Saturday 18 July 2015
So, this was about three months ago, but I am getting there. It is just that I have been otherwise engaged on a lot of things. The bottom line is that until somebody comes up with a way to fit 36 hours into a 24 hour day, then this kind of thing is going to keep on happening. And what of course is certain is that any birding I do in Wanstead, unless it's very special indeed isn't likely to get a mention. Oh, I just saw my first Black-headed Gulls on Wanstead Flats since early spring. See? Dull and not worth a blog post. A visit to one of Europe's premier cities, even if in May? Yes, that's sufficiently interesting (to me at least) to be worth a quick summary.
So in early May l I went to Venice with my smallest child. She thought Venice was in Spain, but nevermind. Pasta and Pizza are favourite foods, and this made up for the minor inconvenience of being in the wrong country where she couldn't practice the language she has been learning. We got up very early indeed to be at Gatwick for the crack of, but this meant that we were in the city by mid-morning. I would have liked to have arrived directly by water-taxi, but they have unfortunately seen people like me coming and wanted more than the airfare for this particular trip, so we took the less glamourous bus option to the island. No matter, however you arrive Venice is a wonderful place, and we immediately started wandering down random canals, Tinks marvelling at the shiny gondolas (who have also priced themselves out of the market, or a least my market) and water taxis (ditto, bastards). What was within our means however was a day-pass on the Venetian equivalent of a bus, the ferries, and we more or less travelled on these all day long, which is a great wayto see the sights. We did the length of the Grand Canal, sailed fully around the islands, visited some of the smaller places to the south, and also went to Murano, the glass-blowing island, where we bought a very sweet, very delicate and very overpriced glass elephant.
This was the last aggressively-priced thing we could find, there were some extremely large things that cost the same as a car. Some of the stuff is very lovely it has do be said, but I wonder whether it would look as good at home. Regrettably I could not refind a shop window we had seen in the morning which had had some fantastic glass bird sculptures, including a beautiful Golden Plover that might well have come home with me. But it was good to have a nose around though being a weekend none of the furnaces seemed to be working which would have been a good experience for Madamoiselle.
We also did culture, visiting a glass and sculpture exhibition, the main draw of which was air-conditioning. It was a hot day, fine on the boats, but sapping elsewhere. Gradually the heat built and built, and then some immense thunderstorms developed which washed the city clean again. Lunch was pizza, complete with mozzarella aversion therapy which didn't work. Mozarella in its raw form is not "pizza cheese" and is completely disgusting to the point of gagging. Who knew? Ice-cream was promised and delivered, and we had a lovely day of simple sight-seeing. This seemed however to be quite wearing on the small troupe of animals that accompanied us, and on the flight back it all kicked off, with a Lemur fighting a Fox and a Koala for its fair ration of Gin. Not something you see everyday.