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We are taking a break on this site for awhile.Thanks for your company over the past few months. If you have followed us, you will be alerted when we return to more travel postings on this site.

In the meantime we’ll be writing up a 28 day adventure David took recently with an Intrepid Tour group visiting cities, towns, villages, home stays and national parks in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. We’ll be adding posts of his photos and trip notes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays .  We hope you enjoy them. The site link is:

www.dymusings.com

Jennie and David

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CAN: Vancouver: Richmond

While in Vancouver, we visited my cousin in the small seaside town of Richmond.

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Wandering along the boardwalk at the small fishing port in Richmond is pleasant… unless you go when it’s crowded at the weekends.

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A little away from the tourist centre is a park by the water, popular for family picnics.

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Children love playing on this sculpture.

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The water’s edge is littered with logs that have broken away from the large log rafts that are floated down to the harbour from forests up in the mountains.

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Fishing boats fill the marina. Fish is sold right off the boats. That’s fresh!

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A fish shop set up on the back deck of a boat moored at the boardwalk.

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The fishing boats are set up with all of the latest gear.

 

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A large fish cannery once thrived in Richmond… now it’s just a fascinating museum.

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There were many signs telling the story of the cannery… I’ll add some of them for those who might be interested to learn more of the cannery story.

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In the early 1900s, many families migrated here to work in the canneries.

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‘Wire’ figures were used to show the activities in the cannery… an interesting concept.

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Signs told the stories, although guided tours are available.

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Some signs told the stories of the various kinds of fish that were caught here.

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Other signs were questioning, thought provoking.

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Whose fish?  An age old question, especially here where USA and Canada meet.

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The cannery runs an excellent school program.

I visited the classroom and found the program to be very informative and fun.

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After a very interesting visit to the canning museum it was time for lunch on the boardwalk. There are, of course lots of souveneir shops, cafes and ice-cream bars.

And with that visit to Richmond, we come to the end of this series of travel posts. We hope you have enjoyed them and invite you to visit our alternate site, www.dymusings.com  where David will tell stories of his trip, just completed, from Bangkok to Bali.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

 

 

 

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Back from our walk in the woods, David waited for me in the garden at the rear of our friend’s house… more delightful flowers and a special surprise awaited us here.

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A blossom filled hanging basket.

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Big and blowsy but how delicate is the colouring of these flowers.

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Clematis, perhaps my very favourite of all plants.

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Close-up.

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A bouquet of rose buds.

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Anyone for honey? It’s hard work for bees.

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Difficult to photograph… shiny red berries.

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Silver grey amongst the green… delightful.

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A tiny, put perfect geranium flower.

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I always think of the buds of Kalmia latifolia as icing sugar buds.

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The buds open into perfect, though tiny, bells.

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Birds abound in both the woods and in the garden…

attracted by the feeders no doubt.

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And this was our surprise… hummingbirds. Their name comes from the fact that they flap their wings so fast that they seem to hum. Interestingly, each species of hummingbird makes a different humming sound, determined by the number of wing beats per second… some recorded at up to 80 beats and more per second.

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These are fascinating birds to watch. If you watch for long enough you can see them fly to the right, to the left, up, down and even backwards… the only group of birds able to do this. When they hover their wings flap in a figure 8 pattern… though this is a bit difficult to see unless you slow down a video of their wing movements.

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The tiny feathers on these birds make delicate patterns.

Their feet are used only for perching… not for hopping or walking.

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By merely shifting position, the gorget feathers of the throat region can instantly become fiery in colour as the sun hits the prism like layers of these feathers.

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The hummingbird’s fast breathing rate, fast heartbeat and high body temperature require that they eat often. They need to eat twice their body weight in food every day. To do that they need to visit hundreds of flowers.. or have generous neighbours like our friends to give them a helping hand. That long, tapered bill is used to obtain nectar from the centre of long, tubular flowers… or, as here, from simulated tubular flower feeders. Their tongues can lick the nectar at a rate of 13 licks per second… try it sometime! Nectar is a mixture of glucose, fructose, and sucrose and is a poor source of important nutrients such as protein, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. To make up for this lack in nectar, hummingbirds also feed on tree sap, insects and pollen.

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We could have watched for hours as the hummingbirds darting back and forward to the feeders … but a delicious meal of salmon BBQ’d on cedar boards had been prepared for us… so we left these amazing little birds to their own feast while we enjoyed ours.

We are very grateful to our good friends for allowing us to photgraph their garden and we hope you have enjoyed sharing their garden with us.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Leaving the delightful lily pond, let’s take the path around towards the back of the house.

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We have a very willing guide!

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One of my favourite ‘green’ additions to a garden… Lady’s Mantle.

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Especially beautiful when dusted in rain drops!

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The ‘vegie’ garden provides wonderful fresh food for the table.

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Behind the house is a large area of woodland… great for walks. I’ll just give you a taste of that experience… I couldn’t stop all the time for photos… after all, it was a walk!

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One of our little guides waited patiently for me to join in the next part of our walk. So,  I’ll leave you now and, when we come back, we’ll explore the garden behind the house.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

.

