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Guest post Part 2 by Peri Taub, PTWP (Pandemic Therapist With Paws).

After the castle tea party (described in my last guest post here), we thought all we had to do was remember which teapot went back to which village neighbor, and find a home for the aspidistra. But the most amazing part was yet to come. 

In her upcoming book, OMD, Peri explains about the time we committed a tea party and met a future king.

[Note from Peri: when these events took place, we were still living in one tower of the castle.]

Weeks had gone by, but we were still basking in the reflected glory of the successful castle tea party. I helped Barb return all the teapots and borrowed crockery, knowing there would be treats offered at each stop. With all the treats, I had to make sure Barb got in plenty of ball-throwing. I fetched tennis balls until both her arms wore out because I’m selfless like that.

Our castle-owning friend Margaret called to say she had something to show us. Her something turned out to be a large, gilt-covered square of cardboard inviting Margaret and Barb to a party at Highgrove, the home of His Royal Highness, Charles, Prince of Wales. Seems that in addition to being the grandfather of the most famous grandchildren on earth, HRH was also president of Send a Cow, the village’s annual charity for which we’d been holding fundraisers, raffles, and one very successful tea party.

To tell the truth, I was shocked that I wasn’t included in the invitation, a blatant act of anti-canine discrimination, and one which I feel certain Charles’ mother would never have approved. Plus I was a bit worried about an international incident if Barb was left unsupervised for any length of time. Sure, we lived in a castle, but Barb couldn’t tell her two-tined butter fork from her ice-cream fork. What if she drank from the finger bowl? Tried to spear her fish with a lettuce fork held in the wrong hand? All I could do was hope people thought she was Canadian, because obviously everyone loves them.

We stood in front of her closet debating the all-important question of what she should wear. With my magnificent fur coat, I’m always perfectly attired for any occasion, but poor Barb was congenitally style-impaired. We settled on the pink dress and hat she’d worn for the village celebration of the queen’s Jubilee. (And, frankly, for every wedding, graduation, and event for the past five years.) Barb didn’t believe in owning more than two dresses — pink for weddings, navy for funerals — but when she pulled out the pink one, I relaxed, knowing she would at least look appropriate.

Barb drove me out to the countryside to stay at Auntie Norma’s Day Spa and Kennels. I drooped pathetically and threw in some artistic little whines as Barb left. The second her car was out of sight, Auntie Norma opened my kennel and we went into her house. She turned on my favorite show (The Great British Bakeoff, because who wouldn’t love Mary Berry?), and patted the sofa next to her. Barb must never know that I didn’t go anywhere near my kennel until just before her return.

Barb and Margaret decided to drive down to the Cotswolds so Barb could indulge one of her favorite hobbies, collecting British place names. She already had Sheepwash, Cockermouth, Wallish Walls, and of course, those perennial favorites, Shitterton and Scratchy Bottom in Dorset. Here was a chance to collect some of the other greats: Crackpot and Butthole Road in Yorkshire, Golden Balls, Crotch Crescent, and Cockshoot Close in Oxfordshire, maybe even the Holy Grail of naughty place names, Cocks in Cornwall. Barb sent Auntie Norma a photo of the sign at CRAPSTONE, one of her favorite UK place names (next to Wetting and Titty-Ho of course).


One of Barb’s favorite UK place names (next to Wetwang, of course…) Before you start — yes I know the US has Intercourse in Pennsylvania, is Boring in Oregon, and goes to Hell in Oklahoma. But admit it – they can’t hold a candle to the UK’s Twatt (North or South), Cum Lake, or Tickle Cock Bridge.

Once in the Cotswolds, Barb and Margaret realized the current heatwave would make wearing their planned outfits an exercise in polite torture. I’m glad I didn’t know at the time, but Barb swapped our carefully chosen dress (with matching jacket and hat) for sandals and a casual sundress she bought at a roadside shop. Talk about letting the side down!

At Highgrove, the Prince of Wales’ estate, the party went off without a hitch. Barb and Margaret produced photo IDs and invitation, and were told to leave all phones and cameras in the car, which was driven off for parking and (presumably) to be searched for whatever contraband ladies of a certain age might get up to. (Independence Scotland “Let’s Dance on the Union’s Grave” posters? Brexit leaflets? CBD cannabis oil back rub? French macarons?) They headed into the estate for a multi-hour tour of the sustainable gardening experiment that is Highgrove. Prince Charles made a point to speak to each guest and shake hands. (Note: Barb will probably wash hers again. Someday.) They all ate, drank, and listened to brief talks about Send A Cow’s work.

So what was the best part of the day? Incredible gardens? Touring the estate? Meeting the next king? Not even close. For Barb, the best part came after the speeches, when she started talking to a smiling lady who introduced herself as Christina Bush. About twenty-five years ago, Christina explained, a bishop from Uganda was visiting the farm where she and her husband Anthony raised cows. “How many cows do you have?” asked the bishop. That, she told Barb, was often a difficult question to answer because so many things could be happening at any time in a large herd. So Anthony answered that he had a couple of hundred cows, give or take.

“If you don’t know for sure,” the bishop said, “you won’t miss one.” Challenged, Anthony agreed to visit Africa and see what difference a cow could make. He came back convinced that even one cow could change the course of a family’s future. He called a meeting of his fellow farmers. As each one entered, he asked the question, “How many cows do you have?” After each gave the typical vague answer, he replied, “Then you won’t miss one.” Send a Cow was born, and over the past twenty-five years has helped over a million people.

You might think this would be enough of an achievement for any couple. But a few years back, Anthony and Christina sold their herd of pedigree “Moatwell” Friesian cows in order to purchase the land they’d farmed most of their lives. Only retirement just didn’t work for them. When the empty farm buildings began providing shelter for a variety of homeless farm animals, the couple decided to start a small petting zoo.

Soon their original animals had grown to include exotics like wallabies and llamas. Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm was born. Then, Christina laughed, came the white rhinos. After that it was a migration worthy of Noah – giraffes, primates, eventually even Bengal tigers. And today Anthony wasn’t at the Highgrove party because he had to handle transfer of the new elephants.

“Is this what you thought your retirement would be?” Barb asked.

“Well, we finally had the farm,” Christina said. “But it wasn’t the same without animals.”

“Why did you do it?” Barb wondered. “Send a Cow, Noah’s Ark Zoo and the rest of it?”

Christina smiled. “God works in mysterious ways. Sometimes with elephants.”

Barb waiting (behind HRH) for her turn to meet Prince Charles. Notice the lack of dogs? It must have been a really dull party. What could all those British people have had to talk about?


👉 NOTE from Barb: Like most Americans, I really don’t get what royalty is for. But apparently now that he’s King, the former Prince Charles can’t be head of a charity any more. So to celebrate his coronation, and in honor for his support of this wonderful organization, I would invite anyone interested to join me in making a donation.

Send a Cow, now named RippleEffect, is still doing amazing work focussed on giving people the tools to build their own futures. For more information and to help with their efforts, please go to https://rippleeffect.org/