Tag Archives: monkeys

Monkey time and a stroke of good luck.

This week welcomes in the Chinese New Year. If you live somewhere – as I do, in Brunei – with a large Chinese population, you can’t help but be aware of the New Year coming in.  Fire crackers and fireworks are let off riotously at the stroke of midnight; a real time for celebrating!  As a mother with two sleeping children I can’t help but wince at every single one, as I hope and pray that they continue their slumbers undisturbed!  Even so, I find the cultural significance and complex symbolism of Chinese New Year endlessly fascinating.


Chinese astrology revolves around twelve animal zodiac signs, each of which is associated with a year in turn.  Each animal zodiac sign has their own set of characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, which they bring to bear over the year.  Each year is also dominated by one element – earth, fire, metal, water or wood.  The Chinese believe that your personality and your destiny are determined by the zodiac sign and the element that you are born under. So for example, a child born in 2016 will be a Fire Monkey. These are the most adventurous and ambitious of the five elemental monkeys, but they are also the most irritable!

Another big part of the symbolism of Chinese New Year is in gift-giving and receiving. We went out for lunch the day before and were given oranges wrapped in red paper as we left, to bring us luck and prosperity during the coming year.  There are also some gifts that you should never give because they are believed to bring bad luck in some way.  Time-pieces such as clocks and watches are amongst the list of taboo gifts, as the recipient would perceive it as an indication that their time is running out.

If I was Chinese I think I might be tempted to take it as a really auspicious omen that on the first day of Chinese New Year I saw a whole troupe of these beautiful Silvered Leaf monkeys.  I have been in Brunei four and a half years, and I have seen hundreds of macaques, but not a single one of these gorgeous, gentle monkeys. So I was practically holding my breath and trying not to jump for joy when I came across this alpha male and his troupe of female and baby monkeys. They were a delight, and more than happy for me to get within metres of them, snapping away.  I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to finally see them, having hoped for an encounter since we first arrived.  They took their time, but the wait was well worth it!  And if they were a sign of a good year to come, then that’s even better.

Animal attraction.

What I am interested in with birds, just as I am with spiders or monkeys, is what they do and why they do it.

David Attenborough


What are you looking at?!

Love, love, love this quote from the absolute legend that is David Attenborough.  He is an all time hero of mine, and every time I see him narrating a wildlife programme or talking about his love for the natural world I feel a whole new respect and awe for a man who has dedicated his life to wildlife conservation, awareness and protection.

Today I decided to bite the bullet.  I have finally joined the National Geographic Society community, so I could participate in the ‘untamed‘ photographic assignment.  I’ve been a National Geographic fan for years.  Since I was a child.  And I have been standing on the sidelines for a while now, plucking up the courage to join in the photographic fun.

I adore some of the shots that have been shared so far for this assignment (over 10,000 already and still eleven days to go!).  And – as you would expect from the National Geographic – some of the contributors are massively talented and experienced wildlife photographers.  It is so incredibly inspiring just looking at their work.

But more than that, I love that there are that so many thousands of passionate wildlife watchers out there across the globe.  Many of them – including me – are just normal people, living normal lives.  I am not a professional wildlife expert, nor am I a professional photographer.  But I am proud to be someone who finds our big wide world fascinating, who pours over wildlife blogs and books and programmes.  And I am still childishly excited when I come across a new plant or animal I haven’t met before.

I think we all have a responsibility to care about the world we live in, and that starts small.  The intrigue that grows into respect and passion is the driving force behind my photos. The natural world around us is amazing, whether we are watching a wild monkey in the rainforests of Borneo, or a little spider in an English country garden.  We should all just appreciate the natural wonders we have in front of us.



Green orb spider, sitting pretty on a rose petal.