A cultural (birthday) weekend

That was the cultural weekend that was!

It feels like we really got some quality parenting time in there.  But first, I have to ask –  did you see the darts’ final last night??!

Aye caramba, it was fantastic!  Anyone who’s ever met me will attest to the fact that I’m the world’s smallest sports fan, but I do like to catch the a bit of the darts.  It started off with a slightly ironic edge to it, but I’ve become a genuine fan.  The Lovely Melanie had just cooked us a bee-yoo-tiful meal last night for my birthday, and it was as though the gods were conspiring to make it  a perfect evening, since we sat down to eat just as it looked like it was absolutely all over for Phil Nixon – even the commentators sounded like they were packing up and getting ready to go home.

I won’t bore you with any more details, suffice it to say it was an incredible comeback by Phil Nixon, and the best game of darts I’ve seen for a long long time.

But I’m jumping the gun a bit.  Saturday found the family Carter in Vauxhall, visiting Vauxhall City Farm.

Perhaps the most unlikely location for a “farm” in the UK (except for, maybe, Sellafield) we thought we’d take Millie along to see the animals there, as although she’s growing up in the city I don’t her want to end up like some kids here, who have no idea of the connection between their McDonald’s and cows (a bad choice of example, perhaps, as you may ask if there is one!)

Vauxhall City Farm isn’t very big, and doesn’t have a great many animals (some spend winter in the country) – geese, chickens, pigs, horses, rabbits, a donkey and some sheep, but Family Carter had a smashing time there.  The chickens roam about the place pretty freely and aren’t in the least bit frightened of fully-grown adults, let alone little Millies, so they ambled around us, only mildly curious as to whether we had any food.

As you can see, Millie was fascinated by it all, and ambled around the place eyeing up the rabbits (she’s seen rabbits before), being a bit underwhelmed by the sheep, unsure what to make of the pigs, not quite able to comprehend the donkey and a bit scared of the horses when they tried to lick her.

I’m not surprised she was scared of the horses – I was a bit allergic to them at the farm, after rather unwisely petting them and not washing my hands, but when we got home I rubbed one eye…and my eyeball almost popped out of its socket I had suchan allergic reaction!

There were blisters on my eyeball that have only just gone away!


On my eyeball!

The Lovely Melanie even asked if I wanted to go to hospital, and I laughed, thinking she was being sarcastic; but she wasn’t.

God knows what Millie thought – why was her dad looking at her with only one eye open for the rest of the day.

Probably nothing, actually. She probably just thought it was another of those weird things that grown-ups do, like voluntarily eating vegetables, or drinking that “beer” stuff, or taking their kids out to muddy places full of weird furry folk who can’t speak…

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERASunday, despite my sore eye, we met up with our friends Mike and Inge at 10 o’clock in the morning to go on the slides at the Tate Modern.  An artist has basically installed some very big slides there, and, unlike most conventional art, the whole point is to use them – slide down them from the top. There are five in all, from a very mild “kids” slide to a four-storey monster.

Guess which ones I went on?

I did try to exercise some restraint by starting at the third biggest so as to work my way up to number five, but the enormous queue and the ticketing system (it’s a very popular exhibition, so although it’s free you need tickets) meant we missed our slot for that one and had to go straight on to number four, which, contrary to all expectation, had only a very small queue, and number five had no queue at all!

It was great fun to go on, but almost as nice to just watch: everyone coming out of the slides had a HUGE smile on their faces – nobody was “too cool for school” and all cynicism was left at the door; so that the simple act of going down a big slide cheered up everyone who tried it.  It was all jolly life-affirming and worthwhile.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAs a bonus, Millie was fascinated by the Tate Modern – it’s a great cavernous structure, and she kept pointing upwards to where, I guess, she thought the roof should have been; not to mention that the big open-plan spaces meant she could start walking and just carry on walking until she got hungry.  She also loved the cobbles on some of the nearby streets, quickly learning when we were pushing her in the buggy that if she went, “Uhhhhh” the bumping would turn it into “Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh…”  How we all laughed. 😉

So that was a lovely morning: and when we came out it was still morning, which we were all a bit shocked by; it just didn’t seem right to already have had such a great time and yet it wasn’t even lunchtime, especially on a Sunday – that really didn’t seem right, somehow.

So we walked along the South Bank for a bit, watched some dogs playing on the beach, browsed the book fair, and then crossed the Thames and went for a drink on The Strand in a very old pub called the Coal-Hole.

Now, that was a very nice weekend indeed, and, I’ll wager, impossible to match outside London…

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