We started the fun part of our day by having breakfast in Cafe Brindisa, the Spanish tapas bar attached to Borough Market. The Market was crowded of course, as much with sightseers and tourists as with serious buyers. The cafe is crowded too but the staff remain friendly, polite and helpful.
We came here to meet our friends prior to a visit to London Zoo. I am happy to go to the zoo and we our in fact planning to take out memberships, knowing that the money will contribute to various conservation projects around the world.
Even so, I have uncertain feelings about zoos. On one hand I enjoy seeing animals. If the truth the told, I like animals in general far more than I like people in general. On the other hand, I dislike seeing animals confined and infantilized by being made dependent on their keepers for food and for everything else. On the other hand, I accept that zoos provide insurance against the extinction of endangered species and help fund rescue and conservation projects.
There is also the hope that the people who visit the zoo, especially the children, will be enchanted by the wonder and beauty of the creatures they see and will learn to cherish the natural world and to treat animals with more consideration than humanity has tended to do thus far. Though to judge from the little oiks whose main pleasure seemed to be chasing pigeons and other foraging birds (without any comment from their parents), that lesson is hard to learn and slow to sink in.
Zoos have thankfully moved on from the “beasts in cages” model of Victorian times and now generally house their captives (for that is what they are, after all) in mini-environments suitable for the species concerned. The inmates probably feel more at home and can distance themselves from the public if they wish at the cost to the latter of sometimes being invisible.
On the way to the cafe and to the zoo afterwards, we were able to see that the City has been cleaned almost completely of the graffiti and other expressions of their opinion left by the G20 protesters who have now gone merrily on their way forgetting (or not caring) that we Londoners have to live in the town that they deface with the expressions of their outrage, just as they forgot (or did not care) that the people they inconvenienced and prevented from going to work were not those whom they blame, rightly or wrongly, for what they perceive as the faults in our system, but ordinary people who are as blameless and as helpless to change anything as they are. Perhaps next time, they will consider staying at home and messing up their own cities.
We spent several hours at the zoo and had lunch there. We then caught the 274 bus back to Islington and had coffee in the new Tinderbox cafe in the N1 Centre. This cafe used to be in premises on the main road but has recently moved into the Centre and this was our first visit there. It has a small terrace and inside, along with booths and conventional tables, a rather unusual “stadium” area where you sit on steps with round cushions and built-in tables. I have not seen this arrangement anywhere else.
Now that we have become friends of London Zoo, we can visit it and its sister zoo in Whipsnade as often as we wish.