Y Viva Espana

In which our reluctant hero scrapes off the factor fifty and is absolutely delighted at being home from holidays. Or something.

“Why do holidays have to end, Dad?”

This is a very good question which, after fifty-one hours back in the drizzle and freezing dirge of a grey and miserable Blighty, I’m finding myself ponder, and struggle to answer, more and more. Perhaps it’s simply because I love Wolverhampton in the springtime? Yeah, that. Probably.

I guess that the obvious answer to satisfy a small child is that it’s nice to have something to look forward to. Simples, yes?

More complicated answers could include;

  • Almost certain bankruptcy if we stay away anywhere for more than a couple of months. Even at the local Travel Tavern.
  • The cats will be really cross if someone doesn’t put another tin of meat derivative flavoured chunks in jelly in their bowls soon.
  • Spain will declare a national emergency due to shortages of Don Simon Vino Tinto and Churros if we had stayed much longer.

Me expanding by similar proportions to those that the cats will shrink by is one thing. Not desirable, but meh. Who cares? But, sadly, it turns out that there’s no magic money tree in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean either, unless it is cunningly disguised as a large pineapple and we missed it. So, with grumpy-face selfies and a landfill site’s worth of washing, back we came. Down with this sort of thing.

In some ways, being a grown-up is great. You don’t need to buy any new music for starters. (I’m listening to Baader Meinhof while typing this on a train. Niche, maybe, but new enough, eh pop-pickers?) You also get to be passively aggressively rude to eedjits at work, and eat leftover Lamb Madras for breakfast if you like, just because you can.

In other ways it’s rubbish. Jobs, houses, money. Middle age. Bits of your torso starting to drop off and an unhealthy desire to start ironing bed linen. This is all adult nonsense that the kids, thankfully, don’t need to worry about. They don’t know that they’re born.

Don’t get me wrong – I have no desire to relive childhood, or even my teen years for that matter, again. Which is just as well as it’s unlikely to happen unless I catch a quite nasty dose of the Benjamin Buttons, a disease that has less to do with chocolate rabbits than you would expect. Or is that Jargon Aphasia? I always get those two Myxomatosised up.

Home again and, after two days back at work, I’m ready for another holiday.

But we have nothing booked, so there’s nothing currently in the “things to look forward to” jar. We’re also stuck with having to do summer holidays during those pesky school holidays for the first time. This means forking out as much for a weekend in Center Parcs or Pontins as you would need to buy a small family hatchback, as all parents know.

It’s back to work again then. Another lifetime spent chained to a chipboard desk wrestling with a heavy pen. Working for the man, or the “Ma’am” in my case. Forever. Possibly longer. Again.

Or is it?

Fortunately, I have a plan. I returned home with about eighteen euros worth of the funny foreign money hidden in my underpants. By my reckoning that’ll be worth about ten million quid in a couple of years time. After which it will be time to superglue a sombrero to my head and invest in shares in Ambre Solaire.

Will it work? Of course it will.

Every dog must have his lucky day, that’s why I’ve learnt the way to shout “¡Olé!”



Airplane II: The Sequel

IIn which our reluctant hero stars in the second exciting instalment of the alternative “Airplane” franchise.

Monday, 12th June. Sometime after lunch.
The car was packed, the little people strapped in and the twenty sixth essential “are the passports in?” checks were complete. There was no backing out. We were off. Off on holiday no less. To that Spain with its omelettes and crazy Catalan waiters. Or is that Torquay?

Stage one comprised of a largely stress free drive to the airport, asides from Google Maps’ passive aggressive attempt to circumvent my plan to use the M6 toll road. They say that life is a learning journey, and my learning during this part of the journey was that if you shout “OK GOOGLE. USE THE M6 TOLL!” loudly at your phone, it stops thinking that it knows best and lets you go where you want to. Who knew?

It turns out that using the toll road was pointless as the boy fell asleep twenty minutes from the airport. This meant slowing down to a speed that could be described as “M6 just before rush hour” to ensure a reasonable nap. It turns out that I should have listened to Google. Who knew?

