This is the year penguins will fly.

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A Trip to Whipsnade!

At the beginning of the week my friends from work and I went on a trip to Whipsnade Zoo!

This was the first time i’d ever been to Whipsnade, despite living in Bedfordshire for 4 years whilst at University, and I was super excited to see all the animals!

We started by stopping by for some lemur breakfast. The Lemurs jumped about everywhere and walked along the barriers at the sides of the path, often hitting us with their tails, as they munched away at their food. I didn’t really know a lot about lemurs and so was very excited to learn new things, including the fact that the smallest lemur is the same size as your little finger! How crazy is that?!?

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Afterwards we moved on to the chimps who also happened to be having breakfast! They were so cheeky and mischievous, especially one who kept stealing everyone else’s food. The dominant male got angry at the cheeky chimp for trying to steal food off him which led to a comical display from the cheeky chimp who threw himself on his back like he was playing dead. Sometimes the food would also fall into the moat next to their island and then the chimps showed off their intelligence by picking up sticks to hit the food towards them.

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Then we wandered to see some white rhinos and I learnt why they’re actually called white rhinos! It’s all to do with a misunderstanding on the Africaans use of the word ‘wijde’ which was in reference to this species wide mouth, but it sounded rather like ‘White’ and so the White Rhino got it’s name. The Black Rhino was named to be opposite despite neither being particularly different colours.

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We wandered about looking at the various animals and we’re extremely impressed with all the different enclosures, the paddocks were huge and decorated beautifully too, the illusive wolves had a gorgeous forest, the penguins had probably the best pool view i’ve seen and all the animals had lots of things to keep them busy throughout the day.

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A Mara, one of the free roaming animals in the Zoo.

We saw a brown bear go swimming which was wonderful to see. It bumbled through the forest and I was running along side ready for the perfect shot, my friend was hoping it would go in the water and so we all waited with bated breath. The bear was snuffing the air and definitely took it’s time, but eventually went into the cool waters and I got some adorable photographs of it having a nice soak.

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We also saw the sealion show, they were great at showing just how agile and amazing they are, they told us the difference between sealions and seals, how they train them for the vets and also how we can help them in the wild. It was really interesting as well as being pretty cool to watch.

We also saw the talk at the animal farm where they brought out many different cute, fluffy creatures for us all to stroke including baby rabbits, ferrets and pygmy goats! They even flew an owl around our heads which hovered right in front of our faces! It was so cool!

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We even took a stream train ride through the park! This is feel was rather overpriced for how long the journey was, but it was really rather fun! We not only learnt about the animals we passed but also about the steam engine we were riding. It’s definitely a fun way to go around and see the animals, i’d recommend it at least once, but maybe not more than that.

We carried on walking around seeing all sorts of different animals, but our feet were getting weary and it was nearly closing time so we wandered over to the gift shop. However the gift shop was closed before we even got there! We were not very impressed by that fact, but decided it was probably for the best anyway as we all needed to save money.

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I spent the rest of the afternoon at a friends house playing with her pet snake and eating far too much rubbish.

I had such a fun day, took so many lovely pictures and can’t wait to go again!

Claire x

Teenie Tiny Baby Monkeys!

In my last few weeks (maybe a month) of being at the Zoo there were many new arrivals! Of course I just couldn’t resist in taking pictures of them and I’m even planning on going to Whipsnade tomorrow as I hear there’s loads of babies there too! 

Last thursday I took a special trip to the rain forest exhibit to take pictures of some adorable baby Emperor Tamarins. These were only just over a week old and absolutely TINY! They’re a small enough species of monkey to fit in the palm of your hand anyway, but the babies really are miniscule. 

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There were two born as these tamarins usually do give birth to twins. When they are first born they do not have the distinctive white moustache that Emperor Tamarins are well known for, but that begins growing soon after. 

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After birth the mum gets a nice rest as it is usually the dad that does most of the carrying, just passing them back to mum when they start calling for food. In ZSL London Zoos Rainforest Exhibit the whole family help out with the babysitting duties, including some Golden Lion Headed Tamarins as well! 

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The two babies are already growing quickly and starting to be more aware of their surroundings, I will have to go back soon and document their progress! 

I can’t wait to see the wonders of Whipsnade, nor can I wait to take many photographs! 

Claire x

The Best Summer So Far

Yesterday was my last shift at what is definitely the best job I’ve ever had. I’ve been working as a presenter at ZSL London Zoo over the summer and it’s been the best summer ever.

