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/

P7154053

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.

P2179921

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.

P2179929

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.

P2179966

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!!!

P2170028

SAVED BY PONIES!!!

P2170052

P2170066

P2170210

P2170096

P2170101

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.

P2170104

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

P2170179

Check out the utter disbelief on my face.

P2170144

Followed by complete happiness…

P2170157

P2170201

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.

P2170206

P2170224

P2170226

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!

P2170243

Also mega-laidback and happy to be hugged.

P2170264

GLASS HALF FULL!

Next up…RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey

EDINBURGH IN 24 HOURS…

It’s a shame when you only have a short amount of time in a spectacularly cool and ancient city like Edinburgh.

I suppose it’s not that ancient.

Wait, wait…prior to the 7th century is pretty damn old… don’t you think?

Welllll…honestly everything is pretty ancient in comparison to Nashville.

It doesn’t matter, I’m not here to get into a history argument.

And as much as I’m sure everyone would appreciate me being the consumate tour guide and explaining by every little detail is in my photos, I’d rather just post them and if you have a question, please ask me in the comments.

EXAMPLE:

YOU “Where was that cool graveyard photo taken?”

P1267569

ME: “WHY THANK YOU FOR NOTICING HOW COOL IT IS! THAT WAS TAKEN AT ST. ANDREWS ABBEY. OR WHAT’S LEFT OF IT! HAR HAR.”

YOU: “OH YOU ARE SO FUNNY! AND I LOVE YOUR BLOG. CAN I SMELL YOUR HAIR AND BE YOUR FRIEND?”

ME: “YOU HAVE TO PAY THE MEMBERSHIP FEE.”

YOU: “OKAY SURE! WHAT IS IT?”

ME: “TWO LAVENDER PONIES WITH SPARKLY HOOVES, A UNICORN THAT SMELLS LIKE BUBBLEGUM AND SUNSHINE, AN OCTOPUS THAT CAN LIVE SAFELY IN MY WARDROBE, AND FRONT ROW TICKETS TO BJORK.”

YOU: “UMMMMMMM…I DON’T THINK I CAN GET THOSE THINGS FOR YOU.”

ME: “I DON’T THINK WE CAN BE FRIENDS.”

Something like that.

This isn’t to say that at times I won’t find myself feeling extraordinarily poetic and explanatory.
It’s very likely.

Sometimes I just don’t FEEL like it.

I’m sure you have days like that too.

Often, I just want you to look at my photos (or not look at them…I really don’t care) and be inspired to travel your pants off.

So, without further babbling…checked out the gray and marvelous city of EDINBURGH!!!!!!!!!!

P1277711

P1277714

P1277713

P1277716

P1277674

P1277673

P1277665

P1277704

P1277707

P1277677

P1277684

P1277710

P1277721

Sidenote for above photo: Okay, I’m being totally honest here. I’ve had a dream with this in it since I was a little girl. This exact photograph. Serious as a heart attack. I’d never seen it before I took this photo. Except in my repeat dream. No idea what that means, but there it is.
Freaked me out pretty good.

P1277729

P1277731

P1277742

BY THE WAY, APPARENTLY THERE ARE NO FAST WALKING MEN IN 70’S LEISURE SUITS ALLOWED IN EDINBURGH CASTLE. JUSTSOYOUKNOW.

P1277730

P1277744

P1277745

P1277788

P1277791

P1277794

P1277795

P1277789

P1277786

P1277780

P1277774

I’m not going to lie. This ain’t no Hampton Court y’all. (Don’t I sound snobby!)

P1277771

I think most of the things in the castle were on loan from London museums. Which, is sort of messed up.

Hey London, Give Scotland back it’s stuff.

P1277807

P1277800

P1277808

P1277809

P1277815

P1277821

THIS IS THE EDINBURGH SCHOOL OF UNICORNS

P1277826

P1277827

FANCY PANTS TEA TIME FOR ME!! IN SCOTLAND! WITH MY HUSBAND!

P1277853

P1277847

P1277852

P1277851

P1277850

P1277835

P1277833

P1277829

P1277831

ACTION SHOTS!

P1277837

P1277839

P1277840

The days winds down…

P1277859

P1277864

P1277858

One more Unicorn for the road…

P1277857

Next up…the AMAZING B&B where we stayed in Edinburgh!!