Creatures in the Snow

December 21, 2009

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A while ago we won a pair of entry tickets to Cotswold Wildlife Park, so we decided to make use of them today. We go there quite regularly with the girls but never before in the deep mid-winter! As we arrived it was starting to snow.

Miss Fleet and Rothmans were both wrapped up warm, and Cotswold Wildlife Park in the snow turns out to be a rather splendid experience (not least as we discovered that entry was free today (although a charitable donation was encouraged) and so we will be able to use our free tickets in the summer). The park was very quiet, and after a splendid lunch of sausage and chips for Mrs F and I and Fish and chips for the girls we got to look at the various creatures against the pretty landscape of the park, very lightly dusted with snow. Rothmans is a particular fan of the Rhinos, while Miss Fleet loves the Humboldt Penguins, two of whom are pictured above enjoying an affectionate interlude!

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The park is compact enough that the girls were able to see most of the interesting creatures before they got too cold, and an enjoyable visit was had by all, especially Rothmans who purchased a Rhino of her own (below). The trip home was interesting as the snow really started to come down having apparently caught Oxfordshire County Council by surprise (as ever) and the trusty Audi A6 was slithering around everywhere by the time we got there.

I always heartily recommend Cotswold Wildlife Park – ever since my childhood in the ’70s it’s been a great day out!

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Fat Balls

December 13, 2009

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My parents-in-law own a garden centre, and nothing enlivens my visits to see them more than to see a tray of fat balls for sale in the shop (yes, I know I have a juvenile sense of humour!)

Thus I particularly enjoyed this post (with the superb picture above) by master satirist The Lakelander on semi-professional Piers Fletcher-Dervish impersonator Ed Balls.

Bookmark The Lakelander’s blog. It’s great.


James Kirkup versus the Pandas

September 22, 2009

James Kirkup (day job – Political correspondent at the Telegraph), responding to the remarks of Spring Watch irritant Chris Packham, puts the boot into the Giant Panda on his blog here

“Thank you Chris Packham, thank you. Thank you for saying something I’ve been trying to persuade people of for years. Pandas are pointless, wasteful and silly. They should die.

Let’s look at the facts here. A lot of conservationists argue that pandas are the victims of man’s actions, that urbanisation and industrialisation is killing the precious bamboo they need to live.

Eh? Bamboo? They are bears, but they eat leaves. Hello, excuse me? Panda bear. Bear. You know, large, aggressive carnivore. Big teeth, claws. Grrrr. You’re supposed to eat meat. What on earth is with the bamboo thing? A panda’s digestive system is still set up to digest meat. The reason they can only eat only one of the hundreds of different types of bamboo the world has to offer is that their guts aren’t supposed to break down bamboo. It’s elevating fussiness to the level of suicide. It’s like me eating only car tyres and gravel and then asking for sympathy when I starve to death. Idiots.

As for industrialisation and all that, well, hey, it doesn’t seem to bother other animals. I don’t see foxes complaining about cities. Rats seem able to cope with cities rather well. Countless other species seem to be able to deal with a changing world without going bleating to the WWF. This is evolution: adapt or die. Being cute and fluffy doesn’t give you any special rights, fatso.

Then there’s sex. Pandas don’t like sex. All that weird, zoo-keeper stuff about putting two of them in a cage and seeing if they’ll mate. Honestly, an animal either wants to perpetuate its genes or it doesn’t. And the idiot-bears clearly have some species-wide death-wish. Who are we to stand in their way? I thought the whole conservationism thing was about allowing nature to follow its own course without human interference?
Pandas don’t work. Let them go.

Incidentally, keeping each of the 150-odd pandas currently in captivity costs around £1.5 million a year. How many of our own species could we feed and house for that? We should turn the podgy oxygen-thieves out on their stupid furry ears and see how long they last on the streets with the foxes.

Actually, that would be a waste. After all, there must be some good eating on a panda. These are 300-lb grass-fed animals raised in organic conditions with exquisite care. At the very least it’s got to be worth a try. Panda steak, anyone?”

He’s got a point, though, hasn’t he!



Thelma and Louise Junior

September 14, 2009

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Miss Fleet (5) has spent the day demonstrating why it is not a good idea to jump off the top off the top of the climbing frame at school, hand in hand with your friend. Her friend appears to have survived unscathed. Miss Fleet, who presumably landed underneath, has a broken leg. She is being very brave.


Garden Visitor

July 20, 2009

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This evening while watering the garden I encountered this fine fellow resting on the step of the conservatory.


More Invertebrate Horror!

July 17, 2009

Dosidicus_gigas.jpg First it was the ants, and now the Squid are getting in on the act. The Telegraph (among numerous other media outlets) reports that Humboldt (or Jumbo) Squid have been turning up off San Diego where they have taken to attacking divers.

It seems that the horrible tentacled brutes have been assaulting the divers, pulling at their gear and masks. One woman called Shanda Magill had her buoyancy hose ripped away and her light stolen by the sub-aquatic hooligans. Given that the squids in question can grow to 5 feet long and weight more than 7 stone, the safest thing to do is probably to give into their demands and hope they go away – particularly as they can hunt in schools of up to 1200, and can skim along the surface of the water to escape predators.

Still, it could be worse. If this lot get involved we will be in real trouble (artists impression below)

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The Dangers of Swimming… Guest Post by Mrs Fleet.

July 10, 2009

From The Sun so it must be true…..

“A WOMAN is suing an Egyptian hotel claiming her daughter got pregnant – from using the swimming pool.

Magdalena Kwiatkowska’s 13-year-old returned to Poland from their holiday expecting a baby.

Magdalena believes the teenager conceived from stray sperm after taking a dip in the hotel’s mixed pool. She is now seeking compensation from the hotel.

A travel industry source said: “The mother is adamant that her daughter didn’t meet any boys while she was there.

“She is determined to go ahead with the case.”

Tourist authorities in Warsaw, Poland, have confirmed they received the bizarre complaint.”