One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish

"There and here and here and there/ Funny things are everywhere!" (Dr. Seuss)

Today I spent a rather blustery day wandering around London. The torrential rain of the past few days has ended but it is extremely windy, especially on the South Bank (and yes, even by Saskatchewan standards). I had to meet a person from Cardiff at Paddington Station at 9:30 a.m. and following our brief rendezvous I used the old train station to try to learn the finer manual points of my new Nikon D60 SLR Digital camera (which I splurged on last week). I took loads and load of pictures of every angle of Paddington and by the end was beginning to feel like I at least have a round-about understanding of how to work the aperture and shutter speed.

Feeling buoyed by my technical prowess I wandered down to the South Bank to take in the London Aquarium. I hate zoos. The odd time I've wandered into one I spend my time feeling sorry for the caged animals. Though not put off I have always been fairly ambivalent about aquariums until I saw the movie Closer a few weeks ago. Starring Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Julia Robert and Clive Owen and based on an award-winning play it sounds like a good movie, but sadly it is not. The characters are mostly hateful and stupid and throughout the two hours of the film you get to (painfully) watch them do horrible things to one another. And not in a good Academy Award winning way. So don't waste two hours of your life watching Closer...

The connection between Closer and my fish adventure today is that there is a rather lovely scene in the movie (one of the very few) where Julia Roberts' character is sitting in the London Aquarium watching the fish. It is deep blue and dim and relaxing and I really, really wanted to go after seeing the film. And today I did!

Like a lot of things in a city as old as London, the Aquarium is a little more ramshackle than I expected. Many of the tanks are a little dirty, the water a little bit cloudy... But the main event -- the display featured in Closer -- where the sharks live is amazing and well worth the visit. Sitting in the quiet blue room, watching the fish float, it is easy to feel underwater or at least to want to be swimming (not with the sharks, mind). It was really, really lovely. The catch is that a lot of this would be lost in a crowd so the key is to go at strange times (I was there fairly early in the morning) and off-season. The trade-off was having my hair blown into tangles by the crazy wind bouncing off the Thames.

I took pictures all day today and once I am back in Cardiff on the weekend I'll upload them and post some here and on Flickr. My calves and arches ache but there is something really romantic about spending an afternoon wandering around a city like London on your own. I highly recommend it.

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