Monday 6th August 2001, Chicago IL

Today was to be Ree’s last full day in Chicago, and we were determined that we should see at least one of the City’s museums. Now, it has to be said, that ‘museums’ do not rate highly on Ree’s scale of ‘things to do’. However, the Oceanarium did have performing dolphins (and a very good gift shop) so we thought it a good place to start.

Out of the blue we had a call from Chard’s letting agency in London, saying that they had (at last) found some tenants for us. They would e-mail us a copy of the tenancy, which could we please sign and fax back, as the tenants (three 24-year-old boys … sorry, ‘merchant bankers’) would be in tomorrow evening to sign their half. We waited half an hour or so, and logged in using Jonathan’s modem. Alas, no e-mail from Chard.

It was gone lunchtime by the time we had parked the car, so we stopped for a burger and ice cream at one of the kiosks outside, before joining the inevitable queue. Just as Brigid was beginning to worry about sun-screen, a kindly attendant escorted about a dozen of the tailenders around to the disabled entrance – effectively jumping the queue. At the ticket office Alex thoughtfully agreed to be 11 for the day, and we were in!

We toured the aquarium’s many exhibits, gauping hopefully at the displays, trying to match the fish on the illustration with the fish in the tank. On one or two occasions we were confused by apparently plastic imitations, or tanks which had been partially drained for cleaning. But eventually we emerged at the entrance of the Oceanarium, where the ‘big stuff’ lived: the dolphins, whales and sea lions – the stars of the show!

The dolphins were well worth the wait. John and Ree were no strangers to Ocean World in Florida, but Brigid had never seen anything like it before. Perhaps surprisingly, Alex had never been to Chicago’s Oceanarium either, and was delighted to win a prize for answering some wonderfully daft question.

Soon it was time to join the rush hour traffic, to be home in time for dinner. John and I had invited Fred and Diane out to the Fuji Steakhouse (I don’t think we go in for Japanese steakhouses in London, which is a shame, because they are good fun), and Ree was going to the cinema with Morgan and Alex.