Last night we stayed at the Dream Inn Santa Cruz, and from the balcony there was an amazing view of the wharf, boardwalk, and the bay… and all night we heard a mix of waves crashing, fog horn going, and what sounded like tons of sea lions barking… but we never saw them! When i asked about the upon check out ~ i didn’t believe the woman that they were all tucked away on the pylons beneath the wharf… so, first stop was the wharf! And she wasn’t kidding… you have to see it for yourself ~ they balance and nap beneath the wharf on the thin pylons. They even leap up on to them (sometimes after many tries and much splashing) ~ and you can get closer to all of them than at a zoo, etc. It’s fascinating. They are SO loud with the echo created under the wharf. You can peek at them at a few spots ~ under the wharf, on the floating barge near the boat launch, and through various areas in the center of the wharf near the far end… Endlessly amusing, and a gorgeously sunny day in Santa Cruz ~ take a peek at our post-car-weekend adventure on the next page…
On fun emails ~ my dad just got back from Sitka and sent over some adorable Brown Bear pics. Turns out they are from one of his favorite non-profits that he visits a few times a year ~ Fortress of the Bear… “a 501 (c)3 non-profit education and rescue center with an exquisite three-quarter acre habitat for orphaned Brown Bear cubs complete with covered viewing areas.” Mind blowing that the tiny cubs he saw in the years past are now 300-600lbs cubs! And apparently these Sitka Browns “represent a distinct population, genetically dissimilar from any other bear. Research suggests these bears are remnants of a Polar bear population stranded in Southeast Alaska following the last ice age.” Interesting, right? Rumor has it they may have started as browns that turned white to adapt (and into polar bears of the region) only to evolve back to browns to adapt again… Regardless, it sounds like a beautiful, playful, peaceful space for orphaned cubs to call home, and definitely a better alternative to the usual reaction of shooting them! Some grow up to move to zoos around the country, others live out their days there… and all get delicious salmon and food from local fisherman, restaurants, and more! So, if you’re ever in Sitka, Alaska go visit (and support!) Fortress of the Bear! Take a peek at more of the pics he sent over on the next page.
Popped by Dwell on Design in LA today ~ highlight? CHICKENS! Particularly mod wooden chicken coops by 100xBTR and Chicken Co-op. Fun, playful, and perfect for your modern rooftops and yards ~ i love the seeing designs that enable more and more folks to expand their sustainable hyper-local/home grown possibilities… (without sacrificing their innovative design loving tendencies). Read to see the chickens and more of the fun little details (and full views) of these pre-fab chicken estates? To the next page!
Justine was sharing this incredibly intriguing project she found happening in the UK… supposedly its like Farmville, but in real life… while still online… anyhow, take a peek below at what she has to share about it!
Last month, the National Trust launched the MyFarm project, which creates and bridges digital communities with the daily realities of farming. Although the project was heralded by the BBC and others as “FarmVille meets reality”, those behind the project are clear to stress that this is not a game. Instead, the community of 10,000 online Farmers have a direct impact on the workings of the farm at National Trust’s Wimpole Estate and are effectively working with farm manager Richard Morris to decide how it should be run. The first MyFarm vote took place last month, with internet farmers voting to grow wheat and that decision is already being implemented!
The project is a fascinating mix of real and virtual worlds and demonstrates a great use of digital and social media to raise awareness about the National Trust and British farmers. It also provides unrivaled access to a working farm. No matter where you are, you can follow the estate on twitter (@WimpoleEstateNT) as well as farm manager, Richard Morris (@farmermorris) as he goes on his rounds to check on the farm and reports on the many new arrivals (the last few days have seen many new piglets and calves!). They team have also just set up a dedicated MyFarm twitter account (@MYFarmNT) and an account for Emma who looks after the Shire horses (@EmmaMyFarm). The Shires are one to watch at the moment, with a new streaming cam for MyFarmers to be able to watch the pregnant Queenie and hopefully witness the birth of a Shire foal live in the next week or so!
In addition to being a fascinating project, the Wimpole Estate is an incredible place to visit. Located just outside Cambridge, it is one of my favorite escapes, with a beautiful stately home and gardens as well as the farm. It is also home to many of my favorite rare breeds. The home farm is a Rare Breeds Survival Trust approved farm park, home to a number of rare breed livestock including horses, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry. The estate also runs a great events/courses series. I recently learned to hand shear some rare breed sheep and may be back soon to try my hand at hedgelaying, blacksmithing or ferretting. The next MyFarm vote is coming up soon and is about a subject near and dear to me, SHEEP! So let’s get voting to save native breeds!
