Now my Big Smoke blues are finally subsiding a little I thought I’d get to bloggin’ about some brilliant stuff I saw, ate and did while I was in London last weekend. The city has my heart and every time I’m there I swear forever and a day wouldn’t be enough time to tick off everything from your LDNBL (London bucket list – yes, I have one) but I’ve been making a pretty good start. A multi-million pound town house in Kensington, overlooking Hyde Park where I can walk our black pug Biggie Paws while Jaws the cat hides from the morning commuters under my black Audi TT – that’s No. 1 up there on the list but I’m having a whole lot o’ fun in the meantime.
The rough patch my relationship with Time Out magazine went through following a dodgy ‘internship’ was smoothed out when they suckered me in with half price tickets to London Zoo Lates. Pretty much everything it says on the tin, the zoo in beautiful (if a little sinister in the dark) Regent’s Park opens after hours a couple of times a month throughout the summer for an over-18s only extravaganza. Now I love animals, in all shapes and sizes, so at the promise of sloths, penguins and tiger cubs I was already sold but this really is an essential must-do even if you’ve already visited the zoo a million times in the day before.*
You big kid!
You know when you have a really young relative who is far too young to blow the candles out on their own birthday cake so you get to do it on behalf of them and internally relive that childhood adrenaline? It’s just like that. Exactly like that. Open from 6-10pm, the zoo becomes a child-free zone and instead transforms into a jungle of oversized kids as a sea of animal onesie-clad adults descend on the enclosures. We clearly didn’t get the dress up memo but seeing everybody from teenagers and hen parties to first dates and grandmas was pretty fantastic. In fact I’m not sure what was more entertaining to be honest, the animals or the visitors.
The animals, of course!
From dancing penguins called Ricky and jumping rats to a family of sloths and some very personable giraffes. I’d like to think of myself as a bit of a zoo connoisseur as a regular at my local Chester Zoo and a fan of New York Central Park Zoo but London blows them right out of the exotic-fish infested water. Aside from the absence of elephants, I’m pretty sure Noah’s Ark may have been tipped into Regent’s Park and a ‘London Zoo’ sign slapped over the top of it. We managed to catch the penguin feeding show and the adorable waddle had the entire audience wrapped right around their little flippers. (Yes, just when you though it couldn’t get any cuter, a group of penguins is called a waddle!) It was great to see how happy and relaxed all of the animals in the zoo looked and the incredible bond they have with the zookeepers.
We were expecting some performers, a bar and street food but talk about underselling yourself, ZSL! Flamingo croquet, food from almost every continent in existence, Pimms, live musicians performing as you recline on super-size beanbags, face painting, carousels and candyfloss – I could move in today! After a few cocktails in Soho the night before, the array of beers and wines weren’t looking so tasty but we we’re like kids in a candy shop at the food market. From hot dogs and pulled pork to thai street food and la comida Mexicana, we were spoilt for choice. We did suffer a burnt crepe but who needs a banoffee pancake when you’ve juts devoured a chicken tikka feast and a traditional chicken pad thai anyway, right?
Go, go, go!
*Word to the wise – make sure you print all necessary parts of you e-ticket off or you’re going to end up stuck in a long line of new-agers brandishing there smartphones in the lengthy on-screen ticket queue.