Oct 29, 2013

The Big Book Clean Out

I have always loved books, and I have always owned heaps of them. Until recently, I had four bookcases, each full, plus piles of books on my bedside table, floors and on top of one of the bookcases.  But this year I wanted to de-clutter a little, and I decided there was no sense keeping all of these books.

It wasn't easy to cull, because I had already been culling my books regularly. I only keep the ones I really like, you see - I had already given away a lot of other books over the years.

However, I did it. I got rid of most of the piles, and an entire bookcase. The lounge is a little less cluttered, and I turned my small bookcase into a case of shared books for the kids: classics, new books, books for kids, books for tweens and young adults. They have their own bookcases in their rooms, but this is like an extra library that they can dip into anytime they like.

I replaced some grand old books I'd had lying around, into their rightful place on the bookcases. I even had room for photo albums and a couple of boxes on the bottom shelf of my main bookcase.

Here's a scene from mid-way through the process, while I sorted books to keep from books to give away:

The kids' bookshelf starts to take shape:

At the end of it, I was reduced to 3 single-layer stacked bookcases, and one modest pile on the bedside table.  I filled 4 green bags and a plastic tub with books I know I don't need to keep.

And what did I do with all of those books?

They're still sitting in their tub and green bags in the garage. It's been four months now.

Do you cull books? Is it hard?

Oct 27, 2013

Sunday Selections #143

It's time for Sunday Selections!
Sunday Selections is a weekly meme hosted by River at Drifting Through Life. It's a way to showcase some of the photos we take, but don't get shown on our blogs. 

The rules are very simple:-
1. post photos of your choice, old or new, under the Sunday Selections title
2. link back to River somewhere in your post
3. leave a comment on River's post and visit some of the others who have posted and commented: for example:
    Andrew at High Riser

I normally go with a theme for Sunday Selections, but this week for a change I'm going "random".  Here are some photos illustrating my last two weeks.

My clever sister was a state finalist this year in the Telstra Business Women's Awards, and I went along as one of her guests to the gala dinner on October 15th. Here is a very badly exposed shot of my sister collecting her certificate. That's Jane Kennedy on the right, who was the emcee.  Mia Freedman also presented, as did last year's national winner, Carolyn Creswell. It was a really great event.

I wore heels that night, for the first time in a year and a half! Since I broke my arm last July, then had surgery, and it still took a long time to heal, and THEN I sprained my ankle this year... Well, since all that, I haven't felt stable enough to wear heels for some time.  Although I wore what always used to be very comfy wedge sandals, and it was a sit-down event, after walking to and from the carpark my poor feet were on fire, and I had a massive blister on the sole of one foot for the next two days. So, back to flats for me since then.

But I came home to this on the whiteboard in the kitchen:


My kids are awesome!

This barely shows up, but here is a "charming" little bumper sticker on the back of a van I was stuck behind last week. What a lovely little sentiment. 
"If you don't stand behind our troops, please feel free to stand in front of them."

This one came about when I sat my phone on top of the toaster with the camera app still open.  This looked kind of cool so I took the photo.  It's almost like architecture, isn't it?  Architecture with a garden of toast crumbs.

One of the only meals everyone in my family will eat without argument is apricot chicken. So eat up, family. I'm making batches of the stuff.

I love these tins, by the way. I know, it's fake 50's nostalgia retro, which normally annoys me, but the design is so pretty.

This week the school held its annual disco, and I couldn't resist a shot of these uninvited guests pining outside. 

Looking up at gum trees in the park

My dog Harry likes to sit on my shoulder, like a big fluffy parrot. But he won't sit still for a selfie.

Meanwhile, Tia has a new favourite "house" to sleep in:

Here is a very sad little dinner I had one night when funds were low and I hadn't been able to go to the supermarket. Yes, I couldn't even afford my own tin of tinned spaghetti, I had to skim off the kids' leftovers:

In happier news, I did some thorough spring cleaning today, tackling just one corner of my kitchen, but removing years' worth of grime from the rangehood, splashbacks, walls and the cupboards over the stove.

Then I did the window sill (which I do tackle a little more regularly).  I have to say, one of my least favourite cleaning chores is getting out all the carcasses of dead flies and bees from the tracks of sliding windows. But at least that's done now.

