Friday, June 29, 2007

Birthday presents

I had a fantastic birthday in just about every sense. I had many cards and some great gifts, including a digital radio, a rose quartz necklace, vouchers, a picture frame, wine (a nice Chianti) and The Universe. No really! It is the title of a book and it is full of the most fantastic images from the Hubble telescope. I just know it is a book I will keep looking at, especially as I have always been fascinated with space. I was also taken out for a truly fantastic meal in a great restaurant called Bordeaux Quay. The food used there is all organic and sourced locally (very green) and was truly delicious. I had a selection of meat terrines as a starter, duck with nectarines for my main course and chocolate nemesis for dessert all washed down with English sparkling wine. Sumptuous!

I was also thrilled every time I visited my blog to find that more of my blog friends had visited and left birthday wishes and little virtual gifts. I was truly touched that many of you went and found things that you obviously chose because you thought I would like them, and I did! :) Lots of beautiful, fun, exciting, thoughtful, informative and entertaining things. Thank you everyone! I loved every single one of them and I will be showcasing all of them here on my blog in the order they given (make sure you check out the links to the gifts which will be in 'bold' text). Also thanks for being such great party guests. Nearly everyone kept the Q&A chat going and I know many of you went and 'mingled' and visited someone else. You are all extremely fantabulosus people and I send hugs to you all!

Diyadear was my first party guest and she bought me a really cool clip from one of my favourite TV shows, Scrubs. It is a fantastic clip where some of the hospital staff form a band and mime to 'More than a Feeling' by Boston (a classic rock track). Here it is so enjoy! I love Ted the lawyer on air guitar!

CrazieQueen was the next to arrive and she had a delicious present for me on her blog in the form of Chocolate and strawberry cake! You can check it out here. It's not a birthday party without cake after all and I had a Pavlovian moment just looking at it so it was a good job I was going out for a meal.

Next to arrive was Beckie over at Give it a Try. She left me a fantastic link to Catstuff - Cat facts and Trivia and I learned things about my feline companion Bob that I never knew including something that involves a black light that I'm not sure I needed to know, not sure I exactly wanted to know and definitely am not going to try. What I want to know is who was looking in the first place to find this out and why did they use a black light. Hee hee :)

I will be writing about the other wonderful things that were left for me by my other blog friends very soon...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Happy Birthday to me!

It's my birthday on Thursday! Do you know that no matter how old I get I still love birthdays? My philosophy is that I am growing older all the time, so the fact that I get presents and cards one day each year that celebrate ME is great! I am being taken out to dinner in the evening to a posh restaurant (best behaviour required) and I am as excited as a kid at Christmas! Daft huh?

To celebrate I have a couple of fun things for you (Well, I hope they are fun!).

A quiz - what's a birthday without dessert? What type are you?

You Are a Banana Split

Fruity, flavorful, and diverse.

Who can beat a true superstar?

And a game. Firstly, I feel like spreading the birthday joy a bit so when you comment please leave a question for the next person after you and answer the one the last visitor left for you. It's party chat time and some of you might have played this at Michele's.

Secondly, I like to be a good hostess so I like my guests to mingle. To achieve this I will introduce you to my blog roll. Please choose someone from the blogroll and go and visit them and tell them that 'Bob-kat sent me to spread the birthday joy'. I hope you do visit someone as everyone I have linked to is there for a reason, namely because I enjoy what they have to say, they are witty, funny, touching and thought provoking.

Thirdly, It's not a party without gifts so I'm sending you off on a treasure hunt (optional of course). Leave a link in the comments to something nice and/or funny that you think I would like. I like: cats, sunsets, penguins, comedy, films, flowers, chocolate and champagne. Happy hunting! I will be showcasing the best gifts on my blog soon!

Lastly, Happy birthday to me and a belated Happy Birthday to Naomi for yesterday and to anyone else who is celebrating a birthday about now! :) This next clip is for us!

Update: Thanks to all who have dropped by and been great birthday party guests and have bought wonderful gifts. I have loved looking at them all so big hugs to you all and thank you :) I feel all warm and fuzzy! I have had a wonderful birthday and will tell you all about it soon.

