Ah May. The month of the bank-holiday sandwich. A month which began with a trip to Thomasland (we’re still rock & roll, ok?) and included both our wedding anniversary and my birthday (on to that at the end).
So let’s get to it.
If you have been to my house, or met my eldest son Dylan, you would know that train-life features heavily at Brightness HQ.
We have track, engines, books, badges, stickers, posters, cushions, clothes (quite literally anything can have that cheeky little scamp emblazoned on to it. I half expect to find him printed on to my knickers). The first time Dylan deigned to put his peachy little bottom atop a potty and gift his first poo to the world it was onto the shiny red buffers of a Thomas potty (you know, the singing ones, but without batteries – we’re no fools). Thomas was even an uninvited guest at my sister’s wedding (and pokes out from a chubby little fist in all official photographs).
And these days Dylan isn’t the only train fan. When the boys squabble – picture two little blondies, 1 and 3 years old, shouting “do not dare!” at each other repeatedly while pointing – it will invariably be over an engine.
Thomas, and his little engine friends are embedded in our lives. So you can imagine our anticipation at bringing the boys to Thomasland to celebrate Dylan’s 3rd birthday.
This is how I pictured it: Dylan beaming at us, Thomas’s pompous little face protruding in the background as we were enveloped in the warmth of the sun and the love radiating from our grateful children.
But as with holidays, a day out with your kids, never quite goes to plan.
The Long Road
The problems started on the long (really long: think Bank Holiday traffic) drive up to Staffordshire when Dylan, without warning, projectile vommited all over himself, the car, a Thomas book (I’m pretty sure it was Henry I baby-wiped sick off of) and his car seat.
Starting to fancy ourselves as seasoned travellers we had packed light (hah!). Dylan had the (pukey) clothes on his back and his clothes for the next day. We had one pack of standard wipes (what were we thinking?) but were kindly given a fresh pack of anti-bacterial wipes from another family who had pulled up alongside us at the service station as we were cleaning him up. “We’ve all been there” chuckled the Dad as he proffered the pack. Judging by the pristine looking girls in the back of the car, I suspected not.
We had no spare carrier bags and didn’t want to chuck Dylan’s favourite jumper in the bin (yes, he was so excited he was wearing his Thomas jumper on the journey) so we left the pukey clothes at the front of the car, hidden from sight, while we got some lunch. We found a Nandos – brilliant! a reversal in fortunes! – where the boys threw chips and cups and generally caused mayhem and Mr Brightness, aghast at his offspring’s behaviour, stood up too quickly and hit his head on a giant lampshade
and stomped off in a huff. On our return to the car, wearily clutching our carrier bag, all the clothes I had left had been swarmed by an ants nest. Terrific. It was a long, silent road to Thomasland with the stench of vomit wedged up our nostrils.
We made it to the hotel. We had tea and biscuits. Spirits improved in proportion to alcohol consumption once the boys were in bed. We washed Dylan’s clothes with soap in the sink in the hotel. A nice soul helped Mr Brightness clean the car seat and we all looked forward to the day ahead, because after all, this was Dylan’s birthday trip to Thomasland and he loved Thomas above all things. Probably more than us. What could go wrong?
A bit of a wash-out
Turned out, Dylan was absolutely terrified of Thomasland. Not the engines, who he gingerly stood next to and sort of smiled nervously at, but the rides, the noise and the screams from the roller-coasters nearby. And he probably wasn’t keen – because none of us were – on the rain; bucketing down upon us as we dragged a petrified pre-schooler around transport’s equivalent to the Magic Kingdom.
His little brother however, loved it. Went on every ride, lying back leisurely with an air of “what’s all the fuss about?”. This did nothing to placate his older brother who would descend into hysteria if we dared to suggest going on a ride. Until…
Fiery Flynn To The Rescue!
The last hour. I don’t know what broke his resolve to not enjoy a single second of his special birthday treat, maybe it was the promise of soaking his mum and his brother with water jets but eventually, Fiery Flynn and his water cannons enticed Dylan on to his ride and inevitably, because the park was about to close and we were soaking wet and basically miserable, Dylan found his Thomasland mojo. And for one glorious rain-pouring hour we took it in turns to go on Jeremy the Jet again and again and again.
It turned out this was enough to cement the day in Dylan’s memory because every time we get in the car now he asks, “are we going to Thomasland?”.
And it all comes flooding back.
Camber Sands & Rye
So onto the celebrations. One night in Camber Sands. Kid-free. Go!
My delicious sister and brother-in-law offered to look after the boys overnight for our anniversary (“offered” / “were pushed into”, who knows).
That’s it folks; you get a night to yourselves to relax, get a good night’s sleep, wake up by the beach feeling refreshed… and you go on a bender and spend the night talking about your kids – parenthood!
The cover photo of this post is Camber Sands beach over the road from The Gallivant. Isn’t it lovely? My first holidays when I was little were here at Pontins (hands up who else?) and I’m pleased to report the music was still blasting as we strolled past. You can see some more of our snaps on my instagram page.
Where to next?
Destination wedding time!
We are off to Ireland this month for a family wedding.
It’s Artie’s first trip there and Dylan is super excited to go to the airport and fly on an aeroplane again.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a less stressful journey than our trip to Thomasland!
Wish us luck!