Promises and Paignton Zoo


The last promise I couldn’t keep was in October. Toby knew I was unwell that morning and I promised him I would not go into hospital again – of course I ended up having a two weeks stay at Torbay Hospital due to another disabling relapse; but in Toby’s eyes, his mummy had lied and he struggled so much in those weeks. I told myself to never promise like that again…

Mothers Day 2016 and I have done it again, I promised the boys I would take them to the zoo and we would have a lovely picnic, we would stop at every play place for a few minutes and they could choose an ice cream as a treat. Two days ago my left arm became all but useless, my speech is horrible and I seemed to be slipping once more into another relapse. The difference is, I bloody well will not let them down and I will get to the zoo and buy my boys an ice cream.

We have been members at Paignton Zoo for over 6 years now, and we love going, it has something for everyone, I love the Gibbons and the Ape House, the boys however bypass most animals in seconds, they may take a fact or two on board, but really they just want to whizz down the curly slide (they are very excited about the Swiss Family Robinson style tree top park that should be open for the Easter Holidays).   So when our new normal began on 1st September, I remember crying about never being able to go to the Giraffes house or maybe never the zoo after so many years of pushing buggies up hills to see gentle giants or being able to find the infamous red pandas. It is amusing now I guess that I was so focused on this when there were so many other more pressing problems, like being able to move my arms!!

This morning, I was woken up by my two chimps who covered the bed in a host of colourful homemade love filled cards for Mothers Day. We ate chocolate in bed followed by breakfast on the sofa whilst watching Match of the Day.. then we headed for the zoo.  I can barely use my left arm today, my left leg feels like the weight of a fallen oak tree and my speech makes me sound like I added far too much brandy to my coffee, but, I had to get to our promised place.

We arrived at the zoo and due to the wonderful service they provide, those first thoughts all those months ago were put to rest and for a small fee I hired one of their many sturdy mobility scooters. There are very few places you cannot access using a scooter and I do giggle when the wibbly wobbly bridge in the lemur enclosure is mentioned as an out of bounds area. But you have full access to pretty much everything, the paths are all in good condition, there are a number of accessible toilets and the staff are second to none.

Today, I got to choose where we started (Giraffes via the bats snakes red river hogs and camels to name but a few)   and worked our way around. All the giraffes were out, the black rhinos were strolling around their enclosure and the silverback put on a great show. The tigers prowled and the lions roared. It felt like today they were putting on a show just for us and at my favourite spot over looking the elephant and giraffe enclosure, we all ate ice creams.

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