Our pre-booked secure parking turned out to be a desolate wasteland occupied by hoards of hungover, or more likely still stoned, millennials trying to get home after the monsters-of-dad-rock that is the Download festival. Put those guitars down, you’re nearly sixty for crying out loud. And what’s with the tattoos, grandad? Call that music? Bah.

Carpark number two premiered the first number one issue of the trip, with the boy in a cross-legged meltdown as we wouldn’t allow him to wet his trousers. I bet the vagrants in carpark one would have gone on the floor, but the boy? Not a chance. Aren’t we just the worst parents?

Apparently yes, as the meltdown continued well into check in. Two toilet trips, a falling out with dad and empty bladder courtesy of mum later, we were back on track. The I-Spy airport book turned out to be a splendid idea, keeping everyone busy as I stood in a queue. It’s what Blighty does best.

Somehow the luggage had gained five kilos in transit to the airport. Ryanair being Ryanair, the lady at check-in naturally wanted to charge us for this. I’m sure that they will at some point attempt to charge for cabin air too. Anyway, the charge was waived as soon as we asked for one of the bags back to take on as hand luggage. Apparently this is “too difficult” for an airline. Ireland nil, Wolverhampton one.

It turns out that negotiating the body scanning and security sweep is far harder with four people than with two people and two people in progress. Our four year old was searched, although not arrested. Quite what they thought she was concealing in her size eight sandals is anyone’s guess.

Safely through, we remortgaged the house to pay for the kids’ Burger King which, as always, they didn’t eat. If that wasn’t annoying enough, the “restaurant” was located next to the world’s most overexcited softplay. I’m sure that airports used to be less fraught in the olden days.

Food now cold (I bagged it up so that it could be not eaten on the plane later) our flight was called, so we headed to the gate. There are smells that evoke all sorts of memories. Coffee and fresh bread for example, or the scent of the first rain after long, muggy summer days. Another is the Ryanair gate queue, with its unmistakable smell of booze, fags, cheap perfume and diesel. Beautiful.

We were nearly late boarding due to a number two scare in the queue that thankfully turned out to be a false alarm. On the plane, we encountered the usual rear-seat-front-boarder fighting the tide to get to row zillion. Don’t worry love, the hundred or so of us who read the instructions will all move, eh?

We ended up with six seats between us at the end of the musical chairs that is the five minutes before take off on a budget airline. The girls side and boys side arrangement worked quite well as both children got a window seat, thus preventing a row. Hoorah! Naturally, the boys side was the best.

Our children’s reactions to take off on their first flight were quite different. Our eldest was very excited by the whole whoosh and up, whereas our youngest took a more considered approach to the weird metal bird going up, up and away, only breaking his silence with “can I have my tablet now please?” when safely up.

We apparently had lots of “busy bags” packed for the flight. They were presumably the contents of the heavy, awkwardly sized bags that kept toppling the buggy over in the departure lounge. For those, like me, unaware of concept, “busy bags” are essentially zippable food bags filled with individually packaged activities (Lego, dolls, cars, pens and paper, voodoo, etc.) to be dished out at various points of the journey to prevent boredom.

Credit where it’s due, they were a brilliant idea and our eldest was all over hers. Seeing as the boy had asked for his tablet, I deployed strategy number two of the Lazy Parenting Manual 2017 and gave him his £35 Amazon miracle while I ordered the world’s smallest and simultaneously most expensive bottle of wine.

Fortunately, the kids don’t like me so I soon ended up in a bank of three seats of my own, only glancing up from my book and wine to pick up cars or Duplo discarded from the boy’s now operational busy bag every few seconds.

Amazingly, there were no toilet disasters on board. Both children were as surprised by the noise of the flush as I was by the little one not sucked out of the cubicle.

Back in our seats, the boy wanted to go down the big yellow slide off the evacuation procedures picture that had been teasing him for a couple of hours. I explained to him that it would be better to save sliding for the playground. Teddy and his tablet would probably end up getting very wet if we used it over the sea.

