Here it has been raining too – English summer rain guaranteed to pour down in torrents whenever an outside event is planned in July! It was Middle Daughter’s birthday last week. For the first time in her memory, being away from home, we broke with tradition and didn’t have a birthday party with treasure hunt for her birthday, but organised an outing instead to Monkeyworld in Dorset, which is an amazing primate rescue centre that the children have seen for years watching the programme Monkey Business on Animal Planet.
Her birthday dawned overcast and showery looking and, mind in Africa-mode, I wondered whether we should postpone the outing, picnic lunch and all for a finer day. I’d forgotten that in England you go ahead anyway, that there might not be a finer day for weeks! We actually had a lovely time. The intermittent showers saw us sheltering under cover listening to a keeper’s talk on Woolly Monkeys, or picnicking under the covered terrace of the café, or stopping for an ice cream under a wonderful African-inspired, thatched boma. In between we were able to see several of the animals that the kids knew from watching the series and listen to a few more keeper’s talks, watch the troop of ring-tailed lemurs and the baby chimps. At the end the sun came out in full force and dried up the rain so the children were able to clamber over the rope structures in the playground too, with bright patches of blue sky behind them.
Talking about the experience on the way home our son was conservative in his praise – we’d seen it all from the visitors’ perspective and it was interesting but he thought it was better to see it from the keeper’s perspective on Animal Planet, he said. It’s a shame that reality doesn’t quite live up to TV… The girls decided that if they got left behind they’d go and live in the lemur enclosure as they liked the sound of their diet, as described by the keeper – fruit and nuts definitely beat the capuchin monkeys’ mixed diet with frogs featured on the menu!
More rain today with drenching showers demanded drastic measures to get the children out of the house, which is just a little too small for them to be cooped up in all day long. We took them out willy-nilly to Yeovilton Air Museum, completely ignoring Middle Daughter’s protests that she didn’t want to go and see some old aeroplanes.
She did manage to rustle up a little interest in flying some of the model planes and seeing how the controls on a harrier work and also survived the simulation experience of being on board an aircraft carrier, with all the noise and mayhem of planes landing and taking off. Youngest even said afterwards that it was nice . The hardest part of the experience was in manoeuvring through the gift shop at the end, with £1 pocket money burning a hole in their purses. Finding anything desirable at that price was well-nigh impossible and we ended up comparing the relative merits of pencils and rubbers, pens and notepads. The decision process took at least twenty minutes, by which time we were desperate to get home for a cup of tea and found that the sun had come out at last. Maybe it will shine for our next trip out on Wednesday, but I'm not betting as much as a souvenir pencil with keyring attached on that as a certainty!