Gender bull

Youngest cub has a favourite toy.

It’s a radio controlled car that my brother-in-law bought him for Christmas.

He loves it.

The car  is a 4×4, flippable, 360 thing that works whichever way up it is and can climb a multitude of obstacles.

We go through batteries like they were going out of fashion until I bought rechargeables, fearing that we may single-handedly destroy the planet. I didn’t want that on my conscience.

It’s really is rather good. That good, that big sister quite fancies having one.

I consulted Amazon.

Found it, or should I say, them.

Of the same theme but different sizes, colours and shapes. Result.

Then I found this one….

4girls……

Really.

So unless it’s got pink wheels and has ‘girly’ patterns, females won’t be interested?

I call bull.

My daughter just wanted an orange one.

BSD

Ps. clicking the above clicks will generate affiliate fees and may go someway to overcoming my anger towards blatant gender stereotyping and other bull. Thanks.

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Can you dig it? yes you can!

Day two of half term, and I’ve got this covered.

Proper planning has led me to have most of this holiday covered. As I’ve stated before (probably to myself to be fair) proper planning prevents poor performance. Anyway, last week I found out that our local museum was hosting a fossil event, where for a small fee participants could engage in some palaeontology.

Right up my daughter’s street and my son is happy to play along too.

Being a proper planner, I allow an hour for us to get there. It’s a 5 minute drive so we’re stupidly early; oh well.

A quick wander around in the bleak mid-winter to find a cash-point sees us pretty happy to be back indoors and wandering around the museum. 30 minutes to go. You enter the museum through the gift shop; nice one folks; I see what you did there.

As we queue, my youngest slowly rotates, next to a display of plates and glass ornaments. I put a stop to that.

There’s a guy upstairs sitting behind a table of fossils so we stop for a chat.

He’s fascinating and has a real enthusiasm for what he’s doing. She’s enthralled. He eyes the gentleman up suspiciously, as only my boy cub can, and keeps his distance.

We’re reliably informed that there are more goodies downstairs, so we head for adventure, headlong into a cafe.

Nice going museum; I see what you did there. The fatal attraction of a fridge full of cakes draws them both in and they turn to look at me.

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What came over me?

Not sure what I was thinking, I let them choose whatever they want. She goes for a modest slice of cheesecake whilst he opts for a slice of chocolate cake. Not like the one above; oh no. there was no strawberry on his choice. Instead, the chocolate cake he chose was bedecked with sugar-coated sweets; the kind I bought for a penny in my childhood. It was almost as if the creator wasn’t satisfied with the sugar content of the plain chocolate cake, then decided to push the tooth rotting factor up to 11.

I bought it anyway as we had 20 minutes to kill.

I decided to share the cake with him, convinced that he would struggle with the volume and richness. I underestimated him. I think I had one or two forkfuls, but tired of the battle to wrestle it away from him after the second attempt.

To his credit, he managed to funnel about 90% into his head with 5% spread around his face. The other 5% appears later.

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And we’re in!

I hadn’t imagined quite how popular the event would be. One minute we were alone, the next we were awash with parents and children. It was nice to see so many people out and about and the collective excitement level was contagious.

There were four stations for enquiring minds to visit; an expert, a mask making station, a microscope bench and a simulated dig. I thought the latter looked like two cat litter trays but I kept that to myself.

They were straight in; the added bonus being that they could keep one of the fossils that they found. Four fossils each later (in quite a short time) we discussed the lesson of sharing and leaving some for others whilst reburying their three least favourite.

Advancing to the bench of microscopes for a close up of some minerals we queued behind a three deep moving mass of buggies and bodies. This was very popular, but not with us. As she has three microscopes at home, we decided to show our fossils to the expert upstairs and create some masks.

Home run

He was busy. I really underestimated this. No matter; we went to the masks. One Triceratops (her) and a T-rex (him).

With crayon, felt-tip, marker pen and glue stick it took an absolute age for them to colour in their choices. For reasons known only to her, she decided to use the finest tipped pen to embolden her creation. He was a bit more pragmatic and broad-stroked a fisted crayon across his picture. Not surprisingly he was finished in no time. She slumped further in her chair when I told her that she would have to do the other side too.

Staples, glue, elastic and a healthy dose of imagination later and the cubs were transformed into whatever dinosaur young are called. Happy.

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Unnoticed, we’ve spent two hours here. It’s been brilliant.

As we get up to leave, she notices a thick brown stain on the bum and leg of his beige trousers. She recoils and points all at once but before she can comment, I run my finger along the stain and then pop it in my mouth. I turn and tell her..

We have to go now; he’s done a poo.

I thought she was going to faint.

I do like chocolate cake.

BSD

Saturday’s adventure.

They wanted Seaworld. I wanted outdoors; the weather was too nice.

I did a quick search of places to visit with kids and up popped Millet’s Farm in Oxfordshire. We’d been before for various reasons but on this occasions their falconry centre caught my eye.

My eldest wants to be an explorer and as such, she is already a keen naturalist. My youngest likes Angry Birds and in particular ‘Mighty Eagle’  so win win.

Wrong

I herded them across the car-park and towards the separate entrance to the Falconry Centre.

In a touch of Pied Piper marketing genius, I had to walk them through a well resourced, adventure playground, a trampoline park and a merry-go-round to get to the entrance. By the time we had got there, sparks were coming off of the heels of the youngest and he was on the edge of tears.

Luckily, this was the view from the cash-desk..

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The bigger of the two birds, which I initially thought was a Golden Eagle, turned out to be a juvenile Bald (Mighty) Eagle.

