Spearmint Rhino Extreme

We’ve made it back to the ‘states just fine. The next day in Birmingham was an absolute blast. We began the day parking at a “pay ‘n display” lot and walking over to the Birmingham Sea Life Center, where it became obvious what a large influence a small clown fish can have on revenue targets in an acquarium…

Lucas LOVED the whole thing, from the tank with small rays to the England River Otter living area. There were all kinds of interactive exhibits such as the touch pool where kids can touch star fish and the like, luminescent fish, and an entire exhibit devoted to (and including the music of) the fish featured in Finding Nemo.
And of course we had to get a rubber clown fish. For Lucas.
The last part was perhaps the most entertaining, when we put Lucas in a toddler play area with many little plastic balls and mats and such. A mother was there helping her daughter, who could not yet crawl well, and we noticed an elaborate thong-like thingy she was wearing. Not thinking we were within ear-shot, we tittered a few comments about being a page 3 model. Soon she came and sat down next to an elderly woman at a table beside us – her mother-in-law. Exit stage right…
We walked across the waterway to the Malt House for lunch (where Bill Clinton ate lunch most days during a G8 summit after staying at “The Swallow” – no joke) where Lucas promptly fell asleep before his meal again. Undeterred, we crammed as much Maccaroni and Cheese into his plastic snack trap for later consumption.
Busby then gave us the walking tour of Birmingham, which was great. We walked to the Bull Ring, a shopping district with excellent landscaping, architecture, and free Krispy Kreme donuts! No kidding! You all probably are familiar with Krispy Kreme and when the light is on, they are making hot donuts. England adds an extra punch by simply handing out donuts as you stand around, attempting to foist them on passers by, including sleeping babies who haven’t eaten their mac and cheese! The kicker is that these donuts are 90p, making them nearly $2 a piece. So you can see how they can afford to give one or two away if a customer is going to then drop $20 on a dozen.
The Selfridges department store (in which was located the Krispy Kreme shop) was the zaniest. Top fashion and top dollar everything, as well as selection. American imports were not cheap – displays of fanned out Aunt Jemima syrup and pancake mix on white disply tables at 6.95 pounds each, Lucky Charms at 7.95 pounds, etc. We gawked at the prices, and then later gawked at customers walking out with several of each in designer shopping bags that clearly show their contents.
Still snoozing, Lucas accompanied us on a few rounds of the ferris wheel in Birmingham where the exuberant automated docent spoke of Birmingham’s urban resurgence in the past decade.
Busby’s parents, having never met us once before, kindly took us out to dinner to Pangae that evening, a wonderful Indian restaurant. We then popped by their house on the way back to Busby’s place to let Lucas pet their cat and to pick up a VHS recording of Busby on “The Weakest Link”, where he soundly trounced the competition.
The next morning we woke early and were on the road to Heathrow by 6:45am. Busby was kind enough to drive us the entire way, rather than have us take a train. We rolled into Heathrow in nearly two hours time and buzzed around the duty-free shopping area for remaining gifts and breakfast. Having boarded the plane, we sat for nearly 1.5 hours, kids strapped in (there were several other toddler-bearing families) waiting for traffic to clear (there was a scare an the Manchester Airport earlier, most likely causing extreme flight confusion). We finally made it off the ground, and had a great flight, with Lucas getting a solid 3+ hours sleep. The only downside was the screaming toddler who was quiet only about 1.5 of the 8 hour flight. She was up in business though, so the firsties got the brunt of it.
So we’re back! And both Lucas and Jean went to sleep at 8:20pm tonight:) Photos up soon. Have to use Kathy’s cable modem connection to get all 233 photos and video up…