Christmas cruise

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Went on a short cruise from London Tilbury, just before Christmas 2016.  Amsterdam, Hamburg and Antwerp (Netherlands, Germany and Belgium), featuring Christmas markets.  Was shocked of course hearing about the Berlin incident, when I’d just been on a similar market in Hamburg.

I went on my own with the intention of being sociable, but it was difficult, it was mainly all couples or groups of friends and I felt rather awkward chatting to strangers and very much feeling the loss of my life partner, who would so much have loved to have been on the ship and seen all the things I saw.

There was a stunning sunset as we set off, and I bought lots of nice things including some clothes, and ate the most wonderful Belgian waffle I’ve ever tasted.  I discovered a lovely little zoo in the middle of Antwerp which had a wonderful exhibition of chinese (japanese?) lanterns in the shapes of different animals.  What I chose as my favourite photo on return, was one of these – the elephants below – which seems to have captured a nice variety of ‘texture’.

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Bristol Zoo Gardens

  • I was lucky that I got a space in a car park nearby at 10am. But this soon closed up and at 12 when I left everything said full so I suppose I would’ve given up if I’d arrived later.
  • Generally not a very big zoo, and no ‘serious’ animals (eg elephants, giraffe, camel, zebra, tiger, bears), but very nice gardens and a perfectly nice small attraction to walk around. (Did have lions and gorillas.)
  • Two male lions in a very small enclosure exhibiting the worst type of zoo behaviour, pacing constantly up and down – didn’t look happy.
  • Also saw one largish monkey on its own, looking like its behaviour wasn’t right – it was clutching on to its leg and kept hiding its head down. Maybe it was just trying to sleep but it looked very nervous, like it was trying to avoid seeing or being seen.
  • Lots of walk-through enclosures, houses etc. Went in Nocturnal House, Reptile House, Aquarium, walk-through flamingos, walk-through fruit bats, Butterfly House.  The wallaby one was closed, the seal/penguin one I didn’t bother with – it was the furthest away and no-one seemed to be going to it.
  • Best thing of all was ring-tailed lemur walk-through enclosure where you really saw them close up and one had two little babies – I took loads of photos.
  • Several giant animatronic models of insects set around the place as a feature – was obviously popular with children.
  • A design objection I’ve come across in zoos before – you walk all round it, then want to sit in a cafe before you leave, but the only cafe is back on the other side, not near the entrance.
  • Yes I did buy a cuddly toy – a nice quality Wallaby (funny cos I didn’t see one, but something I don’t have). Also a beautiful book on primates which I shall enjoy looking at.

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