We landed with a bounce, on tarmac rather than into the Balearic sea which was nice. Apparently the pilot did very well and he got a round of applause. I would give him six out of ten, possibly five for forgetting to do the Ryanair trumpet fanfare. Amateur.

As EU citizens, we joined the EU Citizens queue for passport checks. This proved to be the correct decision, the queue shortening as each person left the line to join the special queue for those who voted Brexit.

The border police lady raised an eyebrow at us travelling with a small blonde girl, disguised in a straw sunhat and huge My Little Pony sunglasses, called Madeline. We were eventually let through and she turned out to be a demon at bag spotting and grabbing on the carousel. With a bit of help from dad, we were out in minutes.

The transfer and check-in were smooth enough. It took about an hour and a half to get the over-exhausted little people to sleep at round about 1am. Getting up time would be in less than six hours, but I didn’t know that then. If I had, I would have packed whisky.

It’s Wednesday afternoon as I scribble this out and a nice time is being had by all. Yes, really. Was the travel as bad as I feared in last week’s post? No. Will it be during the 10pm reversal next Monday? Probably.


Come Fly With Me

In which our reluctant hero longs for some peace and quiet.

On Sunday we went to a Remembrance Day service at Telford Town Park. It was a poignant and well attended event, held in a park with fantastic facilities for children (more of this sort of thing in Wolverhampton please, council) which helped make a family day out of it.

I was busy playing the hymns with my local brass band during the service, which meant that my wife was stuck babysitting the kids. To be fair to them, they were both pretty good. The eldest sat beautifully throughout, taking everything in as flags were raised, candles lit, wreaths laid down and the last post played. The youngest only tried to escape a couple of times, which is impressive for him, joining the cornet section of the band at one point late on. Houdini tricks asides, there was a more tricky challenge to be negotiated. The two minute silence.

Asking a two year old to keep quiet for any length of time is like leaving a President-elect in a room with a big red button with “nuke” written on it, and asking them not to touch anything while you pop out. They’ll probably sit nicely for a bit, but you know that, at some point soon, there’s going to be a very loud bang.

“What’s that noise mummy?”
“Chocolate now please?”

Etc. Etc…

The two minutes must have felt like two hours for mum who deployed well-honed distraction tactics until the reveille finally echoed out to mark the end. Fortunately, nobody seemed to mind the couple of brief interruptions. One mum came over to say “well done” having left her children at home to avoid putting herself in the same situation. Which is a bit of a shame, as surely it’s better to raise the children’s awareness of why there is an annual act of Remembrance and not worry about a bit of noise?

But, as parents, worry we do. Well some of us do, and we’ve all no doubt tutted at the ones that don’t. Quietly, under our breath, as not to cause a fuss.

The worry of being able to keep the children happy and in-check effects a large range of our decisions. From which restaurant to eat at, travel choices, where to go on holiday, and what time we do things to name but a few. It’s not just about disturbing other people either. Yes, a flying fish finger or turkey twizzler in the face and a load of shouting may ruin the romantic meal of the couple at the table opposite, but it’s no fun for us, the parents, either. And besides, it serves them right for not going to somewhere nicer, the cheapskates.

Thankfully, it is getting slightly easier as our children get older. But it’s not that long ago that they were six months old and barely two, and that was a whole different ball game. Half an hour spent eating microwaved slop at the local child friendly restaurant chain may be one thing, but the thought of attempting a long train journey or, worse still, a flight sends shivers down my spine even now.

We’ve all been there. Check in at the airport. Grab some food and maybe a sneaky half. Wander around duty free to kill some time. Join the queue and spot the family with young children. Eek! Panic, then spend the time up to boarding hoping that you’ve won at “seat roulette” with the top prize being that you’re sat nowhere near them.

So, do these parents deserve a medal or do they simply need locking up for their own safety?

If you’re not sure whether or not taking a flight, train or long car trip with young children in tow will be OK, I have devised a simple test that you can try out at home to help avoid a potentially disastrous ordeal.

