Silo, Brighton – A Zero Wasteland

Every day, we’re told to stop producing so much waste.

Weekly, we roll out our landfill wheelie bins under cover of darkness so no one will know just how full they really are. Daily, people in offices snatch rubbish from your hands and force it in to the recycling bin while cursing your existence. Hourly, a polar bear commits suicide because you keep buying plastic wrapped leeks instead of the PERFECTLY ADEQUATE LOOSE ONES.

Most of us grown ups grew up in a time of excessive, repeated and unjustified waste. It was pre-recession and we didn’t really care about stuffing plastic bags down a dolphin’s throat because we could just demand that the Government buy more dolphins. But times have changed and the world, thankfully, is more willing to embrace a ‘less is more’ and ‘ignorance isn’t bliss’ attitude when it comes to waste.

Which leads me to the centre of the shrubbery maze that is this blog’s introduction…

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Becky and I were nearing the end of our blogger’s jaunt to Brighton (did you read about it in my last post?), and had spent much of Saturday dodging the rain while exploring the Laines. Read Miscriant’s write up of our shopping and coffee pit stop here.
But there was one venue we were determined to reach – Silothe UK’s first zero waste restaurant.

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo markets itself as a restaurant, bakery and coffee house, but its biggest selling point is its commitment to zero waste on site. They mill their own flour for bread, make their own beer, compost all leftovers, flush the toilets with their own grey water waste, trade directly with farmers and producers, and use re-useable delivery containers.
The website mission statement reads: “At Silo, we chose to provide quality through purity, adopting a more primitive diet with techiques both modern and ancient. We choose food sources that respect the natural order, allowing ingredients to be themselves without unnecessary processing. By creating everything on site from its wholest form, we can capture real food, and real food tastes better.”
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

For a full round up of the vast amount of work that goes into Silo, take a look at their blog.

We ventured down an unassuming side street off the North Laines, and soon we stumbled across the looming warehouse doors of Silo.
Inside the foyer was a table resplendent with freshly baked goods and treats, and Becky and I drooled quietly in a corner for a few minutes before realising we should probably try to obtain a table and stop scaring the children.

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

During the day, they do not take bookings except for tables of six plus, but the charming hostess assured we would not have more than a 10min wait.
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

The restaurant interior echoed the aforementioned meeting of ‘modern and ancient’: tables made from old scaffold boards, box chairs to match, exposed lightbulbs, white-washed brick walls, giant blackboards baring the specials. All the cutlery and crockery is either recycled or upcycled. The kitchen is exposed to the diners, as is the bar and service area. 

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo reviewSilo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo reviewSilo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

Nothing is hidden away here, you can see the beer storied in giant plastic tubs, the jam jars that serve as glasses, even the compost machine is a star attraction by the entrance. But this stripped-down chic is paired with modern technological savvy.

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo reviewSilo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

The daily menu is projected on to the walls, and menus are presented to diners on iPads. An extravagance? Well…for a restaurant where the menu must change regularly according to season and stock, imagine the cost of printing and reprinting paper menus? For the cost of three or four mini-iPads, they’ve probably saved a packet in printing costs.

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

Earlier than expected, we were seated – space being tight, couples have to share a spacious table of four with others, but this was not a problem for us and in keeping with the restaurant’s ethos; be fussy about having a private table, then you have to reduce your covers, and one must assume that fewer covers means fewer meals and fewer meals means more waste.

It is a noisy, bustling place, for this is no place for staff to laze languidly over your customers while the bread turns mouldy. A water jug and two jars landed on our table within seconds of our being seated, as did our iPad menu, and the staff were attentive and in sparkling form.
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

Becky opted for a soft drink, while I could not resist a taste of the Moonface IPA, by Old Tree Brewery (operating from Silo’s basement). It arrived, true to form, in a jam jar and was a punchy little number.

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

I opted for the fish – catchbox cod, seaweed mash, steamed alexanders and sea vegetables. As we waited, one of the chefs brought us our complimentary fresh baked sourdough bread and homemade butter, explained the ingredients and wished us a great meal.

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
We didn’t go for starters, though I wish we had. The bread was beautiful, and when our mains arrived, we were in a flurry of flavours.
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

My fish was perfectly cooked, nestled in a delicate slightly tart sauce and accompanied by silky vegetables with just enough bite. I had never before tried sea alexanders (a forager’s delight), but it is a cross between asparagus and a fragrant chard…I think…never mind, it was delicious.

Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo reviewSilo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

My dish was probably one of the more pious offerings on the menu, as I saw plates of braised venison, caramelised artichokes and brown rice risotto being devoured by other diners.

