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    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo – an experience I’ll never forget

    A week or so ago I posted about a Eureka moment I had about becoming a tourist in your own hometown. Basically, it occurred to me that once leaving my home country all I could think
    about was travelling to see the world, explore new cultures &
    experience the unique and infamous *activities* of the exotic,
    unfamiliar
    cities we come across. It’s taken a few years to occur to me, but how
    often do we travel-lusting lot sit back and explore our
    own hometown backyard?

    Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    A faux Kiwi egg!

    With this in mind, a 101 in 1001 goal list swiftly nearing to completion
    date and an afternoon pootling around Wellington, I utilized my mate
    Google Search and stumbled upon something amazing. 

    Something incredible –
    Wellington Zoo offers animal experiences where you can find yourself up
    close and personal with a selection of their zoo pals.

    Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi
    Zoos are a marmite institution. Some people hate the caging of animals,
    some love being able to educate themselves of the many wonderful species
    Mother Nature offers, and some like me can’t help but see zoos from an
    ecological need perspective. Like it or not, humans are awful; poaching,
    eroding natural habitats and changing the strata of long-established
    animal kingdoms.

     

    Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi
    Tiger, where?

     Good Zoos, to my mind and to my very limited experience, play an
    integral role in helping these animals. Breeding programmes helping to
    keep species from dying out, drumming up fundraising and PR awareness
    for wild animals, and provide carefully thought out sanctuaries that
    earnestly care about the welfare and happiness of their animals. Not all
    institutions are created equal, and not all do as much as they can for
    the happiness of their inhabitants.

    Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London KiwiWellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi
    A Tuatara – a New Zealand native and one of the last dinosaurs in the world

     Wellington Zoo, and for that matter London Zoo where I acted as a zookeeper for the day,
    try to look after their animals the best they can. They also allow for
    humans to interact with incredible animals through experience days (ps.
    this isn’t a comped post, just something I’m incredibly passionate
    about) in ways that just wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    At London Zoo
    I’ve had
    Ringtailed Lemurs scamper across my lap, been eye to beady eye with
    penguins and experienced mucking out & saw-dusting the Zebra &
    Okapi pens. I was also warned that my handbag would be checked on exit
    for Penguins, but that’s a story for another day.

    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    My love for animals has always however been of the feline kind.
    Ranging from a childhood dream of working with big Cats, but having to
    settle with volunteering at the RSPCA, owning a wee tabby
    beastie cat and hanging out with office monkeys – sorry, I mean
    colleagues – I set a goal of patting a big cat on my 101 in 1001 goal
    list, never thinking that it would happen in the hilly surrounds of
    Wellington.
    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi
    Zulu and I having a moment

    Oh yes, it really happened, and what’s
    more, we got to feed treats during behaviour training with two enormous,
    utterly beautiful male Lions; Malik
    and Zulu. Hanging out in the medical pens at the back of the Lion
    enclosures, we assisted – read: stared at the magnificent cats – the
    keeper with behavoural training, that is getting the Lions to move into
    certain areas of the pen for weighing, check-ups and for their daily
    health checks.

    Feeding a Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    In
    case you were wondering, a Lion’s licking your hand just feels like a
    drier cat’s tongue on a much larger scale. Stick that with the rest of
    the useless facts from this blog! 

    We openhandedly fed them meat, stared into their big eyes and eventually
    got to pat their beautiful hides through a gap in the cage walls
    (mostly so they didn’t accidentally turn and crush our fingers). I don’t
    think I’ve ever been more awed at raw power and feline beauty.

    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    They really are like enormous, very dangerous housecats; they rumble and roar, have hairy slightly oily coats and get up to all sorts of mischeif; Malik likes to wee on unsuspected keepers in between highly essential naps.

    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi
    This isn’t my hand… she was harrumphing at us as she’d missed out on meaty treats

    Once we tottered of the back area, not before we said hey to one of the upset Lionesses, we explored the rest of Wellington Zoo, dodging kids and ploughing up the steep hill. But hey, just check out the incredible views not to mention the Momma and baby Campuchin monkeys…

    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi

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    Long-haul flight survival tips

    Everyone has the ‘booking 2015 travel‘ bug. Well, in the last 3 weeks I’ve spent 50 hours hurtling through the clouds, cruising through 4 hemispheres, over several continents and hours staring at a screen roughly 8inches in diameter. It’s the biggest downside to moving to the other side of the world – having to travel 20,000km to get a slice of your Dad’s Bacon and Egg Pie. True story that. (Strangely all that flying hasn’t curbed my wanderlust, just made it more ravenous…)

    My flights this time were 7 hours London-Dubai, 13.5 hours Dubai-Brisbane then 3 hours Brisbane-Auckland. It wasn’t a lot of fun but also strangely meditative. Living in the crazyness that is London, it’s not often that I just get to sit down, (in fact I’m pretty terrible at sitting still) zone out and read my book, so the flights were in some ways kinda awesome.

