The Great Outdoors

It doesn’t matter how old you get, there is almost nothing better than getting your hands on a new toy. 

During our recent holiday to the south of France, Marley and I were super excited to crack open a brand new Nature Explorer kit we’d been sent by Anthisan*.

We got a magnifying glass, a small beaker with a magnifying lens for looking at any beasties we might find, a mini butterfly net and a lamp/torch for exploring in the dark. 

The region of France we were staying in (The Aude) is a place we’ve been to a few times before – we actually got married there in 2015. So we already had an idea of some of the creepy-crawlies we might see on our adventures; butterflies, crickets, beetles, some small lizards and possibly – even though I’m not allowed to look for them – the occasional snake. 

On this particular visit, we were a bit worried the only thing we might see would be the thousands of Boxtree moths that had invaded the area. They were everywhere!

But we set off on our adventure anyway. 

Marley – holding his little magnifying glass and net and looking incredibly cute  – picked up a couple of wild flowers (“that’s for mummy”) and chased a butterfly around….keeping his distance whenever catching it became a realistic possibility.  


We found an olive tree, some fresh figs, before he really started embracing his inner Attenborough.

He found us a jumping cricket, which we chased and captured. 

It’s hilarious to watch him as he gets really close and looks inside. But then leaps back as soon as it starts to move.

I was tempted to have a look under some of the larger stones on our route, just to see what might be lurking underneath. But I thought I might get in trouble if Marley returned from our nature hunt with a snake bite, so I resisted. 

We continued along the path. Marley was at a bit of an advantage, being so close to the ground. It’s OK, I’m not competitive about it.

And suddenly…

“Daddy, look!” 

I looked. There was nothing there.


I looked again. Still nothing.

“DADDY, THERE!!!” He pointed at the ground, where I still  couldn’t see anything.

Until….wait, what’s that??

A praying mantis! 

It was probably the most camouflaged creature imaginable, balancing on a tiny piece of grass the exact same colour as its body. I have no idea how he spotted it. But he ran back to the house to gleefully show it off to the rest of the family. 

After a closer inspection, he was happy to release the mantis back in to the wild for it to go back to……whatever they do. Praying, I suppose.

There is definite Attenorough potential there with Marley, a  very successful hunt. And not a bite in sight!




*Anthisan Bite & Sting Cream can provide symptomatic relief of skin irritation caused by insect stings, insect bites and nettle stings and has been used for over 50 years.

Anthisan Bite & Sting Cream is easy to use and contains the active ingredient Mepyramine Maleate (2%), a topical antihistamine which stops the histamine affecting your body’s cells by blocking receptor sites in your nerve endings, helping to reduce pain, swelling and skin irritation. Anthisan Bite & Sting Cream (20g) retails at £3.66 and is available from leading pharmacies and supermarkets. Suitable for the whole family including children from two years. Always read the label.

Banana bread

With no Match of the Day to stay up for last night, I actually managed to get a full eight-hour sleep! 

So I woke up feeling mega productive, and got straight to work on finding a banana bread recipe to make before we head out to the Wimbledon Common Open Day in the afternoon.

I reached out to the Twitter-sphere…..but as a fairly late adopter of Twitter, I found that my request for recipes had amounted to a solitary ‘like’ from a recipe account (who didn’t share a recipe with me…) and a retweet from a dad bloggers group (thanks @DadSquad_!)

So I decided to do what I usually do and look up a couple of different recipes, try and take the best bits from each one and make up my own version. 

Let me know what you think!


Mike’s Banana Bread

What you need: 

4 ripe bananas, peeled
250g caster sugar
2 eggs
140g softened butter
230g plain flour + 20g self-raising flour*
(*it’s all we had!)
2 tsp baking powder
100g walnut piece

120g chocolate chip
1 tsp vanilla extract


1) Heat oven to 190C. Line a 900g tin with grease-proof baking paper. 

2) Mash together the bananas and sugar in a large bowl with the back of a fork. 

3) Add the eggs and continue to mix well until fully incorporated, then gradually add butter and mix for a couple more minutes.

4) Sieve in the flour and baking powder, fold together with a spatula and add the vanilla extract, walnuts and chocolate chips. 

5) Once well-mixed, spoon mixture in to the lined baking tin and cook for around an hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.