The mains ranged from £8 to £12, and there was also the promise of sea buckthorn and elderberry fool or treacle sponge with goats milk custard and cacao for dessert. Sadly, we could not partake of the sweet treats.
Our time at Silo was all too short, as we had  train to catch, but I will be sure to return to try a full three course experience.
Silo’s concept may strike some as ‘gimmick’ restaurant, but I have no doubt, based on my experiences, that the quality of its offering will see it stand the test of time. The mission statement was true to its word, as Becky and I ate very well and felt pretty damn good for it.
Venture in to the zero wasteland, tiny darlings, and feast.
Silo brighton, zero waste restaurant, zero waste, the demon gin, silo review

SILO

Upper Gardener Street, North Laine, Brighton

Open Mon to Weds 9am to 5pm, Thurs to Sat 9am to 8.30pm, Sunday 11am to 5pm.
Email contact@silobrighton.com Tel: 01273 674259
Find them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter

Blogging in Brighton – Oki-Nami & The Black Lion

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami

A mini-break, you say? To Brighton, you say? A chance to have some girly fun with fellow blogger Miscriant and try some new places, you say?

IN-teresting!

So it was that I decided to stop talking to myself and a get a train to the fair seaside town with my dear friend Becky for a night and day sampling Brighton’s delights. Miscriant will no doubt be blogging of our exploits herself, so please do visit her splendid blog and compare notes. Hers will probably less drunk then mine.

We decided on a blogging break at the last minute – Becky’s husband was abroad for work, I had some holiday to use up and I think the beau was dead or something that weekend – so we threw caution to the wind and snapped up some tasty deals on hotels and train tickets. I scoured Twitter for recommendations of where to visit, and we were blown away by the responses (thanks Visit Brighton for spreading the word).

We departed Canterbury on Friday, each dragging suitcases containing far too many outfits for a one night trip, and arrived in Brighton around three hours later.

A nice bottle of train wine helped our journey.

View this post on Instagram

Train wine #Brighton #traintrip

A post shared by Sinead The Demon Gin (@thedemongin) on

Becky had recommended The Queen’s Hotel right on the seafront, and I found a twin room for £84 for the two of us. When we arrived, we couldn’t believe the size of the room we’d been given – king sized bed and a generous single with views of the promenade and the sea*, and a lovely bathroom.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, queen hotel brighton

Then Becky found another door….which revealed another double bedroom. We had a frigging corner suite!

I didn’t have the chance to try the spa, but Becky had visited before and recommends it. The only downside of our giant room was that it faced the street and on a Friday night, when things get festive late into the evening, it was pretty noisy. Fortunately, I’d drunk my weight in gin so passed out comfortably on our return, so it’s down to how heavy a sleeper – or drinker – you are.

I insisted on a power nap, and then Becky and I preened for our night out.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, Miscriant

We had been sent several recommendations for places to visit on Twitter, and by locals, so started with The Black Lion just round the corner from the hotel – a lovely, beautiful pub with a lively atmosphere, fine ale and gin selection, and the promise of late night ska music; we would return later.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, the black lion

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, the black lion brightonThe Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, the black lion brighton

Then it was on to The Mesmerist to laze in a booth and test our cameras – Becky with a G&T, my with a pint of Dark Star Hophead (I cannot resist Dark Star beer. It’s in my blood).

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, the mesmerist brighton

The bar claimed to be inspired by ‘gin lanes, burlesque and steampunk’ – which translates as leather sofas, dark wood, weird paintings and suits of armour. Drinks were reasonable and the vibe was good.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, the mesmerist brighton

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, the mesmerist brighton

Then we had to find food. This was tricky. We’d found a couple of recommendations but they were way out of our walking range, and one did not take reservations and was full by the time we arrived.

We wandered through the Laines, stomachs growling and shoes started to pinch, when we discovered this little gem: Oki-Nami.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

People probably know about this place. All of Brighton probably knows about this place. It’s co-owned by Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) for crying outloud. But we didn’t know. We figured we’d get some Japanese food and crack on.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

The host, and owner, greeted us and gave us a great table by the window. Becky and I chose from the Oki set menu – three courses for £22.95.

