Aquarium.

This morning my husband had to drive his Mum back to London and offered to take #2 with him so that I could hang out with the Mancub for the day. It’s always a treat to have a bit of one on one time with my biggest, and I had it in my head that we would do whatever he wanted with the day, while free from the schedules of preschool and his little brother. It would be nice to follow his lead and see what came of the time.

As soon as I asked him what he fancied, he instantly replied, ‘The Aquarium!’. Not what I expected, but I happened to have a 50% off voucher, plus it was a rainy Saturday, so feeling awfully spontaneous, we headed straight off on the bus.

So often we are out with others, be it the rest of our family or friends and, quite rightly, we have to find compromise and go at the pace of the group. It is nice, on occasion, to not have to nudge the Mancub along, or have him keep up a pace that is either too fast or too slow for his liking. Today the day was entirely his. We rushed through the initial tanks of tropical fish and straight to the rock pool area, where he happily stayed for half an hour, talking to the expert, leaning in and touching the starfish and shore crabs and operating the mini camera. I instinctively went to move him along several times, but he was clearly completely engrossed, so I bit my tongue and let him stay. We whizzed through several other sections too, pausing briefly to take in octopus and jelly fish, before getting to a digital exhibition on prehistoric marine reptiles. ‘Prehistoric is my favourite word!’, he declared, and that’s where we spent the remainder of our outing. It was an absolute pleasure throughout.

As we were in town we popped to the library and took out some books on sharks and fish, then headed home via a pizza restaurant, where he proved that he is still my favourite lunch date, because no one else I know scoops up and eats garlic butter using cucumber as a makeshift spoon, but really more people should.

Back home he spend the rest of the day playing PREHISTORIC MARINE REPTILES! using some of his dinosaur toys and told me that mudskippers are really his favourite fish.

I can’t remember a day where parenting felt so carefree and relaxing. A nice reminder that slowing down and letting them take the lead, avoiding that instinct to always hurry on, often pays off in the end.

Duck, duck, goose.

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Last Summer we visited this Wildfowl Park a bunch of times, mainly because their cafe did the best Welsh Rarebit in the history of ever and they did cool things like sell sugar free ice lollies and homemade cakes. It’s in the grounds of an old stately home in Sussex and there’s a collection of weird, ornate species of geese, ducks, swans, flamingos and peacocks that you can feed with bags of seed. It was a nice day out.

This weekend we eagerly arrived with huge cheese on toast cravings only to find that a) they have started charging £8 to get in (WHAAAAATTT?!) and b) the cafe had changed hands and is now selling honest to God the worst food ever with no homemade anything in site. Ugh.

We were in the middle of nowhere and the kids were all psyched to be out of the car so the thought of bundling them both back in to inevitable tears, with no idea of where to go next was not particularly favourable, so we sucked it up, paid our money and made it clear to the lady in the gift shop that we would not be returning. Ever. She sneaked me a 10% off coupon for the cafe as a sorry consolation.

I think I will always recall the sad plate of nachos with a paltry covering of plasticky, microwaved cheese and guacamole out of a bag as one of the worst meals of my life. But at least afterwards we got to stroll around and see the birds and the Mancub was stoked with his service station style meal of fishfingers, chips and beans (kids man, they have no class), so at least the day wasn’t a total washout.

(Plus I managed to find out where the old chef is now working, so I’m totally hunting down his Welsh Rarebit as soon as humanly possible.)