A Travellerspoint blog

Shepreth Wildlife Park

sunny 19 °C

We know the people who run Shepreth Wildlife Park - just down the road. Its a super little park that has loads of rescued wildlife including 2 wolves called Ishka and Odin
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two tigers, Rana and Amba (this one's Rana)
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as well as spider monkeys, Turtles, a Buzzard, prairie dogs, Wallabies and so on - there are just hundreds of creatures at this park!

We took my cousin, Bodhi, to visit the park and were lucky enough to hold a fox cub and the buzzard and then we got to play with the wolves who were so excited to have people visiting them they were just running around like crazy! Ishka, the female, was seriously molting and, when she wasn't running about she'd fall flat on her back for her tummy to be rubbed. Odin was calmer and jsut in heaven when you patted him. (As a bit of background Anton used to volunteer at the park and played with the wolves quite a lot so they are super good around him. The wolves were caught being brought into the country by a film company, from eastern Europe. They have been highly socialised and well trained for their film work so they are incredibly good with people. The authorities rehomed Ishka and Odin at Shepreth because the park has a lot of experience with wolves!)

I took my camera and my new zoom lens with me and caught some fantastic photos of the spider monkeys and the prairie dogs but by far the best were of the tigers being fed. For the carnivorous animals the keepers hide their food around their enclosures so they have to hunt around to find it as a bit of stimulus. There is a massive big pole to one end of the Tigers area with a tyre hung on it. As you can see from the photos above Rana found the lump of meat in the tyre and had a good time jumping up to retrieve it! I managed to get half a dozen photos of Amba and Rana making the most of their meals before we went off to see the otters and look for ice cream.

After making sure we had seen everything including the chipmunks, the lizard and snake room and the rest of the monkeys it was time to head off! Good times!

If you are ever in the area looking for something ot do get down to Shepreth. Darned fine wildlife park!

Posted by TravelMc 03:11 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Summer Shakespeare

Well - its supposed to be summer!

sunny 22 °C

We have been awfully cultured of late. I have dragged various friends to Noel Cowards Hayfever and William Shakespeares Midsummer Nights Dream and have enjoyed the thrills of the Comedy of Errors and there is still a month of fun yet!

As a budding member of Bawds Am-Dram soc here in Cambs I have been lucky enough to be in a couple of plays but I haven't made much time to go and see any so I decided it was high time I did. Hayfever had a lot of people I have performed with in it so that seemed like a good choice. Its a typically odd Noel Coward comedy and was performed brilliantly. I was a bit confused as the what the heck was going on at first but it all came together and was very funny. Still odd but very funny.

After that I got the opportunity, through my wonderful cousin Jenny, to see Shakespeares Comedy of Errors at the Rougemont Gardens in Exeter which was (after a slow start) BRILLIANT! The performance was hilarious and the setting was perfect. Its not a play I know so it was intriguing to see it for the first time and try and keep up with all the action but the performers were so convincing and their timing was immaculate (so important in comedy and in Shakesp) that I was completely captivated!

Because it is Summer at the moment (not htat you'd know it from the weather) every town seems to have be having a variety of outdoor performances and Cambridge is no different. For July and August there are 8 different Shakespeare plays being performed in various college gardens. How can you pass up an opportunity like that? Exactly! So this week I took Anton and Mark to A Midsummer Nights Dream in the gardens of Trinity College. Bearing in mind Anton is a total Shakespeare virgin I was hoping the light touch of a comedy would maintain his interest so he would at least come to another one with me. I was on tenterhooks when the play started and it started pretty weakly! ARGH! The tension! Antons face said 'oh my god - what the...?!' - I was very worried that all was lost!

And then, right when I thought I'm going to spend the rest of my days traipsing like a lonely freak to these shows, the action kicked in and the show got really funny! The actors were really good and the director wasn't afraid to have a lot of physical comedy and it was no holds barred. If a bloke was out of line chances are his treasury would feel the sqeeze (if you know what I mean!) and ladies were being smooched or spurned at every turn! Stirling stuff.