The Amazing A performs some magic. Her lovely assistant has been "disappeared" at this point:

THIS irked me in yesterday's paper. Because yes, every "modern family" has a McMansion and an SUV, of course we do! (says every newspaper lifestyle supplement ever):

And sure, we take holidays like this:

Every year when I see The Age's "52 weekends away" special, I think "oh lovely", then I look through it and sigh, fold it up and put it quietly in the recycling.

But, life's too short to be irked. To finish us off, this made me smile today:

How was your week?

Oct 25, 2013

Efficiency and Progress

Like many people I often wonder whether new ways are more efficient and I sometimes doubt they are. 
I'm also aware that automated systems allow much higher volume day to day so that we don't actually notice most of the efficiency gains, only the glaring non-gains.

Take these examples:

  • Melbourne public transport: Myki vs paper tickets; automation vs tram conductors
  • Petrol stations: self-serve vs full service
  • Supermarket check-outs: self-serve vs cashier
  • Stockbroking operations: "straight through processing" from trade date to settlement, vs the old days

Tram conductors vs ticket inspectors

When tram conductors were phased out in Melbourne some years ago in favour of automated ticketing, it did not seem to increase efficiency. Tram conducting was a good entry-level job for young people, and welcomed those who had been unemployed, were inexperienced or were covered in piercings. With almost no exceptions that I remember, they appeared to do a good job and some seemed to really like it. It fostered community on the trams, and made the system pretty easy for travellers.

When the tram conductors went, fare evasion seemed to immediately go up, and within a short time it seemed that whatever money was being saved on tram conductors was being spent on ticket inspectors. I would be very surprised if that cost has gone down.

On the other hand, could they really bring back tram conductors today? Would there still be people willing to take those jobs? Working nights and weekends as well? Could we really go back to leather satchels, uniforms, hole punches and paper tickets?

Long time since Melbourne streets have been this free of traffic
(photo: nicksarebi/Flickr Creative Commons)

Myki vs paper tickets

Myki is a pretty good system, from my experience. It really does seem to charge correctly, and charge you the cheapest available fare (though there have been issues with that). It's easy. It beats paper tickets that get bent or soggy or lost or forgotten (or maybe that was just me).

But there's a problem with Myki. You need to top up your ticket before you get to the station, as the lines there are long. There seem to be fewer places to top up a Myki than used to sell paper tickets, though maybe that will change.

Also, 'touching off' is very inefficient. Getting off a tram and touching off while you're being rushed down the stairs is hard to accomplish, and coming off a train it takes a LONG time to get through the turnstiles as everyone touches off in turn. It takes way longer than it used to for people to feed their paper tickets through. That will no doubt improve.

Supermarket check-out: self-serve vs cashier

I've mentioned before that I'm not an early adopter. I stuck to full-service petrol stations for as long as the last one existed in the southeast of this city, and I initially completely ignored supermarket self-service checkouts. 

I started using them when I had a small basket of stuff and the lines at the cashiers were long. They took a little while to get used to but after a very short time (say about, oooh, a year and a half) I began using them regularly. 

I have to say I quite like the short friendly chat with the cashier who scans your stuff, and it will be a shame when that goes (not to mention the lost jobs of course). But as former CBA CEO Ralph Norris said a decade ago when banks were closing branches, "We can't keep maintaining costly branches just because people want a social experience when they go to the bank." (It was something like that - I can't find the exact quote online because it was a long time ago, so I'm paraphrasing and perhaps I'm being unfair. But this remains one of my favourite PR mis-steps and quotable Evil Bank moments, so I hope I have it right).

It took awhile for us to accept pumping our own petrol, but we eventually did. We're accepting self-serve checkouts a lot faster from what I see.

Are they more efficient?

It's an interesting question. The answer must be yes, in terms of cost. Even factoring in people to show you how to use them and people to come over and correct your mistakes or unlock your DVDs, it's still more efficient, because those things are temporary.  Employing three people to help users, who will also perform other duties while they're there, is cheaper than employing six people as cashiers plus the people performing other duties.

On the radio today people were discussing self service, and the consensus was it was all very wasteful and inefficient, because of customers being dishonest, time taken to fix errors, etc.  And of course it would be quite easy to lie and steal when scanning and weighing things. No doubt plenty do.  Interestingly though, the system (at least at this stage) makes no attempt to guard against that.  

To me that says they've factored it in. The system has to be easy to use to keep customer goodwill, at least until they have a critical mass of acceptance. So they might be luring us in making it easy to use until they make it more theft-proof later.  Or, the cost efficiencies are so great they are prepared to wear some loss from petty theft in exchange for the automation.  

