We enjoyed a quiet, relaxing Easter weekend, and yesterday we all (i.e. husband and myself, our elder son, his wife and our little grandson) were invited to our younger son’s home for lunch where younger son and his lovely girlfriend/partner made us all a gorgeous lunch. How lovely to be with our family, all very relaxing and most enjoyable.
Today, Tuesday, we thought we’d make the most of a lovely spring morning and we drove to our local garden centre, only a couple of miles from our house. It has the most lovely setting, with open views of Devon’s lush countryside.
Husband was on the hunt for some grass seed to cover bare patches in various parts of our garden (mainly the grassy banks at the front of the house) and I was on the lookout for my favourite summer bedding plants – pink and white cosmos and pink and white antirrhinums.
Then we saw a lovely shrub, Exochorda, The Bride, with beautiful white blossom. Its blossom is almost over, but it’s best to buy plants when they are flowering – then you know what to expect the following year!
Otter Nurseries has it’s main garden centre close to Ottery St Mary in East Devon, but we are fortunate that in recent years Otter Nurseries bought out a local garden centre, and so we have a branch (pardon the pun) of the lovely Otter Nurseries on our doorstep. It is not ‘just’ a garden centre, but in their nurseries they raise many of the plants they sell. There is also a very nice café, with both indoor and outdoor eating spaces, and yes, we did stop for coffee and scones.
No doubt we will be visiting this garden centre again before long and so I will resist the urge to show more plant photos today. These three photos were taken this morning, a typical Devon April morning, with hazy sunshine.
We then returned home, unloaded the car with the plants, plus compost, fertilizer, and the lovely shrub, and then decided – as it was such a lovely day – we would go to the Zoo!
The entrance to the Zoo (with grass roof) as seen from inside the Zoo
Yes, we have a Zoo right here in Paignton! www.paigntonzoo.org.uk It is only a mile or so from our home and, strange as it may seem, with such a wonderful ‘attraction’ right on our doorstep, we hadn’t been there in over ten years!
There is quite an expensive entrance fee (well, they have a lot of animals to feed, never mind paying the staff, the vets, gardeners – for it is a botanical garden as well as a zoo – and so forth) so it is more economical to purchase a pass for the year and this allows as many visits as we like – we could go every day if we wished – plus entry to Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall. Well, we don’t need a pass to Newquay Zoo as we don’t think we will be visiting there, but Living Coasts will be fun to visit, especially with our little grandson. There are lots of penguins there!
Paignton Zoo started life as the private zoo of Herbert Whitley, a shy, eccentric millionaire, and in 1923 it opened to the public. On show in those days were monkeys, bears, bison, zebra, hyena, baboons and many birds. Of course, a lot of people don’t agree in principle with zoos; they think it is cruel to keep ‘wild’ animals ‘caged’. But Paignton Zoo is very much into conservation and is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a global network of zoos working together to support the conservation of species, habitats and ecosystems.
The Zoo covers roughly 80 acres with some 2,000 animals, but we only visited about 1/3rd of the area today. There is even a little train which takes visitors around baboon island, but the Zoo was so busy with visitors today we thought we’d leave that little treat for another day.
We first passed one of the lakes were we saw a Dalmation Pelican fishing, and then saw him (or it? Or her?) scoop up a small fish in its bill and swallow it whole.
There are baboons on this island; they are difficult to see at first and then you can see them leaping from tree to tree with consummate ease.
This is just a small part of Baboon island
From Baboon island we walked to the big cat area and saw these …
… just feet away from us, through thick glass (of course!)
Then on to see the Lemurs …
and finally, for today anyway, old Mr Silverback himself …
He was some distance from us, I’ve used the zoom facility on my camera, please don’t think he was as close as this. But what a magnificent creature he is.
We have certainly enjoyed our day. Not only a visit to our local garden centre but also to Paignton Zoo. Furthermore, we had the good news that our grandson has been accepted for his parents’ school of choice for when he starts school in September. And, finally, Mrs May, UK Prime Minister, has announced that she will “go to the country”, i.e. that there will be a general election on the 8th June. What a day it has been!