Our Family & Other Animals - the details
Ken is from Cork in Southern Ireland moving to the UK in 2000 to work as an Aircraft maintenance engineer for Virgin Atlantic. He has a passion for aeroplanes, and had his pilot’s licence before he had his driving licence. His dream was to fly cargo planes but unfortunately he had an accident which punctured his lung so he failed his medical. He then worked in his father’s company as a coach builder before turning back to his true love of Aircraft. He has 2 grown up daughters and 3 beautiful grandchildren living in Ireland.
I am a local girl brought up in Brunswick village on the outskirts of Newcastle upon Tyne. An accountant by profession working both in Practise and Industry. I gave up up the stressful job of working for a Global company as a Financial Controller for the simpler life in the country. I now have a small accounting practise which I run alongside the Bed & Breakfast and Caravan Park. I have a great love of all animals and am always rescuing abandoned and injured animals. I have one daughter and 2 beautiful grandchildren living in North Yorkshire.
Ken and I met in 2005 and were married in 2011.
Paul was originally a guest who came to stay on our park with his caravan and loved it so much he kept returning every other week. During one of his stays he asked if he could help with the animals and the rest is history. Due to health issues Paul is unfortunately unable to work so helping us with the animals and showing guests to their pitch fills some of his time otherwise he would just be stuck in the house.
His love for all of the animals is what we love about him, he is gentle kind and calm with them and to top it all he's also pretty good with the guests. We have alot of guests trying out their caravans for the first time so are always grateful for the help he gives them in setting everything up.
He has not only become invaluable to us but a great friend for life.
Black Billy & Yellow Billy
We bought Black Billy as a 2 year old following seeing an advert at the local vets. He was living with an elderly couple in an upstairs flat with no garden. He was showered with love and food (so far too fat) but had never been let off the lead and his owners were unable to give him the exercise that he needed. It broke their hearts to let him go but they knew this is the right thing to do for Billy. When we first got him he pulled like a steam train on the lead, but he was soon enjoying his new found freedom of running off the lead.
Yellow Billy we didnt get until he was 10 years old - in his previous life he was a gun dog and had never lived in a house before he arrived at Bonners Lodge. It didnt take him long to settle in and become best friends with Billy and Charlie.
Sadly we lost both of our boys in 2020 but we will always be grateful for the love they gave to us and how good they always were with our guests.
One of our caravan plots was named after them so thought we would leave their blog so guests staying with us on Biilys Bay know where the name came from.
The maddest of spaniels. Previously a rescue dog which the lady we bought him from had found at the dog pound so we have no early history of his life. His owner was advertising all of her 4 dogs for sale due to moving into a house that did not allow animals. We went to look at her Labrador to have as a companion for Billy but could not leave Charlie where he was. It was obvious he had a lot of issues – he was sat guarding the front door just waiting for it to open so he could get out, you just had to look at him and he would roll over and pee himself. We quickly came to the conclusion that the Labrador would easily find a home but Charlie would be the difficult one to place so we just could not leave him behind. He quickly became best friends with Billy and the two were inseperable. We only had him for 2 weeks and he snapped his leg when turning sharply trying to keep the ball from Billy. So £1800 later he had 2 pins in his leg and had to spend 6 weeks in a cage to recover. We reckon this makes him the most expensive rescue dog ever, but we wouldn’t change him for the world.
Unfortunatley we lost Charlie in 2023 but again thought we would leave his blog in so campers know why we named one of our pitches Charlies Pad.
Luna was the only animal we have ever owned from a baby chosen by my daughter when she was 7 years old. Definitely a cat with staff who thought it was her house and we were just the guests. The first 11 years of her life she spent most of her time outdoors and gained the title the terminator due to the number of dead animals found under my daughter’s trampoline every morning. We have lost count of the number of bird’s, rabbits and mice that we have rescued from her in the past. The killing machine lifestyle came to an abrupt end when she was attacked by a red kite and she discovered she was not in fact at the top of the food chain anymore but was part of the food chain! She had a ripped face, perforated eardrum and a ripped ear which you can still see the tare on her left ear - you could clearly see the talon marks where the Kite had a hold of her face, but lucky for her he must have lost his grip and dropped her. So for months she would only sit under the cover of the pergola in our garden of the last house we lived in.
Unfortunatley we lost Luna in 2017 but thought we would leave her blog in due to another of the caravan plots "Lunas Lair" being named after her.
