Tuesday, September 24, 2013

another day out at the zoo

hi there

to say that they "do things differently" here is a bit of an understatement. although often it's "differently" equals "better", often it is not, or simply makes no difference. which kind of underwhelms any impact of a first sentence here, but i will not bother to delete. anyway, one of the things done slightly different is the insistence on having public holidays on an actual, specific date only.

around the world, for instance, a May Day holiday is usually shifted to the 1st Monday in May. not so here; it's May Day and so it's always held on 1st May. in following, today, 24th September, is not only an important date for two dear sets of friends, but it's also Heritage Day, a public holiday on which the most respected Desmond Tutu wishes everyone to set fire to cuts of meat from a variety of animals. yes, today is a Tuesday.

whilst some holidays here you would never want them to move celebrations away from the date of - and April 27 is at the top of that list - having a public holiday on a Tuesday when there's nothing stopping you from moving it to the Monday is an act of insanity inflicted upon the economy and other areas of life. it in a sense becomes two public holidays, for you can imagine just how much, or if you will how little, got done on the Monday before the holiday today.

all schools and daycare places were, wisely you would say, closed on Monday to make it an extra long longer weekend for the staff and teachers. which is how i came to be (very happily) needing to entertain the boys yesterday. both expressed a wish to head off to the big zoo once more, so off we went to Johannesburg Zoo!

yes, that is one of the expensive "buggy" things one can pay a deposit on to rent, a deposit you are unlikely to get back. well, you will if you are mean or in a rush, i suppose, as two hours (the time in which you have to return it to get the deposit back) is not a lot of time to see anything, let alone everything. i note they have offered an exciting option whereby you pay twice as much to keep the buggy for twice as long, but this is a waste of time - we were out for a lot longer than the four hours of this extended offer and still didn't see everything. so if you are there for the day, don't bother with the longer period of time one, unless you want to throw money away.

and believe me the buggy is a good idea! sure, there are challenges to pushing the boys around for most of the day in it, but with those steep hills and the sheer size of the place it's the better option, trust me.

not that the boys had all that much interest in being in the buggy for too long, it has to be said. still worthwhile for when the legs were tired, but for the most part they were wanting to be running around. and why not?

of the many play areas in the zoo, this dinosaur climbing frame and slide was a firm favourite. i think it's in the shape of a stegosaur, or whatever it's name is or how you spell it - stegosaurus perhaps? whatever it is, it was a delight to sit and watch them play away on it as i sat waiting for our lunch order.

on that note, visitors to Johannesburg zoo are cautioned that one pays a premium for food and drinks inside. a can of Coke, for instance, is double what you would pay for it on the outside. crikey! from my side i don't mind so much as it's funds that no doubt subsidize the running of the place, but not everyone sees such things in this way. so you've been warned, in particular as you are welcome to bring your own stuff in, as far as i could tell.

regular readers here, in particular friends and family, might consider it somewhat tiresome (in as non a negative way as possible) that yet again i have a zoo post here. to keep it interesting, then, i decided to have a go at taking some of them video things on my blueberry and "upping" them here. here you go, then, if this works (and i hope it does) with danger man William having a go on one of the slides in the area or vicinity of that dinosaur pictured above!

really hope that the video plays back OK! if not, and you are near my Auntie Susan, as her to show you it, for i did one of them blueberry message things to her and she now has it on her phone.

in between going on the numerous play areas around the zoo, we did stop off and see quite a few of the animals on display. the first stop off, at the request of James, was the snakes and reptiles. or just reptiles if you like, if snakes are reptiles. i don't know, and yes i do have a whole load of education and that but the subject of if a snake is a reptile or not didn't really vex Shakespeare so to my knowledge he did not write of it, thus me not having to study it at any point.

erm, returning to the subject in hand as far as i can, i really love this next picture, for William's expression, caught on camera by accident, is priceless!

when i saw it as i put the pictures onto the computer i just took it that William was doing that awe / impressed thing you can see as the snake was moving about a bit. not so. it transpired that James, an avid reader and of a relentless thirst for both knowledge and informing others, was busy telling William exactly what happens to the human body when a snake with a poisonous venom bites you. great, thanks for that James. it is a wonder poor William didn't have a sleepless night, going on what James told us he told him!

is it time for another video? surely it is, so long as they work OK. in the snake / reptile / these living creatures are kept behind thick glass with good reason section, there were some baby crocodiles. or maybe they were alligators, but i am not going through that sort of thing again. William, as you can see and here, was most impressed with what he saw!

yes indeed, if that video worked, William's counting skills are getting very good. as indeed is his writing, but i will do that blog update "eventually".