And this is the big picture on these types of automation: companies are prepared to pay to get these systems in - even, perhaps, to create short-term inefficiencies - because in the long term, they are needed.  

I don't think they always get their projections right though. I'm sure Melbourne public transport vastly underestimated the cost of ticket inspectors, Myki and Myki upgrades. 

But one thing we don't as customers or users necessarily notice, is the huge jump in volumes that happens during the transformation period while things are being automated.  Can you imagine full-service petrol stations now, with the number of cars that line up at petrol bowsers? Instead of each person doing their own (even factoring in those who dawdle inside and browse the shelves before paying), imagine the same petrol station with one or two attendants pumping everyone's petrol, as there used to be.

It's the same with tram conductors (though I hate to admit it, because I've clung to my tram-conductors-are-cheaper-than-ticket-inspectors belief for so long). Could a single conductor on a tram cope with the number of people passing through now?  As it is, three burly ticket inspectors at each super stop can barely cope with the numbers.

Stockmarket operations - straight through processing 

Now to my world. I work in stockbroking operations (the "back office"). I've worked in this industry for 13 years, as a processor, supervisor, manager and project manager. Long before my time, the settlement of trades was manual. I mean completely manual, as in collecting bits of paper from the trading floor, running between broking houses and the stock exchange, and typing things into computers.

These days when we bitch about a manual trade booking, we mean a trade has fed in without a reference number and we have to manually key it in so it books to the right account. 

But the thing is, those manual trade bookings are actually still a real headache. Because we no longer have the teams of people that used to manage all the manual processes, 2 people can manage the electronic bookings and settlements for quite a large stockbroker. But it only takes a few manual trades to add a lot of work to their day. (And it's not always as simple as typing in a number of course).  There is also increased complexity in systems, because enhancements had been added over the years and more permutations in booking and settlement are possible. This was made possible, of course, by automation.

So is trade settlement more efficient?  Absolutely - no doubt. 
Do we use less paper? No - possibly we use more, what with reporting, compliance and audit requirements.

Are there fewer people working? Yes.
Do those people work fewer hours? On the whole, yes - but work is a lot more condensed than it used to be. These days there are no smoking breaks and sometimes no lunch breaks, and people in general work at full speed throughout their day (and that, of course, is called "productivity").

When I review or compile our statistics each month, I see approximately 50% of trades are "STP" (straight through processing, i.e. fully automated). That figure is too low, of course, but still, 50% is a huge number of trades that just do their thing without any intervention required by us at all.

In a nutshell

Does automation make things more efficient?  System-wide, on the whole yes.  At a personal or experiential level? Probably mostly yes, but as customers or users we don't always feel it.

What do you think? 
Do you miss tram conductors? 
Do you hate, love or grudgingly accept automation?

Oct 21, 2013

Commonsense, victim blaming, staying safe or letting men off the hook. Or all/none of the above.

Well. Another online opinion piece has "re-ignited" the "debate" about what to tell young people about avoiding rape and assault. It's Mia Freedman's, and you can read it here. Perhaps unusually for a Mama Mia piece, it has quite a good comment thread as well (although by the time you check it, that might have changed).

The short version:

  • Mia Freedman, Caitlin Moran and probably most other people think it's only prudent to caution young women/daughters not to get too drunk while out at night to reduce their risk of rape
  • Others argue that this is "victim blaming" and lets men off the hook
  • Mia Freedman says the division of opinion is basically between older women who have daughters (motto: commonsense) and younger women who don't (motto: Slutwalk).

I have daughters, and as my mother did before me, I will certainly caution them on risks of sexual assault and teach them the usual ways to (hopefully) stay safe.


It was not until I read three opinion pieces this year that I finally understood - really understood - the point people have been making about "victim blaming" and the problems with "staying safe."

These were a bit of an epiphany for me:

They shouldn't have been. The first one points out things that had made me angry for years, especially when I was younger. The costs of always "staying safe" are high: reduced mobility, fewer opportunities, more money spent (taxis), and the biggie: the massive and constant psychic and emotional energy invested at all times in "being careful", weighing up risk, etc. But please do read the article - it says all this and more much, much better than I can.

The third one explains the (in hindsight obvious) logical error in comparing "avoiding rape" to "you lock your window to prevent burglary" which, I admit, I hadn't been able to figure out for myself.

