Weather again. Some portions of England have experienced the worst flooding in 60 years over the last couple of days.
Watching the news last night, I’ve noticed a clear convergence of events. Deluge in England… Floods in Texas… Inundation in Bangladesh and China… Is it too late now to start building an ark?
The anchorwoman on the news asked her weatherwoman counterpart point-blank: “Is all of this the result of the global climate change?” The poor weather girl could only manage something along the lines of “We are studying it”…
At least, the overall British weather seems to refute any notion of global warming so far. I know I am going to jinx it eventually, but we have not yet felt the absence of air conditioning in the house. With July almost at its end, it is still reasonably cool and, truly according to stereotypes, consistently damp.
But let’s talk about our weekend exploits, for a change.
Despite intermittent rain, we did finally go to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. To be honest, my approach to botanic gardens is once you’ve been to one, you’ve been to all of them. When I go to one, I am not looking to be impressed, but rather to spend a pleasant time walking around far away from car traffic and maybe incidentally learn something interesting along the way. But Kew Gardens is certainly an outstanding specimen of botanic gardens variety.
The gardens are vast, but walkable, with various “points of interest” in different corners. Strategically positioned numerous memorial benches (I came by one commemorating a Mrs. Neate “who loved these gardens” and her husband “who didn’t”) provide welcome respite in the shade. Impeccably maintained lawns are a prime real estate for picnics.
There are several glasshouses that contain enough educational information to keep the kids – as well as curious adults – engaged. In addition, there is a number of thematic gardens, which always go well with young ladies (the Rose Garden, which, unlike in many other places, is laid out on an open plaza, is utterly magnificent). Kids playground, beautiful vistas, quiet groves – for an unhurried day out, very little can beat a nice park.
We met up with our friends Anya and Ari and their cute toddler Ben, and spend the day alternating between spending the rainy spells inside glasshouses and the rest of the time strolling around. I foolishly at some point gave in to my children’s prodding to play tag with them – and seriously felt it afterwards.
At the Waterlilies House, the display was spiced up by sprouting pepper plants. Becky, and then Kimmy, thought nothing of harvesting a few fruits for themselves. A bit more than a few, actually. More than you would normally buy at a market. Of a dozen different varieties. Becky decided to try some there and then, but we ended up bringing home a fairly large pepper bounty.
Sunday was spent visiting our friends Anya and Alex. We literally sat down at the table around 3pm and got up when it was time to go back home about six hours later. Anya, as is her custom, produced a multi-course dinner. Unlike British aristocracy, I had red wine with fish, but it was delicious nonetheless. Catching up with friends is always nice…
The elder Popivker kid, Arthur, has grown old enough to overcome his erstwhile shyness, and played very amiably with adult and kid visitors alike. At some point, as Kimmy decided to busy herself with some drawing, he positioned himself to her side and spent quite a long time quietly observing…
For the grand finale today, a couple of totally unrelated items.
We have pre-ordered the last Harry Potter book, and it arrived on our doorstep on Saturday morning. Becky immediately dived into it, and is close to finishing it up. I am slightly surprised to say that mass hysteria has touched me as well – I am just a bit anxious to read the book after she is done. Normally, I am perfectly fine to wait until the book comes out in the mass market paperback edition, relieving me from the need to lug a huge tome around in my bag. Not this time.
Natasha was eating a piece of a chocolate bar last night, when we noticed a label with the word Vegetarian on the wrapping. It was like a revelation to me. So, that’s why I don’t particularly like chocolate – it has no meat in it! Who knew?