Monday, June 25, 2007


At last! My mum is returning home from hospital tomorrow. The doctors saw her today and they are pleased with how mum's legs are doing so they are sending her home with some meds, cream for her legs and some compression bandages to try and reduce the swelling. My dad told me that mum's legs are suddenly looking a lot better so this is great news. Of course mum is pleased as she was getting very fed-up and bored with being in hospital, not able to watch what she wanted or sleep in her own bed and all those other little things we all take for granted. She had been in hospital for about a month!

My dad will have to help my mum with the bandages and such, and social services are meant to be calling to see what care assistance will be required. Apparently she is already bossing dad around again which is a sure sign that she's feeling better!

I wanted to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude for all your good thoughts, kind words and prayers for my mother. They were truly appreciated so thank you and hugs to you from me.

I am hoping to have a fun post up for my birthday on Thurs so be sure to drop by! :)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Good news!

I passed my exam!!!
I cannot begin to tell you how pleased and relieved I am. As some of you might remember I took my Strategic Human Resources exam back in April and I have not been completely confident that I would pass. But I did and what is more I did much better than I believed!

The reason I wasn't confident was that my revision time was very much compressed due to my text books and laptop being stolen not long before and so I had to catch up on my last essay but this impacted on my reading and revision (in fact there were a couple of areas I was forced to make the decision not to study as there was no time).

Now I am on the last leg of my MBA which is a work based project and also involves much reflection on myself as a manager and my development. I have been studying now for 5 years and although this learning has been great and so useful at work I have now had enough and want my free time back without having this hanging over my head like the Sword of Damocles. For now though, I am just happy I have passed. It's the little boost I needed and what is more it's my birthday next week and I like birthdays :) I also had a great day off and went shopping as well as to see my mum and bought myself one or two little treats - a new pair of earrings and some lovely Molton Brown shower gel.

Update on mum

Thanks as ever for your well wishes for my mother. There is not much change to report though the dermatologist is happy with how the infection is responding at last (it is less angry and red) and she is to see a lymph specialist next as her poor legs are so swollen and she can't have diuretics due to her tired kidney's. My mum was weepy again yesterday as now she just wants to go home. Fingers crossed, if they can get the swelling down it might be next week.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mum watch

Your kindness in offering well wishes and prayers for my mother are very much appreciated so I thought I would give you all an update. I talk to my dad on a daily basis as I live too far away to visit more than once or twice a week. It gives me a chance to keep abreast of my mother's treatment and progress and also to check up on my dad who is starting to feel that the house is perhaps a little bit quiet with my mum away.

Mum is doing okay on the whole but goes trough weepy moments. She was on penicillin to treat her cellulitis infection but it didn't respond to this so she was put on erythromycin instead but she seems to be allergic to it! Now she is covered in an allergic rash as well. Either way, the cellulitis is being very stubborn and my mum is getting quite fed up with it. She is basically bed ridden as she has to rest her legs and keep them raised to reduce the swelling. She is seeing a vascular specialist tomorrow about this. On the plus side her diabetes continues to stabilise and her kidneys appear to have stabilised as well which is great news.

If you haven't heard of cellulitis it is an infection caused by bacteria, which affect skin and deeper soft tissues. Upon infection, afflicted areas are usually red, swollen, and painful. I am not sure what is happening next as the doctors decided against putting the direct line in to administer more antibiotics and have stayed with topical and oral treatment. Apparently cellulitis usually responds well to antibiotics but there are more resistant strains evolving. Here's hoping it has a positive effect soon.

Anyway, I have been feeling quite a bit under strain lately, so tomorrow I am taking a day off work. Ideally I need a longer break but a day is a good start. Things are getting on top of me and even housework and keeping the garden neat are an issue for me at the moment, let alone sorting out my divorce or writing my next essay for my MBA. My head is still above the water but at times I feel like I'm not waving but
drowning. I will be fine I know, I just need to step back a bit and accept I'm not superhuman and try to tackle one thing at a time.

