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A Day of Two Halves

I have posted before about having our oven professionally cleaned, and it’s that time of year again.  Hard to think it’s almost a year since our extremely good oven cleaner called, and quite frankly I could’ve used elbow grease and Mr Muscle on it myself, but our oven cleaner reaches the parts neither I nor Mr Muscle can reach!  Our 17 year old oven, after two hours’ work, comes up looking like new …

It is difficult to photograph the oven as it is directly opposite the kitchen window, hence a lot of reflections.  Our oven cleaner gentleman also cleans extractor fans (and hobs, although we don’t have the hob cleaned as I can manage that myself; also, one spillage and it would wipe out – pardon the pun – all his work) so I had the extractor cleaned, too, and a new filter inserted.

All this took almost 3 hours, by which time it was lunch time.  As he arrived at around 9 o’clock (just as we were getting up; we’d woken early and then dozed off again!) we didn’t have breakfast – it’s not possible to cook while he’s busy in the kitchen – so for lunch we had a boiled egg and toast, just sufficient for us, something we could prepare quickly.

We then decided, as it was such a lovely early-autumn day, to make full use of the weather and visit the Zoo, if only for a walk in pleasant surroundings.  As the autumn term had started we didn’t think there would be many children there, but of course, all the under-fives were out in force with mummies and grandparents, but it was lovely to see so many people enjoying the good weather.

We first visited the Insect House as husband hadn’t been in there before (I had been with daughter-in-law and grandson when we all went together during the summer, but elder son and husband remained outside – elder son can’t bear spiders and, of course, there are some prime examples in the Insect House … spider warning coming up in case you are of a nervous disposition!)

Above, of course, the butterflies are not living ones, and they have been set out imaginatively in the shape of a butterfly.

Close by are the beetles, also set out imaginatively in the shape of a large beetle. Some of them certainly look ferocious and are rather large …


And then we saw a Perspex dome containing a tarantula …

Not a good photo because of the Perspex dome (for which I was very grateful!) but while I’m not exactly keen on such creatures, nearby was a ‘notebook’ which explains how the venom from this spider might have a cure for muscular dystrophy, the muscle-wasting disease which only affects boys.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if such venom did offer help for such a dreadful disease?

We then walked past baboon island (this is just a fraction of this huge man-made ‘rock’) and on towards the giraffes, en route passing …

Ostrich, the largest bird in the world …

And Zebra, which I think are strange beasts, horse-like but not as elegant as horses, more sturdy and their heads seem larger than a horse’s in proportion to their bodies.

And, it must not be forgotten that this is also a botanical garden, and there were many lovely plants still in flower and gorgeous leaves on the trees …

And eventually we reached the giraffes …

Not a good photo as the only way to take a photo of them was facing the sun, not what any camera likes.

Of course, there were plenty of these birds above, wandering around everywhere.  But even though they are everywhere, peacocks are really very beautiful.

By now we were tired and ready to sit down, although I have to say there are plenty of seats and small cafes dotted around the Zoo, so you are never far from a place where you can sit, buy an ice cream, or visit the loo.

We went to the main Island Restaurant (well, I think of it as a café; “restaurant” is rather too-grand a word for it, even though it’s large; it’s a café, where you queue up with a tray. Nothing wrong with that, but to me “restaurant” implies waiter service and white napery.)  We decided to sit at a table outside on the veranda, which has a somewhat old colonial look to it …

It was rather hot there today, but the overhanging roof offered a little shade.  We had just a pot of tea and shared a ham and cheese sandwich.

And just in front of the café is the pool in the centre of which is baboon island …

We are certainly making full use of our annual subscription which, for two seniors, is £92, which I think is reasonable for the year. This sub also admits you to Newquay Zoo in Cornwall, and also Living Coasts in Torquay.

Indeed, it is lovely to be able to drive just a mile down the road and visit such a lovely place. (We drive there because there is a steep hill between our house and the Zoo and, after walking around the Zoo, we know we’d be far too tired to walk up the hill home again!)

Until next time.


In response to Ratnamurti’s comment that Zoos today are more humane today (with which I agree) I would like to add these paragraphs below, from the Paignton Zoo website, as the Zoo is very much about conservation:

Species are under threat from pollution, illegal wildlife trade, habitat destruction and climate change, and worst of all, almost all these threats have been caused by people.

Paignton Zoo is part of the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust and it is our mission to conserve biodiversity by protecting threatened animals, plants and their environments, locally and internationally.  Both Paignton Zoo and the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust are conservation, research and education charities and we support many conservation projects around the world.

We are part of a worldwide network of zoos called the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and work together to do more for conservation and help co-ordinate breeding programmes for endangered species. As part of this, Paignton Zoo collaborates with other zoos across the world, exchanging animals to prevent inbreeding and ensure that healthy genetic diversity is maintained.
We also belong to UK and European organisations which include: the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).





