The worst zoo I’ve ever been to, the most spectacular landscape in England, and parking lot ponies…

I have a love/hate relationship with zoos.
As an animal lover (and I use this lightly as I’m probably more of a fanatic than a lover) I appreciate the opportunity to see animals. Anytime, anywhere…I’m game.
Hahaha. See what I did there???

Oy vey.

Anywayyyyy…I’ve only been to one animal park where I didn’t feel like the animals were sad and bored and miserable. See here: https://nashvillegirlinlondon.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/the-lake-district-and-lemurs/ And here: https://nashvillegirlinlondon.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/parental-invasion/

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Recently this Safari park made the news because this happened: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/may/24/tiger-mauls-zoo-worker-cumbria

This made me very sad because I love this place dearly. It doesn’t feel like a zoo and they are so incredibly dedicated to animal conservation. But they are wild animals…so I suppose these things happen.

All of that being said, when researching fun things we could hit up on the drive back to London, I saw that there was a “world famous” zoo in Dartmoor as featured in the film “We Bought a Zoo”
http://www.dartmoorzoo.org/

I remembered that Jonsi did the soundtrack for this film and I though I haven’t actually seen the film, the website for the real-life zoo made it sound like a wonderland of zoological proportions. It also bragged about how great it was for photographers because the animal enclosures were so close up. I was exceptionally excited!

Cue disappointment.

First, there were hardly any animals. Half of the exhibits were empty. No indication given as to why. It was like touring an abandoned zoo. When we did actually find animals, they were very very far away.

I used my super duper zoom lens to capture this. We were squinting to make out what animals these were from about a football field away.

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And granted, those are big fat adorable Capybaras. But after seeing them…from a mile away…there was about 15 minutes of walked past completely empty exhibits until we found a clearly distressed racoon pacing in circles in a very tiny little chain linked space. Screaming like he was on fire. It was fucking grim.
Needless to say I didn’t photograph the poor guy.

The petting zoo area was fenced off in such a way that you couldn’t actually pet anything. We watched as family after family pushed their prams through the muddy path only to find out that all the animals were 50 feet from the fence and you could not enter to actually pet them.

We watched as couple after couple tried to explain to their incredibly disappointed children on the way back through the mud that “they don’t know why the goats are so far away” and “they don’t know where all the animals are…”

BUMMER.

I did get a couple photos.

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The Cheetah exhibit was the only only exhibit where you could actually get uninterrupted photos.
The Lion & Tiger enclosures were small and surrounded by chainlink on all sides.

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The whole experience just made me feel horrible to be human.

I just looked at the zoo map online again and I’m simply puzzled. Where were all these animals?

We thought about asking for our money back, but then realized that Dartmoor Zoo definitely needed that money more than us. Sheesh.

We were at the Zoo for about 45 minutes. I’m not even joking. We walked back to the carpark in complete silence. Once inside the car we just sort of looked at one another in a state of shock and grumpily continued our journey home.

Thankfully, we decided to cut through Dartmoor National Park and the day was SAVED!!!

SAVED BY SHEEP!!!

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SAVED BY PONIES!!!

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My husband is brilliant at spotting things way before I see them (because of his super sharp astronaut vision) And he was able to see ponies congregating in a carpark off the side of the road in time for us to hang a sharp right and park the car amongst them.

These ponies were the most ultra chilled out group of ponies I have ever met.

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I’d say they were “stoner ponies” if such a thing existed because they were M-E-L-L-O-W.

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Check out the utter disbelief on my face.

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Followed by complete happiness…

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After more time petting ponies than we had probably spent in the Dartmoor Zoo, I reluctantly got back in the car, blowing air-kisses at my new fluffy gypsy friends as we pulled back out onto the main road.

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Thinking I had seen it all, that the day was not only saved but could not get much better, I made another friend by the side of the road!

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Also mega-laidback and happy to be hugged.

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GLASS HALF FULL!

Next up…RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey

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Tiny Holiday in Kirkby Lonsdale

I’ve been living in the UK for over a year now and I’ve learned a lot of things.
It may seem obvious to you, but to me it’s been an epiphany.

You simply MUST go on holiday every now and again.
For the sake of your own personal sanity and the sanity of those around you having to listen to you moan and be grumpy as fuck all the time.

It totally sorts you out. Trust me!

I never used to take many trips.

I longed to travel more than anything.
Even just a quick weekend away to kick back and relax.

Nope.

I worked too much, made too little money, took too many classes at a time, and anytime I saved up enough money to go somewhere, something would surely come up.

Car trouble, an unexpected medical issue,emergency vet bill, self-inflicted hair dye disaster…

SOMETHING.always got in the way.

But life is definitely changed for me now.

I’m far less stressed, certainly less broke, and much better prepared to face unexpected expenses than I was a few years ago.

So yeah, take a vacation people.

If you can swing it.

It does wonders for your temperament!

Especially when you live in a big city like London.

Being packed together with millions of other people on public transport day in and day out can leave you craving a bit of scenery that is more of the green and blue variety and less of the concrete and glass variety.

We decided that our souls needed a bit of open sky a few months back and we took a 4 day trip to Kirkby Lonsdale.

We went on a breathtaking waterfall/English countryside trek as well as a stroll through the village and a couple of visits to different farms around the area (so I could fulfill my lifelong dream of hugging a SHEEP!)

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The raddest steps in England.

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English sweets.

