29 December, 2015

A Pygmy Hedgehog, Eagle Owl and Meerkats, It's Zoo2U

Tor with Jelani
A surprise present from my wife by Zoo2U, a family run business which aims at educating children and adults about wildlife. The animals were presented by Tor in a warm, knowledgeable and friendly manner. She was a great at answering all of our questions.

It seems my that my wife booked this visit some time ago and at the time of the booking she was allowed a selection of three animals to be brought to our home.

Pygmy Hedgehog - Thistle
First to put in an appearance was "Thistle" the pygmy hedgehog and it can't be denied that for a hedgehog she's pretty cute. Tor explained that Thistle was actually a cross between  a four toed hedgehog and an African hedgehog. A calm creature that we all took it in turns to hold.

African Eagle Owl - Jelani
"Jelani", an Eagle Owl from central Africa was next, Somewhat smaller than the Eurasian Eagle Owl it is none the less quite big, weighing at just over 1.5Lbs. We were surprised that Tor said he would fly in our living room and wondered if Jelani would be distracted by our Christmas tree, however he behaved impeccably apart from being rather besotted with his own reflection in our window. His wing span was impressive as he silently flew across the room then flared for landing. It's quite noticeable that as with other Eagle Owls he has a brightly coloured yellowish/orange iris, indicating that he mostly diurnal (daytime hunter) and that much of his time is spent perching and waiting for something tasty to come along. By the way owls with dark irises, such as our barn owl are mostly nocturnal and their preferred hunting method is completely different as the fly low over rough grassland searching out their prey.

Meerkat - Kato or is it Leo?
Finally it was time for a pair of meerkats, "Kato" and "Leo", to make a lively showing. Meerkats belong to the mongoose family and also come from Africa (not Russia!).They did have an attraction to one of pot plants and the Christmas tree but could could be quickly brought to order with the rattle of a container of dried meal worms. That was something we learned - meerkats have huge appetites. They had already had two meals that day but soon very quickly gobbled up more meal worms from our hands.

All too soon the visit was over; it was quite an experince having the animals so close and being able talk to their keeper in such a pleasant and informal way. Tor obviously loves to be with the animals and show them off at their best. There's a few more photos in a Zoo2U Facebook Posting and to round things off there's some video below.

22 December, 2015

SS Great Britain Re-Visited

Back in December 2014 we visited SS Great Britain which is now a museum ship in the harbour at Bristol. It was fascinating, full of detail, even atmospheric smells and we ran out of time to explore it fully. Fortunately the ticket has a one year lifespan so we were able to re-visit just before it expired.

Although it appears to be floating, it is not and on the previous visit we had not really appreciated that this meant we could go underneath it and have a look at the hull.

Standing next to the huge propeller at the back gave an idea of the great thrust it must have provided. SS Great Britain was one of the first to have a screw propeller as opposed to to  paddles which she was originally intended to have.

SS Great Britain was a huge ship by the standards of the day and as well as it's revelutionary propeller it was made of iron.

Inside, the ship is a travel back in time, it seems like it must have just docked and as everyone had disemabrked then vistors were allowed on board. The dockside hasn't been neglected either with packing cases, barrels & building all lending to add to the realism and atmosphere. The entry fee isn't cheap but it's comparable to many attractions these days and worth every penny.

Prior to our visit we visited the nearby Orchard Inn to try out some local cider which was very good, somehow a very tasty pie found it's way to our table too.

It was dark afterward we finally left so that the staff could go home and we enjoyed a stroll along the harbour, the dockyard cranes which were prepared for Christmas making an interesting landmarks amongst the other lights surrounding the area.

13 December, 2015

Home Fires Series 2 Completed

Last year it was reported that Hilary and Ian had done some “extra” work in the first series of “Home Fires”. This came about as a result of responding to a leaflet drop in Bunbury which was transformed into Great Paxford in the series. The concept was loosely based on the book Jambusters by Julie Summers. Hilary and Ian only intended to take part for the novelty of it as a one-off, however by the time filming finished there was already talk of a 2nd series and also "Boss" the agency they had signed up to was offering extra, extra work.

So Hilary and Ian have been “Support Artists” in a number of productions starting off early in the year with “Close to the Enemy” which will be screened on BBC sometime soon. In May Ian was involved in two night shoots at Chester Cathedral for “Midwinter of the Spirit”, though you would need to have a very keen eye to spot him. That has already been shown on ITV but is about to be repeated on ITVbe.

Since early Autumn the 2nd series of Home Fires has been in production. With Hilary being busy in so may other ways she was only available for one day as a member of Great Paxford Women’s Institute. At 7 days, one more than last year, Ian managed take on several roles as a villager and a wedding guest. Filming has now been completed but since it’s not been shown yet no more can be reported. Rumours of a third series and the possibility of being called for other extra work means it looks like there will be more of the same in 2016.