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I have visited Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, several times. On those visits I spent much time, both day and evening, in the famed Butchard Gardens near to the town of Victoria. But this time, we visited the private garden of our friends; a garden lovingly carved from a bare block of land; a garden of peace and the joy of plants.

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The central feature of this garden is a Lily Pond. Most rooms of the house look out across this peaceful pond to a landscape of an inlet of water and to the mountains beyond.

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While I wandered in the garden, camera in hand, David talked to our friend about the plants in her garden and how they had designed the garden from a bare field.

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A hand hewn stream lent a gentle, bubbling sound to the ambience.

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A wide variety of well known flowers gave colour and shape to the design.

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I won’t attempt to name them all… I’d like you to just wander with me, taking our time to really see them individually and enjoy their beauty.

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We’ll wander in the gardens and woodlands behind the house next time.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

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After exploring the exhibits in the indoor area of Seattle aquarium, it was time to venture outdoors to visit the harbour seals and the cute sea otters.

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The harbour seals are one of the main attractions around the harbours of towns and villages along this coast. They are seen by researchers as barometers of the health of Seattle’s waterways because of their diet… sole, flounder, sculpin, cod, herring, octopus and squid. These are all links in a food chain that is becoming increasingly vulnerable to pollution, development and other human activities.

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When in the water they are streamlined, but out of the water they flip flop along in a rather ungainly fashion.  While their hind flippers are used to propel them  through the water, these aren’t used on land. When they “haul out” on sandbars, beaches or onto rocks, they have to use their front flippers and an undulating movement to get along, giving them a common nick  name of “crawling seals”.

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Harbour seals have a thick layer of blubber which not only provides them with insulation in these cold waters of Puget Sound, but also adds buoyancy for swimming.

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Harbour seals  can remain underwater for close to 30 minutes while hunting for food. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait that long between dives as their keeper gave them fish to eat. But it was impossible to guess when they would come up to the surface. Most of the time, their nostrils remain closed. Once they resurface, they must consciously open their nostrils to resume breathing.

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Some cute sea otters live in the next pool. We asked how these otters came to be in the aquarium when there are plenty of surrounding waterways. The answers were interesting.

One was discovered on an airport runway in Alaska suffering from hypothermia.  One was just a few weeks old when her mother was accidentally killed by a boat in Kodiak, Alaska. She was cared for ’round the clock’ by staff and volunteers for several months before joining our other otters. She is now the mother to three pups, all born at the Seattle Aquarium. One of those now has a pup of her own. And another one was rescued after being caught in a fishing net as a young pup. They all seemed very content.

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Sea otters have very thick fur to keep them warm. We were told that there are abou 500,000 hairs on every square inch of a sea otter’s fur. That apparently, equals the number of hairs on 3 or 4 normal human heads… normal meaning not including those heads that are thinning or bald! Sea otters don’t go bald. They die of cold if they did.

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These two were having a rest after a stint of grooming;  rolling and twirling in the water; rubbing and raking their fur with their forepaws and licking the fur with their coarse tongues. They need to keep their thick fur very clean because it insulates their bodies by trapping tiny air bubbles and keeping a layer of air between the water and their skin. Dirty fur loses its insulating qualities allowing cold water to penetrate through to the skin.

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Reluctantly leaving the seals and the otters, we wandered through the connecting dome section of the aquarium to see some of the shore birds of this area.  One was the Long-billed Curlew, the largest shorebird in North America. It uses that long, curved bill to probe for prey such as  shrimp and crabs in mudflats.

Although the adult birds have long bills, their newborn chicks don’t. They are therefore unable to probe for food in the mud. So their parents take them to grasslands where they can find insects to eat. After two or three weeks, the female usually leaves the care of the brood to the male. She’s done her stint sitting on the eggs in the brooding process.

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Another local shore bird is the Black Oystercatcher… although that is a misleading name. Its favourite food is mussels rather than oysters! It searches at low tide in the places where mussels and limpets adhere to the rocks. It uses its strong bill to pop limpets and chitons off the rocks and separate the fleshy foot from the shell.

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One of the beauties of seeing birds up close is to check out the way feathers are distributed over the bird. This bird, a Killdeer, Charadrius vociferus, had just finished grooming.

These birds are sometimes called ‘chattering plovers’. Their scientific species name, vociferous, is Latin for noisy and they are… in fact, we were told that Killdeer chicks start making noise even before they have hatched. That doesn’t help in keeping the chicks safe from predators as they hatch in their simple nest, a scrape on sandy gravel ground. But the adult birds have a way of helping to keep the chicks safe. They often fake a broken wing, twisting one wing up onto their backs. Then they make themselves look vulnerable by dragging themselves away from the nest. It works sometimes!

Unlike many other shorebirds, Killdeers have short necks. But they have long beaks for digging in wet or muddy areas to forage. They feed primarily on invertebrates such as earthworms, snails, crayfish, grasshoppers, beetles and aquatic insect larvae.

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After a long morning enjoying the aquarium, we had lunch on deck overlooking the boardwalk. And most enjoyable it was, too.

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The boardwalk is new… a very pedestrian friendly precinct by the water’s edge.