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If you ever find yourself in Kirkby Lonsdale, you simply MUST do this:http://www.ingletonwaterfallstrail.co.uk/

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Those are pennies!

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Penny Mushrooms!

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SHEEPS!

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SHEEPS THAT WOULD NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES LET ME HUG THEM.

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SADFACE.

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Isn’t it other-worldly beautiful? Sigh.

So then we visited farms!

And I made friends and kissed fuzzy animal faces and my dreams came true.

I don’t remember this guy’s name, but he was ace.

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Hands down the friendliest goat I’ve ever met.

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BAAAABY GOAT!

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Lambies!!

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Snouts!

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He’s got PIGGY EYEBROWS!!!

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(pig sex photobomb totally happening in the background for extra points)

Which is how you end up with BAAAAABY PIGGIES!

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And buns! So many buns…

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Check out all the feet floof!

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BIG bun…

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Baaaaby cows!

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TEETH!

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They are totally making the same facial expression!

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Huggggggssss….

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Horsies…

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Silly horsies…

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Mustachioed horsies…

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With furry feet!

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Tiny emo horsies with stubb-tastic legs and ombre hipster fringe!

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I’ve seen dogs with longer legs…

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Owls…

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Alpacas…

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Soooooper goofy donkey friends…

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Chickens…

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The moment you have been waiting for.

The hugging of a sheep done by ME!

He came right up to me and said hello.

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So I said hello back.

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Quite gleefully I might add…

And then I did what any reasonable person might do when confronted with a really sweet sheep friend.

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I hugged him!

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And he was totally into it!

Best tiny Holiday ever! xx

Parental Invasion!

While we are on the subject of people visiting me in London….

My Parents came to see me!!!!!!!

In April, they decided to be brave and close their dental practice (for the first time in like ONE BILLION YEARS) to come visit me in London!

They only had 9 days and that included a trip up North to Cumbria to visit the In-Laws (as well as my most favorite Animal Park) so we really had to cram a lot in…
By now, I’m pretty much the official “First trip to London must-see tour guide”…

Of course, we had to go to Westminster…

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As well as Westminster Abbey…

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Mom attempts to soak in more than a thousand years of history…

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Tralfagar was next…

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It was pouring down rain off and on, but we soldiered through!

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A stormy stroll along the Thames…

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We stopped in Stratford-upon-Avon (the birthplace of William Shakespeare) on the way up North to experience some of the festivities taking place in honor of his birthday.

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Strolling around the Lake District…

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AND FINALLY, SAFARI PARK HAPPY PLACE!!!

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Sleepytime bear…

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MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE GIRAFFE…

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GIRAFFE KIIIIIISSSSSSEEESSSSSS….

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Look at this guy’s FINGERS!!!

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MAKING FRIENDS LIKE I DO.

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I don’t really like these guys very much…

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They are very very large and agressive…

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But THIS dude right here is THE BEST!

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THE END XXOO

The Lake District and Lemurs

Many of my photos lately have been of historic buildings and priceless art, but I also have an arsenal of nature photography!

These shots are from one of my trips up to the Lake District in Northern England.

The weather was unparalleled the day we visited.

The sun was warm, the air was fresh, and there were CUDDLY ANIMALS!

Everyone knows how I feel about furry things…lest ye be reminded…

https://nashvillegirlinlondon.wordpress.com/2011/10/29/wabbits/

So, we shall begin?

The Lake District is basically my idea of what heaven looks like.

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I know most people hope for sandy beaches and clear blue seas, but I absolutely adore the countryside.

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There is certainly no shortage of Unicorns in England. And THIS is why we are perfect for each other!

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The only thing missing is centaurs and faeries.

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I mean…c’mon, this is some storybook level scenery.

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We’ve even got the magic forest mushrooms!

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I could just sit down in this field right here and now, and do some professional cloud watching for the rest of my natural life.

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No one does the English countryside better than England. FACT.

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And because the universe finds it funny to give me heart palpitations by continuously creating fuzzy critters and exotic creatures for me to FREAK OUT OVER,
OF COURSE there is a friggin SAFARI PARK in the middle of Cumbria.

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THOSE GIRAFFE’S ARE KISSING! BEST DAY EVER!

Fuzzy head nubbins steal my heart…nearly stop it from beating altogether…

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I manage to get it together long enough to feed a Giraffe, almost requiring CPR.

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There’s a monkey being all “I’m a monkey”…

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And a peacock petting zoo? Whaaaaaa?

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Wait, wait…and you say there are LEMURS in this petting zoo?

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AND THEY HANG OUT IN CUDDLESTACKS??!!

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Y’all don’t even know…I’m like…going to pass out right now…

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There are Monkeys everywhere!

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And there are signs all over the place about being careful handling the animals and warning people about getting bitten…THIS IS ALL NOISE TO ME!

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You can’t just wave these things around at me! I’m going to steal all of your monkeys!

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I DO NOT CARE IF I GET MAULED TO DEATH!
Don’t they know who I am!?

OH! Except for you. You stay away from me.

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I don’t trust birds. I suspect they are smarter than everyone. Secretly plotting.

Something unsavoury is going on in that bird’s brain…

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And you two! Nooooope. No hugs for you!
You guys keep sleeping over there with those tusk things. Not near my face.

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Nuh uh.

And I’ll get my picture taken FROM AFAR with you Rhino pals…but I foresee very little snuggle action in our future.

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But you sweet Pig lover you…

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I’ll give you a quick shoulder squeeze and tell you I love you…because I totally
do…

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~THE END~