  While Sue’s mom was still in respite we took the chance for a couple of nights in London.  This meant the piggies staying with someone.  We opted for Tracey (from the Guinea Pig Forum) and her holiday apartments at V I Piggies.

 

As you can see from the Pics they were spoiled rotten and Tracey discovered how much they have become Diva’s through their new found celebrity.

Our next adventures will see us seeking new ground at Bewdley and Cardigan Bay in Wales.  So if we are lucky they will get to see Dolphins.  See you next issue.

March 2014

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Five go early to a Festival

Well since last time things have been going pretty well, well it has for us humans.  Beginning of March we had the Caravan serviced which went well, so we started re-loading the van.  While we were doing this we thought it would be nice for the gang to spend some time in their holiday cage.

Oh boy this was a mistake.  They all got so excited that Cosmos was pop corning so much she was almost bouncing of the sides of the cage.  Having enjoyed a snack they all settled down for some chill time.

Well when we go them back in their normal cage they started sulking, and I mean big time sulking.  They had got themselves worked up that they were going on holiday and then not only did they not go away they didn’t even get any grass time.

For the next few days we experienced bad behaviour, raids in to the kitchen at floor time became common place.  At one point we heard high pitched wheeks from the kitchen to find Astro had got himself stuck in an empty lettuce bag, unable to reverse and skidding about on the kitchen tiles.  Once we got the bag off him he stomped off to the cage in a huff.

Although we had booked some holidays already, we decided that a shake down cruise for the caravan was a good idea.  Make sure water pumps etc were working. So we found a site not too far from home (only 40 minutes drive) near Weston Park called Upper Brockhurst Farm.  The owners were very welcoming and the site was ideal for the piggies.

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Some sites we have found leave the grass to grow a little while some cut it really short.  This was the former which meant the gang were going to be spoilt for grass.

We were soon pitched up and the run was out, and the gang were soon chomping away.

The bird life was prolific as well as the usual bird of prey threat so the run had its net top fixed.

The result of such lovely grass resulted in some very happy and full piggies.

While in the van Twinkle was able to enjoy some one on one time with Katy whom she adores.

As this was only a short weekend it was disappointing to head home after only two nights, but we and the gang are looking forward to our next break, only a couple of weeks away.  This should give us more time for the piggies and chance to relax.

We are planning to use this site again as it is so convenient to home except for August as the site is almost opposite the “V Festival” site, hence we were we very early for the Festival.  By all means camp here for the festival but leave your piggies at home.

 

2013 Year End

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Five go Christmassy.

Well after the many sojourns during the year in the caravan we were looking forward to a couple of months of peace and quiet in the run up to Christmas.  Well the piggies being who they are they were not going to let us have a quiet time.

As we were preparing for Katy to go off on her school cruise at the October half term we noticed Star seemed to be quiet.  She duly had her weigh in and she had lost a dramatic amount of weight.   On the 29th September she had weighed 1043 grams (normal range 950 to 1050 depending on bladder) but on the 14th October she was down to 878 grams.

So down to our local vets who could find nothing wrong but because we had spotted some symptoms similar to last year when she had paralysis and we were given some metacam.  A few days later she started to drag her legs again.  On the weekend chatted to Wiebke and Debbie at TEAS and they suggested a urethral stone.

So we booked to see Simon at Northampton.  Star was diagnosed with a lung/heart infection (which cleared with antibiotics) and had some dental work.  A week later a urethral stone was expelled by Simon who diagnosed arthritis and Star now enjoys a daily drop of metacam (which she now sucks from the syringe).  During her recovery she had dropped down to 720 grams but has now gone back up to 872 grams and is eating well.

Heres a pic of Star being pampered during her recovery.

