Do you plan long car journeys right down to the last Travel Scrabble letter? Do you, like me, hate leaving things to chance because there’s nothing more painful than two tetchy, bored kids asking ‘are we nearly there yet?’ when there’s still hours to go?
No parent wants to contemplate the fallout of traffic jams, overheated cars or flat tyres. Positive thinking is the key. The journey WILL be straightforward and hassle-free, you tell yourself. Oh and the last 100 miles will somehow time warp spectacularly to deliver us all at our destination ten minutes before dinner time.
We travelled up to The Lake District on Thursday. It was all going fine until we ground to a halt somewhere near Birmingham and stayed there for four hours…
Yes, you heard that right.
FOUR. BLINKIN. HOURS.
You remember that lovely sunny day last week, right? Now commiserate with any mother silly enough to stick her kids in the car and forget the sunshades. So much for my meticulous planning… I didn’t count on a freak British heatwave in the middle of April.
From there, our journey descended into farce. Here are some of the lowlights:
- Jess’ Kindle Fire wiped all her Apps somewhere between Junctions 21 and 22.
- Emily decided she didn’t like her new headphones and proceeded to deafen us all with Harry Potter. Cue epic meltdown from Jess, which resulted in Emily whacking her over the head with a book. Cue even more epic meltdown.
- I’d bought the wrong snacks (naturally).
- Jess needed a wee.
- Emily needed a wee.
- My water bottle exploded all over my laptop. Cue my own epic meltdown. Then cue furious argument with husband about not ‘backing up’. My defence was poor. It only made me more belligerent.
All this and we still had five hours to go!
That’s when we spied a service station. We exited the car, stuffed our kids full of Burger King, bought up half the kids’ magazine shelf in WH Smith and recommenced our journey a little less hungry and stroppy.
Emily’s technology failed us around the eight-hour mark and I soon discovered that playing Eye-Spy with a 6 and 4 yr old is a logistical minefield. One child can read and spell. One’s still learning and wants to describe everything in colour… I spent so long keeping the peace that I’m seriously considering sacking off writing and getting a job at the UN instead.
In the end the journey took ten hours. I’ll pause for a moment and let you digest that.
Yet we survived it – just – and the view from the holiday cottage was/is beautiful so it’s (sort of) worth it:
Still, I needed a whopping great bottle of white to recover… Ten hours is 280 minutes longer than our journey through France last year and that was bad enough. We could even fly to California in that time (which bodes well as that’s where we’re heading next summer.)
And the best news of all??
We get to do it all again on Friday….