Animal Antics in London
6 Feb 2012
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In early February Tony went to London for a couple of days to stay with a friend in Bromley. He had tickets to a travel show and was hoping there would be some good special offers on. Cynthea dropped him off at the train station, and he picked up the travel tickets. Bugger – he bought the wrong ones. He thought he was buying an open return (within a month), with a day pass for London, but Tony got a day return instead. The train company would not change it, he was not a happy chappy.
It was a brilliant day to travel, blue sky and sunshine, but temperatures were below zero. When he arrived in London the buckets of water on the platform were well frozen. It was nice to see blue sky in London, and there was no wind to speak of, so it did not seem too cold at all. Tony took the tube to Oxford Circus and had a wander around the shops in Oxford St. There were a few sales on, but he was just checking prices to compare with the market stalls on Saturday.
He headed out to Lyndell's, but a text with directions tells him to get off at a different station, and he finds himself lost for a while, until he gets another text text saying oops, sorry… At least it was still a fine sunny day, but the temperatures are dropping now. We meet up, drop the bags at the flat, and head out to the Bromley shops, it is late night shopping tonight. Tony bought some new clothes and we had Subway and KFC for tea.
Friday morning, and we head off to Earls Court for the travel show. It is a huge exhibition, and it takes a big of working out where everything is. First up is an amateur photography course, the early part of the course is a bit over Tony’s head as he doesn’t understand half of what is being talked about. It was felt to be anything but for amateurs. Eventually there is something of interest to understand, and Tony feels like he got something from the talk. Next stop – FOOD. We get to try samples of wine and food from the small Maltese island of Gozo.
We try to get around the whole show, but it is going to be a mission. A couple of the travel companies Tony had hoped would be there are not represented. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of special offers from those there, which is a disappointment. We find the On The Go stand and grab the Turkey tour brochure. Finally we get to see the photos from our tour group that are in this years print. (Tony and Cynthea are not in it but one of Tony’s photos has made it to the on line blog the travel company put up – where’s the photo credit Emma? haha).
We find a stand with live animals – tarantulas, scorpions and other creepy crawlies, and a couple of macaws. We get the birds sitting on our arms, it is lots of fun and we usually have to pay heaps for that privilege. Steve, the owner of the animals, leaves to do the live animal show, so we head over to look at that. It was not well advertised, so there are few people there when we arrive, and get seats right up front. The show gets us up close and personal with lots of animals, first up are a couple of snakes, a python and a boa constrictor (they were HUGE). Tony holds the python but Lyndell didn’t like the snakes being so close, and did a runner instead of taking the photos. The boa was even bigger, and too heavy to allow anyone to hold it, but we were allowed to touch. It was the closest Tony had been to such a huge snake, fascinating stuff. Lyndell does another runner, taking the camera with her.
We got to see a meerkat, cute little bugger, but we were told how viscous they can be. Steve tells us that the meerkat bit him at a show a while back, and it wouldn’t let go. Steve couldn’t get the jaws apart and there was lots of blood. As with all the animals we see at the show Steve brings them to our tables, and the meerkat is allowed loose to see everyone, and vice versa! We are allowed to pat it and it has a rat around looking for food in Tony's pack.
Next up is a skunk, we thought he would keep this one away from us all. He calls for a volunteer and tells her she must only stroke the skunk with the right hand, so she does very gingerly. He then says that if she wants to try with the left hand she can, and when she does he lifts the skunks tail and makes a farting noise. Haha, was funny to see. We are told that the spray from a skunk is bright yellow, and that if the animal decides to let rip we will all cop it, but no one seems too worried by that as Steve brings him around the tables for us to pat.
A snapping turtle makes an appearance, even Steve is careful not to let his fingers near the mouth, and we see how far back the turtle can reach. These turtles are fast growing, and this one is only 4 years old.
A Genet is related to cats, and also related to the mongoose (and Meerkat), not many of us had heard of it before, and Tony had never seen one. They have a small head, spotted body and striped tail. This one is very agile, and jumps from the table to Steve’s hand held high above his head. Yes, Steve tells us, it hurts. A lot. The Genet runs around on the tables in front of us, and stands up like a meerkat when he is called.
Steve brings out a Chilean Rose tarantula, big hairy beastie that it is. Tony asks to hold it, not quite sure how he will cope given that he HATES spiders. He is very surprised not to break into a sweat and run screaming from the room! He also gets to hold a scorpion later and is surprised he remained calm for that too. That is two things he thought he would never, could never, do, and was buzzing for days afterwards. Just don’t ask him to chase a huntsman spider next time he is on the Gold Coast, he hasn’t quite overcome the fear of spiders!!
Lyndell is amazed Tony did all that, she had trouble just taking the photos! We still had more to see, but the show was closed and we had to go. We head back to Bromley, buy something at the supermarket for tea, and get way laid in the Irish pub. It is a great wee bar, very busy.
On Saturday we head over to Camden Locks to the markets there, it was a great day out, Tony enjoyed it as he dragged Lyndell around all afternoon in the freezing cold. Around 6pm we decide to head for a feed, there is a Thai buffet along the road. But as we get to the place the snow starts to fall, and we decide to head in the direction of home. Just as well because as we travel down the line we hear announcements about delays, signal failures, and eventually line closures on the tube. We catch the train back to Bromley, the snow has settled when we arrive.
Sunday morning we wake up to about 100mm of snow on the ground, the buses are running but we cannot see any trains. We check on line for details, but they are not to be trusted. We head down to the station, and it is closed. So we head to the next one, luckily it is not far, and Tony gets the train to Victoria, then navigates the tube through the closures to catch the train back to Banbury.
Cynthea meets Tony at the station and as they drive back to Brackley some fool overtakes and sprays the car with brown slush, completely covering the windscreen. It was more than a bit frightening, and we were lucky not to be travelling faster.
More snow is forecast for and Sunday Monday, but apart from a few flakes leaving London it is a no show. There is no wind, so it is not too chilly out.