Cheetahs In My Shoes

living with the imaginary menagerie and all that it entails


The Cheetahs and Their Fog Busting Suits

Every now and again I have to return the subject matter that started me blogging in the first place – the Cheetahs that lived in their Keeper’s shoes.  Obviously imaginary ones (just in case you were wondering).  They’ve been with us for a good 2 years now and although not quite as domineering as they were originally, they’re still a fairly regular part of every day life.

The move to Year 1 has been a challenge for the Cheetah Keeper – the physical effort needed to keep up is exhausting him, as is the processing of all the new facts, information, time-table and having to sit still for slightly longer than a nano-second at a time.  We’ve had tantrums (including the removal of trousers and pants in the street on the way to school and trying to give himself a nosebleed), refusal to eat – and subsequent very early morning starts because he was hungry and a defiance both at school and home that has raised more than a few eyebrows.

We’ve instigated a complete change of diet, rationed the screen time severely and carried out our threats.  It’s working but the changes have obviously been rather stressful for the boy as the Cheetahs are back big styleeee.  Even in his shoes before school this week – they haven’t been in them for months – preferring the snuggliness of his duvet.  They’ve been sleeping under his new orthotic insloes – because they’re so comfy and they need looking after.  We have to make sure that they’re out of his shoes before school otherwise they will be trodden on and that would not do.

This morning we set out for another trip to our beloved Whipsnade Zoo.  I love autumn at the zoo – the colours, the lack of visitors – it becomes ‘our’ zoo again before the harshness of winter sets in.  The conkers aren’t quite ready yet (cue another visit in a couple of weeks) but there are zoo babies in abundance and I have yet to see them all.

It was a real ‘pea-souper’ of a foggy morning.  The M1 was engulfed by thick fog (note dear reader, if you are driving in this, put your headlights on) and a little voice pipes up from the back of the car…

“The Cheetahs have got their fog suits on today… and their fog helmets… and fog shoes…. and fog coats… and fog gloves for their paws….”


“And it means they can ride on the top of the cars so they’re safer….”


“and their fog lamps are so bright that once they’ve got really hot they start pouring out boiling hot lava that cuts through the fog and sends it back up into the sky ready to turn into snow in time for Christmas”

ah – ok – but doesn’t the lava burn them?

“no, they have knee pads, and elbow pads and paw pads that stop the lava”

of course.

So that was that – until we got a little closer to the zoo.  The Cheetahs were riding on the road next to us on their “fast car bikes” – seemingly they can give Sir Chris Hoy a run for his money – cue much discussion about whether Chris Hoy riding against the Cheetahs would be a fair race and how it could be judged who was fastest in the world…

We had a wonderful time at the zoo – being surrounded by thick fog makes you look harder and appreciate it more.  It’s a beautiful place, one where we genuinely feel ‘at peace’ with ourselves.  As the staff and volunteers say, if you’d gone today and seen a load of foggy paddocks and some sleepy animals you wouldn’t feel like you’d had that good a day.  For those of use who visit again and again, we see the circle of life moving on (a week old giraffe today – he’s just gorgeous) and the seasons changing in their own good time.  It’s perfect.

As for the Cheetahs – they loved coming up with us today – unfazed by the boiling lava they apparently loved seeing the Cheetah cubs playing together and eating a chicken (yes, with feathers) with their mummy.  They came back with us in the car and as far as I’m aware are snuggled up with their Keeper in bed.  It’s getting a bit chilly in the porch now.


Chris Hoy Drinks Milk

The Cheetah Keeper and his sister (who now wishes to be referred to as The Sealion Keeper – because that’s what she wants to be when she grows up) have been inspired by the Olympics beyond my wildest imaginations.  So have I – Mrs unsporty, last at everything, look at a gym and pick up an injury Me has been transported to a world of goosebumps, tears and shouting at the TV.  I am proud to have been to the Ladies Football in Coventry and admit to a small merchandise purchasing spree (or six).  I’m loving it and can’t wait until the Paralympics start.

