Saturday, 31 August 2013

"Staycation" 2013

Father Badger took this week off work. After a lot of deliberating we decided it was daft to spend our money on accommodation a couple of hours away then spend each day travelling to see something, so we stayed at home but planned a different experience for each day. It's been a heck of a week!

Bank Holiday Monday was spent within a few miles of home as Father Badger's band was playing at a local hospital fete. I shunned my Ergo carrier in favour of the pushchair for Badger Cub and headed in with Baby Badger holding my hand to explore the stalls and watch the entertainment. Baby Badger did us proud, being on the most part delightful and happy, especially when presented with an ice cream towards the end of the afternoon!

Tuesday saw us heading south to Longleat Safari & Adventure Park. We started off with the car safari: zebra, giraffe, monkeys (we risked losing bits off our car and survived even though one hitched a ride on the roof), elephants, lions, tigers and wolves. That alone would have made a wonderful day! We then headed off into the Adventure Park for lunch followed by penguins, sting rays, train and boat trips and a marvellous adventure playground. Another highlight was feeding nectar to lorikeets.

I would definitely advise booking in advance (you can do this up to the day before you visit) as there's a substantial discount on the quite hefty ticket price. Having said that, it really was worth every penny.

We had a leisurely start to Wednesday and headed to Blenheim Palace, less than 20 miles from us, in time for a picnic lunch in the pleasure gardens. It was a warm day and it was slightly challenging finding somewhere shady and wasp free, although I think the main grounds would have offered more of a choice of trees to sit under. The rest of the afternoon was spent with Father Badger and Baby Badger enjoying the playground while I strolled around with Badger Cub in the pushchair, pausing for the occasional feed on a park bench.

Blenheim Palace are currently offering a free upgrade to annual pass from a day ticket. We visited last month for their jousting and converted our day tickets, so our trip this week was effectively free!

We headed to London on Thursday to the Sealife Aquarium. The first thing you do is walk along a corridor with glass floor looking down into the shark tank! This huge tank that spans all three floors was amazing: sharks, rays and a vast variety of fish. It's an amazing place, with lots of fish of all colours and sizes, anenomes, crabs, octopus, sharks and penguins, and plenty of small person viewing windows and ledges to climb onto for a better look. There are also published feeding times and talks about different topics, but our littlies were too little to concentrate on these. We finished our day in Covent Garden for a very late lunch before heading for the underground and our train out of Paddington.

Again, we booked the day before for a discount, but also paid extra for Priority Entrance which allowed us to bypass the queue to get in (which was not small given it was the last week of the school holidays).

Friday took us to Birmingham, again after a leisurely start. We arrived late morning and went to Jamie's Italian in the Bullring for lunch. The staff were amazing, making the experience full of fun for Baby Badger, and were joking with me after realising they'd been chatting away to me while I breastfed Badger Cub! Baby Badger had chicken lollipops (chicken on skewers) with a mini kilner jar of chopped vegetable salad (which she demolished). Father Badger and I opted for seafood dishes, both delicious! After lunch we headed to Birmingham Museum for the Julia Donaldson exhibition. The hall was segmented by walls printed with scenes from her various books (Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, etc.) and each area had different props, dressing up outfits and activities themed around the books.

The museum itself is free but there is a charge for this exhibition.

Birmingham is local to my husband's family so we headed over to stay for the night. We had a bonus day trip before leaving them to drive home today: Tropical Birdland! Tucked away in a Leicestershire village is a small zoo full of every imaginable type of parrot, some in aviaries but many of them free flying and happy to take monkey nuts from your hand. It was an unexpected but good end to our holiday week and I'd definitely recommend it.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Marrow Mountain

Our garden is not as tidy as it ought to be. It became neglected during my first pregnancy, compounded during the following couple of years of having Baby Badger and definitely not improved during pregnancy number two. I'm gradually clawing back during my current maternity leave, but I have at least got control over the edible garden. Or so I thought...

I knew I'd missed a few cucumbers in the greenhouse. They have a tendency to hide behind leaves. I wasn't expecting twenty-two of them. Likewise, I knew there were a few courgettes that should really be classed as marrows, but I was leaving them on the plant until I decided what I was going to do with them. There have grown somewhat, and the four largest of them probably now weigh more than my three year old. There's also a glut of knobbly beef tomatoes and cherry & baby plum tomatoes, but we'll have no problems getting through those, nor the big handful of runner beans.

