Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Littleboys on tour

The Doctor, for reasons too complicated to explain here (short version – changing jobs) has taken the whole of August off work. Well, not quite ‘off work’ – he has spent a good part of it glued to his computer, in an attempt to finish writing up his thesis – but not committed to going in to a job.

This has allowed us the opportunity to take the Littleboys on a grand tour of the country. Over the last few days, we have descended on three sets of friends in the West Country, all of whom also have two little boys each of their own.

In our pre-kids days, this kind of jaunt would have been fairly simple. Sling a few clothes in a rucksack, turn up, drink far too much over meal with friends, stay up chatting mindlessly till the early hours, then have a long lie in before staggering, hung-over, to a greasy spoon for breakfast with the papers.

No longer. These days, it consists of the following:

  1. Monumental pre-trip preparation, which involves rigorous packing (including the writing of many lists) and multiple visits to the supermarket (God forbid we should run out of nappies, hummus or petit filous in the wilds of Exmoor).
  2. A picnic en route. We have learnt from sore experience that the Littleboys are not the most welcome visitors at quiet country pubs, so this is the safest option. Luckily, this time we were travelling on one of the few dry days this August. We ended up in an odd, but strangely pleasant spot. Well, OK, we were on a beach overlooking a nuclear power station (I am trying not to think too hard about the shells Littleboy 2 picked up off the beach and put in his mouth) and it was so muddy that the car looked as if it had taken part in a rally, but it was eerily peaceful, with a stunning view of the Bristol Channel.
  3. Arrival chez friends in a maelstrom of luggage, screaming children etc. Littleboys then proceed to trash house by spreading friends’ children's toys throughout; we clog up friends’ fridge with random bits of food; Littleboy 1 refuses to eat his supper; they both make a huge mess, generating mountains of washing up; and become more and more manic as bedtime looms.
  4. After what seems like hours settling overexcited children (Littleboy 1 has now worked out how to climb out of a travel cot), they finally go to sleep. By this time we are all whacked. We snatch a couple of hours of peace – wine, food and chat – before everyone collapses to bed.
  5. Littleboys wake at about 6am and immediately want to go downstairs and have breakfast. Friends, looking shattered, are also up with their kids. Luckily, Olympics are on so we can all slump in front of TV as we try to load ourselves up with caffeine in preparation for the day ahead.
  6. Littleboys & Friends' Littleboys must be entertained, so some child-friendly activity must be laid on. And Friends come up trumps; in Exmoor, with Friends A, we go on a steam train trip, then later on let them all run around a village green. In Somerset, with Friends B we have a country walk and then find them a playground. And in Bristol, with Friend C, we decamp to the zoo. None of these activities really seem to tire them out; with friends B, despite longish walk, the Littleboys run round and round the house pushing plastic lawnmowers until bedtime.
  7. Finally we depart from friends, leaving a trail of destruction in our wake; strewn toys, broken crockery and the rest. Littleboys recover from the excitement by sleeping in the car. We are just exhausted.

We now have a brief respite before the next stage of the tour (a week in Anglesey). And I’ll be taking a break from the blog for a couple of weeks – back in September.


The Dotterel said...

Sounds like you need a break from your break, too! I know the feeling.

Elsie Button said...

ha i know what you mean about loading other peoples fridges up with random stuff.

sounds v exhausting, but i bet you're having fun!

Holly said...

As the Exmoor friend who had valley girl and family to stay - i can testify to how much fun we had and that wine never tastes as good as when four little boys are asleep in bed!

valley girl said...

Thanks all - yes, I'm sneaking a quick look at the blog before we set off for our internet-free week.

Yes, Dottorel, it's true: you need a holiday AFTER a holiday with small children. (I've just had a break actually - 2 days at work.)

Hi Elsie, yes it is fun - I wouldn't be without it, in fact.

And thanks Holly, I totally agree - wine has never been more delicious than at your house (together with Barns' fantastic fish stew...).

Frog in the Field said...

Come and visit me, we'll shut the children in a sheep pen in the barn, they'll be fine..and we'll never hear them from the house!

Mom/Mum said...

Found your blog and so glad I did. Love it. I'll be back from more esp as I too have two little boys. (2 and 3) so very much enjoyed your 'mind the gap' post.
It really is like being Naomi Campbell's PA being little boys mum.
Enjoy your tour!

valley girl said...

Hi Frog - the sheep pen sounds highly suitable, they are a little like a travelling zoo anyway....

Mom/mum, welcome and thanks - just had a quick peek at yours and will definitely be reading it, particularly as we are set to go and live in the US next year sometime, so I will need some advice on how to survive as an expat!