Baby turtles!!!! Our good friend and zoologist colleague Dr. Rob Holbrook sent me some amazing photos of his recent adventures in Sri Lanka. Despite traveling for pleasure rather than a zoological field trip, he managed to encounter some amazing animals! Of course he returned with awesome pictures ~ these are from the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project and the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. See all the pics on the next page!
This post is sponsored by American Express Membership Rewards. Visit American Express on Facebook at facebook.com to view all the possibilities with Membership Rewards Points.
When American Express Membership Rewards approached us about sponsoring content around dream things we’ve been wanting to do ~ first thing to come to mind was GIRAFFE MANOR! Not sure why, but giraffes keep coming up lately (i blame the Petite Lap Giraffes) ~ and then the idea of hanging out in Nairobi… in a manor… where giraffes just pop their heads in? Fascinating, right?
When I first heard of Giraffe Manor, I wasn’t sure whether this giraffe lovers paradise could be real. The picturesque 1930’s manor house where you can get up close and personal with a herd of Rothschild Giraffe. The giraffes don’t just wander through the gardens, the may join you for breakfast or even visit your bedroom window like the opening scenes of the children’s cartoon 64 Zoo lane. Set within 12 acres of private land, Giraffe Manor is surprisingly easy to get to, only 20 km from the city of Nairobi. The hotel looks too amazing to describe in words, so check out more pictures on the next page (and the vintage archive pics are pretty amazing too!)
Petite Lap Giraffes! They have their own website!!! If you follow my silliness on twitter / Life.NOTCOT, you’ve probably noticed my post way back when i couldn’t resist screenshotting the DirecTV ad with the creepy russian and his adorable teeny tiny giraffe! Well, DirecTV, has given them their own website, complete with “giraffe cam”! Petite Lap Giraffes!!! Take a peek at some screenshots and also the two DirecTV ads on the next page!
The Grant Museum of Zoology has always been one of my favorites. Tucked away on Gower Street (near Euston Square tube), the Grant Museum is open to the public on weekday afternoons. The eclectic zoological museum is part of University College London’s teaching collections and one of only a handful of university zoology museums.
I’d visited the museum before and was amazed by the hidden gem, packed full of spirit collections and skeletons. When they closed 8 months ago for refurbishment, I have to admit I was worried about what changes it would bring. I have a soft spot for the quirky, cluttered, Wunderkammer style it had embodied. So when I re-entered the newly refurbished museum today, I wasn’t sure what to expect; but as you can see from the photos, they’ve done a fabulous job of creating a great space that plays to the strengths of their weird and wonderful collection. Take a little tour through the fascinating collection and space on the next page!
We’re so in love with and inspired by nature here at NOTCOT ~ Here’s another peek into the world of our resident zoologist and editor, Justine! So amazing and adorable to see how these little birds come to be! Oooh and you can follow her on twitter now ~ @NotCritters… say hi!
With spring on its way, it’s time to get ready for the bounty to come. Here are some photos of the adorable blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) family that made their home in a nestbox on my office balcony last summer. Take a peek at their growth from eggs to fluffy teenagers on the next page!
Justine has more fascinating and adorable creatures to share with us! She and i grew up surrounded and obsessed with critters big and small ~ while i found inspiration from them but went down a design path, she pursued an animal behavior/zoology phd. So, naturally, the more involved she’s been getting with NOTCOT, we can’t help but share all our passions and inspiration here! Also, just started her up on Twitter ~ follow her @NotCritters.
They may not have fur or feathers, but these little newt larvae still manage to be incredibly cute (between the big fluffy gills and four tiny little fingers and five little tiny toes, I’m smitten). These babies are Smooth or Common newts (Lissotriton vulgaris) that we raised from tiny eggs a few summers ago. See our family album, from egg to eft on the next page!
Just in from the UK ~ Justine just showed me the most adorable pictures of a baby tapir she took, and i had to share! See what she has to say below…
The Bristol Zoo just had a beautiful new baby tapir and I couldn’t resist going to meet him. I had heard about the new arrival from Zooborns and just had to see the little watermelon striped baby for myself. The Brazilian or Lowland Tapir (Tapirus terrestris) is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List. Find out more about them at ARKive and see some of my favorite pictures (including a tapir yawn!) on the next page.
Remember those Highland Cows i fell in love with in Scotland? The ones i spent the most time with were Craig, Ella, Archie, and a few others that lived at The Macallan Estate! Well after a few silly facebook messages about how the cows were doing in the snow these days ~ some fun pics showed up in my inbox! Aren’t they adorable? Check out snowy Scotland as the Highland Cows (pronounced coo ~ like moo!) hang out at The Macallan on the next page. Thanks, Annabel! Totally made my day!
