Northumberland Zoo ~ Oct 2021 ~ part 2

Before we get to the Snow Leopards we’ll have a quick look at some other residents in the zoo.

They have Shetland Ponies, which always remind me of the wonderful books by Norman Thelwell I read as a kid.


I’d thought these were Ostriches when I first visited, but nope, they are Greater Rheas, which are smaller, and are the largest birds in South America. They are related to ostriches and emu’s and like them, can’t fly. Seems a bit daft to me to be a bird and unable to fly, but hey ho each to his/her own.

not Ostriches.

Before the big cats arrived the only other felines at the zoo were a pair of Canadian Lynx and these proved to be quite elusive in their large enclosure as it is full of tall plants, but this day I at least got to see them sleeping.

The Canadian lynx, is a North American wild cat that ranges in forest and tundra regions across Canada and into Alaska, as well as some parts of the northern United States. Historically, the Canadian lynx ranged from Alaska across Canada and into many of the northern U.S. states. It’s a good climber and swimmer; it constructs rough shelters under fallen trees or rock ledges. It has a thick coat and broad paws, and is twice as effective as the bobcat at supporting its weight on the snow. The Canada lynx feeds almost exclusively on snowshoe hares; its population is highly dependent on the population of this prey animal. It will also hunt medium-sized mammals and birds if hare numbers fall.

snoozy lynx

The new arrivals now, firstly the Arctic Foxes.

The Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus), also known as the white fox, polar fox, or snow fox, is a small fox native to the Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and common throughout the Arctic tundra biome. It is well adapted to living in cold environments, and is best known for its thick, warm fur that is also used as camouflage. It has a large and very fluffy tail. In the wild, most individuals do not live past their first year but some exceptional ones survive up to 11 years. Its body length ranges from 46 to 68 cm (18 to 27 in), with a generally rounded body shape to minimize the escape of body heat.

Arctic foxes must endure a temperature difference of up to 90–100 °C (160–180 °F) between the external environment and their internal core temperature. To prevent heat loss, the Arctic fox curls up tightly tucking its legs and head under its body and behind its furry tail. This position gives the fox the smallest surface area to volume ratio and protects the least insulated areas. Arctic foxes also stay warm by getting out of the wind and residing in their dens Although the Arctic foxes are active year-round and do not hibernate, they attempt to preserve fat by reducing their locomotor activity. They build up their fat reserves in the autumn, sometimes increasing their body weight by more than 50%. This provides greater insulation during the winter and a source of energy when food is scarce.

Natural predators of the Arctic fox are golden eagles,Arctic wolves, polar bears, wolverines, red foxes, and grizzly bears. Not many of those in Northumberland so these two can live a long life.


FInally the Snow Leopards. These beautiful big cats are native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia, the global population is estimated to number fewer than 10,000 mature individuals and is expected to decline about 10% by 2040. The snow leopard shows several adaptations for living in a cold, mountainous environment. Its small rounded ears help to minimize heat loss. Its broad paws well distribute the body weight for walking on snow, and have fur on their undersides to increase the grip on steep and unstable surfaces; it also helps to minimize heat loss. Its long and flexible tail helps to maintain balance in the rocky terrain. The tail is very thick due to fat storage, and is covered in a thick layer of fur, which allows the cat to use it like a blanket to protect its face when asleep.

I took so many photos I couldn’t choose which one or two to post, so I made a couple of short videos to show them off. The ladies names are Nieva and Karli.

in B&W
and in glorious technicolour

So that’s that. Next week we’ll be off to someotherwhere so stay tooned for that!

all pictures embiggenable when you clickerate them
full album with more birds, animals etc HERE.

365 ~ 11th ~ 17th July

Coming up to 200 days tomorrow, and I’ve hit the time when I wish I hadn’t started. This has happened in every 365 I’ve done, so it’s not a big deal, but it does affect my creativity for a while, with it being hard to get enthused, and AFAC’s (arty farty abstract concepts) and silly prompts don’t help. But onwards ever onwards, we shall prevail. When I say we, I really mean me, but I like to be inclusive with y’all. Anyway consequently this week was a bit of a damp squib so the cats came to the rescue.

Let’s begin. This week is a composition week and the overall theme is ‘points of view’.

Day 192 ~ Delicious.~ Summertime brings us so many fresh fruits and vegetables to be savoured!  Is there something delicious growing in your garden? I particularly like the fresh berries available during the summer months.  I also love my morning yogurt so I tend to combine them for a delicious breakfast that reminds me of dessert. It is also Point of View Week so chose an interesting way to showcase something delicious.  I chose a high key flat lay.

