“So, which story are we reading?” I asked the Boy Wonder at bedtime.

“The monster one!” was the immediate (and by this point confidently expected) reply.

So I read Kipper’s Monster. And then I read it again. And then there was a hiatus while I fetched a torch and we experimented with shadows on the bedroom wall, to see how the shadow of the snail could have got to be so big. After which… “Read it again!”

“I’ve read it twice already!” I said. “How many times are you going to want it?” This was a mistake, because the Boy, although (obviously) very bright, is still quite literal-minded.

“One-two-free-four-five-six-seven-eight-nine-ten times!!” he said, all on one breath, randomly raising fingers and thumbs in inaccurate emphasis. “Ten times!”

“OK,” I said. “We’ve done two, so this will be three.” And then, five minutes later, “So, that was three times. Do you really want it again?” “Do you remember,” he enquired, gazing at me seriously as if worried that my brain was slipping, “when you asked me that before? An’ I said ten times? Do you remember that?”

“I do remember,” I said hopelessly, “but I was just checking.”

“OK then,” he said brightly. “Again, please!”

In the end I managed not to read it ten times, though I think we got to six before I managed to deflect him onto one of the other new Kipper books, and then get him into bed. “Now the monster one again!” he said.

Well, what would you have done? I just accepted defeat and read it again, comforting myself with the fact that he clearly loves books, which is a good thing, and that all the stuff with torches and shadows had been actual proper learning. Studying physics at three – I said that he was bright.

Earlier in the day we’d done domestic science, and then art: we made chocolate chip cookies (which sadly came out more like rock cakes) for the Boy to give to his Daddy on his birthday tomorrow, and then he and R potato-printed red and blue stars on a piece of paper, for wrapping up the box of rock cookies. After lunch B and I went out into the garden and studied entomology – tapping various trees to dislodge insects onto the back of a circular reflector, and then peering at it together to see what we could find. Needless to say he felt it necessary to take over the tapping, and somewhat alarmingly he wielded my monopod like an executioner’s axe, but luckily his ‘taps’ were so inaccurate that neither the trees nor the inverts were in any real danger of sustaining damage.

When his arms got tired I set him to finding and counting ladybirds, while I quickly looked around for other stuff. Of the other stuff, I was happiest with these two hoverflies – neither of them new species for this garden, but both new for the year. The main image is Dasysyrphus tricinctus, which I last recorded here in 2020. It’s mainly a woodland species, and favours yellow flowers, so the carpet of celandine and dandelions in my tree-ringed garden ¬†would seem to offer it the kind of home it prefers. My second photo is one of the snouts, but I was surprised to realise that it’s the rarer of the two UK species, Rhingia rostrata. R. campestris, the commoner of the two, is darker than this, its thorax a much duller grey, and its abdomen more chestnut than tan and bearing a black line around the edge. The two feed on similar flowers, and the larvae of both seem to develop in fresh animal dung or silage, but whereas R. campestris is at home in a wide range of habitats, Rhingia rostrata (like Dasysyrphus tricinctus) is primarily a woodland species.