Friday, June 15, 2007


The reptile house has always been a place I love to visit at zoos and animal parks, so it was definitely on my list when I went to Bristol Zoo. Even as a child I have been fascinated by these prehistoric looking creatures and I loved that they looked like mini dinosaurs. As ever, half the fun of the reptile house is spotting what is actually in the enclosure as they are usually well hidden and camouflaged. This was certainly true of the snakes that day who were not at all co-operative as photographic subjects. Some, however, are right out in the open like this feisty little fellow below who was perched atop a rock giving everyone the bad-eye as if to challenge them.

The second photo is of an Iguana of which their are many species. Most can be found native in warmer countries in forested areas and some species are now vulnerable due to de-forestation. The marine Galapagos iguana is different being the only one of the species that chooses to swim in the sea to feed on seaweed, as all iguanas are vegetarian. The large male in the photo was sat on a high vantage point warming himself. Vigorous head-bobbing is an important signal in iguana society and high territorial vantage points mean that a head-bob signal can be seen by all iguanas in the area.

The Giant tortoises were out grazing in the morning sun. The male giant tortoise at Bristol Zoo Gardens is currently at the centre of a debate as previously it was thought to belong to a species called the Aldabran giant tortoise, but in the last few years, it has been suggested that it may be a survivor from a species that was thought extinct - the Seychelles giant tortoise. The Zoo's male is thought to be over 80 years old - a survivor from an almost extinct species. The head and legs are much too big to be completely withdrawn into the shells as it does not need to serve as protection from predators because there are none on the islands where they evolved. Little is known about Seychelles giant tortoises in the wild, because none are believed to be alive there.The Aldabran giant tortoises still survive in large numbers on their island home, largely free of predators and competitors.

I know reptiles might not be everyone's favourite creatures but I think they have they're own characters. My family had four tortoises as pets when I was a child and each one had different traits. The most memorable was called 'Rocket' and he would challenge everyone in the garden by head butting their feet!

Bristol Zoo is not a large zoo, but it certainly goes to great pains to recreate the habitats for the animals so that they have good quality of life and they do much work to conserve threatened species through captive breeding programmes and public awareness. If you are ever in the area I recommend a visit!

Mum Update

I went to see mum this weekend and she is perkier in herself which was nice to see. I think she has accepted that she will be there for a while yet and that she is likely to need more IV antibiotics. I think this is largely to do with her diabetes finally being managed properly, so hoorah for that! On the downside her leg infection is still getting worse so it looks likely that she will have to go on IV antibiotics again and keep a good close eye on her kidneys. To do this they will have to fit the cannula into her neck, which will require minor surgery, as they have exhausted areas to put needles and things into her arms (they are covered in bruises as a result!). Anyway, we will hopefully find out more tomorrow. It was my dad that I really felt for as I went to see him also as he seems to be getting a bit lonely. Fingers crossed this next intervention (whatever they decide) works. Thanks to everyone who has dropped by to offer well wishes and prayers. I really do appreciate it, you have no idea how much.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Furry Critters

Bristol zoo is home to many cute, fluffy and furry beasties, including the Prairie Dogs which many people in North America may be familiar with and the meerkats. Both communities had young pups when I visited who looked like little half sized versions of the adults scampering around. One of the prairie dog young is in the photo below.

The zoo had once more done wonders in re-creating the animals habitats. both had natural compounds with extensive tunnels and burrows and it was nice that the animals were relaxed enough around people to ignore them and get on with their everyday business. In the wild, the prairie dog is prey to many animals so they are constantly on the look out for danger with the adults taking turn as look-outs and as you can see from the photo's they are very well camouflaged too!

There was also a Pudu in the prairie dog pen. The pudu is considered the smallest of the deer family and is naturally found in Chile and Argentina, so in a way the photo above is quite amazing as these two species would not meet in the wild! It was quite amusing as the pudu and prairie dogs are obviously used to each other, but this very young prairie dog obviously needed a closer look. When the pudu passed close by it stood it's ground and the two animals came nose to nose. The pudu eventually wandered off and the little pup looked so pleased with itself as it has stood up to this 'giant' animal!

