What to buy the woman who has everything for Mother’s Day? I’d done the whole gin and afternoon tea thing for Christmas so needed something a bit more unusual. And then a Travelzoo email popped into my inbox, offering a 2-4-1 alpaca experience at Lucky Tails Alpaca Farm in Warwickshire. Perfect! I’m sure Ma Lee has always had a burning desire to walk an alpaca. Or is it really my burning desire? Oh well.
I manage to keep it a secret. I send instructions: wear outdoor clothes. Wear sturdy shoes. I amend this message to “wear wellies” after a rainstorm the previous day. Ma Lee has no idea why I am advising her to wear wellies. I conveniently forget that Ma Lee has an aversion to mud. And a farm may very well be muddy.
Ma Lee has a habit of talking over my sat nav whenever it imparts any vital information so our journey takes a little longer than anticipated. I start to recognise a road we have already driven down, an island we have already driven round once. But eventually I manage to find the right turning into the village of Hurley, and get to our destination.
“We’re walking alpacas!!!!” I exclaim excitedly. Ma Lee looks a bit non-plussed, and is warily eyeing up the muddy puddle I have parked us in. Clad in our wellies we join our fellow alpaca walkers. We’re greeted by some friendly farm doggos and I’m quite taken with the two dinky donkeys who insist on sticking their noses as close to my camera as possible.
But we’re not here for donkeys or doggos, We’re here for the alpacas. We’re all herded into a holding pen and given a ten minute chat about alpacas. Apparently we shouldn’t try to eat them. Not even a nibble. We’re also advised not to stand behind an alpaca in case they kick out in a fit of pique. We find out later that it is almost impossible not to stand behind an alpaca when walking them in a group. And I have the muddy hoof print on my thigh to prove it.
We meet the youngsters. They are largely themed around Harry Potter names, with Hermione, Neville and Dobby all making an appearance. The older boys vary from Star Wars characters to superheroes to Game of Thrones. We get the opportunity to pick out the alpaca who will walk us we will walk today. I pick one of the boys, a beautiful dark brown curly beast called Yoda. Ma Lee is taken with one of the stud alpacas, a big black boy ominously called Batman.
We’re all let loose into the field with our new friends. Yoda is reasonably well behaved, although like my horse in Costa Rica he seems to think that waiting and queuing at gates doesn’t apply to him. He’s also not keen on having his photo taken but I persevere and promise I’ll make him an Instagram star. Ma Lee’s pal is proving a little more tricky to handle. He’s not a fan of having his head touched, and seems more interested in trying to mount the other alpacas. I see why he’s been the stud.
We pay a flying visit to the lady alpacas, before being led into the “agility field” to have a go at the slalom. Yoda puts his nose in the air and decides this is not for him. Batman is surprisingly agile and manages not to drag Ma Lee through the mud for which she is eternally grateful. We continue our walk through the field, occasionally stopping for Yoda to chow down on the grass. He’s a hungry boy.
We make it through the muddy gates. Ma Lee is still wary but has managed to remain fully upright much to her relief. Yoda and I have a little jog. We’re then released into a field where there are buckets of food available. Yoda decides to put on a full-blown sprint across the field, me hanging on to his rope for dear life, slipping and sliding across the muddy grass. I finally get hold of a bucket of food and Yoda gets stuck in. He eats out of my hand only when I’m quick enough to scoop up food in between mouthfuls. Not content with his own bucket of food, Yoda then proceeds to bully other alpacas into giving up their buckets. I spend ten minutes apologising to my fellow alpaca walkers for Yoda’s behaviour.
I’m sad to let Yoda go. We’ve become friends. He tries to stick his nose up my sleeve, where pellets of food still remain. He even poses eventually for a selfie. And be stubbornly refuses to return to the pen, preferring to eye up the exit gate.
Once Yoda and I finally part, Ma Lee and I grab a couple of buckets of carrots and go off to feed the goats. More hungry little buggers. We also get to pet some of the Harry Potter monikered babies.
Finally we leave the animals behind. Ma Lee is relieved to get out of the mud, and to get out of her wellies. If I’d told her she’d be spending her afternoon wading through mud, trying to control a feisty and horny camelid I doubt she’d have left the warmth and comfort of her house. But instead she crossed an item off her bucket list that she never knew was on it.
I’m so lucky that I still have Ma Lee around to celebrate Mother’s Day with, and appreciate that others aren’t so lucky. This week my mother-in-law Judy passed away, leaving a heartbroken family. Mr Fletche and I will remember her this Mother’s Day, and raise a glass to celebrate this special lady who is sadly no longer with us.
For more information about Lucky Tails Alpaca Farm, you can visit their website.
Lucky Tails Alpaca Farm, Dexter Lane, Hurley, Atherstone CV92JQ