Tuesday, 13 September 2011

We've gone to be (mature) students

We have moved to London!

We went down on Friday with the Grand Human who had to go to a business meeting Somewhere in the City.  It put Bernard in mind of the many business meetings he had to attend before he became a Retired Business Hippo. He is quite glad that he doesn't often have to attend business meetings any more - although it must be said that the lunch was rather delicious. And the sticky buns we all had at morning tea in the bookshop on our way to the meeting were especially tasty.

But we have moved down, accompanied by our Human in order to take up later life studies at the University of East London.  We have moved into a lovely little room which has come equipped with wine, the internet and a snuggly bed.  What more could we ask for?  Food?  Well yes.  But the Human has provided food and we have discovered many little eateries around our new flat.  It is true that students traditionally do not have much money to fritter on meals out.  We will have to send our Human out to work to keep us in style.

The new flat is by the river and across from a small airport.  We think we are going to enjoy this :-)

Our very first class, once we had registered and enrolled at our new University, was in the decorating of cupcakes.  We had a lovely time getting sticky as we rolled sugar paste and made flowers and ice cream cones and little cakes all out of sugar paste.  We scattered glitter and spead hundreds and thousands and placed coloured sugar puffs.  If this is student life, we are thoroughly going to enjoy it.  Although we could do with a piping bag and some fancy nozzles so we can keep practising.

And now we are snuggled in our bed, recovering after the weekend's excitements. We  might go back to the library and ponder sliding down the yellow poles. Or heading back to the benches by the river and eating sandwiches while watching the planes come and go. Or we might stay in bed and have a little sleep and wait to see what the afternoon brings.  And there are, of course, cupcakes to nibble on

Click on the photo to go to our album page

Monday, 5 September 2011

Bernard and Sleepy's excellent August Bank Holiday week's holiday

We've been on holiday this last week. We have spent it with the Grand Humans and have been having a lovely time.

We went to Salisbury for the actual Bank Holiday weekend and stayed at The Swan, where we have stayed many times before. You can say many things about The Swan. You can say that the food is delicious and the wine plentiful. You can say that the beds are very cosy and the pillows are snuggly. You can say that the people are delightful and the atmosphere charming. What you wouldn't normally say is that The Swan is exciting.

But it was VERY exciting to find that they were having a small steam fair in their car park over the weekend. There were lots of steam engines, steaming away and looking lovely. We could see them from the comfort of our room. We also went out and inspected them more closely. It was very, very exciting. And very unexpected. Who would expect there to be a whole steam fair in the pub car park?!?!?

An unexpected excitement at The Swan

We had a few meals while we were there. Not too many. We are not greedy hippos.  We had dinner with Barb and Greg in a country pub. We had lunch with Grandmother Gwen at Jeanette and Matthew's place. We had lunch at The Wheatsheaf in Romsey. We had breakfasts at the Swan. We had dinner at The Swan too.  And the occasional afternoon tea.  We did other things too.  Let me think, erm ... Oh yes. We went shopping as well.

Then we came home. And went out into the countryside with Tabitha and Cally for ice cream. And to chase alpacas

We do like ice cream

And we went to a HUGE country park with the Grand Humans to watch cricket and wander in an enormous kitchen garden and eat yummy food and to collect a beautiful bridge.  We were a bit disconcerted when Frannie decide to enliven the afternoon by flinging herself from a standing start onto the road. We tried to get underneath her to soften her fall, but weren't quite quick enough. She has a most exciting graze on her elbow and knee now!

And now our week's holiday is over. Frannie has gone back to work. And we are supposed to be getting ready to move to London next weekend. Although we are a bit worried about the move to London. Our real Human has given up her job in order to be able to accompany us. Will she now have enough money to keep us in good food and wine?  We are very partial to vegemite sandwiches, but we like to eat other things as well. We especially like to eat cake

You will find the photos of our week's holiday here

A hippo's ideal way of spending a morning

Saturday, 13 August 2011

An excellent adventure in Japan

Sleepy and I are on our way home from Japan!!

We went for a wedding, but had excellent other adventures as well.

We arrived with our Human and her friend about a week before everyone else came in, to help our Human's brother get ready for his wedding. It was hot!

