For those of you who followed my plea for help with 16 hour Road Trip alone with 3 young children, here’s how I got on.
Well, our 16 hour road trip turned into 2 days. Following some good advice, I decided to break the trip up and stop over night about half way. Also, I wasn’t totally alone – I had Elena our au pair with me, but I was the only driver.
Largely the journey there went well – better than I had anticipated. The journey home, well that’s another story, (Coming soon....”My nightmare journey from England to Brittany” or “Make way for harassed Mum – this is an medical emergency!”). But, going back to the journey there... the first day they were all excited, they watched a DVD, had a sleep. Packing up a bag with snacks and drinks was a good idea as it stopped the inevitable “I’m hungry/thirsty” - I made sure to pack it with healthy snacks as we didn’t need any sugary things to make them more hyper than they naturally already were. The Road Trip Bingo game went down well. I’d printed off some forms off the internet with pictures of things you might see on a journey and the kids had to cross them off as they saw them. Well that is until the 2 boys got overly competitive towards the end of the game. They were both waiting on seeing a jogger (you don’t see many on the motorway). Finally Elena saw one and pointed it out to Luc. “Yes, I’ve seen a jogger, I’ve won, I've won!” shouted Luc. “No, that’s not fair” said James, “it wasn’t you, it was Elena”. Oh well, it did keep them quiet for a while.
We arrived at our pre booked hotel about 8,30pm. The room was quite cheap (69 euros sleeping 5 with small toilet and shower), but it can only be described as a plastic box with beds in it and it was so hot it was difficult to breath let alone sleep. The children were so hyper it was impossible to get them to sleep. About 10pm they were still mucking about and swapping beds when we heard some very loud bangs outside. Luc (6) sat wide eyed saying “Don’t open the door Mummy” – he was feeling a bit vulnerable without his Dad around. He had been given him a lecture about being good and staying with me because not everywhere is as safe as where we live. After a few minutes though it was obvious that the loud bangs were not an intruder but in fact a huge firework display. So out we all trooped for the free evening entertainment.
It was gone midnight before they finally crashed, quickly followed by an exhausted Mum. I couldn’t believe it when I woke the next morning, looked at my watch and it was 10.30am – how did that happen? They’re normally up by 7am no matter what time they go to bed! Luckily the ferry wasn’t booked until 8pm, so we had plenty of time. I found a boulangerie and bought some fresh croissants and off we went.
Day 2 was not so smooth. They’d had enough of traveling now and just wanted to get there. Also, the traffic was terrible and I missed the turning for Rouen which meant I had to travel via Paris where the traffic is always bad. Just as we hit a traffic jam Frankie announced she weed herself. Great! Up until this point there had been places to stop every 10 minutes or so, but now there was nothing. We then had over an hour of whimpering and whining before there was a suitable place to pull over and change her. I don’t know what it is about Paris and Frankie, but last time we were traveling through the traffic jams of Paris she was about 6 months old and did the most yuckiest nappy imaginable. I couldn’t leave her sitting in it so I clambered into the back (while her Dad was driving) and changed her. I wasn’t pleasant and I’ll leave the rest to your imagination!
The last part of the journey was difficult – we were all tired and anxious to get there and patience was running low all round. Thankfully though there was only one occasion, when we were about 10 minutes from Dunkirk, I was trying to find signs for the port and the fighting and screams in the back reached such a crescendo that I had to shout out "SHUT UP, EVERYONE!" and that seemed to do the trick. We got there early and even managed to change to an early ferry (free of charge). After getting a bit lost in England (yes I know - drove all that way and got lost in more familiar territory), I eventually turned up at my sisters about 7,30. We had the obligatory Fish and chips (oh how that's gone up in price) and chatted with my family. It was good to see them all and I was happy and relieved we’d made it there in one piece.
The next morning we woke to a typical English summer day - grey clouds and drizzle. Luc came into the kitchen dressed for the sun and stated in his usual matter of fact way, “I’m not sure it was worth all that long drive Mum!”. Don't you just love them!