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A mother’s love

We could learn a lot from Ozala the Gorilla at Twycross Zoo in Warwickshire.   Her latest baby was born on 2nd January as a result of a successful primate breeding programme but so far keepers have been unable to determine the sex of the newborn since the 16-stone Mum won’t let anyone near her precious infant.

This is the 4th baby for 18-year old Ozala, and it may well be that she is over-protective since her 1st offspring, Matadi, born in 2003, was taken away from her and is now being cared for at Paignton Zoo in Devon.  Her 2nd, a female called Ndoki  sadly died aged 3 months in 2007  and her 3rd, a male called Okanda was born in April last year.   Okanda survived after some initial health problems and is now being cared for in Stuttgart Zoo in Germany.

I do hope she is allowed to keep this new addition.  It seems extremely cruel to me that she should be parted from her babies when she so clearly has extremely strong maternal instincts.   I accept that Gorillas are a critically endangered species, but come on!  How could you separate these two?

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Monstrosity or Work of Art? You decide!

If you’re looking for a sure-fire way to divide opinion, you could do no better than to “borrow” a Damien Hirst sculpture!  This is precisely what the seaside town of Ilfracombe, Devon has done by accepting his controversial statue, Verity, a pregnant woman wielding a sword, on loan for the next 20 years.

Verity, described by Hirst as a ‘modern allegory  of truth and justice’, carries the scales of justice and is standing on a plinth  of law books.  The naked pregnant figure holds a sword and has  part of her anatomy exposed – a baby clearly visible in the womb.  She stands at 20.25m from plinth to sword tip, is slightly taller than the Angel  of the North and weighs more than 25 tonnes.

Why Ilfracombe?  Well apparently Hirst lives in the town and also owns a restaurant there so presumably he wants it close by.  In addition he probably thought that the town already had a controversial structure in the Landmark Theatre [which is known locally as “Madonna’s Bra”, a reference to its shape], so why not have another one to really  make it a place to talk about?

Personally I quite like the smooth side of the statue but find the exposed side somewhat disturbing, but I guess that was the artist’s intention?

There are many locals who regret the decision of Ilfracombe town planners over the years to pull down Victorian buildings and to replace them with modern structures that don’t fit with the character of the town. The Landmark, which – from a distance – looks much like the cooling towers of a power station, and now this latest addition, represent this unfortunate inclination.

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Childhood memories

A lady called Patricia Bevan, 65, has just beaten hundreds of entries to win a national competition to find Britain’s best beach hut with her patriotic red, white and blue affair, complete with bunting and Union Jacks in honour of the Queen’s Jubilee.

This has brought back many happy memories of my childhood holidays in Birchington-on-Sea in Kent where, every summer from the age of about 6 to 15, I spent the entire school holidays [come rain or shine] in a beach hut on the prom at Minnis Bay. 

I have to say that our hut bore little resemblance to this colourful specimen in Westwood Ho.  In fact, apart from the 2-ring gas burner, it was a million miles away from this cheerful, inviting space!  We spent many rainy days huddled around that gas burner drinking tea or tomato soup [though not at the same time], but we also had many weeks of gorgeous sunshine and fabulous walks, either along the promenade to Epple Bay or, if we were feeling more adventurous, to Reculver which was a terrific walk along the coast and is just on the outskirts of Herne Bay.

As a child, the walk seemed epic.  However, looking at a map today it can’t have been much more than 2.5 miles!

The lure of cheap package holidays to the sun when I was in my teens meant that I soon stopped wanting to go to that beach hut in Birchington.  I will always remember though just how lucky I was to get 6 weeks by the seaside ever year and it seems that the humble British beach hut is now experiencing something of a renaissance.

Well known hut owners such as Suggs from Madness [Whitstable] and Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones [West Wittering] may do little to help encourage the younger generation that beach huts are “cool” and to give them a try – but who needs a Costa when you can have the simple life a lot closer to home?  Hmmmm …..??? 

Steer clear of Beer!

Perhaps as a result of the lack of investment in recent years, a road in Devon has been closed indefinitely after part of it collapsed.  Cracks – thought to be caused by persistent rain – began to appear on Old Beer Road in Seaton on Wednesday and within 48 hours part of the road had collapsed and Devon County Council is now concerned more of the road could disappear.  Members of the public have been urged to stay away from the “potentially dangerous” road.

The council said the road had dropped by about 1m (about 3ft) in the past 24 hours and barriers had been put up to prevent any access. 

But perhaps more sinister forces are at work?  Surely it is no coincidence that the road collapsed on Friday 13th?  The curse of paraskevidekatriaphobia strikes again!

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