You’re an animal lover and worked in the veterinary environment for many years – has this influenced your dream destination, fiona?
Definitely. I’ve always dreamt that for my 50th birthday, i’d put on a backpack and go off on a safari in kenya, staying in one of the tree houses.
If i thought i could get away with it, yes! But my kids would enjoy it too – they’ve inherited my love for all creatures, great and small.
So, a family safari then?
Yes – but my boys would enjoy it each for different reasons. Logan (14) wants to be a vet, and kyle (15) would just love the safari experience. And ben (24) is incredibly artistic; his pencil drawings of animals are so realistic people think they’re photos. He just graduated from university in graphic illustration and photography.
You’d mentioned you’d like to stay in a tree house? Why?
Actually, i’m petrified of heights but as long as i didn’t feel faint while looking over the edge and land in a lion’s mouth (!), I think there’d be some really great views of the animals in the distance as well as from up close up. The monkeys often climb up into the tree houses and i’d love to see that … they’re such funny creatures to watch.
What time of year would you like to go?
For me, the best time would be when the weather’s warm and dry but not too hot, so april or may. But i’d probably want to stay for a while – after all it is my dream and i’d want to be able to take it all in. But i’m petrified of flying too…
Two great fears to overcome no less! You’re really sure about this?
Oh, yes! I just get so excited by the idea of seeing those big game animals roaming around freely rather than caged in captivity. And anyone who knows me knows that my greatest passion is to help animals – to help prevent suffering and to give them the respect and freedom they all deserve.
I’m a keen supporter of wspa (world society for the protection of animals) and also born free. The world can be a cruel place when it comes to animals. Nature can be cruel too, of course, and i’d hate to witness a “kill”. But there’s nothing more rewarding than helping animals from suffering in any way possible. The love they give you back is truly unconditional.
Are there any animals you’d particularly like to see?
As much as i’d like to see the “big five” (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros), it’s the zebras i’m really looking forward to seeing. I’m desperate to see one in the wild! I love them and the noise they make! They’re incredibly beautiful and intriguing to watch. My house is full of zebra pictures and ornaments. Ben has actually promised me a drawing … maybe this christmas?!
And you’re fond of felines too … from big cats to domestic ones …
My mum was fond of cats too. It was always our dream to set up an indoor cattery, but she passed away four years ago. Cozy cats opened in july and i get loads of referrals from vets and other catteries. My boys come in and help with playtime twice a day to stimulate the cats and to give them loads of cuddles and kisses. It’s funny to watch the cats interacting with the sounds and pictures on the feline dvd and i get lots of satisfaction from knowing the cats are all happy and cosy.
My partner, scott, thinks i spend more time with the cats than i do with him! But i love the peace and quiet in here – and the cats can’t answer you back!