July 18, 2012 § 8 Comments
We were invited to come and stay with out friends in Cambridge over the weekend. Go to the swimming pool, enjoy the sauna, do some sightseeing, possibly even some punting, all of which involved us actually getting there. This was our first overnight trip outside London as a family (I am not counting trips to homeland as such as it is never really a break, at least for me) and I am not embarrassed to admit I was preparing for the worst.
Last time we journeyed outside London we spent 1.5 hr on the tube getting to the location of our pick up, drove for another 1.5 hour to see Brighton in rain, miserable and windy, ending up with a car-sick child vomiting in her lap and asking for a loo in the middle of the fields. In the end it was a great day trip exploring the cliffs of Eastbourne but it did teach us a lesson – prepare for the worst and expect the sky to fall.
We had an even a less enjoyable experience on our first and second attempted overnight stay at friends. One involved us getting a mini cab in the middle of the night to drive from south to north London so that family junior could get some sleep.
We agreed for our friend to come and pick us all up on a Friday evening straight after work, take us to her place, get some rest there, and then get up early Saturday morning and do some family activities. We packed for war it seems: snacks, pencils, scissors, a stick glue and paper for keeping family junior busy and happy, sticker books and colouring in pages; I sneaked in Rapunzel into my bag even though junior kept insisting she will not play with it while there; wellies, chargers, swimming suits, baby wipes, sanitizers, home and outside shoes; change of clothes for different weather conditions (ranging from tropical to monsoon), umbrellas, you get the picture. 2 nights away packed into 4 suitcases. We were prepared this time!
This, as you might guess, was the final stop in the preparation process. It all started with a daily brainwashing of family junior to prepare her for what’s to come and hopefully to avoid disaster:
– We will be sleeping there (Nooo, I want to sleep in my own bed!), we will be staying there for two days and two nights (?!!?) , we will not be able to take a mini cab home from there, there will be other children there, they might eat different foods, please be polite if you do not like something, we will be in the car for at least an hour (not that she gets the length of time involved). Please look after the younger boy, be patient and play nice with him, please share your things; no shouting and talking back, etc.
If you are anywhere in the UK you can probably guess the weather is incredibly shit this summer so we were not that surprised to see our mini break ruined by the constant rain. Family junior, however, behaved like a model child! The kids played nice, spoke politely, enjoyed each other’s company, shared their toys and I was so so proud to see junior relate to both the older girl who is 8 and the younger boy who is 4. She somehow managed to charm both of them with her patience and kindness and that is something I always marvel at when I look at her.
The rain meant spending Saturday indoors – the village summer festival was cancelled and we decided to spend the day at one of the David Lloyd clubs mushrooming in the boiling hot whirlpool baths, enjoying the steam rooms and saunas, splashing the ice cold water over one another and having the time of our lives in general. For someone who never enjoyed water or swimming, this was by far the highlight of the trip for me. Playing tennis and squash afterwards, having a quiet sit down with a cup of coffee, catching up, dreaming up things, sharing things…it felt good to have a day like that.
The sun came out on Sunday and it was good! Off we went to explore the town centre and see the colleges, this part was obviously hated by all minors involved. Walking without a purpose? Yes, and you will walk! I think all three of them wished to see us in pain right then.
And then the time came to go home. Tired but happy we were home by 8 on a Sunday night. Fruit went mad how happy she was to see us, all her food gone, unable to express her longing timidly she literally jumped into junior’s hands. I can feel another trip coming our way, we can definitely do this.