Apenheul revisited

With the EU’s internal borders having reopened and the twins’ birthday having happened just over a week ago, we were able to take the two hour drive into the Netherlands to visit Apeneheul once again. This is a zoo of free-roaming primates in which you can wander through a forest and see the animals in as close to their natural state as possible.

It’s a bit different from the last time.

For a start, we have to buy tickets online before visiting. And when buying the tickets, we also had to choose an arrival slot — this gives is a half-hour window in which we must arrive. Miss the window, and the journey is wasted. So we gave ourselves plenty of leeway and ended up with the best part of an hour to kill before we could enter the zoo.

Fortunately, the site is set among some wonderfully scenic grounds, so walking around for a bit really is no challenge at all.

Once inside, the effects of the coronavirus are still visible. The parts of the site in which the 1.5 metre social distancing can’t be enforced remained closed, as do some of the free-roam areas. Most notable of these (for us, at least) were the squirrel monkeys because these little guys are just too inquisitive to be allowed near anyone right now.

That said, there is still plenty to see and do and the boys all enjoyed a great day out.

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My only real gripe is with the ordering system they have implemented. The cafes are all self-service and, to prevent crowding at the tills and take contactless payments, you have to use an app to place and pay for your order, and I really did not like the app.

When I say app here, the reality is that I was using the partially translated mobile web version on my phone. The user interface for this relied on some wacky web ordering framework which didn’t understand that a browser has a back button, so one click can empty your basket and send you right back to the beginning of the process. This is not pleasant when you have three hungry children sitting around a table. Once I had managed to place an order, there is no feedback at all. You simply return to a screen that informs you that they’ll let you know when the order is ready which, after having waited twenty minutes for three sandwiches, felt really inadequate.

For all my whining, though, this is a relatively minor gripe and, once I knew what to expect, I was a lot more relaxed about it.

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Even with the inevitable restrictions, Apenheul still represents a great day out. The site is huge and, even with some parts closed off, we still managed to spend more than three hours working our way around the park. There is loads to see, plenty to do and the primates are still able to get close and personal.

We will certainly be going again. Hopefully the Coronacrisis will be over by the time we do.

Coronabsurdity of the day

This is brilliant.

Belgium and The Netherlands have taken different approaches to the coronavirus, with Belgium ordering all non-essential shops to close and the Dutch allowing the shops to stay open as long as they take measures to enforce social distancing.

The towns of Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog are, in fact, a single town that straddles the border between Belgium and The Netherlands. Inevitably enough, someone built a shop across the border.

So what do you do when you have conflicting rules as to whether you can open or not?

You open half a shop:

Continue reading “Coronabsurdity of the day”

Apenheul

With Thursday being a public holiday, we took a trip to the Netherlands to visit Apenheul, a zoo of free roaming primates. It’s exactly what it says it is and is really rather good.

What you have is essentially a large forest, through which you follow a path allowing you to see the animals close up and in a pretty-much natural state. This is particularly true of the smaller monkeys which can, and do, come very close to visitors. Larger apes, such as gorillas and orangutans are a little more separate, being housed on islands that put them a bit more out of reach.

We turned up at about 11:30 intending to eat first and then explore. It didn’t quite work like that because as soon as the boys saw the monkeys, and realised just how close they would come, all lunchtime thoughts were forgotten. It took us two hours to make it to the restaurant and, by the time the zoo closed at 5:00, we still hadn’t seen everything.

It took us two hours to get there, which isn’t too bad, and the boys are all keen to go back. If (when) we do, however, will will probably leave a little earlier and try to find some food on the way as the food in the zoo is not that substantial — it’s all chips and sandwiches which is fine for a snack but not much of a meal.

That said, there is a restaurant — De Boschvijver — close to the car park, and it turned out to be very nice indeed. The outside terrace, especially, provides a great opportunity to enjoy dinner while looking out over a lake.

Apenheul is also involved in several nature conservation projects around the world through their Apenheul Primate Conservation Trust (APCT). Being a big coffee drinker, the Yellow-tailed woolly monkey project is the one that appealed to me most.

By providing local people with a sustainable way of producing coffee, we get their support for our conservation goals. Farmers who previously had to cut down hectares of the forest for their livestock, now only need a one hectare coffee plantation to generate enough income. We buy this coffee at a fair price and then serve it to our visitors!

The coffee is called Lazy Monkey, and it’s pretty good.

The Boys

April 30th is Koninginnedag, a public holiday in the Netherlands. It’s not a public holiday in Belgium but we cracked out the orange and took a trip across the border. I didn’t take a lot of photos of the festivities, but I do quite like this one of the boys, getting ready to do whatever they’re planning on doing.

Bill O’Reilly’s statistical illiteracy

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned Fox News before, and it’s certainly not a channel I feel any need to pay any attention to. But this is incredible:

Here’s the pull quote, from Bill O’Reilly, starting at 2:40.

The way they do the statistics in the Netherlands is different, plus its a much smaller country, it’s a much smaller base to do the stats on.

So my question is this: Is Bill O’Reilly really as statistically illiterate as he appears, or is he just assuming that his entire audience is made up of morons?