All summer long, the children have been waiting to go on vacation. To my utter sadness, we could not book a holiday to Italy. Not when we still have not paid off the house paint from last year, bought on credit card. But oh would it have been nice to have had sun, sun, sun and bathing, in both the mediterranean and a pool. I have gone for a dip three times this summer and they were dips, nothing else, since the weather has not been conducive to staying in the water at all. My brave children have gone every day though, with their dad, in the cold, in the rain, in the wind, at around 18:00. But nothing will make me do that! So summer went past too quickly and did not contain the necessary weather, for it to have felt like a proper summer.
I did want to take the children on some kind of vacation this year though. But what? Everything is so horribly expensive. “Gubby” had the answer: Legoland! He is always up for going to Legoland. He watches the roller coaster rides on YouTube most days and asks me almost every day, if we are going there. So this year, I said, why not? All the tax return money was put aside for this trip, just to make it nice for the boys. Because at an early stage, I decided to only take the boys, leaving the girls behind. Less stressful and much nicer for the rest of us. The boys are autistic and can’t deal with the girls’ constant warfare, their constant bickering. They showed me last year in France, that they can’t even behave when on vacation. They could not care less where we are and that one has to show consideration to other people, who do not want to listen to the girls’ fighting and verbal abuse, on THEIR vacation.
Not just that, but they both hate “Boo” and push all buttons, so he will explode. And they are not much nicer towards “Kitty”. F. started karate kicking “Kitty” on the beach in Boulogne-sur-Mer, last year. While I tried to keep “Gubby” safe, I watched in horror how T. tried to stand in between the two, since “Kitty” was not going to take that sort of abuse, starting to kick back. So one 15-year-old so-called normal girl, kicking an 11-year-old autistic boy with ADHD, and then the reverse. T. could not do anything to separate the two, since “Kitty” went on to melt down. All French people sat up on their blankets to watch the spectacle, especially the grandmother and her little grandson, sitting next to us. I have NEVER been so ashamed in my life, so I grabbed “Gubby’s” hand and walked across the beach as quickly as I could, to the car. I will never get over that traumatic incident and F.’s response to the entire thing: “Who cares, we will never see those people again!”. With that attitude, I have decided to never bring her along on a family vacation again. And this time, I had a perfect excuse. One does not take a person out of school for two days, when the person has just started gymnasium.
My initial plan, was to drive over the bridge to Jylland, 2 september, in the afternoon. But then “Gubby” started saying that we must go to the zoo as well, like in previous years. And it did make sense. I had found a holiday let, at a farm in Give, right between Givskud Zoo and Legoland, and since I did not want to first sit and fight traffic, before spending an entire day at Legoland, I did book an extra night, so we would be in place, all ready on the 3rd. Why not use that one day in a less strenuous way, than Legoland? So, my plan was, head out at 07:00, in order to make the Camel feed at Givskud Zoo, stay the night in Give, go to Legoland on the 3rd and 4th September, and sleep that last night in Give as well. Monday 5th September, we had to clean the flat and head back home for “Gubby’s” formal Birthday celebration!
As usual, time flew by and I did not get packed little by little, during the week ahead of departure. No, it all had to be last-minute, as usual, and I slept poorly that night. Writing this a week after the fact, since my iPad had an “accident” in transit to Give and had to be reset to manufacture’s level. Big sigh! My plan for leaving at 07:00, of course did not come true, since my husband puts the brakes on when we are in a hurry. But I did manage to get everyone out the door by 07:20. We headed for the petrol station and I had three excited boys in the back, expecting “Piggelin”, a sugar specked popsicle. All summer long, the petrol station has given those out to children, when the parents have bought petrol. “Boo” ran in to fetch them and came back mighty upset, saying that they were no longer doing that deal. I walked in, since he usually misunderstands things, his feelings taking over. But sure enough, they stopped on the 31st August, since summer was officially over. I could not go out with that message, so I grabbed three ice-cream sandwiches, feeling that, a better “breakfast” for them and there were shouts of glee when I got back to the car. They did not need to know that I paid for them!
Traffic was heavy that Friday morning and we were not doing good time at all. After an hour and a half, T. had had enough of driving and after a short stop at a roadside loo, in a disgusting condition, I sat down behind the wheel and when mamma drives, let’s say she drives! Unfortunately, when we got over to Jylland, to a round-about nearby Vejle, our Jane pulled a Jane on us. Jane? Our GPS who sounds like Jane Fairfax in the Kate Beckinsale version of “Emma”. Her most famous thing to do, is asking us to “make a U-turn” on the Autobahn, or saying “now turn sharp left”, meaning that we should drive out in the Ocean or out on to a field or something. But now, she did her latest thing. She fell off the map. Just an orange arrow out in utter whiteness. I had to guess where to go, and we ended up on the narrowest farmroads possible, resembling the ones in Britain, with hedgerows as walls and no way to meet another car. Minus the hedgerows, but all the same. I freaked out and we had forgotten to pack the map book. And to turn on the internet when abroad? At first, T. refused, but as we got deeper and deeper in to trouble and Jane saying one crazy thing after the next, he finally had to succumb. After a maniac drive, me speeding, to get to the camel feeding, we arrived at Givskud Zoo and “Kitty” asked why we do not throw away Jane! We had ten minutes to get to the camels, and we made it just in time.
