Helen Bach: Facing your fears

Helen is full of praise for Bugtopia

Helen is full of praise for Bugtopia

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Do you remember Mr Keeling?

If, like me, you went to primary school in Northamptonshire in the late 1970s/1980s you probably will.

At least I think that was his name – he was the chap who toured the schools in the area with his menagerie of animals.

My husband and I were discussing this the other day; we seem to remember he was missing an eye and a couple of fingers, so he really looked the part of somebody who kept dangerous creatures, which made it all the more exciting for us.

I seem to remember a couple of snakes, an owl, possibly a hawk of some description too, but I’m sure there was much more.

We were thinking about him because we recently visited Bugtopia, located between Loddington and Cransley, with our daughter.

Bugtopia is home to a host of different creatures including lizards, snakes, chameleons, spiders, stick insects, millipedes and so on.

We’d never been before and, in truth, I’m slightly scared of spiders, snakes and the like so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

But it was excellent. Really enjoyable, with a very knowledgeable keeper who had lots of fascinating facts about the creatures (and appeared to have both eyes and all of his digits).

I’m a bit nervous when it comes to holding small animals but I happily held two chameleons (not at the same time), Pascal and Colin, while my daughter was straight to the front to hold a tarantula.

In fact, she carefully held most of the creatures and wasn’t scared in the slightest of anything, which is brilliant and just how it should be.

Thankfully it appears she’s not inherited my phobias.

It’s a great place to visit and costs £4 per person for the hour-long session.

The keeper told us they’re planning on opening a nocturnal centre at the garden centre off the A43 soon, and are going to renovate a bus to take the creatures out to visit schoolchildren.

I’m sure Mr Keeling would approve.

Read more from Helen here.