Zurich Walks

Despite the (almost constant) threat of rain during my most recent visit to Zurich, we managed to get a decent amount of walking time around the city and saw some lovely sights along the way.

There's more street art in Zurich than I was expecting, and not just usual spray can graffiti. This was my favourite.

There’s more street art in Zurich than I was expecting, and not just usual spray can graffiti. This was my favourite.

Although they are not my favourite things to walk up, the hills in Zurich mean views up and down streets are more interesting and varied.

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There are also green spaces to be found; the weather was nice to enough to allow me to enjoy them in sunshine.

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At one point, I walked alongside the river and saw someone taking a picture of what seemed to be ordinary pavement, but then I looked closer and saw lizards all along the concrete, warming themselves in the sun.

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Beautiful Amsterdam #33

With King’s Day now a fading, alcohol-flavoured memory, I thought I would share a picture that shows it doesn’t have to be Koningsdag for the city to have splashes of orange.

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These ‘dam days

Spring is still fighting to make itself heard here in Holland. The weather is overwhelmingly underwhelming and days of decent sunshine without wind are few and far between. There are the odd breakthroughs, though:

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The babies were very sweet, but the mum/dad duck was bloody loud and annoying. (David Attenborough’s job is safe, clearly.)

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Some lovely early* morning sunshine…….. *In my world, ‘early’ = 10:00

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These flowers clearly think it’s spring, and who am I to argue with them?

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This is my favourite of the 4. I had to twist upside down by my bedroom window to get the angle right, and I think it works.

 

 

 

The most wonderful time of the year

I love Christmas. Yes, I’m one of them. One of those people who gets a little excited feeling around mid-OctoIMG_2067ber, just as the air feels like it’s hardening and evening darkness encroaches upon the afternoons more and more. Whilst most are still mourning the lost of summer and have not had the heart to put away their flip-flops, I am already feeling nostalgic and looking forward to seeing fairy lights and eating mince pies.

If you do not share my feelings (i.e. you have a more rational perspective on the Christmas festivities) then you will no doubt feel the urge to hit people like me if we have the nerve to utter the “C” word before Decemeber 1st. Callum doesn’t share my love of the anticipation of Christmas so I have to keep my glee under wraps, as it were.

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Now we have almost completed our first week of December, I need hide it no more. The lights are up, presents have already been bought (some of them wrapped) and I’m playing Fairytale of New York on an almost daily basis. I have already made, written and posted all of my cards – but I didn’t take pictures, which was stupid because I was very pleased with them this year. However, for the past couple of years I have never been able to feel fully in the Christmas spirit because in Holland Christmas is still second-best; Sinterklaas is the big celebration over here and so gets the most attention from shops (and therefore shoppers).

As a result, my advent calendar is less typical than those we have in England (although not as much as Callum’s), I’ve had to hand make a ‘Happy Xmas’ banner and still haven’t eaten a single mince pie. (My options are to pay more than €5 for six M&S ones or make them. It’s practically a violation of my human rights.) Think this is likely to dampen my Christmas anticipation? Not at all. I just know that it won’t really feel like Christmas time until I reach jolly ol’ England toward the end of December…

PS. If you’re still feeling more Scrooge than Santa, have a listen to my newest favourite Christmas song by Aussie comedian Tim Minchin. It’s lovely:

Royal Artis Zoo – again

If you’re a loyal reader of this blog then you may remember that we covered the Royal Artis Zoo in Amsterdam quite a few months ago. However, as we all know, animals never give the same show twice and as my mum was over for a visit (her first!) we decided to spend a very sunny afternoon at the zoo.

I’d heard a story from someone else about the lions killing and eating a heron that dared to enter their enclosure. And this visit, I experienced it first hand.

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As we approached the lion enclosure we heard a loud squawk and then saw a female lion pouncing on something and roar the other lions away. A quick bite and shake later, and it was bye-bye birdy. As you can see from the picture above, the lion got stuck in straight away. Sadly, the bird’s mate stayed around afterwards, watching the scene out of reach on the top of some trees.

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One of the many other, surviving herons which stalk the zoo. I expect the keepers don’t mind when the lions take a swipe at them – population control and all that. (Note: this heron isn’t the one who kept watch from the tree tops.)

The other herons had their own feeding time and continued the work of the food chain. Here they are hanging around, waiting to pounce while the penguins were fed:

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Here are some other good shots from the day, including two of the elephants – my favourites. The baby is called Mumba. So adorable.

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The gardens there are still in bloom, making it a beautiful place to simply sit and relax.

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Lastly, another of my favourites – the prairie dog. So funny, especially when they make their high-pitched squeak, as it sets the others off. As you can see in the photo below, they’re not really dogs, they’re rodents.

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I want one.