England: Day 10

On our first day of Kathyless existence, [Mom McMains->] and I took the kids to the London Zoo. We hopped off the Tube at the Regent’s Park station and took a leisurely stroll from the south end of the park to the zoo’s entrance on the north side, enjoying the giant trees, a few dogs (though nothing like as many as we saw in Highgate Wood a few evenings previous), and watching the varied passersby.

The zoo seems to enjoy a somewhat indifferent reputation in London. I can only assume that this is due to historical failings, as it is currently a remarkably nice place. The vertical emphasis I mentioned earlier is in evidence even here, as the grounds are split into three sections, joined by tunnels under the Prince Albert Road and a bridge over the Regent’s Canal. In addition to the static animal exhibits, there were a number of feedings and animal shows scattered throughout the day and some great walk-through aviaries, aquariums, and the reptile house where Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry Potter set the snake loose.

The only downside to the place was that everything seemed frightfully expensive: £12 to get in, £6 for a chicken curry (which was, admittedly, very tasty), and even more for the various kiddie rides scattered around the grounds. Additionally, we once again ran afoul of two contrasting phenomena: due to the more northern latitude, it’s still staying light here until about 9:30pm (and the sun rises around 6:00am). By contrast, most businesses and museums seem to close by 6:00pm — frightfully early by American standards. As a result, we keep finding ourselves getting kicked out of places as they close without having been able to see everything therein. The Zoo was the latest example — we only got to see the Meerkat Village and the otter exhibit because we chose to leave the zoo the long way. We came home, had some cereal for dinner, and started Volume 3 in the Chronicles of Narnia (which felt like singularly appropriate reading in England).

Latest entry in the curious cuisine chronicles: Dandelion & Burdock Soda. While [Maggie->] likes it pretty well, everyone else thinks it tastes like bilge water. There are also several condiments here in common use that are novel to us Americans: the ubiquitous and inauspiciously named “brown sauce”, which seems to be a hybrid of BBQ and worcestershire sauces, and the estimable “mint sauce”, made with ground up mint and a vinegar base. Kathy especially likes this, and plans to look for suppliers in the States.

Today I felt my first bit of homesickness. I’m not sure if it was Kathy’s absence, the demands of shuttling 4 children through a city not designed with large, boisterous families in mind, the stress of dealing with Maggie giving herself a pretty thorough head-bonking, or (most likely) the combination of all of these, but by evening’s end, I was missing my quiet corner of the ol’ homestead.