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.

Happy New Year!

We spent our family Christmas up in Edinburgh this year, as we normally do. A week-long trip that flew by in a flash of family and friend visits, with a ton of food and drink (and Brussels Sprouts) thrown in. 

No White Christmas this year, sadly. But a beautiful White Boxing Day. 

And who says the sun never shines in Scotland? We had to cancel a trip to see Marley’s Great-Grandmother because we were being dazzled and driving was impossible. 

Marley’s understanding of Christmas (thus far) only stretches about as far as ripping a bit of wrapping paper when instructed….and then trying to repair the damage afterwards. But he was fairly delighted with a little toy car he “received”. 

Daddy decided to pack the little toy car up in Marley’s gift bag on Christmas, before finding out later the little toy car was actually intended to go to one of Marley’s cousins, instead. Whoops! (Daddy also managed to accidentally pack up the remote for his Mother-in-law’s TV, too, much to Mother-in-law’s dismay).

Still, Marley enjoyed receiving his gifts – so many that we couldn’t bring them all back on the plane with us. 

At least we could squeeze Thomas in.


We returned to London for a very relaxing and subdued New Year’s Eve with a Gin and Tonic and a bit of Jools Holland. Marley was in bed, of course, but we enjoyed it. 

And now that we no longer live in Scotland, no more Jackie Bird – thank God!!

We brought in the New Year watching the fireworks live from London on the TV. You know you’re getting old when you watch the New Year’s fireworks, and instead of thinking: “I wish we were there” you are thinking: “imagine having to get home in the cold after this!”. 

So on to 2018, with our (now fully walking!) little man. I wonder if he’s got any big plans for the New Year? 

I haven’t really made any resolutions this year myself. Apart from finding out how to make millions out of Bitcoin, or Ripple, or Ethereum, or whichever Cryptocurrency I don’t yet know about that can make me millions. 

And reading. I have to try and get through at least some of the 25+ books I’ve bought and so far not read in the last year.

Oh, and a new job. Must get a new job.  

Happy New Year!

Hilarious little man

As he approaches the first anniversary of his exit from the womb, Marley’s personality continues to develop at a speed that is almost impossible for an adult human to keep up with.

The first thing people tend to notice about him now is his laugh. His naughty, staccato, deliberate and incredibly infectious laugh. He sounds so delighted with himself when he does it. Hilarious little man. 

An example. We recently returned from a short holiday in Madrid (where he had an absolute whale of a time, by the way……partying the night away with us at one of my best friends’ weddings). 

When we got back, we had a fairly epic journey across London – during rush hour – via public transport with: our three checked bags, three medium-sized cabin bags, his changing bag, his pushchair and a car seat. I still don’t really know how we did it.

We arrived at Earls Court station and had to change trains, so we trudged off the first train and waited patiently for the elevator. up to the next one When we eventually got inside, we were pretty close to the front of the lift, so it may have looked from the back as if there was some space in front of us. There wasn’t.

So when a fellow passenger shouted from the back for us to move forward, I had to shout (politely) back that we had a baby, and there was no space in front. 

Strangely, she questioned the legitimacy of my claim, and shouted again. I replied – again – that our baby (and an array of our bags) were in front of us, and that we did, indeed, have nowhere to move. Still polite, but maybe less so than before.

As the doors closed, she shouted for a third time. Growing impatient, I shouted back. Impolite, this time. Something about waiting for the next one. I sneaked in a mild swear word, just for effect. 

A couple of people chuckled, and the doors banged shut. Good timing, I thought. Then it went quiet as we all waited, silently, for the elevator to reach the next floor.

That was the moment Marley chose to unleash his laugh. 


It sounded like it was directed straight at the woman who had just been shouting. Absolute perfection. Timing that his dad could only dream of. Everyone in the lift laughed along with him, it was incredible. 

He is a hilarious little man!