The Cheetah Keeper has established himself as Sir Chris Hoy’s biggest fan – oh, and Bradley Wiggins.  To the extent on the holiday trip to the barber he requested his hair was cut with Bradley Wiggins sideburns.  The barber duly obliged – with a large grin.

The Cheetah Keeper also has a bit of a record as a fussy eater.  I can understand his reluctance to try new foods links to his history of reflux but that’s pretty much gone now and he still stubborn when it comes to things like rice.  He’s never been a great fan of milk to drink either – until now.  Chris Hoy has been plastered on the side of the buses driving past work for months now – with a big milk smile.  Chris Hoy drinks milk – the Cheetah Keeper drinks it now by the mug full.  He’s also now prepared to eat/try any foodstuff with an Olympic/Paralympic logo on the wrapper or the Union flag on it – the boy has eaten mushrooms and our longest standing battle, potatoes, willingly.   For this alone, Team GB all require a sainthood.

Oh, and it’s got him writing – out of choice.

I could go on and on – instead I’ll leave you with our Garden Triathlon – I think it says it all:

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Olympic Cheetahs

This seems to be my 300th post.  In less than a year I’ve gone from writing purely about imaginary friends to having 2 blogs, a love affair with my camera and collaborating on all sorts of other stuff.  I digress… (it may be something to do with the shock…)

I haven’t written about the imaginary menagerie for ages.  Their antics, whilst amusing, are part of our lives and they live quite a ‘normal’ routine – lots of jet-packs, magic powers, vehicles and jumping around.  There are a whole load more imaginary friends – Rockhopper Penguins being the favourite although I’m not entirely sure whether the Rockies are the Cheetah’s imaginary friends or are adding to the register of Cheetahs, Banana People, Dinos, Strikes (the Dino brothers from Spain) and their friends and relations.

As I’ve written about already, we’ve been thoroughly caught up in Olympic fever.  The Cheetahs came to see the torch relay:

look – here they are to watch!

and as far as I’m aware, got to balance along the Olympic bunting – although I’m never quite sure now whether they’re doing that to get up to mischief or just for a bit of fun.  The Cheetah Keeper is a very different character to the one I first started writing about – his confidence has grown so much during his time in Reception and the Cheetahs are now part of our lives in a more imaginative (and surreal) way than purely being a crutch in stressful situations.  They still increase in their activity when he’s worried about something and always come to hospital appointments but he is growing the skills to use them to his advantage!  (“Mummy, you’ve hoovered up my Cheetahs and now I shall cry…”)

I posted about our trip to the Madejski Stadium for the Olympic Torch Celebrations over here and there was a ridiculous quantity of time spent sitting around.  To ‘entertain’ the the crowds, the Olympic mascot Wenlock was out and about – way out of our reach though.  And as we sat there, a little voice whispered to me “I’ve got ‘maginary Mandevilles and Wenlocks now Mummy”.  I winced smiled lovingly and asked him to elaborate…

Apparently every Team GB athlete in the Olympics has a tiny imaginary Wenlock who sits on their shoulder (or shoe, or swimming hat etc) who’s there to help them try to be the best that they can be.  Without them, the athletes won’t be as good.  The same goes for the Paralympians – they’ll all have a tiny Mandeville to help them.  He’d clearly got this all worked out in his head (as he always as, to the most minuscule of detail) but it never ceases to amaze me how he has the ability to consider the needs of so many others – from his little head that melts down completely if he can’t sit on a particular chair at a particular moment.

As well as all the Olympic ‘maginaries, the Cheetahs have been taking their role in the Games incredibly seriously.  A 3 week training session in Running Land produced genuine tears as they hadn’t come back to see their Keeper at bedtime and he missed them.  There was no consoling the boy – the other friends would not do – and then he milked it, and milked it a bit more.  I started to run out of sympathy (sorry).

