Multitude of Fish and Marine Life
It has been a busy and fun week. A friend of mine who moved ‘up north’ about 8 years ago popped down for a visit with her two children (9 and 5). Since she moved we have tried to meet up at least once a year. It has worked out most years and it has been well worth putting in the effort to maintain our friendship. Our children have grown up together and whilst my youngest is four years older than her eldest they still all get along really well. We often refer to them as our extended family.
I love it when we get together as some of our plans include activities that my older kids have grown out of but that my youngest would still enjoy. I sometimes feel he misses out as his siblings no longer want to do certain things that he hasn’t experienced yet.
Another upside of their visits is the excuse to see the local touristy sights that we otherwise would never get round to visiting.
We thought that her children were now old enough now to appreciate a trip into London to see some of the iconic buildings and enticed them with the promise of seeing some beautiful fish and scary sharks. We bought a family travelcard and ventured off : 2 mums with a 13, 9 and 5 year old in tow and headed off into London, leaving my older ones to revise for their impending exams.
Well, we walked, went on a train, the underground and a boat so what better way to round off our London encounter than a ride on the Number 12 bus?
It took us past the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Nelson's Column, Piccadilly Circus, Eros and Hamleys toy shop.
We managed to see a lot of the London sights without the little guys having 'overtired meltdowns' because of the great London transport options. Some of them were so tired they fell asleep on the train home.
We had an exciting train and underground ride and exited the tube at Green Park to see if the Queen was at home. The flag was flying over Buckingham Palace but we couldn’t spot her peeping out from behind her curtains. However, we were not disappointed as we saw the guards parading down 'The Mall' on horseback. We had a stroll through the beautiful St James’s park which was bursting with spring colour. The sun was shining and the squirrels, ducks, herons and big lake held the children’s interest as they pottered along.
Banggai cardinal fish (Endangered species)
The highlight of the day for the children was the London Aquarium, in the massive old GLC building (for those of us old enough to remember the GLC). I was happy as the aquarium visit was a free treat. I had exchanged my Tesco Clubcard points into entry tickets for us all.
It was lovely to see the children marvel at the colourful fish and other marine life.
We also discovered that starfish are really cool. Instead of brains they have special cells on their skin that gather information about their surroundings.
They do not have blood but have filtered sea water instead. They can regrow their arms.
It was great to see my youngest join in and see his spark of wonder and joy, ignited by his encounter with nature. It is important that we engage our young folk with the plight of the climate and our impact on the natural world and this visit proved a great way to engage and inform them about some of the issues faced by marine conservationists. There was a lot of information about the fish and the other marine life, their habits, the dangers they face and leaflets about over-fishing and sustainability of fish populations.
Iconic Red Telephone Box
Fishy facts :
Coral is an animal from the same family as Jellyfish and Sea Anemones. They are made of millions of polyps all growing on top of each other. They share their shell with algae which provides them with most of their food. In exchange the Coral offers the algae a safe place to hang out.
Coral Reefs grow at a rate of 0.3 cm to 10 cm a day and what you see now has been growing for the last 5,000 to 10,000 years. Sadly, they are being destroyed by our impact on the environment.
Coral is an important habitat for fish and its decline is one of the causes of a reduction in global fish populations.
The London Aquarium has a Coral propagation programme to raise awareness of these problems.
Walk from Green Park to Big Ben via St James's park
They watched the sharks feeding and were able to gently touch a starfish. We learnt that Undulate Rays are an endangered species and found in muddy or sandy bottoms of UK shores and that they are under threat from over-fishing. We also noticed how good their camouflage was that enabled them to hide in the sand. There is a breeding programme at the aquarium that focuses on the genetic health and sustainability of the captive population. The aim is to hopefully help with an increase of the population in the wild.
It was then just a short walk past Big Ben to the pier, adjacent to the London Eye, where we embarked on a boat for a cruise along the Thames. The commentary helped us identify many of the iconic buildings, old and new, alongside the river and glean some historical and fun facts about the city and some of its famous inhabitants.
River Cruise From London Eye to Tower Bridge and back.
Touching a Starfish (supervised)
More sightseeing from the number 12 bus
An afternoon in the London Aquarium...