Regular readers of this blog will know that we are very blessed in our area by having lots of home-ed groups to choose from. There are regular meetings on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at various locations. We hadn't been to the Friday group for far too long and that was put right today.
It had been organised that the group would meet at The Butterfly and Otter Sanctuary at Buckfastleigh. We had an amazingly fabulous time. The group members made us feel really welcome and we had great chats and met new families. We listened to a really informative talk by otter keeper Matt when we arrived and then we were set free to explore.
We had visited the sanctuary before, a long time ago, and wasn't that impressed if I'm being honest. We seemed to shoot around the area in ultra quick time and then moan at how much the short jaunt had cost us. Not this time. Although nothing has really changed at the centre, I think I have changed. I've become more, erm, grown up I guess. I've become more studious, more thoughtful, more of a searcher. I appreciate things a lot more, noticing the little things and admiring the wonder that is life. I am now so grateful for all I have and all I experience. Happily, I see the same occurring in my children. They too appreciate all that life has to offer. They wonder at nature - eagerly watching nature documentaries and having a real thirst for knowledge and the natural world. I loved watching each child as they searched for the butterflies in the 'hot house', they stooped down low and stood high on tippy toes to see if they could view the at times rather elusive creatures. Each butterfly or moth that was spotted was met with an excited (but respectfully quiet) squeal of "look look!" accompanied by wide-eyed joy and curiosity, their expression could have easily portrayed their delight at finding buried treasure.
We walked around and around the 'hot house', each lap discovering a new species or a different encounter. We were in awe of the large (very large) Koi Carp, loved watching (at close quarters) the terrapins - which Taisia referred to as "Rocks". That made me smile.
I stupidly forgot to take my all singing all dancing camera, so had to make do with the camera setting on my mobile phone. The pictures are not up to the usual quality because of this, but you get an idea of what we saw.
Some of the butterflies...
If you have a look closely at the photo above, you can just see the butterfly using it's tongue for feeding. We likened the tongue to those party blowouts that unravel as you blow, it was a similar uncurling movement.
And the "Rocks"...
Then on to the otters. We had timed our visit to the otter section to coincide with their feeding time. We listened to another keeper (Tim) give a talk, and really enjoyed learning more about the otters and their lives - both in captivity and in the wild.
I do have to write down for the good of home-education public relations that just how well behaved and interested all of the children in the group were was noticed by the keeper and commented on, so a big high five to all that represented home-education in such a positive way.
We will certainly be making a return visit one day soon.
In the evening the teens headed off to their youth club meeting and the rest of us wet out for dinner with my parents. The teens were of course invited to the meal but the youth club had organised a big bouncy castle and well, we just couldn't compete with that could we?