Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Dogs Waiting

Well here we go on another (short and lame) dog post...I like to take pictures of dogs when I am traveling and especially dogs that are waiting for their owner to come out of the shop, restaurant or post office....don't ask me why but I do.  So here we go...dogs I saw patiently waiting during my last trip.


London March 2016 - don't ask me where because I can't remember!!!


Pup waiting while its owner went fishing - Piran, Slovenia March 2016


Patiently waiting in Ljubljana, Slovenia - March 2016


This trio were waiting outside the Grace Darling museum in Bamburgh, Northumberland May 2016 - their "dad" wasn't far away.


Outside a shop in Berwick, Northumberland  May 2016 - guarding the backpack as well.


Rosie, the border collie waiting for her mum outside a grocery store in Wick, Scotland - May 2016


Not sure if this one was waiting or wanting to do quality control on the food in the cafe - Kenwood House, London


This gang was hanging out while their owners had tea at the Kenwood House outdoor cafe - the dachsund whose rear end is own shown in this picture never shut up - yap, yap, yap...there is a reason only its a** is showing because that's what it was!!! I had planned to sit down and have a cuppa but couldn't stand the racket!!  Hampstead Heath, London May 2016


This one was pretty chilled out - but then again Salt Spring Island in British Columbia is pretty chill!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Exploring Bamburgh Castle (and beyond)

While I've talked about my day exploring Berwick and briefly (more details to come) about my trip to Holy Island but I haven't mentioned the day I explored Bamburgh Castle.

First though some information on where I stayed and how I got around...  I stayed at the Bridgeview Bed and Breakfast which is very close to the railway station.  I had a single room there and while I paid the most for any accommodation on the trip (48 pounds) it was wonderful.  Lynda's breakfast is one of the best English breakfasts I've ever had!  It was a five minute walk to the rail station with luggage and just around the corner from the High (main) street.  Lynda was a fountain of knowledge of the local area and breakfast was always lively as the other guests Glynnis and Eddie from Derbyshire, were fun and adventurous.  I did two day trips with them on the bus - and one was to Bamburgh Castle.  Eddie worked for the railroad so had free passes so off they go all over England for free - how nice would that be.

The bus left from the nearby rail station which was handy so off we headed to Bamburgh Castle.  And beyond...

As we stepped off the bus the castle rose above us...very impressive!


We headed down the path to the right peering in the adorable tea shops which sadly we never got to sample...and admiring the local cottages.




Okay how are we going to get into this thing?  We decided to opt for the path through the parking lot but came out the path above.  Definitely the path above is the way to do it as I can't even imagine what the parking lot and road you have to walk on to get there would be like in mid summer....

There has been a castle on this site since 547...Bamburgh was then known as "Din Guayrdi" and Northumberland was known as "Bericia".  I'm not even going to start talking about its long interesting history as the Bamburgh Castle website has a wonderful webpage documenting it but in a fun way.   Enjoy!   The castle is now a private residence but of course when you own a castle you have lots of expenses so it's open to the public year round.




You've gotta love a castle that overlooks the sea. One regret...not getting down to the beach and getting a view from below...





I loved this room!


Looking towards the village of Bamburgh





Time for lunch...well after Lynda's huge breakfast I had no appetite for anything substantial so I opted for a pot of tea and a piece of border tart.  Delicious!


So farewell to Bamburgh Castle...for now...

St Aidan's church in Bamburgh


Our next visit in the village was to the Grace Darling Museum.  Grace Darling is a local heroine and buried in the churchyard above.   William Darling, Grace's father was a lighthouse keeper on nearby Longstone Island.  During a severe storm in the early hours of September 7, 1838 Grace noticed a boat breaking up on the nearby rocks.  The area was too rough for a life boat to get close to so Grace and her father took their row boat out paddling a mile out of the way to avoid rocks. They were able to rescue five people out of 62 that were on the doomed boat.  Both William and Grace received the Silver Medal for bravery and Grace received donations of money (50 pounds from Queen Victoria) and even proposals of marriage.  She unwillingly became a national heroine for her bravery and gutsiness (is that a word?)  in an era when women were expected to be wives, mothers and not much else.  Sadly she died of tuberculosis at the young age of 26.


This is a monument - the actual grave of she and her parents is elsewhere in the churchyard.

Time to head off to our next destination which was Seahouses.  This was somewhere I had never even heard of but when Eddie mentioned it  I thought "okay why not".  It turned out to be a great disappointment to all three of us - an unremarkable fishing village with hordes of tourists.  I've been to many seaside fishing villages in the UK and this was not  worth visiting in my opinion.  So after a cursory look around (I can tell I wasn't impressed just by the fact I took no photos!) we headed off along a side street.  Eddie had talked to someone about a cliff side walk so Glynnis and I just followed along and hoped he knew what he was doing.  And he did!  We had a glorious short walk of half an hour or along the Northumberland Coastal path.  First we had to navigate a golf course but luckily no one was out so we didn't have to dodge anything!


Okay Eddie - I guess you didn't get us lost after all!



I don't think we worked out what these birds were or we did I can't remember!!




My kind of path... flat with a view!

