Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Birdies, birdies and more birdies!

So the other weekend we found ourselves stuck at home and wondering what to do for the day as (for a change) it was sunny. We decided to take a walk to the local Bird of Prey centre, Huxley's Bird of Prey. ( It was a little bit of a hair-raising walk as we found ourselves without a footpath at one point, but it was worth it when we got there!!!

One of our favourite parts of the whole experience was these owls:

The top owl in the photo is Little Mo, who was not, by any stretch of the imagination, little!! The middle girl is Katy, who was very vocal, most of their owls are imprinted when hatched which means that the first thing they see when they open their eyes is a human. Katy believes she is human and therefore likes to talk to people!! The bottom owl is Igor (yeth mathter). Igor has a bit of a sad story attached to him. . .He was bought as a present for a child (way before Harry Potter which just goes to show that people don't need suggestions to do dumb things, they can do it all by themselves). The family in question didn't really know how to look after an owl so he was left tethered outside with no shelter and occasionally fed dog food (or something equally un-owl-like). There was a gap in the fence next to him and schoolchildren would throw stones at him on their way past. One of the neighbours contacted the RSPCA who in turn contacted Huxley's and they came and rescued poor Igor. Igor is still frightened of many other birds of prey (as they would obviously have picked on him when he was unprotected) and cowers when he hears one of them calling. He is also afraid of the dark (an owl afraid of the dark, isn't that the saddest thing you've ever heard???) and when they take him on shows and it starts getting dark, they have to put him back in his carrier where he feels safe to calm him down. Anyway, at least his story has a happy ending because the nice people have given him a home and lots of cuddles and he is very loved now!!
You may notice that some of the birds are tethered where they are. This is not as cruel as we thought it was! There was a flying demonstration and during that we discovered that many birds of prey are actually just plain lazy. They will only fly a certain amount and then they'll start waddling around on the ground! So having them tethered is pretty much the equivalent of what they would be doing in the wild anyway.
They also only teach the birdies "tricks" that they would normally do in the wild anyway! Unlike stoopid China who absolutely terrrified these poor animals:

This was done for a celebration of China's "Anniversary day", the 59th year since they became a communist country. BAD CHINA!! Poor horsie and kitty just not meant to do things like this!!!

We also found out that the belief that owls are wise, is just wrong! (sorry to Nessa who when we did our whole every person is an animal thing we made an owl, because of the wise old owl stereotype, maybe we should rethink that. . .maybe a falcon would be better. . .)
ANYWAY, onto one of our OTHER favourite parts of the whole experience! MEETING IGOR!!!!

Yes, those feathers really are as soft as they look!! And he has ticklish feet which means that if you pat his feet, he'll start pecking (gently) you to make you stop.
Moving right along. . .here are some more photos of our favourite owls:

The top one is Igor doing his impression of Amber when she first wakes up (she's never able to open both eyes at once first thing in the morning, or after surgery which really freaked out the nurses in recovery!!) the bottom one is "Little" Mo, Mum - see his breast feathers? Little Mo is a Siberian Eagle Owl (not a scandinavian eagle owl like Amber keeps saying).

Here are some photos of them flying:
Ok, so none of them are actually flying in any of these, but that's cause it's really hard to take photos of birdies flying cause they're quite quick!! The bottom photo is Katy who at this point had had enough of flying and was talking to her "daddy" about how he should really just feed her now. The top one is Bramble the Barn Owl who knows the routinue really well and will start flying about his aviary in a really excited manner just before the demonstration time! Also, all fans of the Labyrinth should recognise that shot. . .the middle photo is of a Harrier Hawk, it's just landed and is settling it's feathers back down, Harrier Hawks are unique because they can be flown for a hunt and still fly for "dead" meat as well, Falcons and other Hawks will refuse dead meat if they have tasted "fresh" meat and killed.
Anyway, if any of you have been watching International Weather forecasts, you will be aware that some parts of England are already getting snow! Where we are has had a snow warning already and for the last two years snow hasn't fallen here until well after January. They turned on the COLD weather for us!
Also, for those who have been following the "Amber-needs-a-job" saga, Amber was offered a Learning Support Assistant (LSA) role at the following school: She starts on Monday, the 3rd of November. The theatre position was only casual, this is full time. She will still be doing a couple of film shifts at the theatre but they couldn't guarentee her a full time position as they are run by the District Council and therefore have to piss around for several months before they can give a job to ANYONE. (much to the disgust of the technicians who work there who A) would like to have Amber working with them and B) are very understaffed and underpaid as it comes into Panto season)
Ok, now that we have caught you all up, we have to dash to town. . .love and hugs to all!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We came half way around the world to find New Zealand?