Long term followers of this blog will remember my traumatic experiences with growing cauliflowers- we will never speak of it again, no need to open old wounds, but no I have no delicious somethings growing in my garden. Yogurt and fresh berries is not breakfast fodder for the average Geordie, nor even above-average immigrants to the North East such as moi. Average Geordies have fried bacon/egg/sausage (or all three) butties, and I have toast and paté because I’m wierd apparently. Anyway I cooked fillet steak bites in parmesan butter for our Sunday dinner with tomato and basil rice, and it was delicious indeed.


Day 193 ~ Border. ~ It’s Macro Monday and you know what that means…get in close! Also, consider trying different points of views to see which angle works best with your subject.  Overhead? From behind? From the side? Underneath? Border can mean edge or boundary of something, a decorative band or trim, or a line separating two areas. Be as literal or as creative as you like! From underneath the petals look like a decorative trim. What type of border details will you highlight? 

It was a day of rain here and also a full day at work, so photography a bit limited, but I do have a border between my wildflower patch and the lawn, just a little fence really but I thought it might suffice. And yes, I know the grass needed mowing, but Phil’s since done that!


Day 194 ~ Happiness. ~ I can always count on true happiness while spending time with my babies – especially when we are camping and exploring new places.  This was the fifth time they went down this steep hill. It reminds me of what it was like when I was a kid; sledding on the snow, climbing for what felt like forever only to take a few second ride back down.  It was worth all the work for all of that happiness.   Let’s see how you capture happiness today.  And while you’re at it, see if you can capture your subject from below.

Her ‘babies’ look at least 11 years old if not more, they’re riding bikes for heavens sakes. Babies. Pfft. And happiness is an AFAC, this lady’s prompts are usually annoying and this one is no different. (not Mrs. Cocktail Dress, this one I like to think of as Mrs. Hypaethral). This is where my 365 ennui began, so when all else fails, shoot the cat. A picture of happiness? Maybe contented awareness really on Winnie’s part. At least I shot her from below and happiness is being home from work. So job done!


Day 195 ~ Landscape. ~This is a great time of year to capture a beautiful landscape.  Shooting landscapes forces you to get outside and find the beauty around you. We all see the world through different eyes.  If we were all to take a photo from the same spot I bet each photo would be different as we all would be taking it from our own point of view. I don’t catch many sunrises but I did this day and I love the light in this photo.  I wanted to catch the reflection of the shoreline in the water.  When I got home and looked at it on the computer, from my point of view, it looked like a guitar standing on it’s side.  Do you see it?  Take a landscape photo from your point of view and show us a part of the world you live in.

Thank you Mrs. Straightforward! I took a drive out to Whitley Bay in the evening, and to St.Mary’s Lighthouse and Island. The history of it is in that link if you’re curious.


Day 196 ~ Prompt Free Day. ~ Prompt Free Days often bring to mind the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side.”  Some days, we feel restricted by the prompt, but on other days, no specific prompt makes us feel lost by having no point of departure. Think about these prompt free days as a check-in as to how this project is changing you. What do you notice that you would have overlooked previously? What small moments in you day now feel bigger and call to be documented? Today is a blank canvas for which all of the other prompts have prepared you. Keep your eyes open and have fun!

Work then another dental appointment this afternoon, and it was hot today, we are having a heat wave according to the weather forecast. Of course 23°C (73.4°F) is quite normal for lots of countries, but here we spend most of the year between 0 & 15 (32 & 59) so a big leap like this in the space of a couple of days means heatwave to us. Back in the jurassic era I used to love being out in the sun, bikini, sarong, book, radio, wasp splatterer, ambre solair suntan oil (factor nil) all day long on a lounger in the garden, but now not so much, actually not at all. Is this a getting old thing do you think? The cats are lethargic, and Phil and I are sitting next to fans at full blast. I love sunshine, but at about 19° (66) for optimum comfort. Anyway, I shot Winnie again from below again, because she had spotted Woody the pigeon on the shed roof, and that’s her territory.

pigeon alert

Day 197 ~ Snack. ~ For me, my favorite snacks carry with them many fond memories of people and places.  My college roommate and I had a thing for PopTarts; and even now, 40 years later (Yikes!), every time I see Pop Tarts, I think of her and the many memories that we made together.  Now, one of my favorite snacks is Cheetos.  My BFF gave me the Cheetos t-shirt I am wearing in this photo right before the pandemic started.  Little did I know then how much yarn, silly memes, and Cheetos it would take to carry me through this last year.  Though parts of the year were tough, Cheetos make me think of her and that brings a smile.  I look forward to the next time my friend and I can sit together eating Cheetos and knitting – perhaps with orange yarn to keep the adventure stress free! What snacks spark good memories for you?

