Thursday, 14 December 2017

Day out at the zoo

It was my birthday at the weekend, so we decided to go for a day out with Marley’s grandparents - visiting from Edinburgh - to the Children’s Zoo at Battersea Park

(Disclaimer: this is definitely not just a zoo for children; I am certain I enjoyed it even more than Marley did).

It's a lovely, small zoo with a great variety of animals, and absolutely ideal for Marley's age-group who are difficult to contain for any more than an hour at a time. 

We arrived just in time for meerkat feeding, so we saw the little creatures sprint off from their spot in the winter sunshine to grab a bite to eat behind the glass, right in front of us. They were served red pepper and potato, incidentally, and were getting cockroaches and some other insects for their afternoon snack. Educational!

There was a little boy asking questions to the feeder, so I decided it was OK for adults (“adults”) to join in with the questioning. I asked what happens if a fox gets in to the enclosure - the meerkats are only contained by a three foot wall, so other animals could quite easily get in there. 

She told us it actually happens quite often, and apparently when anything does get in, the meerkats all bunch together into one group and run towards it, screaming. Difficult to believe, but nonetheless excellent to imagine!

We’ve been teaching Marley quite a few new animal noises lately – cow, horse, pig, sheep have all been added to his repertoire – but this was his first chance to actually see and hear the animals in the flesh. 

We managed to introduce him to a few little monkeys and some small birds as well as  mice, rats, otters, ostriches and even a few wallabies - and a snake. But none of them really made any noises for him. And even if they did, it's difficult to hear a snake's hiss through several inches of glass.

So it was a relief when we reached a small enclosure with some chickens and a large cockerel, who was bellowing out his morning song. 


Marley (and I...) enjoyed this immensely. His grin widened every time the cockerel belted it out. His own version is, probably a bit more of a DO-DO-DO-DO-DOOOOO but it’s pretty impressive. And anyway, now he knows how it is supposed to sound.

Marley seemed to really enjoy the zoo, so we will have to take him to a bigger one soon. Mainly so that he can finally see what a lion really looks like. He even got me a lion birthday card, and this is how he thinks they sound:

He's going to find the real thing a bit of a surprise...

Friday, 1 December 2017


There have been various learnings since my last post, both for myself and the little man. 

He's been picking up the words to various songs and nursery rhymes at a steady rate lately. A couple of his current favourites are Baa Baa Black Sheep ("baa baa baaaaaa") and Row, Row, Row the Boat ("rooo rooo roooooo"). 

He's also picked up some bits and bobs of Twinkle Twinkle and he knows most of the actions to The Wheels on the Bus. But one that he has not quite got to grips with just yet is Heads, Shoulders, Knees & Toes....partly because half way through his attempts at learning it, he developed a bout of a horrendous and little-known disease.

If you don't already know about Hand Foot & Mouth disease, it's most likely because you either a) had a mild case of this as a child but were too young to remember, or b) you managed to escape it's cruel and evil clutches. Until now, at least...because it turns out, this is NOT just a baby disease. 

It is important to point out that this is NOT the same disease made famous by the 2001 outbreak of Foot & Mouth, despite what some people may try and have us believe....

The outbreak all began during a work trip to Berlin at the end of October. (work trip for me, not Marley).

I received a photo message while there, which showed a few spots on his little hands. He'd had some trouble eating that day and seemed to have a bit of pain in his mouth. 

Hand foot and mouth, my wife was told. Stay away from nursery. 

I returned home a few days later, and Marley seemed fairly happy. The spots were disappearing, he'd got his appetite back. Everything was getting back to normal. 

Marley and I moments after I got back from Berlin

Or so we thought.

Day Two back home. I notice a couple of dry spots on my hand. What's that?

Must be the cold weather coming in, I think. Nothing to worry about.

Day Three. They have got worse. Red spots. On my feet as well. And what is that by my mouth? Some small, red patches.....oh, God.....

Day Four. The itching has begun. When I look back now, I don't remember it being that bad. But then my wife reminds me of what I said during the night of Day Four:

"I want to cut my hands and feet off". 

Day Five. My mouth is on fire. I can't eat. 

On Day 6, thankfully things started to get better. So by Day 7 I had my appetite back and things began to gradually improve. It was another full week before the skin on my hands and feet healed and I was able to actually see other people without risking giving them a bout of this horrific disease. 

Speaking to a friend who is a GP, he advised that the disease can often be much worse in adults than in children. He also said that in some cases, the disease can return (please God no) but this is very unusual.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that if you hear of ANYONE with Hand, Foot & Mouth disease, whether they are children or adults, stay the hell away from them!

In the meantime, we'll go back to teaching Marley some more nursery rhymes. 

Here goes, Marley:

"Heads, shoulders, hand foot and mouth.....hand foot and mouth......"