Saturday, February 25, 2012

People-Watching On Holiday

People-watching is a never-ending source of amusement to me, I must admit, and I had ample opportunity to do just that when we went away for a few days to the Center Parc village near Longleat, Wiltshire. The complex occupies some 400 acres of ancient mixed woodland which originally was part of the vast estate of the Marquess of Bath at Longleat, and although there are 964 villas of varying sizes and luxury, the site is so well laid out that it never seems crowded. Our particular patch of heaven was well off the beaten track, and we try to stay at the same villa each year if possible, as we have had deer outside the front door last year, and every year we have fun feeding the squirrels, wildfowl and birds.

But I digress :-)

We spent a day at Longleat itself, and decided to go on the tour bus around the wildlife park, a journey of about 90 minutes or so. We were just in time to catch the bus, and we climbed to the top deck for a better vantage point. I was half inclined to regard this as a bit of a mistake after a few minutes, as it became apparent that we did not have travelling companions who shared our interest in wildlife. It did, however, afford me a vastly entertaining session of people-watching !
 There were three couples and a related male, and a scad of small children, who were very sweet and seemed to enjoy seeing lions, tigers, cheetahs, wolves,elephants, monkeys, giraffes, deer, rhinos, ostriches and a whole host of other interesting species of non-indigenous species. The adults did not seem to enjoy it in the slightest, and took virtually no interest or notice in the animals - or their children - and spent all their time talking so loudly that it was almost impossible to hear the fascinating commentary by the tour guide.

Our DD3 & 4 were appalled by the adults' bad manners, and more than a little disgruntled as they wanted to actually listen to the commentary, not an endless saga of loudly voiced comments and hysterical braying laughter about subjects as apparently fascinating as which store's credit card gave the best deals, which brand of Welsh cakes was best, how much wine they'd had to drink over the weekend, what various friends were doing and a step by step update about their friends' Facebook postings, checked constantly on very expensive smartphones.

What absolutely cracked me up was at the very end of the tour, when the bus was drawing to a halt, one of the mothers said very sternly to her offspring in a stage whisper, clearly audible to the rest of the bus, "Make sure you mind your manners and say 'thank you' to the driver!"

Collapse of stout party. Need I say more ?
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