I wouldn't say I'm alpaca-mad... I just have an alpaca cuddly toy, an alpaca hat, a scarf made from alpaca wool, alpaca writing paper, stickers and post-it notes, and a bag that says "alpaca bag" (geddit?). Oh and some alpaca cookie cutters.
So it perhaps wasn't surprising that when my friends and my sister came to organise my hen night that they decided alpacas should be involved! There's a place very close to my wedding venue called Alpaca Adventure, run by the very hard-working Wendy (and I think her husband) who has a full time day job as well as running a farm with over 30 alpaca plus sheep, hens and a pig. She takes the alpacas to competitions and has won several rosettes for effectively 'best in class' and sells the wool to a mill which uses it to make clothing.
She also does alpaca walking, which means you can basically go and walk an alpaca round a field on a lead. It sounds a bit random, and perhaps it is, but it's great fun!
First we fed some lambs, then we petted the pig, then got introduced to our alpacas - mine was a gorgeous guy called Teddy Edward. They each wore a bridal and we basically went for a walk for about 45 minutes around a field, leading our alpacas who were very sweet and docile, if occasionally trying to stop and munch some grass or sniff each other's bums.
This is what alpaca walking looks like
It's also pretty inexpensive and only cost £10 each - not bad given I imagine it costs a lot to keep the animals! The only thing I would say is that if you are booking this as a surprise for someone's birthday or hen night, make sure you tell Wendy that it's a secret - I'd actually met her at an event and she let the cat (alpaca?) out of the bag that I was coming here for my hen night even though I wasn't supposed to know!
After my hen night I wrote my friends some little thank you notes as it seemed a good excuse to use my alpaca writing paper! My fiancé got me this for Christmas - he knows me so well :-)
I also thought it was a good opportunity to use the alpaca cookie cutters he got me at the same time!
Here are my cutters:
I used a basic sugar cookies recipe and rolled out the dough and cut out the shapes
Ready to go in the oven
And here they are. These could easily be llamas and I think they could pass for giraffes too, but if you look at the necks, I think you can see the fatness that suggests the big fluffy wool of an alpaca.
I made up some royal icing as I wanted to recreate the thick wool of the alpacas, but I got the quantities slightly wrong and the icing wouldn't set enough and even though I piped it in dots, they all ran together. Still, you get the idea! I gave these to two of my bridesmaids when they came up the weekend after the hen night for their dress fittings as a nice reminder of the hen night!