From waterbus to waterhogs…

Wednesday 27th April

Contracted to care for the Cheshire One during the remainder of the Easter break we drove her south on Tuesday, she our back seat driver.

Wednesday dawned: time for trains, inter-city and underground, and a liaison at Camden Town tube station for a Girls and Grannies Day. Excitedly the two girls (ages 5 and 7), both bird-watcher daughters, and the two Grannies (ages unrecorded) made their way to Camden Lock, boarded a waterbus – and arrived at London Zoo.

The boat ride to the zoo is short, all of fifteen minutes. Just as the boat pulls away from its mooring a mock castellated building comes into view: Pirate Castle. Surely not pirates here in the heart of the capital city? Then a large barge, a permanently moored structure, an impressive-looking Chinese structure on top of it, appears. Next are some fine-looking houses, many with smart garden terraces.

The boat drew in opposite the Snowdon Aviary. We disembarked right onto zoo property. Seven year old Derby Lass proudly proclaimed that she had been here before (“but in my Mummy’s tummy”).  Fascinating though the first areas were (Rainforest Life and Into Africa) frustration mounted when maps, information and sign-posting were seemingly non-existent. Tip: find the pedestrian tunnel (but that isn’t easy).

No elephants (“not in city zoos, any more”), no penguins (their area being refurbished) but there was plenty of other wildlife. The girls gazed at the giraffes, gawped at the gorillas (and even saw the October-born baby), ogled at the beautiful okapis, listened to, but did not spot any lions. Derby Lass proved the best tiger-spotter and both girls vied with each other to find the vipers and lizards, tortoises and spiders. The internal exhibition areas seemed the more rewarding as there was so much to see, all clearly labelled, whereas the outdoor enclosures provided great hiding places for their inhabitants.  Best of all, though, was the Animals in Action Show. A skunk, a burrowing owl, a harrier hawk and two macaws demonstrated natural behaviour. Head-skimming flypasts and acrobatic tricks proved hugely enjoyable.

A scuttle back to the canal to catch the 4.30 boat. Legs were tired, little feet beginning to hurt. Onto the floating bus we clambered, back towards Camden Market, the wafting food smells tempting for less time-starved travellers.  Girls and grannies clung together, jostled their way through the crowds and clambered onto the packed escalator down, down to the Northern Line just before 5pm.  Only two stops for Boatwif and the Cheshire One to St Pancras, further to London Bridge for the Sussex contingent.

We climbed onto a 1730 first stop Bedford train. Ten minutes out a thoughtful Cheshire One exclaimed “But Granny, we didn’t see the Queen!”

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