Posted by Cass - 14 July 2014
Having reached three score years and ten I wonder what possessed me to decide to take a class of 6 year olds Pond Dipping and Mini Beast Hunting.
I love going on trips with the kids and this was an opportunity not to be missed. I think I am still a big kid myself.
I learned some new facts so the day was not wasted.
Equipped with a plastic spoon and a specimen jar with a magnifying lid we started our search for mini beasts.
Adam shouted "Look Cass there's an ostrich" It was a peacock!
Followed shortly after by an excited voice from the bushes. "Cass, I've caught a rabbit! Can I put it in my jar?" I informed him he could and as the jar was only three inches across - wished him luck under my breath.
Ben, pointing to the bushes, told me he had seen a cow. Unfortunately there are no cows in Holland Park. Last year, we did have pigs in the park, but alas no cows.
I wonder what they had for breakfast - think I want some.
Tiya would not go near the pond and stayed well back by the fence. I thought this was because she did not want to fall in or get muddy. (Kids hate mud these days)
I then realised that she looked genuinely scared and asked her what was the matter. In a tremulous little voice she informed me "Cass there might be crocodiles in the water". I told her it was highly unlikely in this country.
The kids had a wonderful time lying on their bellies and fishing in the pond. They were amazed when they emptied their little nets into the trays of water and saw things swimming around. Water-boatman, leeches, tiny snails and baby newts were part of our haul.
So many children in Central London live in blocks of flat and only go to Westfield Shopping Centre at the weekends and do not get the experience of really seeing nature.
Taking them to the park to do something that was not part of their normal route was a true eye opener.
One little boy who is very shy and diffident in all he does, really excelled at this activity and he found a tiny white spider, a sun beetle, a worm, a wood louse and a black beetle. He was top of the class for that. We also found a tiny frog and the kids were fascinated by it and kept asking if it was real.
Life is so different for kids nowadays because they live in a concrete jungle and travel everywhere by car. When I was a kid living in Bexley we were out all day playing in the woods and getting muddy. We took a packed lunch and a bottle of orange juice and stayed out until it got dark. We went fishing in the local stream with a net made by my granddad from one of my nan's stocking, a piece of wire and a cane. (There must have been paedophiles about and kids must have got murdered but we did not hear about them)
When we got back my mum made us strip down to our pants in the conservatory (a posh name for our lean-to) and straight into the bathroom to get clean. She never told us off for getting dirty. It was part of childhood.
I got home quite exhausted and changed out of my muddy things and had a really good nights sleep. What a fantastic day!