A Day in Central Park

This is my third post of pictures from my first Summer in New York City. And contains hand down one of my favourite day’s worth of memories – strolling around for hours in Central Park on a  wonderfully sunny and warm day – even squeezing in a couple of hours at the surprisingly large Central Park Zoo.

I won’t chat too much about the day, other than to tell you that if you do decide to recreate my day be sure to carry lots of water to hydrate (the Park is surprisingly bigger than I thought it would be) and of course I must add – the Snow Leopard’s are AWESOME!

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The American Museum of Natural History

This Summer was my first visit to New York and one of the things near everyone said I HAD to check out was the Museum of Natural History – a recommendation not without merit. I ended up spending hours upon hours checking out a rather impressive collection of varied and almost disturbingly lifelike exhibits (including the newly acquired and famous Titanosaurus and the legendary Blue Whale).

It was an exhausting and enriching experience trolling the halls of the Museum with my trusty SLR and while I was impressed with the state and volume of the AMNH’s collection, I was a little disappointed to see that some of their literature/signage was desperately in need of updating and/or fact-checking (I even tweeted one such image at them at the time but it seems they took no notice). I’m sure in the larger scheme of the cultural and educational service institutions like the AMNH discharge, such errors or oversights are negligible. At the same time however, I wondered how many of the kids running around that Museum that day, or indeed any other, would go home having learnt something somewhat ignorant, and mildly insensitive, through someone else’s goof. Still – not to make a mountain out of a mole hill – such minors slips aside, I left that day feeling richer for the experience.

If you’re going to go I’d chalk out at least 3-4 hours to really appreciate the collection they have. And it’ll be worth going online in advance and checking if any of the exhibits are closed (like the Butterfly House – which is seasonal and was sadly closed when I made my visit).

New Sights, New Sounds, New York

This summer I finally broke my US-curse and made it to New York. That’s right, after many near-misses and false-starts I flew the 16-something hours to New York City, New York – the city so nice they named it twice!

I couldn’t even begin to describe the amazing time I had there. Suffice to say between meeting new people, catching up with old friends and family, taking in some “real New York” culture, it was a brilliant 10 days of couch-surfing and urban trekking.

Here’s one of many blog posts showing off some (out of the hundreds) of pics that I took while I made my way around the city that never sleeps.

And if you’re looking for some travel trips here are a few to help you out:

  1. THE UNLIMITED PASS: It’s great to walk around New York, but the City is quite big, and if you’re bouncing back and forth between the Boroughs like I was, you’ll do well to get the unlimited travel pass on a Metrocard – hop on and off the Subway and busses as much as you’d like for a whole week and take in the sights.
  2. THE LOCAL FARE: I always make it a point to try the local flavours. Two things that I took away and I’d recommend for sure – Bulleit Bourbon and Artichoke Pizza (oh man my mouth is watering just thinking of the latter!)
  3. ROOF TOP BARS AND BASEMENT COMEDY: Two things I thoroughly enjoyed, and I’d recommend you try out – a nice cocktail on one of many Roof-top Bars (there’s nothing quite like an amazing skyline view while sipping a Mojito) and of course a show at one of half a dozen comedy venues (the most well-known of which is probably The Comedy Cellar – we tried to get in but unfortunately were thwarted by the fact that Pete Holmes’ show ‘Crashing’ was shooting there that night – still, I did meet a legend of comedy – Artie Lange – muchos coolio!).
  4. STEAK: Oh my god New York is a place to get a good steak – and so many places to choose from how do I even begin! I’d have to say the most mind-blowing were certainly at Peter Luger (where they start you off with a giant slab of thick cut bacon – *drools like Homer Simpson*) and Tavern on the Green (where they have a Tomahawk Steak that’ll make you cry!)
  5. MUSEUMS AND SPECIAL SHOWS: Like any big city New York is absolutely flooded with Museums, many of which feature limited time shows that are usually worth the extra price of admission. I devoted a day each to the American Museum of Natural History (with some astoundingly life-like exhibits) and the Cloisters (where The Met was hosting a show called ‘Heavenly Bodies’ – combining the imagination of the modern fashion world with Medieval Catholic art and architecture – on till October 2018).
  6. WALK: Finally, you’ll see so much more of the City if you take the time to walk around. There were so many little sights and experiences I stumbled onto just because I decided I was going to pick a point and then just explore. If you have the time and the proclivity do so – It’s a pedestrian friendly City and one where sometimes you’ll see so much more when you don’t know where you’re going : )

PS – A special thanks to my friend Kate for letting me use pictures of her from our visit to the Heavenly Bodies Met exhibit at the Cloisters.

Back to Whipsnade (June, 2018)

It won’t be a terrible surprise to any followers that yet again, following a hiatus post the April poetry-writing flurry, the thing that brings me back to posting is an urge to share more photographs from yet another Zoo visit : )

This post features shots from a visit to the Whipsnade Zoo which I first visited back in 2015. There were wonderfully familiar sights, but also some new experiences with the Zoo having finished renovations and extensions that were still coming up in 2015. Not to mention the acquisition of a few new animals – such as the beautiful new Amur Tigress (unfortunately not pictured here as she spent a majority of the time having a nice little nap in the corner of the enclosure).

It was a wonderful day… for many a reason. A gloriously sunny day. Some fun sightings. Fresh air and (relative) peace and quiet… Though I hope these humble offerings help highlight at least one, the most important one even – these glorious and gorgeous and amazing creatures!

