Welcome to 2016 everybody, it's official, I've waited 5 days but apparently it's not going away. I hope you all made some interesting New Years resolutions (comments below dammit!) and had a great time seeing in the New Year.
I would like to start off by apologising. I realise that it's the first week in the new year, the Christmas break has just come to an end, people are heading back to work feeling groggy but hopeful that this year will be better and we're all trying to see through that haze that surrounds what I'm told was a fortnight of holiday. But I must ask something of you now that I hope you can all manage. As we're only a few tentative steps into 2016 I'm hoping you can cast your mind back... all the way.... further.....further....further still.... okay that's too far.... That's right, all the way to...
New Years Eve 2015!
Our family has decided to start a little tradition on New Years Eve. As our three little people are always with us for New Years Eve, we have decided to make it a grand day out. This way we end the year on a high, enjoy ourselves and have the day really stick in the kids minds. Last year we did Twycross zoo and the kids loved it... granted, the penguins where the only thing suited for the weather and we only survived due to frequent strolls through the butterfly enclosure... but a joyous time was had by all and thus a tradition was born!
So, carrying on this tradition but avoiding the bad weather, we wimped out and went straight for the butterfly farm this year. The one in Stratford to be precise!
On a semi-related note, I hope that the man in charge of the road layouts in Stratford spends the rest of his life accidentally sitting on his gentleman-berries. Good grief that was an awful 5 minutes of driving...
Anywho... So we arrive in Stratford-Upon-Avon, spend a few minutes asking a few strangers if they had change for a fiver (thank you to the kindly retiree & his wife who were more than happy to help), pop that newly acquired change in the parking ticket machine, pay for entry to the butterfly farm and in we go! Upon entry I spare a second to think about the potential of the kids disliking butterflies. I'm well aware that there's a particular member of the Grunwald clan who isn't overly keen on butterflies, I know this because his distaste for these insects was discovered during a family visit to this exact butterfly farm. I won't name and shame him (he is my brother after all) but safe to say that because of this I had experience with people who weren't keen on these decoratively winged nectar demons. Luckily, no such fear was apparent with our newest and smallest Grunwalds, son number 1 was a little unimpressed with them flapping around his face, but that was the sole exception. The walk around the enclosure is enjoyed by all, questions are asked, our spotters sheet was frantically referred to then referred to again... everyone was having lots of fun.
We pass through into "Arachnoland"... now anybody who has experienced me around a spider knows that I change gender entirely in their presence, however as I had the pocket sized Grunwald sat on my arm I decided to man up and get nice and close so that he could get a good look. He quickly learnt the word spider and took much joy in shouting it as soon as he spotted anything that had more than 4 legs... I felt quite happy about that. Unfortunately for the stupid eight legged monsters they're relatively colourless and very motionless, which makes them boring, so we quickly moved on..... *internal victory dance accompanied by ner ner ner ner*
Having left "Arachnoland"....shudder.... we entered "Insect City" just in time to be asked if we'd like to see the chameleon getting fed.
Now as you might expect, the older two couldn't contain their excitement. Rushing to the glass of the enclosure, nose to nose with the chameleon who had seated himself on a branch in the dead centre, for all to see. Mrs G and I, with the littlest one still perched on my arm, quickly follow, both to make sure that the kids don't cause any trouble and to see if we can feed our eldest to the chameleon before he was too full... The animal carer/ cricket genocide conductor slowly lowered a great, fat, juicy locust into the sight of the chameleon. There was a moment of wiggling, leading me to believe that locust actually do erotic suicide dances to get eaten by the chameleons... most macabre... before the chameleon shot out its super long, super sticky tongue... capturing the bug in it's mouth! As you might expect from a 12 and 8 year old, a gasp of excitement was followed quickly with that glistening and innocent look that says "please sir... please brutally murder another locust", however, our pint sized, arm perched, Grunwald was having a different experience entirely.
He'd gone from holding on to my t-shirt loosely, to gripping tightly, kneading at my arm; his eyes wide open, looking stunned at what he'd seen! He had a genuine look of worry, almost as worried as the locust, like he knew he'd just seen death for the first time! Obviously the excitement of a crowd spurred on our would be mass murderer as he proceeded to give the chameleon two more, very juicy locust, even managing to get one to squelch as the chameleon chomped on it. Luckily the shocking nature of this event soon wore off for our tiny trooper and after the first bug had disappeared, the fear was replaced by a keen interest in getting as close as possible for the last two bugs. But for a split second you'd of thought someone had just shown him a Lion tearing it's way into Pocoyo! (His favourite cartoon character, for the uninitiated amongst you)
After this there were a few more butterflies to see before it was time to head off to the in-laws for the remainder of the evening, which meant a quick sprint through the rain which was promptly followed by copious amounts of napping in the back of the car. All in all the day had been a success.
That little moment has stuck with me though, the split second of shock spread across his face. It's a great reminder that everybody experiences things a little differently. The younger two wanted nothing more than to see just how much they could get the chameleon to suck up with his magic tongue, but our littlest was busy comprehending what he'd just seen. I guess it just goes to show you that you can never take another persons perspective for granted.
It's always best to be considerate of others feelings, after all you never know when they might see something in a different light. So try to be accepting of other peoples views...
...You never know when their hopper will burst!