First of all, head to the smallest room in your house. Line up as many chairs as there are adults, and as many high chairs as there are children, facing a wall about two feet away. Strap the children in, sit down and see how long you can stay there without getting bored or stressed with only a cabin friendly sized bag of paraphernalia and a handful of nondescript snacks to distract them with. If anybody cracks in the first three hours then forget it. To test for a long train or car journey, simply reposition the seats accordingly and shout “Are we nearly there yet!” for the entire time.

So, as parents, what do we do? Stay indoors until the kids reach a certain age? Of course not. Plan, yes. Try to make it as painless for you and everyone else, yes. But at the end of the day children are children and things don’t always go to plan.

And that’s worth remembering.

Let’s Go Fly A Kite

A few weeks ago, we went on a short holiday. Or a long weekend, if you prefer. Holidays used to involve exciting things such as planes, trains and automobiles, meals out, sunsets and lie ins, often in warmer climes. Now they mostly involve collecting vouchers from the newspaper, traffic jams, caravans, sleep deprivation and six-foot tall dancing fluffy rabbits. Which is all fine of course. Except maybe the rabbits.

On our way back home, we stopped off to say goodbye to the sea and partake in one last go of our newly found most fun thing to do on holidays ever. Flying a kite.

On the last two Father’s Days, we have visited the National Trust property at Dudmaston where we made kites at the Family Fun Day. Little cellophane sails held aloft by garden canes stuck down with badly applied sellotape. String with coloured ribbon for tails and thin cotton line that looks like it will snap if blown too hard, let alone launched on a windy day. Having made them, one kite sat behind a picture gathering dust for a year or more and the other on top of a bookshelf in the kitchen. Where better?

We finally got them packed and onto the beach during day two of holidays. Would they fly? No, not at first, but after a little untying and re-sticking we were off! The first kite managed to float pretty well if we caught the wind correctly. The second adopted more a high-speed kamikaze flight path, darting in crazy circles up and down until smashing into the sand below.

Little legs spent much time running up and down the empty beach trying to catch enough breeze for another lift off. Larger legs spent much time tangled up in line as the up and down went more round and round. Eventually, kids worn out, we headed for lunch after a lovely morning whereupon I invested a whacking five English pounds (currently worth about two US dollars) on a proper kite from the cafe.

On the final day, I took this picture on the beach at Talacre.

Flying a Kite

Flying a Kite

I was rather pleased with my photo which should one day end up in the children’s albums if we ever get round to printing anything out ever again. Ahem. (See also this old post.)

It is funny how a photo can evoke different mental imagery depending on who looks at it and when.

In years to come, the children may look at the photo (yes, yes… it will be printed by then) and summon planted memories of a long forgotten, almost idyllic, holiday. Quiet beaches, stormy skies, a coat at least a size too small that should have gone in the hand-me-downs bag, and flying a kite. Which will be nice.

Friends (asides from those on my Facebook “Stalkers” list) and family will get their sanitised highlights through social media and may recall happy times on holidays of their own.

And Mum and Dad, being the only ones who were on the beach at the time, will recall something quite different. Over to Sue Barker to find out why in our “What Happens Next” round.

Within a second of the shutter clicking the kite was released, on purpose, for the second time in a matter of minutes. The first time we managed to jump on the line and quickly stop it. A bit of winding in, a quick chat about the need to hold on tightly and no harm done.

The second time coincided with a gust of wind that propelled the kite at high-speed down the beach towards the lighthouse.

Moments later, a quick thinking mummy (having checked suitability of footwear – old trainers, so fine) pegged it in hot pursuit. Off the kite flew, faster and faster, first over the sand, then the wet bit, then the stony bit, then the sinky bit which were all carefully negotiated in a desperate attempt to catch it.

I had two soundtracks to this rather bizarre scene running through my head. Having decided that it was more Benny Hill theme than Chariots of Fire, the rest of us gave chase too.

Eventually, the kite came to a halt in mud at the water’s edge near the lighthouse. Mummy pounced on it and collected her gold medal. The telling off that followed was interesting in that yes, it was definitely necessary, but the minutes preceding had been so amusing that it was difficult to keep straight faces.