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It was very hot… and an ice cream was in order while we wandered along the boardwalk.

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Flower baskets added to the summery scene.

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We joined a queue at the local cruise terminal… it would be cooler out on the water.

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Finally the ferry came into dock and we prepared to explore some more of Seattle.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

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USA: Seattle #10 Aquarium (Part a)

The Seattle Aquarium is on the waterfront directly below the Pike Markets. It was opened in 1977 but has been expended since then. We found it to be a fascinating place to visit.

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There six major exhibit areas with the aquarium: Window on Washington Waters, Life on the Edge, Pacific Coral Reef, Underwater Dome, Birds & Shores and Marine Mammals.

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Just inside the entrance is a large, 120,000 gallon fish tank filled with more than 800 fish and invertebrates local to the north west of Washington State coastal waters. Three times a day, a diver enters the tank to interact with both the fish and the visitors. The reactions of the children was great to watch… a whole new experience for many of them.

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Further inside are exhibits of a wide variety of creatures that live below the tide line. I took photos of some of the individual species to share with you all. It wasn’t easy because the water is continually washing over the exhibits just as it is in the real underwater world.

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We had seen several of the Lion’s Mane Jelly (Cyanea capillata) one morning on our journey through the Inside Passage of Alaska.  It’s a native of God’s Pocket, British Columbia, CAN. It propels itself using special muscles called coronal muscles, embedded on the underside of the bell. These push water out of the hollow bell. As water is pushed in one direction, the jellyfish moves in the counter direction.

The Lion’s Mane does not have a brain or eyes so it relies on nerve cells to sense and react to food or danger.  Sensing organs tell them whether they are heading up or down, into the light or away from it.  Even with such a basic structure, they are amazing hunters!

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The scientific name for this Basket Star is Gorgonocephalus eucnemis which comes from Greek mythology because its arms twist and coil looking like writhing serpents. The Greek gorgós means “dreadful” and cephalus means “head”.

Five pairs of arms branch from the central disc (or head) and divide into smaller and smaller subdivisions. These arms, or branches, are covered in tiny hooks and spines which are used to help it to feed as it extends its arms like a net. Any small crustaceans that come within reach are snared, immobilised and tied in what appears to be a knot of branches. The branches then twist to take the food to the mouth on the underside of the central disc. The disc has what looks like a comb which is used to remove the food and clean the branches ready for more food collection. Fascinating.

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Rock pools allowed visitors to see tentacles up close.

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Sea anemones, like these, usually stay in the one place.  They anchor themselves to surfaces or sand with a sticky foot called a pedal disc. Water flows over them bringing food to them. Any passing small fish or crustacean which touches those anemone tentacles is likely to be shot by the anemone with a nematocyst, a harpoon-like spear. It contains a paralysing neurotoxin which immobilises the prey.  The anemone then uses its tentacles to guide the food into their mouths.

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If the environment becomes unlivable, anemones can slowly slide along the ocean floor on their foot or float away and “swim” to a new anchoring spot by flexing their bodies.

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A beautiful close up.

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There are several types of starfish on display at the Seattle Aquarium. Some types have been causing growing concern since 2013 when they were found to be suffering a disease now called Starfish wasting disease, a condition that gives the impression that the starfish is ‘melting’. Seattle researchers are taking part in a joint effort to understand why a growing number of starfish are being affected, not only around Seattle, but along the coast of British Columbia, Washington State and California. The cause is still not fully known.

However, researchers believe now that the disease is associated with certain bacteria and a virus like one that affects cats and dogs… a virus in the same family as the Parvovirus.

It appears that this virus causes the sea star’s reproductive system to swell and that the condition is aggravated by environmental factors like water temperature, acidification or toxins. A recent blog from the Aquarium researchers about the sea stars states that the sea stars have “gone from being one of the most common species in the Puget Sound to 2-3 years later, being incredibly hard to find.”

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According to that same 2016 report, “the loss of the sea stars has already started to change the ecosystem, since sea stars are major predators. Their food source, sea urchins, are growing in both number and size. Now, experts are talking about whether sea stars should be listed as endangered.”

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There’s a wonderful, never ending variety of species in the underwater world.

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One of the exhibits is a glass case devoted to Dale Chihuly’s sea form shells.

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Just beautiful.

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Another area is devoted to hands on activities for small children. I watched this little girl for quite some time as she invented and reinvented her own underwater world in felt.

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There’s also an intriguing wall of tiles representing the creatures of the deep.

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I loved these childlike representations of the real creatures in the watery exhibitions.

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Brain coral featured in the tropical underwater exhibition.

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A lot goes on behind the exhibits at the aquarium.  For example, we, like all other visitors, enjoyed several excellent exhibits of various corals and colourful tropical fish. But none of these corals are taken from the wild. They are propagated and ‘grown’ in tanks until they are large enough to go on display. Excess corals are shared with other aquariums to reduce the need for any exhibitor to harvest corals from the wild.

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How’s this for a wonderful colour combination?

After spending some time enjoying this main exhibition hall, it was time to go outside to a very different exhibition area, partly under a dome and partly open to the skies.

More of that anon.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

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