Thursday, 26 June 2008


We are each packing a bag for Cornwall. Packing a bag to go on educational field trips - if the Local Education Authority is listening in, we are not allowed to call them holidays - is a job I give to Shark, Squirrel and Tiger. I always have done. Not, obviously, when they were six months old, but as soon as these kids entered that period of consciousness which meant that suitcases, back-packs and bags were just places to stuff every large and small object, cuddly toy, lego brick and torn up bit of paper in sight, I thought, Right, if you want to bag everything up and carry it around with you, fine. It'll teach you good travel habits.

Admittedly mummy Grit and daddy Dig did not at first set a good example, because moving out of the house to pop down to the Co-op involved taking the kitchen sink and eight dining chairs. But you can't travel light with babies, can you? And worse, in their first year of life, we were living between two homes, one in Buckinghamshire, one in Northumberland, packing up clothes in one house and doing the laundry in another. And while we were doing that we were carrying everything - and I mean everything. Saucepans, kettle, travel cots, bedding, 36 bottles, three high chairs, emergency food, clothing, 140 nappies, survival tent just in case we broke down on the A1, and Pooh bear, who routinely made a break to escape around Scotch corner service station toilets at midnight.

It might all explain why, at eight years old, there are times of crazed bagging-up frenzy, even when we aren't going anywhere. And last time we went to the theatre, Squirrel said she was taking her own chair. I said that's a good idea, because then I don't have to pay for your seat.

But the pack-a-bag training led somewhere useful. At three years old, and incidentally on a first trip to Cornwall, Shark, Squirrel and Tiger were charged with packing their bags for the week. As it turned out, and thanks to some miserable clients in Naples, the Grit and Dig week-long visit to Cornwall shrank to four days with an all-night working session before the five hour drive. But in consolation Shark, Squirrel and Tiger had packed all their bags months in advance. Mostly with some lego and one wellington boot.

In those days I just clapped my hands and said 'Very good!' and then checked up when everyone was asleep, pulling out the screwed up paper and entire cuddly toy collection and packing instead something useful, like clothes.

Well now I don't check. I reason that Shark, Squirrel and Tiger have reached the point where they can work out that strapping a cuddly penguin to their tummies doesn't keep them warm on a cliff-face to the Atlantic, and if they haven't, then they soon will when I get out the penguin and washing line.


Potty Mummy said...

Have a wonderful break Grit. You so deserve it.

sharon said...

Mmmm, yes, the slight difference in the definition of 'needs' when packing for a trip away from home. I do hope the penguin was warm enough.

Hope you all have/had a wonderful time.

Grit said...

hi folks! yes, we are back. me and dig are still married. although it was touch and go around cirencester.