Monthly Archives: March 2010

Land of the Lemurs

We made the trip up to Woburn Safari Park so that I could pet the wallabies.  I’m a big fan of the wallabies.  I just want to give them a hug.  But they don’t like that kind of thing, but they will let you pet them so long as they’re being distracted by food.


We’d been to Woburn on a previous occasion on the way back from someplace else, one freezing January Sunday when our Bill was very, very small.

Watching daddy pet the wallaby

Now Bill is closer to 3 than to 2, so we made a special overnight trip.  We enjoyed driving through the safari park seeing the lions and tigers and bears (oh my!).  We were able to get extraordinarily close to a rhino – which I found scariest of all.  A lion may be able to tear you to shreds, but it’s unlikely to be able to put its head through your windshield.

I had heard about the lemur area before our first visit, but sadly it was closed.  Maybe it was too cold for the lemurs.  This time it was open, but on our first walk through all we could see from the decked walkway humans must use were a few sleeping lemurs.   A short while later, the lemurs were moving around and we were able to get quite close to the lemurs as the perched on the deck to poo onto our walkway.  The lemurs seem to have a kind of disdainful tolerance for the humans.  And I feel the poo on the decking was a sign of how they really feel about us.


Bill felt the need to tell the lemurs not to poo at us, but if you look at the anal area of the lemur you will see that his chastisement was ineffective. The keeper said they poo on the walkway because it’s “not their area” and they don’t like to walk in their own shit, but that wasn’t the impression that I got at all. I think it was a message.

These black and white lemurs are among the largest of the lemur species and they’re bigger than a large cat. They’re impossibly adorable, so you just want to pick them up and squeeze them and take them home in your hand luggage and let them jump around your house and hope that the keeper was right about them not wanting to poo in their own area so that they’d sit on the fence and poo into your neighbour’s garden.


But they are also very noisy. When I was standing right next to a pair of them on Day 1 they started barking and screeching over some kind of internal lemur politics. Freaked me out and I think it scared the toddler, too – as he made a dash for the exit and only cheered up when he was watching some penguins swim underwater.

That incident kinda put a damper on our next visit to the lemurs on the following day. We managed to get in about 5 minutes after it opened on a Bill didn’t want to enter the lemur cage. And then when a saw a small, cute brown lemur being handled by one of the keepers, he freaked and tried to run down the pathway. When he ran into this bundle of cuteness/terror.

a knot of lemurs

And when I got to pet some of these lemurs. Bill tried to stop me. “Don’t touch, Mommy.”


But nothing, nothing was going to stop me petting a lemur.  Some of them are apparently quite friendly, but others will nip at you according to the keeper. I petted the friendly ones, but Simon managed to pet an ‘nippy’ one.  Without incident, thankfully.

I'm petting a lemur

Brrring, brring

This week I visited the school where I’m a Governor. We got to wander round the classroom, see the kids in action, have a bit of nosy round the facilities. I can’t manage to keep one two year old under control, so I’m amazed by how orderly everything is at the school, even when they’re doing “independent” activities.

In Reception (I think that’s like Kindergarten, I really should know as I’m a Governor and it won’t be long before I have a kid who’s reception age myself) they have all kinds of cool things. Like an incubator with chicks and a computer that they let the kids play on and a little area called “The World Around Us” or “Everyday world” or something like that.

And what’s in it? A rotary phone.

Everyday world in the 1970s.

I want to see a doctor

Mysterious ailment

Some months ago, Bill woke up with something wrong with his leg.  It hurt him and he couldn’t seem to bear any weight on his leg. It was very worrying. I took him to the emergency room where a very young, enthusiastic doctor (he kept calling Bill “Chicken” as an endearment) was unable to diagnose the problem.  Over the day his leg gradually improved, but he limped a little over the next couple of days.  Since then I think Bill’s had a few cramps in his leg, but he’s not suffered the crippling effects of the first incident.

Weekend fun

Our weekends have fallen into a predictable pattern.  Mess around at home until Bill’s cabin fever reaches a heated pitch.  His toddler energy overcomes our feeble parenting skills and furniture is overturned, books are pulled out and chairs are pushed over to high shelves and sticks are employed to reach the really expensive bric-a-brac that we had previously thought was out of reach.

Only at that point do we start getting ready to take the boy out where he might burn off some energy.  Richmond Park with its wide open spaces and interesting ducks and deer.

Inevitably he falls asleep on the way there.

It means that we get a peaceful walk.  But it also means that as we tire of walking over hill and dale with a heavy-duty stroller filled with a hefty toddler and are ready to go home, he wakes up refreshed and ready to destroy more stuff.

So we’ve started waking him up.  Bill can be a chipper little thing in the morning, but he does not wake well from naps.   He wants to get back in the stroller.  Refusal often offends.

After some tears and recalcitrance he does enjoy the feeding the ducks and running around.  Recently, after standing on the big tree stump

and feeding some ducks

we decided it was time to walk through the Isabella Plantation and burn off some of his excess energy.   He was not so sure.

Oh my gimpy gam

Bill clutched his leg and said “My leg hurts.  I want to see the doctor.”  I didn’t know whether to be annoyed by this blatant ploy, pleased by his sentence construction or amazed by his ability to construct such a fabrication.  We refused to give in and made him walk along the paths while he continued to limp and demanded medical attention.   I did feel a slight twinge.  What if his mysterious ailment had returned?  What would other visitors to park think of our failure to attend to our poor injured child?

Funny thing, though, when we got to the stepping stumps, a sure toddler energy burner.  The leg healed spontaneously.  A miracle! He was able to hop, skimp and jump.

Thank you Charlotte

Charlotte Hayes is the project co-ordinator for my work projects.  Yesterday we had a fantastic event London LocalGovCamp (link to my work blog) – the premiere event for those in local government using social media to engage with citizens, communicate messages and help local people do things for themselves. Many people were involved in getting it organised, getting it sponsored, getting it going – but Charlotte played a largely unsung role in the background.  On the day, she played an essential part in making sure that everything ran smoothly – which it did. First to arrive, last to leave.

It just so happens that Charlotte is running in the Brighton Marathon in aid of YouthNet – truly a social media charity.  YouthNet is the UK’s first exclusively online charity. We guide and support young people, enabling them to make educated life choices, participate in society and achieve their ambitions.  Charlotte is already a mentor to young people through the charity, but now she’s raising money, too (as well as probably wearing out a pair or two of trainers).

Charlotte’s JustGiving page is here. It would be great if we could help her in reach her fundraising goal for a great cause that not only helps the kids, but also demonstrates how social media can be used as a tool to support some of our local public service aims.   And using models we’ll all have to embrace more – individuals, communities and networks helping each other.


Bill loves to go swimming, doesn’t mind putting his face in the water and will jump off the side with no trouble. But until recently he’s clung on to one of us like barnacle in the water. Now a whole range of flotation devices he’s begun swimming off on his own.