Then we went on to Tokyo, where arrived a load of people from Australia and our Human's mother and The Builder from England.  It was still hot! But we are hippos from Africa and coped better than the humans seemed to

We played a lot with the Tokyo subway. And we went shopping. And we went exploring. And we ate a lot. And we might perhaps have drunk quite a bit. But no sake. The Human's mother drank some sake and said that it made her hair curl and her ears fall off. We didn't want curly hair or a lack of ears so stuck to beer and wine.

And then we all split up. Some of the Australians went to Hiroshima. The wedding organisers went back to Nagoya and we went with the rest of the party to Kyoto and Nara. There are deer in Nara. They are very cute. They cross the roads on the pedestrian crossings!! (And they bite you if you have deer biscuits and won't give any to them, as Frannie discovered. But that seems only fair to us. We would bite too if you were withholding food from us!)

And then it was time to go back to Nagoya for the wedding. It was very beautiful. Kaori looked lovely. Our Human's brother Austin scrubbed up really well.  There was lots of smiling. And a very great deal of clapping. And there was delicious cake. There was music and merriment and fun and laughter. It was a good day. There was pizza in the evening. We like pizza!

We have climbed the Nagoya castle and we found some dinosaurs in some gardens. We were very careful in the china shop and didn't break anything.  And we have been to Osaka with our Human, her brother, the beautiful bride,  a Pieman and two Australians. 

And now we are on our way home.

Was an excellent holiday. When can we go again?

Our group of humans, except Lindsey who was taking the photo, in Osaka

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

River Cottage Weekend

We've had the most excellent weekend down in Devon and Dorset.  We went with our grand Humans for a long weekend. There was, as you might imagine, a great deal of feasting :-)

We stayed in a little seaside town called Seaton which we had never heard of. It turns out that the grand Humans hadn't heard of it either! Frannie had booked us all into a B&B based purely on the pictures on their website!!!  Fortunately, it was a good find.  A lovely, comfortable, snuggly bed and magnificent breakfasts delivered right into our room.  We were right by the sea. It was all excellent for venerable hippos.

We dined in pubs. We went on a tram ride. Sleepy tried to drive the tram away but the real tram driver came back and stopped us.  We had to passenger back on another tram. We were chased by a lion and smothered in flowers. The sun shone and shone and shone and shone and the sea was as blue as blue as blue can be.

And then we went to River Cottage HQ where we strolled in the gardens and drank elderflower fizz and ate lots of lovely, lovely food and had a friendly chat with the very lovely Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. (He came over later and told Frannie that he likes us hippos. That was very gratifying. We like him too!)

We came home via Braishfield and called into the Wheatsheaf to have lunch and to catch up with the just as lovely Matthew.

And now we are back at the Grand humans' house. It's nearly time for us to return to our own Human. We are very, very soon off to Japan!

Our photos are here 

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Nether Edge Fair

There was a fair just around the corner from where our Human lives on Sunday afternoon and all of the Humans decided to go, even baby Cally who had very bravely just had her injections.  So we decided to go too.

It was lots of fun.

There were flowers

And food

And more food

And games

And lots and lots of people.

The sun shone, on and off. And we all had a good time.

Then we went back to the Grand Human's house and ate cake.  There is not much better than cake for afternoon tea :-)

Mmmmmm.  Lemon?  Or chocolate?  Chocolate?  Or lemon?  One of each?  Good plan!!
But we wonder what Marlo is looking at so intently

Monday, 13 June 2011

A hippo-tastic food weekend

So. The grandhumans had plans to head down south for a weekend of visiting, eating and drinking.  Did we want to go too?

Did we want to?  Did we?  What a silly question.  There's food and wine on offer.  People to play with.  Of course we want to go too!

So we were up and dressed and packed, ready to leave at the appointed time, abandoning our nice, cosy bed to its own devices and off we went, heading in the first instance to Warminster, to our friend Polly's house.  Polly's human has a lovely, flowery garden.  And on a table in the middle of the garden were hippo sized glasses with lots of lovely wine. And inside there were scones and jam and cream, not to mention more wine, and things to play with.  We had a *lovely* visit.

