Just turn round

Sometimes it’s worth taking the time to turn round and see what’s behind you.

A few years back I was driving back home late at night. As a I was feeling tired I pulled over on a country lane and looked south at the beautiful starlight view. Feeling happy with myself I got back into the car. The next day the local news was full of videos of that nights stunning Northern Lights show. If I had just turned round I just might have seen one of the natural worlds greatest sights. Its a big deal here as we rarely get to see them. I still haven’t seen them. Just turn round…

Today I spent two hours ransacking the work base for one box. Not a sign of it. Then I turned round. Yep suddenly it was right in front of me. If only I had turned round sooner. With the box in hand I set off back home. If I had turned round as I left the office I would have seen my wallet and house keys on the desk. I then would have not got virtually back home before I realised that I had to turn round and go back to work.

I remember a Saturday afternoon visiting my partners bedside in the hospice. When I left the room something inside of me told me to turn round and spend some more time with her. I decided to go and pick my son up from relatives. I often think that I should have turned round as she died just a few hours later. Other times I think I probably made the right call. Son needed me. That’s probably an excusable failure to turn round.

Doncaster Wildlife Park is our zoo of choice. It’s a new park so the animals seem to be given space. It’s normally a good sign that due to the space and quality of the habitat that there is no guarantee that you will see all the animals. Some places (often the older sites) you visit are deeply depressing. Here it often doesn’t feel like a zoo as you walk round it. That’s probably why son likes it so much. Space for the animals, space for the humans.

The Wildlife Park also has a claim to fame. It’s the only place I have ever seen a snake in the wild. It was on a path at the edge of the Park – chomping on an unfortunate frog.

The irony. In my whole life the only snake I’ve seen in the wild was in a zoo which doesn’t have any snakes.

The Wildlife Park has one often overlooked attraction. As the visitors stand and look for the tigers a few people turn round. They look in the opposite direction. Across to the wetlands. It’s a stunning view. Yet so many miss it. What a waste.

Sometimes just turn round.

New New Year Tradition

We brought in the New Year by watching End Game.

Dad got to end the decade with the highest grossing movie. Wonder what movie will be watched in 10 years time. Please don’t let it be Avatar 2.

The movie was paused at midnight so we could see how many fireworks were let off in the distance. Living on a hill we often get a wide range of free displays to view. In the end a few but not as many as usual. Then it was time to go back into the house. As a kid this was a big deal. LETTING IN THE NEW YEAR. The youngest in the house would be thrown out of the house a few minutes before midnight. Thrown at without a coat regardless of the weather. Bit of a bugger when I was always the youngest. My job would be to stand outside and basically freeze my nuts off. Then at midnight I would be allowed back in carrying a piece of coke (coal) and a new coin. I would then have to go round every room in the house wishing happy new year. I always found the tradition thoroughly cold and most definitely bizarre.

A couple of hours before this midnight our son had asked about traditions. When he heard about our old bizarre ritual he decided to start his own.

Dad let’s restart your old family one.

Ok I’ve got some coins but I definitely don’t have any coal. Suppose we can see what stones we can find in the garden. Probably got some black paint somewhere,”

No Dad got a better idea. Much simpler and definitely more tasty.

So a few hours later son welcomed in the new year. Visiting each room carrying one pound coin and a bottle of Coca-cola. A New coke tradition started.

After a couple of hours sleep it was then an early drive to the Zoo. We have done this for the last four January 1sts. One of the first traditions started after his mum died.

Arrive when the zoo opens and try to get round before the crowds start to arrive. Basically we need to be back in the car by no later than midday.

Some traditions never die out. Dad being a plonker.

“Son looking at the map the zoo has a bug zone. Not seen that before.”

Dad the zoo doesn’t have any spiders or bugs.

The map says bug zone. So which bug do you hope they have”

Well I wouldn’t mind seeing a Tarantula. Maybe a Goliath Birdeater. Bullet Ants. A Tarantula Hawk would be cool. Quite excited now.

“It’s just round this corner”

Dad you complete muppet.

“Erm. Not quite what I expected but you don’t see many 4ft ladybirds……”

Switzerland and the Zoos

It’s Sunday and it’s time for another dose of Switzerland. With reflection maybe this should have been moved either to Monday or Friday.

When your an Aspergers parent(s) you get used to repetition and routine. Holidays are often no different. When we were fortunate to go to Switzerland we afforded ourselves a couple of days to explore but we had to factor in certain routines.

  • Sunday would be a boat trip to Interlaken. Here son would go into a gift shop which sold the full range of Schleich Toy Animals. Son would browse the range while his mum looked at all the amazing Swiss Cuckoo Clocks. Strangely we left with a couple of new animals but sadly no clock.

  • Monday would be a train trip to Zurich and a visit to it’s large Zoo
  • Friday was the last day of the holiday and we would have a visit to the small local zoo in Bern.