Sigh. I don’t do snacks with attached memories. I snack on rice cakes at work as I don’t have time for lunch but that’s about it, and anyway I leave them there in my cupboard. Breakfast and dinner seems enough with a light lunch or just brunch on days off. What’s annoying is I actually had a packet of cheetos that were shaped like footballs for the Euro cup thing. I didn’t buy them but won them on a free scratch card our Londis gives out if you spend a tenner or more. Anyway Phil had them the night before the challenge which was a shame, I should have been more forward thinking but well, ennui. Winnie likes snacks. 😊


Day 198 ~ Achievement. ~Sometimes it is an achievement to get into the right position to get the “right” photo.  Here I was on holiday in Greece.  We were staying in a place where the sunset was blocked by the mountain.  So, one day we ventured around to the other side of the mountain and waited for the sun to set.  Then the clouds came and finally, in the last few minutes of the day, it all worked out.  My daughter is standing on the edge of an infinity pool and I positioned myself lying down on the far side of the pool so that the sun was in the correct place for her pose. Have some fun today, think about using different angles to achieve your photo.

It is SO hot today, even with a fair breeze, we’re at 27C (80F) in our garden and really just want not to move or do much at all. I thought it a bit unfair that Winnie got all the limelight so far. I take more of her because Lord Vincent goes hiding under bushes out the front all day so don’t see him so much, but today he settled down under the jasmine in the garden to get some shade and take advantage of the wind tunnel that occurs in the path from front to back. It was an achievement to get up off the floor after taking the photo. I’m winning at point of view!


And that’s the end of point of view week. I would say let’s hope my ennui resolves itself now, but next week is sodding selfie week. Sigh. Also next week I’ll be travelling down south to visit my son and grandson so doing selfies will not be high on my list of priorities, but I will still take pictures every day and that’ll have to do. My Sunday post will be later than usual as I’m coming back up on Saturday and won’t get home until late. Stay tooned for then!


“Cats are connoisseurs of comfort.”
― James Herriot,

Cyprus 2005

“Cats strongly believe that everywhere is designed for their comfort!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

‘Herky’, South Shields, UK 2007
‘Yo-yo’ 2007

“The way to get on with a cat is to treat it as an equal – or even better, as the superior it knows itself to be.”― Elizabeth Peters,

Tunisia 2008

“The ideal of calm exists in a sitting cat.” —Jules Renard

Troodos Mountains, Cyprus 2012

“I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me.”
― Rudyard Kipling,

Troodos Mountains, 2012
Wardley 2013

Black cat or white cat: If it can catch mice, it’s a good cat —Deng Xiaoping

‘Koudar’, Biggleswade, UK 2014

“Having a bunch of cats around is good. If you’re feeling bad, just look at the cats, you’ll feel better, because they know that everything is, just as it is.”― Charles Bukowski, 

Mog on the Tyne Cat Cafe, Newcastle, UK 2015

“I had been told that the training procedure with cats was difficult. It’s not. Mine had me trained in two days.”—Bill Dana

Phil & Skye, Wardley, 2016

“A black cat crossed my path, and I stopped to dance around it widdershins and to sing the rhyme, Ou va-ti mistigri?
Passe sans faire de mai ici.

― Joanne Harris,

Poland, Łańcut Castle, 2017

“I have a cat, the pet that ranks just above a throw pillow in terms of required responsibility.”― Anna Quindlen,

At Eddy’s place, Poland, 2017

“The problem with cats is that they get the same exact look whether they see a moth or an axe-murderer.” —Paula Poundstone

‘Mrs. Fluffy’ (don’t know her real name) Wardley, UK 2018

“Everything I know I learned from my cat: When you’re hungry, eat. When you’re tired, nap in a sunbeam. When you go to the vet’s, pee on your owner.” —Gary Smith

France 2019

“I have lived with several Zen Masters – all of them cats.” — Ekhart Tolle

Winnie, at ours, 2020

“No one can truly understand the bond we form with the cats we love until they experience the loss of one.”–Unknown

Skye, forever.

France ~ May 2019 ~ The Watermill ~ part 2

Part 1 HERE

The inside of the watermill was very cozy, so I took a few shots 🙂 Nicola had left us some nibbles and cider for when we arrived.

A cool kitchen

and some natty eggcups in the cupboard!

