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.


Can you believe I started writing this post over a month ago?? I just checked, and it says I began typing on 22nd of August, and it’s now 25th of September. 

I have either been really busy…..or really lazy…..

Either way, the absence of updates on the blog in some ways reflects – not a lack of movement – but at least a slight easing of acceleration on the day-to-day changes being experienced by our little human. 

That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been busy, though. He’s been up to all sorts of stuff this summer: meeting new friends, going to music classes(!), learning new words – it’s been a busy few weeks. 

We took him to Florence at the end of August for his second wedding of the summer, and he absolutely loved that. It was 35°C pretty much every day, so he basically spent a week in only his nappy. 

He gave us a little chicken pox scare midway through the trip, too, when a bunch of small, red spots started appearing all over his legs. 

It was only when a whole load of little red spots started appearing all over my legs, that we realised they were mosquito bites….

(this is his leg, not mine)

As well as being bitten by an Italian mosquito for the first time, he experienced another ‘first’ when we took him on his first bike ride, around the walls of the medieval city of Lucca. 

We spent a few days there after travelling from Florence following the wedding, and the B&B where we were staying happened to have some bikes and a baby seat available to us. The little man absolutely loved it (although once we’d got beyond the halfway mark, I started to feel him nodding off behind me)

Since we got back to the UK, Marley has had plenty to say. 

His “mamma” and “dadda” are pretty much perfected now, so he’s moving on to more complex words like “nose” (with his index finger inserted so far that he’s almost touching his brain) and “plane” (while pointing at anything in the sky that moves).

But it’s his use of the word “no” that has dominated the past couple of weeks. 

He uses it when he means “no”. 

He uses it when he means “yes”. 

He uses it first thing in the morning when he wakes up alone in his cot. And he uses it last thing at night, after his evening milk feed. 

He also says it when I ask him if he wants to try and walk. And although I don’t actually know whether he means yes or no in that case, he is definitely edging ever closer to his first unassisted steps. 

He loves to stand up on his own and throw himself back down, usually with a huge grin on his face. And he now often clambers around the edge of the sofa – usually in an insanely risky attempt to pull our (incredibly unpredictable) cat’s tail. 

I’d be very surprised if my next post isn’t on that exact topic. Especially if it takes me another month to write it….

A unique night out

We had a very different kind of night out on Saturday. 

And it was unique for two reasons. 

Firstly, we decided we would leave Marley in the hands of a babysitter, something we’d never ever done before.

And secondly, because we went to see a very unique type of entertainment called Coming Clean: Life As A Naked House Cleaner

It’s a fairly self-explanatory concept, but just in case you didn’t get it, this is a show in which a (former) naked house cleaner tells stories about the kind of things he got up to while on the job. 

It was described to us beforehand as “a brand new idea in interactive concept comedy” in which the host Ethan Mechare explores ideas around sexual fantasy, voyeurism….and housework.

Yeah, you can see why it might have been a bit weird taking Marley along… 

The show itself actually took place in our friend Tom’s apartment, so we knew most of the audience members – although there were two random guys there who had bought tickets for it too. 

There is no need for a spoiler alert, I’m not going to ruin the show for you – but even if you’ve NEVER sat and wondered what a naked cleaner might get up to, you should go see it for yourself anyway. It was hilarious, and full of surprises. 

Just don’t take your baby. Or your Mum. 

Oh, and after the show, when we got home around 10:30pm Marley was fast asleep and he went on to sleep right through the night. Good effort from the babysitter!

Maybe we should go out and watch naked cleaner shows more often.