Of all the great park in London’s heart Battersea seems the one most unduly neglected by visitors. Yet it is a splendid open space filled with a magnificent plane tree avenue, gorgeous views over the Thames, an impressive peace pagoda, one of the most spectacular arrays of fountains anywhere in London, the setting for the Easter parade and a charming children’s zoo.
Originally an area of marsh frequented by undesirables and the haunt of duellists, the area was drained by the erection of an embankment and became a public park in Victorian times. Battersea was the site of the festival gardens for the 1951 festival of Britain which aimed to restore post war confidence to the nation. A funfair remained there complete with big dipper and roller skating rink (i remember that) until the1970’s when the worst fairground disaster in UK history marked its demise.
We’d visited the perkiest inhabitants of the zoo many moons ago and were keen to know how the clan was getting on. We were just in time for their tea which consisted of wiggly worms and veg wrapped up in newspaper for added excitement.
The south African desert meerkat survives in a harsh environment due to its excellent organization (humans please note) and there’s always a sentinel on a high rock to keep a lookout for predators. They look such cute little creatures, members of the mongoose family and not cats at all, although they are felidinae. However, meerkats are not ideal pets, being rather smelly, reducing one’s garden to a giant molehill and biting anyone they don’t like.
We do, however, in spite of all this have a meerkat at home, a certain Mr Orlovsky…