Saturday, 22 November 2014

London Aquarium on a 'relaxing' weekend

What better way to spend a Friday night than with fish (and champagne)?

Last Friday saw my first 24 hour stint in a long time with farewell drinks for my TA, carol singing at Leadenhall Market for the Christmas light switch on, dancing my heart out to Anile, Etherwood and Keeno at MedSchool in Elephant & Castle and then finally rolling into bed at half 5/6am, having woken up at a similar time a full 'day' before. Feeling a little too 'old' (at least on a Friday) for all that these days, I was rather looking forward to a quieter time this weekend, and very excited for fish!

I've probably been to the London Aquarium before, but when Hunstanton Sealife Centre (please imagine I said that in my overly enthusiastic with a hint of sarcasm voice) is on my doorstep at home, we've probably never felt the need to journey to such a place; I certainly didn't have any recollection of a visit anyway. After my incredibly fun experiences of Zoo Lates at London Zoo, and Science Museum Lates at (you've guessed it) the Science Museum, I decided that London Aquarium must be done as soon as it caught my attention!

Gone are the days when you could stroke these guys...

A complimentary glass of champagne upon arrival, I was more than happy! There is something truly wonderful about not feeling obligated to move aside for small children struggling to peer into tanks! Instead it was initially a little more like the battle upon entering an already sardine-like tube train, elbows out and everything! However as some people raced ahead to find the next bar, we decided to take our time.

So stingrays evolved from sharks. Who knew?

Determined to get our money's worth, we oggled at the weird and wonderful in every tank, waiting patiently to read signs that would inform us what said 'weird and wonderful' were actually called (the Fox-faced-rabbitfish had to be my favourite name, although I wasn't entirely sure where the name came from...)! It transpired that shark tanks are pretty hypnotic, and before we knew it, it was twenty to ten (we had arrived at twenty past seven)! So we tore ourselves away and went to find the penguins!

Drunken seahorses.

Pretty piranhas!

Unanimous oohs and ahhs echoed around the crowd as we eagerly anticipated their descent into the pool for a swim. Sadly it never came, but they still looked sweet waddling around their enclosure (if a little trapped; the murals on the walls of the world beyond where they now live seemed a little cruel)!

Penguins waved goodbye to, the rest felt like a come-down (although a fish swimming through a tiny tube adjoining two tanks was a pretty entertaining highlight (perhaps the alcohol was kicking in by this point)). Before we knew it, we found ourselves exiting and we came out by the arcade and McDonalds; quite the opposite to the inviting entrance!

More sharks...

... just because they're sharks.

Once we were back along the Southbank, we decided to venture into the festive enclosure where this year's Winter Festival awaited us. We discovered a Christmas tree maze (magical), a 'lodge' serving all the Rekorderlig, and an incredible array of inviting Scandinavian food stalls. After a wander around to make sure we were about to make the best drink (and maybe food) choice, we settled on a table and chair straight out of Ikea in the lodge for a tipple. As we sat there, our minds turned to the intriguing food stall situated right outside the lodge, and before we knew it we were tucking into a mighty burger and a meat ball sandwich with lingonberry jam and some sort of gravy; yum!

The rest of the weekend was pretty restful; on Saturday evening we returned to Southbank to try out another food stall and to catch up with friends not seen in far too long (I even managed to get a little something for Christmas while we waited)! On Sunday I finally saw The Shawkshank Redemption (in bed, of course), and loved it, before my 'relaxing' weekend was topped off with Linkin Park at the O2 Arena; so much nostalgia!

I'm definitely starting to feel fully festive!