The weather was not the nicest, sprinkling a little bit, but we were a small group of enthusiasts from Denmark, Germany and us, from Sweden. And the boys had fun feeding the camels carrots, which the caretaker had brought. Funny animals really. They were nowhere in sight, but Lars said “As soon as I start talking in the microphone, they know to come” and sure enough. The boys were scared that the camels would bite them, even though they saw how these cute long eye-lashed animals pucker up their lips in order to reach the goodies. They still managed to feed them despite their fear and it was funny, because “Kitty” listens more than one thinks and does not waste all his time on internet, on Minecraft. He actually reads things too. So he told me, “mamma, you know the humps are not filled with water but with fat”. And two minutes later the caretaker tells us all, “It is just a myth that the camels store water in the humps, the water is stored elsewhere in the body. The humps are made out of fat.” Funny “Kitty”!
From there, we were supposed to go to the elephant feeding, right across from the camels, which was to start 11:30. But we had some minutes still, so we headed for the car, to get rain jackets and something to eat. After all, we had not had breakfast and it was getting to be lunch time. T. had forgotten the expensive store-bought pancakes and the sliced cheese, in the fridge at home, so everyone was forced to eat “mjukost”, which is soft cheese on tube. Now, autistic children do not love smeary things, but we had nothing else to offer, so I tried to sell them on the idea. I had bought bacon flavour, shrimp flavour and regular flavour. The boys thought bacon sounded interesting enough, so while T. helped them with that, not having a butter knife to spread with either, I took a piece of bread and
started squeezing on the shrimp cheese. What I did not see, was the hornet hiding behind the tube in my hand, but T. saw it and so did “Kitty”, and they said nothing. Too bad. I saw it just as it stung me and I am now convinced that a parent must never ever say that a hornet is not dangerous, that a sting from it will just hurt for a second and then no more. It hurt like I don’t know what. And by the time we got over to the elephants, the entire hand was throbbing, was twice its size and I could not feel my fingers. Nothing felt fun anymore. (That swelling took five days, to disappear entirely. I had no use of the hand for three days and if I pressed on the spot, 9 days later (when I thought this would be ready for publishing), it STILL hurt. You can still see the sting place and feel a hard ball around it 15 days later. Insane!)
Finally, T. felt sorry for me and asked the caretaker if they had something for hornet stings. He called one of the others on his phone and I could hear the discussion in Danish. They were not surprised since they KNEW there was a big hornet nest by the parking place. The other caretaker arrived with two hornet plasters and told me to wet down my hand and put it on the sting. I could not see the sting for the swelling but we did as told. Sadly, I doubt the plaster worked since the throbbing kept on and since my troubles did not go away for such a long time. And I really got upset. They KNEW about the hornet nest but did not remove it? Why not? Is it right to keep a thing like that around, where people will get stung?We paid lots of money to visit the zoo that day, and my experience was partly spoiled because of the pain. And what if I had been allergic? And what about small children? THAT was irresponsible in my view.
That was not the only disappointing thing really. The zoo was open yes, but all ice-cream places and all eating places except for one, were closed. One might like to buy an ice-cream even if it is the 2nd September! We could not go earlier, because of the boys’ autism! And the grilling of bread on sticks, was also closed, as well as the gold search place. The boys got disappointed about that and I wish that both the zoo and Legoland would warn visitors about the fact that only a limited number of things are open, after August is over. At Legoland, most little specialized souvenir shops were closed and most of the eating places as well. I think that if they are going to do this, then it should be reflected on the ticket price!
We went on the safari drive and got to the new playground by the monkeys and gorillas. It was a fun and exciting one, but as I said, very disappointing that they no more sold ice-cream there. We let the children play, even though much of the things were too advanced for “Boo”, who has gross motor problems as well as fine ones, and little “Gubby” who climbed up on a tower and then got panicked, because he did not dare to go down, the way the architects had planned (see the boy in red shirt doing it the way it is supposed to be done?). We spent about 15 minutes trying to get him down from there and I am sure that the German families sitting watching us, wondered what was wrong with him. He kept down after that, on the things which were ground level. A little before 13:00, we headed to the car, to go see the wolves be fed, only to realize that we had misread the sign. It was not until 13:30, so we walked around to the closed down bread place and inside something which looked like a little wood enclosure/cage, the children commented “Is that duck supposed to sit there?”. In it sat a duck staring at us. I am sure it was not supposed to sit there, nothing kept it there, but it looked so funny and I don’t know why I did not take a picture. The duck looked like “What are you staring at? So what if I am sitting here, far away from the other ducks? I like it!”. It looked so cheeky and he became the standing joke the rest of the day. We saw some poop: “Do not walk in the duck droppings”. Something broken: “Done by the super duck!”… We blamed everything on that duck. Particularly “Kitty” liked this game.