This is an ongoing problem in parenting. If something is a bit naughty, but also funny, should we say anything? Like the time when our eldest, then a two year old, shouted “K***HEAD!” at a driver that overtook us like an idiot. She was right of course but, slightly surprised, the only response I could find was “Have you been in the car with mummy?”

Anyway, having cleaned the mud off the kite, stopped the tears and packed everything up, we headed back to the car and home via the ice cream factory. You can’t go to the beach without having an ice cream after all, even if the ice cream ends up being purchased 35 miles away.

Excess Baggage

In which a surprise award is dished out and our reluctant hero wishes TARDIS technology existed inside a Vauxhall Meriva.

A lot has happened since I last battered a load of randomly selected words into the series of slightly less random sentences and paragraphs that passed themselves off as last week’s blog. Well two things, if you want to get picky. Oh. Yes.

The first thing that happened was that my blog became an award-winning blog. Who saw that coming? Having pulled it together for the last few months, not me. When I say “award-winning” I should probably include the word “technically” or “not” somewhere.

You see, I won an award. Woohoo! And a most prestigious one at that. “Wolverhampton NCT Volunteer of the Month” no less which, in the Blogosphere, is about the equivalent of a proper writer winning the Booker Prize. Probably. But, as the award was awarded for services to blogging, I think that the blog itself should claim most of the credit and therefore the award. Seems legit, so that’s what I’m going with. I’ll create a “Testimonials” section later to capture this magnificent accolade for posterity. I’ll probably also make up some quotes from the Richard and Judy Book Club to big it up, like everyone else does.

Anyway, the other thing that happened was that we went on holiday. Ironically,  I wasn’t planning to do a post this week but instead have a week off and hope that nobody noticed. Clearly I can’t do that now or the NCT blog police will be ripping stripes off and demanding the award back.

So here goes.

Sometime last week. Wolverhampton. Earlier.

“Daddy. I’ve packed my suitcase for holidays. It’s downstairs. In the hall!”

“Erm.. OK” I reply as I locate the tiny overnight case and start to rummage through its contents.”But you’ve forgotten to pack any clothes!”

“Oh… Silly me! I’ll bring some down!”

The inventory of things for a four day break read as follows.

  • 1 doll
  • 1 plastic strawberry
  • 3 replica beach huts from last holidays
  • 1 “What’s in the Fridge” board game
  • 1 toy camera out of a Christmas cracker
  • 1 small furry toy from a fast food chain that I’m still not happy that we occasionally have to visit
  • 1 set of toy eggs

Now I don’t know any sane person who wouldn’t, rightly, agree that this is all pretty essential stuff. But spending four days away, you’re going to need clothes too or risk getting arrested. Again. The following were duly added to the haul.

  • 1 Peppa Pig onesie
  • 1 Upsy Daisy swimming costume

Sorted. We’re off on holiday, so we’ll need something to sleep in and, as we normally go swimming on holiday too, we’ll need something to wear in the pool. You can’t fault the logic.

Considering this, just how the overall baggage allowance for two big and two little people ended up filling the boot of our hatchback car, the parcel shelf, the two foot wells in the back and part of “no mans land” that exists between the children’s car seats is a mystery. A mystery hidden inside a riddle wrapped in an enigma. And that was before the supermarket run en route.

Three nights. In Blighty. We took about a quarter of the amount crammed into the car to Australia for a fortnight or so on honeymoon AND brought clean stuff back.

There’s probably some complicated maths (yes, “maths” – I’m not an American) law describing how the amount of stuff that you cart around is exponentially proportional to the number of little people in the family unit.

It’s been like this for over three years now. I still remember our first trip to the supermarket as a family and my shock at not being able to get a single bag of shopping in the boot. Slings, travel system, changing bag, spare changing bag, spare slings, yes. Food, no. Folk who have been parents for a couple of years know how it works. Newbies may be in for a shock. Get used to it though. There’s no turning back now.

