Visit to Hillside Animal Sanctuary

Not far from us is Hillside Animal Sanctuary.  While we have thought of visiting in the past, we never got around to it.  Sadly I have to admit it, apart from their odd hours (closed Fridays & Saturdays), they have a high admission cost at £18 for our family, so it was always hard to justify to the cost for a brief visit.

I read that they were having an open house with a nativity and Father Christmas aka “Santa’s friend” in his Grotto.  Admission was free, and we gladly provided a donation of £5 for each of the kids.
First they were greeted by a friendly “elf” who took their ticket and alerted the man in the back.

When they walked in, he asked them to sit on a hay bale opposite him.  [Thankfully not on his lap! 😉]
He asked them their names, ages and if they have been good – all the typical Santa questions.  At first Maebh was a little shy and looked to Soren to answer the questions.  When he asked what they’d like for Christmas, Soren said a remote controlled motorcycle and Maebh said a  play kitchen.  He then selected a toy for each in them from his big pile of toys.  Both kids loved their new toys and were a bit hit that day. Eventually Soren’s monster truck’s wheel broke and Maebh’s wooden magnet, seashore puzzle is scattered throughout the car.

We walked around a bit and looked at some of the animals like goats, bunnies, turkeys and their creepy nativity scene.  Please tell me you agree that those heads are creepy!
Had to convince Soren that they only bunny in there which was real was white!
Talking Cockatoos
He looks like someone I know.

They had some equipment on loan from an area collector so we checked that out briefly.

Among all their horses, were several giant retired work horses… when I say giant, I can’t even begin to explain their size.  And not sure where he gets this from, Soren was not afraid of them and reached out to pat them.  Me on the other hand would NEVER consider it.





Apparently they are pretty hard-core activists and do some things which are both good and bad.  They claim to bring public awareness to millions of animals suffering every day in the intensive factory farming industry.  In fact, they were at the fore front of the Red Lion Abattoir mess and secretly recorded footage.  [It was horrible so I will not even put the link here – google if you are interested in seeing the footage]  They also have an “animal friendly” cafe which is 100% vegan, but we didn’t go in at all.  I’m sure they’d quiver to know I’m on the hunt for a fresh turkey for Saturday’s meal! 🙂

Our family visited Red Wings Horse Sanctuary, [which has no affiliation].  Located just outside of Alysham, they offer FREE admission, have a great kids play space, huge cafe with a massive gift shop. You can walk down their path to view the animals, which unless I was missing something was all horses.  While they also rely on donations, they are softer about it.  The kids had a great time and we’ll go back when it’s a bit warmer.

Oh and they have those nice, lucky horse shoe numbers, which I’d like to get. I think they are a great gift.


Would we go back?  I’d have to say only on an “open day” where admission was free, but we could donate by buying hay or carrots, etc.  They have a nice kids area, which was closed this particular day.


Author: Stars Stripes and Mayonnaise

I am an American currently living in the Netherlands. I enjoy snapping photos and blogging along the way about our family’s journey as we moved from USA to the UK for a couple years then onto Ireland for three & half years and now in our next adventure in the Netherlands where the kids and are are learning Dutch. As you can probably tell by the name of the blog “Stars, Stripes & Mayonnaise” our family is half American & half Dutch and if you know one thing about the Dutch is that they LOVE their mayonnaise! I seen ’em do it man, they fuckin‘ drown ’em in it. When I started this blog way when it was to capturing memories of our family – essentially a journal of our family adventures, their love of mayonnaise, my love of photography, D.I.Y., crafting, sea glass hunting and exploring with our two amazing kids.

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