Our Most Memorable Family Adventure by Mr Mini Travellers!
I love to travel, my wife loves to travel (no kidding), as a family of five we love to travel and have had many adventures from Skiing in France to Sailing in Greece to Disney World Florida.
There was a moment though, now lost in the mists of time, when we had no children! (I can hear you gasp – What no children! Take a moment it happened! ).
“Let’s go to Amsterdam on Friday” “Oh that’s a great idea I will book the flights” “What do we need to pack” “Just some jeans and a credit card” You remember the drill…
BC (Before the Kids not Before Christ, although sometimes it feels that long ago) we trekked to 20,000 ft at the Annapurna Sanctuary in Nepal, drove across the Namibian desert, tracked rhinos on foot, followed elephants through Ngorongoro crater, stood at the top of the Empire State Building, visited temples in Cambodia, slept on the beach in Fiji, jumped out of a plane in New Zealand, went Alligator spotting on the Amazon, and gazed in awe at Machu Picchu.
None of the above though prepares you for your first holiday with your brand new fresh out of the wrapper baby who contracts a violent case of D & V before passing it on to their already exhausted and woefully under prepared parents.
We picked a very sensible unadventurous nice “child friendly” cottage in the Cotswolds for our first foray in to the brave new world of family holidays. We packed the car with only the essential items we thought we would need for a week with our precious daughter. It was child friendly but our child had specific requirements of course…. so we took:
Enough Nappies to build an iglo and
Enough toys for a small nursery
Black out blind
Oh and of course the essential
With the bottom of the car scraping the drive we set off on our intrepid adventure into the new world. How bad could it be we told ourselves.
The first hint of trouble arrived at the Norton Canes services on the M6 Toll. We have all dealt with thermo nuclear nappies in our early parenting days (or the fluid management years as I call them) but your first one squashed into a parent and child cubicle with no ventilation and an empty packet of wet wipes is something that is etched on to the memory. Frantically trying to get hold of my wife I had to take off my t-shirt to clean up the collateral damage! I stumbled out of the changing room partially dressed and leaving a trail of devastation behind me to find my wife reclining with her skinny latte on a comfy sofa! I threw our toxic child at her (much in the same way as you would throw a hand grenade if it landed on your lap) before sprinting to the door to replace my sulphur filled lungs with clean fresh M6 carbon monoxide.
Mistake number one. “Should we go home?” I asked. “No we can’t stop now this is our first trip. It will be fine”. Oh how we laughed about this conversation later…..
So we squashed back into the car and pressed on to the Cotswolds. In Spring I suspect it’s a charmingly friendly and quintessentially English place with an abundance of stately homes and child friendly activities. In February though they are shut. All of them. Every single one.
The trees are bare, the ditches are filled with rain water, the rolling fields are muddy and brown, the air is damp and cold and the rain is icy (oh there was a lot of rain). More akin to Mordor than the Shire if you know your Lord of the Rings.
After spending most of the first day unpacking the car in the sheeting rain; assembling said high chair, play pen and Jumperoo, fixing black out blinds and changing nappies we waited for Ocado to deliver the food for the week.
As the steak hit the frying pan my wife started to complain of feeling a little queasy. As we had finished the first pack of pampers in record time that afternoon she hoped it was just a bit of fatigue.
Oh no. Not one bit of it. The catastrophe in the Cotswolds was about to hit a new level. Child down, wife down, husband praying for a miracle of deliverance. The next few days are a bit of a blur and in my mind are like a montage scene from a disaster movie!
Queue the music. Crying baby / cut / changing a nappy / cut / closed bathroom door / cut / contamination zone signs on the bedroom door / cut / lonely figure pushing the pram through a deserted village / cut / changing another nappy / cut / replacing the bucket by the bed again / cut / watching another episode of Jeremy Kyle / cut / more nappies / more calpol/ cut / changing the cot sheets again / cut / Closed – Keep out sign on the dark castle door / cut / man by the fire rocking him self to sleep.
By day four Lily was starting to feel better and my wife was holding down some dry bread without having to make a dash for the toilet. The sun even appeared for a memorable hour so we decided to go for a walk. Obviously with a new baby this is not as easy as it sounds to the experienced parent or casual reader but 30 minutes later we emerged with squinting eyes into the pale sunshine. For a moment all was well.
We pushed on to a tea shop that was miraculously open every third Thursday of the month between 11am and 1pm, as long as Margery wasn’t at the doctors for her bunions.
Attempting to feed a tired and grumpy 7 month old in a tea shop where we were half the age of the other clientele and who made it quite clear that they came here to escape this sort of unpleasantness was particularly memorable. We were made to feel as welcome as Martin Luther King stumbling into the local meeting of the Ku Klux Klan. Some of the reaction may have been imagined but you know what I mean!
We trudged back to the cottage in the freezing rain that had returned during our excursion into enemy territory in total silence. Both of us thinking the same thing.
As we pushed open the door and were hit by the smell of a week sharing a tiny cottage with a virulent sickness and diarrhoea bug (Editor: we have removed the full description in the name of public decency) we looked at each other and said. Let’s go home!
Having survived the catastrophe in the Cotswolds we pushed on to greater and bigger things. We survived the worst a family holiday had to throw at us and have put that nightmare behind us. We and the three kids (yep who would have thought through some miracle of conception we found out we were having twins a few weeks later) we have traveled long haul across the Atlantic, undertaken long train journeys, spent days on boats and skied in the mountains!
It’s time now for our next big family adventure……as long as it’s not the Cotswolds!
Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!
Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.
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