Poo Sticks and Slugs

Poo Sticks, Hadrian’s Wall and Slugs

 pooh_sticksHadrians Wall built on the Whin Sill at Steel RiggAlys-Fowler-Slugs-and-sna-007

There are things Father’s should pass on to their kids, regardless of gender. These should include, and many hidden from their Mother for reasons you will see clearly in a moment. For example:

  • Where to hit a guy (as I have two daughters) if they are getting a bit too fresh;
  • Where to hit a guy so they don’t get up for a while if they are more than a bit fresh;
  • How to defend themselves generally;
  • How to say no to drugs;
  • How to spit frozen sweet corn and frozen peas;
  • How to use a peashooter – safely of course, although back of the head shots are permissible;
  • Snow ball fights;
  • Camping;
  • Learning about woods and tree houses;
  • Burping – especially when safely away from ones Wife and their Mother so as not to incur a level of wrath guaranteed to spoil the weekend (well for me anyway);


I was definitely into the great out-doors and took the kids hiking and walking over Hadrian’s Wall, which did on one occasion lead to my eldest jumping off the wall and onto my foot when I told her, “Get down!” She claims it was my fault for standing in the way and telling her to descend, which she did comply with, spoiling her fun. She forgets it was part of the wall that had on one side a six foot jump down and onto my foot, or on the other a 100ft drop minimum onto sharp rocks at the bottom of the cliff on the South side of a very long, deep, lake! I did try to steer them towards the less dangerous activities, dangerous to me that is.


I was also proud to do Poo-Sticks with my daughters at every opportunity, always fun. I was instrumental in teaching them to burp, and that’s not an easy HER%20~1skill to learn to control the release of air – but I will save that story for another time. I was, as you now know I have a love of nature, passionate about all the creatures we find in the garden, so I took it upon myself to teach my daughters not to be afraid of the more creepy crawly residents of the borders, grasses and trees. My daughter recalled stroking fluffy bees as they indulged on nectar from the flowers and not once was she stung, as if they knew she was a child and fascinated by these insects that by rights should not be able to fly, yet flit from flower to flower so delicately despite their mass and filling leg bags. I didn’t achieve much with their hatred of spiders, but I was on a loser as my Angel would run screaming through the house every time she saw one. Definitely a case of learned behaviour that I have never been able to address despite positive and negative reinforcement programmes, all failed miserably! Now I have three adults screaming through the house and a cat that walks in the opposite direction. The vacuum cleaner is well used to having occupants of the spider variety whizzing round in its Dyson turbo wind vortex.


SlugSn3I was equally unsuccessful after an incident involving slugs, although the story causes some amusement to my sprogs; at my expense of course. They were young and we lived deep in the countryside in an Elizabeth 1st period house with a high walled garden, which was well established with all sorts of flowers, which just bloomed and bloomed. Equally exceptional was the level of slugs, never seen so many, I wondered if this was the breeding ground for some plot to flood the world with slimy, slippery, liquorish black slugs. My children were a little apprehensive about these slithering destroyers of leaves. So I did what I always did with such apprehensions about the less attractive side of Mother Nature, I showed them that getting up close and personal would not hurt and they were harmless (except to my blinking plants). I made light of them saying they could not hurt us and just left a slime trail wherever they went, and I handled one. My girls squealed with revulsion and an equal measure of pure pleasure, we spent hours in those safe walled gardens when they were so young, so innocent.


Now they have boyfriends, temper tantrums, mood swings, A’ Level anxiety, spending sprees which make me weep and the list goes on. They are such high maintenance and for each year of their lives it would seem they doubled in cost to keep them!!!!!!!!!!!!! I do feel like a wallet on wheels at times and only ever invited to shopping malls when money is needed – does that ring a bell with other parents, I suspect it does? I also expect that those with teenagers are used to very moody teenagers who suddenly become pleasurable to be around when something is needed – ho-hum, the joys of parenting.


So as the giggles increased and their screeches became more piercing as the slug slimed its way round my hand, I felt I was losing the point of this demo, to desensitise them to these totally disgusting creatures. So what was a Father to do? Should I get them to stroke the beasty – nope there was no way they were going to do that, even with bribes of potential visits to the sweets and crisps cupboard. Time for a new tactic, and somewhere in the back of my mind I read, I was sure I read, that in some countries they ate them, yes I was convinced that this cloudy bit of information was based in reality and not just a figment of my often wrong mind (just ask my wife and she will tell you just how wrong I am and equally just how often). However, I was equally convinced that they had actually cooked these slimy slithering pests in a pan with garlic, salt, onions, etc., So not wanting to incur the wrath of my wife by cooking one in one of her pans, I had a eureka moment, an idea that would show my daughters such gross gel producing, boneless, stomach retching slugs were not to be feared, and their Father would be triumphant once more in the presence of his children.


With hindsight I would have been much better off doing what I do now, fund with copious amounts of money and let them run round the house screaming with a vacuum cleaner in hand, as they do presently when a spider dares to grace us with a visit, shortly before it finds itself in a Dyson ‘vortex’ spinning through what seem like a black-hole to the little spider. In my defence I was caught up in the moment and was focussed on being a strong role model for my children, and what does a positive, strong role model do? He finds himself saying. “Look they are perfectly harmless; they even eat them in some countries!” Followed by me licking the slug that was covered by now in a hand full of thick gooey phlegm like solution – the girls screamed and ran like darts for the house, for which I was grateful.


Grateful so they did not see me nearly throw up with the taste, gagging violently, to then feel first my tongue and then my mouth and H0GvXthroat go numb, utterly numb. I really do mean utterly numb as if I have visited the dentist (which I think are butchers by the way – another story) and had injections in upper and lower gums all round. I was literally dribbling and unable to control any aspect of my mouth and was in some discomfort. That’s when you realise the downside of living in the beautiful Northumberland countryside:


One – there are creatures great and small that can do you some harm and definitely lull you into a false sense of security;


Two – you’re a bloody long way from an Accident and Emergency Department when you need one, and when you realise that you need one it seems further!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I wasn’t sure whether I should go to Accident and Emergency, but I didn’t want to worry my daughters who I was, foolishly, in charge of as my wife was working. Using hindsight again, I do wonder now how my kids have turned out so well considering some of my teachings, which were in many cases utterly wrong. I looked up slugs and found that actually they are edible but their slime is highly poisonous to prevent birds and other creatures feeding off them – well I was half right. There was a big warning saying slugs produce copious amounts of this poisonous slime when picked up – hmmmmm, wish I had read this before I went into the garden that day. However, the numbness was wearing off so I was either about to die or recover, and as you can see the latter prevailed. However this story is told on many occasions – I would like the reader to note that never by me though, always at my expense!


And with this confession that I tried, foolishly though, to reduce my children’s fear of small creatures, I did nearly kill myself in this pursuit, on more than one occasion but that may be better for another blog and on another occasion.


Jonathan Wade


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