Pip is an explorer. I know this because when I got home from work on Friday, as I came back out of the kitchen from having stuck my head in to say hi to H while her was cooking, the front door (which I had definitely shut behind me) was most mysteriously open. Kitty and Elma were noisily evident, playing some hysterically funny game which involved them rolling across the lounge floor and cackling but Pip? Young Master Pip Squeak was swiftly discovered to be trotting down the drive clad only in his nappy and a liberal application of purple felt tip pen.
So you what do you do with an explorer but take him somewhere where he can roam to his heart’s content. And so yesterday we loaded up the car with all five of us, a bag full of picnic bits and bobs and set off to All Things Wild to meet up with a couple of our very closest friends to enjoy the rarity of sunshine on a bank holiday.
Pip loved it. We all loved it; it was fun to be with friends and to enjoy being outdoors, and I enjoyed seeing the animals, but it was in watching Pip that the park really started to come alive. He sat on the bench next to me for lunch, dunking carrots into a cup of lemonade and entirely ignoring any other more traditional picnic food, and all the time he was looking around in every direction, just trying to take it all in, and probably wondering just how much longer he had to sit still before breaking free and making for the play area, and I think he might have been perfectly happy there all day, but we scooped him up under one arm and set off to explore; jog-walking down the path until he’d see something of interest and stop, suddenly froze while he took it all in, and the beetle in question leisurely wandered out of the way.
The tractor was love at first sight. He threw himself at it and when the girls ran over to join him and tried to do a little steering for themselves they were met with the fiercest objections and howls of disapproval until they bounced off in search of the lemurs returning it to his sole control.
I’m not entirely sure he worked out what we were looking at in some of the enclosures, a fair few of the animals were very sensibly hiding themselves from the hot sunshine and so it wasn’t until we met up with a rhea named Samuel that I think he realised that there were animals about. Samuel trotted around the edge of his paddock keeping pace with us as we walked and he and Pip seemed rather to be eyeing each other up. First one would walk along, and then the other, and then Pip would dip back to us and so would Samuel, and so they danced right up until we went around a corner and found a dark chocolate shetland pony, keeping very still in the shade of the nearest tree. Samuel was passed over in a moment while Pip eyed up the “horsie” that seemed to be so exactly his size.
He stood and watched, and tried to make sense of what he was seeing,
and then ducked down to peer under the gate to see if that made it any more logical before finally deciding that he liked it. Whatever it was.
But from then on, every fence, every wire mesh, might just be the gateway to something interesting, and his interest in exploring the bins in their little wooden huts (already well developed over lunch) kicked up another notch.
There were monkeys and meercats and it was all almost exciting enough to entirely divert him from the favourite pastime of gathering large handfuls of gravel or bark chippings.
The land train though was clearly on another level to gravel. With a “look! Mama! Car!!!” he settled in to enjoy himself, firmly pinned down by both parents while Kitty and Elma pointed out all the model dinosaurs that he was missing in solely focussing on the Land Rover at the front of our gentle procession.
And as the day came towards its end we moved from wild animals to simply running wild; all three children got heavily stuck in to the sand pits, and pretending to be Palaeontologists (complete with crashed helicopter and jeep),
and then we found the play areas with a tug of war set up, football, a basketball hoop and of course, the go-carts.
With Elma roping into do a bit of the leg work, and H pedalling gently for both himself and for Pip, my little family gently circled the track; a far cry from the scene a few minutes earlier when H and Kitty went tearing around in clouds of dust and handbrake turns.
Pip and I finished the day as we started, as he made repeated attempts to sprint straight out of the door of the soft play and back into the playground but I’m pretty sure that the last couple of attempts were just to test that I’d still follow.
It was hard to mind. Coated in ice cream, dust and a good bucketful of sand, and at that point where tiredness just starts to become overwhelming, he looked like the epitome of the best sort of day out – and so it had been.
Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments