On Wednesday afternoon we went to the local Ecology Centre with our Home Ed group. Owl was in London with Granny and Grandpa, so I only had the younger three children with me. However many children you have, it always feels a little easier with one less person to organise to get out of the house, although there were moments when I could have done with my biggest helper. Anyway, we gathered an assortment of fishing nets, buckets, pond life and butterfly identification books, raincoats… and suncream as an afterthought. We also took our butterflies as we had decided to show them to the group before releasing them in the grounds of the Ecology Centre, which is a perfect butterfly habitat.
We took about 25 minutes to walk there and we met up with the others at the pond. All the children were very keen to start fishing, and were generally good about sharing nets and were being quite sensible. To begin with Tiddler was in his buggy, but of course that didn’t last as he was determined to get out and join in. So I let him, and the consequence was that within 5 minutes, he had fallen in the pond! Luckily I was holding on to the handle on the back of his Little Life backpack (highly recommended) so I was able to haul him out straight away. No harm done, but even though he had been in the water for barely a second he was of course thoroughly soaked from head to toe (vest, nappy, trousers, socks and boots completely unusable for the rest of the afternoon) and covered in pond weed. He was a little bewildered but not too upset. Now, if this had happened to my first baby, I would of course have had an enormous change bag full of alternative outfits, but he is my fourth. So he was carrying his own spare nappies in the aforementioned backpack, and that was it. Luckily the nappies hadn’t got wet, and the sun came out so we made do with a quick clean up, an application of suncream which I hadn’t expected to need and a clean dry nappy. He ran around very happily in the sunshine for the rest of the afternoon, although his feet did get a bit scratched.
The children had a lovely time fishing, exploring and bug hunting. We had some amazing close encounters with pond skaters, sticklebacks, pond snails, a leech, newts, frogs, toads, a slow worm, a moorhen and chick, dragonflies and damselflies… and we released our butterflies, who were not at all in a hurry to leave us, so we got a really close look at them. My highlight of the afternoon was watching one of the butterflies sipping nectar from clover, seeing the proboscis uncurled so close up was amazing. I have to admit that the sight of Tiddler covered in pond weed came a close second (bad mummy!)