The closer - the play within the play - was what really topped it all off though. The rude mechanicals did a superb job and by the time Puck (an attractive leggy blonde - the boys were happy) begged our forgiveness and bade us good night we were wiping tears of laughter off our cheeks and Anton was declaring he'd come to another one! SUCCESS!!

The next one we will see is Taming of the Shrew which Mark and I have both been in so we will watch it with interest! Its one of those comedies that doesn't seem so funny until you add the physical humour so it will be really interesting to see how it all goes.

I'll keep you posted!

Posted by TravelMc 02:17 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Italy, especially Rome

I've been reading Angels & Demons and its made me Rome-sick!

sunny 28 °C

In my 3 years from home I have made a fair dent into my list of places to see. The 'big four' places left (those ones left from the original list) seem to be languishing in the distant future at the moment because of work commitments and cash going on other things but they will be done. In the meantime I have been reminiscing over past travels with my friend Mark who is now on his OE and staying with us.

Combine that with reading Dan Browns Angels and Demons and you can just tell how itchy the old feet have gotten. I have definitely gotten a bit Rome-sick. Its such a beautiful city and you can gad about the central city on foot and walk from the Pantheon to St Peters Square in minutes passing the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Nouvona on the way.

If you fancy going bottom to top, you can walk from the coloseum right through the city via the Forum up to the Spanish Steps (nicer in Spring than summer)and right up the the walls of the Vatican city without feeling like you have taken on a major trek. This is always helped by frequent stops to buy Gelato and look at various souvenir shops.

One of the really lovely and unique things about Rome is the drinking fountains. The Senate declared that Rome would supply fresh drink water to all her citizens and so it is. If the fountain isn't good for dangling your tootsies in its good for filling your water bottle from so you always have a supply of cooling liquid at no extra cost. Which is important if you are going to walk all over the historical city on a hot day.

On my last trip to Rome, with Anton, we managed to cover the city several times over. Every time we walked back to our hotel which was situated behind the colosuem we directed ourselves past this fountain very near the Forum and stopped for 10 or 20 minutes to let our feet recover. Bliss is a cool fountain on a hot day!

For those people who are into the slightly different you can also travel south of the coloseum by the Metro and go to the Non-catholic cemetary which is fronted by a pyramid and is home to another population of Romes cats (much like the colloseo cats). Here you can visit Keats and Shelley in their final resting place or sculpture/american artist William Story and his amazing final sculpture which deorates his wifes grave. Its so peacefuland calm and oasis like that it is worth a stop if you are in Rome. Its like a little time out!

The Vatican city is also somewhere I think you could visit a dozen times over and not get bored! There is so much art and so many rooms to see! The Sistine Chapel alone could use up about 4 hours of your day. On both my previous visits to Rome I have seen Il Papa (John Paul II). To then walk through the city you really understand why the catholic faith has inspired so many millions of people. St Peters is also such a tremendous place you can only feel awe when you are there.

Something I noticed about Rome that I haven't really considered on any other trip to Italy is how massive the buildings are - their dimensions are just huge - but within an hour inside the city you stop noticing the enormity and your perspective adjusts or adapts so that you have to remind yourself how huge are the buildings you are in or looking at! The pantheon is a prime example. Its just so huge! It totally dominates the square it is sited in between residential buildings/restaurants. However, once you have taken it all in your eyes adjust and then this massive dome seems to be just the right size even though you may have never seen a one floor building of its magnatude before! When you get home and see a photo of yourself completely dwarfed by the Pantheons gargantuan proportions you think 'I don't remember it looking so huge'! And the whole city is like that!

Its a beautiful place. Of all the Italian cities I have seen Milan and Rome are my two favourites so far. Milan is small and has such sweet and small places to see that you can visit its major tourist highlights in one day but you could spend a lifetime shopping - from Gucci to the market square - but rome offers shopping and sights and experiences that far surpass any other place in Europe that I have been. It was the one city I never really wanted to see but Rome has totally captured me!