Tonight's challenge is to track down recipes to use the marrows and cucumbers. Any suggestions would be gratefully received!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Time to build an ark

A few minutes ago I was feeding Badger Cub in bed, still in pyjamas after a particularly bad night's sleep, when the doorbell rang. I left a rather disgruntled baby behind to answer the door.

It was a middle aged man offering me religious pamphlets, I assume a Jehovah's Witness. I politely declined and he left.

As an aside, I wonder how long it is since they actually "turned" someone at the doorstep. I do acknowledge that part of their faith is to attempt to convert/save but surely it's time to evolve away from cold calling? Maybe evolution is the problem here...

Minutes after he left I kicked myself for not saying what I wanted to say.

Thousands are dying in Syria because they have the wrong bloodline; men, women and children coldly executed. Young girls are raped with bayonets in Africa. In our own country children are groomed and prostituted, and others are starved and malnourished either through poverty or in extreme cases intentionally by their own parents. At the same time we are destroying the planet in our relentless quest for resources.

Don't tell me it's part of the grand design. If there is a god and he (or she) allows this suffering then I want nothing to do with him. The human race seems to be out of control so he either needs to sort out the mess or wipe us all out and start again. Until that happens I'll carry on trying to raise my family with respect and do what I can for the rest of the world.

Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn /

Monday, 19 August 2013

No more zombies for me

Driving home from town today, I was thinking how motherhood has changed me. Of course, it could simply be that I'm a few years older, but without children I probably would not have the uncontrollable impulse to shout "Moo Cow!" every time we pass a herd.

Prior to Baby Badger I was pretty child-phobic but now they seem to flock to me... and I don't mind! (Most of my friends would fall over backwards in surprise at this.) I find myself playing with them at children's centres, keeping an eye out in case they tumble, worrying about their teeth when I see them toddling round with a bottle of Ribena.

Films, television shows and books that depict suffering of children, physically or mentally, would in the past have tugged at my heart strings but it would have passed as I knew it was fiction. Now I feel as though my heart is being wrenched from my chest.

It's not just my feelings about children that have changed though. I used to love a good gory horror story. I now cannot watch zombie films; struggle with anything horrific that could be possible under human nature, although interestingly I can cope with vampires and werewolves - obviously far enough removed from reality for me to cope.

I'm guessing the old me won't be coming back, but I don't think it's such a bad thing.

Image courtesy of dan /

Sunday, 18 August 2013


Badger Cub is almost seven months old now, and pretty much the whole time I've felt as though I've been failing.

Most of the time I can cope with Badger Cub. Most of the time I can cope with Baby Badger. Most of the time I can't cope with both of them.

Baby Badger still does daycare Monday to Friday (three days in nursery, kept going so we don't lose the place for when I return to work) and a day with each set of grandparents (because they all enjoy it). I feel guilt that she's not at home with me, but also I feel as though Badger Cub should have the same amount of attention from me as she did. I also know that she has a much more fulfilling and varied experience not being stuck with me 24/7.

When I'm tired I lack patience, and when Baby Badger is tired she tends to play up. Not a good combination. Father Badger has been trying to encourage me at times, telling me when I've done well with her. He means well and it is nice to hear but it does highlight that it's the exception rather than the rule, which makes me feel a bit useless.

Father Badger was away today, so I had both for the day. Knowing that it would go more smoothly with activities planned, we headed off to Millets Farm Centre. We did bouncy castle, trampoline, space hoppers, the cupboard toilet with the blue water (oh yes, anything can be an adventure...), straw bale tunnel and bouncy castle again, all before lunch. The cafe was packed but, feeling like supermum, I negotiated the pensioners with a tray of drinks and sandwiches whilst pushing the buggy. Lunch was eaten with smiles and we made it out unscathed. After lunch we visited the farm animals, ran around the paddock and played on the swings. All without tears (apart from when she fell off the swing but we'll gloss over that one).

I've been drowning for a while but today, just for a while, I felt as though I was coming to the surface.
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