Wednesday, 28 May 2014

A Visit Home Part I

We've just spent a truly lovely few weeks visiting home.  It was not all wonderful, the sudden loss of a very special man made for a bittersweet welcome home.  Words cannot express the joy in seeing friends and family on our home soil, so, as is my wont, it will be in pictures.

The first week was spent in Brisbane catching up with some of our favourite hairy friends and family.

At Knights of the North

My favourite Knight of the North in the Whole Worlde.

And of course we all know that the Politarchopolis/St Florian
World Domination Treaty is alive and well.

My favouritest Brisvegas Girlie

Swimming between the flags at the Gold Coast


The lovely, and very old, Shubs who ran out to meet us in Brisbane.
One of the loveliest things about Brisbane was spending time with Rufus and George, as well as a whole range of Rufus' school-friends and their partners.  While David conferenced like a maniac I got to hang out with Jacky, the cutest little button Ivy, Matt, Phil, Dougie and Anna.  It was fabulous.  Then David and I climbed into the green and purple Jucy machine.  It was special, but we had an uneventful drive to Canberra - including sleeping in the van in a rest stop -  and visiting Byron Bay - where we didn't see any real hippies at all.  

Yes, for the first time we went to Byron Bay...
I did stop at the Rainbow Shop and bought Rainbow Pants.
It is apparently legal to turn left, cross a road and run over a bike
Who'd a thought?

When I was a girl, hippies were on the pill..........

A visit to Al Ain Zoo

As many of you know, David is a little fond of visiting zoos.  Very fond of visiting zoos.  I am too, but sshhh, don't tell David.

It's just possible that David has already blogged about this visit already, but I'm in the zone and thought I would too.  I still have very fond memories of our visit at the end of March as I was particularly taken with the relaxed and cheerful staff as well has the very happy animals.  So here are some gratuitous animal photos......

Here we are.  In Arabic a zoo is called "The Park of the Animals"
We arrived early and decided to spend a small fortune on a guided tour of the zoo.  Ever since the Great Kayak Disaster of 2014, my knee has been known to give up and go home without notice, so the fewer actual steps the better. Not only did the tour come with a guide, it also came with transport that could carry twelve. Never mind that there was only two of us.  Next time......

Inside the visitor's welcome area
We started with some refreshments (coffee, dates and water) in the welcome area as our lovely guide prepared for us.  I have a photograph of her, but I promised I wouldn't post it as her father would not approve at all.

Our first stop was pretty little beasties with horns.

Our second was larger beasties with truly impressive horns

I struggled to photograph him out of the shade,
but frankly I think he looks pretty amazing just the way he is.

It wasn't very hot but, as with most zoos, day time is the lying around not doing very much part of the animal's daily life.
Of course my favourites are the ferocious big cats.

The killers of the savanah

Ready to take down their prey in the blink of an eye

David, however, managed to get some fabulous shots of the white lioness chasing a bird.  Mmmmm, domestic cats are not that far removed from their giant cousins after all.

She missed

It's too hot in Al Ain to have elephants at the zoo and I'm not at all sure how the other animals stay cool. Even on a gentle spring day (about 32 degrees) the hippos were up to their eyeballs in their gigantic undercover swimming pool.

I can seeeee you!

In the middle of the reptile house was a little fennic fox.  Lord knows what he was doing there, they are desert dwellers and a little bit of heat won't hurt them.  They're sooooo cute with their gigantic ears - which are a bit of a disadvantage when inside with continual running, screaming children.  However, the real reason he was inside might have been a protective measure.  After our visit I was chatting to one of the SQU students about the cuteness of the fennic fox.  He agreed wholeheartedly and mentioned they had them in their village.  He talked of them with gentle pride before telling me they had killed all their chickens and run of with his favourite peacock.  He thought that was a bit rude, but didn't dent his delight in the little critters.

One little fennic fox trying to work out how to murder all small children in Al Ain.

And there were flamingos!  Yummy pink flamingos!!

Of course this is the Arabian Gulf so there were fountains

And flowers

Lots of flowers

And a pile of sleeping flamingos
Safe from rampaging fennic foxes...for now........ 
One of the highlights was feeding the giraffes.  I got licked by a giraffe!!!  How cool is that??!!!  Also watching the birds of prey feed.........
I don't think this is fennic fox territory.

The keepers come prepared for the worst.