If you go make sure you stop and see the monastery of the cappucine monks. There are 5 chapels or alters in successive rooms that have each been entirely decorated with the bones of dead monks. Sounds creepy? Thats right! Apparently the monastery was originally outside the walls of Rome but at some point in more recent times (say - a few hundred years back) they were ordered inside the walls for their own protection. They refused to leave their brothers behind and so dug them all up and brought them with. And now you can, for a donation, visit the rooms and see how they have been decorated. I have tried to describe it to people but its not the easiest image to convey so go and see, leave them a hefty donation to help them keep on keeping on and marvel at the alters! This site comes highly recommended!

And while your in Rome, or if you stop in Italy at all make sure you spend your days eating Gelato! I have found love and love is... gelato! Simple as - this food is gods gift to man- and womankind. Life does not get any better once you have discovered gelato.

I can rave about it all day but I think you get the idea. Its better than regular tip-top or walls ice cream. It beats the pants off mr whippy and it sure as heck rates as highly as any of the other good stuff in life. You make a trip to italy totally worth it if you only go for the gelato!

Still Rome-sick. Roll on holidays!

Posted by TravelMc 06:29 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

My Travel Companion

sunny 27 °C

I travel everywhere with a travel companion called Edwin T. Bear. He has been with me since the start. The only place he hasn't been with me was Brussels. He knows travelling.

For those of you who know me, and have heard about Edwin, here he is - the big man himself!

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Travelling Mc

Posted by TravelMc 03:19 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Travels to Exeter, Devon

all seasons in one day

I'm off to Devon to visit my family. Its been at least 6 months and considering how great they are that length of time if just too darned long!

In previous trips I have had the joys of driving all over Dartmoor. From barren and craggy moor tops to the lush and remote valleys there is more than you could see in a weekend and I have never been bored in my visits there!

Chudliegh is a neat little village that I have been lucky to enjoy. Walking from the modern housing developments up the hill to the town centre you can see centuries of change and there are lots of local tales telling of tunnels between the pubs and the church and all sorts that has happened there over the years. The history doesn't hang heavily in Chudliegh, instead it seems to welcome all the new events knowing one day theywill be the stories people will be telling.

To the north of Exeter is a road that runs in an arc around the dartmoor. Dotted all along this area are villages and manor houses and home farms that seem to have been there since man arrived. You can feel an old way of life continuing on within these places and it always makes me feel really peaceful. Newton St Cyres still has a road that fords a stream which in winter becomes a bit more of a river!

The contryside is lush and rolling and the journey from one side of devon to the other is constantly amazing. There is always something to see and so many places you just want to stop and stare at what is around you it could take weeks to completely the journey if you stopped at every point like this.

Every time I visit Devon I reminisce and every time I get there there is something new to see or something old I had forgotten about. The whole county is amazing. Its worth it to take some time to visit and explore down all those odd little roads and see the small and quiet villages.

While this isn't much of a report on a single trip i can say it is a recommedation if you are looking to go somewhere that will touch your heart and stay with you when you go home!

Update: The big adventure this time took us out to the south coast to visit Budliegh Salterton and East Budliegh - the birth place of Sir Walter Raliegh. The actual house is way out in the countryside and just spectacular. It must have been an awesome place to grow up as a child! The nearest village is East Budleigh which is a picture perfect Devon village with whitewashed, thatch-topped houses and narrow little lanes and even a dog show to top off the image!
Budleigh Salterton is a typical Devon seaside town but with a stoney beach and red clay cliffs that are incredibly striking against the moody blue of the ocean and the vibrant green of the grass that topped the cliffs. Magic!!
I was also super lucky to get in to see Comedy of Errors at the Rougemont Gardens but you can read more about that on another entry!
I have just the best family! I had such a fantastic time with them and they spoilt me rotten!

Posted by TravelMc 02:42 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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