It’s funny how your life aspirations change after becoming a dad. Forget travelling the world, owning a helicopter, or buying your local football club. I long for a day when I can drive somewhere and be able to see cars or an empty road in my rear-view mirror. Just once before I die. I suspect that this day will be a long time coming unless Vauxhall unveil new designs that are a little more Police Box shaped than at present. And is that likely? Pack it in!

Dinosaur… GRR!

In which our reluctant hero reviews a theme park. Probably.

According to that ever reliable font of truth and knowledge that is the internet, an  “involuntary action” is pretty much consistently defined as “an action or reaction occurring without conscious awareness of its trigger.” Hold that thought for now.

The more observant viewer may remember that, a couple of weeks ago, my minimum wage room of chimps wrote a post about going away without the little people and wondering what our next holiday with them would be like.

Back to the present and our official get-it-in-cheap-before-the-kids-are-old-enough-to-get-us-fined summer holiday week kicked off. With a trip to Peppa Pig World no less. Oink!

Having stayed locally overnight, we were one of the first groups to wander in when the park opened. It was an odd, slightly surreal, scene that greeted us. Familiar buildings, but in real life plastic form rather than as painted backdrops to a series of five minute animated shorts. A black threatening sky, where normally clear and blue exists, closed in overhead.

At first I didn’t notice the haunting glockenspiel melody beating out in the distance. My subconscious did, however.

“Recycle, recycle, recycle, recycle…”

Eh? What was that? As my head tried to unravel what had caused this unexpected earworm, Grandpa Pig’s shout of “ALL ABOARD!” went in and out, practically unnoticed.

“Gertrude is NOT a toy train! She is a mini-a-ture locomotive!”

Huh? This time I find that nonsensical words are spilling out of my mouth. That only normally happens in management meetings. Odd.

A fleeting glimpse of a smug looking baby elephant in the distance elicits a different response. My arm unexpectedly launches a right hook in its general direction.

“Edmund Elephant is a clever clogs.”

Fair enough. Nobody likes a clever clogs…

More music. I start to panic and look anxiously around. I hadn’t noticed that so many other people had slipped in. All around, grown men and women are wandering, zombified, mumbling semi-familiar phrases under their breath.

“Dinosaur… GRR!”

“If you are jumping up and down in muddy puddles, you must wear your boots.”


“Naughty mummy! You’re playing the Happy Mrs Chicken Game!”

Partly reassured, partly still anxious, I head up the hill into Peppa Pig’s house. By now I’m half expecting heavy red velvet curtains, a checkerboard floor and dwarves talking backwards. I’m relieved to find, when I finally open my eyes, nothing quite so Twin Peaks but a six-foot tall family of plastic pigs in a cartoon kitchen tossing pancakes. Normality resumed. Phew.

As we leave the house, the sun puts his hat on. Right on cue, a familiar theme tune blares out signalling the end of this dystopian nightmare. We finally start to exist in Cartoonland. Snort!

Much as I would rather be writing stuff filled with nineties cult telly references and the like, I’ve been reminded that I should at least pretend to attempt to bring this back on track a little. So, here’s a sort of cobbled together review/not really a review thing, just in case you’re considering going. And to save me getting told off by the blog police.

To its credit, Peppa Pig World was a decent enough day out. The place looked great once the sun came up and the paranoia calmed. The little people loved it, and there’s enough there and in the wider park to keep even the biggest kids (the Dads) happy. For a change.

The kids like it, with their highlights including;

  • The rides – All of them. Especially the ones that go round and round. And round again.
  • Ducks – apparently there were plastic and real ones.
  • Water – apparently the water was not plastic but real. Apart from the plastic stuff.
  • Jumping up and down in muddy puddles. Pro Tip – take a spare set of clothes and a towel. We didn’t…
  • Peppa Pig, George Pig, Zoe Zebra and Susie Sheep. Real. Not plastic. Apart from the plastic ones.

It’s also good for fitness. We had our eldest practising upright limbo under a 1m pole for a fortnight. On the day, she didn’t disappoint, sneaking through looking like she was walking to get in free. Gold star duly administered.

There’s real life rollercoasters. For grown-ups. Provided, of course, that there’s a short enough queue so that you can sneak on while pretending to go to the toilet. Whee!