Rosheen - Rosie
Rosie became a member of our family by default as with all of our animals there is a story: - Firstly I had not owned a horse since my previous horse died at the age of 23 and that was over 10 years ago. One of the reasons we bought Bonners Lodge was so I could own my own horse again. I was looking for a black 10 year old gelding which was sensible to ride due to me suffering from arthritis in my arms, knee and back so don’t have the strength I used to. A neighbour told me that the local farmer had an Irish sports horse which he was looking for a home for. She clearly did not fit the bill for the horse I was wanted (grey 4 year old mare) but I offered to look after her for the winter to see if I could manage to look after a horse again. It turned out she had a problem with her throat and had had a tie back operation to stop the sides of her throat collapsing making it difficult for her to breathe. Unfortunately the operation had failed and needed to be redone, again this did not work and a further 2 operations also failed so Rosie ended up having to have a permanent tracheotomy. So by this time I had fallen in love with her lovely nature so could not let her be sold elsewhere – who else would want a horse with a hole in her throat!
After Rosie had been with us for a few months I received an email out of the blue from a friend I used to work with asking if I knew anybody who wanted a miniature Shetland. Her father had an allotment and when a neighbouring allotment holder and owner of Rusty became ill he asked if he would look after Rusty for a while. 2 years later Rusty was still sharing the allotment with some chickens and my friend’s dad knew he needed more to his life. So when I went to see him I couldn’t resist him even though it took a while to just get a halter on him and he came home with us. He had not had any other horse company for years so was delighted with his new home and friend. Still a stallion he thought he had a chance with Rosie and could not understand that he just was not big enough to be her man. In his mind he was 17HH! So poor Rusty was gelded but still loves his best friend Rosie. He settled in very well especially as he was scared of his own shadow. He is still a bit nervous of new people so please don’t take it personally if he doesn’t come to say hello straight away. He comes around in his own time.
Rafki (alias Raf)
Rafiki our Bengal babe joined our family in 2018 and was an immediate hit winning over our guests even those who dont ordinarily like cats. He loves performing to an audience and showing off sitting on command and doing high fives for a treat. He also loves playing fetch with his toys and behaves very much like a dog following us everywhere and he doesn't like being left by himself.
Ray joined us in July 2019 as a six year old. We bought him from a dealer in Bradford and he was in very poor condition. He was covered in bites literaly all over his body, his muzzle felt like sandpaper but with alot of love and attention he soon settled in to life at Bonners Lodge.
He loves the attention of our guests and enjoys being brushed and fussed over. Our guests can have a ride on him when he is in the mood!! The saying as stubborn as a mule is completely true and if Ray doesn't want to do something then he takes a bit of persuading to get going again.
Sally & Sue with their mate Rusty
Sally and Sue joined our family in July 2019 and have become a firm favourite with our guests. They love being taken into the garden on their leads and having cuddles off everyone.
Ken made them a beautiful enclosure (goat heaven) down in our pixie dell, but we can't leave them their for 2 minutes before they jump the fence. They would rather be in the paddock with their best friend rusty the shetland and where they can see all of the camping guests.
Merlin and Sunny
Our 2 alpaca boys joined us in December 20 and quickly adjusted to life at Bonners Lodge. Although they had been handled in the past it was not on a daily basis so it has taken a bit of patience to get them used to having their halters put on every day. Alpacas are shy by nature so dont take it personally if they dont come over for a cuddle straight away.
Sam & Bess
Ten year old Sam & Bess are the newest additions to Bonners Lodge joining us in January 2021. Charlie had never been without his two best mates Billy and Billy so we had to find him some new friends. Luckily my cousin Maureen knew that the owner of these two beauties was looking for a home for them. They were formally working dogs and had spent all of their lives living in kennels, but they have quickly adjusted to living in a house.
Unfortunately we lost Bess in 2023 but we are happy with the knowledge that her last couple of years she was loved and enjoyed her best life.
Sam has a muscle wasting disease which means he now has limited use of his hind legs and we are using a harness to help him walk. He is not in any pain but has little co-ordination with his back legs and often falls onto his bottom.
Shona & Sheamus
Shona is our rescue sheep who ran for 6 years on some rough land at the back of the park. Originally we thought that she had just escaped from one of our neighbouring farmers field as there were also another 5 sheep running with her. Eventually she was alone in the field and through covid she managed to get herself in our immediate neighbours field when a gate was left open. There she stayed throughout covid but she was lame and had not been sheared for many years so was in need of some love and attention.
So with the help of my friend Lynne we rounded her up and managed to get her into our paddock that we call our Pixie Dell (this was not the story we told my husband - that went something like - look who we found in our paddock this morning no idea how she got there)
She had no tag in her ear so we could not find out who actually owned her. Vet was called out to check her over and it turned out she was a really old girl with rotted teeth and arthritis. So we got some painkillers for her and had her coat sheared and her rehabilitaion began.
To start with she was terrified of people and it took me 2 weeks of patience until she eventually came to me and took food from my hand.
