Today we met up with my friend Claire and her children to visit Battersea Park Zoo.
I haven’t been to Battersea Park for about 18 years. My last visit was memorable due to the fact that a friend had convinced me to do a sponsored walk with her. We were to walk about twenty miles round London, starting and finishing at Battersea Park. I think it was for something like Save the Children. I know it was sponsored by Cadburys.
I know this because upon arrival they thrust a large carrier bag of chocolate bars into our hands to keep our energy up as we walked.
By the time we were half way up the King’s Road, we were half way down the bag. By Birdcage Walk we had emptied our bag and were onto ice creams.
I think it’s a good thing we weren’t walking for a diabetes charity.
Battersea is on the same side of the river as Stockwell, which is where we are based. It is only about two or three miles away if you have a car, but it is one of those places in London, like Muswell Hill or Highgate, which are surprisingly tricky to get to, despite being near lots of things.
In order to get to Battersea, which only has an overground station, we took a bus to Clapham Junction.
Clapham Junction, it transpires, is not in Clapham at all. It is in Lavender Hill. So that’s quite useful to know if you’re not a local. Or if you’re beginning to panic that you’ve missed your stop.
Once at Clapham Junction, you run round and round like a loon looking for the right platform.
Clapham Junction has more platforms than Birmingham New Street Station, despite only being weeny on the outside. It is the TARDIS of railway stations, but without the whimsical charm…
or the ability to time travel.
Should you ever wish to go to Battersea from Clapham Junction, you will need Platform 14.
Battersea Park is very nice. It has a boating lake, and fancy ice cream parlour thing, and all the usual park paraphernalia, as well as the zoo.
A family ticket is about £28 for the day.
The zoo is small, but we really liked it. We got there just in time for lemur feeding, which was instantly appealing to all but the most hard hearted animal loathers. We moved on to otter feeding, which melted everyone’s hearts to goo. Then they were feeding the meerkats. With the meerkats, you can go through a tunnel and pop up in a perspex bubble in the enclosure, which the children did to their utter delight.
We moved on from there to the ‘mouse house’. It was cuteness factor ten, with a selection of adorable mice and chipmunks doing acrobatics on hamster wheels. The only thing that troubled me was that they also kept snakes in the mouse house. It seems somewhat mean to remind the mice of the fate that awaits them, but perhaps it saves the keepers carrying shovels’ full of mice up and down the zoo to feed the snakes with.
Time and motion zoo keeping.
Claire and I sat in the sunshine drinking coffee while the kids went off en masse to discover the rest of the zoo. Apparently they had hares, which is rather wonderful.
Basically, it’s never going to compete with London zoo, but what it lacks in animal power it makes up for in cuteness power. It’s also significantly cheaper than London Zoo and much easier to get around.
We really enjoyed our time there.
After we had oohed and aahed enough, we buggered along to Covent Garden to a branch of The Real Greek and ate a lot of meze.
Then we went and stared at some street performers in Covent Garden, and ate some macarons from Laduree.
I had salted caramel.
N. O. M.
We parted the ways with Claire, and hoofed over to Marylebone for the rest of our afternoon. Tilly had saved all her holiday money to spend in Rococo Chocolates. It is her favourite chocolate shop.
We got there to find it had moved, which distressed us slightly, as we had walked all the way in the blazing heat and were foot sore and weary.
Luckily the lady from the shop next door popped out and said: ‘Do not despair! For it has only moved to Moxon Street, which is just down there round the corner from Waitrose.’
And the day was saved.
We were given samples of some amazing chocolate thins with violet flavour in them. I don’t like flowery chocolates as a rule, but these were delicious.
Then Tilly treated us all to a chocolate.
I had salted caramel.
We repaired to Carluccio’s for a drink and a sit down, and then we finished the day with an hour of absolute and utter bliss in Daunt Books.