If you get a chance to come and visit us, I dare you to not only fall in love with the donkeys, but also the beauty and tranquility of the rolling countryside where the Sanctuary is based.
Although I work at the Sanctuary, my partner Dave, and our dog, Olma, spend many hours cuddling donkeys along one of the walks around the Sanctuary.
Today we walked passed the Isolation Unit where new arrivals spend their first six weeks, but instead of following the walk around, we took the little track and crossed the road heading down towards Paccombe Farm Training Centre following the bridlepath.
On our way down, we passed Hurfords Barn on our left. Of course we had to stop and see the donkeys! There are two special donkeys here - Lady and Little Pippa. These are my own donkeys now living at the Sanctuary. As usual they both came over for a cuddle bringing their friend, Barney. He arrived in the Isolation Unit at the same time as Lady and Little Pippa and they have remained close friends. If you see one of them, the other two are never far away!
We then walked on through one of the donkey fields leading to a gate opening up into dense woodland. At this time of year, the ground is covered in young shoots of plants and a carpet of green leaves. Primroses are scattered along the ground with their pale yellow flowers and violets add a splash of purple with their dainty flowers. Clumps of wild garlic are beginning to show their leaves.
We took a moment to stand and listen to the sounds of nature. Above us, the rooks were high in the trees building their nests. Blackbirds sang their evening song while robins called to each other. A wren chirruped as it fluttered through the hedgerow. The sound of donkeys braying in the distance. A babbling stream runs through our thoughts as it runs passed us.
Reaching a gate as we were about to leave the woodland, a roe deer stood silent within feet for what seemed a lifetime. Then she turned and headed back into the cover of the woodland.
Through the gate we could see the tiny hamlet of Harcombe below us where the stream we heard trickled down into a larger stream at the bottom of the hill we were walking up.
As we turned through the gate to follow the bridlepath, a buzzard caught the wind and circled high above us.
As we walked on through a small thicket, we glimpsed for the very first time this year, a small patch of bluebells in flower. What a real treat. In a couple of months this thicket and the woodland would be a mass of blue with a heavenly scent.
Our walk finished with a climb up the hill back to the Sanctuary.
What a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon with donkeys and mother nature.