The National Museum, which usually cannot decide if it supposed to be educational or entertaining, has come firmly down on the side of fun today. They are even selling ice cream in the foyer. Not particularly nice ice cream, I may say, but the thought is there.
The family had strolled down at 9.59 am to view the Darwin exhibition, which is much more interesting than it looks from the entry way. On the 10 o'clock rule we just squeaked it in - finding a parking spot nearish the door and avoiding the queue for tickets. Five minutes later would have been a disaster - cars, kids, queues and scary old people everywhere. I am not sure why Canberra residents and visitors insist on always arriving at things at 10 o'clock on the dot, but I am grateful for their predictability. I fear it is contagious, though, because our pre-Canberra arrival times for things was usually 9 or earlier.
After learning many factoids about the Beagle, fossils, Galapagos islands, horses hooves with vestigial toes and sandy walks, we repaired to the lakeside to eat our tasty whole grain bread rolls with diverse fillings. Near the museum is a most delightful spot for a picnic, since there is entertainment laid on. The paddle steamer, Enterprise, was tooting away and filling the air with the dual smells of burning and oil, seagulls and swans were hustling for scraps, small children were teetering up and down the hills, cyclists were zooming or huffing past according to their fitness levels. And best of all, there were people in pedal boats. Which was quite entertaining enough, even before two young women stopped their boat a few feet in front of us and decided to stand on the edge of the boat to take photos of each other. Sadly I missed the actual moment of entry, but it was a most satisfying splosh, and a very happily damp young woman clambered out of the lake. The other one jumped in shortly afterwards in the pursuit of justice and equality. I don't know when I've seen two people get such fun out of a body of water.
Which brings me to an important issue. The National Capital Authority website states that the water is (usually) safe for swimming. People go in the lake for triathlons. But the locals can produce an expression of deep scepticism bordering on horror if the notion of swimming in the lake is broached. So is it safe to swim in there or not? Where do locals go to swim in fresh water around here? Can you avoid floating algae as the National Capital Authority advise? Enquiring minds want to know.
Oh yes, and it's Australia Day and I am disconcerted by the amount of children getting around with flags draped around their shoulders.