It was Monday 31st August 2015 and I was on my way to have a holiday in Spain at Pig Village & Jacob's Ridge (named Pig Village because of the amount of lovely pigs there are at this sanctuary - hitting over 40 now I think and Jacob's Ridge because of the handsome fellow on the above right picture, Jacob has been with them from the start and so they named it after him - what a beaut!). I couldn't wait to get there, meet all the animals and all the nice & like minded volunteers who support this private animal sanctuary.
This is such a beautiful place, the physical surroundings are just stunning - there is a huge ridge around the back edge of their land (like something out of a film set). The animals have a truly wonderful life here, this place also wouldn't be anything without the people who put their love & care into it. Lynn & Julian are two of the nicest people I have ever met and they just welcome you into their home as if you're long standing friends. All the animals at the sanctuary are rescues and are cared for immensely, the animals are a solid part of their family which is lovely to see (and how EVERYONE should be treating their animals).
This is a volunteering holiday, all they ask is that you give up some of your day time to help out with the animals. Helping clean out, feed & groom the animals essentially and if you want to get involved in some other projects that are taking place you're more than welcome. There is no pressure and you just do what you can to help out - just get stuck in! I for example have a rather dodgy back so I didn't want to do too much heavy lifting, there was absolutely no problems with this - they were very understanding and there is always something else you can do to help out.
On my first day walking around the land and meeting all the animals, there was a moment when I was standing watching the horses from a far, I got this nudge on the shoulder (which made me jump of course) but I shouldn't have feared - it was Woody the Horse. Woody is an extremely friendly horse (who does an escaping act from the rest of them quite frequently - a skill that would give Tom Cruise a run for his money!) I easily whiled away nearly an hour just bushing Woody and having a chat. A very calm and friendly horse- a LOVELY first day experience and a connection that stayed with me.
At the start and end of the day we would all always do the horses - a good clean out, we would all need to make sure all the animals were fed & watered too. This was a lot of fun (even the poop scooping!), it was nice to mingle with all the horses (especially as I hadn't had much previous contact with horses) and the other animals at feeding time.
I found there were always opportunities to learn here, Julian & Lynn are so full of knowledge about the animals it was a joy to be in their company (and obviously not just for this reason!). I have to mentioned Lynn is an ASTOUNDING cook (and she's bringing out a cook book) so every night we were presented with a scrumptious looking & tasting dinner which was always 100% vegan! (I had been getting jealous of all the food pictures on their Facebook page on the run up to the holiday - it was worth the wait!).
I personally loved to spend an hour (maybe quite a bit more) just chatting & grooming to Woody (the lovely horse previously mentioned) or Steve & Nero (two of the Donkeys). Another great thing to do while with the animals is feed them some fruit off the land, the Donkeys are very partial to some grapes and the Pig's love the Fig's! Another two extremely friendly members of the gang are Bill & Ben, these are two pink pigs they rescued fairly recently from a slaughter house - they get super excited when you go over to them (so much so I saw a few leaps!) and they love a good scratch.
I went on this trip on my own - I was a tiny bit apprehensive at first (as I didn't know what to expect) but it was great - better than I ever imagined! You all just get on with things in your own time, you get chatting to people very quickly and it's great to get to know people from different parts of the world. You make friendships and laugh at the silliest of things. You certainly realise most things don't really matter when your cleaning up poop and sitting in straw stroking a pig, everything is right in the world at that moment!
I loved this place, the animals were lovely, the people I met are fabulous - in short it was a bloody brilliant week. I would recommend this holiday to anyone wanting a bit of time out, to connect with nature, do a bit of walking and chilling. They have lots of plans for 2016 and I am very much looking forward to going back.