Every day I was surrounded by incredible animals, I was constantly learning new, amazing things (which often meant getting close to the animals) and genuinely looked forward to work everyday. Sure parts of the job we’re hard work and stressful but it was always well worth it.

I’m going to miss seeing all the animals and people i met everyday and being able to share how awesome nature is with everyone but fingers crossed I can go back next summer!

But now it’s time to find a job over the winter, I have a few possibilities which would actually give me a lot more time to focus on The Penguin Theory, hopefully I can ace the interviews!

I’ve been playing with lots of ideas for new products and lines, but nothing has been finalised. I plan to work hard over the next few weeks to make lots of items for my Etsy shop and also for craft fairs! It’s time to get busy so expect lots more updates shortly! Keep an eye out for some brand new photography of some cute baby animals coming up shortly!

Claire x

Slovenian Birthday and KNK long boarding 2014

On the 27th of last month it was my birthday and for the first time in roughly 3 years (since my trip to China) I wasn’t in the UK! This also happened to be my first real holiday without my mum.  For Ashley it was the first time he’d been out of the UK for nearly 10 years! We went to Slovenia which is an absolutely GORGEOUS country! The scenery was just stunning and the people really friendly.

But it wasn’t all fun and games, there was a reason we went was because of a Longboarding event Ash and some of our friends were attending. KNK Bear guts is a downhill free ride which takes place near Olsinca at the very bottom of Slovenia.

In all honesty I was quite nervous about him riding, it is a very steep and long hill with terrifying drops at the sides of the roads, but Ash is a sensible person and stayed within his comfort zone only having a few falls.

On the first few days of the free ride it poured it down with rain. The skaters from Britain seemed to relish it though, probably because of all the practice they’ve had this winter! The track was super slidey and they had a great time trying to stay on their boards in the slippery conditions.

Luckily, for me and my camera, the conditions soon brightened up and we had some days of brilliantly hot sunshine. Now the skaters practiced more at keeping up their speed and some we’re really rather fast! I found myself in some very dubious positions in pursuit of the perfect shot and more than once had a longboard flying in my direction. If you are watching a high speed event then posts are your best friend! I was saved several times by standing behind something sturdy, and the riders were saved by the hay bails throughout the course!

The girls we’re shredding just as hard as the guys!

On the last day Ashley decided he’d had enough of wearing leathers, much to my disapproval, but promised that he wouldn’t go fast, instead he wanted to have a day of fancy slides rather than speed. He did get one scrape on his hip but seemed to have so much more fun that I’m glad he did it.

Ash in Leathers tried his hand at speed!

But soon enough he discovered he preferred to practice his slides which is a lot easier without leathers!

The event as a whole was really well run and there were only a couple of serious injuries, all the skaters seemed to have a great time, and so did I!

I just wish I could have explored the country more, myself and Ashley are hoping to be able to afford to go next year as well but to go a week early so that we can do just that!

But all too soon it was time to come back to England and, quite honestly, i’m sort of wishing I could go back to Slovenia.

I had an interview at work the first day back as there were two permanent positions up for grabs, unfortunately I didn’t manage to get it but those who did definitely deserve it. Hopefully I can at least work there again next summer, now it’s just a matter of finding a job over winter. My car insurance also came out, taking with it the money I owed for the holiday but at least I could afford it (although only just) and then I had a very bad few days of lots of little things going wrong, such as dropping half a cheese cake on the floor!

New birthday toy!

But it’s ok as I got to open all of my birthday pressies and then to play with them! My mum got me a drawing tablet which I’m so excited about and have already practiced with! It’s going to improve my digital drawings so much!

A simple Lion as it was World Lion day yesterday!

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Because Racoons are cute!

 

I also have so many great ideas for new items to make, and even plan to be revisiting my passion for jewellery soon, plus there’s lots of photoshoots to go on and many more exciting things for The Penguin Theory.

Claire x

 

Computer Troubles

I’m sorry for my quietness as of late, I promise I haven’t been lazy (in fact i’ve been more productive than usual) but my laptop decided enough was enough and stopped working completely.

Unfortunately for me it was the hard drive that had gone and I also had some unsaved work on there which I stupidly forgot to back up. 2 videos nearly completed (1 with animations and everything!) and a couple of photoshoots. All gone. But it’s my fault for not making sure I had extra copies of them, I can’t really blame my laptop as it is 5 years old.