So they’re back now – they’ve apparently had a run on the track (obviously beating everyone) and a swim in the pool (yes, Cheetahs can swim – the real ones – as long as there’s food involved) and have their own little team trainers.  They’re taking it as seriously as their Keeper but I guess he’s a bit gutted that they can’t compete in the Velodrome (never say never…).  The Cheetahs are going to take part in the Paralympics too – I suspect helping the wheelchair athletes go a bit faster.

In the meantime, some of then have been to MudLand to jump in some puddles and let off steam.  Some have been on holiday with us – can you see them in his hood?

The Cheetahs hardly ever live in his shoes any more – they’re far too busy with their other stuff – and tend to sleep in  his bed – it’s much cosier there.  They’re fond of spotting an Eddie Stobart lorry (as they always have been) and running along the motorway with us (that’s what the white lines are there for…) or surfing along on the back of the car hanging onto the back windscreen wiper.   I admit that some of their antics do drive me nuts now – especially when they invite all their friends over (giraffes, penguins, flamingoes) and I’m expected to remember them all but I suspect they’ll be with us for some time to come – especially as the beautiful mummy Cheetah, Dubai, at Whipsnade Zoo who gave birth to the original Cheetah cubs that inspired these friends in the first place, gave birth to her second litter in May this year.  They went on show to the public last Friday and we were there on Sunday – and with such a beautiful mummy and 7 new bundles of fluff, I think the ‘maginaries will be with us for some time yet…


Summer Holiday Resolutions

So, school has finished.  I’ve given back all the piano music for the year.  We’re off until the 5th September when being a Swan in Year 3 and a Puffin in Year 1 await (can you learn how to make Puffin cakes Mummy?).  We’ve had our customary sitting room picnic tea and the uniforms are in the wash.

2 years ago our summer was based around Great Ormond Street Hospital – a 2 week inpatient stay and all the preparation involved.  We were also helping to look after Renata from Just Bring The Chocolate‘s lovely Lilia and Elliot whilst Dominic was beginning what was to be a very long stretch in GOSH.  It wasn’t a proper ‘holiday’ – we were in limbo land and as much as we did some fun stuff, the prospect of our time in GOSH loomed.

Last year we hurtled around like mad things, trying to do all the, ahem, normal, stuff you do in a summer holiday plus all the stuff we hadn’t done the year before.

This year, as I’ve enjoyed my reduced ‘sling it and ding it’ curry I’ve made a few resolutions for the holidays…

That’s not too ambitious is it??

I’ll be blogging about our exploits on here (the Cheetahs are very excited about the holidays and the Olympics) and posting more pictures over on my other (new – please pop by!) blog Just Photos By Me.
What are you resolutions for the summer holidays?


You’re Beautiful – The Ver Valley

I live in a City.  We have a Cathedral and, so I’m told, a population of about 100,000.  It’s a right old demographic and cultural mix, we’re less than 20 minutes away from St Pancras International Station (assuming the trains are running…) and minutes away from the M1, A1M and M25.  Can you tell?

Sorry there was no You’re Beautiful last week – I was in the midst of a laptop change and it required some overnight work!    What could you add this week?  If you need some inspiration try a ‘where I live’ picture – you may just be amazed at what you see.


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Come and join us and share some positivity – and, as with all such link-ups, you’ll get out what you put into it!  Please let us know that you’ve linked up using #yourebeautiful.  You can find me @cheetahsinshoes – and I’ll tweet it out too.

Click here to link up – I look forward to seeing your beautiful things



See It, Snap It, Love It – Candid

OK, I admit it, I googled ‘candid’ (or ‘gooooooooooooooooogled’ as it’s known in this house).   I needed to find an unposed picture when the person pictured wasn’t really aware I was taking the photos.  I knew what it meant really but didn’t want to make a fool of myself!

It’s be bit tricky for the children not be aware that I have the camera – it’s with me more and more.   However, they’re relatively easy to take unposed photos of because of just that fact – they’re so used to be snapping away and want to be off doing their own thing.