The snug where we sat to watch DVD’s in the evening

The bathroom and our bedroom had views out into the garden

bathroom window

Around the outside of the mill was lovely too

Our front doors

Bonsai on the window sill

And we made new friends



Marmalade would come for tickles as long as we were outside

and Fatcat stomped indoors whenever we were there and sat on Phils knee at night 🙂

That will do for now, still more grounds to explore with an amazing water feature to show you, so stay tooned!

Day 53~366

Back to work today so the sun comes out! It’s so not fair! Anyway, I called in at home at lunchtime and opened up the conservatory for Skye as she was asking to be in there, and then she got all cute, so I got my daily shot!

being cute


being cuter

being cuter

and being close up cute! this is the one for the day 🙂




day 37~366

It’s done nothing but rain all day, and the sky has been a dreary dull grey, no moody interesting clouds. It’s miserable. I took lots of pictures of raindrops on my garden plants, but didn’t like any of them. Me and Skye just wanted to play out! 😦



The Sunday Fraggle Report

I didn’t pick up my camera until Wednesday night this week, when I was treated to a magnificent sunset over the houses.


That was from my front bedroom, and from the back of the house we also got the moon mixed up in it all.




I took some more shots of my christmas tree,






possibly went over the top there :). Managed to get a better picture of the birds on The Happy Eater tree..these are long tailed tits.



Today all Phil’s kids and grandkids came for a visit, and I got a happy shot of the newest one, Liddy


this was the best of the bunch, she was flapping her arms and wiggling around a lot so most were blurry.

I took Phil to hospital on Tuesday to have his laser eye surgery, the procedure was over and done with really quickly and a heck of a lot quicker than the time it took to get a prescription from the pharmacy there! Anyway he’s OK with no bad after effects so that all went well.

It’s been a strange week without Storm chucking up everywhere and wanting cuddles. There’s a big hole in my life where she used to be. Skye is our next concern as over the past couple of days she’s not been eating. Of course she’s a chunky girl so might be on a diet, but she’s having a strange week too. She’s managed something today though so fingers crossed there isn’t anything to worry about.


I’ve been trying some creative still life photography and might get into it a bit more, I quite like the faffing about.




So back to work tomorrow for 3 days, then 5 off over Christmas, yay!

laters gaters, have a cool Yule.

🙂 ❤ ❄️☃️🎄





The Fraggle report

Not the best of weeks, so am late with my post, Sunday came and went and I couldn’t find the words really. regular readers will know my little cat Storm was diagnosed with renal adenoma back in September and not given long to live. But she carried on unaware of her future and we loved her lots and even hoped they’d got it wrong, she seemed so OK. But  last week she started going downhill, and though we tried convincing ourselves she was just having a  bad couple of days, by Thursday night we knew the time had come. Unfortunately I had promised to visit my son and grandson this weekend, and couldn’t let them down. So I went off down south to see them, and Phil had to take Storm to the vets on his own.  Really that’s all I need say, anyone that has had a beloved pet will have gone through the rest.



It was good to see Ben and spend the day with him. He looked too skinny so I took him out for lunch and dinner 🙂

OriginalPhoto-471554486.627397 (1)

and then we went to pick up Lewis from school and took him to Toys R Us so he could choose christmas presents. That didn’t turn out too easy as the store is so huge, but he loved trying out the cars.



On Saturday I went to visit my friend Helen, and the weather was really bad so we stayed in, apart from food shopping, and then has a yummy dinner.

I got home Sunday and have had a couple of days off. Had to take Phil to hospital today for laser eye surgery for his glaucoma, which was over and done with really quickly, and he’s OK, though he says everything looks a bit darker.

Not much photography done then on the whole, I had a strange sky to drive home to,


and I put up the Christmas tree last weekend and forgot to take a picture of it so here it is 🙂


and am trying to take pictures of the birds in my front garden, but failing to get anything decent, so here’s a not so great one of Mr.Robin. Must improve on that!


So that’s my week and a bit, off to work tomorrow then more days off, fingers xt to do something with my camera!

laters gaters

😉 ❤


The Sunday Fraggle report ~ bits & bobs

Another week gone by, 25 days left till Christmas and a bit of time off, but still work to do and photo’s to take.  This week I’ve managed a few so here we go.  Firstly I got in the car Monday morning and spotted a spider web on my wing mirror, had a go at a quick snap with the iPhone and din’t expect to really get it, but it turned out surprisingly well.


On Wednesday although it was cold, there was a sunny day, and as I was travelling a fair way up and down the North East, I set my camera up on my phone so that I could drive and just hit the ‘click’ button when I saw something I liked, so here is a little travelogue of my work day in pictures 🙂

Setting off on the A1 under a zigzag sky
Setting off down the A1 under a zigzag sky

arriving at my destination, the house on the right.
arriving at my destination, the house on the right.

