Shad takes a trip to London

This weekend, the Saga Louts met 5 of their music idols in the zany form of AC/DC at Wembley Stadium.  To remind you, the Saga Louts consist of 4 mature men with a talent for music and a passion for rock (not the geological kind)!  I wrote about the Saga Louts some time ago when John and I went to see them in concert.  By that I mean jammin’ it at one of their gigs in the pub!  So John and the Saga Louts invited me to London to hit the curry house and watch one of their favourite heavy metal bands performing on stage.  While we waited for the guys to meet us at Kings Cross train station, I amused myself by wondering where platform 9 ¾ might be until the sound of bears bellowing caught my attention.  The happy hollering noises came from John and his brother and pals greeting each other warmly and exclaiming their joy at the upcoming show.  I hopped back in my basket and we made our way to the hotel for a rest and refreshments.  Next stop, Wembley Stadium!

We arrived early and the place was enormous, filled with rows and rows of bandstand seating, a huge stage at one end and a floor for standing in the middle which John referred to jokingly as the ‘mosh pit’.  As time went on, more people arrived and after John explained what ‘moshing’ was, I decided this wasn’t my cup of tea, too crowded and noisy.  So John put me in a taxi back to the hotel where a nice bowl of fish flakes was waiting for me.  He arrived back in the room at 1am looking happy and sweaty!  Apparently AC/DC slammed out a relentless celebration of rock and roll while the masses heaved in delight.  Fireworks, explosions and confetti accompanied the grand slam of distorted electric guitar and thunderous drums.  Despite their age (most of the band members are in their sixties), they strutted up and down the stage, gurning and grinning with their straggly hair stuck to their wet faces, often making a wild noise that seemed to leave the crowd mesmerised.  Apparently they came to rock!

I awoke in the morning bright and breezy, unlike John and the rest of the crew who were very tired so after a hearty breakfast to fuel the fires, we headed across to Hyde Park for a leisurely walk.  Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in London, situated next to Kensington Gardens close to the main entrance to Buckingham Palace and the Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall.  Aside from a few joggers and dog walkers, we had the park to ourselves possibly due to the dark clouds and refreshing spots of rain that were starting to fall on us.  One hot cup of coffee (and a warm saucer of cat milk for me) later, more hugs and manly taps on the shoulder indicated it was time to go our separate ways.  I suspect John’s ears are still ringing from the concert but he would tell you that it was totally worth it.

Shad does Paradise Wildlife Park

The weatherman said it would be sunny and dry on Sunday so despite the cold, John and I wrapped ourselves up in woolly scarves and hats and headed outdoors.  As we cruised along the M25 that morning, there was not a glimpse of sun in sight.  But we were past the point of no return and had already paid £2 at the Dartford Tunnel, so we decided to press on, in true British fashion!  We found a nice spot in the car park and dashed out of the car with full bladders in need of relief before standing in the short queue to get our tickets.  A large grey fluffy sausage on a stick caught my eye and it turned out to be a boom pole with a microphone attached to the end.  It was being carried by a small camera crew who were with a group of people that included a very minor celebrity, David Van Day from Dollar, taking the private tour experience.

We wandered in through the gates to an enclosure close by and I felt the spirit of the wilderness as we came face to face with the grey wolves.  There are apparently almost 40 subspecies of wild dogs including Arctic and Arabian wolves and the dingo, and they occupy a range of habitats including Arctic tundra, prairies and forests.  Young grey wolves are born blind and deaf in dens and rely on their mothers as well as support from the pack for warmth and food.  Grey wolves once had the largest natural distribution of any mammal except humans but unfortunately they can no longer claim this record as they have been lost from much of their former lands.

Opposite the wolves was one of my most handsome and dignified big cat cousins, the white tiger.  Despite the grey skies and drizzle, I felt all warm and fuzzy inside as I gazed in appreciation at this beautiful beast.  The white tiger’s history is sad and thorny because they have been in-bred by unscrupulous breeders out to make money from exhibiting them and they have sadly suffered physical abnormalities as a result.  They are rare in the wild and I don’t know about this particular tiger’s past, but its cream tones and chocolate brown stripes made it unusual and stunning to look at.  We watched him sitting calmly in his enclosure when one of the camels across the way started snorting and honking and it caught the tiger’s attention, so he trotted off to the other side of his paddock to investigate.

The camels were amusing, with their long knobbly legs, goofy teeth and gangly stance, and I heard a passer-by crack a joke about one of them getting the ‘ump!  Oh dear.  These camels had two humps which store fat for use as energy when food is scarce.  A camel can go a week or more without water and can last several months without food.  But you’d think the meerkats wouldn’t last five minutes without food the way they tucked into their grub when the keeper was feeding them.  These happy little creatures were a pleasure to watch and clearly enjoyed living in groups, chirping and grumbling at each other, playing together and cuddling.  Here’s a picture of one of them warming his belly under the heat lamp.

John and I needed to warm up too so we sat in the Tiger Tree Café for a while to shelter from the rain and dry off a bit.  Don’t worry, John didn’t get his belly out!  The café overlooked the tiger enclosure which contained 3 handsome tigers who were quite frisky, hopping across their wooden climbing frame and teasing each other.  I could hear these little low-pitched rumbles as they constantly chatted with each other, playfully growling and huffing.

The highlight had to be the white lion pride which consisted of a noble majestic male with full mane, 2 females and a lovely young cub who was born earlier this year. The pride sat together in their enclosure looking relaxed and contented whilst the male prowled back and forth, letting the onlookers know that he was in charge. He looked at me as he ambled towards the front of the enclosure where I was standing and I puffed my little chest out as much as could, so he climbed up the rock hill and thundered this almighty roar that reverberated in my ears. I imagined how that booming noise must rumble across the safari plains of his native environment of South Africa, letting all predators know that he is the king of the jungle. He looked just like Simba from the Lion King.