Next, we saw the meerkats who are native to many parts of Africa. Like the prairie dogs they are sociable animals that live in colonies in burrows. They are well know as being alert and inquisitive with at least one meerkat on alert looking for potential threats. In the zoo, this was no exception and one had taken up sentry duty atop a tree stump while the others played, foraged and sunbathed. As you can see in the photo above, the meerkats had young too, who were intent on getting lunch while we were there.


Update on mum

Thank you for your well wishes for my mother. I'm afraid the news is not great. Earlier this week she was diagnosed with kidney failure. It appears that everything has been too much strain on her body so she was taken off the IV antibiotics to give her kidney's a rest. The good news is that the failure is not dire, it's just that they are not working properly and after a couple of days they recovered a little.

However, since going into hospital her leg infection seems to have worsened and today she is having an x-ray as the doctor thinks it has spread into her ankle joints too. She is having to go on the IV antibiotics again and this time they will be stronger which will put a strain on her kidneys again. The doctors say that her kidneys will recover afterwards though, but I cant help thinking there are no guarantees. My poor mother is feeling very down though and has been told she is liable to be in hospital for another 2 weeks. I talk to my dad every night and I can tell he is concerned but the positive thing is that this team of doctors are some of the best at the hospital and we have been told that they are determined to sort my mother out this time. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

More on the zoo and Mum

I thought I'd share a couple more photos from when I visited Bristol Zoo, this time of the penguins which have always been a bit of a favourite of mine (though where animals are concerned I have many!). The zoo has a dedicated area called Penguin Coast which mimics the penguin's habitat, down to a pebble beach, nesting areas and waves on their 'sea'. Visitors walk along a planked walkway above the beach and also can walk through transparent tubes under the water to see the penguins swimming, which is always wonderful to see. They turn from slightly comical birds to graceful creatures underwater, diving and swooping through the water with agility.

When people think of penguins they usually think of the Antarctic, of snow and ice and cold but the penguins at the zoo are African Penguins. They come from the beaches of the Southern most parts of Africa and are threatened in the wild. As with the lemurs, Bristol Zoo is heavily involved in conservation work.

Also at the zoo is a Pygmy Hippopotamus (photo below) which are also found in Africa, but in Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Their habitat is fresh water and tropical rain forest and once again the zoo had done wonders in making the hippo feel at home. The pygmy hippo is much smaller than the common hippo. Like it's larger relative, the nose and ears can be closed under water which is an adaptation to aquatic life. The skin is hairless and sensitive to the sun, but is kept supple and moisturised by a fluid that oozes from glands all over the skin, hence the hippo looks shiny in the photo. Most of the day is spent resting in ponds swamps and rivers to keep the skin supple. Now, doesn't that sound like a nice way to spend your time? This animal is also threatened in the wild with only 2000-3000 remaining in the wild, with the main reason being logging destroying it's habitat.

On a completely different note, I went to see my mother and it was the brightest I had seen her yet. This new consultant has changed her meds and has changed her management of her diabetes and it has had such an immediate and positive affect. I am really happy that this is the case but part of me is really very angry that my mother had been left until things got so bad. There seems to be an awful lot of apathy in our health service at the moment. I am not sating that all doctors are bad because they clearly aren't but I think that some care more than others. For example, my mother has found it impossible so she had been spending all night sat on the edge of the bed, in too much discomfort to sleep. One of the nurses noticed and bought her a wedge to put under the mattress at her feet end. My mum said it was the first good nights sleep she had had in a couple of weeks. This is the difference that caring makes!

Unfortunately her legs looked awful. They are so swollen and sore. She has to lie in bed while they are slathered in thick gunk to try and treat it. In her arm she has an antibiotic IV drip. They have drawn around the red area and it doesn't seem to be responding. However, I am hopeful that this new doctor will help. Fingers crossed! Thank you for all your positive thoughts and prayers. It is nice to know that my mother is in your thoughts.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Worried again

My regular visitors will notice that I haven't posted in a few days. It is most remiss of me and I apologise, however my mother has been re-admitted to hospital and I am concerned.