A quick ‘Hey guys; look through there…’ soon gave rise to gasps of excitement. We went in. As is now the norm, the eldest got to take the photos, apart from the video below, where I tried desperately to catch the Eagle’s cry..

It turned away at the precise moment.

They have a dazzling array of Birds of Prey, including Owls and you can get quite close to them.

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My daughter got a little too close to this one; the resulting warning cry stopped her in her tracks.

She once stroked a Swan when we went to feed the ducks when she was three. It was pretty startled but as it was bigger than her and she had bread in her other hand, she was tolerated.

I’ll have to train that out of her before she starts encountering bigger animals.

They also have some other animals, such as Raccoons and Meerkats and we stood and watched a family have a close encounter with them (at extra cost).

The keepers were very knowledgeable and happy to answer questions.

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This Boobook Owl was on his way back from the flying field when this keeper got papped and then quizzed. It’s a lovely looking creature that has that look like it has just overheard the most profane of words.

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file pic

As with any zoological institution, there was the question of morality. As we walked around some of the birds were naturally startled and flew to the furthest reaches of their aviaries, only to be met by netting.

To Millet’s credit, all of the birds looked healthy and the whole place was meticulously clean. Their conservation statement can be viewed here and what they write is promising. The decline in some species in the UK is worrying.

All in all, this centre is well worth a visit and pretty good value for money too. Even with one ride for all of us on the Carousel, the whole day cost just under £30.

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I’ve no idea what this is; the sign fell over.

BSD

This is not a sponsored post.

Blueprint for a grand day out.

We’re halfway through the summer break..

and I’m intent on making great memories for the cubs. As a boy, one of my favourite pastimes was fishing. I kept it up into adulthood even though I rarely make time for it nowadays.

I love the peace and tranquility beside a river or lake; being near water seems to wash my troubles away. I want to share that feeling and memories with them, so for my daughter’s birthday I bought her a junior fishing kit. She was ecstatic.

Balance

I had noticed her watching fishing programs beforehand, and it seemed to fit in with her desire to be outdoors. I leant her a couple of my fishing books, so she could learn a few techniques and some of the different types of fish. The questions weren’t far behind.

How do you catch them? how do they stay on the line? do you eat them? does it hurt them?’

I watched her face go through several emotions as I answered her, then she thought about it for a bit.

OK

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Rite of passage

There was no way on the Lord’s sweet earth that I was going to teach her to fish and keep a safe eye on the youngest cub on the waterfront so mum came along too. We made a picnic for good measure and off we trotted.

I explained to her that when daddy goes fishing, set up can take hours. ‘First you have to find a likely spot, then you have to….‘ I turned around and she had wandered off. The youngest had found a feather from a Buzzard and this was much more interesting.

I managed to get her back and we set up. She only got pricked by a hook once and was a little reluctant to bait up but she got on with it.

I taught her how to cast…

The bait sailed into the water and the bodycount stayed at 0. Success.

How long before I get a fish?

Well that’s the art my dear! you have to be…’

Her float dipped under the water.

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Unfortunately our adventure was a short one. This was only a taster session to whet her appetite and it had done just that.

My fish was bigger than yours dad!’

It wasn’t.

BSD

I really, really should listen to my body.

Yesterday was a training day.

What I mean by this is that it was a day that I go and see my Shiye (Kung Fu instructor when you’re a Sifu yourself) for a catch up.

I’ve been training with him for 30 years this year and he has led me to great success. I was a little late for this class so foolishly only did a small warm up.

A new guy was there and wanted to know some tricks to add to his own toolbox. We went to work. He learnt a new throw; he threw me; I landed correctly, then popped my knee getting up.

I couldn’t hide it and my instructor noticed.

The class ended and we had the normal catch up chat. I reminded him that I was 44 next week. He informed me that there was a competition coming up in the USA at the end of the year and that I wasn’t too old to get back in the ring.

Where do I sign?

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When your body talks…

You’d be wise to listen to it.

You may remember a while back I started a ’30 day burpee challenge’ where for 30 days, I would do 30 burpees per day. The clue was in the name. It all started so well.

Body talks..

After about 5 days, bits of me started to hurt. When you’re used to training and pushing yourself, this is nothing new, but this pain was new and unusual. I was beginning to experience some intense, shooting pain in the base of my toes and it didn’t feel good.

I expected pain in my quads and core but not in the base of my toes. That was just weird. 

Pain such as this is usually associated with poor technique so I checked mine. Whilst I was doing it it felt right but the pain was evident almost immediately. I stopped.

One thing I had noticed a long time ago (approximately 14 years) was that my body took longer to heal almost immediately after my 30th birthday. Decades of martial arts training had put my body under a lot of pressure and from time to time the inevitable would happen and parts of me would fail. Immediate injury management was necessary, followed by either passive or active recovery. Anything remotely serious could be overcome in around 6 weeks. Up until the big 30 that is.

The change was noticeable.

Fixing things just started to take longer. Clicks, creaks and groans replaced the subtle swish of my combat clothing. Ce la vie.

I spent a while fighting it but then I got smart.

The human body was designed to move.

Just be clever about how you do it. New pains that aren’t part of the muscle growth process should be taken note of. Adjust accordingly.

I haven’t given up; not totally.

I still need to add some serious CV to my routines. In the meantime, I have replaced the 30 day burpee challenge with the Men’s Health 500 rep challenge. When I can move my arms again I’ll make another video.

BSD

Ps, videos are new! I discovered an editing suite called Lightworks v.14. It’s free to use and comes with great tutorials. I will get better!