Sunday, 7 October 2012

Twycross Zoo and Birchen Edge

Greetings Blog Fans.  We had some fantastic weather this weekend (sunny, upper 50s) and were able to take advantage of it with a fairly busy weekend.

We started off by going to the Twycross Zoo with our friends the Seppanens.  Now, I like zoos but I've largely been avoiding them for two reasons:

1)  they are expensive (£48 family ticket in this case)
2)  they aren't particularly British

We have zoos back in the States obviously so why use our time here for that?  Well, because the kids want to and I (finally) realized its not fair to make them go 3 years without one so off we went.

Twycross is about 45 minutes away pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  We drove down via Burton-on-Trent (hated that route) and chose the speedier (but farther) multi-lane route on the way back.

Twycross is a smaller zoo (wiki link) with a pretty sizable primate center (self proclaimed largest collection of monkey and apes "in the world").  We took about 2+ hrs to stroll around and see everything.  It wouldn't compare to a larger, snazzier zoo but it was a nice day out.  Follow me around the zoo . . .

One of the cooler things was actually in the restrooms ("toilets") in the gift shop area.  They had a huge window of leaf cutter ants traipsing along.  I've only captured a small section above.  [The glass and glare would give me fits all day.]

meerkats -- really cool

 you lookin' at me?

interesting to find the penguins outdoors -- nice exhibit though

Most American guys my age will think of Miami Vice from the flamingo shot

large pelican looking bird

large bird theme continues

stork -- where's the baby?

Kirk's dik-dik -- I bet my buddy Kirk didn't know he had one

speedy tortoise

baby in the monkey family (fighting the glare here -- sorry)

Confucius Monkey (at least that's what I'd call it)

they were feeding the elephants banana bits -- peel and all

 chimp and a water bottle (hadn't seen that before)

tough day for the gorilla

pile o' lemurs

I've seen dogs on their back like that, but not a hyena

capybara and a tapir -- we always remember the cabybara for the trivia value (largest rodent)

always entertaining prairie hogs

a colorful pair

not everything was exotic, but the guinea pigs are always cute

back to the exotic -- miniature kangaroos, er wallabies

All and all a nice day out.  Glad we could share it with the Seppanens.

Saturday Night -- Dinner with the Connells
On Saturday night we had a great meal at our friends the Connells (yes, we've made some British Friends too).  Nicole did the honors on the photo.  She's good friends with Annabel.  Derek teaches at their school, Derby High and Andrea works at Rolls-Royce.  The kids got to be fast friends because their working moms dropped them both off so early at school!

Wonderful British cuisine (as you can tell by our clean plates) of roast beef, potatoes and veg and followed up by a bread & butter pudding.  Outstanding.  Thanks guys!

Sunday -- bonus walk to Birchen Edge 

Since the zoo didn't take all day, I was able to get my weekly chores (shopping, etc.) done.  Sunday was looking like another nice day so I thought I'd go for a walk.  The girls had homework so it was just the boys on this one.  The starting point was the Robin Hood Inn outside of Baslow, about 45 minute away.  [Once again I tried a different way back as I really don't like driving up the A6].

The walk was 4.3 miles with a total (spread out) ascension of 933'.  It took Alex and me 2:40 of which 2:04 was actually moving (we had a picnic lunch along the way among other things).  It was nice to get out.  The bit coming back down (4) was a little boggy, muddy and downright wet but other than that it was a good walk.

No rain in the forecast but I hadn't counted on the fog.  It was crisp to start but fortunately warmed up and the fog burned off.

early on walking through the bracken fields

more bracken and some rocks in the background

we had some shady forest bits with some areas completely covered by moss (no slugs today though)

we like hairy cows but this was a little closer than normal; she wasn't where she was supposed to be and we didn't have much room to get around her

good eatin' around these parts evidentally

rewarding views at the top (this is at the western point of our route between 2 & 3)

along the "Bar Road" and into moorland and opening grazing; very aggressive pose but friendly enough (we did walk around though)

another hairy cow with some more space to maneuver this time


would hate to leave out the sheep

The "Chesterfield Roade Guidestone", erected by Act of Parliament to mark a junction on the packhorse way from Baslow to Chesterfield.  I like how they simply carved out the letters until they ran out of room and then went to the next line.

Trifecta -- cows, horses (w/ riders) and sheep.  We've crossed the road and are now looking back and where we've been.

Another rock-climbing spot.  There seem to be quite a few of those around.

In a few hours I will be heading over to Jay's to watch the Colts vs. Packers.  Jay has a sweet setup where we can watch his Indianapolis area TV feed via a Sling Box.  Comes in handy for football!

I'm not expecting a Colts victory but it will still be a good time.  Reminds me of one of my football highlights 4 years ago when I made the pilgrimage to Lambeau to see the Colts play there with my buddy Chris.  (they lost and that team was much better than the current version, but what a great place to experience football)

UPDATE:  Amazingly, the Colts came back from 21-3 down and won 30-27.  Woo-hoo!

Have a good week everyone.


  1. Awesome cow pictures! And the mustache on that monkey is hilarious.

  2. Amazing indeed.

    I was going to include my ant in the mirror picture but some guy had managed to sneak into the pic at the last minute. Your zoo pics were much better than mine.

    Lori loved the hairy cows, she wants to do that walk now.