Swans and Trains and Otters

Most of today has been spent touring around South Devon.

First we stopped off in Dawlish to take in the true extent of Brunel’s craziness in building a major railway line along the sea shore, and meet the famous flock of Australian black swans.

Next we headed on to Totnes to catch the South Devon Railway up the Dart Valley to Buckfastleigh. There were a couple of school parties riding the rails today. The first group we saw were all in costume as witches and wizards (including several of the teachers). A young man in Harry Potter glasses asked Kevin who he was dressed as. “I’m an American Tourist”, he answered. I guess I should have told them that I know a flying monkey (as all of the best Wicked Witches do).

At Buckfastleigh there is an otter and butterfly sanctuary. I was really impressed by the butterflies — their collection stood up well compared to the one I’m familiar with in Kuranda, Queensland. As for the otters, well, we died of cute, as one does. These two are Canadian otters, which are slightly bigger than the British variety, and apparently capable of taking down a seagull should one venture too close.


More Linkage

Because the world keeps getting more weird, and religious bigots keep shooting themselves in the foot.

– First up a humiliating defeat for right-wing bishops as the House of Lords decides that the Church of England does not have the right to force all religions to hate gays.

– Then we have one of those lovely stories about gay-hating Republican politicians being caught frequenting gay bars. This time it is a California state senator who was a leading proponent of “Proposition H8”.

– Not to be outdone, a Vatican chorister has been sacked for running a gay prostitution ring. Nice to see your boys setting a good example, Mr. Pope.

– Meanwhile South Carolina is compiling a register of people plotting to overthrow the US government. Several amusing Discordians appear to have registered, but no sign of Sarah Palin as yet.

– Back with sanity, Nick Harkaway is plugging a fundraiser anthology helping victims of the Haiti earthquake.

– And finally, one of the cutest things I have read in a long time: Georgia Roberson writes a letter to Dr. Seuss.

Auckland – Day 4

I spent yesterday looking around Auckland harbor with a friend. It was a bit cold due to the wind, but clear and bright and absolutely beautiful. Hopefully I have lots of good photos, but it was kind of difficult to keep the camera steady in the wind.

Finding a decent Internet connection continues to prove difficult. We tried a few free wi-fi places yesterday, but they all proved to have really poor connections that would not allow me to download the ton of email I have piled up on the server. My apologies if I am not answering something important.

This afternoon I am off to Wellington where I will hopefully get to see Kelly & Daniel. However, leaving Auckland is going to be a wrench because my friends here have three young kittens who are absolutely adorable. They are tiny bundles of fluff, but also very energetic and determined to master the arts of killing sofas, swinging from curtains and climbing trees (or in the absence of trees, people’s legs). I have some video, but that will need editing and uploading so in the meantime you’ll have to make do with this picture taken from my iPhone. That’s Polly telling me that under no circumstances am I allowed to move from the sofa without her permission.

Oh, and the cats are all very keen to learn typing. I’m sure they will be on Twitter soon. They grow up so fast.

Selling Rugby

Dieux Du Stade Calendar, 2008 Almost Six Nations time again, and we can look forward to a couple of titanic cross-channel bouts. Italy visit Wales, and England travel to France.

One thing you can say about our continental cousins, they never let a little thing like a game of rugby get in the way of the serious business of sex. Consequently, if you want to be one of the glamor boys who plays for Stade Français in Paris, not only do you have to wear pink, you also get asked to pose for their annual nude calendar. Wow, do these guys have muscle.

And if that stuff is to your liking you might want to check out this blog. The English and French versions appear to have different content.