Then we went to one of our very favourite pubs to stay the night.  There was more wine and more delicious food and a bed that is even more comfortable and snuggly and cosy than ours.  We have been trying to convince the Grand humans to move down that way so we can more often indulge in the cosy bed and the delightful food.  So far they are proving resistant to this idea.  Frannie says if they did that it would be just as likely that the folk at the Swan would randomly move to Derbyshire or Yorkshire.  I suppose that might be right. And I suppose if we lived across the road we wouldn't be allowed to use the bed anyway.

On Sunday we went and collected Grandmother Gwen and we all went off into the country to visit our friend Matthew in his lovely pub with its beautiful dining room. He also has wonderful kitchen staff and they make the best Sunday lunches ever.  We thought we might have some success persuading the Grand humans to move closer to The Wheatsheaf, even if just for the Sunday roasts.  But Frannie says that Matthew is just as likely to disappear as the folk at The Swan. And that anyway, it wouldn't be good for our digestions to eat Sunday lunches like that every week.  We suppose she must be right again.  But we find it hard to believe!

It rained yesterday.  It's a long time since we can remember there being any really proper rain.  There were lots and lots of hippo sized mud-puddles :-)

It was a lovely weekend.  Food, friends, a cosy bed, wine and mud baths.  What more could your average hippo require?

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


Our Human has been given some thought to moving.  Naturally - if she is going then we will be going too so we felt that we should have some input into the decision.  Besides - when all the humans decided to go and have a look at Bangor they decided to take a picnic.

Any picnics our various humans make up are always DELICIOUS.  There was no way we were being left behind.  Even when the trip departed from a house at which WE WERE NOT PRESENT!!!!!!!  We sent a message to our Human's mother and she made the travellers come by our place and collect us :-)

We had a lovely day.  The sun shone and there were summery flags everywhere.  The water was sparkly.  There were boats to watch.  And there was, of course, lots of yummy food. There were shops to play in and parks to stroll in.  There was one of the longest piers we have ever seen. It went on, and on, and on and on, very nearly but not quite as far as the island of Angelsey.  It seemed a pity you couldn't walk all the way across.  But then - how would the boats get through if the bridge took up the whole strait?  And at the end of the pier is a lovely tea shop.  Of course, we had to recover from our exertions, and from the wind, by indulging in a nice cup of tea.

We are very pleased the car came around to pick us up.  It would have been a great pity to have missed out.  Although I suppose we could have had a lovely day snuggled up in our bed.

We are at the Human's mother's place now, playing with the cat and the chickens.  And on Monday we got to help clean out the fish pond.  It was a delightfully muddy afternoon.  The fish are very happy with their newly cleaned accommodation too

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

We've been busy

Frannie, our grand human, works in a University and some times she takes us in with her.  So we thought we should practise looking and behaving like students so we would blend in.  Here we are with our puffin friend, enjoying a taster of student life:

Frannie recently bought some new plant pots to put in her front porch.  She says she is going to grow baby salad leaves in them.  We thought that rather than being used for salad leaves, they would make excellent flower pots for Bill and Ben to live in.  But before we despatched them as new home, we thought we should probably check them out and make sure they are really desirable residences:

They do seem quite comfortable, it must be said.  But not as comfortable as the couch, with our new blanket.  Marlo also seems to find the blanket cosy.  Fortunately, Sleepy was too sleepy to notice that Marlo was using him as a pillow!

Here we are, a happy family with Marlo and with our friends Jack and Janet:

You may remember that our Human's sister has recently had a wee baby (hello Cally).  We all went to visit her in the hospital when she was less than a day old.  But first we had to inspect the food offerings that people had brought for her mother to ensure that they ere acceptable gifts.  What do you think?  Were they OK?  We thought so, after a very close inspection!

And here we are with Cally and her auntie, our Human.  Although our Human seems to think that Sleepy might have eaten far too many of Tabitha's snacks!!

So it's been a busy little while.  We are back at home now in our Sheffield residence for a bit of rest and relaxation to recover

Monday, 14 March 2011

Our new baby has arrived!!!


Came today.

