WE WENT TO THE ANIMAL FAIR: The diary of a novice grandparent.


With a new school year upon us and our daughter back at work after maternity leave, today was the first time as grandparents that we had been called upon to provide a full day of child care. Given how out of practice we were, it is perhaps unsurprising that, having decided to visit Marwell Zoo, our trip there was not one that was without incident.

Firstly, having been foiled by the complexities of the child stroller, we had to accost a young couple to seek their expert advice on how to unfold it. Later, watching it roll with ever increasing speed down the hill on which we had parked it, we realised we would have done well to have asked them how we might have gone about applying the brakes!

Secondly, having chosen the soporific atmosphere of the tropical house to rest their eyes a while, one of our number was mistaken for a two-toed sloth by an individual who seemed ignorant of how it remains a grandfather’s prerogative to take an impromptu 40 winks whenever and wherever he sees fit.

And finally, imagine our dismay when, come lunchtime, we realised we’d left the picnic our charge’s mother had lovingly made him at their home. Undaunted and eager to make up for our incompetence we acted quickly and, aware of our grandson’s fondness for soft fruit, slipped him into the lemur enclosure at feeding time only to watch with horror when it turned out that bananas were not on today’s menu!

Hopefully we’ll do better tomorrow!


Having unaccountably been once more entrusted with our grandson, today we took him to the Weald and Downland Museum in Singleton, West Sussex.

Perhaps as a result of the concerning but ultimately overly pessimistic forecast for inclement weather, security was less tight than normal and I was able therefore to sneak on to the set of The Repair Shop, the popular BBC TV series that is filmed there.

Concealed beneath Will’s workbench, I was afforded the opportunity to watch as, on the first full day of her premiership, the new Prime Minister, arrived clutching a large hessian sack from which she pulled broken Britain.

And so I can reveal that in a special edition of the show that will be broadcast later in the year, a teary eyed Liz Truss will be shown reminiscing about the country she once knew. I witnessed her asking Jay Blades and the team if they could restore healthy trade relations with Europe, get the NHS fully functional again and see to it that the nation’s population would once more be able to afford both food and heating. Finally in a move that will be popular with traditionalists, I heard her enquiring if anything could be done to remove the stain ‘The Hundred’ has left on the domestic cricket season. Calling on both Dom and Susie to assist in the restoration, Jay said it was a big ask but he promised they’d do their very best.

Outside the barn, and for reasons that weren’t altogether clear, Sir Keir Starmer was being interviewed for tonight’s edition of Newsnight. He heralded the move as a victory for common sense. ‘With all these expert crafts people on hand, the answer has been staring us in the face all this time – it’s a wonder that nobody thought of it sooner!’ the Labour leader said before going on to enquire if horologist Steve could take a look at his watch as he’d noticed that it’s inner workings were a little sticky on occasions.

As I made my way to leave I met Boris Johnson who was heading towards the barn carrying the tattered remains of his political career.

‘Good luck with that’ I said to him as we crossed, imagining as I did so that not even the combined efforts of Brenton, Sonnaz and Lucia would be able to give it the spotless finish he desired.

But aside from all of this, ours was a highly educational visit. Even our ten month old charge appears to have learnt a new word for, as we drove out of the car park, I swear I heard him vocalising something that, to me at least, sounded a lot like ‘Kersh-ton’!


With our services not required today we braved the wet weather before settling down in the evening to watch another excellent episode of The Repair Shop. I noticed that the illuminated sign in the title sequence appears to have a some dodgy wiring. You’d have thought they could find someone to fix that.


Today I learnt yet another way to fail as a grandad.

If you throw your one year old grandson down a rather steep slide and then, when you follow him down, misjudge the speed of your own descent, you will discover together that, as your heads collide, that they are both rather harder than the rest of the equipment in the soft play centre. I suppose it was inevitable that one of us would end up in tears. Don’t worry though, the bruise on my forehead is now fading nicely!


‘I can’t look at him without feeling sick’

These are words that nobody wants to hear said of them, still less when they spoken by one of your grandparents. Even so, it was with just such an utterance, that my grandson’s time today with us began.

And thus it was that I had to try and explain to a devastated one year old that his Grandma’s pronouncement was simply a consequence of her aging inner ear and the nausea inducing turn of the head that was required of her if she was going to keep an eye on him whilst he was strapped into the back seat of the car.

That we might one day be able to show at least some semblance of concern for our grandson was, however, cast further into doubt when it later emerged that we had neglected to bring any water for him to drink. This was undeniably regrettable, but did at least serve to reduce to a bare minimum, the number of nappy changes we were required to undertake. Which was nice.

Finally, to finish on another positive, whilst we were out, we were afforded the opportunity to see some wildlife. We were all quite cold, but this furry fellow was a little otter!


Other Repair Shop Blogs:

To read ‘Brian and Stumpy visit ‘The Repair Shop’, click here

To read ‘The Repair Shop’, click here

To read ‘The State of Disrepair Shop’, click here

4 responses to “WE WENT TO THE ANIMAL FAIR: The diary of a novice grandparent.”

  1. I am always fascinated by the correlation between a baby stroller and a cricket match both are equally difficult to understand to the uninitiated. Who and what, does what, when and how! I will ponder a little longer with the beautifully described imagery in my mind while enjoying 30+ c in sunny France tho last nights thunder storm probably adequately described the “stroller fiasco”. 150% for trying!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope you continue to enjoy sunny France even if, like us in not quite so balmy Winchester, you too have had to dodge the showers. If it’s any consolation to you, there are but three weeks of the cricket season left but I should perhaps warn you that there may yet be one cricket related epic on its way, one that may even disturb you, though not in the way you might expect!


  2. […] WE WENT TO THE ANIMAL FAIR: The diary of a novice grandparent. […]


  3. […] WE WENT TO THE ANIMAL FAIR: The diary of a novice grandparent. […]


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