A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had worked with Indian elephants when I was a teenager.
Well it's true – I'd spent a couple of summer hols working at a local stables and loved being around the horses, but one year I decided to take it up a notch. When I was about 14 I used to cycle the 15 miles each way to Windsor Safari Park from my home every day just to spend the day with four Indian elephants.
The lead elephant Birma was the ex-star of Billy Smart's Circus and had three young companions. The young ones once made the BBC News as they were spooked by the noise of low flying aircraft approaching Heathrow and had to wear ear-defenders! Their names were Yasmin, Davida and Hazel.
The elephants at that time were free to roam around a huge field and the public could stroke them, but they were always under the watchful eye of Jeff the Keeper. I learnt so much about elephants from him and the elephants themselves – trust me they are as smart as people say!
I have eventually managed to dig out a photo, I'm afraid it's not great quality as it was literally stuck in an old 1970's album and ripped when I tried to remove it. The photo shows me with Birma, a grand old lady of many years.
The safari park closed years ago and is now the site of Legoland, but I shall never forget the many stories and hours I spent in the company of Birma and her young pals – it's only now that I fully appreciate how lucky I was all those summers ago.
'Til next time,