So, I bunked off on Tuesday. I’d always half intended to, especially as it was a school holiday, and an opportunity to spend some time with Anna, but the fantastic weather meant that the laptop stayed firmly switched off and we headed off to the zoo.
Earlier, I’d woken with a start. Maybe it was the unfamiliar surroundings. I’m not used to waking in my parents’ spare room, seeing as we live just a few minutes’ away, but we are staying here with my wonderful niece Laura, who’s down for her uni exams. Anyway, I woke up thinking I should have been in London the day before for Federal Executive. Once I’d hit the roof with horror, it slowly dawned on me that not even someone with Tim Farron’s work ethic would summon us on a bank holiday the week after the elections.
It was lovely sitting outside on my parents’ patio having breakfast. We don’t get a lot of sunshine up here – and what little we’ve had this year has been accompanied by a goosebump inducing chill. This was real hot stuff, though. Anna and I decided to go to the zoo while Laura was sitting her exam. We hadn’t been since last Summer so we hadn’t seen the new penguin enclosure.
We were surprised to be offered panda viewing tickets for half an hour after we arrived. You normally have to book them online in advance, but there had been a cancellation, apparently. So, after checking in with the flamingoes – we both love their chilled out pinkness and when Anna was little I made up a series of stories about the adventures of one of them, Florence – we headed to the panda house. We weren’t full of expectation – when we’ve seen them at lunchtime before, they’ve always been asleep. We’ve never had much from Yang Guang. He was sitting with his back to us the first time. The second he was asleep on his little trolley thing. He woke up, saw people there and turned over in a very grumpy manner reminiscent of the way I pull the duvet over my head in the morning, in futile denial of the need to get up. The third time he had his wee bout of man flu.
On Tuesday, though, he was very lively and the picture of charm. He ate his bamboo, he moved around and even went outside, where he treated us, if that’s the appropriate word to a panda handstand. This is not as cute as you might think. Not when it involves him doing the toilet when he’s in position.
Tian Tian was sleeping when she went in, totally starfished on her pile of bamboo, showing off the shaven patch on her abdomen from her recent artificial insemination. She then woke up and gave herself a rush of blood to the head by hanging off the platform.
The rest of the afternoon was spent with penguin watching and ice cream before we headed home. I hope we have more Summer to look forward to as it’s clouded over and become a good deal colder since….