I did go to the Apple store. Their customer service was amazing and the guy who saw me was really nice and friendly. But unfortunately it would  cost about £200 for them to fix my laptop, something I just can’t afford at the moment. I probably had a very peculiar look on my face as then he suggested I refit it myself, showing me which to buy, and how to refit it. Instead of spending over £200 i spent £32!

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My new hard drive is very shiny and pretty and I even fit it in myself, which, by the way, is super easy.

So now my laptop is up and running again, soon I’ll have photoshop installed again too and then maybe I can re-make the videos. I’ve now renamed it the FrankenMac as it’s been brought back to life with odd parts!

In the mean time I have been sewing. I’m in the process of using all these old t-shirts i collected whilst working the pub job to make a picnic blanket. Not much more to do!

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In other news : I snuggled with a baby penguin. It was the cutest, softest and smelliest thing ever!

Obviously I was working hard at the same time, actually I find talking to the keepers is the best way to learn about all the animals. It really is the best job ever, I learn something new (and usually amazing) every single day! I seriously don’t want this summer to end.

Claire x

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The Importance of Understanding your Camera and Sloth Babies!

I’ve always had real trouble with photography in low light situations and always blamed it on my old camera, plus they always say that light is a photographers best friend! But sometimes good lighting is just not possible, especially when not based in a studio.

I recently took my camera to work with me to take pictures of all the cute baby animals we have running around at the moment. I was getting quite frustrated at my camera not being able to cope with the light levels in the perfectly lit room, no matter how much I changed my shutter speed and aperture I just couldn’t get a clear, well lit photograph of the sloth and its baby (see attempts below). But there was an old gentleman, and regular at the zoo, who then told me about ISO.

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Both unfortunately blurry and dark. 

I had heard of ISO but had always thought that it would seriously reduce the quality of my photographs, something which is of course true if you’re not using it properly, as I wasn’t. After hearing his brief explanation I decided to change my settings and finally got some good photographs! I just wish i’d played with it earlier on in the day.

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I did get a couple of good shots on a low ISO

Well since that day I’ve done a bit of research into ISO so I can learn exactly what it is and how to use it.

So what exactly is ISO?

ISO is the speed of the film, not to be confused with frame rate but instead it’s how sensitive the film would be to light. So a Low ISO would correspond to an insensitive film that would require more light to create a good quality image, whereas a High ISO would be a far more sensitive film needing less light for the same image quality. But even though you may need a higher ISO in certain situations, the higher ISO does also create grainier images and so it is best to keep the ISO as low as possible for the shot.

Of course if using a Tripod for a still subject it would be fine to use the lowest ISO possible, but for handheld camera work and moving objects it’s best to experiment to find the perfect balance between brightness and noise in the photograph.

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It really is so important to understand all the workings of your camera, I’ve had mine for nearly 7 years and I’m only just learning how to really get the most out of it! I plan to carry on learning about all aspects of photography and hopefully it will improve my photographs, in fact i think it already is!

But it’s not only understanding your camera, it’s also understanding your subject so I also plan to study the animals i’m wanting to take photographs of as well. There’s not all that much known about sloth babies, as they have about an 80% mortality rate in just the first week of being born, and a lot of that percentage is from the mother dropping them! I believe this is the first sloth baby in our zoo for around 50 years. So not only is the sloth baby proving to be vital research for myself into the animal kingdom, but also for the keepers who are learning new things about how they develop, grow and learn too! It’s all very exciting.

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I plan to take my camera to work again very soon and experiment more with the ISO settings, plus i want to get even more adorable photographs of various animals!

Claire x

Date H – Beach Hike

Ash and I have finally been able to go on the next of our Alphabet Dates. We had such a long hiatus as we completely ran out of money. We do usually try to keep our dates on the cheap side anyway, but we really didn’t have any money spare or much time as I was working  quite long shifts at the time. But now we are back, with better paid jobs, and have lots of dates lined up!

For Date H I wanted to take advantage of the good weather and decided a Hike would be fun and pretty. We both like a good nature walk and pretty scenery and I thought it would be great to get out and about. I knew of a few walking trails along the south coast near Brighton and was originally planning to take us there, but then, with the weather so gorgeous, I thought that a hike along the beach itself would be nice as we could even go for a little swim.

We started a bit further up the coast from Brighton and had a really lovely wander. We had some bread and made little sandwiches for a picnic which we ate close to the sea, staring out at the vast expanse of water.

I’ve always loved the sea. It’s terrifyingly powerful and vast but it always calms me and makes me feel quite peaceful.