I had felt angry about all these issues forever, but still hadn't quite got the link to the arguments made against the "commonsense/staying safe" brigade until I read these three posts.  Until then, I admit I was one hundred per cent with Mia Freedman, Caitlin Moran, and every other cop who comes out and says the same things albeit far less diplomatically.

But it's a slippery slope from those arguments (which really are a kind of common sense after all) to the comments made by some clerics here and in the UK a few years ago (and no doubt still!), that women dressed "immodestly" are like "uncovered meat" that attract voracious animals.  (It's an interesting exercise googling "women like uncovered meat" to find that link, by the way. This seems to be a simile on fairly high ongoing rotation).

So, look. In a nutshell:

  • Of course every mother (yes, even a feminist one!) is going to teach her daughters how to be careful and stay safe
  • Parents teach their sons this stuff too - sure, to a lesser degree, but that is changing, I think
  • Taking basic measures to stay safe (such as avoiding getting too drunk, not accepting rides with strangers and so on), are indeed common sense, and are not victim blaming.  
  • But many of the things we teach our daughters to help them "stay safe" don't work, or are irrelevant. (See statistics: who really gets raped and where?)
  • The focus of any public safety campaign should always be on teaching men not to attack/hit/rape

See? Easy.


On Saturday my husband had a rare day home from work and one of A's friends was coming for a playdate at 11. I had almost nothing left in the fridge and pantry. All these things meant I got to duck out for a supermarket trip early in the morning.

It was beautiful weather - sunny and warm with a light breeze and the feeling that summer was around the corner. After I did the shopping I sat at a cafe for a quick breakfast treat.  (The treat being 'alone time').

At the table next to me was a retired-age couple enjoying tea and toast; a little black dog was on the chair between them; it had a red ribbon in its hair.

The man was wearing a golf shirt and flat cap. The woman wore the kind of ribbed cotton slacks my grandmother used to, and an ironed cotton shirt in a bright colour I can't remember. In the way of women her age, she wore jewellery and makeup and neatly styled hair, as she would any day she left the house, be it for an appointment somewhere or a drive to the shops.

(I wonder, is that generational or an age thing? When I'm sixty will I suddenly start ironing my shirts and styling my hair, or will half the women my age be getting around in jersey jackets, stretchy tops and shoulder-length hair like we do now? Anyway...)

To be honest, when I first sat down I hardly noticed them at all. I didn't even notice the dog until later. If I thought anything at all when I saw them it was Standard issue retired middle-middle-class couple from the suburbs. Kids have moved out, house is paid off, modest savings, etc. A careful, responsible life and a simple, comfortable retirement. Isn't that nice.

But you shouldn't make assumptions about people's lives, should you?

Because their conversation was quite unexpected.

I wasn't listening at first, but then the woman was talking into her phone. Quite loudly.

"No, we can't. I'm taking Steve to the doctor, his blood pressure's way up, and that's stress. We're on our way to the doctor now. So you and Bill are going to have to work today, because we can't."

The man said something after the call.

"No way," the woman said. "I'm not, and you're not either. My legs were killing me all last night, I couldn't sleep. And you're no good today. They said I had to, and I said nup. There's only one thing I have to do, and that's die. And I'm not dying!"

She continued: "I mean, fifty dollars an hour is good money, but it's not worth it. Not worth it. We're not doing it anymore."

By this stage I'd finished my toast and coffee and had to get back home. I didn't want to look like I was sitting there listening (but I was). So I left.

But I was so curious. What kind of work were they doing? Something that required work on weekdays and Saturdays, paid well, was stressful, and was hard on the legs? Neither of them looked fit, and they were both well past the age of doing demanding physical work anyway, so "no" to my immediate fanciful thoughts of fruit picking and waiting tables (also last I recall neither of those pays $50 per hour). Something skilled, or something they were qualified to do - hence the $50 per hour, and the person on the phone wanting their presence? Something that they didn't run themselves (not their own business), but something they could seemingly pick up and leave at will, to some extent. Something where they seemed to work in a small group (Bill and the other person).

Manning a shop or business front? Not at $50 an hour.

Super spies? Not enough money.

Teachers? ("stress"). Not on Saturdays.

Shop inventory? A couple in their sixties?

What then? What? I'm so curious - what could it be?!

Oct 20, 2013

Words for Wednesday: A Halloween Poem

'Words for Wednesday' is a writing prompt held by Delores at Under the Porch Light.
Use some or all of the week's words, write a poem or a story or a fragment, and visit Delores' current week's prompt to let her know you've joined in.

