250 miles in the dark

The Plan

So my first post was 200 miles with 3 under 4 and we’ve got about quite a bit since then. Today we’re trying out 250 miles with three aged five, three and almost 21 months.

We’re not setting off at 8am, no teddies have suffered catastrophes and everything has gone in the car. We no longer need a travel cot or high chair and generally packing has been to quite a different list.

Fuddle’s Keeper is older than the eldest was then and we’ve spent a lot of time trying to explain what 250 miles or 5-6 hours in the car is actually like. But since that first long trip with three, we’ve tried taking them on a three hour intercity train to Glasgow (Count down to blast off / Blast off!), braved A first adventure on the London Underground and been camping a number of times (Camping for the first time with toddlers), so at least the distance and time isn’t that daunting a prospect. More that we’re trying out a completely different travel plan, picking the eldest up straight from school, driving as far as we can, stopping for tea, getting their pyjamas on and then driving the rest of the way. The theory is that they’ll all go to sleep in the car and we can just lift them in to bed at the other end…

The Reality

Only fifteen minutes into the trip and the eldest was complaining about being in the car and Kamikaze was wanting her shoes back on. That she had taken off. After we told her we wouldn’t be able to put them back on again if she did so.

We were already stuck in a traffic jam.

By the time we’d been in the car an hour we still hadn’t really got very far, but did have a catalogue of teddy hospital visits required and had had a conversation about not needing to add the same requests for the others so that everyone matched.

We tried to explain road construction (need to read up on that) and why the road network needing maintaining and roads widening. Apparently I am supposed to be able to answer the question “Why did they build the road that way?” by producing original blue prints stored in the glove box. A detailed study of the tarmac at the M5 M6 interchange did not yield much of an answer either.

And then the questions continued. What’s that? Well, I have no idea because I dont know what you’re looking at! I need you to describe what you see. I spy with my little eye something beginning with “that”? Oh, it was 10 minutes ago you saw it? No, I wasnt looking through your eyes at that moment in time.

At 16:20 we had the first request for a wee. Whilst the estimated arrival time at our first stop was not slightly under two hours from our start time but another two hours to go and way too late to contemplate sticking with the original plan.

The longest two hours of my life?

No, it was actually three. Involved a change of drivers without letting them out of the car and a lot of questions I have no idea to the answer of.

We eventually made it to what should have been our first stop and had tea. Later than planned but not as late as it was looking at one point. Gloucester services got another feather in its cap with macaroni cheese on the kids menu and a basically all round good meal for no more than we’d have paid in a pub.

Getting the small people changed into their pyjamas was a bit of excitement overload and it was another HOUR in the car before any of them were asleep.

So we spent that hour undergoing further assessment by the small people. Not sure if the pass mark was higher or we were just failing more spectacularly whilst thinking there’s another four hours of this to go…

How do you know when the car in front is slowing down? Why does that car have more lights? The answer, not everyone checks their brake lights are working is a bad idea. The next question is always “why?”.

Why is it a long way?

This is why you have worship music in the car. There are deeply spiritual reasons, possibly even theological arguments, but when you’ve just got three small children back into a car they’ve been crawling the doors to get out of its all about survival. Turning the music up slightly and switching off to the back seat is sometimes the only way…

Whilst the husband reached a point of drinking diet coke, which he really doesn’t like, and I think the distance we were trying to cover trebled whilst we weren’t paying attention.

Eventually they were all asleep and we started working through old CDs in the car in a bid to stay awake.

Forget Cornwall, a sign for Devon had us excited!

Then the small people woke up… with still half hour to go. Trouble was they’d had enough sleep to be feeling ok to go again and were also extremely excited about nearly being there. So once more the questions started up, whilst trying to navigate unlit roads in heavy rain and high winds.

It was 10:30pm when we finally arrived. Seven and a half hours after we left. We were Exhausted, and ready to collapse but had a couple of beds to get sorted. The small people were on hyper, excitement overload.

Despite explaining that one of our hosts was asleep and the need to be quiet, they still woke her up and all four of them were just a little crazy for a bit. You know the strength of a friendship when your renegades wake up your friends one year old!

Everyone asleep by midnight? I didn’t look at the time. I quite simply didn’t want to know.

They of course got up full of beans at 7am… so you know, we had a bit of a lie in really…

I’m glad the journey home is being broken up a bit. But I know we’ll do it again and again because it’s where our friends are.

One thought on “250 miles in the dark

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