    What to do on a long-haul flight - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I took a bit of a strange view hopping on the flight to New Zealand straight after work, working on the assumption that I’d be so exhausted that I’d manage to grab a few winks here and there. It also meant that I didn’t stay awake the night before fretting about the flight and sleeping through my alarm. Stopping off to quickly shower (a life saver) I cruised out to Heathrow and began to make my way home.

    To hang in the aisle or lounge in a window seat:

    This is entirely down to personal preference. 90% of the time I’ll get a window seat – you can watch the world go by, won’t be disturbed by other people needing to get up and can create a little cocoon of How To Train Your Dragon movies. I find personally I’ve been elbow-bashed in an aisle seat too many times by passers-by to outweigh the great ability to hop up and down as much as you like.

    The one time I have gone against my own preference was an emergency exit seat upstairs in the A380 (my coming home flights via Dubai). Ah-maz-ing. Not only was I able to hop about as much as I liked (despite being told by the grouchy air hostess to ‘go back to sleep’ when asking how long we’d been flying, in order not to disturb my seat mate) but it gave me more leg room than I’d ever need, and a hunky bloke to snore-on next to me. And no, it wasn’t my poor husband, he was spared that particular enjoyment!

    What to do on a long-haul flight - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Clothes

    It never ceases to amaze me how dressed up people get to board long haul flights. Stiletto boots, skin tight jeans and pancaked makeup seems to be almost de riguer. Just why?? It’s best to dress fairly nicely, but you have to be comfortable. If you’re angling for an upgrade it might be an idea to wear something classy, by make sure you take a pair of yoga pants and a comfy jumper. Think loose, light gym gear or a maxi dress and you’ll be a snug as a bug in a rug.

    The usuals:

    – Keep hydrated – drink plenty of water

    – Wear comfortable clothing

    – Make friends with the air hostesses

    – Get a bulkhead/emergency exit seat

    – Move those hips (and legs, and arms – Deep Vein Thrombosis isn’t good)

    Jet lag

    Some people run with the school of thought that jet lag is beaten by not eating and forcing your body to sleep in line with the country you’re going to. Personally that doesn’t work for me – I just assume that the first few days on arrival I’ll be crashing early and waking at the crack of dawn – perfect for exploring. Every cloud has a silver lining after all!

    What I did try to do was eat well and drink plenty of water in the days leading up to my flight (you have no idea how challenging this was during the Christmas whirl), keep my vitamins topped up and get in as many steps as possible. In between flights I stretched as much as possible, and when not standing, often sat on the floor in airport lounges to stretch my hamstrings.

    Long-haul flight survival tips - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Tips I’ve learned the hard way:

    – Check in as early as possible – online is the very best

    – Hop out early to the airport – that way you’ll breeze through security and can enjoy a leisurely gate-side wine or two.

    – Always double check your seat at check-in. If it has been changed by the airline politely insist they change it back (especially if it you’ve paid for it) or ask them to offer you a better alternative (I always joke about an upgrade)

    – Take change of clothes for each flight

    – Change whilst at the airport, rather than in the plane loo as
    turbulency will happen at the worst moment (I’m speaking from
    experience)

     – Research any terminal transfers

    – If you have long connection times, check out if the airport has a airside hotel with rooms or bathrooms you can use (hello Changi) or if your airline will allow you to purchase access to their lounges (that’s for us plebs of course!) 

    – Never book the last flight of the day unless you can be flexible and fly the next day

    – Know your rights as a passenger

    Connecting flights transfers terrify me. Forget spiders, heights or axe murderers (though I’ll never been keen on huge cliff drops beneath my feet) it’s transferring flights that give me the heebie-jeebies. I squarely place the blame on Helsinki airport and a nightmare flight that only gave us 45 minutes to rush through slow-moving security, run through the incredibly narrow airport and skid over an icy tarmac to make our connecting flight to London. Not all transfers are like this, in fact they should never be like this, and often aren’t.