This week I used Delores' second prompt:

She couldn't think.  Her mind was full of pumpkin mush.

Here is my story:

Halloween came darkly, and the moon was very big 
Anna donned her costume, and tucked her hair into her wig.

The cries of children - 'Trick or Treat!' - floated through the night
Excited voices, running steps, squeals of sweet delight.

Anna stood inside her door, wishing she was there
But Anna had no little friends; those children didn't care.

Her mother let her dress up, and stand beside the door
To hand out treats to other kids, while wanting so much more.

To walk the streets with just one friend - that's all she wanted: one!
To share some secrets, laugh at jokes, and have some childhood fun.

The kids at school were not her friends; they barely spoke her name
And when they did they frowned or laughed - and Anna burned with shame.

They all thought she was quiet and odd, and so she was, she guessed
She spent most of her time alone, apart from all the rest.

Anna peeped outside the window set beside the door
The moon gleamed large and silvery... then seemed to glow some more.

Anna frowned and closed her eyes, then opened them again
The moon was even brighter, and it pulsed a little then.

There came a whoosh, like a sigh, that rippled on the breeze - 
'A wishhh' it whispered gently, as it rustled through the trees.

Anna squeezed her eyes shut tight; a tear fell down her cheek
'A friend,' she whispered softly, her wish fervent, her voice meek.

The moon glowed even brighter. Then it shrank to normal size
Anna blinked away her tears, and slowly wiped her eyes.

The doorbell rang. 

She opened up; it was some kids from school.
'Trick or treat!' they yelled with glee, and took candy from her bowl.

She closed the door. But when she did, the doorbell rang again
And this time when she opened up, there was just one child there.

The boy seemed roughly Anna's age, but they had never met
He smiled and held out his hand. He hadn't spoken yet.

He seemed a different kind of boy; he had a solemn gaze
And somehow he was bathed all in a gentle, milky haze.

'You need a friend,' he said to her. 'And these days, I do too.
I'm far from my old home and friends. They can't see me like you do.'

He took her hand and squeezed it. 'You are kind,' he said
'I think that that is all I need, to call you my good friend.'

Although it should have made her blush, she found she couldn't think
Her mind was full of pumpkin mush; all she could do was blink.

Anna's mother called to her. 'Close the door!' she barked
'What are you doing standing there, staring at the dark!'

Anna didn't feel afraid. The boy was by her side.
She closed the door and smiled, as she led him safe inside.

Oct 15, 2013

Some beauty: more Spring

Can't resist these: the trees in the garden out the front of the kids' school are in bloom again. So beautiful.

Oct 13, 2013

Sunday Selections #141

It's time for Sunday Selections!
This is a weekly meme started by Kim of FrogPondsRock as a way to showcase some of the many photos we all take, but don't get around to showing on our blogs. Sunday Selections is now hosted by River at Drifting Through Life.

The rules are very simple:-
1. post photos of your choice, old or new, under the Sunday Selections title
2. link back to River somewhere in your post
3. leave a comment on River's post and visit some of the others who have posted and commented

This week, like River, I have gone with Spring.

Spring: when even my scrabbly garden has some pretty flowers:

This one's a cheat - it's a rose border planted by our neighbors that separates our properties:

Here's the full border:

Without a lovingly tended garden, the kids are reduced to hunting for "secret flowers", hidden amongst the grass:

How does spring look in your part of the world?

Oct 12, 2013

I think I was sick the day they taught that

You know that Gary Larson cartoon, 'Medvale School for the Gifted', with the kid straining to push a door marked 'pull' in giant letters?

I think I'm pretty smart (don't we all?). But in day to day things I've often felt stupid. There are things that other people seem to know that I don't know how they know - like there was a group lecture or 'Guide to Life' conference that I missed some day.

I take comfort from the fact (or maybe myth) that Isaac Newton used to regularly forget his own address, and I also often think that I read so much and have spent so many years studying and then learning at work, that my brain is just... full.

I have this feeling a bit less as I get older (finally! some of that 'wisdom' creeping in), but I still get it.

When I was a kid I wondered for a long time, and finally asked my dad, how they bent bricks to make them go around corners.



I have owned one of these mops for nearly 15 years, and only just figured out TODAY that it is much easier to screw the little posts in first, BEFORE you put the sponge on the frame.

I once agonised over a school maths test question "What is the chance it will rain on a given day?" by searching for weather statistics to help me calculate the answer, panicking, and then trying to work out my own statistics on scrap paper involving every kind of weather there might be, and the likelihood of each occurring. The answer to the test question was "Fifty per cent".