Height restrictions. Check beforehand, as it’s a long way from Wolverhampton if your little people, or better half, are too little to make the most of it.

The obligatory theme park £15 for two non-descript Coronation chicken sandwiches, crisps and a drink. A conspiracy!

Motion sickness. Yes, the back of the car got covered again. Standard. But all of the rides go round and round. And round again. We drew straws for who got to go and “enjoy” Windy Castle. I lost and spent the whole ride expecting a repeat of the Coronation.

Children under eight need to be accompanied by a responsible adult. Consider this and source one as necessary. We got away with it. Just.


Wish You Were Here

In which our reluctant hero seems to be late. Late. For a very important date. Or something.

Sunday is supposed to be the deadline for the monkeys to finally stop bashing at the room full of typewriters that create my weekly blog post. Sunday. It is Thursday morning, the monkeys are still in bed, and I’m furiously bashing words into my androidpodtunesphone on the train instead. Odd.

Across the course of a normal week, there’s a catalogue of excitement and/or disaster to jog my memory or spark an idea to write about, especially on a Sunday night after two days of “babysitting” the kids. After that it’s easy. Empty my head, insert a few pearls of wisdom (possibly) and pithy remarks (probably) and press “schedule.” Jobs a good ‘un.

So, what has changed this week?


You know how normally on a weekend you drag yourself up ten minutes before the necessary transformation into Daderman occurs? All in the vain hope that you may get a shower, and possibly a six-spoonfuls-of-coffee coffee before the “Dad…DAD!” and subsequent twelve hours of chaos? Well, there was none of that last weekend. We went away. Without little people. A brilliant idea in theory, but now I have nothing to write about.

Don’t get me wrong, our mini-break was planned (albeit last minute) but there was no Home Alone scenario here. We booked a B&B and everything. AND we arranged for someone to look after the little people. The cats even successfully fended off the burglars by themselves, bless them.

My memory is a touch hazy (it’s my age rather than parenthood, I suspect) but I think that this is only the second time that we have been anywhere without both little people since the stork dropped off our youngest almost two years ago.

Throwing the temporarily redundant “Wheels on the Bus” cd out of the car window, we nervously headed up the English coast, to a seaside town that they forgot to close down. Three nights to ourselves. Would we still get on? Would we be able to relax? Would the place be nice? Could we manage to communicate for that long without breaking open the emergency conversation starter that is that mammoth nappy from late 2014? The thought of it still makes me shudder…

The answer was, thankfully, a resounding “yes” although I did at one point find myself habitually flicking the remote looking for Noddy on Milkshake while making the pre-breakfast cuppas. We also never left the B&B without baby wipes and a spare pair of pants, but that’s just normal isn’t it?

A couple of days without drama, spillages, breakages, nappies, mess, tantrums, standoffs at mealtimes and the usual routine. And the good stuff, like.. well you know… this and that, too. Stress levels drop. Your muscles untangle. You even find yourself staying up as late as five past ten in a complete act of rock ‘n’ roll defiance which would have seen the B&B room trashed if it wasn’t always me who had to tidy up all of the mess.

While the blog thing is normally meticulously planned (*coughs*) and supposed to be about looking after the little people, this post is – I think – about the importance of the parental unit looking after themselves too. It’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of jobs, day-to-day routine and all. Which is important, but so is stopping if only for a bit with a nice brew. And that’s coming from a man who has won gold at many a “forgetting to sit down” competition over the years.

Take a step back. Clear your head. Stay in bed late. Try to remember who you are, both individually and as a couple, single, triple, or whatever your domestic set-up is, again. And most of all have some fun, even if “fun” ends up involving cheating at pool at some point in the proceedings. Ahem.

After a couple of nights, once the earache stops, you’ll miss the little people of course. Although as parents we bang on about how hard it is a times, mostly they’re pretty ace and the effort and self-sacrifice is well worth it. Probably.

That said, within a couple of hours of seeing them again you’ll want to give them back. Normality restored.

I wonder if summer holidays will be as relaxing in a couple of weeks time?