Four and a Dog

A blog about family life

More Tales of Car Woe

For the Easter weekend we decided to head up to Sunderland to visit my grandparents. Like the Queen they are in their eighties and have just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. My Grandma has also been mistaken for the Queen on a few occasions, including once at Buckingham Palace. Sadly, unlike the Queen, they don’t have a private jet and so we have to drive to go and visit them.

Several generations of my family have lived in Sunderland and the surrounding areas and a number of them are still there. My aunt even owns a fabulous B&B right down on the seafront that celebrates the history of Sunderland. We always stay with her whenever we visit.

We have been planning to make the trip since before Christmas but illness and non-sleeping baby have prevented it. The long Easter weekend, and a slightly more sleeping baby, meant it was time to give it a try.

Planned Trip
Hubby will arrive home from work slightly earlier and load pre-packed bags, buggy, steriliser, toys, bouncy chair, selection of coats, dog, children and wife in to car.
Family will drive approximately one and a half hour to Hubby’s parents’ house to deliver Uncle M for his stay and pause for quick meal before continuing journey. Children to sleep in car.
Drive will continue for a further two hours. Bruiser to sleep. Diva to watch movie on iPad.
Stop for coffee and feed Bruiser.
Continue drive to Sunderland. Bruiser and Diva to sleep.
Arrive at B&B safely. Unload car and sleeping children. Quick drink and everyone in bed by 11pm.

Actual Trip
Hubby arrived home from work slightly earlier to mostly packed bags etc. family sat in traffic at Banbury while children slept. Bruiser woke up and screamed for final 20 minutes to Hubby’s parents’ house. Very quick meal before getting back in to the car. Bruiser continued to scream for a further 30 minutes. Mummy tried to calm him down by giving him a bottle. Bruiser became enraged. Mummy realised she’d forgotten to put anything on to the iPad for Diva to watch so Diva watched a few old episodes of Alphablocks and asked for a movie every couple of minutes. Realised we needed petrol so tried to do it as quickly as possible to avoid waking Bruiser. It didn’t work. Thankfully he did fall back asleep. Continued driving until coffee was needed. Bruiser very jolly and offered milk but refused (confirming suspicions that he really doesn’t need all the milk he has at home every evening). Finally arrived at B&B at midnight. Diva was still very much awake. Unloaded car and paced with Bruiser to settle him for bed. Had to turn off all lights and ignore excited Diva who kept asking if everyone was still awake.

The weekend was hectic to say the least. We managed to catch up with various friends and family; visited Beamish; arranged and carried out a successful Easter egg hunt; and even managed to get a small amount of sleep.

Beamish is a living museum set in the Victorian era. It includes a mine, pit village, town, farm, small steam railway, small fairground and manor house. You can travel around the site on trams and old buses. Diva was beyond excited about it all. She particularly loved sitting on the open top tram. When we turned the corner to the fairground and she saw the carousel I thought she would explode, “I want to go on that right now! I want to go on that. On that, Mummy. I want to go on that! I’m so excited, Mummy.” Once we had bought our ticket and were finally on a horse (underneath delightful pictures of animals killing each other), Diva was even more excited, “Daddy! Daddy! I’m on here with Mummy! Look, Daddy! I’m on here with Mummy!”

If ever you are visiting the NE of England, I can highly recommend a trip to Beamish. There is so much to do that we didn’t manage to get around everything, even though we were there for a full day. Everybody who worked there were very friendly and helpful. I even learnt about HP sauce.

Our favourite thing to do all weekend was to just spend time with family and friends. Living so far away gets hard and even with the joys of Skype and FaceTime, it’s not the same as real face to face time. Responsibilities, petrol costs and life have a dreadful habit of getting in the way of such simple pleasures. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we can make it back up again.

Unfortunately, the journey home was even more stressful than the one coming. Bruiser screamed a lot more and the traffic was horrendous. Travelling with children is certainly not the most fun, but seeing the joy it gave my grandparents to spend time with them more than made up for it.


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