Saturday, April 9, 2016

It’s a Donkey’s Life

I saw a photo of some healthy, well-cared for donkeys on Karen S's blog, 21 Wits, and it made me think of the donkeys I'd seen in Europe and North Africa last year. 
I don't think their lives are so happy.


Fez, Morocco



Mijas, near Marbella in Spain

As in many countries, there is a donkey sanctuary and protection agency in New Zealand.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Wellington

The capital city of this small country is one of my favourite places, and I visit as often as I can.
I'd live there if I could. The city is small and intimate, virtually everything interesting is within walking distance, the traffic's not (really) horrendous, and it's a very vibrant, art-filled and interesting place, with an excellent university.


I was there a few weeks ago. As usual, I paid a visit to Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand. It's a stunning building, full of interesting spaces and excellent exhibitions.




In the entrance foyer, there's a huge escapee from the Lord of the Rings movies - Wellington is also the home of Weta Workshops, responsible for special effects for Avatar, Mad Max Fury Road and so many other films - see here.





This enormous artwork greets you at the entrance to the hall of Maori history:






I could spend all day on the top floors, which are given over to art:




 







My other must-visit is to Zealandia, a 225 ha (556 acres) wildlife reserve 10 minutes drive from the centre of the city. The highlight of this visit was meeting a pair of takahe (Notornis) which live there. Takahe were thought to be extinct until being rediscovered in a remote valley in 1948. In 1981 there were known to be only 112 birds; today there are 225. 


Puffin and T2 are now too old to breed, and live happily at Zealandia. In captivity the birds have been known to live over 20 years. Adults can weigh over 3 kg (7lb), and stand 50cm (20 inches) tall.




They are very tame - T2, the male, came right up to me as I sat on a bench.