Next she needed to have some company and I mistakenly thought that sally and Sue our 2 pygmy goats would be a good match. How wrong I was our goats were renamed the thugmy goats - it turn out they don't like sharing their mam with anyone and tried to batter her. Typical bullies if Shona had just retaliated as she is larger and has horns they would have run a mile but unfortunately she is too timid for that so another plan had to be made.
We clearly had to have another sheep - had to sell that to the husband again - big puppy eyes and the pet lip works every time!
So having done some research online I decided we needed a Black Nose Swiss Valais sheep as they are very friendly and placid towards people. A google search found me Sheamus who was only 5 months old when we got him. Still small enough to get in the back of the pickup to bring him home. He immediately thought Shona was his mam and she took to him immediately so both were happy sheep.
Sheamus was taught to walk on his halter and guests are able to take him for a walk and give him lots of cuddles which he rally enjoys. We do not bring Shona out to meet our guests as she is much to timid.
Orla our Maine Coon girl
Orla is our beautiful Maine Coon cat who joined our family in 2021. She is the laziest cat that there ever was and loves to have a cuddle and meet our guests.
Bandit Pixie Ragnar and Dottie
Easter weekend 2022 was a very exciting time as Sally and Sue both had their babies.
Sue gave birth on Good Friday at 7.30 in the evening and Sally gave birth on Easter Monday at 7.30 in the evening.
Sue was completley traumatised after she gave birth and ran to the back of her stall with the expression "what just happened" So it took a little time to get her to let the kids feed from her and a little help from our camper guests Craig and Neeve who helped hold her whilst i tried to get her milk flowing. We were lucky that she had one boy who we named Ragnar (i have a think for the program Vikings) and one girl who we named Dottie. Dottie was given the name little miss attitude as right from the beginning she was the fiesty one and the one not so bothered about having cuddles. After the first couple of hours Sue was the best mother ever once she realised they were actually her babies.
Sally was a fantastic mam from the start and she also had one boy who we named bandit and one girl who we named Pixie. Bandit was the most cuddly boy from day one he wanted to be nursed in your arms like a baby. His sister Pixie was unfortunately born with disabled front legs and the vet suggested that we should put her to sleep - there was no way that was happening and Pixie lives a full and happy life.
All the goats enjoy the guests taking them for a walk on their leads or should I say the goats take the guests for a walk!
Aberwick Jack Flash
Jack joined our family in July 23 the first dog we have ever owned as a puppy as all of our other dogs have been rescues.
My lovely cousin Maureen who has gun dogs bred him and I seen one of her facebook posts of the puppies which she had seen that I had commented. She therefore messaged me and said she had one boy available if I would like him.
I mentioned this to Ken and he said we could have him without me having to put on the puppy eyes.
He is a lovely dog and wants to be friends with everyone, so if you see him when you are staying with us all he wants is a cuddle and someone to throw his ball for him.
He has been a dream to train and most of the time is very good but occassionaly he forgets himself if too excited. The goats have also trained him - when he ignored my instruction to stay on the other side of the gate whilst bringing them in Sally gave him a good battering so lesson learned the goats dont want to play with him. He now takes himself behind the gate when they are brought in for the night.
Hugo and Henry
Hugo and Henry are our Dutch Zwarble sheep who I found accidentally when looking on the preloved buying site for hay in May 23. Scrolling amongst all of the hay for sale ads was a picture of 2 black and white faces looking up at the camera and the ad went " 2 male zwarble pet lambs for sale about ready for the mart but thought i would give them a chance on here first" The mention of the mart activated me into protection mode and a message had to be text to the husband with a copy of the advert. Huge puppy eyes were needed again and the message came back "Go and get them" knowing full well his life would have been miserable if he had not said yes! I would have accused him of giving the sheep a death sentence had we not taken them!
So a trip to the other side of Whitby was arranged. I arrived at this farm and was taken to a very old dark stone stable where these 2 sheep were kept with about 10 other normal pet lambs. The stable was very dirty with little straw for them and they were being fed nothing but sheep pellets and to this point in their lives they had never been outside in a field.
So into the back of the pickup they went and the journey back to Bonners Lodge began. In my naivety i thought they would be excited to have some grass to eat and the freedom of the field. Turns out they had no idea what grass was and certainly did not want to eat it, they only wanted their sheep mix. So Paul and I spent the next 4 days trying to teach them to eat grass - Paul on his hands and knees predending to eat it (apparently they learn from their mothers what to do) we hand picked fresh grass and tried to feed it to them. They howled the place down for 4 days protesting they only wanted mix until eventually Hugo decided this green stuff wasnt so bad after all and Henry copied him. Yeah a result at last.
Even though the boys were pet lambs they had not actually been handed much just bottle fed. So Paul and I began showering them with love and cuddles and getting them used to their halters. (if anyone had told me a year ago I would be giving sheep kisses on their noses I would have told them they were barking mad) Turns out they both love attention and will happily walk on the halter for our guests.