Monday, 3 January 2011

Getting Our Skates On

Yesterday was a really special day. It began with a typical exchange over breakfast, the kind that makes me marvel at my daughter's playful approach to language.

Gertie detected that the marmalade on her toast was "too blimpetty". When I raised an enquiring eyebrow she explained patiently that that meant that it "gets right on your tongue and makes it hurt a bit". ('Sharp', I concluded to myself, but chose not to share it, since blimpetty seemed a much more apt description.)

She then observed that marmalade was obviously for mummies, really, because it had the 'marm' sound in it. I didn't think I ought to mention Daddy's penchant for marmite at that point.

But then we headed up to London to visit Grandpa Mac and after a quick coffee and lots of presents at Victoria Station, we decided on the Natural History museum as a good way to spend the day. It must be twenty years since I have been there myself and although it might be a bit beyond Gilby, my sponge of a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter would certainly get something from it.

But it took us a long while to get there, because as we came out of the tube station at South Kensington we were confronted by the temporary ice-skating rink. Isn't that nice, I thought. We can watch all the other people skating round and it still feels Christmassy. Gertie had other ideas. "Can we do it, Mum? Dad?"

Mum and Dad tossed for the pleasure. (Not entirely sure about that sentence; let me confirm that we tossed a coin...) I lost, and found myself clutching two pairs of skates while Daddy and Grandpa clutched a baby and a poised camera, respectively.

It did not begin well. The intervening time between me last donning a pair of skates is probably close to that of my last visit to the museum, so I wasn't exactly 'solid' on the ice. Gertie had no idea what she was letting herself in for, and it took us fifteen minutes to edge our way down to the little learner-rink with several slips along the way. Gertie had no balance at all. We finally got there and I left her clinging on to Daddy on the other side of the wall while I skated back to try and purchase a £5 stabilising penguin for her to cling on too. No luck. All the penguins were already taken. This was looking like a disastrous idea. Then some kind soul lent us their penguin, and we were off. Slowly, inching, but we were definitely off. The pleasure on her face as Gertie edged a few feet forwards without falling was amazing to see. And she picked herself up each time she did fall over with admirable determination. After another fifteen minutes she was ready to let go of the penguin, and skate over (very slowly and cautiously) to me.

"I'm doing it, I'm doing it!" She was thrilled and so was I. And it meant I got to skate off in the big rink for a few moments (badly and without the grace of many of the other skaters, but I was doing it, I was doing it, too!)

The museum was fantastic. How scary is that T-rex model? I struggled to explain volcanoes to Gertie, but she quite liked that exhibit anyway. Her favourite thing was the wave-machine. I think that might be on next year's Christmas list to Santa, which could cause problems. Daddy was in his element in 'Creepy Crawlies'. I can't wait to do it all again when Gilby is a bit older.

The two of them giggled all the way home on the train, even though it was an hour past bedtime by the time we got back.

Why do I have to go back to work tomorrow? Oh yes, because we wouldn't be able to do stuff like that if I didn't, I remember now.


  1. I've never seen those penguins before (or any other stabilising animal!) what a great idea.
    The Natural History museum is fab, if only it wasn't so tricky to get to on public transport with a buggy.

  2. I know - you need extra pairs of hands to negotiate the tube. I wouldn't be brave enough on my own!