I spent ages trying to figure out how to manage the little date button on my watch so it would always be accurate, and worse, expressed annoyance at how difficult it was to try and work out which month it was synchronised with... at which point I was told you have to set it in the morning on the first day of every month. To be honest, this still impresses AND annoys me with its simple genius - I mean, the date changes automatically every day, so why would I ever realise I have to manually set it every first of the month? Who knows these things?

Two skills I would love to master, but have not so far, despite repeated attempts:
  • knowing which way to turn when I step out of the elevator at work
  • remembering which way batteries go into compartments (the positive or the negative side on the spring? And is the flat end or the raised end positive?), instead of having to look for the tiny diagrams

It appears at least one of my kids is following in my footsteps. While coming out of a 7-Eleven one day she looked at the big red 'Push' sign on the door and read it out as if it rhymed with 'lush'. " 'Puh-sh'?" she said loudly, while trying to pull the door open. "What's 'puhsh'?" Luckily she was not offended at the 7-Eleven lady laughing behind her.  Or at my teasing ever since when she has tried to pull a push door, "No M., don't pull it - you have to PUH-SH!"

Had any Medvale moments lately?

Oct 6, 2013

Sunday Selections #140 - Werribee Open Range Zoo

It's time for Sunday Selections!
This is a weekly meme started by Kim of FrogPondsRock as a way to showcase some of the many photos we all take, but don't get around to showing on our blogs. Sunday Selections is now hosted by River at Drifting Through Life.

The rules are very simple:-
1. post photos of your choice, old or new, under the Sunday Selections title
2. link back to River somewhere in your post
3. leave a comment on River's post and visit some of the others who have posted and commented

This week, I've got a few snaps taken today at Werribee Zoo.

For the last day of the school holidays, we visited the Werribee Open Range Zoo, where I had never been.

After driving for approximately twelve hours we arrived at the lush foresty oasis of Werribee Park, which contains the zoo. I'm only being facetious about the length of the drive; the zoo environment and landscaping really are beautiful.  It's spacious and not crowded, and really well planned.  The carpark is right outside the entrance, and we were able to park literally a few steps from the front gate. As we walked in, a staff member ushered us from the short line to a second entrance where we sailed right in.

A shot of the lake:

Bird's nest:

The highlight, of course, is the "safari bus tour" through the open range section, where you drive past bison, camels, zebras, giraffes, ostriches, rhinos and gazelles, all looking a little odd camped out on green Melbourne paddocks, I have to say. But it is impressive, and fun.

The first animals came up on our right. "Look!" I said to M. next to me, "Buffalo!"
Right on cue our driver's voice-over said, "Now people will keep on calling these buffalo, but they are bison."  Oh yes. I knew that.  Which also reminded me of a joke my grandparents brought back with them years ago from a tour guide in Canada:
Q. What's the difference between a buffalo and a bison? 
A. Well, a buffalo's a large herbivorous animal, and a bison's what Australians wash their hands in.

Moving right along...

Mongolian wild horses, on the "steppes" of "Mongolia". A guy on a tractor drives behind them and helpfully rounds them up to gallop closer to the safari bus.

Leaving Mongolia, we head to the "African savannah":

I'm going to admit it, I was disappointed the lions are not in the open range section. 
But it's not Kruger Park, after all.

We saw the lions, cheetahs, gorillas, velvet monkeys, hippos and meerkats in their enclosures. The enclosures are great, and you get to see everything very close.

Unlike the Melbourne Zoo, this one isn't crowded (or wasn't today), and it was really nice to walk around and stare at animals unimpeded.

The landscaping is beautiful too.

With some cute touches for the kids:

There are also lots of re-created ranger huts with old equipment in them, re-purposed crates and trucks for playing on, and a fantastic little jungle adventure path through bush, with things to step on, swaying mini bridges to cross, and animal sounds being piped through tall grass all around.

The kids' favourite animals were the monkeys and meerkats, which were inquisitive and friendly.

As this little guy sat looking around, there was a furious multi-meerkat copulation party going on in the box underneath him.

I couldn't get a good shot of the lions - this is a bit grainy because I've zoomed and cropped it:

It was surprising to read of the hunting dogs that they live in harmonious, affectionate groups; only one pair breeds and all the dogs rear the young.

After all this, we were all thoroughly tired out, so we skipped the 'Australian Journey' section and headed home.

A great day.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...