Llama Trekking

We chose not to have a gift list for our wedding as we didn’t need any more “stuff” and we didn’t want anyone to feel obliged to buy us a gift. So we were blown away by the thoughtfulness and generosity of our lovely family and friends.

As well as gorgeous plants & paintings and money towards our honeymoon – we received lots of experience vouchers including a day trekking with llamas!

So last weekend we traveled down to Catanger Llamas, prepared for all eventualities with sunglasses and waterproof jackets – and had a lovely sunny trek with our new friend Yarrow the llama.

Yarrow was definitely the most nervous of the group. He let us stroke him while we were standing still and close to him – but whenever I reached out to touch him while we were on the move he would just stop walking. He was also terrified of my zip and velcro when I took my coat off!

After walking through beautiful countryside with Yarrow we went to visit the gorgeous mums and crias.

Llamas (like alpaca) give birth early in the day so that the cria will be dry by nightfall.

Spot the random alpaca in the above pics?

Both llamas and alpaca are domesticated breeds of camelid. While alpaca are mostly used for their soft fleece, llamas were bred as pack animals and make excellent guard or companion animals for livestock.

Llamas have two coats of fleece – a protective coat and a softer one underneath. They are sheared approx every other year and the stronger protective fleece can be used for things such as rope while the softer layer can be used for spinning into yarn as per alpaca fleece.

We had such a great day and I would highly recommend a visit if you like a good walk and hanging out with camelids!

Lucky Tails Alpaca Walk

Hanging out with lovely alpacas seems to have become a birthday tradition!

Back in 2012 I took a spur of the moment trip down to Devon for my birthday. Whilst browsing the hotel leaflets I came across some information about an alpaca park and decided that would be a great way to spend my actual birthday. And it was the best! It was so peaceful walking around and I fell in love with alpacas.

Luck Tails Alpaca Walk | Jem Weston blog

There was also a cafe that did fantastic cream teas – and I asked the lady there why one field of alpacas were so stand-offish compared to the others. That was of course the maternity paddock and they apparently become a bit grumpy and protective when pregnant (which seems reasonable).

Fast forward to 2015 and I decided to arrange a road trip with some of my knit group friends to Toft Alpaca. We had a fab time and learned lots – including the fact that alpacas can “put off” giving birth if the weather is inclement!

Lucky Tails Alpaca walk | Jem Weston blog

Last Saturday was a wonderful surprise! I thought Beardie was taking me over to Derbyshire for a hike and wasn’t sure why he was being secretive about the location. So when we started heading south I had no idea where we were going…and got very excited when I saw the Lucky Tails Alpaca sign!

Sarah was great and gave us some alpaca facts before we took them for a walk. This included important information such as: don’t touch their heads (they don’t like that) and don’t stand directly behind them (you might get kicked).

Then we all chose an alpaca and went for a pootle around the fields. My alpaca was a beautiful young male called Drogo. He was very chilled so I just followed his lead and we alternated between frolicking and randomly sitting down. Whenever we stopped walking he leant against me and seemed perfectly happy to be cuddled and stroked on his neck (which was so soft).

Beardie chose a Suri alpaca called Waffles who needed a bit more encouragement than Drogo and mostly just wanted to eat the grass!

Waffles the Suri alpaca | Jem Weston blog

We had a fantastic time and after a few attempts I managed to get a good selfie with Drogo and a not bad one with a reluctant Waffles!


Toft Alpaca Road Trip

A few years ago I went down to Devon for a little solo holiday. I was still juggling a full time job with my freelance work and had just finished writing Cute Little Knits alongside pre-selling the Autumn/Winter yarn ranges for Rowan and Patons in my day job. This meant I’d had very little sleep and was in much need of a little holiday!

I ended up being down there for my birthday and spontaneously decided to visit the The Alpaca Park as a treat. I had the most fantastic day and have been completely besotted with alpacas ever since. I particularly like the ones with interesting teeth!

I’ve come across Toft Alpaca a few times when I’ve been working at knitting shows and decided that I wanted to pay them a visit for my birthday this year. On my birthday weekend they were offering a farm walk and cream tea for £15 – so it didn’t take much pursuading to get a few friends on board for a road trip!

We had a fantastic day and were very lucky with blue skies. The Toft shop is great and I couldn’t resist buying an Alpaca pom pom – I need to knit a new hat now! The cafe was also lovely and they catered for my low fodmap diet with a gluten free sandwich and soy hot chocolate.

But of course those things were just the icing on the cake and the real highlight was meeting the beautiful alpacas!

We were told not to hug them, so instead we attempted some alpaca selfies (Rebecka’s is definately the best)!

We learnt lots of interesting facts including: there are two types of alpaca – The fleece on a Suri alpaca looks straighter/less fluffy, and they produce the softer yarn (used in Rowan Fine Lace). Alpaca are pregnant for 11.5 months and can prolong their gestation period by upto 6 weeks if they’re not happy with the conditions! Each Alpaca produces one fleece per year which is enough to make approx one and a half jumpers.

2alp

 

I would definitely recommend a visit to Toft. If there isn’t an open day/farm walk on when you want to visit, you can still walk on the footpaths around the fields to see the alpacas – and they will come to say hello because they’re really inquisitive! The lovely shop, cafe and facilities are a great bonus to make it a special day out.

Yarndale

Another weekend- another crafty show!

I didn’t make it to Yarndale last year, so I was very excited to hear that Eleanor from Knit Nottingham (voted best yarn shop in the Midlands two years running in the British Knitting Awards) was planning a coach trip again. Read Eleonor’s blog about the day here.

It really is knitters heaven! I had a small budget, which I spent quite early in the day on a couple of blankets from Longwood Blankets– and I then found it very difficult not to blow the budget on some baby camel and silk yarn from Watercolours and Lace– it was soooo soft!

A lovely day was had by all and here is my overview in pics.

I fell in love with the Alpaca’s. Particularly the one in the picture above- I’ve never met such a smiley alpaca! A few years ago I went on holiday to Devon and spent my birthday at The Alpaca Park. It was one of the best days I’ve ever had- I really adore alpacas and I’ve found a place in Sheffield called Mayfield Alpacas, which I think should be the destination for our next knitting road-trip!