About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. zoos are so much more humane now, thank goodness. I only seem to go with grandchildren, and only occasionally, but hopefully, I’ll get to go with great grandson one day. He has been brought up around chickens and animals so loves them all. Auckland has a lovely zoo, an excellent technology museum, and my favourite… a museum museum which also has botanical gardens and massive parklands.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, you are right: zoos are much more humane, well in this country and I expect in your country. But one of the reasons for Paignton Zoo is conservation, as many species are endangered, as we found out in the amphibian house today. It sounds like you have some wonderful museums, Ratnamurti, in New Zealand, and especially Auckland Zoo.

    • how could I have forgotten that Auckland museum is a War Memorial Museum. We have the dawn parade each Anzac Day there. Anzacs being the Australian New Zealand Army Corps, and it commemorates Gallipoli during World War One. My ex husband has always gone to this parade as includes all returned servicemen.

      • Margaret Powling

        Do you know, Ratnamurti, I’d obviously heard of ANZAC Day and the Anzacs, but I didn’t realize the initials stood for the actual words, so thank you for explaining that to me.

  2. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    I love a sparkly oven, mine is due a clean this week, it is only a few years old and I like to look after it, it does a good job, its a black oven and it looks lovely all shined up.
    It is lovely to have a zoo on your doorstep and to be able to pop out somewhere which doesn’t take hours to get too, and such so good you are getting your moneys worth from the pass.

    • Margaret Powling

      I do clean our oven, Marlene, between these annual visits from the oven cleaning man. It has a self-clean switch. I just add water to the bottom of the oven and a drop of washing up liquid and switch on. Once it’s finished, the oven ‘beeps’ at me and I wipe it out, it’s as easy as that. But a good, deep clean once a year gets to the parts even steam cleaning cannot reach.
      Yes, we’re so glad we bought a season ticket for the Zoo. We’ve lived here for 32 years, just a mile or so from the Zoo, and this is the first time we’ve bought such a ticket, so are making the most of it.

  3. I keep promising myself that I will get our oven professionally cleaned Margaret, usually just before I don my oven gloves and tackle it myself! Perhaps it’s time to look for a local company and book an appointment.
    Must admit that I haven’t been to a zoo for years but that’s probably because the nearest one is not very well run and care standards are not the best 😔that said I do enjoy the programme ‘ Secret Life of the Zoo’ which, I think, is filmed at Chester Zoo.

    • Margaret Powling

      That is such a shame that your nearest zoo isn’t as well run as our local zoo, Elaine. Animals deserve the best possible care, be they large ones such as gorillas, or a tank containing tiny leaf-cutter ants. They do seem to be receiving this at Paignton Zoo, I’m happy to say. But while we like animals, we actually go there for the ambience – no traffic apart from some of the zoo keepers in their motorized carts, or the little train which circumnavigates Baboon Island. And the Zoo, like much of Devon, is hilly in rather hilly in parts, so legs get a good workout!

  4. With such a sparkling oven you can now host your own cooking show in your kitchen 😉 There are some cooking shows I particularly enjoy – such as ‘The Cook and The Chef’ which featured our beloved Maggie Beer and the early episodes were filmed in her home kitchen – and I marvel at the sparkling-like-new ovens and stove tops and wonder who really does all the washing up afterwards as chefs are notorious for being messy in the kitchen ha ha. No doubt there is a tribe of minions who do the shopping, sorting, slicing, dicing, etc beforehand so the tv cook / chef always looks so refreshed.

    Your photos of the animals are beautiful. I’m terrified of spiders but am equally intrigued as some really are wonders of nature. The arrangements of the butterflies and Beatles were very artistic. (My spellcheck changed beatles to a capital ‘B’ in that last sentence – as if John, Paul, George and Ringo are on display ha ha). I’m sure that peacock knew how handsome he is. So lovely to see children being exposed to the animal kingdom and learning as they go. Well-run zoos are valuable resources for all of us.

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, that larks … my own cooking show, Lara! I’ve not heard of Maggie Beer. I expect she is the equivalent (if she is elderly) of our Mary Berry or (if young) Nigella (Lawson) who’s so famous that she just goes under her name, Nigella. We have so many cookery programmes here in the UK, Master Chef and so forth, and Master Chef the Professionals, and The Great British Bake Off. I would have marks deducted for a messy work station and bad hygiene. For a start, I can’t stand hair flopping around, dangling in front of the cooks faces.
      Sorry I put up the photo of the tarantula – our elder son can’t even look at a photo of a spider, let alone go into the Insect House at the Zoo. Every time we visit the Zoo, we find somewhere new to go – we’d been several times and not seen the Amphibians before!

  5. We had animal encounters of a very different kind this morning. Whilst walking along our local dog beach this morning before my husband went to work we saw several whales some distance off shore. They are now heading south again, along the east coast of Australia, returning to the cold Antarctic waters with their calves. An annual migration which never ceases to amaze 🙂

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