Monday, 16 February 2009

Lions and Tigers and Bears (oh my!)

Yesterday we went to Canberra (yes, our nation's capital) for a quick visit. Our main aim was to see the Degas exhibition (and on a weekday when it's not completely packed) and S also had a work thingy. Jack and I dropped him off in the city then headed to our hotel in Manuka. Well they say it's Manuka but it seemed awfully close to Fyshwick to us. We managed to get an early check in due to Jack's impending naptime and I dragged our belongings (thankfully only one suitcase) to our room. But Jack, having slept for a whole half hour in the car, was not up for a nap. Not even close, so I made the executive decision that we should go to the Canberra Zoo and Aquarium. This is the zoo where you can pet cheetahs or feed lions and tigers. We decided to give that a miss this time.
We checked out the aquarium first which was okay, Jack liked the fish but the whole place smelt like urinal cakes (and no, I don't know that from hanging out in men's lavatories just from being seated at the 'wrong' table in some restaurants). There was a huge groper that was three times Jack's size eyeing him off so we left to look at the zoo.
The first animals we saw were bears (the snow leopards were hiding) who were practising their sad faces. Who can blame them being stuck in a cage? And they are HUGE.
Then we were off. Jack paused briefly to communicate with the monkeys then we moved onto the otters (also awol) and the Lions. There were even white ones (like Kimba) but Jack seemed more impressed with his own roaring. From there we saw more monkeys, a red panda or two, a very sleepy unfriendly koala, some penguins, some very friendly, freaky emus(they make the strangest noise and are very tall so it's understandable that Jack wasn't keen on them), a tiger(look closely it's near Jack's left hand), a couple of giraffes (one was licking the roof, not sure why, maybe just because it could) and some sorry looking zebras. After terrifying Jack with the toy animals in the gift shop we raced off to pick up S.
I've always been a little hesitant about driving in Canberra. All those roundabouts and roundabout ways of getting places but once you get the hang of things it's okay. I just went against my sense of direction (which is of course fantastic) and drove in the opposite lane and direction to what seemed logical and before I knew it I'd be at my destination. And no that doesn't mean I drove on the wrong side of the road.
Once again back to our salubrious accommodation (next door to the Toulouse-Lautrec suite - somehow I thought the door would be smaller) to try to get Jack to sleep again but once again we were thwarted in our plans so I went shopping in Manuka (mmm...lovely) and S and Jack went to a golf centre, where surprisingly Jack fell asleep.
I caught up on the latest new releases in picture books. Some were lovely. Margaret Wild has a new book about a boy and his dog and the dog dies. Why Margaret must you write such beautiful sad books? I also saw the new Susan Orleans book (you know the author of the Orchid Thief who had a baby at the sprightly age of 49) called Lazy Little Loafers about why babies don't get jobs. Clever idea but am not sure children will go for it. It lacks the deceptively simple writing that the best picture books need.
Jack and S returned and Jack woke up in time for dinner. The words 'family restaurant' are usually ones that strike fear into the heart of normal people. They are usually accompanied by meals whose names start with Mc or they serve Shirley temples and Veal Parmigiana. And it's funny the restaurant that we went to in Manuka pushes the family angle and has veal parmi on the menu was actually rather good. An italian restaurant with a french name doesn't bode well, but Jack was well looked after and so were we (I mean who can complain when they're sipping a glass of Bridgewater Mill Chardonnay). We returned once more to Fyshwick, I mean Manuka and all went to bed early in readiness for going to the National Gallery.

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