Students took a break from the tranquil splendour of Oxford to explore some wilder habitats on the Woburn Estate. Woburn combines many pleasures and interests on one site: the ancestral home of the Russell family, Woburn Abbey, stands proudly within the vast and diverse estate―and animals from as many countries as you can think of also call Woburn home, living, scampering, foraging and posing for photos within the 360 acres of the Woburn Safari Park.
Students were eager to make the most of every experience on offer at Woburn: they explored the Abbey with its impressive collection of fine artworks, played croquet and Giant Jenga in its landscaped gardens, and, for the pièce de résistance, made their way to the Safari Park to get a glimpse of animals wild and wonderful, and perhaps even a stroke of the more approachable ones.
It was truly a thrill for students to enter the Safari Park, feeling as if they were moving from the domain of humans (in the form of the Russell family, in this case) into the realm of the beasts―there was a sense that different ways and rules reigned here, and it was up to them to adapt. Students took in climes and creatures from all over the world, wandering through the Desert Springs and spotting mischievous meerkats, yellow mongoose and African crested porcupines; they loved the Elephant Meadow, where everything seemed to move in slow motion, not least Yu Zin, Chandrika and Damini, the Asian Elephants who lived there; Penguin World was a study in cuteness, and students delighted in watching the penguins flap, dive, and leap to catch fish at feeding time.
As the day drew to a close, students bid goodbye to their gracious animal hosts, and boarded the coach back to Oxford and LMH. The activities did not stop on arrival, as students jumped straight into a Scottish reeling session, our Dashing White Sergeants stripping the willow with the best of them.