We ordered a pair of cocktails, and when we tasted them we knew we were on to a good thing. Absolutely spot on – sharp and bursting with flavour, perfect for the meal.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

The starters arrived. My sushi selection was well presented and on the money – I’ve tasted more exciting sushi in my life, but it was still tasty.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

But Becky’s Nikku Gyoza, which I stole, were incredible. Melt in the mouth goodness, best Gyoza I’ve ever tasted.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

For our mains, we both went for the teriyaki dishes – salmon for me, chicken for Becky. Again, the food was delicious – sweet and spicy marinade, yielding fish, braised vegetables and sticky rice.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brightonThe Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

We couldn’t resist dessert and ordered the flourless chocolate orange cake with plum liquor infused ice cream. Jut gorgeous, and light enough not to feel too sinful.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

As we nibbled, we noticed several people had slipped past the restaurant’s front door and had disappeared up a curious flight of stairs at the back of the building. Indeed, the restaurant’s centre piece was an impressive spiral staircase. The owner told us that people were heading to their cocktail bar.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

We needed no further encouragement. Filled with good food, we climbed the spiral staircase to sample more drinks.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brightonThe Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

We really felt like we’d hit the jackpot with this bar/restaurant. It was clearly popular with locals, and the cocktails promised untold levels of debauchery. I can’t resist a good espresso Martini (and after a meal it’s basically a digestifs, so it’s stupid NOT to have one), and these did not disappoint. I managed two while Becky stuck to her concoction. As I said in my previous post, I’m a fast drinker.

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton
The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, oki-nami, oki-nami brighton

We just had time to dash back to The Black Lion to listen to their ska DJ before retiring to the hotel bar for a final few gins, and then bed at 1am.

Okay it was 2am. I think.

My next post will cover Saturday and our adventures in a zero wasteland…

The Demon Gin, brighton, blogger, brighton blog, miscriant, black lion brighton

*These views were lovely, but as we were on the 1st floor and Brighton is a popular place, the curtains remained closed for much of the stay so that no passers-by would see my nakedness as I strutted about, pretending I was King of all hotel rooms.

Happy birthday to the blog, everyone look at me

(The world scampers to The DG’s office door, and raps upon it excitedly)

World: Come out! Come out! You must come out, it’s your birthday!
(Sound of empty bottles clattering to the floor)
Me: Hmm, what what? I’m awake, I’m awake, I was writing, I swear to God I was writing! (Sound of the Invictus advert playing on loop) Oh Christ, close down, close down! Where the hell is the mouse?!
World: But Demon Gin, you must come out, you’re one year old and there is fun to be had!
Me: (Rubbing bridge of nose) Ok could everyone just SHHHHHHH for FIVE seconds?! Okay…..okay…okay…(sound of bottle being opened)….okay, what’s going on?

World: It’s your birthday! Open the door!

Me: It isn’t my birthday.
World: It is!
Me: It ISN’T.
World: But it IS!
Me: My birthday is in August!!! Unless….how long have I been in here?
World: No, you silly goose! It’s your otherbirthday!  Your blog’s birthday!
Me………OHHHHHHH! Yes, yes, it is! WellactuallyitwastechnicallymidDecember, but okay, let’s go with this.
World: Yes! And it’s also a brand new year, and we want to know your thoughts on the past 12months for some reason! Could you let us in? It’s quite difficult to keep this excited at a closed door.

Me: Fine, come in.
World: Thanks. So we want to know what you’ve learned in your wow there are a lot of empty bottles in here.
Me: I’ve been testing some new beers for a blog post.

World: And the pile of porn under the desk?
Me: …Blogging is a lonely business.
World: SO! Why don’t you run through your highlights from the past year? Tell us everything!
Me: Uhh…couldn’t you just read the blog?
World: Apparently not. You see, all bloggers are obliged to write a new year’s post summarizing all that they have experienced and accomplished in the previous 12months because writing about it every week/month was clearly not attention seek-y enough.

Me: (ponders) That is GENIUS

World:  We know! And if you could throw in a line or two about what you’ve learned and how you feel you’ve grown as a person, it’ll really give it some balls.

Me: Oh very well. First of all, here are my 2014 highlights.

In 2014, I…

    Directed my first play

    Went to the Edinburgh Festival and Las Vegas

    Redesigned the blog 

    Discovered more gin. Such lovely gins…

    Finally watched Silver Linings Playbook and 500 Days of Summer, and was sick in my mouth several times 

    Put many bars & restaurants to the test 

    Put beautiful (and some worrying) things on my face

    Ate a lot of salmon pate 

    Acted in plays. PLAYS

    Hung out with some cool cats

    Heard Wise Words and new Sounds

    And I think I lost this hat

     