As Star seemed to be recovering well, we decided to carry on with our commitment to attend the Kidsgrove Animal Rescue Christmas Fair organised by the Potteries Rescue.  We had the crew in their travel pen.  Cuddles were on offer in return for donations to the rescues.  We had a great day as well as meeting many people from the Guinea Pig Forum.  It was a great day and a lovely feeling to see so many children with smiles after having had a piggy cuddle.  The gang were really good, (we rotated them so that no one piggy was being used for all the cuddles) and the experiences of caravanning had made them really sociable in crowds.  I think anyone who met them would say how unfazed they were, indeed at some points simply sleeping stretched out.

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As we approached Christmas the gang became more unruly.   During floor time they decided to make Christmas TV choice a bit of a gamble as they plotted and planned to redesign the TIVO controller.

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It didn’t stop there, Twinkle decided the time was right to emulate a puppy and has started chewing the corner of the sofa.  Not one to be left out Astro has been on the plastic rampage.  If its plastic he has to have a chew, from bags to hairbrushes.  It’s a huge game as he waits until you notice then runs off.   However, he suffered for it.

The one day we found a half munched rolo that daughter hadn’t realised she had dropped.  This explained the three days when Astro was out of sorts.  Now this was a boar who for all intents and purposes resembled a lad/bloke who had been out on the town, had a skinfull followed a bad curry.  He stank, he was lose (if you know what I mean) and looked as guilty as hell.  For three days the girls would have nothing to do with him, he really was feeling sorry for himself.

Strangely, for this conjures up feelings of doom and foreboding, Cosmos, aka Devil Pig aka Asbo Pig, has been quite well behaved.  We sense that things might be too quiet and the 2014 caravan season may be fun.

This year we really felt the Christmas spirit and managed to get the tree up and decorations sorted on the 30th November so December really was Christmas.  The gang even had the privilege of having some decorations of their own, which included the Guinea Pig Nativity of course.  Katy refused (despite doing GCSE Textiles ) to make individual socks for them to hang on the cage.

They did seem to enjoy their Christmas presents however, I don’t know how long they will last, but I am sure they will have fun with them.

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And finally some pics of the gang at home in the cage.

September 2013

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We got back safely from Bridport, and I was busy,tied up with a clients business for a couple of weeks before we got the chance to ven­ture south again.

All was calm, that was until Cosmos was having a cuddle. Something was terribly wrong! There, moving in her hair were a couple of moving things, a few millimetres long and white. Bugs? Nits? Lice! Not since our daughter Katy left primary school had we had to deal with these type of bugs. It is possible we adopted them from the piggy we cuddled on a children’s farm.

So potions were ordered straight away; the second treatment would be due to take place the Thursday before we were due to leave for Weymouth.

Needless to say the famous four were not amused by the bathing. But they were spotless ready for their next adventure. A good lice shampoo did the trick.

So South we headed, arriving at

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Blagdon Fruit Farm in good time for Saturday lunch. We were greeted by Sheila and Hugh the owners, who, after seven years we regard as fam­ily friends. We duly got set up and the gang was allowed out into the run.

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The tunnels were soon in place and in full use. All was nice and peaceful belying the adventures that were too come (including a new tunnel from Cavy Couture).

It wasn’t long before the disagreements over the new tunnel started, all mak­ing a claim. Although Twinkle was the main occupier it was obvious from their demeanour and mutterings that the others had very different plans for this holiday.

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“wheek wheek Twinkle wheek tunnel hog, wheek wheek not fair, wheek wheek bath humiliating, wheek wheek you smell funny too, wheek wheek pesky slave, wheek wheek will pay for this, wheek wheek have a plan… “

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Their plans finally became evident as the 10 days progressed.

In annoyance at the previous weeks baths they seemed to make a deliberate point of weeing and pooing in the tun­nels, and then making sure they lay in it during the warmest parts of the day.

As the days progressed they became grubby, very grubby. They seemed to realise what they had done and rested in piggy glee.

Eventually the excitement of rebelling got too much for Astro who decided to try hiding, just to test us, but we soon spotted him under a red blanket! “wheek wheek bah!”

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All in all they had a lovely time in the sun with the great fresh Dorset grass, with swallows flying by. We always have a great time here and will be back again next year.

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