This weekend we went out to ‘do some nature’ as part of the Cheetah Keeper’s Sister’s “Out and About” Brownie badge.  She’d missed the walk when the rest of the Brownies did it having had a particularly long, boring and painful afternoon at the hospital.  It broke my heart when she said she didn’t want to come to Brownies because she was too tired and just wanted to go to sleep.  It’s not a decision that you would want any 7 year old to have to make.  Anyway, the distinct advantage of your mum being Tawny Owl was that I’d planned the whole thing and we could go on the walk anytime we wanted.  So, we donned our ‘appropriate clothing’, grabbed the cameras, her carefully annotated Goooooooooooooogle map and set out.

The Ver Valley walk is lovely – especially in the sunshine and we had a fabulous time ‘doing nature’.  We ended up on a playing field on the way home – some of which is being left to grow as pollinator meadow with grasses now taller than the children.  The Red Kite was up circling and as I am still on a mission to get a decent photo of it (now ‘them’ – how exciting!) the Cheetah Keeper (and the Cheetahs for that matter) were off exploring.  And then he just decided to do this, because he could (and didn’t realise I could change the camera settings that fast!).


Oh Cheetah Keeper – what have you done?

I seem to have lost the Cheetah Keeper.  Not as in lost, lost but lost as in my cuddly, smiley, biddable, slightly cheeky, polite and funny boy is missing.  In his place I have a stroppy, flailing, spitting, plotting, nastily mischievious and over dramatic child.  It’s beginning to try my patience.

With man to man marking he’s a lovely child.  His concentration and focus when doing an activity of his own choice is phenomenal (I know plenty of grown-ups who’d struggle for that amount of time without a tea/loo break).  When engaged in his school reading book or writing something he’s sparky and enthusiastic.

And then we’ll find something he doesn’t like or want to do.  Or something he really wants to do but either his sister is in the way (allegedly in most cases) or he’s not allowed.  Then the arms and fists start flying, or he’ll spit or, joy of joys, there’ll be what we call the ‘protest wee’ which will be anywhere except the toilet.  This morning, as I was in the toilet (shock horror!) I caught him just about to ‘go’ in the washing machine.  The apology is instant – the look of mischief is there.  Boys, apparently, will be boys, but really…?

We’ve now discovered his hiding place (“I’ve lost my cake mummy, can I have another one..?”) where snaffled food is consumed ‘in private’ (until I get there and remove said contraband) and precious things are hidden.  This week it’s extended to his sister’s insole for her shoes – because “he was tricking us”.  He had to apologise to her (the lack of the insole meant her shoes had rubbed) – she took it remarkably well.

He’s driving me quietly mad.  But then I think on.   The imaginary friends are extremely active at the moment.  28 new baby Cheetahs accompanied us to Great Ormond Street Hospital on Friday, 20 meerkats went to school on Monday and all the Cheetahs came with us when he had his hair cut yesterday.  The mention of any of the imaginary menagerie will generally diffuse a situation.

He’s also had a bit of a cough, his excema’s flared and he’s got what are either heat or non-specific viral spots on his chest.  He’s not slept that well because of the heat and this half term’s been a week longer than usual.  They’re ‘off timetable’ at school and therefore the routine is different, his friends in the classroom are all tired too and they’re beginning to think about moving on from their cocoon in Reception into the bigger world of Year 1.  Maybe he’s just got a particularly nasty bout of endoftermitits.

So Half Term will be a chance to break the pattern – nauseating amounts of positive praise, earning goodies and getting away from the behaviour patterns that are producing the friction points.  Hopefully I’ll get him back again – because when he’s his usual happy self, he’s pretty damn cute.


