Heading to The Wilds today, I was glad not to be waylaid by any pesky penguins of the Madagascar variety. However, we did take a diversion to visit something a little more ‘over the pond’ than Out of Africa when we stopped in Cambridge (Ohio) for a behind-the-scenes tour of the annual Dicken’s Village installation – which, by the way, features an astonishing array of costumed characters, all ready and waiting upon their mannequined figure for their festive season of glory to commence! They were impressive enough all covered in drop sheets in their storage warehouse, so come October through to January they must really be a sight to behold alone the main street of Cambridge.

Then it was off to The Wilds conservation park, where we were all aboard for an open bus safari. As the hosts of the world’s most successful captive breeding programme for the endangered White Rhino outside of Africa, The Wilds offers important insights into how we might bring this mighty beast back from the brink of extinction. They also offer an incredible opportunity to get really up close and personal with the animals themselves – closer than what you could on a wild safari. I actually got to pat one and when one of my tour colleagues asked me, “Did you touch the rhino’s horn?” I could reply in all earnest, “Yes, I touched the rhino’s horn”. The park also has inspiring exhibits on giraffe, cheetah and many more of our ‘wild’ friends. You can appreciate the Wilds by travelling in either open topped bus, closed bus, horseback or even via the impressive zip line course!

Then it was on to the award-winning The Terra Cotta Vineyards for a glass of the tasty Chambourcin, which won Gold at last year’s Ohio Quality Wines Awards and an excellent evening meal. I have to admit that I wasn’t really familiar with American wines beyond California, but Terra Cotta proved they can produce wine to rival their western rivals. The view across the valley at sunset there is inspired. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings… Holy Toledo!