I am a long-time fan and follower of Russell’s The Top 10 of Anything and Everything. His posts always leave me either laughing or starving, depending on whether he’s featuring animals or desserts. This one from last week gave me inspiration for a story of my own about meeting unusual creatures.
The town of Damme in Flanders has a dog on both its coat of arms and its flag. According to a local legend the town was once terrorised by a dog sent by the devil. But when it was threatened by flooding after a storm the citizens used the dog as a dam and disaster was averted. In fact, the town’s original name was “Hondsdamme” which means dog’s dam.
I met the devilish dog on a doorstep in Damme and he wasn’t nearly as fierce as he looks. Maybe several hundred years of being used as a flood mitigation device has tamed his unpleasant personality!
I came across this giant hedgehog strolling alongside Bankside in London one warm autumn day. He was out and about making the most of the lovely weather before finding a cosy pile of leaves in which to sleep away the winter months. Hedgehogs are usually extremely prickly characters but this one was quite cuddly and very friendly.
By far the most unusual creature I’ve met so far was this one. He was prancing around the streets of Chinatown in Sydney.
I don’t quite know how to describe him – he was big, blue and bouncy. And how could I resist someone with a love heart for a nose?
Who he was I never found out but I have a sneaking suspicion he was hiding something.
I was filled with wonder when I found this abandoned bird’s nest today. What type of birds created this intricate little home? How many babies hatched here and where are they now?
I was secretly glad that there were no eggs still in the nest needing to be kept warm.
Sitting here would be quite prickly.
I’ve been on top of the world this week…well, on top of Australia at least. I climbed the highest mountain in the country, Mt Kosciuszko!
At an elevation of 2,228 metres Mt Kosciuszko is nowhere near the height of other peaks around the world. It’s part of the Great Dividing Range, one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, and the reason for the mountain’s lower elevation is simple – it’s been eroded away over millions of years.
There are several routes hikers can take to get to the summit and I chose the shortest. A 6.5 kilometre raised metal walking track protects the delicate environment of this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It’s a great way to enjoy the fresh alpine air.
I walked and walked and walked…
Eventually I arrived at Rawson Pass, home of Australia’s highest toilet. (click here to read more on this fascinating subject)
From here I could see the summit of the mountain, so near and yet still so far to go.
This friendly park ranger gave me a personal lesson in how to swat march flies. Can you see them on her socks and boots? These giants of the insect world are very persistent and have a nasty sting so I took care to follow her advice.
I had another 1.67 kilometres of walking to reach the summit so I farewelled my new friend and continued up, and up, and up until I reached my goal – the highest point in Australia.
I have a new claim to fame, as the only German beaver to have sat on this trig marker.
Being mostly downhill, the return journey was much easier and I was heartened by these encouraging signs.
A steaming hot chocolate in the café was the perfect way to end the day.
A mighty treat after a mighty feat!
My first view inside the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore took my breath away. The colours and textures of the natural world, grouped in climatic themes, created an amazing dramatic display. It was possible to interact with these gorgeous flowers and I took the opportunity to get right up close!
It was definitely a case of beauty and the beast!
Schwarzes Moor is an untouched area of natural beauty in the Bavarian Rhӧn in Germany. It’s more than 700 metres above sea level and has a layer of peat 6.8 metres deep.
It’s been listed as a special protection area since 1939 and many rare animals and plants flourish here. Some live nowhere else on earth! Manny and I had heard that the rarest of all creatures lives here and we decided we wanted to meet him. So we went in search of the Bog Monster!
We followed the raised timber path across the moor through a ghostly forest of silver birch trees. It was the perfect place for a Bog Monster to hide and although we looked carefully he didn’t reveal himself.
We risked our lives to peer into these pools of unmoving blackness. They looked tranquil on the surface but if the Bog Monster was there he could have reached up and dragged us down in an instant.
We climbed up 80 steps to the top of the observation tower hoping that a birds-eye view might help us spot the monster’s home.
We couldn’t see anything that looked remotely like a Bog Monster’s dwelling but we did enjoy seeing the moor from on high.
Manny began to take more risks and eventually he reached a fraction too far – and fell into the bog. I panicked; certain that he was about to be dragged away, never to be seen again.
Luckily he was quick to bounce back onto the path and I breathed a sigh of relief. Imagine if I’d had to tell Marsha Lee that Manny had been snatched by the creature from the black bog.
Eventually we decided to sit and wait quietly for the monster to come to us…
…but he didn’t ever show himself.
Or so we thought…
Pirates are renowned for having talking parrots on their shoulders and wearing eye patches. But the most well-known fact about pirates is that they have buried treasure stashed in secret locations all over the world.
I met this pirate at the Historic Dockyards in Portsmouth just as he was getting ready to leave for an adventure on the high seas. I whispered in his ear and told him that his secrets and his treasure would be safe with me.
I would love to tell you what he said, but if I did you would have to walk the plank!
Recently I received a phone call from an excited fan telling me that I was on the TV, right at that very moment? Can you imagine my anticipation as I turned the television on?
I was stunned! It wasn’t me at all, but another guy with a very similar name who is also a singer. I could see how my fan had made such an error. The likeness was incredible.
It was like looking at myself in the mirror!
I’ve been quite surprised in the past when people have come up to me and introduced themselves as fans and followers. It’s usually a very pleasant experience and I come away feeling like I’ve made a new friend. Last week I met someone who was so excited he just couldn’t stop talking.
Here is how the conversation went:
“When I heard Justin Beaver was going to be in town, I felt all shook up. I decided it’s now or never and I should follow that dream. You’ve always been my good luck charm and if I wasn’t first in line and missed this opportunity it would be always on my mind. I wore my blue suede shoes specially for you. Now that I have met you I am in awe of the wonder of you and I feel like I’m on the edge of reality or coming down with a fever. This is the best day of my life. I’ll remember you forever. This is my heaven!”
Phew! I couldn’t get a word in.
When he finally left, I heard him say “That’s someone you never forget.” I won’t forget him in a hurry either.
Signs tell us information, give us warnings and send us in the right direction. Road signs often use a picture to convey a safety message – no words needed.
I’ve been collecting photos of interesting road signs but I’m not sure for whom some of them are intended. Is it the road user or the pedestrian?
Why did the ducks cross the road?
To prove they weren’t chickens.
Why did the horse cross the road?
To visit his neigh-bours.
Why did the kangaroo cross the road?
To get a new jumper.
Why did the emu stop in the middle of the road?
To lay it on the line.
Why didn’t the wombat cross the road?
Because it was too fur.
Why did the snake cross the road?
To get to the other ssssssssssside.
Why did the beaver cross the road?
To get away from all the bad jokes!
This week’s photo challenge theme is juxtaposition. I’m glad Michelle provided a definition for me…
As I travel around the world I often come across oversized objects, which look even larger when a small beaver stands near them.
Unexpected pairing #1
A small beaver with a very large trout, at Adaminaby, NSW, Australia.
Unexpected pairing #2
A small beaver with some very large pears, outside the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT, Australia.
Unexpected pairing #3
A small beaver with a very large chess set, at the Cania Gorge Tourist Retreat, Cania Gorge, QLD, Australia.
Luckily good things come in small packages!