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Everything you need to know about Rhinos (and how to start a Cheetah race)

The Cheetah Keeper’s sister has been desperate to make her own vlog(s) and (small admission of guilt coming up here) this has been sitting on my computer for a little while – mainly as I needed to learn the skillz to edit out the complete drivel and other people shouting.  I don’t think I’m doing too badly now and so, here’s everything you may (or may not) need to know about Rhinos at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo…


The Lunch Date

Last week I went on a date.  A lunch date to be precise.  My date – well, he’s known for his sense of humour, doesn’t drive and is a bit short – but really does love holding my hand.  He’s a bit of a cheap date as he doesn’t eat that much, doesn’t drink and isn’t allowed to stay up very late.  The conversation tends to be focussed around Cheetahs and can get a bit random – he also has a tendency to try and charm the waiting staff…

However, he’s very happy with some obnoxiously coloured ice based drink and keeping an eye on proceedings – including making loud comments about the portion sizes of some of the meals coming out of the kitchen.

I do get to spend a fair amount of 1:1 time with the Cheetah Keeper (yes, that’s who I’m talking about) but it is so rare that we spend time together doing ‘cool’ stuff that going out for a bit of lunch becomes a huge and wonderful adventure.  Our ‘normal’ time together is spent going to hospital appointments and as much as going on the train to London or driving in so far and getting a taxi can be made ‘fun’ (whilst we desperately try to avoid the conversations about how many needles they’ll be sticking in him this time) it’s just not the same.

At weekends it tends to be that we’ll man to man mark – however it’s often the case that I will be the one staying at home with whichever child is unable to/too unwell/too fatigued to do stuff.  Alternatively I’ll take the Cheetah Keeper and his sister out to give their father a bit of bloke time.

The Cheetah Keeper’s sister loves coming into town with me (on the bus, it costs more than driving & parking, but hey) on a Saturday – but that’s usually to collect prescriptions.  We don’t ‘do’ mooching around the shops together – we don’t necessarily have the disposable income to indulge as she’d like and actually, after an hour or so, she’d rather be back with her brother. (long may it last). Mooching around doesn’t have a routine and is sometimes a bit random for her to process to a level where she’s enjoying herself.  The routine that she’d like to be in (involving a trip to the milkshake bar, the purchase of yet more Hello Kitty merchandise, lunch at Wagamama and then perhaps the purchase of something else pretty/crafty) is not going to happen!

But this time, the Cheetah Keeper and I got our lunch date as his sister was at a party.  I’m not sure who loved it more (maybe it was just the pudding) – although my enjoyment kept having twinges of ‘I wish we did this more’ and he did keep flirting with the waitress…

The thing is with dates, sometimes they start well, you have a lovely time and then something happens and you wonder whether it was a good idea in the first place…

I’m linking this, my 200th post (200, how did that happen?) to #definenormal hosted by the ever so gorgeous Renata at Just Bring the Chocolate
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Cheetahs in the Washing Machine

The Cheetahs have had an incredibly busy week – they’ve been doing stuff that hasn’t been mentioned for a good 6 months (running down the white lines of the motorway to ensure they don’t get squished amongst others) and a whole load of other things.  Their newer forms of transport (jet packs, rocket boosters) still are the preferred mode of travel – but they are very focussed on exercise and getting a good run every day is very important.  They have however (and as we know from the zoo) only a limited distance that they can cover at full speed.  Admittedly their distance is probably a tad further than in real life but they do need a means of transport when their legs get tired.  The solution is that the jump onto the back of the car, hold onto the back windscreen wiper with their front paws and let their back legs fly out behind them and then ‘surf’.  Apparently it’s incredibly good fun.

They had a lovely time at the seaside with Mammasaurus and the Minisauruses (or is it Minisauri?) and until this evening, it was reported that they had a brilliant time all surfing on the Solent.  Now, it’s just the little Cheetahs that went surfing (Mammasaurus got to see the surfboard – she is truly honoured) because it was a bit chilly for the older Cheetahs (too right).   They’ve also had a top time riding on the bus to go shopping and also got Actually Mummy and The Bug fully involved in building some new doors in their Keeper’s bedroom to allow the Banana People better access once they’re back out living in the garden and under the house for the summer.

This evening they’ve wanted to have a ride on some of his hot wheel cars and apparently then go in the washing machine – here’s the Cheetah Keeper showing you how it’s done…