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Congo-based TV journalist takes a working holiday at Groats petting farm where there's 'less heat'


By David G Scott

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Juliette Dubois, left, with Measles the Dalmatian and Cara Young owner of Puffin Croft. Picture: DGS
Juliette Dubois, left, with Measles the Dalmatian and Cara Young owner of Puffin Croft. Picture: DGS

A Caithness petting farm may become big news in the Congo after a TV reporter returns home after her working holiday in John O'Groats.

Juliette Dubois, a reporter for France 24 based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is currently on a working holiday at Puffin Croft – a petting farm that featured in a Channel 5 series with celebrity broadcaster Ben Fogle two years ago. Cara Young, owner of Puffin Croft, is a former nanny who left London to pursue her dream of running her own farm and has become firmly established in the Caithness village.

Cara Young owner of Puffin Croft. Picture: DGS
Cara Young owner of Puffin Croft. Picture: DGS
Friendly goats at Puffin Croft. Picture: DGS
Friendly goats at Puffin Croft. Picture: DGS
Cara had to put up this notice at Puffin Croft as a few visitors thought they would see puffins at the petting farm. Picture: DGS
Cara had to put up this notice at Puffin Croft as a few visitors thought they would see puffins at the petting farm. Picture: DGS
The only puffins at Puffin Croft can be found in the knitting kits that are sold there. Picture: DGS
The only puffins at Puffin Croft can be found in the knitting kits that are sold there. Picture: DGS

"I've been calling [Juliette] my Girl Friday," said Cara. "She'll be helping me out by walking Measles [the Dalmatian dog] in the morning, working in the shop serving all the customers and also helping me get my two-bedroom B&B ready for guests. We're in the very busy period now where every night guests are coming to stay."

Juliette is a TV reporter for France 24 based in Kinshasa as its Congo correspondent. "I've travelled in Scotland before and I loved it," she said. "I wanted to take a few months off work and to come to a quiet place with less people and less heat. I found Cara on Workaway.info which is a website where you can find a lot of volunteering opportunities. I wrote to Cara and told her when I'm available."

Juliette is working at Puffin Croft for a month and is looking forward to visiting local landmarks such as Duncansby Stacks which lie close to the farm.

Cara pets this miniature Shetland pony which can be seen at Puffin Croft. Picture: DGS
Cara pets this miniature Shetland pony which can be seen at Puffin Croft. Picture: DGS
A cheesy grin from this Puffin Croft character. Picture: DGS
A cheesy grin from this Puffin Croft character. Picture: DGS

Cara started Puffin Croft six years ago and after the first year she realised she needed a bit more help to make it run more smoothly. "It was just a petting farm at the start and as the business grew I opened the B&B and now, since January, the shop which has to be staffed.

"I do a combination of Workaway volunteers who come and stay as well as employing local residents who come and work part-time as well. I have two young people aged 15 and 17 who work on Saturdays and I have a couple of other ladies who work in the shop in the afternoon."

Juliette Dubois on her working holiday from France, left, with Measles the Dalmatian and Cara Young owner of Puffin Croft. Picture: DGS
Juliette Dubois on her working holiday from France, left, with Measles the Dalmatian and Cara Young owner of Puffin Croft. Picture: DGS
Entrance to Puffin Croft at John O'Groats. Picture: DGS
Entrance to Puffin Croft at John O'Groats. Picture: DGS
Puffin Croft. Picture: DGS
Puffin Croft. Picture: DGS

With the summer holiday season getting underway, Cara needs all the help she can muster. The farm shop had a complete refurb in the new year and is filled with a "range of unique products" made by small businesses as well as Cara's own "Miss Puffins" range. There may be no puffins to see at Puffin Croft but puffin knitting kits are available in the shop. The shop now accepts card payments. More info is available on the website at: www.puffincroft.com and on Facebook: facebook.com/puffincroft and Instagram: www.instagram.com/puffincroft/

Puffin Croft is open every day from 10am-5pm. Entry fee is £3.50 for adults and £3 for children.


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