When she was admitted a couple of weeks ago with sciatic problems they sent her home with a suitcase full of painkillers and other medication but never really did much to address the actual cause. For the last couple of weeks this has meant that my mother has been virtually bed bound as she can no longer get around as she used to and the meds make her confused. Being a diabetic compounded the problems and now it seems that she has problems with her lower legs. Apparently the doctors think it is an infection but it is not responding to IV antibiotics. Yesterday a consultant saw the state of my mothers legs on his rounds and decided to take over her case. My father tells me that he was appalled at how my mothers diabetes has been mismanaged (she has not had a consultation about it in 4 years) and that he believes getting the diabetes under control will lessen all her symptoms. I hope they help her soon as apparently her spirit is severely dampened and she is very weepy. It is very upsetting.

I am going up to see her today. Please can I call on you to send positive thoughts and prayers again? Thank you.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Gorillas in the daisies

One of Bristol Zoo's star attractions is the the Western Lowland Gorillas. The zoo is home to three adult gorillas, Jock, who is a 20 year old male, Salome who is a 27 year old female and Romina who is a 23 year old female. The photo above is of Salome who was sat outside on 'Gorilla Island' enjoying the sun, while her baby, called Komale played nearby. The picture below is of Komale as he tried to follow his mother and his comfort blankie got caught on a twig making him look like a caped crusader!

Below is another shot of Komale and Salome together. It was so sweet the way Komale carried his blanket around with him, and other than the fact that he used his mouth to carry it a lot of the time was just like a human child in many ways.

Gorillas are vegetarian and they were enjoying some ripe tomatoes and bananas at the time with obvious enjoyment. Western Lowland Gorillas come from areas of dense forest and swamp in West Africa, and are seriously threatened in the wild. The forests where they live are being exploited for timber and the gorillas are being hunted for their meat and for bush medicine.The Western Lowland Gorilla is the most populous species but it is likely that there are only approximately 80-100,000 individuals in the wild today. Bristol Zoo supports conservation work to protect wild gorillas in Cameroon.

The final photo is of the daddy gorilla, Jock. He was sat apart from mother and baby, trying to enjoy some peace and quiet while he ate his banana. At one point Komale ran over and started to climb him and he sat there impassively until Komale got bored and wandered off to play elsewhere. It really was a pleasure to see these gorillas at close quarters.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Shy Little Face

This morning the sun was shining and the day promised to be exceptionally fine so I packed up my camera and set off for Bristol Zoo to photograph some animals. The zoo is currently going M.A.D for Madagascar which means it is taking part in the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) conservation campaign to raise awareness and funds for the unique wildlife of Madagascar. As part of this, the zoo has opened a new enclosure called the 'Lemur Walk Through' where you can actually enter the enclosure and see the Lemurs without the impedance of mesh or glass.

The Lemur in the photos is a male Red Ruffed Lemur. Lemurs are only found naturally on the island of Madagascar and some smaller surrounding islands. All lemurs are endangered or threatened and many species became already extinct in the last centuries due to habitat destruction and hunting. Although conservation efforts are under way, options are limited because of the lemurs' limited range and because of Madagascar's economic situation relative to the developed world. The actor John Cleese has been extremely active in helping to save the lemur. His love of them started at the age of twelve when he would regularly play truant and visit the lemurs at Bristol Zoo. In 1997, Cleese helped raise money to support the work of the Madagascar Fauna Group, an international consortium of zoos founded in 1988 to conserve Madagascar's wildlife and in 1998 he made a documentary to raise awareness of this gorgeous species plight.

The Lemurs were quite shy and stayed a healthy distance from the few people that were allowed in at a time. This made photographing them quite tricky, especially seeing as the female was curled up asleep and the male was hiding, but I had my zoom lens, time and patience so I lined up my camera and waited. I was rewarded with the photos you see above and I just love them. I have more photos I took at the zoo to share soon including one of a baby gorilla :0)