4 hours ago
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
The packing fairies have been visiting this weekend. It's been great catching up with them. As we are suffering from a bad dose of April showers at the moment, we decided to take a trip to Tropical World, just down the road from us. Indoors, warm and most importantly dry. The day before, on their journey up from Kent, the packing fairies had decided to call Mrs Beeton and ask her if she would like to accompany us. She had said yes.
Shortly before we were due to set off, the telephone rang;
"Hello." I answered, as you would.
"Oh hello, it's only me, (Mrs Beeton), I was just thinking, would you prefer to go to the garden centre instead, they have animals there you know."
Now I should point out at this stage that Mrs Beeton is not the best explorer, she tends to prefer familiar ground, which for her is the local supermarket or the garden centre, and she likes to get her own way.
"I'm not sure that Bizziebot, (grandchild #1), would fully appreciate the garden centre, she is sort of looking forward to seeing the insects etc at Tropical World." I replied.
"Hmm, well you don't really need me there do you I'll be alright here on my own."
"It's not a case of 'needing' you there so much as they would like you to be there." I was trying to stay polite. Mrs Beeton has a way of making steam appear from places you didn't know existed.
"Well this weather is so awful, it doesn't seem fair to take the little ones out in it. You could come round here if you like. If it were me I wouldn't take them out in this rain but then I suppose times change, don't they."
Yes they bloody well do, we don't use Shanksies pony anymore, we have cars. No we are not going to the garden centre, or to your house, we are going to Tropical World, with or without you.
"Yes I suppose they have. You don't have to worry about the children, they are well wrapped up and we will be in the car and then inside when we get there. So shall we pick you up, they will be disappointed if you don't come?" I said, calmly.
In her best 'feeble' voice she answered yes. What was I thinking, I should have known better.
So having packed everything bar the kitchen sink for our expedition we set off in convoy. As we approached Tropical World the clouds darkened and the heavens opened in a torrential downpour. But as it was only a short dash to the entrance we decided to brave the elements. The packing fairies were already prepared, they were out of the car, Benjamin Bunny, (grandchild #2), safely tucked inside his Dad's coat and they had cleared the barrier before his Lordship and Bizziebot had made it halfway across the car park. That only left Mrs Beeton and me... great. Ok so she is 84yrs old, but I have to say a very spritely 84yr old, believe me if you've ever seen her muscling her way into the mark downs at the supermarket, you wouldn't mess with her. But today she was not going to play, so, it took us almost ten minutes to cross the now flooded car park. Feet soaking, hair drenched and dripping we entered the ticket office.
We started our tour of with the insects, Madagascan hissing cockroaches, locusts, millipedes, spiders, all good stuff, Bizziebot was suitably grossed out, as was Mrs Beeton. (No I wasn't gloating, I was too busy trying to de-mist my glasses.) Then we entered the butterfly room and as we stepped inside the heat hit us. Steam began to rise from my sodden clothes, and a mist descended all around us. I took my coat off and slid it under my arm, ah relief. The butterflies were flying everywhere, so many different sorts it was an amazing spectacle. As we meandered through the paths they would flutter past and occasionally land nearby allowing closer inspection. But there's always one.
As I neared the exit a rather larger than average butterfly was for some reason completely mesmerised by my nose, the damn thing kept trying to land on it. Ok so it might look like something from the last iceage, my nose, not the butterfly. I am I have to say not normally taken to panic with insects, however when something the size of crow decides to land on your noggin, it is a natural reaction to try and deter it. I thought a gentle nudge with my hand would do the trick. Unfortunately the combined force of it's determination to land and mine to bat it away resulted in a very dazed and confused butterfly flapping about on the floor. Ah... well I could hardly leave it flapping about where someone might stand on it, so I opted for plan b. There was a hand rail next to the path, so I scooped the aforementioned flapper up and placed it gently on the the lower rail. Safe. As I began to step away I suddenly noticed that beneath the path there was a pond, a pond full of the most enormous carp I have ever seen in my life. Before I could retrieve the now recovering flapper from the rail, it managed to wriggle to the edge and gracefully float down into the wide open mouth of one of the waiting enormous carp. Gulp!
I looked around quickly to see if anyone else had witnessed what had just occurred. A small boy stood a couple of feet away staring open mouthed, remarkably similar to the carp in fact. I gave him a smile and lifted my finger to my lips tipping him a wink. He returned my smile, then at the top of his voice yelled, "Mummy, that lady... Before he had time to finish I had dashed for the exit and was mingling furiously with the crowd in the nocturnal habitat. I managed to catch up with the packing fairies and his Lordship in the desert room. As we stood watching the meerkats it suddenly dawned on us that one of our party was missing. We had lost Mrs Beeton somewhere in the jungle.
"Well you had her last, where did you leave her?" his Lordship asked accusingly.
"She's not the flipping telly remote you know." I rounded, "if we all split up and take a section each we'll track her down. We'll meet back here in fifteen minutes."
I decided to backtrack through the nocturnal habitat. It was dark, obviously, with only the thin red gleam of the low level lighting. I scanned the bodies huddled in front of the exhibits, all too tall, or too young, then out of my eye corner I spotted the cotton tufts of white hair glinting from beneath the hat. I headed over and took her arm.
"Where have you been? We've been worried sick about you." I demanded. The arm pulled away only to be replaced by another much stronger arm on my shoulder.
"Ere, what the ell are you doin. Get yer ands off me Gran." Came the gruff reply.
Same height, same hat, same hair. Wrong old lady. Apologies spluttered, I headed back into the Butterfly room, past the scene of my earlier 'incident', through the insect room and back out into the ticket office. There sitting by the ticket desk, cup of tea in hand was Mrs Beeton along with another lady. It appeared that she had just sat down for a moment whilst we were looking at the butterflies and got talking to the other old lady now sitting next to her. When she had got up to follow we had gone. After yet more apologies to the nice young man on the ticket desk, who told me that this sort of thing happens all the time, but we really should keep a closer eye on them, Mrs Beeton and I headed back to where the rest were waiting for us.
From then on Bizziebot took it upon herself to look after Mrs Beeton, hand held tight they 'oohed', squirmed and giggled their way to the end. I on the other hand kept my hands firmly in my pockets and stuck to the middle of the path head bowed. Just another day in the Yorkshire Tropics!!
Posted by St Jude at 8:01 am