    But I mainly had lots of fun with some pleasant people

     
    After one year of scribbling, I am still delighted to have this blog to my name. Seeing people like and comment on my posts has been an bigger buzz than I imagined, and it keeps me typing in my darkest moments. And without The Demon Gin, I would not have had the opportunity to visit Junipalooza or cover the fantastic Wise Words and Sounds New Festivals. I also would not have motivated myself to visit London’s incredible cat café, go tequila tasting or had the nerve to tell you all about how to find love on Valentine’s Day because my way is the only way that will work.
    This year, I intend to take stock and stick to a regular schedule with a mix of reviews and rants, and  to explore more options for promoting the blog via social media. FYI bloggers – sharing posts on Google+ has made  huge difference to my hits, so do not ignore it as a channel. I do need to make better use of Instagram, though, as it is one channel I neglect.
    God only knows why you keep reading my blog, but I love you for it. 2015 is here, tiny darlings, so let me know what you want to see more or less from The Demon Gin.
    Thanks to all you wonderful people who have been reading this little blog, and who have supported me. Thanks to the many establishments & events I have visited whose organisers were kind enough to share and repost my reviews. Thanks to Emma (my designer), to Becky (my mentor), to Canterbury (my home), and to those who love me and who I love in return.         

    As a final treat, here are some of the weirdest Google searches that have led people to my site:

    • Is gin good for your penis? (Yes. Yes it is)
    • i think i couldn’t live without internet (neither could I)
    • demon.com shoes (I am thinking of branching out)
    • it’s not ___ cat (what?)  

    See you soon, tiny darlings…

      A Very British Safari

      Get your Christmas lists out, and throw them away. I have a new idea for you.

      Sometimes, you’re just sitting there on a Friday afternoon thinking, “hmmm…I wish I could go on safari. In England.”
      No, tiny darlings, I haven’t lost my mind. For such a feat is possible. In the heart of Kent, no less.

      Recently, I was fortunate enough to do some work through my day job with the screamingly lovely people at Port Lympne Reserve in Lympne, Kent, and they kindly invited me along to a press night showcasing their safari accommodation.* It was the end of the season but once you’ve read this, you will have the edge on booking up the entirety of the 2015 season in advance.
      Hence my reference to the Christmas gift. See? See? It all ties together.
      I’ve been visiting Port Lympne for years, as it is glorious day out for anyone. Set on gentle slopes over looking the Hythe and Romney Marsh coast, you can wander around its giant enclosures and across its stretching plains, or you can just sit outside the Port Lympne mansion, pretending to be a king.

      Port Lympne is an enormous wild animal reserve run by the Aspinall Foundation, home to scores of exotic animals big and small such as monkeys, gorillas, lions, tigers, wild cats, hunting dogs, black rhino and cheeta. It also has a safari plain where giraffe, antelope, deer and buffalo roam free. It has sister park, Howletts near Canterbury, where more animals gallop and roam, including elephants. The Aspinall Foundation is a registered charity involved with various conservation projects, including breeding, education, ecosystem management, and the rehabilitation of animals into the wild. Take a look at their website to learn more: http://www.aspinallfoundation.org/conservation
      And after a day of animal spotting, you can dine at the restaurant or stay the night.
      But wait…stay the night? In a wild animal park? Yep, Port Lympne has a unique offer in that it is the only park of its kind in the UK (and possibly Europe) that gives people the chance to stay in the heart of the reserve. You can bask in luxury at the mansion, or rent Livingstone Cottage for up to eight people if you wish, or the more adventurous amongst you can go ‘glamping’. 
      This what I’d be doing for the evening –  staying at the luscious Livingston Lodge, which offers an overnight stay in some seriously swanky tents with an evening and morning safari, four course meal, entry to both Port Lympne and Howletts and some serious banter thrown in. 
      Image courtesy of Port Lympne Reserve
      I started my trip at 4pm on Friday evening, leaving my car near the mansion and checking into the Lodge reception. The attentive staff took my bag (to deliver to my tent) and handed me a glass of champagne. I then had time to laze on the sofas and chat to fellow guests over drinks before our guide called us to action and we piled into the safari truck for our 90min evening safari.

      We were blessed with a gloriously golden evening, with clear October skies (though do bring a coat along no matter what the weather – it gets nippy once the sun goes down). Our truck trundled through the park, pausing beside the black rhino while our guide explained their work to protect this endangered species.

      Up close, rhinos have a curious grin and are very mellow – adorable really. Horrible to think how freely they are being slaughtered in their wild so people can harvest their horns. You know what, people? THE HORNS ARE HAIR. THEY ARE HAIR. HAIR IS EVERYWHERE, STOP KILLING THE RHINOS.

