After a very busy week at work, I was hoping for a restful Bank Holiday weekend. What I got was far from relaxing. I was out of the house every one of the three days. I’ve returned to work for a break!
Saturday was the quietest day. I went to Twerton Park, home of Bath City, where I will no doubt find myself standing in all manners of weathers and temperatures over the next eight months. City were playing East Thurrock United. If that name sounds familiar to you, it is because I have blogged about them before. They beat us 7-1 in the FA Cup. Things looked ominous. I needn’t had worried. A very early goal for City helped us win 2-1, albeit with a nervy final few minutes.
On Sunday we made our now annual trip to Longleat. We were stupid to do so. It was a Bank Holiday weekend, which meant two things – lots of people and lots of rain. We got both.
In between sessions of queueing in heavy rain, we did manage to ride the boat around the lake, where we saw sea lions and gorillas. Apparently hippos are in there somewhere too, but I didn’t see any. As well as the boat, we rode a double decker bus around the safari park. Many of the animals had shown more sense than us and taken shelter from the rain. The monkeys, however, were out in their numbers, and caused the highlight of the day for me, when they destroyed a roof rack of car, and attempted to eat a radio aerial on another.
We took a trip to the Dorset coast on Bank Holiday Monday, to watch Bath City play Poole Town. I didn’t get chance to see the donkeys on the beach, so had to settle for watching them on the football field instead. It was a game Bath really should have won, as they dominated and literally did everything but score a goal. I wasn’t at all surprised when Poole scored in the final minute, to claim an undeserved win. It was so inevitable, I wasn’t even disappointed.
Despite the warm weather, the coach trip home didn’t have the unbearable heat of the Margate journey, a few weeks earlier – this was mainly thanks to the driver turning on the air conditioning. It also took have as long to get back to Bath, which meant we were able to treat ourselves to a McDonalds on our return.
I travelled far, far away from Bath at the weekend. We went all the way to a little village called London – you may have heard of it. Sorry I haven’t blogged about it until now, I ended up going to jail and I had to miss three turns, as I didn’t have a Get Out Of Jail Free Card.
Our visit to London was just what you see on the movies. Chimney sweeps, people singing in the streets and eating jellied eels… ok, that was a lie. We did drive through a market though and spent the evening at the dog tracks.
We did ‘the dogs’ in style. None of this standing around out in the rain. We watched all the action from inside, while a waiter brought us a 3 course meal. A lady also came to our table to take bets. I really pushed the boat out and spent £2 on each bet. I think I may have a gambling problem. Like gambling on horses, I know nothing about dogs, so instead of looking at odds, form and all that rubbish, I simply picked the names of the dogs I liked. Out of 13 races, I won 2. Luckily, one of my wins was a no-hoper (probably blind, with three legs). This mongrel ran home to victory and I won over £20. At the end of the night, I was a few quid down. I am not going to find a career in gambling, but I did have a good evening.
We spent the night in a Holiday Inn. When we normally stay away from home, we use Premier Inn (endorsed by Sir Lenny Henry). I can see where the “Premier” in Premier Inn comes from – in the past, we have been spoilt. The Holiday Inn we stayed at, was a dive compared to what we are used to. It was more like a youth hostel. It was dirty, the lift spelt of vomit, there were marks on the carpet outside our room and a worrying white stain on our bedsheets. Breakfast left a lot to be desired too – my bowl and cutlery were dirty. Needless to say, we’ll never be staying in one of those “hotels” again.
While I enjoyed getting away from the busy, bustling city life of Bath, and escaping to the peaceful, slow life of London, it was very nice to come home – especially to a clean and comfortable bed (something we didn’t experience at the hotel).
We bravely ventured to Keynsham at the weekend. The only time we go there is to go to Iceland and the pound shop. We’re not posh people, but it felt very much like Hyacinth Bucket, from Keeping Up Appearances, visiting her sister on the council estate.
While walking down the high street, an older lady approached Claire, who was wearing her Bath City football shirt. The lady commented on Claire’s shirt, admitting that she had mistaken it for a “Leave the EU” protest. This makes a change, the blank and white shirt of Bath is normally mistaken for Newcastle United.
Despite knowing that it was a football shirt and nothing to do with a campaign to leave the European Union, the woman unleashed a tirade of xenophobia. The usual stuff – “they took our jobs”, “they’re taking our schools”, “they’re on benefits”. It was just like an Adolf Hitler speech, apart from the fact she was speaking English in a Bristolian accent.
Whether you’re pro-EU or against, the choice is yours. You’re not a racist either way. However, this woman clearly did hold discriminatory views and was almost certainly a Daily Mail reader.
Claire just nodded, while I ignored the woman’s rant. Getting into a debate with her would no doubt cause a huge argument, with demands for me to be sent back to where I came from… Bath.
We’re all going to the zoo tomorrow
Zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow
We’re all going to the zoo tomorrow
We can stay all day
This is what we could have been singing last Friday… the reason – we went to the zoo on Saturday!
With Bath City out of the FA Cup and missing out on a “glamorous” trip to Braintree in Essex; we decided that we would spend our free Saturday going to Bristol Zoo. It would be cheaper than travelling half way across the country (especially as Claire had already bought me a ticket for my birthday), a lot closer to home and, like whenever we visit Essex, full of wild animals.
I hadn’t been to the zoo for around 20 years and a lot had changed since my childhood visit. We started by visiting the monkeys. They walked around, with their bare behinds on show. I always think that their bottoms look very sore and in need of some cream, although somehow I doubt Donkey Kong would appreciate the help and end up ripping your arm off. The monkeys also confirmed the stereotype that they throw their own poop as it was splattered against the walls.