When 13:30 finally came around, we got to see the wolf cubs that to me, looked grown up. They had been born in May so they were no longer small and cute. And everyone’s eyes were on the anomaly of the pack. A beige wolf cub. They are born black and go grey, but this one is a freak. A genetic mistake, the caretaker said. But, he or she looked as happy as the other cubs and knew not that he/she is a freak of nature. So what is wrong with being beige? I thought it was the nicest looking one of the wolves actually. As long as it is not more prone to disease, what is wrong with being different?
We had to drive through the safari once again and while making duck comments and assuring “Gubby” that Llamas do not bite, only spit on you, (he worries about EVERYTHING), we tried to take photos in the rain. Why did it have to rain? All week we had had nice weather, so it was sad. We arrived a little bit early to the Gorilla feed and I felt sad. Looking at the new family constellation, brought back memories from two years ago. Then Samson the gorilla, was the main attraction. He was a big gorilla with his own Facebook page, souvenirs etc. The flock was big in my view, and to the side, sat his son, a gigantic gorilla, much larger than his dad, by the name of Kipenzi. I loved watching Samson interact with the flock and the playful babies, and thought it terrible when the caretaker told us all, that they did not know what to do with Samson. He was old and should they let him stay and die at Givskud and send away Kipenzi, or should they send Samson to Hawaii for retirement, and let Kipenzi take over the flock? I knew what I thought was right and I was glad to read on Facebook that Samson got to stay. Actually, they had kept them both and then Samson suddenly died this past year, only 44 years old, according to this caretaker Lars. Or did I hear wrong?
Not only did Samson die, but I no longer get anything on Facebook, so that all died with him, as did all gorilla souvenirs. And the female gorilla who grew up in a flat in Aarhus or wherever it was, also died this past year. She was a sad element indeed. She never mated with anyone since she thought she was a human and she flirted with all male caretakers. What a sad life! Now they had Kipenzi, who had mated with the two females. One miscarried but the funny one who always carry a stick, Minnie, was carrying a tiny little baby. Once again, a young male gorilla was sitting to the side, shunned and shut out. Sammie does not want to leave home, but they do not want the two males get in to a fight, so he has to go. It was funny, but this German lady asked if the gorillas can’t swim. There is a little bit of water, in front of where the caretaker gives his little lecture and then the gorillas sit and catch apples from him, on the other side of the water. Good catches really. “Kitty” thought it was hilarious that the other female gorilla, whose name eludes me right now, sat and applauded good catches! It was funny! They are funny animals really with individual personalities.
Anyway, the caretaker said that we did not have to worry about the gorillas getting an idea, to cross the water, jump the low wooden fence and attack us. BUT they had looked after a German gorilla who one day had decided to go exploring. He had swam across, jumped the fence right in front of a mother with a small child and had run for the parking lot. The caretakers had rushed there and cornered the gorilla, got him in to the men’s room right next to the parking lot and kept him in there till a vet could arrive and sedate him with an arrow. Wow! THAT is scary since the males are VERY big! And no doubt very strong.
It was so interesting finding out all the details about the gorillas. There is an institution in Europe who keeps track of all animals in all zoos, so that there will not be any inbreeding. They trade animals between them to keep the flocks and animals healthy, carrying good genes. Smart!
By now the rain was coming down hard and I do not know if that was the reason for all other monkeys being gone. That was sad! It is always so fun to watch the lemurs but they were nowhere to be seen. And the playground was no fun this time around, in the rain. So we drove on to the lions but they were also in hiding. We could see a female hide in between some trees, but far off, so real disappointment. We drove on to the last parking lot and decided to go through the new dinosaur park. THAT was a great hit with the boys. They loved looking at all the gigantic dinosaurs in live size and some of them moved jaws, made noises and waved their tails, so that the boys screamed. At the end of that park, they have set up a scientific playground where children can try to chisel out fossils out of stones. My boys did not find anything though. And in a sandbox covered with a tent, they get to use shovels and brushes to dig out a dinosaur skeleton and then guess which dinosaur it once was. “Gubby” loved that.
From there, we went to see the flamingoes, who were not there either!? And then to the second lion enclosure. I can’t believe it, but suddenly four lions came running straight for us, “Boo” and “Gubby” screamed of excitement and I was in such awe that I forgot to take a picture! When I got the camera out of my bag, the lions threw themselves on the ground to sleep, so no picture.
