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……”

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?

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.

Warning – Snake

It’s taken a year but we’ve started trying to visit places again. We started going on a couple of hill walks.  Very quiet and avoiding crowds.  It might sound bitter but I didn’t want to see happy families – it would just remind us of what we have lost.  I know my son struggled for months when he saw other children being with their mums.  

But time moves on and I’ve got to try and give our son the happiest childhood he can possibly have.  So as soon as he became more comfortable with seeing ‘happy families’, it was time to try and make new good memories.  He has started to enjoy visiting places again, where as I still spend too much time seeing reminders of the past.  But on each new visit I do try to spend more time living in the present.   Trying to keep the retrospective to when I’m alone, not when I’m with my son.  My son is now good at telling me when he wants to talk about his mum.

We ventured to Doncaster Wildlife Park.  It’s one of our favourite places, such a good family day out.  As we were walking towards the Polar Bear zone we stopped dead in our tracks.  In the middle of the path was a snake – a Grass Snake I think.  It was happily consuming a poor frog.  That’s the first wild snake I have ever seen in Britain.  All the years spent walking through the countryside and you end up seeing your first wild snake in a zoo.  We watched it for 10 minutes before it slid off into a grassy bank.
It’s a memory, a new memory, a good memory.