The bulding on the outcrop was once a fish smoker.


Seahouses harbour with Bamburgh castle in the distance.


Time to head back into town and get the bus back to Berwick.  Once in Berwick the three of us went to the Castle Hotel restaurant which I highly recommend.  I had been there for dinner the evening I arrived as well.


Now that's what you call a burger...how I ate that thing will remain a secret.

The next day Eddie and Glynnis went back to Derbyshire but I'll always remember the fun we had for those two days.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A day at the Durrell Wildlife Park in Jersey

Gerald Durrell has been a hero of mine for quite a while.  In case you have never heard of him ( and sadly most North Americans haven't) Mr. Durrell was a conservationist, naturalist and author of many wonderful books.  Hands up if you own all of them - yes, that would be me.   He was dedicated to preserving endangered animals.  He grew up loving animals and first worked collecting species for the Whipsnade, London and other zoos around the world.  He was known for the great care and dedication he gave these animals.  However be became disillusioned about how zoos of that time were run and decided to start his own zoo as he believed they should act as reserves and regeneration for endangered species rather than entertainment.  Sales from his book and his expeditions for other zoos helped fund the new zoo which was opened in 1959.  In 1978 he started a training centre for zoologists at the zoo - well over a thousand students from all over the world have attended.  In the meantime he still wrote his books and using the profits for his beloved zoo.  Sadly he died in early 1995. What an impact this man has made on the world. If you want to read more about Gerald Durrell and his books click here. 

I visited the Wildlife park back in 1988 and absolutely loved it and in the past few years I have had a yearning to go back to Jersey that just would not go away.  In fact I ended up canceling what I had booked (time near Hadrians Wall in northern England) and booking to go to Jersey (while in the UK).  And I have no regrets!

 I like well run zoos that preserve threatened or endangered species.   Yes there are some crappy zoos out there that should be shut down but there are so many that do their job of breeding endangered or threatened species AND educating the publiC.  I think seeing and hearing these animals is so much more effective than looking at them in a book or on a video as people tend to say it should be now.   I have been to Africa and seen animals in the wild which was one of the best experiences of my life - but not many people can afford or choose to do that.

So off we go....I was lucky enough to get a direct bus from where I was staying in Gorey.  Let me tell you I did not dawdle and decided to visit the park my first day in Jersey.


My hero Gerald Durrell

I of course had to have my picture taken with this statue but I'll spare you the photo.   I so would have liked to have met him... there was a wonderful exhibition of his life which I thoroughly enjoyed.

So off we go to meet the animals!!!


Giant Madagascar Day Gecko


Lesser Antillian Iguana



Sumatran (Indonesia)  Orangatun - they love playing with blankets!  These beautiful creatures share 97% of the same DNA as humans and are born with the ability to reason and think.  In fact their name...orang means "person" in Malay and "utan" means forest.  People of the forest.  Fascinating creatures - more info is available here.   Sadly so many have been decimated through the development of Palm Oil plantations which of course leads to deforestation and the loss of the orangatuns' habitat.  It is estimated that approximately 6,000 are lost every year.   Palm Oil is used in over half of the products on supermarkets' shelves today.



Red Ruffled Lemur - from Madagascar


A Bali starling - absolutely beautiful.  It is critically endangered in the wild.


I can't remember what this guy is - but it's cute!


A pink pigeon from Mauritius.  Gerald brought 5 over in 1977 and they have been bred ever since. Once critically endangered but now downgraded to endangered.  There are approximately 500 birds near the field station in Mauritius but it has been a long struggle.  These are the only pigeons that have not become extinct in that country.  Gerald Durrell wrote a book  called "Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons" which talks about his visit to Mauritius.  Informative but amusing; always amusing.


Oriental Short-Clawed Otter - smallest of the world's otters from Asia.



And then we come to the critically endangered Western Lowland Gorilla...widescale trade in meat is bringing this majestic animal close to extinction.





And who doesn't love to see a "flamboyance" of flamingos..(yes that's the proper name...don't you love it?) These are Chilean flamingos. Flamngos' pink colour comes from the pigments in their food.



Love the pink "knees" and feet!!!

And last but definitely not least is the fabulous "Jambo".  Well a statue that is as sadly he passed away in 1992.  I was lucky enough to see him when I visited the zoo in 1988.  In recent events at the Cincinnati Zoo (don't get me started on that!) Jambo's name came up.  In 1986 a young boy fell into the enclosure and Jambo sat beside the unconscious child  protecting him from the other gorillas and gently stroking his back.  Another one of my heros!  I would dearly have loved to have had my picture taken with this statue but no one was around.  I tried doing some selfies...let's just say I'm not very good at selfies!


RIP Jambo - 1961 to 1992

Jambo came to the zoo in 1971 and lived until 1992..fathering 14 offspring with his progency at around 100 all over the world. He has become the symbolf of the Durrell Wildlife Park.

All in all a wonderful day.  The park has everything from creepy crawlies to gorillas.  You won't find any elephants, tigers or zebras here.  Instead you will find creatures you have never heard of  that are getting a second chance.  I would highly recommend visiting this fantastic wildlife park if you ever visit the beautiful island of Jersey.