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Chester Zoo

The animals are not co-operating today

View Life in the Slow Lane - Canal Barging with Lyn and Chris 2015 on Grete Howard's travel map.

As I said yesterday, the cooker is not exactly efficient on the boat, but I still manage to make bacon sandwiches for breakfast this morning. I also manage to set off the smoke alarm on the boat.

Today the plan is to take a break from canal boating and visit Chester Zoo, which is a short walk from a mooring point by Bridge 134. Chris stays behind with Bruno, while the three of us set off on foot to get to the animal park. The path goes through the middle of the zoo – although you cannot tell or see any of the beasts from the path unfortunately – to the entrance the other side. With my sprained ankle I am finding it rather painful to walk, but I am determined to get there!


The zoo is very impressive – beautifully laid out with meandering paths, elevated wooden walkways and large enclosures for the animals.


The only problem we are finding is that the enclosures are so verdant, to the point of being overgrown, that it is quite hard to spot the animals. As our local zoo in Bristol does not have any of the large animals, these are at the top of our list, such as elephants, giraffe, cheetah, jaguar; but I was also enthralled with the flamingo on her egg and the onager (a new species to us – although it looks suspiciously like a donkey!) All in all, it was a beautiful zoo but the animal spotting – and photography – was somewhat disappointing; as was echoed by a couple of locals we talked to who visit regularly.





With my ankle feeling extremely sore after four hours of gentle walking – I decide I want to take a taxi back to the boat rather than walk. The Guest Services at the Zoo call a cab for us, but trying to explain to the driver where we want to go proves easier said than done. “Bridge 134 please” “You what? What's the name of the road?” No idea. Eventually, after a lot of explaining, pointing, guessing and a couple of U-turns, we are all singing from the same hymn sheet and the taxi driver finds the road which goes over Bridge 134. Result!

We join Chris and Bruno for a rest stop, watching a couple of guys in army fatigues banging something against the brick built bridge. None of us can work out what on earth they are doing. After a while they walk on over and asks if we have a can opener they can borrow. It turns out they are trying to open a can on sweetcorn (obviously) to bait the fish (of course) so that the fish would hang around for when they bring their rods back after work later (naturally). We not only lend them a can opener but also give them a bunch of suet pellets which the birds don't want.

From Chester we continue along the canal to Ellesmere Port, through some pretty grotty industrial areas where the canal is full of flotsam and rubbish. I miss most of it as I take a nap with my foot on the bed after having overdone the walking this morning.

Late afternoon sun, dark storm clouds and lovely scenery - just such a shame about the pollution in the water.

For the last couple of days we have all four taken part in the Great Bin-bag Hunt of 2015. We know we packed some, but none of us can find them. I can remember seeing them, as can Chris. Lyn and David deny all knowledge. As the one bag the marina provided us with is now full and beginning to smell, the hunt intensifies. Seeing a retail park near the canal, Lyn and Chris set off on part II of the Bin-bag Hunt. Unsuccessfully as it turns out. David and I meanwhile finally find some swans who actually want our food, although it seems they bite into David's fingers as often as the suet pellets.


Last year, when we toured the Severn and Avon Rivers, we saw a number of herons, but this year we haven't seen a single one – until today.


As we pass Bridge 134 again, we see the soldiers in their civilian clothes, sitting on the riverbank, trying to reacquaint themselves with the fish they fed earlier on. Strange hobby. Some fishermen have extremely long rods which stretch right across to the other side of the canal; and they send you looks that could kill as they reluctantly remove it at the very last minute. You'd think that if you fish along a canal you might just expect there to be boats coming along...

We go back to the same place we moored last night and settle down for the night. Chris grabs the rope at the stern to drag the boat in to the edge of the canal, but finds the other end is not attached to the boat and he ends up doing a very spectacular backward somersault into the bushes at the side of the tow- path.

Although the threatened thunderstorm did not materialise this afternoon, it is still too cold to sit outside drinking this evening, so we retire to the "lounge" for the evening.

Posted by Grete Howard 09:31 Archived in England

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