Friday, 4 June 2010

Dartmoor Zoological Park

Having small children now means that I'll be visiting South Devon's best family attractions this summer. First up is Dartmoor Zoological park, near Ivybridge.

We got there nice and early, about half an hour after the park opened and the car park was already filling up nicely (it was bank holiday monday after all). After paying £8.95 each (kids under 5 are free), we began the walk up the hill toward the main part of the zoo.

Its a funny place, basically what looks like a farm on the side of a hill, with pastures for each of the animals, with the more dangerous animals having proper pens at the top of the hill. There are around 200 animals including Osterich, Brown bear, monkeys, meerkat, and several big cats.

I quite enjoyed myself actually. It is a little run down in places (toilet blocks need some tlc, paths are a bit on the dodgy side if you don't have a middle-classtastic phil & ted!) and a bit grubby, but its obvious that they are investing money into the park in the right places. The restaurant is nice with a great little meerkat enclosure right in front of it and there is a large picnic area near the big cat pens with plenty of picnic tables (they missed a trick by not opening the kiosk though - they would have made a killing while we were there). We were even treated to a display from a Peacock - obviously touting for food!

Sammy was quite taken aback by the big cats - the roar of the male lion made him sit up and look around and he watched the tigers for ages, until one began pacing up and down the fence 3 feet from our noses.

There was a small petting area with some small goats which Sammy enjoyed, though he did get gently butted at one point. I think he may have deserved it for poking the poor goat in the eye one too many times.

Overall, it was good half day out for the kids. I don't think I would go back again this year (or next), but it was a good way to show Sammy what lions and tigers look like in real life!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

New hobby

Its been nearly 20 years since I last bought a regular series comic.  I've dabbled with one-offs and trade paperbacks over the past couple of years, but nothing regular. 

There is a little comic shop (LTD edition) near the Barbican in Plymouth that I've nipped into and browsed a couple of times, so the other week I popped in and had  a chat with a guys and came away with a couple of titles to have look at; Batman, avengers, iron man and spawn.  Here's what I thought of them:


This the main Batman title and its pretty much the same as I remembered it - the story was pretty good, the theme dark and there was smattering of baddy bashing in there for good measure.  The whole current Batman backstory is a bit confusing as the original Robin (Dick Grayson aka Nightwing) is now Batman as Bruce Wayne is dead (well, not really, this is comic land afterall! See below).  Overall I was impressed with the first two issues.

Batman:Return of Bruce Wayne

This is a 6 issue miniseries that starts with Bruce Wayne (see, not dead!) in pre-history fighting for his life against a poweful tribal leader. There is the odd bit of iconography and Batman gets a 'Robin' halfway through the comic, but I was really disappointed by the story of the first issue and the artwork wasn't as good as I was expecting.  The second issue was much better though with the story arc being developed and setting (early Gotham in the times of the witch hunts) is a clever tie-in.

Avengers #1 Heroic Age

The first issue of a new avengers comic sees Steve Rogers (cap America, got assassinated a few years ago?) forming a new avengers team. All the usual suspects are there with the first issue setting the scene. Thor gets some action and the final couple of panels sets things up nicely.  Disappointing artwork again though, wolverine especially looked rubbish.

Iron Man: Legacy

Another new series I thought I'd dip into as I've never read any iron man books before. The action starts straight away with iron man technology being used in genocidal acts in a slavic state. Stark goes to investigate and then the fun begins!  The artwork is a lot better than avengers and the story has me hooked so I'll keep up with this one.


I was looking for #200, but it seems this book is forever delayed, so comic shop man gave me a recent copy gratis.  It was part of an ongoing storyline, but nonetheless I was impressed by the glorious artwork, the several full page panels and the dark story.  Definitely one to keep up with.

I've also done a bit of research in other titles. With a couple of new story arcs starting shortly I'm going to take a look at Spiderman, Superman and the new x-men title. I'll report on those and update the others shortly.