Before we get onto some zoo animals I have had a few people ask me to publish a photo of my Clooney like looks. For the ones who have asked HERE I AM swimming…

The two zoos are so different. The one in Bern is small and always seems very quiet. So so relaxing for someone with Aspergers.

Bern Zoo doesn’t have a huge range of animals but the animals facilities are modern. You get the real impression that the animals are really well looked after here.

Very unusually part of the zoo can be accessed without having to pay. What a brilliant idea.

It also has the most wonderful little adventure park for kids. It’s one of the few which our son was comfortable playing on.

Zurich Zoo is so much larger. It has over 4000 animals.

This zoo seems to focus on trying to give the animals the closest natural habit possible. The animals are being moved from cages to spaces. The elephants have a huge new indoor shelter and a purpose developed habitat outside.

It has a massive indoor tropical rain forest where you can walk about and also climb into the trees. The animals are free to roam in the trees and undergrowth. Maybe it’s coming from Yorkshire but I came out looking like I had just run several marathons.

Zoos can often leave you cold. Feeling sorry for the animals. You don’t get that feeling at these two zoos. This is how zoos should be.

The animals in Switzerland were so good for our son I will certainly revisit this again on this blog.

And finally if one image from all the zoo trips always brings a smile – it’s the one below. First of all I didn’t realise Giant Tortoises could move so quick. It certainly surprised our 6 year old.

Mum what are they doing?

“Ask your Dad”

Dad

No idea son. Maybe it’s some form of wrestling….

Hot

It’s hot. Yes I’ve said it now. Yes Yorkshire is hot. When I say hot I mean hot for Yorkshire which probably means it’s probably two jumper weather in Arizona.

A grand day for a trip to the zoo.

Clearly the zoo animals had the right idea. Stay in the shade and watch the silly humans walk round in the blazing sun.

Dad can I have a slush.

What a grand idea. Unfortunately the kiosk informed us that they had just switched the slush machine on and if we came back in a couple of hours they should be available. It was a similar story with the ice cream machine. So we purchased from the limited available snack range. Sat in the hot sun with two cider lollies and a bag of just fried hot donuts.

Dad it’s a good job your a professional athlete or you would be getting a Dads Belly.

Clearly a kid with Aspergers don’t have a sense of humour. Come on Hollywood get your facts right.

Dad it’s getting too busy.

And with that we left. But the zoo gave us one last memory. As we were walking out of the main door a delivery driver had arrived and asked a parking supervisor where he was supposed to drop off. He was told “Through those gates. Just unbolt the lock and drive into the compound. Just make sure you lock the gate immediately”. The delivery driver in a slightly alarmed voice asked “Are you sure”.

Visions of Jurassic Park and a driver about to come face to face with a suitably pissed off carnivore came to mind. Clearly the driver had similar thoughts as he made sure he round his van window up before he ventured any further.

Apex monster

Apologies for the photo the camera phone has one or two slight limitations.

More native Yorkshire animals…. As you can see it’s the usual baking sunshine and deep blue skies on a typical British bank holiday. What is interesting about this photo is the way you can see an apex predator bully another unfortunate creature. Those poor Polar Bears. They just don’t stand a chance with a Gull. Rumour has it that the next evil galactic creature Marvel will replace Thanos with will be a Seagull. Maybe the one who we watched chase seals off to eat their food. Or these chaps who happily took the meat off the bears. Or maybe the one in the car park who we watched walk up to a parked car and start violently pecking at it it’s door. Or the one we saw sitting next to the tiger clearly eyeballing him. Or the one who crapped on my car from front to back.

Pepper

Today was a trip to the Zoo. Cold and a bit damp but so worth it. Helps take son’s thoughts away from school. Animals never fail to deliver. Need to make him smile.

We bought a heavily discounted season pass last year. Unbeknown to a certain Dad the pass expired last night. So the trip was significantly more expensive than expected. As we go every couple of months the pass is worth it. Not often can you say that about the stuff you end up forking out for.

Son challenged me to the usual ‘who can spot the Painted Dog first competition’. As ever Dad lost. So what was the forfeit. In the cafe I was to buy a coffee. I could enjoy half the cup THEN….

It was seasoned with pepper. Plenty of pepper.

Strangely the Peppered Coffee was not the worst thing I’ve tasted this year. I can think of a few horrible tasting Jelly Beans which take that particular award. However I suspect Peppered Coffee isn’t going to feature too heavily on the Starbucks menu.

It certainly cleared my blocked nose.

Tonight we had a lovely dog walk. Enjoying an other world type sunset – all with an underlying peppery undertone.

Changes

We had a lovely trip to Doncaster Wildlife Park today. It was a relatively brief visit. He was a bit uncomfortable with the crowds, but as we got there early so we had an hour of relative quiet before the masses started to arrive. The animals all outside – basking in the warm sun…Yes warm sun and Yorkshire.