On the way back to the main roads
On the way back to the main roads

arty statue thing in Darlington
arty statue thing in Darlington

on the way back to the A1
on the way back to the A1 Yorkshire hills in the distance

Blue monsters on the A1
Blue monsters on the A1

arriving at clients flat in Hebburn
arriving at clients flat in Hebburn

going through Ashington to visit another client
going through Ashington to visit another client

Journey home down the A19
Journey home down the A19

Through the Tyne Tunnel
Through the Tyne Tunnel

arriving at the shop near where I live to invest in some wine!
arriving at the shop near where I live to invest in some wine!

On Thursday I took a picture of Skye, waiting for Phil to come home from work.


and made a pie 🙂


Friday I took advantage of the Black Friday sales and purchased some new processing programmes, can’t help it, I’m an addict 🙂  Phil meanwhile was trying to do his modelling…


but Skye had other ideas 🙂


that face!

On Saturday Phil was working, and I had my friend Sophie over for the day to do some indoor photography. Mostly we took pics of my cats 🙂

Sophie & Skye
Sophie & Skye




we also messed about with laser lights, crystal balls, prisms and a kaleidoscope..


and took macro’s of flowers I bought.

broken neck
broken neck

processed with colorfx
processed with colorfx

processed with radlab and aurora
processed with radlab and aurora.

Am very happy with my purchases!  Anyway today being Sunday, I’m getting ready for work, but also cooking Sunday lunch, so, off to peel the potatoes,

laters gaters

🙂 ❤





The Sunday Fraggle report ~ bits & bobs edition.

Well it’s slim pickings at the moment with my photography.  I’ve been working extra hours, and it gets dark here at 4.30pm so once I get home from work, sorted home work out, and had dinner, it’s being difficult to feel inspired or motivated. On top of that the weather is pants. But hey- ho I did get a couple to be going on with.

Last weekend we went to the Annual Free convention held in Tynemouth, about 20 mins up the road from us. It’s (obviously) a yearly event where die hard fans of the band Free meet up, have some drinks and see Free tribute bands, as well as special guests from back in the day. This year the tribute band was Freeway, who were really good, and prior to them we had a solo singer, Toby, who Free’s now departed bass player Andy Fraser, discovered and recorded with. Not my cup of tea songs wise, but he was a great guitarist.


after him we were treated to a couple of class musicians, the guitarist Chris Spedding and singer Mr.Snips (real name Steve Parsons) both of whom joined a band called The Sharks, formed by Andy Fraser after Free split up. They were great and told loads of stories from the olden days when they were hot stuff in the music business.

Mr.Snips & Chris Spedding
Mr.Snips & Chris Spedding

I had a little outing to Seaham to visit the 1st WW memorial there. Its a statue called 11-0-1 but nicknamed Tommy.

This imposing metal sculpture, entitled 1101, owing to the fact the armistice went into effect at 11am on November 11, 1918, stands 9ft 5ins tall and weighs 1.2 tonnes.

Built out of special corteen steel, it has been installed on Seaham seafront in Country Durham to mark the centenary of the start of the Great War and was supposed to remain in place for three months. But the townspeople of Seaham wanted to keep it, so they raised the £85,000 it cost to buy it to keep.

Created by local artist Ray Lonsdale, the sculpture is also intended to represent Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which many of the returning soldiers endured. Mr Lonsdale got his idea for the piece after hearing a story about a soldier from nearby Murton who won a war medal.

Tommy collage

there is a plaque on the rear

tommy plaque

I visited a client who lives by Woodhorn Church,  St Mary the Virgin.  It was built in the early eleventh century but most of the external features are from a restoration of 1842. The church was made redundant in 1973 and is now Woodhorn Church Museum.


The lady who owned our cats before we got them got in touch with me on Facebook, and sent me some pictures of Storm & Skye when they were kittens

Skye & Storm
Skye & Storm

and I’ve taken some of them this week too 🙂

Batcat (Skye shadow)
Batcat (Skye shadow)

Bag puss 1
Bag puss 1 (Storm)

Bag puss 2 (Skye)
Bag puss 2 (Skye)

Skye has taken to sitting under my work station when I”m on the computer when Phil isn’t here to entertain her.


but she much prefers to be with Phil 🙂

Saturday morning papers reading club.
Saturday morning papers reading club.

As always, I’m back to work tomorrow, a long day ahead. So time to get sorted and ready for action!

laters gaters

🙂 ❤

new post up on the fragglefilm blog BTW 🙂