Monday, 30 December 2013

We're better outside

Kneeling on the bed this morning, staring at gusts of wind blowing the bamboos so hard they rocked the fence and horizontal rain hammering on the window, it didn't feel like a good day for going out.  We decided last week that today we would go to the zoo.  We have vouchers for annual membership of our local children's zoo every year for Christmas from my lovely in-laws and today was our last chance to renew if we wanted to make use of a 30% renewal discount.  Yet the weather was so foul we worried about the potential flooding on the roads, and the kids have had coughs again, and there was still another cupboard to fit in the almost completed kitchen, and, and, and ....  All in all we felt ...bleurgh.

In the end we let the cash savings be our deciding vote and jumped up, wrapped the kids up in layers (vest, long sleeved t-shirt, short sleeved T-shirt, jumper, coat, jeans, willies, scarfs, hats and gloves - they walked like they were in full body casts at first) and headed out into the wild Sussex weather.  Anyone living up North, or in a country where it's currently snowing, is probably shaking their head in disgust at my wimpiness having read this, but this is the south coast of England.  Apart from the last few years, when we've had a bit of snow in January and February, we mostly just get drizzly winters.

Generally, having both worked outdoors for years in all weathers, we generally go with the adage 'there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes' and today really proved it.  It peed down constantly all morning in a freezing, wind-blown assault.  We were the only people on the Thomas Train ride other than the driver and a sparrow.  In the outdoor areas we charged from exhibit to exhibit completely alone apart from keepers and other staff.  In the indoor sections we shared an impressed moment when a rhinoceros iguana sneezed snot all over the glass of it's habitat, and another stood with another family watching a monkey scratching it's bum.  The car park had been quite full - it turned out everyone else was squeezed into the soft play area that smells of nappies and over excited children.  We avoided that.  No-one else saw the beavers come right up to the wall to sniff at us - we kept our hand to ourselves, but they were close enough to tickle had I thought they would appreciate it and not mistake our fingers for food.  We got a personal talk about the Asian short-clawed otters.

It was fantastic.  Cold and wet, but immense fun.  We came home feeling less tired than when we left the house in the morning at 10am.  Very occasionally we prepare badly enough that we regret going out in bad weather, but usually it is like today and the very act of running around outside recharges us.  It drives me a little crazy when parents say their kids are 'naughty' when they just have energy they haven't been given a chance to burn off.  Walking and running around outside in the air every day is the best thing any of us can do for our kids, and ourselves.  So I'm off to hit the study books now, with the kids having sailed off to sleep happy and tired at 7pm and Matt swearing gently under his breath as he attempts to replace the inner tube on Ollie's bike ready for tomorrow's adventures. Hopefully without having caught pneumonia.