Ostriches, Campylobacter and the cat that lost a leg in the Battle of Worcester

I came face to face with an ostrich recently as part of a fund-raising trip to West Midlands Safari Park in aid of the Mayor of Bewdley’s charities.

We set off during a snow flurry,  stopping to admire the Malverns with a white topping, before arriving at the safari park  full of mainly tropical animals and who have presumably, adapted to the unpredictable British climate.

A snow topped Malvern Hills

A snow topped Malvern Hills


After a warming welcome of hot drinks and with great self discipline avoiding the pastries, we boarded the safari mini bus, made sure the windows were closed and cameras ready before setting off past rhinos with their armour plated coats, wending slowly through a herd of Addax (screwhorn antelope) who blocked the entrances in their search of food from visitors whilst threatening the safety of wing mirrors in the process.

West Midlands Safari Park Bewdley Mayors charity event 16.4 (15) (2)

Ostriches then decided to get a look in and were more than happy to try and board vehicles or just  stick their heads inside to obtain food.

On past white tigers dozing in the sun, and a collective Aah! at the site of a baby elephant with his mum. Interesting to see the Severn Valley railway with a head of steam,  slowly making its way along the edge of the park instead of seeing the park from the train.

West Midlands Safari Park Bewdley Mayors charity event 16.4 (24) (2)

A pride of brown lions were next seen gnawing on an assortment of bones before moving on to another pride of white lions not quite Persil white in the sun. Most of the various cats are part of a breeding programme as sadly, left in the wild they could be extinct sooner rather than later.

On 12 April a cultural evening was  offered by the Mayor of Worcester Cllr Roger Knight in league with Worcester University commencing in the boardroom of the old Worcester Royal Infirmary hospital with a celebration of the life of Charles Hastings on the 150th anniversary of his death.

An amazing man who was not only  involved in the establishment of the General Medical Council in 1858 but who also had a wide ranging interest in medical matters ranging from the use of brine baths for rheumatism to the creation of the smallpox vaccine. He was also a founder member of the Worcester Natural History Museum where still can be seen an 8ft long sturgeon-  not a sight to be missed!

After delicious snacks moved on to the Guildhall for more education this time with a lecture by Dr. Martin Skirrow entitled “The Story of Campylobacter” expanding on the discovery and treatment of campylobacter.  This is a bug that it is now known to be transferred from chickens (dead or alive), and in the aborted foetuses of sheep and cattle by touch or transmission into water supplies and is the fastest moving bacteria currently known and can be devastating if not caught early.  We were all given strict instructions to touch nothing until hands have been washed after handling chickens.  Dr. Skirrow also expressed concern that untreated milk can now be obtained which could be contaminated by a cow aborting although still being milked.

Learnt a lot that night!

After attending the Upton Mayor’s Civic Service on 17 April I was greeted in the Memorial Hall by Coenwulf, the cat mascot of Upton Folk Festival although had to admit at first sight I thought it was a bear.

Me with Ceowulf the Upton Folk Festival mascot

Me with Ceowulf the Upton Folk Festival mascot

The legend is that he lost a leg in the Battle of Worcester and whilst fleeing/hopping through a forest was thrown a stick by a cavalier hiding up a tree who sadly misjudged his aim and hit the cat in the eye – hence the eyepatch and wooden leg. He is now only seen on high days and festivals.


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