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When I was a child, during the summer holidays my brother and I would spend a week or two with my grandparents in North Carolina. Every year, they would take us to the zoo, and my grandmother would hand us her camera and allow us to take as many photos as we wanted. This was obviously well before digital cameras came about, and my poor grandparents must have spent a small fortune developing hundreds of incredibly dull pictures of meerkats, penguins and zebras, the same animals doing the same thing year after year. But we had such fun, clicking away and fighting over who got to hold the camera as we ran along the paths.

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I don’t think I’ve been to the zoo since those long ago summers and had nearly forgotten those early adventures in photography, but on Saturday, to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday (I won’t tell you which one, but it’s big), the whole family went to Edinburgh Zoo. It turns out that even as an adult, I can get a little snap happy when confronted with animal cuteness.

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No one but me will be interested in these photos, I suspect (or indeed this post). And even I don’t find them all that captivating. But there was something bittersweetly nostalgic about being back at the zoo, even if this time it was in a freezing Edinburgh winter instead of a blisteringly hot North Carolina summer. It made my heart ache for my grandparents (who still live in North Carolina) and those years of childhood innocence.

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