Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 31/01/2012

The tiger who came to tea


You want to, don’t you? You want to reach out and give that big pussy cat a big hug… but be warned… I’m not sure your affections will be reciprocated in quite the same fashion. Granted I did witness Benjamin Mee, the owner of Dartmoor Zoo, get very close to these wild beasts, and one even laid on it’s back as if wanting it’s tummy tickled just like a domestic cat, however I’ve also witnessed this big cat rear up on it’s hind legs front paws out stretched defending itself against the aggressive advances of one of the other tigers. I’ve only ever seen this on television, which is impressive enough but in the flesh.. in the flesh it’s positively exhilarating.. well, it’s exhilarating when there’s a large electrified fence between you and the cats – I can only suppose there are other terms used when witnessed in the wild – still, I would like to witness it in the field at some point, bowel loosening or not!

There was definitely something in the air over the weekend as virtually all the animals were in fine voice, the wolves howling on the cusp of daylight hours, the Lions and Tigers calling throughout the day; I heard the Lynx meowing, Sita the Cheetah calling – I even heard the male Ostrich booming as the sun rose on the Sunday morning, it’s deep resonant tones reverberating from the lower paddock to the top of the park. Imagine all these calls happening in the wild (you’d stay in your tent wouldn’t you*) whilst the sun is thinking about making an appearance and you’ve still only half woken up – that’s what it’s like on a game drive in somewhere like the Masai Mara, Kenya. If you’re lucky, Dear Reader, and I manage to get my act together – I could even arrange a Photographic Workshop to the Mara so you could witness this for yourself!

I happened across the aborted attempts at the book I had assembled from last years blog and, even if I do say so myself, it looked rather impressive (“that’s enough self praise, we’ll have none of that here”, Ed.), so much so that I feel motivated, now I have a clear diary for February to try and get this completed. I know what I want to achieve, when putting the book together, both in terms of cost and layout but I had previously hit two road blocks – the price for a 365 paged full colour book seemed quite prohibitive with the two companies I had looked at, and the software they provided to compile the book, whilst having a high degree of sophistication allowing users to easily create a good looking product, lacked some of the more comprehensive Desktop Publishing tools and functions I required to create the look I wanted. Of course, that’s only two companies I’ve investigated plus I do have a number of industry standard DTP packages to hand that I can create the desired layout but I was looking for convenience and of course, convenience comes at a cost – so I’m going to inconvenience myself if I want to achieve what I want to achieve. Oh the things I put myself through!

*No, you wouldn’t, you’d be desperate to get out and in the jeep to witness all these animals for yourself (though Tigers and Ostrich, in the wild… that would be something, coming from different continents as they do).

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