      Okay…okay…I’m calm again.
      On we went, watching the barasingha, red lechwe antelope, and a fine dazzle of zebra before entering the main safari plain. Here there are no fences or trenches – deer and zebra were free to wander straight up to the truck and gaze at your gawping faces. Giraffes chewed on tree leaves in the distance, deer bounced about merrily, everyone pointed at a buffalo having a wee. 

      Eventually, we rolled to the top of the hill to our bedrooms for the night. And truly these are bedrooms. The tents stand atop wooden stilts behind a sturdy wooden fence and gate, overlooking the plain below.  

       

      Rhino right behind our tents. Behind a very strong fence.

      The tents are millions miles away from your festival nightmares. Made of hearty canvass and waterproof coverings, you don’t even have to stoop to get inside them, and they’d keep you warm even if you only had an old sack and a bottle of whiskey with you. They come equipped with beds (two singles or a double for the snugglers), heaters, bedside lights, clothing rails, comfy dressing gowns, and a vanity mirror. A veranda with chairs and blankets invites you to pass the evening gazing at the staggering view beyond.

      I was staying in Gorilla tent…I knew I should have shaved.

      First things first – dump bags, and head to the lodge to grab a beverage. Guests can hang out in the lodge until dinner, or sit on their private deck in peace and quiet. Tea and coffee are complimentary, and all else is added to a tab that you settle at the end of the night. I grabbed a beer and headed back to my veranda to watch the sun set.

      I settled into my chair and instantly reached for my phone to start tweeting. NO! I snapped. This would not do – the plains of Africa had been recreated on the Kent coast and I was glued to a tiny computer screen and trying to think of witty safari based puns. I threw my phone into the tent, and made myself switch off. All there was, for the next 30mins, was golden sunset, glistening sea, and the languid gallop of deer and zebra in the distance. Bliss.
      Obligatory feet up picture

      At 7pm, I returned to the lodge to catch up with the staff and to see the chefs prepare our feast. I was lucky I did – as we went out out onto the veranda to enjoy the moonlight, a tower of giraffes walked right past the building, pausing to peer at us curiously.

      See! See here!
      The lodge itself is extremely cosy and comfortable, with a huge fire pit serving as our barbecue. Dinner is a veritable feast, laid out buffet style around the tables.

      The starters included couscous, a tomato salad, smoked salmon, coleslaw, fresh bread and hearty sausages. This was followed by the main course – another buffet of deliciousness. Dishes included beautifully pink beef, Peri Peri chicken, garlic prawns, ratatouille, stuffed mushrooms, and mountains of aromatic rice. 

      I barely had room for pudding, which included Amarula panna cotta and a…I think there was a cheesecake? By this stage I was blind with food, and they hadn’t even put out the cheese course.
      The entire meal was outstanding, and the lodge had a lovely atmosphere, with everyone chatting and joking over their meals. As I said, it’s a great venue for couples but I could seriously see myself returning with a gaggle of friends and having the run of the place. The staff were also very attentive and friendly.
      As the night drew in, I found myself shattered from the bounty of food, drink and animal-antics I’d been treated to. I hit the hay at 10pm, drifting off in my cosy, comfy bed to the sound of two antelope, somewhere in the distance, calling each other.
      The next morning I rose early and ventured outside in my dressing gown to see three zebras strutting past my veranda. I waved. They didn’t wave back. I suspect they were busy.
      I joined my fellow guests for a huge buffet breakfast at the lodge – full English, cereals, fruit, toasts – before packing up and boarding the truck for a mini-morning safari on our way back to the main lodge.
      I haven’t stopped telling people about my stay since I returned. This is a great venue for an extra special overnight stay – it’s perfect for couples (who don’t mind chatting with their fellow campers over dinner), but it would also be a great option for a civilised hen party.
      The glamping tents reopen in April but you can book in advance should you want to give someone a spectacular Christmas gift. 
      Also, if anyone out there is thinking: “hey! I have this really big family AND I want to stay longer than one night – what’s in it for me?!!”, well….you’ve got some attitude problem, pal. But never fear, The Elephant Lodge, elsewhere in the reserve, offers larger accommodation for groups and families on longer stays.
      And if you can’t wait to stay at the park, you can stay at the mansion or Livingstone Cottage all year round. If you have enough friends and feel like splurging, rent the entire mansion for a not too pricey VIP experience. What’s more, Port Lympne’s accommodation options are set to expand next year. Soon the park will offer smaller eco-pods for a rustic option, and also treehouses.
      Go, tiny darlings – be one with the beasts. www.aspinallfoundation.org/short-breaks 

      *I wish I could say it was because of my fabulous blog, but to date the blog has only got me free gin and….well, that’s literally the best I could hope for, so let’s not complain.