Despite the sum of all its parts not being exactly zen, this weekend was, overall, a warm-fuzzy-feeling generator. It is Super PG’s third birthday on Sunday and because he’s having a “party” with his friends at the local soft play centre that day (stuffing cake followed by some careering around and extreme bouncing), we decided to spend last weekend doing some of his favourite things.
On Saturday we took him to Animaparc near Toulouse. This is a great place to take young kids. Disneyland it is not, but it is full of fairground rides for little people (they even have a small pirate ship, which is actually a dog, and a large pirate ship for the bigger children).
Other highlights include: a carousel (with fire engines, horses and boats), tiny trains, Indian kayaks, tractor ride, adventure playground, water ride, mini roller coaster (not that Super PG will go anywhere near it) and a farm animal area, which includes sheep, goats, donkeys, horses, lamas, pigs and rabbits.
Anyone else spend two hours on Saturday afternoon riding around on a blue tractor in the blistering heat? Just us, then – and actually not for the first time. There is barely anything that makes Super PG happier than riding the “blue cack-teurrre” (blue tractor).
In his life, it’s a close call between tractors and diggers, but tractors win (especially tractors with trailers or “morques” as he calls them, because “remorque” is trailer in French), and his favourite colour is blue, so voila.
Super PG is getting chattier by the day and he said lots of new things this weekend. The baby goat was “soo cuuute” and the rabbits were “so sweeeet”. Never heard him say those words before. The landscape at one point, which he saw from the car on the way, was “so pretty” – that kind of floored me! And there was more to come the following day, which was spent at Sigean Safari Park in Languedoc.
Months ago I had asked Super PG what he wanted to do for his birthday and he told me he wanted to “see les elephongs”. I found a place up past Bordeaux that had elephants and then realised that Sigean had them too. Here you can see the zebras, buffaloes, lions and other wild animals first in the car, then walk around on foot to do the rest. It takes about four hours to do the lot.
Over the years I’ve been on quite a few safaris, and not just at Longleat in the UK, but in South Africa and Kenya, too. For the latter, the Jeep driver taking us around Tsavo National Park was “complètement givré” – this means “completely insane” in French, and the French version expresses the madness so much better than anything I can think of in English.
We raced around the dirt tracks to the sound of white noise from his conked-out radio and knocked over a large bird (presumably a protected species) who was crossing the road, because our “guide” was going too fast and couldn’t stop or even swerve out of the way. Honestly, I hated the safari, for the most part because of this dodgy bloke (there is so much more to say about him) – that is until I came almost face to face with an elephant, which was simultaneously incredible and terrifying.
Then we had dinner overlooking the elephants’ water hole at sunset, which was one of most glorious sights I have ever seen.
Once in South Africa, I was swimming in a public area located in the middle of the safari park with my parents (papy and nana, who also came on safari with us to Sigean) and aunt, when a herd of rhinoceroses entered. It wasn’t long before they started to march towards us. I was in a panic, but my parents failed to comprehend the gravity of the situation and still to this day find the whole incident hilarious.
Fortunately, two safari staff were on their way to the pool for a swim and saved the day. How? They simply stood in front of the herd and clapped loudly, then the rhinos ran away. Who knew? What would we have done if they hadn’t been there? I thought I was going to die.
So, all that to say that I’m kind of nervous about safaris and especially about the lions actually – particularly after the recent and tragic news story about the film editor on Game of Thrones who was fatally bitten by a lioness through the window on safari in Africa.
What made the experience so much better was realising the depth of empathy that Super PG has even at this young age. On entry into the lion enclosure I barked: “Right, windows closed, no stopping and no noise…sshh baby girl.”
My poor husband. “Babe,” he said, holding my hand. “It’s gonna be okay.”
Super PF was yelling, as she was starting to get hungry. I had her on my lap so that she wouldn’t scream in her car seat all the way round, and so that I could feed her if necessary. Of course we had to make that decision right at the start as you can’t get out of the car and remove her once you’re on the wild animal circuit (unless you’re my parents in which case you probably would).
Super H told Super PG that mummy was a bit stressed because she was scared of lions. Then Super PG put his hand on my arm, looked me in the eye and said: “No worry, mummy, iz all fine.” Followed by: “Pas gentil, le lion.” (The lion isn’t nice.)
He kept his hand on my arm pretty much the whole time. No words.
Having left the wild animal circuits alive, we parked up and headed for the restaurant. This was overcomplicated by the fact that nana is terrified of snakes – she cannot even look at them on the television or in books – and bizarrely along the barriers of the packed-out, single-file lunch queue, which was horrifyingly long, they had an assortment of snakes on display in glass tanks.
She totally freaked out, left and wouldn’t come back; I was wrestling with Super PF who was tired and starting to cry; Super PG was having a tantrum because he was hangry; and papy was about to be devastated by news that the chip fryer was broken.
After lunch we visited the “elephongs”. We were lucky enough to see them walking along trunk in tail, and also drinking from the top of a waterfall.
The first sighting of them by Super PG was accompanied by a huge “Woooooow”. I was happy to finally fulfil his wishes for his birthday weekend, but, I kid you not, a few minutes later he totally lost interest and was scrabbling around on the ground playing the lion, pretending to bite everybody’s legs and sticking his head up nana’s top.
After visiting the elephants, chimpanzees, giraffes, giant tortoises and various other animals, we decided to have a cold drink and ice cream at the café.
Hubby busied himself making up a bottle of milk and gave it to Super PG to pass it along the table to me for Super PF.
Handing me the bottle, Super PG said (astonishingly): “Here you are babe,” curiously in a perfect Kent accent (which is where I grew up in the UK).
I think I’m still in shock! 😂
Really hope that you had a good weekend too and thanks for stopping by!