I’ve talked about Jessops before here and the excellent customer service they provide and how helpful they are at the stores, I put them in the same league as John Lewis. They not only sell hardware but also photography courses and it is clear they are looking to expand this area. Earlier this year I was looking through them and thought long and hard and then took the plunge and booked on the Big Cats Experience. So last Sunday the time came around to head over to Hertfordshire for the day and I am glad, turned out to be a fantastic day, even with a short thunder storm. Now I am no photography expert and I was using the day to enhance my skills and take photos of something very different.
The day is hosted at The Cat Survival Trust over in Hertfordshire. It is not open to the public just members and specially arranged trips such as the Jessops experience day. When you look at the website before you go you do start to wonder what sort of setup it is. The trust is on a twelve acre site with a small farm shop at the front and is run by Dr Terry Moore. Setup in 1976 (although he was doing work before this date) it is a place which houses various wild car species for education and conservation, they house unwanted or surplus wild cats from zoos and collections. Last week they received three leopards on a temporary basis from a zoo in the north while their enclosure is being rebuilt. As art of the cost of the experience you get a years free members to the trust and can go back whenever you like and I certainly will be doing that.
The day consisted of about 15 of use, two people from Jessops (Phil Gould and Lizzie James) and Terry Moore and another college from the trust. A brief introduction is given of some of the key areas to focus on during the day and it became clear very early on that there is a very wide range of experience in the group. It is not a day to teach you photography, Jessops have other courses for that, it is about the experience and the team are there to help guide you and ensure you make the most of the day. There are two key areas of the site the small and big cats and we split into two groups to cover them. At first you may think that it is not very large but the time very quickly disappears. What makes this different from a zoo? Simple just how close you can get to the cats very very close and you certainly have to respect them, they may look cute but their teeth say something different.
Throughout the day I managed to take a massive amount of photos and after discarding the poor quality ones I was very pleased with a small group of them, just a few shown here and more on Facebook. There are many pictures which I like but probably my favourite on is this one, take just a couple of feet away from the lens.
Overall the day was fantastic and 4.30pm came around far too quickly. The cat trust does a lot of great work with the cats and they are very dedicated to what they do and incredibly helpful when you are there. The same goes for both Phil and Lizzie who were both extremely knowledgeable, helpful and patient throughout the day. It is money well spent.