On the way back home he was getting increasingly agitated at the amount of building work appearing in the countryside. I have to say it is staggering and so frustrating. The amount of derelict and unused land in built up areas and we still decide to encroach on what is left of our unspoilt areas. Can we please leave just a bit of our beautiful planet for future generations.

A few miles later I asked our son what things he would change in the world today. Reading my mind he initially said

The last 4 Star Wars Movies

And

Buying that Alvin and The Chipmunks DVD

And

Giving the pup that really annoying squeaking Toy Crocodile

And

Buying those Lycra Cycle shorts (I added that one, what was I thinking of)

But eventually he answered for himself and the changes he proposed were revealing.

  • Tackling Climate Change
  • Not one more tree felled
  • U.K. NOT leaving Europe
  • Finding a way to end Terrorism
  • Replacing President Trump and Prime Minister May.

I really can’t argue with theses changes.

What would you change?

New Years Day

The New Years Day trip to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park is now a lovely tradition. A new one since the world changed. Life is about creating new memories and not being completely stuck in the past. New Year Day is also the perfect time to go. Get there when it opens and you virtually have the park to yourself for an hour or so. Takes the anxiety out of the visit. Leave as the crowds arrive.

My photos don’t do the Park justice. It’s time to upgrade from the camera phone. Keep filling the coin jar. Much scouring of the second hand pages is required.

So many animals. He loves the two Giant Otters. So playful. And so inquisitive. The Lion Pack. The Rhinos.

An elusive Amur Leopard.

Newly rescued and re-homed Brown Bears from Japan.

Unbelievably cute Squirrel Monkeys.

The Polar Bears are one of his favourites. Until you have seen one you don’t appreciate the size and power of these majestic creatures.

The final part of the walk round the park takes us through a small wood to the Baboons and Painted Dogs. If you remember the Jelly Beam Roulette Challenge was who could spot the elusive dogs first. My strategy was to take us down the wrong path then before our son realised sprint off towards the dogs. Unfortunately a perfectly timed peloton breakaway left me trailing. To compound the misery the elusive dogs today decided to sit right next to the fence nearest the path. Game over.

So we come to the main event. The Battle for Helms Deep. It’s the Jelly Beam from hell. Skunk Spray. 2 litres of water later and it finally stays down. If I ever meet the kind soul who invented that one……..

Resolutions

We started a tradition after his mum passed away that every New Years Day we would drive the 90 minutes to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park. It’s a fun day. Perfect for our son. Maybe this kinda qualifies as a resolution.

I honestly can’t remember what my 2018 New Year Resolution was. Must have been a good one.

On our dog walk today, strangely a rather blue sky one, our son without prompting announced:

“I’ve got two resolutions this coming year. The first one is to learn to read. The second is to move from bottom set, to the second bottom set.”

It is so frustrating that someone so clearly special is just hoping to get out of the bottom set into the next bottom set. I suspect all the parents of kids in the bottom set will be saying the same thing. But it does just seems to add further fuel to the idea of pulling him from school and looking at other options. How can I afford it. How can I not afford it. It’s so difficult. So confusing.

The mad dog brings us back to the present. Why does he have to eat whatever he can find at the same time that he poops. It’s a bit of a talent. Today’s poop snack was the foulest looking leaf. Talking about foul food so we come to the Jelly Bean Challenge. Today’s question was how many Roman Emperors reigned. I realised this may not be a level playing field when our son asked

“Are we only counting Emperors and Co-Regents from the unified empire”

Eh!!!

Before you get the West and East Empire split, often Emperors did not recognise the other Emperor”

Eh Yes Absolutely. I have given this much thought and gone for 500.

“That’s a silly answer”

Ok I will go for 1000

“Even sillier”

Ok 150

“The answer is 70 or 71”

So today I enjoyed Rotten Egg flavour Jelly Bean. This was the first one which sent me edging towards the toilet. I can’t remember this being in the Parent Job Description!!! Anyway tomorrows challenge is a zoo related one. The winner will be the first person to spot a Painted Dog.

I hope everyone has a really good 2019 and all tears are hopefully banished.

Animals

Our son has a bond with animals. He feels so comfortable with them. As he says “they might occasionally want to eat you but they never ever try to judge you”. Our local zoo gives you the opportunity to interact with some of the animals. As long as we go early, before the crowds arrive, then he is in raptures. The looks we get as we leave just as most families are queuing up to get in.

Dad was brave on the photo above and managed to get close enough to take a picture. On encounters with snakes, tarantulas and reptiles you normally find Dad a respectful 100 yards away – with at least two walls between me and the stuff of my nightmares. A few weeks ago he got to handle a cotton snake, a bearded Chinese dragon and two tarantulas. He was just so happy. Strangely dad was hid behind a wall.

For all his confidence with these terrifying animals he does have a couple of beast fears. Strangely those two killer beasts I am really brave with and would happily stroke them. 🐄 Cows and 🐪 camels.