the above were far from being the only crocodiles (let's just say that's what they are, even if it turns out to be alligators, although as James would lecture me there are many differences), as viewers of our previous zoo adventures on the blog will be aware. here you go with one of them "a sense of perspective" like pictures, as the boys look outwards to a quiet, chilled gang of crocs.

they (the crocodiles, not the boys. far from it) do look all sedate and placid, do they not? i am sure if someone hopped in and walked around they would be untroubled by those massive teeth or impressive knacking abilities of the jaw muscles. if you decide to try, do have someone with you that has a camera at the ready; fame will surely be guaranteed even if you are not around to appreciate the benefits of it.

off we went wandering around some more, then, and of course a stop off at the elephants. i did not take all that many pictures this time around of them, despite them once again having piles of grass on their head (i still don't know why they do that). i did however take this picture, showing an elephant in the background, but showing off the boys a bit more!

it is, of course, always a delight to see a rhino or two wandering around, unbothered by decidely idiosyncratic gents from the Asian regions of the world, brandishing a hacksaw in the hope that something in the horn of a rhino will make them considerably less droopy in the downstairs department.

to be honest, taking a hacksaw to a rhino looks like more trouble than it is worth, for it is quite a big and strong wonder of the world. as your humble narrator is regarded as, quite flatteringly, being something of an uber sexual god in a universal sense, i've never had problems with what rhino horns are supposed to, yet be unlikely to, fix. i would imagine the right sort of music or film would do the trick; or perhaps even them cock pills that him from Brazil, Pele, sells on the tele and that.

on a somewhat more serious note, there is of course a huge drive here to bring an end to the barbaric crime of rhino poaching. i would prefer not to put any links to sites which allow you to donate and show support for the campaign to help stop this poaching. this is partially because most show rather graphic images of what they do to the rhino, and thus you must use your own discretion. mostly, though, it's because the campaign has been ruthlessly hijacked by that pathetic, worse than a tabloid newspaper radio station serving an ever dwindling number of listeners here. they have taken the approach of, as is there way, exploitative coverage of the subject without actually doing much to stop it, but all the same taking the credit for helping to combat it, claiming people were "inspired" by them.

moving away from that, and what a delight to see the giraffes strolling around, eating and indeed checking all of us out as much as we checked them out. the boys were particularly taken with the one giraffe that was busy sticking its Gene Simmons like in length tongue out.

i did not really do a good job of catching the impressive tongue on camera, but here's what i took anyway!

want another video? well, why not!

if for some reason you are particularly enthusiastic about short, taken at a distance video clips of giraffes eating, then are you in for a truly amazing treat with this clip taken on my blueberry phone thing.


and the above represents the last of the video clips here, which may delight or sadden you somewhat. my apologies for no video of James, he does not like to do unscripted film work. 

back off to the realm of pictures, then, and the boys were particularly impressed with the two hippos, or as William has taken to correcting me hippopotamouses (if he is right and that's right), wandering in and out of the water in their enclosure. 

William in particular was most impressed that one of the hippo was apparently in the process of using the bathroom too. not that he in any way, shape or form worded it that way, either to me or to anyone else who happened to walk along and be greeted by William in the form of him telling them exactly what the hippo was doing, and what seemed to be stuck to its tail.

a firm favourite with the boys, and indeed many if not all of the children (of which there were many) at the zoo are the polar bears. i and a few of the other parent / grown up types present sort of muttered that it "just doesn't seem right", this idea of having polar bears in Africa. it feels cruel, and it tends to sort of look it when you see them somewhat chilled and stretching out in the shade.

that said, and i do not declare myself an expert here, i am led to believe there is an impressive cooling system on the go in their enclosure, the kind of which Qatar promised for the World Cup they (ahem, cough cough) "won" the right to host. before deciding to just simply move the dates of course.

there is also the case that the lions, and indeed tigers, also just stretch out like this in the shade on warm days, yet we do not think of them as suffering in the heat. all perspective, i suppose.

regular readers and those familiar with Johannesburg Zoo may be under the impression that a certain, important someone, as it were, is missing here. no he is not. of course we went past the magnificent statue / scuplture which celebrates the most beloved Max.

everyone loves Max, bar of course the nutter who shot him once (google the story!). all children love to climb up on this and have their picture taken, with James and William being no exception at all!

speaking of which, it is, as most will be aware, rare that the boys have any interest or concern at all in posing for a picture. this approach changed a great deal yesterday. they saw some other children posing on a rock for some pictures. i am not sure what it was about that which saw them wish to do the same, but they pleaded with me to take pictures of them stood on the same rock.

i managed to get quite a few good ones as a result, but shall trouble you, dear reader, with just one of them!

and that, i think will do for this post update! there is not really a great deal i can add bar saying what an amazing, fun day out we had, with the boys mostly listening and behaving, but always having a brilliant time!

hopefully whatever you have been up to has been as much fun too!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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