Magnolia blossom in Paignton Zoo today
I think if anything heralds ‘spring’ in South Devon almost as much as snowdrops or daffodils, it’s magnolias in bloom. And this one is actually going over … if we hadn’t gone out today we’d have missed this lovely tree.
So where have we been?
Well, yesterday, while it certainly wasn’t sunny – indeed, it was dull but fine enough for us to go out – we decided to go to two of our favourite garden centres. In the gales of the winter an old archway which had been in our garden for many years blew down, bringing with it a pretty clematis montana.
Photo taken in 2012 (sine when the bench in the background has been painted pale blue)
Since this photo was taken we have removed some shrubs and now the tiny back garden needs a serious overhaul. Nonetheless, we were sorry to see the arch collapse. And so we went to Fermoy’s Garden Centre and bought a replacement. We think instead of a clematis we might grow a climbing rose instead, but we need to erect the arch first, and prepare the soil for a new rose.
We like Fermoy’s which is far more than just a place to buy plants. Well, most garden centres are these days – they need to be able to remain open all the year round and so cater for the Christmas trade with Christmas trees and decorations, and also the gift market, so you will find all kinds of pretty things you didn’t know you wanted until you saw them. And as well as plants – obviously, they sell zillions of those – they sell garden tools and we bought a new broom with which to sweep the paths.
Fresh produce in Fermoy’
The children’s toys and books area – love the ‘tree’ filled with ‘apples’
And many more lovely things, and I’ve not even photographed the kitchenalia!
We gave the café a miss. It’s not a bad café, but we weren’t terribly impressed with it on our previous visit and also we weren’t particularly hungry. So we decided to motor on to another garden centre, Jack’s Patch, one owned by the Wyevale group of garden centres. There we queued up for cups of hot chocolate …
but we got behind the world’s biggest faffer. He (and I presume his wife and child, i.e. the others with him) wanted this, wanted that, didn’t want this, didn’t want that, then changed his mind … well, we’ve all been behind them at some stage, haven’t we? Never mind, we weren’t in any particular hurry but faffers seem to be a growing specie.
By now we were quite tired, and so after I bought some primroses for our hearth, we made our way home, along the coast road which is always a lovely journey, even on a dull day.
Once I got the flowers home (above) I thought to myself I really should have bought three of the same colour, these don’t really ‘go’ together. But they are fresh and pretty.
Today, we awakened to sunshine and although there’s been a chilly wind, we decided that we’d go to the Zoo. It’s only a mile away, we have a season ticket and it seems a shame not to make use of it.
Flamingos on their island
We love Paignton Zoo, it really is a very nice place to visit, even for just a walk in the early spring sunshine. Well, winter sunshine, really. It won’t be officially spring for another month.
We stopped at the restaurant and bought pasties and a pot of tea which we enjoyed on the veranda. Well, I say “enjoyed” … we went outside because there were so many people in the very large restaurant and 50% were children. It’s lovely to see children being taken to the zoo (all tinies because older ones are in school, half term having ended) but my goodness, the noise! And so we opted to go outside and there was just one table left and that was next to a family group and boy, were they noisy, too! It’s lovely to hear children laughing and enjoying themselves, but screaming and shouting and running around when really, they could be told to sit down and eat their lunch quietly wouldn’t go amiss sometimes. Running around the school playground is acceptable, they need to ‘let off steam’, but making a din in a public place, well that’s a different matter. But, sadly, many of the parents (although not all those we saw) were making almost as much noise, speaking in very loud voices, or yattering into their mobile phones. Is it really necessary to hold a running commentary with someone on the other end of a mobile while in the Zoo? One woman, just ahead of us in the queue, was on her mobile while ordering her lunch, barely acknowledging the woman serving her. Manners are fast disappearing.
At last the noisy family left and the quietness was palpable.
Peacocks frequent the veranda hoping to pick up crumbs …
they really do have the most gorgeous, iridescent plumage.
We then had to decide which route to take as the Zoo is too large for us to take in more than a relatively small area per visit, so today we went first into the Reptile House. I love seeing the reptiles (although not the snakes – I find those quite repulsive) and I managed to take some photos. Please don’t ask me what they are, I only made a note of one of them.
I rather like this chap but he looked so bored. Well, wouldn’t you be, being stared at all day long while you just wanted to enjoy a peaceful nap? He kept rolling his eyes as if to say, “Oh, for goodness sake, haven’t you got anything better to do …” Seriously, they have plenty of space and lots of things on which to climb or hide under, and they are very well looked after and well fed.
Mangrove Monitor Lizard (looking particularly well-fed!)
We then decided that was sufficient for one day (particularly as it was quite a climb back to the car park, good exercise for our winter-stiff legs.)
And finally, what I think might be daffodils’ last hurrah … unless I can find some in the supermarket on our next visit. These were in the ‘pencil’ stage on Friday, and now look at them. Oh, they have been so lovely, but sadly, I wasn’t able to find any white ones this year, which are my favourites.
Late afternoon sunshine coming from the west and shining on the hall table
I hope wherever you are you are enjoying lovely, fine weather, neither unbearably hot or cold.
Until next time.