The lions were very lazy and asleep in their den. Claire said that as it was raining heavily, she didn’t blame the lions and that if she were them, she wouldn’t leave her bed to go and stand in the rain either. I pointed out to her that by coming to the zoo on an early, wet Saturday morning, she had done just that. I was hoping a stray child would somehow find its way into the enclosure – it would certainly wake the lions up. Of course, I would have wanted the child saved (after suffering some mild peril and a small scratch from a claw). Watching the lions reminded me of a news story from my childhood, which had clearly stuck with me. A mentally ill man had climbed into the lion cage at London Zoo and was mauled. I still remember the picture on the front page of the newspaper of a man, lying on the floor, with his head in the jaws of a male lion. After doing some internet research this weekend, I discovered that the man survived. The lions in that instance must have recently been fed and were simply playing with the man, like a cat does with a mouse. If they were hungry, he would have been dead in a matter of minutes. A similar incident occurred in Spain, where a lion keeper was eaten alive, after entering a cage and purposely throwing away the keys to the door. All that remained of that man was a bit of his skull and spinal cord. Chilling, although you can’t blame the lions at all – they were just acting on natural instinct, in both cases.
We walked through a bat cage. I was expecting to see huge flying bats everywhere. Instead, like the lions, they were all asleep indoors. By this point it was raining heavily – I think the animals have more common sense than us! The amphibians didn’t disappoint, although I suspect they like wet weather. I saw some giant tortoise and some giant tortoise poop – and it was giant! If I had poos that size, it would be like giving birth from my anus every time I went to the toilet.
The reptile house is just like I remembered it to be as a child. It was as warm as our house when we have turned the heating up. The snakes looked a bit smaller than I remembered. Either because I’m bigger these days, or the snakes I saw years ago are all dead. Then there was the huge fish tank, which allowed you to walk through a glass tunnel, while sea life swam above you. It was all very much like Jaws 3. Remember that film, where the static, plastic looking shark moved very slowly towards the tank? I’m not that quick on my feet, but I am very confident that I could escape from Jaws 3. Luckily there are no large, man-eating sharks in Bristol Zoo, so I didn’t have to test my theory.
I was scared and excited about entering the insect house. I knew there would be big spiders in there. There was a huge cage full of locusts. They were either mating or dead – it was like a party thrown by a retired, drugged and sexed-up rock star. I did see one large spider, although was slightly disappointed – it certainly wasn’t as scary as the one I saw on our front door the other week! There was apparently a black window in a toilet, as well, but I couldn’t find it.
We saw lots of cute little monkeys, parrots and otters. All very nice, but while scouring the internet for the lion story, mentioned earlier, I read that one of the monkeys had recently escaped and found its way into the otter’s enclosure, where it was eaten. Three parrots (or some kind of exotic bird), also escaped, with only two being found – therefore there is a colourful bird, somewhere on The Downs, speaking Bristolian with the common crow and magpies. “Polly wants a crackerrrrrrrrr”
We then travelled to the Antarctic (with the houses of Clifton as a backdrop), where lots of penguins waddled and swam around. I also saw a couple of sea lions have a domestic, shouting at and trying to bite each other. I was sure a polar bear used to live in the zoo (yes, I know they naturally reside in the ARCTIC). Claire dismissed my memory; although, again, good old Google proved me right. There was a polar bear which lived in Bristol Zoo. It was rescued from the circus, but went mad and had to be hidden from the public. It later died. A sad story.
The hippos were very disappointing. Considering they are supposed to be the most dangerous animal in Africa, they just wallowed in their own filth and didn’t look fierce at all. The gorillas looked depressed and subdued as well. One of them rolled around on its back, while a zoo keeper cleaned urine from the floor in the neighbouring room. The gorilla’s mate woke up, squatted and pissed everywhere.
The final set of animals we saw were meerkats. Before those Compare The Market adverts, I don’t think anyone knew what meerkats were – certainly nobody cared about them. These meerkats were cute and all that, but I am sure if you took one home, it would bite your fingers off and destroy your furniture.
Overall, I enjoyed my trip to the zoo. It wasn’t as much fun as Longleat, mainly as there weren’t as many dangerous animals and I didn’t get the opportunities to directly interact with them (for example, snake holiding). I hear London Zoo is very good, and will make it my aim to go there in the next 12 months.
I took lots of photos. They are all crap quality as were taken on my mobile phone. Despite looking rubbish, I stuck them on my Flickr account.
Last Saturday, we got up stupidly early to go and look at sheep. “Only in Somerset”, I hear you all shout. Except these sheep weren’t of the furry, grass eating variety. The sheep we were visiting were made of stone. If you put mint sauce on these and bit into them, you would shatter your teeth.
I found myself waiting in a cold, wet and almost empty car park at Cribbs Causeway shopping centre, waiting for the ‘Great Sheep Roundup’ exhibition to open its doors. In recent months, if you have been brave enough to venture into Bristol or visit London, you may have seen sculptures of the popular character, Shaun The Sheep, placed around the city. One hundred and twenty of these sheep were created (although I somehow counted more), all with clever, unique designs. As well as the entertaining residents and tourists to the cities, the sheep raised lots of money for charity, which is always a good thing. If you were really adventurous and outgoing, you could follow an official trail and track all the sheep on a mobile phone app. We are neither adventurous or outgoing, so decided to see all the sheep under one roof.
I took photos of every single sheep. This may seem a little excessive, but was nothing compared to some people visiting the event, who took photographs from almost every possible angle, as well as photos of each of their many children in front of every single bloody sheep.
Anyway, here’s a collection of my favourite sheep. If you really want to see all 120+, have a look here.
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