We had bought pea soup to eat that evening, at the holiday let, but when I checked out the menu, at the only eating place open, I discovered that if I bought the “kids hamburger meal with chips”, the boys would get plastic lunch boxes with dinosaurs on them, with the meal. So we decided to treat them to that instead. ONLY it backfired. “Kitty” munched away and loved it. But “Gubby” thought everything tasted strange. I got frustrated because these were really nice hamburgers. I could tell even though I did not eat of them. Good quality instead of the crap T. usually serves them here at home. But it turns out, they prefer crap! “Boo” and “Gubby” turned down both hamburgers and chips. So we brought them with us, but they were never eaten of course!
Next they ran to pet the little goats, but those were hiding in a shelter so the boys soon came back and asked if we could go to the trampoline park next. We did and they had so much fun. “Gubby” went on the ropeway over and over again and I wanted to try it, since there was noone but us around, but since I could not use my hornetstung hand, I could not go on it, since you need to hold on with both hands. The other two boys were racing with these little pedal cars. Suddenly, four teenage girls showed up and they took one trampoline each. The kind that can hold more than one person. “Gubby” was by then bored with the ropeway and had jumped a little on the gigantic half-moon trampoline. He said “That girl looks kind. I am going to jump with her!”. He is so sweet and she was awful! He took off his shoes, and started to jump behind her, expecting that she would smile at him and jump along. Instead, she says to her friend “I don’t think these were made for more than one person!”. She folded her arms and just stood there on the trampoline with her back towards “Gubby”. I tried to coax him in to moving to another trampoline, since the whole thing made me uncomfortable. But he happily jumped on, not understanding her body language at all. Then “Kitty” and “Boo” went on another trampoline together and I told “Gubby” to go and jump with them, since we soon had to leave. As soon as he left, the girl took up her jumping again. I just wanted to scream at her that her behaviour was appalling. He was so cute, so happy, so friendly, and all she did was being rude for no reason at all. He did not deserve that treatment. You do not reward kindness with rudeness in my book!!!
At 18:00, they closed the zoo, and it was time to let Jane lead us to the farm outside Give. Unfortunately she had other ideas. Once again she led us in on narrow farm roads and it got worse and worse. Finally they turned in to gravel roads and suddenly in the middle of the forest, we entered this private courtyard of the most beautiful farm ever seen. It was made up as a square, all in white with a thatched roof. Chocolate box as they say on “Escape to the Country”. Jane said we had arrived at our destination but we were so far off as one could be and there was no way to turn the car except drive in to the courtyard and make a U-turn. I have never been so embarrassed. T. had to turn on the internet again, to get us out of the mess. “Kitty” whispered to me “Can we not get dad a new Jane for his Birthday?”. I wish I could but I would not know what to buy, since I know nothing about that market at all. All I know is that I do not want a TomTom because that is what was in the rental car we got after our crash last year in Germany. She was as potty as Jane! We drove in to Bremen we both GPSs on and they gave totally opposite directions to each other, and neither were correct!
Arriving at the farm in Give, was fun. We were greeted by three adorable kittens all in black with tiny specks of white in their
faces. The boys went bananas. There was a big playground with pedal cars, trampoline, and a wood fortress. And beside all that was a pig pen and a chicken coop. “Gubby” poor thing tried to pet the hens and they of course ran off in fear. He also petted the piglets and loved the place entirely. While we unpacked the car, the children explored the place and played with the cats, which kept on running in to our flat. The owners were not there but a friend of theirs had given us the key. I finally had to lift all the kittens out and their mother, all black, who had joined them. My boys were totally impressed! Their allergic mother knew how to lift a cat! I told them how my family used to have a cat, till their grandmother one day snuck off to the vet and had him killed, because he was ruining her new sofa. We never ever connected my constantly congested nose and big eczema all over my cheeks, with Tusse. I was allergic already then, without knowing it!
The flat was nothing fancy but it had WiFi. Unfortunately, I had packed this iPad in a laptop case with my keyboard, and when I opened the case, the iPad said it had been disabled since I had entered the wrong password too many times. Somehow, pressure had made the screen come on and numbers had been entered. So I could not use the WiFi we paid extra for. But the alternative I had looked at before booking this one, would have been much worse. A camping cottage! They do know how to charge for as little as possible, taking advantage of the proximity to Legoland.
No, there was one room for the boys with one bunk bed and one regular bed. (And one bedroom for T. and myself, in this converted barn.) Strangely enough, “Gubby” did not insist on sleeping in our bed like at home. He just happily took the lower bunk and went to sleep as soon as he laid down. And so did the other two, as well. I guess an all activity day like ours had been, took all energy out of them?