The day trip that went awry

Today I would like to share a particularly futile journey I made last year. A journey made in an attempt to keep myself sane and entertain the Mole and Hedgehog. It illustrates the lengths that a parent will go to ease the monotony of the living room, especially in winter during the holidays, when all the playgroups are shut.

A friend at one such playgroup told me about some of the ‘free rainy day things’ she does with her son in the local area. One of them is to drive to Luton airport, park in the mid-stay car park which is free to park for the first half hour, making sure to be at the far end where the parameter fence with the runway is. You can sit and watch the planes come in / take off. ‘The proximity to the planes and the surf which the planes generate on rainy days is really spectacular’, she said. It is winter and it’s Bedfordshire, so I’m willing to try anything. ‘That sounds like a creative and fun thing to do’ I thought to myself. We could even have a picnic in the car while we’re watching the planes, Mole can sit in the front with me and count them as they take off and land. Plane spotting for two year olds, fantastic.

Well, a rainy day duly came when we had been indoors all morning, done the obligatory nap time and lunch, the cabin fever was setting in and both Mole and Hedgehog were getting tetchy. So by Mid-afternoon I determind that we are going out. I don’t care where, I’m just desperate to be anywhere other than the living room. It is a trip that evolves as we go along. After mulling over plan A (the garden centre) or plan B (the airport), I opt for plan B and find myself driving down the M1.

The bad omens start when I can’t see any planes in the sky. I think this is a little strange, but reason that surely we’ll see some as we get closer. Then as we drive into the airport, I can’t remember which car park my friend said to go in, so I try the short stay one first. By the time I read the ‘£7 minimum stay’ sign it is too late to reverse out of the barrier. It is a freezing wet day and the car park is heaving. It takes me twenty minutes to get round it and find a space, walk ten minutes to the meter to pay my £7, (leaving Mole and Hedgehog in the car which I’m not entirely comfortable with, but it’s preferable to the hassle of getting the buggy out and exposing them to the arctic winds for 500 miserable yards), so that I can get back out of the car park. What a pointless waste of diesel.

All is not lost I tell myself. Keeping calm, while Mole and Hedgehog grow restless in the back, wondering where the hell crazy mother is taking them, I find the mid-stay car park and drive up to the parameter fence. It’s a beautiful sunset now, which can be properly appreciated from inside a warm car. However, it seems the runway is empty of planes today. Not so much as a bird in the sky, let alone a boeing747. Then where are all the cars in short stay going? Planes fly all the time from Luton don’t they? Guess not. F*cketty f*ck f*ck.

Now we are late for fetching Mr M&H from work, so we appreciate the sunset for another five minutes before zooming back up the M1. By the time we all get home, Mole and Hedgehog have been in the car for over an hour, wailing at the top of their lungs as only a two year old and eight month old know how. I could curse myself, but at least I tried. Has anyone else had one of those days? It seems so much worse when a crying baby is involved.

So in summary, I’m still in need of cabin fever remedies for the next rainy day we are stuck in doors. Preferably ones which do not involve over-priced soft play centres in depressing warehouses under strip lighting, full of older kids who tear through the baby area and mow down the toddlers. Even at the quieter off peak times, Mole insists on disappearing into the matrix like soft play cage, which would be okay if she didn’t get stuck in the ball pit or on the highest slide, obliging me to go in and rescue her, one handed, carrying a bewildered Hedgehog under my other arm. This is not mummy’s idea of a good time.

I’m thinking play dates at fellow cabin fevered houses is the answer, even someone else’s living room is a refreshing change from your own. Any more ideas in writing welcome.