Can school holiday traffic be a good thing?

on Thu 13 Apr

3 Tescos in one day

If you’re about to deal with an Easter weekend getaway and you’re gearing up for the perils of bank holiday travelling this post is for YOU!

It’s taken me a few days to get around to writing this as we’re in the thick of school holiday madness but last Saturday (the first day of our Easter holidays) we were booked in for a trip to London to visit some very dear friends who we don’t see nearly as much as we’d like. As a ‘Brucey bonus’ the sun was shining and we were all set to meet them in Muswell Hill for a spot of lunch. Marvellous I thought. Fab. To set the seasonal tone I ditched my usual jeans ensemble in favour of light grey cropped trousers. Super. A civilised, buzzy meal in London town. I do miss those days….

My daughter Elodie had a swimming lesson first thing so we set off straight from the leisure centre just after 10am as we were keen to miss the traffic. Hmmmm I hear you groan. First stop for fuel and snacks at Tesco Winchester. All fine. No arguments so far. Off we go.

And then we realised the Sat Nav wasn’t working properly…no traffic updates…no alternative route options. The only thing working was the ETA update…great.

“Well, we’ll just have to hope for the best" I said "…no point in stressing out.”

30 minutes in and 30 minutes already added to the ETA….and climbing. Usually Ele likes to watch a movie on the iPad but this time she has her head down drawing. A fact that I didn’t register as relevant at the time.

50 minutes in…we’ve just driven past Fleet services….”I’m hungry mummy”… we have no snacks in the car…oh that’ll be right then they’re in the boot. She has post-swimming hunger…a monumental mummy fail. “Have some water I say, you’re probably thirsty…”

“Mummy I’m really, really hungry.”

The husband, who is a complete “techie” is threatening to throw said SAT NAV out the window and is now gesticulating wildly with his hands…I start to meditate.

We reach some unknown part of London and see a Tesco’s sign. Lets stop, regroup and get some snacks I say. I also have low blood sugar at this point. Ele scoffs a banana and off we go again. I touch base with our friends and explain that due to traffic we will be late and therefore we’ll go straight to the restaurant.  We are due to sit down to eat in 10 mins. Oh.

We hit the North Circular. Oh the joys continue. Husband’s hair is stood up on end…this is never a good sign. On a positive note we are 15 minutes away. YAY.

Then I hear the words every parent dreads…you know it’s going to happen again at some point but it’s always a bitter blow. “I feel sick mummy”. You’re having a xxxxx laugh!!!!!! This is not happening.


Much calamity from that point. Husband swerving onto side street. Vomit explodes caught mostly by Tesco carrier (better quality plastic than one might expect, thank goodness). Car doors all open and we’re all feeling eternally grateful for the damp swimming towel that has been retrieved from the boot. Now on the phone to my (heavily pregnant) friend…we are unsure of the cause of the pukathon, debating whether to proceed with the day as potential risk of plague transference. I am trying to avoid getting vomit on my pale grey trousers whilst comforting my sick drenched daughter.

We decide to head to Tesco Colney Hatch (number 3) to regroup, assess and clean up. I’m considering getting some gin at this point. Elodie seems to perk right up though so we strongly suspect a car sick episode (that’s the last time she’ll ever look down at the iPad while in the car). We test this out by giving her some biscuits and they seem to stay down.

Tescos involves purchasing clothing and an incident in the changing rooms where I threaten physical violence when they won’t let me pay for the items while the Elodie is still wearing them (“can’t you just scan the tags!!!!????”). We retreat to get changed back into vomit clothes and Elodie becomes convinced she’s going to be sick again and starts screaming in the cubicle. I stick my head out to see 5 freaked out members of staff looking like they’re about to call the police. When I ask for a plastic bag (to catch vomit) I swear they pause to think about whether to ask for 5p. I am loosing the will.

She is not sick thank goodness…just freaked out. We end up back in the car with more junk food (Elodie suggests that she is only able to eat hula hoops) and phoning the friends who have finished lunch and are heading back to their house.

We arrive…at 3pm. I am just sooo relieved to get there, that Ele is OK and to see them, that it’s like someone has given me a million quid (well not quite but close). I appreciated just being there, having a cup of tea and catching up. Our children played, we chatted and all too soon we had to turn around and come home. But you know what? We made it and at one point it very nearly didn’t happen.

On the way home, while we were all a little disappointed, I also felt grateful. We had no sick bug and I got to see my friend before she has her baby. We had no sick bug. We had no sick bug!!!!!

It got me thinking how sometimes it can feel like life is conspiring, like you’re right in the shit and that it’s never going to change. The truth is that things can change in a blink of an eye and when they do you appreciate things so much more. I can remember HATING long haul flights but there were times when Elodie was small that I would have cut off my right arm to have 10 hours with a book and flight sized G&T.

Life can seem very black and white sometimes. It’s either going well…or not…and at times we find ourselves almost wishing our lives away waiting for an up turn. Life is on hold for a bit…well here’s the thing, ITS NOT! So, if you’re heading on an Easter family getaway remember that whatever happens the main thing is that you get there eventually…and that you have a damn good attempt at enjoying the journey. Failing that there’s always gin (and Tesco)…and of course Thrive Mums.


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