We have just finished reading Nation by Terry Pratchett and there is a line in the book that goes something like so far away from home you end up back where you started. This is a little bit how we felt when we ended up standing outside the Leeds Armoury in, well, Leeds.
They were doing a display called The Wonderful World of Weta.

Did you know that Weta made the Very Big Gun that was used in Hellboy? No? Well they did. this exhibition was all about the weapons that Weta Workshop made for LOTR, Narnia, King Kong, and yip Hellboy. There was even a sign that said to follow the Wetas. Not something you expected to see in England.
Photo Time!

This last image has nothing to do with the Weta exhibition but we have included it becuase we think it looks cool and kind of artsy.

Unfortunately We could not take photos inside the actual exhibit but this one is taken at the entrance to the Narnia section. Any one recognise those fur coats?
(Sorry this one is a little blurry but it is the best one I took)

Anyway this was just the thing to help two very homesick Kiwis feel even more homesick but it was still really good to see that little ol' NZ is world reknowned for making fake weapons in a very realistic manner. (good to know we are useful for something right?)

P.S Amber just told me that the first film she threaded up at the Capitol (her new job) had an ad on it to "come and see the worlds youngest country" filled with shots of the Naki and the Haka and Hongis and yep well I guess we are world famous.... Speaking of which if any body reading this feels like helping out a couple of homesick girls we could really do with some L& P and some Twisties...... care package anyone???

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Capitol Horsham. . .

is soooo cool!! They have three "film" Projector's, all Victoria 5's and one DIGITAL projector that is like, REALLY cool looking. ..They are also a Theatre as well and all of the projectionists are actually techies for the Theatre (they were really excited about the prospect of having somebody who is specifically trained in Projection!!) and they want to employ me on a casual basis to start off with but one of their guys is leaving soon and there is the possibility I could step into a full time job!! And if I do get a full time position there they will train me in Lighting and Sound technical stuff for the Theatre side of things!!! EEEKK!! Shelley is a little afraid that if I do get the full time position I won't want to leave as it'll be like my IDEAL job!!
Oh, and the guy who "interviewed" me was from Hutt Valley and he said "Us Kiwi's have got to stick together" which was really cool :)
So, as soon as I get my National Insurance Number (England's version of an IRD number), which will be happening on Tuesday, I will be getting a couple of "training" shifts to get me back up to speed :) Oh, and also to teach me how to operate a projector WITHOUT AUTOMATION EEEK!!
YAY for incoming money!! (Even if it is only £6.35/hr for casual shifts, it's still better than nothing!!)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

It is not a toy

So this was one of the other highlights of Thailand. We went to a place called Fantasea (really spelt like that too) and we had the chance to have a cuddle with this little guy. The reason that it has taken so long for us to post this is because at Fantasea we had to give up our camera and then purchase a professional photo from the theatre. So thank you very much to Mum and Dad (well more dad as he did it) who scaned this photo and then emailed to me so that I could post it for all you lovely people. Just in case you were wondering he was very soft and very warm and he kept prodding amber with is front paws to get her attention and so she kept looking at the cub instead of the camera despite the fact that the people taking our photo were trying to get her to look at them!!