Cotswolds Wildlife Park and Gardens (Better Late Than Never II)

Alright I definitely have to get more organised about posting my photographs after a session/trip… Because here we go again. Posting from the back log – This time from my visit to the Cotswolds Wildlife Park and Gardens (again sometime in 2016 while I was living in England). Hopefully from now on I learn my lesson and post more regularly. As a bonus though, this post is particularly Otter-heavy… So gets ready for the awwwws : D

Compared to the other Wildlife Parks and Zoos I had occasion to visit the Cotswolds was definitely one of the better ones. Being somewhat out in the country meant that it had large spaces and bigger enclosures for most of the animals, and a really large selection too. Though if you’re a “completionist” like me be sure to pack a lunch and some comfortable walking shoes, because it will take you all day to check out the park… and there are many animals you’ll want to visit repeatedly depending on the time of day.

Holi Hai

Colours are flying
Children are laughing
Spirits are soaring
Holi hai

Balloons that don’t float
Rivers but no boats
People with many coats
Holi hai

There is chaat and chat
Sun dresses and sun hats
Whether you’re blue-collar or aristocrat
Holi Hai

Though there is a nip in the air
Warm embraces we’ll all share
While rubbing red in everyone’s hair
Holi hai

So whether you chill or you riot
Whether its free or you buy it
Do something to enjoy it
Holi hai

Chester Zoo – March 2015 (Better Late Than Never?)

Pardon the date in the post. As it should make evident, I took these pictures a while back on a visit to Chester Zoo in England. The trip was a fun from what I recollect. Unfortunately it was also cold and shaky hands make for bad photography. So while it was somewhat memorable, it wasn’t all that successful.

Still I’ve picked out a few worth publishing from the batch. Certainly a few gems in there I’m happy to add to the collection. Hopefully next time, if there ever is one, I’ll do the Zoo and its “Islands” justice.

I wish I had more to say on the visit. But time and other factors nudge me away from reminiscing. So hopefully these few shots speak for themselves.

What A Marwell-ous Day At the Zoo

Right, well, another Zoo post… I’m really making a habit of these aren’t I? Well… No regrets!!! : D

Here are some of my favourite shots from a visit to Marwell Zoo, in the English county of Hampshire. Tickets were quite affordable, compared to say ZSL, but then it was quite a drive away to get to. It wasn’t the sunny day one hopes for on a visit to the Zoo, but then it is England ; p

Quite honestly, Marwell was amazing. The animals had great enclosures and I’m sure during the summer it must be quite a sight to see many of them roaming in shared habitats. If you love near by or are planning a trip in that direction, take a day and go. You won’t regret it.

A Day at Whipsnade Zoo

If you’re a long-time reader of this blog you’ll know that I like, once in a while, to try my hand at photography. Now, I am by no means a professional. Barely even an amateur. But I do manage to get the odd picture or two that I can look at years on and feel quite pleased with.

One of my favourite things in the world to photograph is animals, and while I’d much rather photograph them in the wild, being a city a boy I rarely get the opportunity. So it is a delightful treat when I convince a friend to accompany me to the local Zoo.

Knowing of my love for the furry, slimy, scary and cuddly, a very dear friend decided to take me to Whipsnade Zoo, located in Bedfordshire. And I must say, if you haven’t been, you really should try to get out there. It is just breathtakingly gorgeous and seeing so many of the animals roaming in their large enclosures really warmed my heart. Many of the smaller herbivores were even roaming free about the whole compound, which was an especial treat! It may not be the great plains and jungles many of them are accustomed to, but it’s nice to see them being treated well. Or as well as can be hoped.

I hope some of these pictures inspire you to patronise this establishment for yourself. And take it from me, if you’re a real animal buff, get the ZSL Membership – 3 trips to either Whipsnade or the London Zoo and it’ll have paid for itself.

An Afternoon at the Museum(s)

Despite spending a wonderful year in Oxford I had not, much to my chagrin, visited the two linked museums in oxford – the Natural History Museum and the Pitt Rivers. So a few days past, thanks to the prodding of a very dear friend, I finally made the excursion to see the muss and fuss (and of course the Shrunken Heads!)

What followed was a realisation that these two museums are severely lacking in space. Oh don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to imply that they were by any means shoddy or architecturally minuscule… Rather I make such a comment simply to make more dramatic the point (as is my habit ; p) that the institutions are absolutely bursting with an amazingly diverse collection of artefacts, fossils and various bits and bobs. While I have had the pleasure of visiting many museums, none made so vigorous an effort to catalogue the minutia of human existence as did the Pitt Rivers. And the Museum of Natural History can boast many wonders of its own… From masks to games to arms to cosmetics – the various displays house thousands of little pieces of the human story.

But it’s not all tiny puzzle pieces of the grander human experiment (apologies for the mixed metaphor). There is also much for the less anthropologically inclined, such as dinosaur fossils, various extinct species of animals and a fairly decent collection of stuffed animals. Admittedly I did not spend much time in Natural History Museum, owing most to the fact that I found it difficult to stare at the stuffed remains of so many beautiful creatures, which I would have given much to see in the wild. Sadly for many of us, and especially generations to come, stuffed and mounted is probably the only way many of them will ever be seen.

My personal thoughts on conservation and preservation aside, the Pitt Rivers is a wonderful family friendly afternoon that I encourage all of you in or about Oxford to drop in on. Admission is free and you can even enjoy a nice picnic in the garden out front.

For more details about visiting and what’s on go to Pitt Rivers Museum or Natural History Museum sites.