Saturday, 30 August 2014

Meerkats & auction finds...

First....thanks so very much to everyone who read and commented on my last two posts...it's meant such a lot to me and it's been so moving to hear of others' links to this turbulent and catastrophic time in history...everyone who served in that terrible war deserves to be remembered and honoured in my opinion, and I'm thrilled that so many of you agree.

Now...lighter subjects! Our youngest nephew, Will, is hard to get hold of in the summer holidays. Even though he's only 6, he's completely crazy about (& very good at) golf...so his free days are mostly taken up with practising or playing...but I managed to grab a whole day with him last week and we had so much fun! We went to London Zoo by train (the journey there and back was half the fun for him!) and to make it extra special I treated him to a VIP animal experience. There are quite a few to choose from....but I thought that meeting & feeding the meerkats would be the thing!
 They are such delightful, animated, quirky little creatures. Only 5 of us (plus the keeper, Christina) were allowed into the enclosure. We felt so special as the gates were unlocked for us. Will had the biggest smile on his face...
 Meerkats are, obviously, wild creatures...so actually touching them is not a great idea...and we didn't want to spook them....Christina gave us some live mealworms to feed them. They absolutely love mealworms..as you can tell!
 We also threw down plenty of special damp moss in little piles for them...they really enjoy foraging through this for little bugs and tasty tender bits. Meerkats are only happy living in big family groups...they are absolutely miserable alone, which is why misguided attempts to keep them as pets never work. Why would you want to? Just to see them playing, squabbling, scampering around the enclosure was such a joy. They are extremely inquisitive...
 Whenever a plane went over (which was frequently as the zoo is on the Heathrow flightpath) one of the little creatures would squeak the alarm and they all dived into the various holes they had made...before one brave little face would peek out to see if the danger was passed. I think I enjoyed the experience just as much as Will did! It's not a cheap option, but I would highly recommend it as a special treat if you ever visit.

We've also been taking part in some live country house auctions recently...such fun! We've bought all kinds of things - books, the odd painting, a corner cupboard for the dining room....but I thought you might like to see what was in this beautiful old leather case...

 It's an artist's treasure trove! I just loved the actual case....but the inside is full of delights too....

 oil pastels, palette knives, scrapers, oil colours, brushes of all kinds...some in appalling condition! Part of the charm, though. I can imagine this being toted around the countryside...its owner putting up a folding chair & easel and settling down to paint some rural view....
 The locks still work perfectly, and on the base is a clever little rivet to stop the leather actually resting on the ground...
Designed just so correctly and elegantly to fit its purpose, don't you think? It made me think of my dearest friend Sue Branch even though she's really a watercolourist...because I thought it was a lovely, unfussy real painter's case. I do not paint.....sadly. Neither does Paul. But, for the few pounds we paid, we have a little piece of someone's history...and we'll find a home for it, somewhere!
A last photo of Will, mesmerised by the penguins zooming around the pool at the zoo....summer holidays are almost over now....it's all gone so quickly this year... I can feel Autumn in the air already.

I hope you're having a wonderful weekend x

4 comments:

  1. Seems like the older I get, the shorter the years are!! This one seems to have been only 4 months long! I have seem the meerkats on tv and they are fun!

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  2. Rachel, what a fun thing for your nephew. . . and you, I'm sure. Loved the bit about the artist's case. Gene would love this and I must show him. You would love his old French easel, worn and battered but will never be parted with. It has some wonderful stories! One is that he was painting so intently on the California coast once, at Pebble Beach in Carmel, actually, that he was on a rise of sand and forgot all about the rising tide. He found himself marooned on an island and had to wade back through water (he was not in bathing suit!), and in the haste dropped his precious easel in the water! He managed to retrieve his paints and not too much was ruined, but the easel survived! I will keep it always, it is a treasure!

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  3. Fun post, Rachel. Lucky Will to be blessed with such a fun-loving Auntie to share a day of adventure with; the meerkats sound intriguing. The artist's case is indeed a treasure; rather sad that it wasn't considered an heirloom for a special friend or family member, but I'm sure you'll see that it gets a proper home. Summer temperatures still remain here along the Gulf Coast, but drought conditions are contributing to falling leaves and autumnal colors. Always good to hear from you. Hugs from Alabama!

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  4. Cute little creatures! Thank you for making me forget these stupid adverts.

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