Whipsnade Zoo

I went to Whipsnade Zoo this summer with my sister and her family. It’s partnered with London Zoo I visited a few years ago. Whipsnade Zoo is huge so we started from one side and made our way round.

The animals are sectioned according to the continent they came from, so we started with Africa. The first animals we saw were chimpanzees. They were a bit far away but I liked that they had a lot of space to move around. We then moved onto the penguins which again I was pleased to see had a huge space and also a great view of the English landscape.

As we made our way along the path we suddenly spotted an animal that was outside like us! After a closer look we saw it was a wallaby hiding in the long grass. Did it escape?! Turns out no; there’s wallabies and Maras (like giant Guinea pigs) that are allowed to roams free. My 2 year old niece had fun chasing after the Maras, much to our amusement.

Getting over our surprise we next visited other animals typically found in Africa; rhinos, giraffes (my favourite), lions, ostriches, meerkats and zebras. Lions apparently sleep up to 20 hours a day so I didn’t hold much hope in seeing them running around. There was a cheetah too but they were hard to spot sleeping in the tall grass.

Walking along leaving the Africa section we turned a corner to see sudden bright pops of pink! Flamingoes!

Their pink feathers looked so lovely against the greeny water. There were flamingo chicks, their feathers stull grey, pelicans and herons all surrounding the same pond.

After stopping for lunch and a rest we made our way to the next section, the Asian continent. Here we saw elephants and tigers. The tigers were also pretty sleepy, making little movement. Nearby was an area dedicated to dinosaurs. There were various shaped and sizes, some growling and moving. My niece of 7 enjoyed making scared faces at them and digging for fossils.

Next we ventured into the aquarium and butterfly house. The kids enjoyed seeing the various fish and it was nice to go at a slower pace. By the time we reached the butterfly house my youngest niece was fast asleep and the older one didn’t like butterflies so didn’t stick around. I’m not fond of flying insects in closed spaces myself but I did manage to take some nice close up photos of some of the calmer butterflies.

Last stop was the farm, here they had a striking long haired Poitiven donkey, cows, ponies, alpacas, hens, rabbits and my little niece’s favourite baby goats! Feeling refreshed after her nap she spent her time petting, chasing after and hugging them.

I always feel conflicted when visiting zoos as I feel sad that animals are kept in smaller spaces than they would be in the wild. But the truth is that zoos can play an important part in conservation and survival of some animals. Seeing them in large, open spaces in nice and I’m glad that they seem to be well looked after at Whipsnade.

Scotland Trip – part 2

The fourth day into our trip we decided to spend seeing parts of what Scotland was well known for. We had a good plan for the day but as the day went on we ended up doing all sorts of other things instead.

We were up early to go to some local markets. We made our way to one nearby only to find that it was closed. We then had to circle round to another one we found further away. This market wasn’t great but it was good to look around and see what was on offer. I ended up buying a blue stone necklace for my little niece as it was her birthday. It caught her eye and I couldn’t say no.

After spending half an hour or so at the market we were still on schedule, so the next stop was going to the Kelingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Walking up to the entrance we were told that due to the pandemic we had to pre-book and that they had no slots for walk ins! Helpfully though the staff told us that there was another museum nearby that we could go to that did have free slots. We booked our places online and made our way to the Royal College of Surgeons where the Hunterian Museum is based. It was a steep walk up but the building and the view from the top was stunning.

We also found this iconic view, I love the symmetry and elegance of the arches.

We located the entrance to the Hunterian Museum and made our way up the beautiful yellow staircase.

The museum itself was lovely, high ceilings and lots of light. I also really liked the exposed wood beams in the ceiling. Inside there was an array of beautiful and strange objects. I only took photos of artefacts that were attractive or interesting to me but there were lots of jars with eyeballs, and other odd animal parts in that I didn’t take to too well.

After walking around the museum we headed back to the car to drive into town to find something to eat. There was some cool street art around although I wasn’t able to have a proper look around for them.

As we had to find food that was suitable for a halal diet we found restaurants were closed either permanently or due to the pandemic, so it took a lot longer than expected. After finding our patience frayed we finally found a restaurant and then headed back to the hotel to freshen up.

Glasswing Butterfly

I recently went to London Zoo (more photos coming soon), and one of the creatures I saw that absolutely fascinated me was the Glasswing butterfly. I’d seen this butterfly online a couple of years ago and was awed by how pretty and delicate it looked. I also remember believing that I would never see one for myself as they are native to South and Central America. I was so pleased to have been wrong about that.

Glasswing butterfly

Walking through the butterfly house and seeing these lovely butterflies fluttering around made me feel incredibly lucky. Of all the various butterflies in the house these were one of the most calm meaning that I was able take some close up photos.

Glasswing butterfly

Glasswing butterfly

These Glasswing butterflies look almost mythical, with their opaque, stain glass like wings. Having shown my photos to family members I was repeatedly asked whether they were real, and I was happy to say that they were, having seen them with my own eyes

Colour and Vision at NHM

A great thing about living in London is having access to some of the top museums in the world. One of the best and most popular is the Natural History Museum. This year they had an interesting exhibition on called Colour and Vision and seeing as it had been a few years since my last visit I thought it was a good opportunity to go back.
The building is beautiful with lots of exquisite detail. The tall arched doorways and the intricately designed pillars make for a grand view.

Natural History Museum

Inside there’s lots to see, such as the dinosaurs and sea animals but I headed straight for the Colour and Vision exhibition before it got busy. The exhibition was about how animals view and display colour in nature. The entrance was aptly marked by a brightly lit colour spectrum and cues to help keep an open mind.

As I walked through the exhibition there were lots of interesting animals and displays, some that made me slightly squeamish at times, like the animal eyeballs in jars. Others were stunning such as the exotic birds with colourful feathers and butterflies with vibrant, standout wings.

The exhibition was insightful and interesting with some truly beautiful displays and facts that make you wonder about the amazing animals that share our world. (sadly my camera couldn’t capture this very well due to the dim lighting). It was a good visit overall, and I would definitely recommend a trip.