Well we have been busy bunnies, Robbie is no longer working and Nicola now has three weeks to go to she joins the land of the unemployed (we are going with those who like to lunch). Robbie has a visa allowing him to live in the UK and we have now booked one way flights to the UK landing on the 12th of May. So times are busy for us, we have a list that any Virgo would be proud of but (knock on wood) we have made the big decisions and now its just about getting things done right.

So what entertaining things have we been doing? In February we went to the Wellington sevens, for those that don’t know this is an occasion where about 60% of the patrons dress up in as imaginative costumes as possible and stagger drunkenly inside the stadium taking photos of each other while the more serious sober people (i.e. us) sit and watch some sevens.

The big highlight however was that we went to the zoo and did the ‘Cheetah experience’ that Nicola’s family gave her for her birthday, Nicola’s memory is…

We were welcomed with a little meow of a greeting as the cheetahs paced along the fence welcoming their keepers. As the keepers went to get the two brothers (Charlie and Delta) ready, we sat waiting quietly and I began to realise that I was a little nervous.

The cats walked out and after a little prompting with some treats jumped onto their massage table. Suddenly they looked a lot bigger than they did a few moments ago… from the other side of the fence.

We were warned to stay away from the ‘sharp and pointy’ side and make sure we respected their personal head space before being asked to approach from the back as their keepers held onto the harness.

We patted away to a continuous rumble, as the cats purred to what essentially was a half hour back rub as we asked their keepers about them, every so often they’d react to a noise and fidget. Delta a bit more so than Charlie who just seemed to lie and occasionally twitched his ears.

So what did we learn? Cheetahs

  • Are one of two big cats that purr and don’t growl (the other is the puma)
  • Have non retractable claws, only one of which is sharp – more like a dog than a cat
  • Strangle their prey
  • Have fur that is quite coarse and the black spots are longer than the rest of the fur, creating a more distorted outline as they run
  • Have a very poor sense of smell, the nostrils are wider to let in lots of air to their oversized lungs so that they can run fast
  • See in greyscale
  • The females are solitary but its not unusual for two brothers to stay together and act as a coalition
  • Are very inbred as its believed their numbers reduced to a few hundred some 10,000 years ago. Now around 14,000 African and a few hundred Asian. They’re very difficult to breed (apparently quite picky) and suffer from lots of infections (prone to dog and cat infections and cub mortality)
  • 10% of the cost goes towards a conservation programme in Africa training guard dogs that live with the sheep and goats to scare away the cheetahs that hunt them. This stops the African farmers shooting the cheetahs. Originally a Turkish breed, there is now a dog called Wellington that lives on an African farm and only lost two sheep to cheetahs last year (before the dogs farmers would lose 30-40 sheep a year)
  • They’re essentially big cats – they sleep a lot and seem to enjoy the pat! When we saw them back in their enclosure they were wandering around, in what looked to be checking to see if anything had changed and re-marking their territory

March has been a busy month so far as we try to enjoy seeing people and going to arts festival shows. This coming weekend has also sneaked up on us as we will be celebrating our first wedding anniversary and its amazing its been a whole year since we got married. It looks like April will also be busy with us going to Samoa for a holiday and also spending a few days in the South Island with Angus and Helen.

Finally I (Robbie) thought I would record what it has been like being a lady who lunches for the last two months for my memories sake. When I finished work I had grand dreams of achieving a large number of goals and doing lots of things. The first thing I realised when I was at home was that the certain very difficult characters I had worked with had left me feeling quite burnt out and all I wanted to do was catch up on sleep and get back to normal life. On my last day of work I had happily surrendered my blackberry and I loved not having to watch and worry about that little lodestone, in fact I don’t think I turned on my mobile phone or checked my email in the first week as I enjoyed the freedom of not being permanently on call. I developed a nice routine of having lunch with people, running and pottering around during the day and then seeing Nicola once she had finished her working day, all very pleasant.