I can’t even begin to tell you how giddy i am tonight. One, its 2am. Two, REINDEER! And there is an inexplicable joy when ad campaigns that i adore and would write about anyhow, are supporting NOTCOT! Firstly, let’s look at Project Reindeer minus the Gap involvement. There’s a page where you can watch the Reindeer Webcam, see their GPS tracked movements, watch fun Reindeer videos, and get to know a bit about each of the 8 reindeer in the herd as well as Zoologist, Josh, who focuses on North American Caribou… all the way out in Lake Crystal, MN. That alone is pretty awesome. Now, add the rather bizarre but interesting layer Gap has added on this. Each deer is assigned a specific deal (i.e. Emma = 40% off your purchase). Each day there is a new goal (i.e. Shortest Distance Within 24 hrs). Whichever reindeer reaches that goal, you get that discount the next day. See? A bit bizarre, yet strangely fascinating when you mix it all together?
So, inspired by Project Reindeer, I can’t help but wonder… who is this Zoologist Josh? How did they find him? Are they sponsoring his research? Is there an interesting public way advertising and academic/zoological research can come together? How can we further evolve mutually beneficial relationships of academic research, design inspiration, brands, and more… we’ve often mused over here at NOTCOT about finding ways to get more involved in that side of things. Then again, Justine, our NOTCOT.org editor who is also a research zoologist with a doctorate in animal behavior, coupled with our never ending fascination with nature and creative inspiration at NOTCOT… hmmmm. Much to think about! And who would have thought this late night ramble would be sparked by Gap? And Project Reindeer? Ok but back to the topic at hand ~ check out some screenshots on the next page of their fun simple page… as well as some of the absurdly amusing video bios of the various reindeer!
p.s. For full disclosure, this isn’t a sponsored post. Just something that i discovered because they are supporting NOTCOT, and was such a fun concept, i would have written about it anyhow! I guess it’s a perfect fit!
UPDATE: Project Reindeer is a Gap/AKQA project by Deep Local, the awesome post-digital shop that helps brands create remarkable experiences that bridge the online and physical worlds, who also did the awesome Saatchi LA NogPong!
NOTCOT’s Favorite Places ~ here’s a new series of posts sharing some of my favorite places in (and around!) Los Angeles! This content series is brought to you by the All-New 2011 Kia Sportage. Welcome to the Next Level.
Have you heard? LA weather has been pretty heinous lately ~ gloomy grey raininess is upon us! So sad, since some of the favorite spots i wanted to show you are definitely more fun outside! So here’s one to mix it up a little ~ though an LA native, and having ended up back here ~ i spent quite a few years on and off living in San Diego! And being a mere 2 hours away, and loving a good drive to clear my head, one of my favorite things to do while in LA, is just pop down, sometimes for a few days, sometimes just for a day trip! And inevitably hit up a few nostalgic spots… this saturday, i popped down to get some much craved Carne Asada Fries (though apparently sometimes referred to as Mexican Poutine as i just found out ~ though they are far better!) from Cotixans… and checking out the harbor seals that haul out at Casa Beach in La Jolla. There is something so incredibly blissed out about the way the pups look when sleeping! So this favorites post is dedicated to some nostalgic comfort food and a dash of nature… it’s also just so calming to be on the edge of the sea as it crashes into the rocks and beach as tide comes in… See awesome pics of seals and fries that Tasteologie editor, Jackson, took on the next page!
Update! Hi. So here’s the deal ~ its 2:30am in scotland ~ i’m with The Macallan exploring their distillery and estate for a few days, and there’s SO much incredible stuff i took pics of and got super excited about today ~ but i’m supposed to be up in a few mere hours for another full day! SO, not being able to quite organize a proper post on any of that yet ~ you can keep up on some of the craziness via twitter and also see pics coming in from my phone over at Life.NOTCOT.com…
… and for tonight? I just wanted to leave you with one of my latest happy inspiration obsessions. Highland Cows! On the next page you can see some of my various run ins with them over the last week and a half. Brown ones, white ones, black ones, light brown ones… big ones and little ones, HUGE ones on bridges in the dark, and close ups with The Macallan herd as well… they just have the most adorably shaggy coats (which keeping them warm, means they have super lean meat)… the emo-est moppy hair that flops over their eyes… and apparently they are quite docile and are some of the smartest bovines! Anyhow, i’m off to sleep, but check out the pics on the next page!