    Long-haul flight survival tips - Adventures of a London Kiwi
    Watch out for furry stowaways in your luggage, especially your carry on…

    Carry on list:

    – Light, loose clothing including socks

    – A light, big scarf – they hide many evils

    – Sturdy slip on shoes

    – Extra socks. You’ll thank me.

    – Face wipes (a life saver), deodorant, a light perfume, toothbrush & mini-toothpaste (another life saver), eye drops, mousturiser

    – Chargers for your electrical devices

    – Your favourite headphones

    – Fully stocked e-reader

    – Paper copies of bookings

    – Snacks and a bottle of water (purchased post-security)

    – A smile and plenty of thank-yous

    – Light fleecy blanket perfect for snuggling in

    – Painkillers and tummy settlers, just in case

    If you’re super organised, you could even use the time as a mini-spa session like this lady

    What to do on a long-haul flight - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Happy flying!

    (What’s your favourite tip?)

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    How to do your blog housekeeping

    Pretending to be a good blogger over the Christmas/New Year break I try and do a few of those nagging blog chores that get overlooked during the year. You know the ones I mean, those nagging bits and piece that you keep meaning to do, but don’t quite get around to (Hello Twitter and Bloglovin’ procrastination, but not now!).

    I thought it might help to share a few of the things that I like to try and do over one of those quiet Winter afternoons… (it’ll also hopefully inspire me to do all of these that I’ve been meaning to!)

    Back up your blog. 
    Yes, this means you. We’re all guilty of doing this far less often than we should. Remember that time you accidentally deleted a blogpost and couldn’t retrieve those hours of slaving over photos and carefully shaped phrases that were hilariously funny? Image it happening to your whole blog. Months of hard work deleted by a someone nasty. Marie, my panic-because-I’ve-broken-something friend at Code it Pretty has great tips for backing up all kinds of blogs. (Ps. she doesn’t know I’m mentioning her, but she has so many awesome tips!)

    Make sure your About Me pages, your headshot, copyright dates and media kit (if you have one) pages are up to date.
    We love to
    see your smile, we do, but a photograph that’s years out of date or old
    and blurry isn’t very nice. Much like those dating websites, an
    up-to-date photograph is lovely and welcoming (and great when you’re out
    networking!) Also, just check your social media links (Twitter,
    Facebook, Instagram etc) are working properly and up to date – ya never
    know…!

    Fix broken links.
    Google doesn’t really like it when you have lots of broken links in your posts – these are links to other sites or posts that don’t exist any more. It’s not a super bad thing, but can be a little better if you don’t have too many. This ‘Keeping your blog posts fresh‘ article by the lovely Marie at Code it Pretty is awesome – broken links tips are section 3.

    All hands on deck, and wear 100s of thermal layers if you decide to do your chores in the Arctic circle…. #justsayin

    Clear out those labels and post tags.
    Word on the street is that Google & SEO isn’t as fussed about your post labels/tags/categories as it used to be. They are still super handy for readers though – just make sure you don’t have any double-ups or defunct ones lurking.

    Mix up those main topic pages.
    Do the major topics still reflect the focus of your blog, and is there some way you can improve on them?

    Email lassoing.
    Delete anything unread that’s over 6 months old, reply to those starred emails & if you’re a gmail user investigate the use of Primary/Social/Promotional tabs. They are amazing. Also, if you’re still using your personal email address for blog related items set up a free blog email address & keep your personal one free from all that spam! Gmail again has a great divert tool…

    Don’t let yourself become distracted…

    Got any cool topics archived that you want to re-visit? 
    Re-use a couple of those early day/archive posts by drafting the post you actually wanted to write but didn’t have the experience to, or draft an update with your newest recommendations. 
    Don’t forget to link back to the original post as well – internal backlinks are quite good – and it’s interesting to see how a blogger develops their style over time.
    Don’t be tempted to copy and paste the whole post as a new one, Google doesn’t like that…
    – Consider writing a series based on those old ideas

    Wanna become a dot.com? Do it!!
    Usher the New Year in with a upgrade from the blogspot.com address (or whatever you want use) to your very own .com (my excited announcement in January is here). It looks more professional long term and there are loads of fantastic guides on the internet and through the website domain providers.


    Reward yourself.
    You’ve done a great job! Trust me, doing these will feel soooooo good!

    Now I’m off to do all of mine – have you any planned for the break?