We wandered for a few hours and stumbled into a little patch of forest with birds chirping overhead, it was nice to get lost in nature for a while.

But soon our legs were tired and it was time to head home. The walk to the car wasn’t as fun as the walk away and so in hindsight maybe we should have done my original route as it did circle around, but it was still a very nice and relaxing day.

Have you gone on a walk recently? Did you see anything interesting?

Letting Out Our Inner Rebels

As I said in my last post, it was myself and Ashley’s 3 year anniversary!

On the day itself we didn’t do much although I had made plans for when we had more time. Unfortunately the last couple of weeks have been a bit hectic, that and getting used to actually having a proper routine for the first time in 2 years had me very sleepy with my body being a little confused (hence the lack of updates i’m afraid). But eventually we had a day where we were free to actually celebrate!

As a surprise for him I took him to a graffiti workshop. He sometimes seems to think he’s a bit of a ‘bad boy’ with his love of drum and base and gangster movies, but he is really a big nerd so I thought it might be fun to embrace his inner rebel.

The workshop was near portobello road in the Westbank Gallery and was lots of fun. We learnt about different tags, styles and effects then created our own tag before being let lose with the paint.

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It looks so easy on paper...

We both somehow managed to create something that looked like our images, but wow is it difficult! I’ve always admired the more elaborate graffiti as I never assumed it was easy, and they really can be a work of art, but I never thought it would be quite that difficult! Our instructor made it seem so easy, moving the can in elegant arcs and making it do precisely what he wanted it to. When we tried the can seemed to have a mind of it’s own. As we practiced more we started to get the hang of it and Ash seemed to gain some fans in the two lovely middle aged ladies next to us who admired his, actually quite precise, can control.

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Eventually we both managed to create something that almost resembled what we’d had down on paper and we quite pleased with ourselves.

It was a great workshop and the instructor was very helpful, I would definitely recommend it. Ash said he really enjoyed it too so i’d say the present was a success!

We spent the rest of the day wandering around portobello road and trying to resist buying things before buying some cider and sitting in park soaking up the sun and meeting some friends for more drinks.

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My gift from Ashley was a tablet! I bought myself a case and keyboard for it as well so now it’s like a mini portable laptop. It’s going to be so useful for updating all my social media where ever I may be , and on the commute to work, which should hopefully mean a lot more updates!

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I still can’t believe we’ve been together for 3 years, it’s gone so quickly and we’re still as loved up as ever. As soppy as it sounds, I really couldn’t imagine life without him.

I’ve got lots of new posts on the way for you over the next week or so. Alphabet dating is finally coming back with date H, new youtube projects, more sewing and drawings. It’s going to be a lot of fun. :)

Claire x

Anniversary Giveaway!

Myself and Ashley have been together 3 years today!….or tomorrow. You see we don’t really know when we got together as I agreed somewhere around midnight so we tend to celebrate over two days! However we’re not doing much today as we have very little money and so just spent a long relaxing morning and afternoon together and both have work tomorrow. I have bought him vouchers for a graffiti art lesson though, although we can’t book it for a few weeks as we’re too busy!

Still, it’s been really nice to spend some time snuggled up together thinking ‘how on earth have we put up with each other for 3 years!’. Of course we’ve had our ups and downs like every couple, but since we’ve both finally got new, well paid and enjoyable jobs things have been really good and we’re as loved up as ever!

To celebrate our anniversary i’ve decided to give away one of my Penguin cards to one lucky winner, so they can share their love with someone special.

I am actually giving away an extra large card, a size not available in my shop, featuring the adorable picasso and lots of fish (above)! This was my most popular card design over valentines and so is sure to be the perfect way to make someone feel a little special.

To enter to go over to my facebook and then like and share my competition image here.

You have the rest of today and tomorrow (the length of our anniversary) to enter!

Good Luck!

Claire x

Cute Penguin Nails Tutorial

Ever wanted to have adorable penguins on your finger tips? Well want no more as I help you paint your own adorable penguins on your nails!

My first penguin tutorial to celebrate this months ‘May There Be Penguins’ celebrations shows you how to turn your nails into your own adorable penguin colony.

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Paint your nails with me right here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkFDQW_QxdU

Keep your eye out for more tutorials (with better video quality) later on in the month as I keep on celebrating the wonderful world of penguins!

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Also, join me on facebook for even more penguin fun, games and even competitions!

And don’t forget to enter my latest competition which closes at midnight tonight (gmt). Find it here on my facebook page

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