Born to our human's sister and her husband (the sister's husband, that is).

Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting for it to be our turn to go and meet her.

Hooray for new friends to play with :-)

Monday, 28 February 2011

The Birthday Party

We had such a lovely time at the birthday party.

But before we could go, we had a task to perform.

It was our duty to supervise the baking of the birthday cake.  The small birthday cake.  The small birthday cake, duplicated 80 times.  We had our Human actually do the baking, closely instructed and supervised by us.  And she did a not too bad job.  Grandfather Tony seemed pleased, anyway.

We went to visit him on his actual birthday, taking with us an appropriate present.  We all went out for dinner and then came back for celebratory port and cheese.  Then we repaired to our beds for a good long rest, before the actual party itself.

The party was a great success. Lots of people came.  The sun shone.  There was lots of lovely food.  There was wine and beer.  There were lots and lots and lots of balloons.  And, of course, the cakes.  Which were much admired by everyone.  And Grandfather Tony had a really lovely time and smiled a lot.  And wore his birthday hat which we had carefully brought with us from England, just for the occasion.  

It was a lovely day and well worth the trip.  I wonder if he could be persuaded to have another party next year ...  You'll find more of our photos on our album here

Friday, 25 February 2011


We've been having a lovely time in Sydney.  We've stayed in the most beautiful apartment overlooking Circular Quay, where we could see ferries and little boats and things.  And we could see this too:

Sleepy thought we should move out of the apartment immediately, and go and get a cabin on the very classy ship.  Alas, we didn't have a ticket.  And we did have the apartment.  So it wasn't really practical.

So we went out and about on the ferries instead.  We went to Manly to play on the beach and eat chips.  We went to Darling Harbour to eat more chips.  We wandered through the Botanic Gardens and found another beautiful boat

Unfortunately, we didn't have tickets for this one either!

So we walked a lot and admired a lot and played a lot.  And then we went to watch the Queen Mary sail out of the harbour.  We waited and we waited and we waited and we waited.  The ship didn't move.  So we waited and we waited and we waited some more.  And still it didn't move.  We wondered if someone should go and show them where the reverse lever was!!

Then it started to move.  Slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly.  It backed around out of the bay it was in.  It backed slowly into the harbout.  It backed and it backed and it backed and it backed.  It was heading, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly - straight towards the harbour bridge!!!!!!!  If it didn't stop soon, it was going to take out the harbour bridge.

Wait.  Where's Sleepy?  Has anyone seen him?  He was the one who said they needed to be shown where the reverse lever was.  SLEEPY!!!!!  Let go of the reverse lever RIGHT NOW THIS VERY MINUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Phew. The ship has stopped.  The bridge is safe.  Sleepy says it wasn't him.  He was having a nice, quiet sleep in the bottom of the Big Red Bag.  Hmmmmmmm.  We're not so sure about that.  We think we had better take him back to Melbourne forthwith, before he gets up to any more mischief.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Visiting Victoria

We have come to Melbourne for a birthday party at the end of the month.  but it seemed a very long ay to come just for a birthday party, keen though we are on partying, so we decided to extend the party season and come a little earlier.

And we've been having a lovely time.  We've been to the Melbourne Zoo to admire the new seal pool and to greet the baby elephants and juvenile tigers.  We would have called on our relatives the pygmy hippos, but they seem to have gone on holiday somewhere.  In any event, their pool is being pool-sat by some rather large fishies.  So we greeted them and wandered on.

We have been eating remarkably well.  We've had food and wine in streetside cafes, in pubs and in coffee shops (coffee, rather than wine in the coffee shops, of course).  We've stayed in a penthouse flat in East Melbourne and are now in a beach house on the Mornington Peninsula. We've been on trams and walked lots and lots (although to be fair, we've had the humans doing the walking and we've hitched along in our travel bag).  And the weather has been lovely.  No need at all to wear the new jumper that Grandmother Stella has knitted for Bernard (although I think that she might have really knitted it for an orphaned penguin; she seems to be knitting lots of jumpers for orphaned penguins on Phillip Island).

And there has been lots of time to play.  There is still another week before the party, so even more time to play is in prospect.

Click here to see our photo album