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    My social media addictions…

    Where would we be without social media? Ok, so some people would possibly be conversing IRL with their friends without the possibility of Twittering said conversation (moderation is definitely key) but for me it’s been a London ice breaker that has put me in contact with a bevy of wonderful people, meals, bloggers, occasions, fascinating events, news updates and many videos of cats. Many.

    Twitter - londonkiwiemma 

    * Twitter

    This
    is an addiction I can’t seem to shake off. There is something great
    about being able to pick up the random world at the touch of the finger
    tips, though it’s a definitely a time suck.

    Facebook - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    * Facebook
    Ahhh,
    the facebook. Perfect for snaps, witterings and chatting to pass a
    coffee break. Oh, and the occasional meme. Divine for elevenses breaks.

    Bloglovin - Londonkiwiemma

    * Bloglovin’!

    With the demist of Google Reader, Bloglovin’
    is really helping me keep all of the blogs I read in manageable order –
    which says a lot as there are so many interesting ones. I love the fact
    that blog posts can be marked as read or unread,you can search full
    blogs or single topics, and it’s easy to group likeminded blogistas together. The best part of Blogloin’ though? It’s the daily/weekly digest emailed directly to you, with snippets of fascinating posts.

    Google+ Londonkiwiemma

    * Google+
    Google+
    and I are becoming friends, slowly but surely. It’s not quite as easy
    to pick up as Twitter/Bloglovin’ but allows you to do both of the above
    and branch out and meet other bloggers.

    Instagram - Londonkiwiemma

    * Instagram!

    Call me an addict but I love instagram – the plethora of delicious dishes, crazy cats & random shots of people’s days. Give me a sunset shot any time – you simply can’t beat it. Oh, and 2015 is the year I’ve decided to master the overhead food shot.

    If you fancy checking my shenanigans out on these connections, just click the above images…

    Where do you prefer to read/keep up to date with blogs?

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    Who Am I? And other big questions for new bloggers like Who Are You?

    I’m often asked what kind of a blogger I am, and a definitive answer often eludes me. Every bit of blog setup advice advises you to find your niche; cooking, travel, foodie, expat, reviews, lifestyle, fashion, whatever. (For the record, I am definitely definitely not fashionable, and I probably never will be. I couldn’t bring myself to spend £1,500 on a handbag because that’s a flight to New Zealand right there…)

     My biggest fan. Or should I say our cutest-warm-furry-beast-that-we-feed to be more accurate.

     

    I have never been one for settling on a definition – bar unfashionably random – and it kind of struck me that I do have a niche, one I seemed to have carved – it’s pretty well adventures of a London Kiwi, aka ‘stuff wot I love’.

      

    Moral of the story? Be yourself and be passionate. Who else are you gonna be?

    If you’re a new blogger and frightened of taking that first step DON’T WORRY. If no-one reads it but you, why does it matter? Make sure it’s something that you’d want to read, and much like cats to an open can of tuna, readers will come. I think some of the most important things to remember are;

    • Put up some pretty pictures.
    • Network. Network. Network. Other bloggers in your genre (even a made up one… I’ve surprisingly found a few awesome Kiwis in London, check out RunawayKiwi, Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes, 25beforei’m25, Big World Small Me, Kiwifootprints.
    • Ask questions to other bloggers. Network, engage, share!
    • If you’re really really nervous, test the water out with a guest post on someone elses blog! Not every blogger wants to have them, but plenty do, pop them a nice email and just ask them what they’d like from you.
    • Put up a few more pretty pictures interspersed with your prose – pages and pages of text can be a little off-putting.
    • Write conversationally – I often read my blogs back to myself or the cat or my long suffering husband. Sometimes I get him to grammar check them (and have learnt to tell him not to tell me what to change, but to just change stuff).
    • Don’t blog everyday. I know I do this, but it’s because I’m a tiny bit crazy and I’ve set myself a challenge. Even I only blog 6 days a week.
    • You don’t have to write each post on the day you’re posting it. I write around half of my blog posts in a go as I find Sunday evenings are my most creative time.
    • Write whilst the inspiration hits. On a train, in the plane, near a drain, whatevs.
    • Ask for constructive feedback (from your nice friends).
    • Use something like Bloglovin and read a variety of styles and genres
    • Don’t be afraid to blog about something random, they are quite often surprisingly popular…
    • It will take dedication and determination, but it’s great fun. Lovely people, fun events that you may not have gone to and beautiful photos you may not have been brave enough to take.
    • It’s YOUR blog, do what you want to.

    Have a gorgeous weekend!

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